An Ali Review: An Amy Lane Christmas by Amy Lane (bundle)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Celebrate the season with Amy Lane’s own brand of holiday cheer. 

Enjoy five classic Amy Lane Christmas stories, imbued with her signature blend of humor, romance, and heart-warming satisfaction as businessmen, lawyers, accountants, and teachers all find love this December. 

Includes: 
If I Must 
Christmas with Danny Fit 
Puppy, Car, and Snow 
Turkey in the Snow 
Going Up!
This was a great collection of some of this author’s older stories.  There are five stories here or varying lengths, and it’s a nice selection.  This is a good read for people who are already fans of this author but it’s also a nice place to start for people who have not read her before.
If I Must was the first book in the bundle and actually ended up being my least favorite.  It’s a friends to lovers story about two roommates who finally admit to their feelings about each other.  I had a hard time seeing the attraction between the two MC’s. 
Christmas with Danny Fit was a lovely story that tackles the issue of body imagine.  Kit is slightly chubby and shy and awkward and he’s got a crush on his younger, hotter, office assistant Jesse.  Kit takes to watching Danny Fit exercise videos to try and change himself.  The story looks at how you can miss what’s right in front of you while looking for that “perfect” person.
Puppy, Car, and Snow was a very sweet story.  It’s actually the third book in a series of short stories but you would be fine reading this as a standalone.  This story is about them spending Christmas with Ryan’s family. 
Turkey in the Snow is another sweet story.  Hank has his four year old niece living with him due to her mother abandoning her.  He’s not much into flamboyant guys but when Justin, the daycare worker at his gym does a good deed for him, Hank changes his mind.  This was a bit insta-love but it was just right for a holiday story.
Going Up is told by Zach who is a lawyer who lives in the building’s penthouse.  He comes from a very well off and conservative family.  He is getting by but is overall not very happy with his life.  One day when the elevator breaks he meets Sean, who is his total opposite.  Sean makes Zach see life differently and then men falling for each other is another charming tale.
This bundle is Amy Lane at her sweetest.  If you’re looking for some holiday stories filled with sweetness and no angst these are a good choice.
This cover was done by Alexandria Corza and I think it is nicely done.  It’s visually attractive and catches the vibe of the stories. Cover Artist: Bundle Cover Art by Alexandria Corza. If I Must, Christmas with Danny Fit, Turkey in the Snow by Catt Ford. Puppy, Car, and Snow by Anne Cain. Going Up! by Aaron Anderson.
Sales Link:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Published December 25th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB0781B8MJQ
Edition LanguageEnglish

 

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Freckles by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Carter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.

Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.

But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!

He can be the owner of a small dog.

I love, love, loved it.  Carter has been slaving away at his job doing his best to have regular human contact but until he Is suddenly given his little ball of fur he realizes just how wrong his priorities were.  Sandy just adores animals and wants to help Carter see that taking care of a dog is something he can do.

We get to see both characters’ points of view which allows us to see the story through their eyes and connect with them more.  I loved how Sandy could see through Carter’s uptight appearance and to the man underneath and his and Alexis’s unwavering support for Carter to make some significant changes in his life.  Carter has never really had anyone care for his wants before and he is amazed when it happens with Sandy.

Nick J Russo did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I could just feel the characters’ emotions happy and sad while listening.  The different voices he used for the characters helped me keep up with what was going on.

I love the cover art by LC Chase and it is adorable and I love the visual of Freckles.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 4 hrs 10 min

Published: December 4, 2017 (ebook first published November 14, 2016) by Riptide

Edition Language: English

Amy Lane on The Holiday Crafter’s Blues, and her release Regret Me Not (author guest blog and excerpt)

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Regret Me Not by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art: Reese Dante

Buy Links:Dreamspinner PressAmazon  | Kobo iBooks  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Lane here talking about the holiday crafter’s blue and her new release Regret Me Not.  Welcome, Amy!

✒︎

The Holiday Crafter’s Blues

By Amy Lane

One of my first blogging idols was The Yarn Harlot, and she was one of the first people I know who put a name to this.

She called it IT.

As in, IT starts in September, if you’re lucky. For some people, the chosen few, IT starts in June.

Took me a few blogs to figure out what she was talking about, but when I did… oh, it hit me hard.

I’ve been a part of IT.

IT of course is the misbegotten idea that, hey! I can craft! I can knit/crochet/cross-stitch/quilt/sew! I shall make something for EVERY family member for EVERY holiday, and I will be known as the knitting/crocheting/crafting cousin/aunt/mother and nobody will ever be able to doubt my place in the holidays again!

Before any of you get any ideas about this, IT can only end in tears.

And terrible, terrible guilt on all sides.

I used to try to craft toys/clothes/whathaveyou for the kids, as well as knit or crochet something for all the members of my family every year. I would start in August, work feverishly for months, and still end up, shotgunning Supernatural for three nights straight while living on coffee and Christmas cookies so I could sustain the holiday pace needed to frolic with four children through on until blissful, peaceful December 26th.

The day we traditionally sit in the rubble of wrapping paper, play with our gifts and sleep like the dead.

One Christmas, I was really into it. I made the little kids these ADORABLE mittens, and my aunts and mom all got these really cool “Impossible yarn” wraps (easiest thing in the world involving Lion Brand Homespun and Dead Muppet of Your Choice—people loved them!) and there were hats and fingerless mitts in between.

I was into it, yes, but late. So late. So late that when Mate took three of the four kids into my aunt’s house to start the revels, I opted to finish a shawl in the minivan while ZoomBoy finished his nap. (It was a rule back then—let sleeping ZoomBoys lie. In fact, we have lots and lots of pictures on the blog of that kid asleep while dangling upside down from six different furniture items, because that’s just where he decided to nap.)

But oh, it would be worth it, I thought. Because I had done my filial duty, and I had showered all of my relatives with love and they would love me and they would appreciate me and they would…

Forget my gift at the gift exchange?

Well, apparently grandma had drawn my name, and she was right at that place where she went from Machiavellian manipulator of family (as are all good Italian grandmothers) to slightly confused elderly woman—and we were not ready for that. Grandma always dealt with her Christmas duties using grace and aplomb.

Except this time when she forgot her exchange gift, and I was the exhausted, addled recipient.

Who, embarrassingly enough couldn’t stop crying.

Yes, I know. It was stupid. I still maintain I didn’t do all that work for a great gift back—it’s not what I was thinking as I was working on stuff, and it’s not how I give gifts now. (Okay—when I was younger, yes, but sometime around the third kid I finally grew the hell up.)

But something about, oh, I don’t know, not sleeping for several weeks and stressing out over the deadline and, you know, four kids, full time job, writing…

Just caught up to me. I spent about an hour feeling like an idiot and trying to explain to everyone that I really wasn’t that fragile a snowflake while falling apart. My aunt ran and grabbed one of her presents—a very pretty green scarf that I still have today—and gave it to me, hoping I would calm down.

I did eventually—and I mean “calm down” in the broadest sense of the phrase. I stopped trying to make everybody all the things—in fact, I started making myself some as well. And I stopped trying to make them by a deadline. Now I just make them and send them to the recipient when they are done. Because a gift from the heart doesn’t have a deadline and it doesn’t have an obligation attached and it doesn’t have expectation of reciprocation.

It’s one of the crafter’s most important lessons.

It’s one of the gift giver’s most important lessons.

And it’s what I wanted for my boys, Pierce and Hal. That they give gifts from the heart. That what they say they mean. And that, if they love each other, their gifts don’t come from obligation, they come from wanting to see the other person happy, the end.

It’s one of my favorite holiday feelings – and it’s a lot harder to achieve than the perfect pair of mittens. 

Blurb

Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.

Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.

As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.

Excerpt

The Morning After….

 

THE EVER-PRESENT shush of the sea echoed in his ears. Even before he was awake, Pierce Atwater knew that sound had haunted him in his dreams.

He yawned and stretched, the familiar aches of healing injuries pulling at his skin and muscles and the unfamiliar ache in his backside waking him up fully. Oh, hey. It had been a while since that happened.

With a heave, Pierce sat up entirely, getting his bearings. The beach house he’d lived in since Thanksgiving glowed as bright and gold as he remembered—too beautiful. Almost pristine.

His body, on the other hand—that felt well-used.

He turned and looked at the bed he’d just vacated, noting that it was rumpled and sex stained; lovemaking and sweat permeated the room.

Oh wow. Oh damn. What had he done?

A piece of paper—the ripped-off corner of a brown grocery bag—caught his attention on the other pillow of the king-sized bed.

 

Please don’t leave without saying goodbye—

 

—H

 

Pierce stared at the note, only marginally prepared for the giant ache that bloomed in his chest.

Aw, Hal—you deserve so very much more.

He looked around the room again, eyes falling on the clock radio. He was supposed to leave in an hour—he’d told his sister specifically that he’d be in Orlando by lunch so he could bake cookies with her kids.

He looked at the note again and tried hard to breathe.

 

 

 

The Month Before

 

“SO YOU have the Lyft app, right?”

“Yeah, Sasha—don’t worry about me, okay?” Pierce regarded his younger sister fondly. She was made to be a mother—even if she came into being one a little young.

Sasha bit her lip, trying not to argue. She’d been such a sweet kid growing up—never saying boo to either of their rather domineering parents. She’d gotten pregnant right out of high school, and even though Marshall had stepped up and married her and they’d both managed to get their degrees, their parents… well, they’d never let Sasha live down what a disappointment she’d been. Or—their words—what a slut either.

Pierce had hated them long before Sasha got pregnant, but the way they’d tried to destroy her for a simple human failing had sort of sealed the deal.

But parenthood had made Sasha—and Marshall—a great deal stronger than they’d been as feckless teenagers, and while Sasha wouldn’t argue with her beloved older brother, she would discuss things she disagreed with.

“Pierce, you almost died,” she said quietly, her thin face suddenly lost in the pallor of anxiety and the cloud of fine dark hair she could never keep back in a ponytail. “I mean… I refuse to see Mom and Dad over the holidays because they’re just… just….”

“Awful,” he supplied with feeling. Yeah. He’d resolved not to put up with awful anymore.

“Toxic,” she agreed, leaning back against her aging SUV. Darius and Abigail were sleeping in the back seat after playing out in the surf under Pierce’s supervision while Marshall and Sasha moved Pierce into the condo. Pierce had worried—he couldn’t move very well without the cane these days, and what did he know about kids and water?

But mostly what they’d wanted to do was run away from the waves and collect shells, and the one time Abigail had been knocked on her ass into the surf, Pierce had bent down and picked her up by the hand before the pain even registered.

The move had hurt—but it had given him some hope. His doctors kept assuring him that he could get most of his mobility back if he kept active and remembered his aqua regimen. Picking Abigail up and reassuring her that Uncle Pierce wouldn’t let her drown gave him some confidence that his body might someday be back up to par. And the condo had a pool, which was why he’d taken his best friend Derrick’s offer to let him use it over the winter months while Pierce got his life together. Pierce was definitely in a position to follow his doctor’s advice.

So now, looking at his sister and thinking about how much self-assurance she’d had to grow to push a little into Pierce’s state of mind, he couldn’t be mad at her.

And he had to be honest.

“I’ll be grumpy and pissed off and bitter,” he said, letting his mouth twist into a scowl of disdain for the land of the living. He’d been fighting it off since Sasha picked him up at the airport. “It’s a good thing you made me get the car app, because seriously, I may have let myself starve to death. As it is, the groceries are going to keep me going for a good long time.”

Sasha’s eyes grew big and bright, and he took her hand and squeezed.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. None of it is your fault. You would have let me stay at your place forever, and I was getting in your way. This is good. I’ll hang out here, find a little peace, and when I go back to Orlando, I’ll be up for getting my own apartment and getting out of your hair, okay?”

“I’d never kick you out, Pierce,” she said miserably. “You know that.” She wiped the back of her hand across her big brown eyes. “You just… you got out of the hospital and—”

“And I was an awful fucking bastard,” he said with feeling. Oh God. The defining moment for calling up Derrick to take him up on his offer was when he’d heard his father’s words coming out of his mouth, telling his sister she was useless because she couldn’t help him off the couch without pain. “Sasha, you deserve better than me. You deserve better, period. I’m not going to hang around you and get in your way again until I’m decent company for human beings, okay?”

Sasha shook her head, still crying. “You were in pain,” she whispered. “And you were sorry right after. And you’ve done so much for me, Pierce. I can forgive you for being mean once when you did so much for me….”

He remembered the night she’d shown up at his apartment, in tears, practically hysterical, because she’d told the parents about an impending Darius and had been read the riot act about what a fuckup she was.

He’d taken her in—let her stay with him for a couple of months until she and Marshall scraped up enough money for rent and a car. She’d gotten a job, and Pierce had paid her tuition as she made her way through school. She had a career now—one she could work from home as a developmental editor of a small press. Marshall had his degree in software engineering, and together they made a good living—good enough to afford a guest bedroom and to put Pierce up for a month after the accident.

Pierce squeezed her hand now. “You listen to me,” he said gruffly. “You don’t owe me a thing. You’re the only family I want to see—pretty much ever. So just let me work shit out in my own head, and I’ll come back for Christmas a whole new man, okay?”

“I like the one you are right now!” she said staunchly, and then she threw herself in his arms and held on tight. “Love you, big brother,” she whispered, and Marshall stood behind her, guiding her away.

“Love you too,” he said belatedly, and Marshall turned and shook his hand firmly.

“Come back when you promised, okay?” Marshall was just as slight as Sasha—two small, mild-mannered people getting along in a bright, brash world. Pierce had always fancied himself their champion knight—he couldn’t be that as he was.

He had to make himself better.

“Christmas Eve,” Pierce vowed. “Don’t worry, Marshall. Nobody likes being alone on Christmas.”

Marshall shrugged. “We wouldn’t be alone, Pierce. We just don’t want you to be.”

With that, the guy Pierce and Sasha’s parents had driven off their property with a baseball bat guided a disconsolate Sasha into the old vehicle and piloted it away.

As soon as they’d left the parking lot, Pierce allowed his shoulders to sag and dragged his sorry ass to the back door of the condo.

He crawled into bed and stayed there until he absolutely had to get up and pee the next morning.

 

 

STAYING IN bed for sixteen hours had consequences—he almost didn’t make it to the bathroom, he was so sore. After he’d taken care of business and washed down a granola bar, he realized he was going to have to be serious about that pool thing, or he really could end up curling into a ball and dying in a beach condo in Florida.

For a moment he contemplated it—he’d always been the kind of guy to consider all the angles—but eventually he decided he wouldn’t go quickly enough and managed a pair of board shorts and a T-shirt. As he walked through the tiled hall of the condo, he realized the tile was going to destroy his body almost as quickly as the inactivity, and made a mental note to buy some rubber mats at the very least, so he’d have some padding for his joints. Derrick had said to make himself at home—ergonomic home decorating was a go!

Just as soon as he got into the… ahhh… pool.

Heated, of course, and a perfect counterpoint to a cool day in the high fifties/low sixties. He’d set his phone on a lounge chair, playing something disgustingly upbeat and perky, and went about doing the exercises he and his physical therapist had worked on.

Actual physical motor activity really did have magical properties—it must have. He was working up a head of steam, the resistance and buoyancy of the water supporting his body as he used active stretching techniques, when a voice cut into his workout Zen.

“If you don’t straighten your back, you’ll be in a world of hurt!”

Crap. Whoever that was, he was right.

Pierce adjusted his form and then looked over his right shoulder, from whence the voice—deep and sharp and young—had issued.

“Thanks,” he said briefly, taking in the sprawled form of what looked to be a teenager wearing board shorts, a leopard-print bathrobe, and giant aviator sunglasses, lounging in one of the chaises. Dark hair, faintly sun streaked, was cut almost Boy Scout short around an adorable frat boy face. His hands were sort of a mess, loosely wrapped in gauze, but other than that, he was as untouched as a virgin’s dreams.

“Dude, what in the hell are you listening to? This shit.” The boy shuddered. “I’m saying. I bet you could work up a sweat if you had decent music.”

“It’s a mix,” Pierce said weakly, feeling old and slow. “I just hit an easy button, you kn—”

“I’ll get you a better sound,” the kid said, picking up the phone. “What’s your password?”

Pierce gave it to him and then stopped dead in the water and almost drowned. He was in the deep end, and he had to work to stay afloat and—

“Don’t spaz,” the kid said on a note of deep disgust. “My phone’s in the condo, and I could give a shit about your passwords. Jesus, if I was a hacker genius, I’d be someplace warm, you think?”

Pierce took a deep breath, and suddenly Katy Perry came blaring out of his phone. Well, okay, so everybody had heard this song; it did make him want to work harder. Pierce was calling it a win.

“Thanks,” he said again, panting now because he was moving faster.

The kid shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. You gonna be here tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but—”

“Same time?”

“Yeah.” ’Cause why not. Nothing better to do, right? No job, no wife, no life?

“Good. I’ll see you here with better music. Now stop doing that water walk thing and do a mountain climber—come on—I know you can.”

Pierce glared at him—and switched the move.

“There you go. Now follow my pace. You can go faster.” The kid started clapping, and Pierce struggled to keep up.

“I can’t… do… that…,” he gasped. He expected attitude back, because the kid had given him nothing but, and he was surprised when the clapping slowed.

“Sorry. You just look younger than this pace.”

Pierce had his back to the kid, but he had the sensation of a thorough visual once-over. He adjusted to the new pace and found his wind again. “Car accident,” he managed, trying not to be offended.

“Aw… aw hell. I’m sorry. I’m being an ass. I should just leave you to your workout.”

“No,” Pierce called out, stopping to tread water and cool down enough to talk. “Sorry—just… I was getting a workout. I suck doing this alone.” He kept his arms and legs moving and found the kid on the side of the pool again—he’d moved from where Pierce had first spotted him to stand right in front of the line Pierce was using to go back and forth.

“Yeah, well, being alone sort of sucks on all fronts,” the kid said philosophically. “I’ll try not to be an ass if you try to do a hard workout, how’s that?”

Pierce found himself nodding, even though he’d only come out to the pool out of what he deemed necessity. “Deal,” he panted.

“Okay, now back to mountain climbers. I’ll set the pace, and if it’s too fast, cry uncle.”

“Groovy,” Pierce breathed, positioning himself to go. “Now shoot.”

The kid put him through a decently difficult workout, adjusting for the things Pierce couldn’t do yet and pushing him hard in the stuff he could. After forty-five minutes, Pierce was starting to cramp up, though, and the kid had him stretch out.

Good stuff, really—the blue freedom of the water, the structure of the workout, and the congeniality of dealing with another human being without bitterness or backstory served as sort of a purge—some of the self-pity Pierce had wallowed in for the past sixteen hours was rinsed away.

But not all of it.

He was getting out of the pool when the damage in his calf and thigh screamed protest, and he groaned and grabbed on to the rail. The kid was right there, though, stepping into the water regardless of his pricey flip-flops and the hem of his leopard-print bathrobe.

“Uh-oh—overdid it. C’mon, let me help you to the hot tub. I’ll give you a rubdown, okay?”

“No,” Pierce grunted, suddenly aware of this kid. Lean and narrow but defined practically by muscle group, his body was a work of art, and Pierce didn’t even know if he was of age. And even if he was of age, he was too damned young for Pierce.

“No hot tub?” the kid asked sharply. “Or no gay guy touching you?”

Pierce’s face heated. “No hot teenager touching me?” he mumbled, limping toward the steamy goodness of the little spa and trying not to lean too much into the kid’s strong arms.

The youngster’s throaty chuckle didn’t reassure him in the least. “I’m twenty-three, old man, so cool your jets. Besides, I’m”—his voice dropped sadly, and the suddenly vulnerable look on his frat boy face made him look even younger—“well, I’d like to become a massage therapist, but I’ve only got half the coursework and hours done. Seriously, though, I’m halfway a professional, and I’m pretty good, so maybe let me work out the cramp in your leg?” He smiled winningly and used his free hand to lift his shades so he could bat a pair of admittedly limpid and arresting amber-brown eyes. “After all, I did work you over pretty hard.”

Pierce rolled his eyes at the double entendre, but as he reached for the rail of the hot tub, he had to concede that having his leg worked on would make the whole working-out thing feel like less of a mistake.

“Yeah, sure,” he muttered, taking the steps creakily one at a time. “Sure, you can squeeze my muscles till I scream.”

The kid chuckled again, inviting Pierce in on the laugh. “So you’re happy to let me rub one out on you?”

Pierce groaned. “God, kid, I can hardly walk. No sex jokes until I can make it out of the pool without collapsing.”

“So there can be sex jokes. Eventually. I just want to make sure.” Very gingerly the kid lowered Pierce until he was sitting. After he straightened, he scampered up the steps and pulled off his sodden robe, laying it out on the chaise to dry, and kicked off his ruined leather sandals.

“Oh geez.” Pierce thought of the massacre of perfectly good shoes and robe and was attacked by his conscience, which he’d assumed was dormant or dead. “Kid, I’m sorry about the clothes—”

“Don’t be.” He shrugged. “They’re my old man’s, and since he kicked me out of the house for Christmas, he can pretty much kiss off his super classy robe and huaraches, you hear me?”

Pierce wasn’t sure whether to chuckle or be horrified. “Just for Christmas?” he asked, making sure.

He lowered the sunglasses over his eyes again, probably to help him look insouciant when he was—in all likelihood—wounded. “Folks were having important political friends over. I’m a gay embarrassment, so I got the beach house. Last year they were in Europe, and I got the beach house with my boyfriend and we fucked like lemmings. No boyfriend this year.”

“The lemmings are safe?” Pierce asked, sympathies reluctantly stirred. Parents who judged their kids for sexual activity? He knew those assholes! Pierce and Sasha had grown up with their very own set.

Kid laughed, sounding young and happy instead of casual and cynical. Pierce liked the sound. “Here, let me rub your leg down—I promised.”

Pierce grunted. “Kid—”

“Hal—”

“Like the computer?”

Hal stared at him, unimpressed. “Oh dear, a Space Odyssey joke. I’ve never heard one of those, given that I’ve had this stupid name since birth. Now give me your leg.”

Pierce complied, startled by the venom. “Well, I could call you ‘Prince Hal,’ like—”

“King Henry the Fifth? Like in the Branagh movie?”

Pierce racked his brains, trying to remember. “I thought Branagh just did Hamlet,” he said, confused.

Hal gasped and wrapped his hands around Pierce’s ankle. “Heathen! How could you not know about the Branagh King Henry? He was young and still faithful and downright adorable!”

As he spoke, Hal worked his capable, agile fingers up Pierce’s leg—between that and the hot, bubbling water, Pierce’s entire body was melting like chocolate in the sun.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two grown children, two half-grown children, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Regret Me Not by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.

Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.

As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.

Take two damaged, hurting men meeting a month before Christmas, needing recovery and someone to help them heal, thrown in an age difference, toxic parents and you get another heartwarming winner of a romance from Amy Lane.

Pierce Atwater is recovering from a car accident, about to be divorced and jobless.  He’s bitter, and sinking under the pain of his injuries and self-pity when sitting poolside, he meets Hal, a 23 year old college student, in the chair next to him.  Hal is gorgeous, outgoing, downright irrepressible and wants to help Pierce it seems.

Amy Lane starts to build a unique friendship between the men that turns into something more as Pierce’s attitude turns from bitterness and self-pity back into the “unicorn” he’s been for most of his life.  As he recovers, the story reveals more of Hal’s painful upbringing and current status.  It’s an emotional  seesaw with the balance tipping back and forth with each new revelation and sharing as they open up to each other.

The depth and authenticity that Amy Lane brings to her romances and storylines is something that I’ve always appreciated about her novels.  Her characters have a certain human fragility, yet solidness about them.  You wouldn’t be surprised to meet any of them walking down the road or sidewalk because their situations are easily ones that people you know could find themselves in.

The ending is a wonderful HFN with the promise of updates to come.  I can hardly wait.  I want to know more about Pierce and Hal’s adventures and what the future holds for them both.    Are you listening, Amy?  I hope so! Until then, I  absolutely recommend Regret Me Not.  A terrific read at this or any time of the year.

Cover artist: Reese Dante is wonderful.  Great for the characters.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 119 pages
Expected publication: December 4th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339956
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Familiar Angel by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was certainly a departure from what I normally read and most definitely a departure from stories I’ve read from Amy Lane, one of my favorite authors.  The main reason it’s a departure is that it’s fantasy-based and that’s not my favorite genre; there’s also a historical element, a lot of world-building, and a huge family dynamic with relationships out of the norm—it’s a family of the heart rather than a family of origin—so even understanding all those intertwining relationships took some time and concentration to get me into the rhythm of the story.  Was it a romance?  Well, there’s an MM romance within the book but I would hesitate to recommend this one to someone looking strictly for an MM romance because it’s only about 20% of the story, and actually, once the angel is in corporeal form, it’s only about 10%. 

But I digress.  Here’s the background:  A sorceress and a demon—Emma and Leonard—are ill-fated lovers and while being pursued/hunted, they take the time for the sorceress to prepare a spell to humanize the demon and to get them away from their pursuers. During the incantation, she looks across the clearing and sees three young boys who are running for their lives from Big Cass, a whoremaster, rapist, brothel-keeper.  She includes the boys—Harry, Edward, and Francis—in the spell and when the dust settles, the demon is now human, and she’s still alive but has given some of her power away to change the three boys to her familiars who are now able to assume cat form.  All have become immortal, though they will age very slowly over time. To the boys, the important thing is that they will be together and they’ve escaped Big Cass.  Then they discover both the safety they feel and the fun they can have in their cat forms and remain in those forms more often than not over the first year or so after they’ve been changed.

The family establishes itself in California and when the boys later hear of a group of young people being sold into slavery, they determine they are going to rescue them. Thus starts a hundred year plus journey during which the family specializes in finding, rescuing, and redirecting young women and men being trafficked.  Over time, Harry and the angel, Suriel, who is Heaven’s angel doomed to suffer for those bound against their will, become very close. In fact, almost from the beginning, Harry loves Suriel and Suriel loves Harry, so much so that he comes down from Heaven a few times over the years to save Harry’s life.  Each time, he suffers more when he returns to Heaven.  It’s a price he pays for helping Harry—a price he gladly pays. 

I’m not sure I’m doing justice to the world the author built here as it was complex so somewhat confusing to me, but I liked the fact that in the latter parts of the story, the characters recounted some of their adventures so it helped to put their view of the world and the events that brought them together into perspective. 

I wish there had been more time for Harry and Suriel on page. Though the depth of their love for one another was clear at the end, their earlier years together were told as flashbacks, and in some cases, assumptions, so the strength of their bond was not as apparent as it was in the last chapters.  And maybe Harry wasn’t quite as lovable a human as I would like.  I’m not sure. He spent a lot of time in his head and looking out for his brothers—a typical oldest child.  There is a nice setup for both brothers to have their stories: Edward, the middle brother, is apparently in love with a demon who has helped them off and on through the years; and Francis, the youngest brother is in love with the child born to Emma and Leonard who is now at college age and about to be sent off to Oxford.  I found it odd that though none of the rest of them are aging, the child of the sorceress and former demon grew and aged at a human pace up to this point.  Will that continue or will his progress slow so that he can keep pace with his lover, Francis, the youngest of the familiars who at this point is immortal?   Hmm, inquiring minds want to know. 

Overall, though, I did enjoy this story from the fertile imagination of Amy Lane. I do recommend it to those who enjoy angels and demons and the world they live in and to those who want to get in on the ground floor of what could turn out to be a long-term, engaging, and intriguing MM romance series.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  It works for the character and storyline.

Sales Links;  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635339468
Edition Language English

Amy Lane on A Memory of Chocolate and her latest release ‘Familiar Angel’, a new trilogy from Dreamspinner Press (guest post)

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Familiar Angel by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon 

 

A Memory of Chocolate

By Amy Lane

Because Familiar Angel takes place over the span of 140 years, much of the love story in the present day is twined with events in the past. Like real memories, the important ones don’t always come in a linear development. They often come when someone needs the memory the most. (Shows like The Pretender and Supernatural that stretch long enough for the stars who play the young leads to grow up often run into trouble with this. Fortunately for me, the casting for the young actors are all in your head!)

This is a memory twined with a real-time event. Harry and Suriel are on a “job” or a “mission” to get a group of girls to safety—but time on the road is time on the road, and painful confessions often come to pass.

The real-time moment happens in the aftermath of such a painful confession.

The moment between Harry and Emma takes place long ago, in the past…

A yawn took over Suriel’s body, and Harry had to laugh. Apparently parts of being human took him by surprise.

You want to use the bed, don’t you?” he asked kindly.

Suriel shook his head and settled down more comfortably. “This is fine,” he said through another yawn. “I just… I want you to know. I know you’re still afraid of Big Cass—of having no faith in the world again, of being all alone. But you rebuilt faith in your heart with the love of your brothers, your parents—on that alone. That took more courage than facing Big Cass ever could.”

Suriel yawned again, and then, like a child, fell asleep.

Harry was left with the roar of the diesel engine and the hum of the tires on the tattered pavement as they rumbled through the night.

*

Mornings in Mendocino were frequently cold. It didn’t snow there often, but there was usually a sharp, wet wind blowing off the ocean, and the combination of cold and damp could chill a man to his vitals, make brittle his viscera and bones.

Within a week of moving to the tiny, drafty cabin that would become a mansion—and their home—Harry realized that Emma, who had power at her fingertips to command as an old and studied witch, woke up early every morning to start a fire in the Ben Franklin stove in the center of the room.

The boys had gotten used to sleeping as cats very quickly; they preferred it. Cats woke up fully, in an instant—nobody surprised a cat in the way Big Cass had been known to surprise the boys. And they were furry and, if they slept in a huddle, warm.

Always warm.

But Emma would get up early anyway, stoke the fire, and put on hot water for tea or coffee.

After a week, Harry was curious enough to turn human to ask her what she was doing.

First she greeted him with a warm sweater and thick socks to pull on, as well as a stocking cap and a blanket over his shoulders—the cold was stunning.

Then she poured him a hot cup of coffee, wrapped the tin cup in a towel, and pressed his fingers to the warm sides.

“Now what did you want to ask me, Harry?”

Harry stared at her and tried to keep his face composed. “Nothing,” he rasped. “Just… trying to figure out what we did to deserve all this.”

Emma’s smile illuminated stars and warmed planets—Harry was sure of it. “You boys just… just agreed, Harry. Jumped into my carpet bag as cats and came to start a new life. I just don’t want to make you sorry you took a chance on me, you understand?”

Harry nodded and sipped his coffee.

And realized that love came in the strangest of gestures, the most infinitesimal of signs.

*

They reached Visalia about an hour before dawn, and Harry urged Suriel to stretch out in the back quarter of the truck.

“Come sleep with me.” Suriel yawned. “I’ll set wards, Harry—they’ll wake you soon enough.”

Harry checked in with Edward, who had been dozing for the last hundred miles anyway and was apparently tucked into one of the bedrolls they’d brought. He told Harry he was setting his own wards and then fell back asleep, as a man or a cat, Harry couldn’t tell.

“Okay.” Harry yawned, trusting. Suriel turned on his side, and Harry went furry and glided up against his chest.

Suriel’s hands, stroking his ears back, smoothing his whiskers flat, reassured him on a primal level.

“When we’re less tired, I would love to do this with you as a man,” Suriel whispered.

Harry lapped delicately at his forearm. Well, yes. But not now. Harry was feeling too raw, too wounded now. He would just appreciate that arm holding him strongly, reminding him that he didn’t have to be alone.

Not tonight.

He woke up semipanicked, Suriel’s spot next to him cool in the morning chill. Someone was opening the door to the cab, and Harry hissed, skittering back, heart pounding, every alarm in his head going off, when Suriel’s voice greeted him.

“I’m sorry, Harry. I went to get you and the boys some chocolate. I hope that’s okay.”

Harry turned abruptly human, perched on his knees on the uncertain ground of the mattress.

“That’s….” Suriel handed him the paper cup, and he took it automatically, smiling shyly into Suriel’s eyes. Harry lost the reason he was frightened and upset and took the hot chocolate, dazed and stunned. Suriel’s eyes, that warm, rich chocolate brown, mesmerized him.

“That’s what?” Suriel asked, teasing.

“You’re here,” Harry said. “In the morning again. That’s wonderful.”

Suriel’s smile spread, went blinding, and Harry felt as though he’d said something brilliant instead of something obvious.

“I’ll go see how the girls are doing.” Suriel placed a pastry bag in his hand.

Then Suriel disappeared, closing the door behind him, and Harry was left in the rapidly heating central valley, drinking hot chocolate and remembering the feeling of his fingers wrapped around a towel-insulated tin cup in a drafty cabin next to the ocean.

Harry wasn’t stupid. He knew what it was that bound the two memories together.

They twined around his heart as he closed his eyes and sipped his chocolate.

Blurb

One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.

Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven him to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.

In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and he didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?

Excerpt

“Hide!” Harry had just enough presence of mind to grab Francis’s other side to help Edward pull him through the thicket of brambles that lined the river. Bleeding, dirty, breathless, they slid to a halt in a hollow between the blackberry bushes and the hill, lying on their stomachs, Francis sandwiched between them. Francis, who had received a terrible scratch from the corner of his mouth to the corner of his eye, moaned in pain. Harry shushed him, and Edward placed a gentle hand over his mouth.

A woman, clothed in blinding, glowing white, burst into the clearing with a man—man?—draped over her shoulder. His clothes were red velvet, and thick curly hair grew all over his face and large skull, like a goat’s.

His back feet were cloven.

“Leonard,” she begged. “Leonard… darling. Wake up. Wake up. I need your help.”

Leonard—the thing… man—rolled his head, much like Francis had done, and moaned. “Emma, leave me. If they find me with you… if they find Mullins here….”

“Mullins!” the woman whispered. “Mullins—I’m losing him. Oh please—Mullins, he’s losing himself again.”

“I’m losing myself again!” came a terrible growl, and another Leonard-like thing stepped into the clearing—this one very obviously glowing red. “Emma, we need to do the ritual. I can’t….” The monster thing, Mullins, let out a horrifying series of snuffling grunts and growls. “I’ll turn,” he said, sounding tearful—if a beast could be in tears. “I’ll turn and gut you both.”

“I understand,” she whispered. “You’ve been very brave. Here.” She set Leonard on the ground then and started to pull items from a leather satchel across her shoulder. “We’ll do it right now.”

“This isn’t the ceremonial place!” Mullins said, sounding despondent. “It’s not cleansed, it’s not prepared—”

To Harry’s surprise, Emma put a tender hand on the beast’s cheek. “My sweet boy, you’ve been too long in hell. We don’t need the trappings of the spell—although the things in those hex bags should help us focus. We just need ourselves, and our good intentions, and our desire.”

Mullins’s grunt was self-deprecating. “The road to hell is the one paved with good intentions,” he said gruffly.

“That’s only because the demons trying to get to earth walked that path first,” she said, sounding cheeky. In their quiet interaction, Harry got a better look at her. Not young—over twenty—but not old either, she was beautiful in every sense of the word. Straight nose, even teeth, perfectly oval face, and blonde hair that streamed, thick and healthy, to her waist, she was what every boy should dream about when he went to sleep hoping for a wife.

Harry didn’t dream about girls, but he could look at this one and know the appeal.

But it was more than the physical beauty—and she had it all, soft hips, small waist, large breasts—there was the kindness to the beasties. The gentleness and calm she radiated when Mullins had threatened her.

Suddenly Harry had a powerful yearning for his mum, when she’d been dead for nearly five years.

“Here,” Emma said, breaking the sweetness of the moment. “Take the hex bags—there’s ten. Make a pentagram with me and Leonard in the center. I’m summoning an angel, love. You may want to leave when you’re done. I’ve no guarantees he’ll be friendly to you.”

“That’s not news,” Mullins said dryly and began his task. “Do you…. Emma, I know you’re powerful. You summoned my master for knowledge on power alone. But all else you have done, you have done out of love.”

“Including persuade you to our side,” she said. While he set the hex bags, she was stretching Leonard out before her, stripping his shirt with deft, practiced movements. The skin underneath the clothes was smooth and human, and Harry felt nauseated at the abomination of beast and man.

But Emma seemed to care for him.

“It would be worth any torture,” Mullins said softly, pausing in his duties, “to know Leonard will live.”

“Come with us!” Emma begged. “I may not love you like I love Leonard, but you’ve been a good friend to us. Please—”

Mullins shook his head. “It’s not enough to break me free,” he said, and his bestial smile would haunt Harry and Edward for years. “Someone would have to love me enough to sacrifice for me, and make no mistake, Emma. This will come down to your sacrifice. You will be stripped of your power, your youth—are you sure you want to do this?”

Emma let out a sigh. “I would live a mortal lifetime without worry,” she said softly. “But I do not want him all alone without me. ’Twould be cruel.” She closed her eyes for a moment, and then—

Harry gasped and heard Edward do the same.

She was looking right at them.

“I’m about to do something very wrong,” she said, great conviction carrying in her serenity. “But I think something very right too. Carry on, Mullins, but run as soon as you are done.” Her voice dropped. “Please, my friend—I’ll have enough weighing on my soul for tonight’s doings as it is.”

Mullins continued to bustle, and as he set the last hex bag down, Emma began to chant. Mullins traced a circle in the dirt around the outside bags, and then, when the circle ends touched, he pulled out a knife.

Emma nodded unhappily at him and then bit her lip as he cut a line on his palm and let the blood drip on the sealed ends of the dirt line. He and Emma looked at each other again, a strong friendship locking their gaze, before he turned and lurched away, his gait awkward and crippled on his cloven hooves. Harry felt some compassion for him then, poor beast, good friend—but his gaze didn’t linger.

He was too busy watching the white light around Emma grow larger, filling the space inside the pentagram like a bowl.

The light exploded outward, filling the clearing itself, and then one more time, just a few feet more.

Harry and Edward stared at each other, terrified.

They were in the light circle as well.

“Glory!” Edward whispered, and Harry was too shaken to quiet him.

Francis stirred between them and opened his eyes slowly. For a moment Harry feared that he’d startle and scream—Harry certainly would have raised a bloody great hue and cry—but then, Francis wasn’t Harry.

He parted his bruised lips and smiled.

“An angel,” he breathed, and Harry turned his attention back to the center of the clearing.

Where an angel appeared.

Harry’s heart stopped in his throat. Tall—because of course, right? An angel would be tall. Clothed in robes that glittered like diamonds, whiter than pearls he was. His hair was a marvelous flame-gold color, red like a sunrise or an ember. His face was more handsome than sin—bold, straight nose, full lips, a square jaw, eyes of warm, solid brown.

Harry’s groin gave a painful throb, and he almost wept. Those things—those dirty, filthy things that were done to him by rough miners and haughty bankers with gold in their grubby fists—those things were not right here.

Not with an angel.

Not with this angel.

Harry’s eyes burned with the perfection of this angel.

“Suriel,” Emma breathed.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two kids who are mostly grown, two kids who aren’t, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Familiar Angel by Amy Lane

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.

Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven Harry to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.

In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?

Familiar Angel by Amy Lane might be one of those “its not you, it’s me” things.  I’m in totally unfamiliar territory here (no pun intended) because I’ve never felt less connected to a story than I did here with that of Harry and his angel Suriel.  It’s been bothering me to no end to get to the heart of why because first it’s Amy Lane (insert surprise face emoji).  That’s never happened before. I felt such a detachment towards a story that had so many elements that should have had my had my emotions all caught up,  zip tied and locked in.

There was child trafficking, child prostitution and abuse, magic, demons (yes, I absolutely find them far more interesting than angels) and the potential for love  forever lost.  All great!  I did zero in on the angel aspect as part of my issue with the storyline.  Angels are not high on my list when looking at plotlines, not until they fall, and then they have to do some scrambling to draw my attention. Usually I just avoid the heck out of them.  But Amy Lane?  I don’t avoid her…  ever!  So into Familiar Angel I dove.  I dunno.  I think the angels won here.

I found Suriel whinny and his explanation as to why he couldn’t be with Harry full of holes.  I liked Harry but honestly wished he could have moved past his initial “angel worship” because their interactions and dynamics got old and repetitive. Harry’s two other ‘brothers’ and their chosen mates I found far more fascinating than the main couple here.

I liked the family that the author created to surround Harry, Edward, and Francis.  That goes for the evil that’s chasing the boys and the way in which he gets dealt with.  Francis and Edward especially seem to have so much depth and promise, that I can’t wait to read their stories.  At least I think that’s where Amy Lane is heading here.  Francis deserves to have his HEA so I hope the author gives him one.

Other readers will pick this story up and love the romance between Harry and Suriel.  They might find it sweet and magical and, just what they are looking for.  But for me…I’ll look backwards to those stories I loved and forwards to the new Amy Lane

Cover art by Reese Dante.  Something about that cover is off just like the story.   The cat should be more alleycat, leaner, harder like Harry.  Again, it’s me, not you.  *Shakes head*

Sales Links;  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635339468
Edition Language English

A Lila Audiobook Review: Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Starting over and falling in love.

 

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

 

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

 

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

 

Turns out, Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

 

Manny Get Your Guy takes place about ten years later than the first book in the series. It took me a minute to get used to the changes in the characters, but a couple of pages in, I was back in their world. It was a refreshing change since most stories end with a HEA and we don’t get to experience their lives afterwards.

 

This story is a classic combination of Amy Lane and Dreamspun Desire. It’s over-the-top, soap opera-like, and perfect for a cute story with more than a simple romance. As readers, we get to be part of Brandon’s and Taylor’s path to happiness, without forgetting how they became the men we met. It’s a slow journey but an interesting one.

 

I like the MCs enemies-to-lovers story and how they fought their attraction in the beginning, even if short lived. Both characters are lovely and their support system complemented their relationship. As always, it’s nice having both POV; easier to see how they fall for each other.

 

The moments between the couples are great but those between Taylor and Brandon felt intimate and awe inspiring. There are lightheaded moments and many embarrassing tidbits. Overall, this is another winner for this author and series.

 

One thing I like about John Solo’s narrations is his consistency. As soon as I heard the voices, I could connect them with the characters in the previous book. He did an excellent job bringing everyone to life and making Brandon and Taylor the center of the story.

 

The cover by Paul Richmond fits the series and shows a happy version of Taylor. It reminds me of one of the characters in Days of Our Lives.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours 16 minutes
Published: August 10, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B074NCK18W
Edition Language: English

 

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny
Book #2: Manny Get Your Guy

A Lila Audiobook Review: Tart and Sweet (Candy Man #4) by Amy Lane and Narrator: Philip Alces

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

In the Army, Robbie Chambers turned on his lover out of fear—and he hasn’t been able to live with himself since. Now he’s out of the Army but still trapped in the closet that brought on his most cowardly moment, and he starts to think he’ll never be able to fight his way free.

Until he sees Cy McVeigh. Beautiful and uninhibited, Cy is dancing on the boardwalk at Old Sac for no other reason than the moment called for it. Robbie not only joins in the dance but is smitten from the very beginning.

However, Robbie still has old business to clear up, and when he helps out a kid in need and comes face-to-face with the man he betrayed, he’s forced to come clean with himself. He can’t redeem his mistake if he’s still locked into his old patterns, and he won’t ever be worthy of Cy if he can’t earn Adam’s forgiveness. He’s going to need all the help he can get from the people at Candy Heaven in order to make things right with his past so he can have a future with Cy.

 

Tart and Sweet is another lovely story. Just like the title, it’s sweet and a bit tart, but not enough to overwhelm the plot. Like the previous three books in the series, we get to see all the original characters and how they are evolving in the relationships. At the same time, they all play an integral part in Cy’s and Robbie’s story.

 

The opening scene between Cy and Robbie is beautiful and envelops the listener into the magic of the boardwalk and the possibilities of a new relationship. The connection between them and Robbie’s hopes are palpable and in the air between them for all to see.

 

I enjoyed Robbie’s disposition to make amends about his past, starting with Adam. He doesn’t shy away from what he did and takes responsibility for his actions. This prepared him for an honest relationship with Cy; who isn’t perfect but understands Robbie’s needs. Cy’s inner shine is always present and Robbie is attracted to it, but their relationship is more than physical.

 

Overall, this one is perhaps my favorite in the series. I hope, we get many more trips to Candy Heaven.

 

The narration by Philip Alces continues to be perfect for the characters and the story. He has a continuity in the voices that allows the story to flow and for the characters to take life.

 

Paul Richmond’s cover is another adaptation from the original, including the pets and the always present piece of candy.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Audible

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Narrator: Philip Alces
Length: 7 hours and 47 minutes

Published: August 1, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B074CK36NT
Edition Language: English

 

Series:  Candy Man
Book #1: Candy Man
Book #2: Bitter Taffy
Book #3: Lollipop
Book #4: Tart and Sweet

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Red Fish, Dead Fish (Fish Out of Water#2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Amy Lane exceeded all my expectations with this series. She’s known for sweet romance and is also the queen of angst. Her humor is fantastic and she’s one of the best storytellers ever. But until this series, she’s not done the action, suspense, and chilling drama that she’s done here. This story, like the first one in the series, was highly complex, horror-filled at times, riveting, emotional (of course!), painfully difficult to read at times, and provided readers with a highly driven team of MCs who literally race against the clock to find and stop a crazed serial killer who happens to be a former cop and has gotten his hands on a fellow female officer.

The main characters are interesting and perfect for each other—the slender-built, introverted attorney (Ellery) who might appear stand-offish or snobby at first meeting to those who don’t know him. But he has a reputation for being highly skilled at defending the underdog, and that was proven in the first book when he successfully helped the firm’s sexy, bad-boy investigator (Jackson) get his brother-of-the-heart out of a murder conviction by finding not only the real criminal but uncovering a ring of murders who rape and torture their victims before killing them. And the worst? They’re cops.  That Ellery and Jackson found each other and love each other—though that’s yet to be expressed as of the end of book one—is only icing on the cake.


As with book one, I was totally absorbed in the mystery within the first chapters and completely on board for the romance between Ellery and Jackson.  Jackson is as prickly as his mean, snarling cat, Billy-Bob, but Ellery manages to tame them both.  In the course of continually pulling Jackson out of scrapes with death and in between trips to the hospital for various injuries he suffers in the line of duty, Ellery learns that the latest victim is Jackson’s mother—the woman who gave birth to him, though she never nurtured him enough for him to consider her his beloved mom.  That honor goes to his best friend’s mother who literally pulled him from the hell that was his childhood and saved his life. 

Nevertheless, the action is intense and each time there’s a lull or a new lead comes up, a new facet to the mystery appears, and the guys are off and running again. Well, Jackson is off and running and Ellery is attempting to get him back—all in one piece, please. 

The fast-paced final chapters and the heartbreaking and heartwarming events and character interactions, including dialogue between Jackson and Ellery’s mom who Jackson refers to as Lucy-Satan, are priceless.  Add to that the intrigue that Owens didn’t just pop out as a manic serial killer—he had to have been groomed to the role—and who better to look at than Captain Karl Lacey, the military man who came all the way from Nevada to interview with Ellery, only to turn around and go back without imparting any news.  It seems it was more of an exploratory mission of What do you know? than anything else and sets the scene for book three, which will hopefully come out within the next year.  Oh and by the way, I finally realized why the names Ace Atchinson and Sonny Daye seemed familiar.  Ms. Lane threw these two characters from Race for the Sun out early in this story as either red herrings or key characters in the mystery that will continue to unfold in book three. Can’t wait.

The author also provided four short stories – vignettes of action that takes place between books one and two; stories that originally appeared on her blog.  This is a nice bonus read for those who love her work and this series specifically. 

If you like action-packed, suspense-filled dramas from a master storyteller, don’t hesitate to pick up this book.  It’s much better to read book one first, however, so put the series on your TBR.  It’s definitely one of my top picks of 2017.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The attention-getting cover art by Reese Dante features a gold fish in a glass and a knife dripping with blood, both appropriate to the story. It’s also bright and colorful and similar to the cover of  book one.  Tagline: There’s blood in the water and death in the air.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleRed Fish, Dead Fish
ISBN139781635337648
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFish Out of Water #2