A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Luca Dell’Oro is the owner of an event planning business in California. He takes a job in Italy to cater a funeral for an Italian opera singer. The client is a grieving widower, the man Luca loved in sixteenth-century Italy. Luca is a vampire, but how is Francesco still alive? That seems obvious, but the details are sad and Francesco has many reasons to hold a grudge. At first, we’re not sure what his motives are for hiring Luca to bury his wife, Elettra. I will say the blurb is a little misleading, almost to misdirect you about the plot when there isn’t a lot of plot to begin with. This is a pretty straightforward second chances story with a lot of baggage.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this to be so funny. Everything in the first half of the book is entertaining. Luca does like to hear himself think. His reminiscences allow us to get to know him. Italian Weddings and Funerals, which he runs from his home, allows him to stay involved in the life around him. I loved learning about his unique vampiric powers little by little. He seems a man content in his life and in charge of his surroundings. He has hired an interesting cast of quicky employees. I was drawn in by the descriptions of them from Luca’s point of view. Unfortunately most of them are either not there or fade into the background during the second half of the book. The new characters we meet are not fleshed out. Even the man Luca shares a room with in Italy is barely mentioned.

In the second half, the tone changes which makes sense going from planning a wedding, to planning a wake. Still, Luca also changes when he arrives in Italy and the book seems to be more wrapped up in what is happening around him. In many ways, he ran away from Italy, his friends, his lover, his life–oh, there were reasons, but this is the first time he has had to confront his losses. It seemed strange to me that although Luca is quite wealthy, he chooses to cater for a living and basically be the help, and be treated as such by those who were once his equals. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a form of self punishment for being a vampire, like denying himself food and love. He also seems to have been in mourning for centuries, never really living once separated from Francesco. I’m not sure I like this new Luca. But, Luca is a much more solid person as compared to Francesco, who comes across as selfish and weak–bound by the expectations of others and definitely spoiled.

The sex scenes are well written and explicit, but don’t seem meant for titillation so much as just part of what happens. Vampires like sex and blood, so if it will bother you for the main characters to have sex with others in the same story, be warned. I wonder if we will see Luca’s lover Keefe again since we spent so much time with him before Italy, although this too now seems like a pattern for Luca.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended, however it was also an abrupt turnabout. I mean they have been separated for centuries and jump right back into being together. Don’t you think they might have changed a bit over time? Wouldn’t they get to know each other again, and I mean for longer than a couple of weeks? Also, Francesco did seem to care for his wife to have spent 500 years with her and he really hasn’t had any time to mourn. It will be interesting to see how things develop in book two because nostalgia and memories are quite different than daily reality and right now, I think Luca deserves better. I also liked Luca better as a character without Francesco, or maybe just the humor and confidence he showed in his home environment in California. I would call this a HFN (happy for now.)

The cover art is by Martine Jardin. It has an old fashioned sepia feel and shows a place they spent time together in the past when they were young lovers and both met Elettra.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 109 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by eXtasy Books (first published March 14th 2011)
ISBN139781554878253
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Timtuk Canyon Ranch (Mojave Mountain Wolves #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

How do you join a mountain wolf pack when you’re afraid of heights?

When Smith Ryland develops a sudden, pathological fear of heights, he seeks professional help. A lifelong animal ecologist, he can no longer climb trees or trek through rainforests to follow the bird colonies he’s studied for eleven years. He takes a job looking after wild animals in the oddly named Timtuk Canyon Ranch, in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. He’s astonished to find the ranch is in the mountains. How can he handle this unusual assignment? And what’s up with Jones, Just Jones, the mysterious, magnetic owner of the ranch?

Jones has secrets. Smith intrigues him because Jones is the caretaker of numerous animals most people don’t even know exist. Smith is comfortable with all the animals, including the ones that aren’t part of the…everyday world. Jones senses Smith needs the ranch as much as Timtuk needs him. Can Jones trust this newcomer? Something is changing, bringing with it…magic, but also the threat of lethal danger to Timtuk Canyon Ranch.

This story left me a bit confused.  Smith has been trying to get over his new fears and it seems to work out well after he accepts a new job.  Jones and Smith have an interesting connection that confuses Smith as Jones seems to appear and disappear at will.  Smith’s inner beast has been suppressed and being around Jones starts to bring it out along with some knowledge about his family.

There were so many things that didn’t add up during this story or were not explained, I had a little trouble figuring out what was going on.  I’m hoping that as this series continues I’ll start to understand more of what is happening.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is nice and I like the visuals of the characters.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 112 pages

Published: February 23, 2018 by eXtasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: Mojave Mountain Wolves #1

New Cover Reveal for Mating Tomeo by A.J. Llewellyn ( giveaway)

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A.J. Llewellyn reveals the beautiful cover art of her next book titled MATING TOMEO coming out from Ai Press.

It releases on July 12, 2016.

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BLURB

In 1946 Hawaii, Tomeo Yamaguchi harbors a secret that would be considered shameful by his traditional Japanese family—he aches for the caress of other men.

Which makes it particularly devastating when Tomeo’s father hires a tanomoshi—a matchmaker—to find a bride for his son.

Tomeo spends time with the tanomoshi, Shin Yamada, and as the men come to know one another, deep feelings emerge, the transition from friends to lovers inevitable. They fall into a clandestine affair, their hushed and hidden lovemaking as beautiful and breathless in their eyes as it is torrid in the eyes of others.

More time spent worshipping Tomeo’s body means less time finding him a suitable bride. Shin’s forsaking his duty and risking everything…but mating Tomeo is worth every stolen second. No matter the cost…

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PRESENTING

Cover Art by Sid Love

MatingTomeo_FS (1)

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PRE-ORDER LINK

All Romance eBooks

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.

A.J’s passion for the islands led to writing a play about the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani as well as a non-erotic novel about the overthrow of her kingdom written in diary form from her maid’s point of view.

A.J. never lacks inspiritation for male/male erotic romances and on the rare occasion this happens, pursues other passions such as collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with friends and animal companions.

A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.

||  Website & Blog  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Goodreads  ||

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A MelanieM Review: Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Tall with Room coverAdriano is going home to Waldo, Florida, a town famous for having one of two official US speed traps and a flea market. Not much else is going on… Or is it?

A celebrated chef, Adriano has had to quit his job at a posh Beverly Hills restaurant because during his recovery from stage four cancer, chemo killed his taste buds. He can’t even taste his own cuisine. About the only thing that penetrates the dull sensation is coffee, so he’s bought a cafe in Waldo, hoping to find a new life in spite of his memory of it being a rigidly conservative town.

Looking forward to recuperating and spending time his mom, Adriano soon finds that Colin Mackenzie-the first man he ever loved, the only man he has ever wanted-never left Waldo. He apparently hasn’t forgotten Adriano either. But Colin, who once seduced then dumped him, seems to be playing games. He keeps coming into the cafe ordering his coffee-tall with room…for milk-but he doesn’t seem to have room for Adriano. Soon, the love they once shared is re-ignited in an explosive way, but what is going on in Waldo? Why do things seem so…haunted by the past?

I had just finished reading The Line by Angel Martinez and found the blurb for Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn at the end of the story.  It intrigued me with its unusual premise and main character.  So I got it without ever having seen the cover…if I had only checked out the cover. That would definitely have changed things.  I thought I was getting a contemporary romance and ended up with something else all together.  Was it a bad something or good something?  A little bit of both actually.

I come away from this short story very divided in my feelings towards it.  I loved most of it actually and that started with a character the likes of which I had never met before.  Adriano was a hot chef in LA and he loved everything about his life.  His restaurant and his rising recognition as a chef of high merit. He had a boyfriend he loved and a condo which suited him.  A great life until a small spot is found on his tongue, one misdiagnosis later and the cancer has become wide spread.  The treatment Adriano undergoes to cure the tongue cancer, (chemo and more) kills his taste buds and his ability to cook and remain a chef.  Alive but his living destroyed, Adriano returns to the hometown he happily left behind and his ailing mother.  What a great character and situation!  Llewellyn pulled me in with multiple tugs at my heart and a situation I hadn’t seen in a M/M romance before.  Throw in an old love, the love of his life, that disappeared early on in his youth, and you have a plot that is emotionally deep and gripping.

Even the title is pretty great when you know the story behind it.  Tall With Room refers to a type of coffee ordered, one with room for milk left at the top. A special order that Adriano’s past boyfriend was especially fond of. Its also a metaphor for their relationship.  So unusual illness, compelling character, and a home situation (mom with dementia) that most readers will connect with…all that added up to a story that should have been a real highlight on my reading list.  Those elements alone make this a story to remember.  Until it zags instead of zigs and takes an altogether different path into the supernatural.

If I had just seen that darn cover.

Truthfully, I didn’t enjoy the turn the story took.  I figured out what was going on before the end (when it picked up too much speed in the race to the denouement) and things got confusing with a flipflopping time line and elements that came at you with little to no setup.  It left me bereft and moping over the loss of the story I thought I was getting and a little bit peeved over the “feel good” ending the author employed.  One that I have seen/read before to more of a happy surprise/stunner than is revealed here.

The thing is I came to this book weighed down by my expectations from the blurb.  That sense of anticipation never left no matter where I was in the story (until towards the end that is).  Tall With Room a well-written tale, aside from the rushed elements and ending I mentioned.  The characters and situation remain lovely and original.  If I had only seen that cover first, then I think my anticipation about what I thought I was going to read would have been more in line with the actual story.    Yes, Virginia, book covers do make a difference!  That didn’t occur and I’m left with a sense of disappointment at how it all turned out.

So do I recommend this story?  Yep, because I have given you the cover as well as the blurb.  Its all there so you decide if you like your romance with a side order of the supernatural or not. If so, then  Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn is just the short story for you.  This is a HEA…although not the one you might be anticipating.  It certainly wasn’t the one I thought I was getting.  And yes, still mourning that fact.

You probably won’t.

Darn cover.

Cover art by Reese Dante,  I’m now biased and no, I don’t like it.  But only because of petty reasons, it’s actually pretty dramatic but where are the other elements from the story?

Buy Links:  Totally Bound Books  –  All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 53 pages
Published August 24th 2012 by Total-E-Bound
ISBN 1781841020 (ISBN13: 9781781841020)
edition languageEnglish
Note:  All LGBT books from Totally Bound are being transferred to their new LGBT imprint, Pride Books.