A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts #2) by Ada Maria Soto


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bowerbirds coverBowerbirds by Ada Maria Soto, sequel to Empty Nests, this book takes up where the first left off with James Maron back to feeling that he’s in over his head by dating wealthy tech company owner Gabriel Juarez. James is also suffering from last minute pangs of anxiety and worry over his son Dylan’s impending high school graduation and departure for college. After all, Dylan has been at his side since James became a parent and primary caretaker at the ripe old age of fourteen.

James takes his parenting responsibility seriously, so seriously that he doesn’t feel he can put himself first in his new relationship with Gabe. He finds it hard to let go of his need to be in control of his own destiny, and when he’s with Gabe, he’s so off-center, he feels that he’s in way over his head. Gabe quickly realizes that he can’t push James too far or too fast, and he certainly can’t try to “buy” his love. Even simple gifts like a new cell phone are not acceptable to James, who has had to live within a strict budget for the last eighteen years and feels resentful at being told what he needs without earning it himself.

I enjoyed the story. It was fairly slow-paced with a great deal of emphasis on Gabe’s job, but Gabe’s job takes up so much of his time, so much emphasis on it is unavoidable. James has a few meltdowns during the story, mostly due to his feelings of inadequacy when faced with a superpower like Gabe. A few times I wanted to reach into the e-reader to give him a slap, to be honest, but I still enjoyed watching each man take hesitant baby steps toward the long-term commitment of love. Gabe’s pride in showing off James at the office party, James’s realization that he’s in love with Gabe, and Gabe’s final attempt to reach out and show James just how much he’s loved, all created that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when an author has captured not only my attention, but my emotions as well.

There was more opportunity to explore secondary characters in this story than in the first, and Dylan came through loud and strong as a young man anyone would be proud to call son. The ladies who formed James’s support group in the building, Gabe’s assistant Tamyra, and both his co-owners and his family members all came through as well-developed characterizations. It was fun to watch the men flounder with previously unheard-of romantic thoughts and to finally conclude that those queasy unsettled feelings were called love.

The only downside is that the author failed to connect the title of the book with the story itself. There was some mention of bowerbirds in the first story, Empty Nests, but I did my own research to look up the birds which are renowned for their unique courtship behavior, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly colored objects in an attempt to attract a mate. One species of bowerbirds, catbirds, are monogamous males raising chicks with their partner. I suspect this is where the connection lies since Gabe’s daydreams included one in which he and James awaited the arrival of their grandchildren at their beach house.

All in all, this is a lovely, sweet romantic story with well-developed characters and a fairly simple plot. I do recommend it to those who enjoy a contemporary M/M romance, especially one in which one of the characters has children which feature prominently in the story.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is attractive and colorful and features two cell phones—one in a modern slim design with the latest technology and the other a simple flip phone, obviously outdated. The phones tie into the story and clearly represent the MCs.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

book, 188 pages
Published August 26th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original title Bowerbirds
ISBN1634761871 (ISBN13: 9781634761871)
edition languageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Empty Nests (Nested Hearts #1) by Ada Maria Soto


Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Empty Nests coverThis is a sweet, slow burn romance between two men in their thirties, one a workaholic CFO of a tech company, and the other a man who’s been a father for more than half his life and has never enjoyed a relationship with a man, even though he’s always known he was gay.

Gabe Juarez is a gorgeous, Mexican-American, wealthy, and charming CFO who’s just been named most eligible bachelor for five years in a row. The problem is that he’s been out since he turned sixteen and no one seems willing to acknowledge he prefers men, or at least no one among the female vultures who salivate over him as potential husband material. But even if Gabe could find time in his busy schedule to devote to dating, the thought doesn’t really appeal to him, especially not after he was burned three years ago by a man who turned out to be the worst gold-digger of all.

When James Mason was fourteen he was caught kissing a boy, so he had sex with a girl in his class who said she was on the pill. Problem was she was only on it two days, so he found himself a father at fifteen. When he found out his girlfriend’s parents had arranged a shady adoption behind his back, he sued for custody and won. He managed to finish high school, parent Derek, work part time, go to a community college, and eventually take a position in the IT department at Berkley. He’s now the head of the tech support department and still working on a tight budget to pay the bills and save money for Derek’s college education.

When these two finally find time to get together, it’s sweet and simple, with just a few lunch dates at first, progressing to more intimate time together later. And when Gabe finds out James is a gay virgin, he’s willing to slow down as much as James needs. But can these two very different men really find a way to make a relationship work? Can Gabe in his high tech, jet-set world really settle down with James in his very simple, very plain lifestyle? And would Gabe want to take on Derek, James’s now seventeen-year-old son and fierce protector?

I loved this story not only for the story content but for the way it was written. The author clearly captured the social differences which impacted the dynamics between the MCs, as well as the loving and respectful father-son relationship between James and Derek. Gabe’s business partners and their families provided a great deal of unwanted advice to the workaholic bachelor, but their emotional support and concern for him came through loud and clear. The sweet, slow buildup of the romance, the even slower introduction of sexual experiences to the relationship, and the bond building between the men by the end of the story all made the story so much better than I had anticipated.

By the time I got to the end, I was fully invested in this couple and rooting for a happy ending. Unfortunately, the story is to be continued, so all I got was a HFN, but thankfully, it was that and not an angst-filled cliffhanger. I definitely plan to continue with their saga when the next book is released, and I certainly recommend this one to those who love slow burn M/M romances. Well-written, with engaging characters—both MCs and secondary— and a variety of social situations to which most of us can relate. Don’t miss your chance to read this one.

Cover Art by Paul Richmond features the back end view of two cars: the first a bright blue new model Tesla and the second a bright yellow old Volvo sporting bumper stickers: I love Little League; Baseball Dad; My Child is an Honor Roll Student; etc. These cars symbolize the MCs: the wealthy playboy Gabe Juarez, and the thirty-two-year-old single father of a teen, Paul Mason. The cars are the perfect representation of the differences between the two men featured in the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Published June 12th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
series Nested Hearts #1

Love Takes Flight with Ada Maria Soto’s Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts #2) (excerpt and giveaway)



Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts #2)  by Ada Maria Soto
Release Date: Target date is August 26 2015

STRW In The Spotlight HeaderGoodreads Link – add it to your shelf here
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond


Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook | Dreamspinner Press Paperback

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Two very different men have a chance at happiness, but only if they can let go of their painful pasts and allow love to take precedence.

After spending his teens and twenties raising his son, James Maron is now dating Gabriel Juarez, the wealthy and sophisticated CFO of the TechPrim technology empire. But after a life of proudly holding his head above the poverty line with the ethos of work, priorities, responsibility, and thrift, he is not looking for a Sugar Daddy, he does not need to be rescued, and Gabe’s wealth is as terrifying as feeling love for the first time.

Gabe has never been good at balancing his high pressure job with his relationships. Money usually clears most of the bumps, and when a boyfriend walks away, Gabe figures it’s for a good reason. But James isn’t like other boyfriends. He doesn’t want Gabe’s money for one, and if Gabe wants to keep his relationship together he will have to finally face the ghosts of his own past and reconsider his priorities.

Pages or Words: 60,790 words

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

FOR THE millionth time, a load of baseball gear left by the apartment door nearly sent James tumbling. It was one of the very few things he would not miss when Dylan left for college. He checked his watch and saw it was pushing five in the afternoon. He could technically still make it to the laundromat and get a couple of loads through, but the place filled up quick after five and it became difficult to get the good machines. Ada Maria Soto

Dylan came out of his room, his hair sticking up at odd angles from his postpractice shower. “Hey, Dad. I was starting to worry. How did the concert go last night?”

As a last-second surprise, Gabe had gotten them tickets to the California Honeydrops at the Fillmore. After a couple glasses of wine, Gabe had even talked him into dancing. “It was good. Stop leaving your gear by the door.”

“Good?” Dylan tried for a scolding look, but there was too much humor in his eyes. “No, just good does not end with you coming home… um… twenty-one hours later than expected.”

Dylan had been nagging him about getting a social life and a boyfriend for years, but James hadn’t realized he would become so nosy about it once it happened.

You’d think he was the parent here. “The concert ran a bit late, and we got a room in the city.” Then they decided not to leave that room until a few hours after the normal checkout time, followed by a late lunch.

“Which hotel?”

“Does it matter?” James asked as he picked up Dylan’s baseball gear.

“It might.”

“The Saint Francis,” James muttered, deciding to risk a Monday wash.

“Again? Well, here’s to scoring a sugar daddy.”

“What?” James froze for a second as he tucked a baseball bat under his arm.

Dylan headed for the kitchen and rummaged around the fridge. “I mean, a guy with a steady job is a good thing these days, but one who can score you concert tickets and hotel suites on a whim is a pretty sweet deal.” He pulled an apple from the veggie bin.

“He’s not—”

James felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He juggled around the gear until he could pull it out and saw he had missed a call ten minutes earlier.

“He’s not what?

“Hi. It’s me. Stuck in traffic. Seriously, traffic on a Sunday. I think the Niners are playing or something. Don’t worry, I’m on the hands-free setup. Just wanted to say I had a really nice time this weekend. The concert was a lot of fun. The other activities were fun too. Don’t know how busy I’m going to be this week, but I’d love to be able to come up there for lunch or dinner. Catch a movie or something. Oh, Tamyra left me nine messages, the last one informing me that I’m getting ‘Genie in a Bottle’ for my new ringtone. I’m hoping I can pass it off as a postmodern ironic statement or something. Oh look. Traffic is moving. Well, I’ll talk to you later. Drive carefully. Bye.” Bowerbirds

James kept the phone to his ear even after the message ended. Dylan stared at him, one eyebrow raised. He had a funny feeling Dylan practiced that look in the mirror. James hung up the phone. “You know what? My love life is none of your business.”

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

ADA MARIA SOTO is a born and raised Californian Mexican-American currently living as an expat in the South Pacific with her toddler and partner.
She has studied and worked in theater, film, and television with all the usual crummy side jobs of a struggling artist. She has dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia but refuses to let that slow down her writing.
She is a sports fan dedicated to the Oakland A’s, San Jose Sharks, Auckland Blues, USA Eagles, New Zealand All Blacks, New Zealand Black Caps, and the Chennai Super Kings.
She loves to hear from her fans, or really anyone who has read her work.

Where to find the author:

Website: https://adamariasoto.com
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AdaSoto
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AdaMariaSoto
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AdaMariaSotoAuthor

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Bowerbirds’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Dates & Stops:
26-Aug Prism Book Alliance, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

2-Sep Happily Ever Chapter, Divine Magazine, Jessie G. Books

9-Sep Multitasking Mommas, Bike Book Reviews

16-Sep Love Bytes, Molly Lolly

23-Sep Bayou Book Junkie, Mikky’s World of Books, Inked Rainbow Reads

30-Oct MM Good Book Reviews, Foxylutely Book Reviews

7-Oct Carly’s Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog

14-Oct My Fiction Nook, Reviews by Jessewave




In the Book Spotlight: Empty Nests (Nested Hearts #1) by Ada Maria Soto



Empty Nests (Nested Hearts #1) by Ada Maria Soto
Release Date: June 12, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond


Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback


STRW Author BookSynopsis

Neither James nor Gabe has ever had a real relationship. They might make a connection if they can get past their differences—and their fears.

At age fourteen, James Maron decided to prove he wasn’t gay despite vast evidence to the contrary. Now at thirty-two, he’s getting ready to send his son to college and wondering what he’s supposed to do next. Outside his son, his life consists of an IT job he hates and watching telenovelas with the women in his apartment building.

Gabriel Juarez is the CFO of a technology giant. He has looks, charm, fantastic wealth, a workaholic personality, and a string of boyfriends who only stick around because he’s too busy to tell them to leave.

A bad laptop/projector interface causes James and Gabe’s paths to cross. Friends, family, and coworkers jump to match Gabe with a nice guy, and James with anyone. But are they too different? Everyone will have to tread very carefully to keep things from ending before they start.

Pages or Words: 68,835 words

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

“So,” Dylan started as he scraped the last of the noodles from his plate. “Remember that conversation we were having about the new AP English teacher?”

“If you pull a piece of paper out of your pocket right now, I will never forgive you.”

Dylan grinned and pulled a tightly folded piece of paper from his pocket. “Saturday after next, if you want, you have a date.”

James was pretty sure teenagers were not supposed to be as hung-up on their father’s love life as Dylan was. “No. No, I do not.”

Dylan pushed over a printout from his school’s faculty webpage. There was a phone number handwritten at the bottom. “Thirty-five, no kids. He likes music.” Dylan had highlighted that line. “You like music, he likes music. He said he’d love to take you to see a band he likes.”

“Goddammit, Dylan! I do not need you setting me up with strangers.”

“He’s not a stranger, he’s the school’s AP English teacher, and I wouldn’t have to if you’d get out of the house once in a while. Seriously, Dad, I’m out of here in less than a year. I don’t want you moping around this place alone. I worry about you turning into a crazy old cat lady.”

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Ada Maria Soto is a born and raised Californian, Mexican-American/WASP, currently living as an expat in New Zealand. She got her Bachelor’s degree in Theater Directing at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, which she attended in a fit of stubbornness. She got a Master’s degree in Film and TV Producing from the University of Auckland in New Zealand which she applied to on a manic whim. Nine years later she’s still in Auckland with a partner, kid, and mortgage.

She has dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia which can lead to some interesting typos.

She is a sports fan dedicated to the Oakland A’s, San Jose Sharks, Auckland Blues, USA Eagles, New Zealand All Blacks, New Zealand Black Caps, and the Chennai Super Kings.
Where to find the author:

Official Website: http://adamariasoto.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ada.m.soto.568
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AdaMariaSotoAuthor
Twitter: @adamariasoto
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AdaSoto/posts
DSP Author Arcade: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/ada-maria-soto

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Both books of the series (one will not be out for a few months). Link and prizes to be provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Dates & Stops:
Carly’s Book Reviews

Prism Book Alliance
My Fiction Nook

Bike Book Reviews
Love Bytes

Hearts on Fire

Amanda C. Stone
MM Good Book Reviews

3 Chicks After Dark
Mikky’s World of Books
Inked Rainbow Reads

Happily Ever Chapter
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
Rainbow Gold Reviews
BFD Book Blog

Bayou Book Junkie
TTC Books and More
Molly Lolly
Multitasking Mommas