A Lucy Review:Tricks, Treats and a Spider (Winter Home Book 2) by Kassandra Lea

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

For Manuel Aguilar, holidays often bring on depressive episodes. But this is his first Halloween in the beautiful Victorian that his lover, Brett, renovated for them. He finds himself eager to celebrate. With the help of the neighbor girl, Poppy, he gets the house all decked out, including Blackberry, the large black and purple spider Brett gave him.

When the spider is stolen, Brett tries desperately to halt Manny’s spiral into depression even as the theft and vandalism disturb his own peace of mind. But whether it was a homophobic act or just a cruel prank, Brett and Poppy are determined to find Blackberry and save Halloween for Manny.

It is a cute Halloween-themed story centering around Manuel and Brett, who are spending their first Halloween in their own house.  With the help of Poppy, the teenage neighbor, Manuel has gone all out on the decorations, including the black and purple fuzzy spider, Blackberry, that was a gift from Brett and was sort of a talisman for their relationship.  It’s already been a difficult time because Manuel suffers from depression that is worse at holiday time.

In Brett, Manuel has unconditional love and acceptance.  There are numerous descriptions of “…the man he loved” and sometimes it was too much. Brett definitely does his best to stand by his man and support him and that part was lovely.  They are faced with dealing with the stolen spider, with Poppy, with depression and with repercussions of the theft.

There is a very good chance I will be in the minority for rating this one because while it was cute, it wasn’t memorable for me in any way.  I am a super fan of short stories and novellas but this one I felt needed more.  Things were a little too simplistic – Poppy and the spider, looking at leaves in the dark, depression.  Things needed to be developed more.

The cover, Manuel against a background of the house, is cute but simple.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 70 pages
Published November 19th 2019 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
ASIN B0819D5898

 

A Lucy Review LEGENDARY LOVES Volume 2 (In My Arms Again by Nell Iris The Murky Depths by Kassandra Lea Weekend at Bigfoot’s by Addison Albright

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JMS Books’ Trios are themed collections of three gay romance stories by a trio of authors. Each story is available separately, but readers can get all three for a discounted bundle price.

Legendary Loves Volume 2 contains three paranormal shifter M/M romances just in time for Halloween! Contains the stories:

In My Arms Again by Nell Iris: Oxen is lonely, feeling like he’s waiting for something, and can’t focus. But when a very ill stranger collapses on his doorstep, everything changes. The stranger, Vinge, is a Pegasus unable to transform. Both men feel an instant connection that swiftly grows deeper. The questions surrounding Vinge are many. Why is he so familiar? What will it take for the depth of their connection be revealed?

The Murky Depths by Kassandra Lea: Tired of the daily grind of his job, Keston heads out for a weekend at his family’s cabin in Kona Woods. Turns out he isn’t alone, though, as there are others lurking in the shadows. When a near-death experience brings Ness waltzing into his life, everything Keston thought he knew is turned upside down. Will facing what scares him bring to Keston’s life what it’s missing most?

Weekend at Bigfoot’s by Addison Albright: There’s nothing about perky — twinky? — Oliver Hughes that would make Sensational News’ (Never Fake! We Swear!) reporter Wilson Banks think Bigfoot actually exists. But while pursuing soundbites for a tabloid story about Bigfoot, Wilson witnesses something he wasn’t meant to see. In Wilson’s new reality, is there room for love with someone whose dreams are as big as his … er … feet?

While this is an Anthology Volume, the stories are also sold separately and so are reviewed that way below:

In My Arms Again by Nell Iris

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Trapped in a growing sense of restlessness, Oxen the hunter is lonely. Feeling like he’s waiting for something—or someone—he’s unable to focus on getting ready for winter. But when a handsome and very ill stranger collapses on his doorstep, everything changes.

Vinge is from a Pegasus family but has never been able to transform. As soon as he awakens in Oxen’s care, both men feel an instant connection, which grows deeper as Oxen nurses him back to health. Something profound within each man calls out to the other, but neither knows what it is.

The questions surrounding Vinge and their deepening relationship are many. Why is Vinge so familiar to Oxen when they have clearly never met? Why are they both reluctant to take the first step to a real commitment? And what will it take for the true depth of their connection be revealed?

This novella has sometimes very flowery descriptions in a very old world setting.  Owen has been feeling off- restless and unable to hunt – for weeks.  As if he is waiting for something.  The something comes in the form of a man, Vinge, banging on his cabin door, nearly dead of fever.  As Oxen nurses the man to health, he has the immediate sense of connection and doesn’t understand why. They know each other’s names without being told and they understand what the other is thinking without trying. 

As Vinge heals he shares more of his story with Oxen – he is a Pegasus who was abused and tortured with the consent of his family because he is unable to transform from human.  It was heartrending to know the pain inflicted on him for being different, a happening that occurs every day.

The book is very character driven, with Oxen and Vinge coming together with no issues at all.  There is a meet the villagers moment and Oxen’s neighbors, Thorwald and wife, appear briefly. 

The explanation for the connection between them was rushed and seemed a little tacked on.  I think here the length worked against the fullness of the story. I am a fan of Nell Iris and I will continue to read her work but this one was not a favorite of mine.

The cover, showing Oxen with an overlay of a Pegasus, fit the story very well and conveyed the mood.

Buy Links

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Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

 Murky Depths  by Kassandra Lea

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

While Keston enjoys his occasional video game tournaments with the kid across the hall, he’s grown tired of the daily grind of his job. With a bit of a push from his boss, he heads out for a weekend at his family’s cabin in Kona Woods. A little time away from the hustle and bustle sounds like just the thing he needs.

Turns out he isn’t alone, though, as there are others lurking in the shadows. When a near-death experience brings Ness waltzing into his life, everything Keston thought he knew is turned upside down, and he runs in fear.

But will facing what scares him bring to Keston’s life what it’s missing most?

Keston is just burned out and while he likes his apartment, he’s questioning his job and his life.   He likes his job.  “Being a manager was great, he thrived on leading others and keeping things orderly.”  He has a good apartment with neighbors he gets along with, especially little Molly, his gaming partner, and her mother.  He is close with his parents.  But something is missing. His family has a remote cabin in Kona Woods and he goes there with the idea of rest, relaxation and maybe considering what to do now.

Of course, we all know about best laid plans.  When Keston walks to the lake for a relaxing canoe ride, he ends up falling asleep and wakes in the middle of a terrible storm.  “And while he’d napped, the gloriously calm fall day decided to play a dirty trick on him.” As he tries to get back to shore, he is absolutely sure he is going to die.  “This is where I die.  This is how it all ends.  No more late nights at my desk with the glow of my lamp to keep me company.  No more wheeling and dealing and helping my team.  No more getting my butt beat by a ten-year-old. No chance of love.”  Despite the impossibility of it, he is saved by Ness, a stranger with a Scottish accent. 

This opens Keston’s reality up to something he would never dream of and the connection between he and Ness is powerful.  There are family secrets that need to be uncovered and of course dealing with Biggie.  But those come after Keston’s incredible freak-out upon this new reality and I appreciated that freak out so much.  Faced with facts that turn your world around I thought it was a realistic response.  Terror!

While I loved Molly, the ten-year-old neighbor, she definitely didn’t seem like a child to me.  Perhaps the fact I am a teacher of primary children, but I rolled my eyes a few times at some of her dialogue. “Don’t take too long,” Molly said, getting up.  “We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.”  Despite that, I liked both Molly and Frannie, her mother.  The comments about people questioning why Keston is friends with Molly made me sad, as it would be suspect these days.  Keston is, however, a “…big brother-father-super cool uncle all wrapped into one…”

There were more than a few editing issues, usually the wrong word.  Quit instead of quite, snack for smack, a few added words.  They weren’t enough to drag me from the story but definitely noticeable. 

Things were a little too easy to forecast for me.  As this author is new to me, I will give another book of hers a try, although maybe not a paranormal.

The cover matches the story completely, although it is a total spoiler for the story!

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Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

Weekend at Bigfoot’s by Addison Albright
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It wasn’t supposed to be REAL! Bigfoot doesn’t actually exist. Yetis, shifters, creatures of the night … none of those exist. Right? Right?

There’s nothing about perky — some might even say twinky — Oliver Hughes that would make a skeptic like Sensational News’ (Never Fake! We Swear!) reporter Wilson Banks think otherwise. But while pursuing soundbites for a tabloid story about Bigfoot, Wilson witnesses something he wasn’t meant to see.

In Wilson’s new reality, is there room for love with someone whose dreams are as big as his … er … feet?

In a word: cute. It was a unique take on shifters, in this case, Bigfoot. Wilson is a reporter for a National Enquirer type newspaper, the Sensational News. Despite this, he has standards on what he reports. He won’t lie or make up “news”. When he is sent to Tallbear to track down a Bigfoot sighting, he is annoyed but ready to give it his best. He won’t do slasher stories, but finds a way to make it interesting. “I’m going to include statements from people who insist they’ve seen Bigfoot, but I think the slant my story might take will be on the dangers of becoming too obsessed with proving it.” Wilson decides to focus his story on these dangers of obsession with Bigfoot when the death of an elderly woman, Ida, caused by a trap put out to snare Bigfoot, comes to his attention.

He meets Oliver, “Oliver Hughes, aka ‘Bigfoot’” and falls instantly in lust with the sparkly, dark-haired twink. Oliver works for the bed and breakfast his sister owns, which happens to be the place Wilson is staying, as well as being a very talented graphic designer. It turns out that Ida was the aunt of Oliver and his sister, Lena.

Wilson really does come across as a fair reporter. He believes that most of the people he interviews about Bigfoot truly believe the stories they tell him. Emma, who saw Bigfoot fifty years ago and has stuck with her story ever since, and even Harold, the man who set the bear trap that killed Ida. He is respectful when he interviews and people open up to him.

Wilson and Oliver begin a weekend fling and Wilson is so enamored with the colorful Oliver, waxing poetic about his eyes. Oliver himself is adorable. “You don’t need to be nervous.” Oliver’s tone was amused. “I’m a sure thing, yet no hard feelings if you’d rather not.” They laugh a lot together.

The “… something he wasn’t meant to see” from the blurb comes at the end of the book and even though you easily guess what is going to happen, it was fun and funny. I liked the book, an easy, fun trip through the tabloids.

The cover, featuring Oliver amid a rainbow background, fit the story very well.

Buy Links

 Publisher |  B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

Sales Links to Legendary Loves Vol 2:

Buy Links

The books will all be 20% off at the publisher’s site through October 25.

Legendary Loves, Volume 2

 Publisher |  B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z7G17JM/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07Z7G17JM/

Book Details For Legendary Loves:

ebook
Published October 19th 2019 by JMS Books, LLC
ISBN139781646561186
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL https://www.jms-books.com/contemporary-c-29_93/legendary-loves-volume-2-p-2978.html

A Lucy Review: Stay Awhile by Kassandra Lea

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The holidays are usually a whirlwind of busy activity for Anson—decorating, baking for friends—but this year, his heart isn’t in it. He’d hoped coming out to Daly as asexual would be the right thing to do. Since then, he hasn’t heard a word from the handsome photographer.

Now Daly’s suddenly shown up at his front door, asking Anson to trust him, to come with him. He doesn’t dare hope in case this is just another build up to a bigger heartbreak.

The story starts with Anson, drinking hot cocoa and feeling heartsick.  His cat, Noodles, is his only company right now. He’s been waiting for some kind of message from his boyfriend, Daly, and so far hasn’t received one, until Daly shows up at the door.  Apparently, it’s been weeks since he heard anything from Daly and now Daly starts out by enthusing about the pie Anson made.  That was a little odd, but Daly wants to show Anson something. 

I was excited to see this holiday book featuring an asexual MC and I was curious to see how the sex aspect would be handled.   It is a short story at 33 pages and so there isn’t time to fit everything in.  We get the flashback of Anson and Daly’s about-to-be first kiss, which is followed by “And that was the moment he chose to blurt it out, the words popping out of his mouth.  “I’m asexual.”  So that was how Daly finds out, except I can’t help but think he had to have some idea when you’ve been with a guy for months and haven’t even shared a kiss.

While I liked what was here, I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a chapter.  We are told Daly needed time but we aren’t shown that, or what his actual reaction was, or how that conversation went after Anson’s blurt out.  I needed that to better connect with these guys.  The end also seemed a little too easy, needing more of a conversation.

So it’s a very short, sweet scene of Anson and Daly.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1, 33 pages
Expected publication: November 28th 2018 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
ASIN B07K6S8L6K
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Old Christmas Magic by Kassandra Lea

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Drew McLean has had a run of bad luck and it’s dampened his Christmas spirit. But the last thing he expects to find for the holiday is a demon.

While strolling in the late-night snow, Drew hears screeching tires and a sad scene is awaits him around the corner. A man kneels beside a dog hit by a car, distraught and broken.

The man is Artem, a demon sent to find a pure soul. Drew matches that description to a T. The problem is Artem’s never really been good at the demon gig.

Will a little Christmas magic help them both find what they’re looking for?

I found Old Christmas Magic by Kassandra Lea surprisingly moving.  The story of a demon who doesn’t wish to actually be a demon and is tormented because of his actions that betray his feelings is poignant and one that amazingly works as a holiday story. Sent to earth for one final mission to prove himself, Artem is distraught, knowing he doesn’t fit in anywhere. The author makes Artem someone we connect with emotionally as we see him suffer over the plight of the dog, his feelings about Drew who helps them both and Christmas the time of the story.

The characters are well done, the events flow to help you understand Artem’s plight, his growth and joy at discovering Christmas and the relationship being built between himself and Drew.

My only issue is at the end.  The author strove for the HEA and included an insta love element when really none was necessary or believable.  Leaving Drew and Artem at starting a relationship, finding each other at Christmas, having Artem learn that he did have a place somewhere after all, well, that would have been perfect.  Sometimes a HFN is all that’s called for.   A HEA turned this story from a potentially great story into a nice one.

Still, Old Christmas Magic is a different take on the holiday fare with a demon finding his Christmas magic when he had none at all. Lovely.

Cover art is different.  Artem is all broken and battered, definitely not wearing a golden mask.  But the car and the street is a element from the story and its eye catching, that’s true.

Sales Links:  JMS Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 2nd 2017 by JMS Books LLC
ISBN13
9781634865524

A MelanieM Review: Wytch & Prinze by Kassandra Lea

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Medium Jacob Wytch lives in the forest with his fluffy dog Gruff and his ghostly fairy godmother Amelie. When he gets a call from his friend Renwick Prinze, he panics. Jacob has been pining for Renwick longer than he cares to admit. Instead of admitting, however, he listens to Amelie and begins to sabotage Renwick’s beds in hopes of inviting his dashing friend to sleep with him.

Wytch & Prinze by Kassandra Lea is a retelling of the Princess and the Pea fairytale turned M/M romance and it’s a fun one. Successful medium Jacob Wytch and his dog Gruff live alone in the forest, an outcast in town due to the nature of his gifts and his name which is of no comfort at all to his superstitious townspeople.  His best friend, living that is?  Renwick, a chef gaining favor and success, due in part to Jacob’s help.  But there’s more to it, Jacob’s fallen in love with Renwick but is too scared to change the status quo of their current friends relationship.

In a cute turn, Lea has his fairy godmother be a ghost, Amelie, a young girl killed during a fire at a Rave.  I really loved the character of Amelie.  She’s quirky, determined and I honestly wanted to know so much more about her.  I could actually see an entire series built around Amelie and the people she decided to help.

Which brings me the reason why a story I found so charming wasn’t rated higher.  I loved the premise, the setting, the dog, and absolutely adored Amelie.  Jacob Wytch, who was a wreck when we meet him, I liked him too.  Not adored, liked.  Ditto Renwick.  I wish I had more of a feeling of them together, their friendship prior and who they really were as people.  As characters, the author didn’t give me enough of a connection to them as I would have liked to have had.

There are some missed opportunities to do just that here.  The author brings the characters together, but the readers only get a few scenes (not talking of sex but connectivity) to see any chemistry.  Instead it’s more conversations with Amelie or internal arguments with themselves, which would work if the story itself had been much longer.  Which it isn’t.

Those are the places where I feel the author missed the mark.  Overall, the story is a sweet, cute, romantic fairy tale.  I enjoyed it and wish the author would revisit the characters and universe again to give us an update on them and of course, Amelie!

Cover artist Natasha Snow: Cover art tells us immediately we’re in fairy-tale land.  I liked it.

Sales Links

Less Than Three Press LLC

Book Details:

ebook, 10,000 words, 20 pages plus
Published April 19th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620049969
Edition LanguageEnglish