A Lila Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1) by Rhys Ford and Derrick McClain Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs – or four – and quiet evenings…until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough – right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.

Loving a werewolf – loving Gibson with all his secrets – has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big, bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

Once Upon a Wolf has an interesting concept and a slow development. It has a different take on werewolves’ dynamics and relationships. I’m glad it was not an insta-love story–which I love as well-but the pacing gives the reader the chance to understand what makes this short story unique.

The story is more about the relationship between Ellis, Gibson, and Zack than a love story. I really like all the characters, especially Ellis. His relationship with Gibson and how they communicate even when he was in wolf form show the author’s attention to detail. Zach was a bit of a puzzle and I wanted more from him and his background.

Like most short stories, the amount of world-build and new information takes a lot of time to develop, leaving little time for other aspects of the story. It’s a strong start to a series, and I hope book two is better than this one.

Derrick McClain didn’t do much for this story. It felt flat and I have trouble following the characters at times. Other scenes were a bit over the top.

The cover by Reece Notley is simple and to the point just like the story. It’s interesting enough to make people stop and read the blurb.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Derrick McClain
Length: 3 hours and 49 minutes
Published: May 16, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07D314G4X

Edition Language: EnglishSeries: Wayward Wolves
Book #1: Once Upon a Wolf

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Rebel (415 Ink #1) by Rhys Ford and Tristan James (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story has the “flavor” of Rhys Ford’s Sinners Gin or Hellsinger series—there’s a huge cast of characters, all of whom are young men who are just begging to get their own stories. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the author will provide them at some point in the future.

These young men were brought together in their early years through the foster system that didn’t provide any safety net until they formed their own family of sorts. Gus is one of those young men, a tattoo artist who’s been away for a few years, driven by his personal demons, doing what he needed to do to get over breaking up with his lover, Rey Montenegro.

Rey wanted stability and commitment to a future together and apparently Gus didn’t, so he broke up with the moody young man who never seemed to be able to put down roots. Now Gus is back in town and to everyone’s surprise, Gus has been presented with an unexpected gift. The night Rey broke his heart, he got drunk and had sex with a female tattoo artist and he’s just learned from her that her three-year-old son, Chris, is his. Now, faced with trying to get partial custody through a system that rejected him when he was a kid, while also trying to deal with memories of the mother who tried to kill him and was successful in killing herself and his twin, Gus turns to his family-of-choice and to the love of his heart, Rey, to guide him through his nightmares.

The story was interesting and exciting, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and the “feel” of it as I mentioned earlier is similar to that of several of the author’s past successful series so I have no doubt this will be a winner as well. The characters were well-developed, though getting through the introductions to the ensemble cast and their backstories was difficult while listening to the book in audio format. Whereas, in an e-book, I could flip back to easily find a reference to a past event to refresh my memory, that can’t be done in an audiobook and I wanted to be able to do that a few times.

Speaking of audio, the only thing that bugged me about Tristan James’s narration was the extra “s” he put on words ending in “s”. He didn’t just put it where it should be pronounced like in Rhys’s (pronounced Reecez in this case) name but also in others like brothers that he pronounced as brothersez. It detracted from the narration too much to consider the narration top notch and I was disappointed because I generally love his beautiful baritone voice and was looking forward to his narration of this book.

All that being said, I recommend this story to all who love MM romance with couples who are reunited, those who are reformed bad boys, and stories written by Rhys Ford whose word choices give descriptive phrases new meaning. Though I loved this, if given a choice, I’d get the e-book instead of audio.

The cover by Reece Notley depicts a side view of a long-haired man, the hair partially covering his face. Wearing jeans and an open shirt, the ink on his forearm is intricate and beautiful. Very attractive cover!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Book Details:

9 hours 11 minutes

Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 29th 2017)
ASINB07C4J6CHN
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series415 Ink #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: 415 Ink: Rebel by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.

Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.

Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.

For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.

When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.

415 Ink: Rebel launches the start of another series by Rhys Ford in stunning style.  A second chance at love story, full of wounded, life-damaged men in search of love and HEA, 415 Ink: Rebel is exactly why I eagerly await each new release by this author. It’s full of people whose lives are easy to fall into, in this case Gus Scott, a wandering tattoo artist returning home after a two and a half year absence with startling news.  Due to one nightmarish breakup and a drunken night years ago, he’s just now learned he’s a father.  Something a gay man is astonished to hear.  And he wants to be a part of his son’s life.

As with most of Rhys Ford’s characters, there’s layers upon layers to Gus Scott and the men he calls family, a group of men tattooed, laden with their own issues, including a past history with Gus burdened with pain and misunderstandings.  To say he’s returning home to a mixed welcome is understated.

As the story unfolds and Gus reveals the news behind his return from his travels, Ford weaves the reader into the emotional fabric of these men and their universe.  We feel Gus’ pain when he finds out he’s a father, his desire to be a part of Chris’ life, the history that led up to Chris’ existence, all mired in one bad decision and breakup that’s casting reverberations still.  It’s nigh to impossible to remain unmoved by this story, especially when all involved want what’s best for Chris.  No “nasty mom or mother’s parents” to be found here.  Instead it’s a refreshing change of responsible adults working together in the best interests of a child.

Yes, this is an emotional journey and not just for Gus and Rey, but for all in the house as they also work to help provide support for Gus and Chris.  Due to Rhys Ford’s superb characters, vivid scenes, and dramatic narrative, I not only felt a part of their lives but believed in them absolutely.

What do you get with a Rhys Ford story?  Men to love, broken hearts in need of mending, extended families giving support, and more romance and angst to overflow any tale….all that and more superbly done.  I’ll leave you with this…

“I’m sorry I wasn’t what you wanted me to be, but you know what? You weren’t what I needed either, even if you were all I wanted.”

Sigh.  Now to wait for the next in the series.  Until then, pick up 415 Ink: Rebel by Rhys Ford.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Another great cover by Reece Notley.  That’s exactly my  idea of Gus.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: December 29th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803848
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series 415 Ink #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tramps and Thieves (Murder and Mayhem #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.

He’s back! That angst-filled, ready to run, totally addicting thief Rook Martin and the cop that loves him Dante Montoya in Tramps and Thieves, the second story in Rhys Ford’s Murder and Mayhem series.  Damn, am I happy about that!

Picking up from the tenuous beginnings of a relationship for himself and Dante amid the broken building of Rook’s business in book 1, Murder and Mayhem, Rook dives headlong into trouble by trying to pull off a prank and ends up falling on a corpse instead.  The complications and clues pointing back to Rook being not only involved in the crime but head suspect pile up immediately.  That pulls in his boyfriend and local detective Dante Montoya.

And where’s there’s Dante, there is also his wonderful Uncle Manny who now works for Rook, Rook’s crazy rich grandfather who engenders ambivalent feelings of love, hate and more from Rook, all the many other Martins…lazy, losers, haters, a few loving cousins, and a rich city’s worth of characters that flow out of the head of Ford and into this carnival of lies, double twists and turns, smoke games and so much more.  I love the way the author keeps us guessing along with Rook and Dante.  Ford builds suspense and anticipation into every turn of this murder mystery, there’s so many layers here, made up of pain-filled pasts, twisted family dynamics and more.

But back to the superb characterizations.  You can’t choose just one to highlight because Ford has crafted each so carefully.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s Dante, or Rook, or Manny or the frightening grandfather.  They have an authentic depth to them, they ooze passion and love and fear and yes, intelligence.  I believe in these people.  You will too.

Finally, Ford give a nod to one of my favorite books (if you haven’t read any of Dashiell Hammett’s stories do so now) and movies (Humphrey Bogart, I’ll say no more), The Maltese Falcon with an element here in the story.  Be still my heart.  It’s just perfect.

Can you read this as a stand alone?  Maybe.  But why would you?  Go read the first story, Murder and Mayhem and then run and pick up the marvelous Tramps and Thieves.  I can’t wait to see where Rhys Ford is taking this series next.  It and it’s author are both highly recommended.  But if I could put in a word for a romance for Uncle Manny please?

Cover art by Reece Notley.  Again its Dante, not Rook on the cover.  I miss Rook but he would be a hard character to find a match for.  Dante is much more easily matched.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Tramps and Thieves
ISBN139781640800380
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Murder and Mayhem #2
Characters Rook Stevens, Dante Montoya

A MelanieM Review: Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Dead women tell no tales.

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner’d falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still made his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.

With Murder and Mayhem, Rhys Ford rolls out another great series and another set of spectacular characters.  With storythreads convoluted as hell, and characters with pasts as twisted and hard to untie as wet sailor knots,  this is a story you just need to dive into and enjoy for the sexy, wild knuckle ride it is.

Starting with the fascinating character of Rook Martin, a high class thief trying to go straight, Rook has a background as startling as any you’ve might have come by.  I could go into it here by why spoil the pleasures that Ford has in store for the reader and Dante Montoya as he investigates Rook Martin’s background and stumbles into one shock after another.

So many pleasures here.  The characterizations are outstanding.  From the Cuban-Mexican detective Dante Montoya and his Uncle Manny, who I adore, his ginger haired partner Harry,  to the almost tangible heat that builds up between Rook and Dante, pulling them closer and closer until it ignites off the page.  And all the while a killer is loose, stalking a prey across the pages.  And the killer’s identity will keep you guessing right up until the reveal.

This is a marvel of a story.  I loved every minute of it.  The writing is smooth, action packed, vivid and everything I would want (and have come to expect from Rhys Ford, a go to author for me).  Grab this up and get reading.  You’re going to love it.

Cover art by Reece Notley is wonderful and works for the character of the detective

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  on sale now for $0.99| Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Published June 5th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleMurder and Mayhem
ISBN 1634762231 (ISBN13: 9781634762236)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Murder and Mayhem #1
CharactersRook Stevens, Dante Montoya settingCalifornia (United States)

Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2016)

An Ali Audiobook Review: Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.
Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.
While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down.
Fae are my some of my favorite paranormal creatures and I rarely find them done in the m/m genre so I’m always happy when this author does paranormal books because she does Fae well.  This was an urban fantasy story that developed from a previously done short story.  This is set in an alternative San Francisco and I thought the setting and world building was just fantastic.  Everything was described in such rich detail that I felt like I was there.  I could imagine all of the narrow, crowded streets, the different kinds of people and fae, the dragons that guarded the buildings.  It’s the type of story telling you need to read slowly so you can savor all of the words.
I really liked Roku as our main point of view.  He’s a complicated man with a tragic past, one of which unfolds over the course of the book.  I was a big fan of his from the very beginning of the book.  His partner Trent was a nice addition to the story and I ended up liking him as well.  There a host of side characters and they all are well developed in their own way.  They were also vividly done.
I thought the mystery aspect was really good.  It was fast paced and filled with action and adventure.  This book would make an excellent movie.  It was one high octane moment after another.  My only complaint was the romance aspect was insta-love.  I found this hard to by into with Roku’s horrible previous losses.  If it had been up to me I would have liked to see this be an ongoing series with a much slower developing romance.  But….since it’s not up to me, I just rolled with it.  They were sweet together and they both deserved some happiness.
This audiobook was narrated by Greg Tremblay and I felt like he did a very good job on this.  His voice has a nice cadence which I enjoy.  I felt he did an equally good job on all of the many voices and I enjoyed his narration a lot.
This cover was done by Anne Cain and I think it is a lovely cover.  I was immediately drawn to the rich purple and gold/orange colors on it.  I also think it is a great representation of the plot.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published July 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 9th 2017)
Original TitleDim Sum Asylum
ASINB0742FWZMV
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersRoku MacCormick, Trent Leonard settingChinatown, San Francisco, California (United States)

An Ali Audiobook Review: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness. 

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.
This was a very well done hurt/comfort story that looks at what it takes to make changes in your life. Dallas is renovating an old warehouse with his best friend. He’s more than happy to find out the attractive man across the street, Jake, will be the person who is going to restore the metal grating over his windows.

Jake has noticed Dallas before he starts working for him but Jake would never think of making a move on him. Jake is deeply in the closet and struggling with a background of severe childhood abuse, current depression and he’s caregiving for his horrible father.

As the two men start to work together Dallas quells his attraction to Jake because he realizes what Jake really needs is a friend. What follows is a very touching slow burn romance. 

The romance was really believable in this because there was no magic solution that was provided due to them falling in love. They’re friends for months first. Jake goes to therapy and puts the work in. They talk and communicate over everything. Then they proceed with their relationship. I loved the fact that the author did it this way.

I thought the writing was good and I loved the character development. I felt a great connection between the two men, and I as a reader was connected to their story. I also enjoyed the side characters and they roles they played. 

If you’ve read this author before you know that most of her stories contain a mystery, often a murder, and the investigation is part of the plot. This was different and focused on the relationship. It was probably her most contemporary romance to date. 
This audiobook was narrated by Greg Tremblay and I thought he did a very good job.  His voice is really pleasant and I liked how he did both of the main characters as well as the side characters.  There were a lot of emotional scenes in this book and I felt the audio made them even more full of feeling.  I got a little teary when I listened to this as opposed to when I read it.  I think a great narration really brings a story to a different level. 

There are some heavy scenes in this book and it might not be for everyone. Nothing is graphic but note this if you have triggers with stories about severe depression, child abuse or domestic violence.

For all other readers though, I highly recommend this. I enjoyed it a lot.
 
Cover:  This cover was done by Reece Notley and I like it a lot.  It’s striking and it catches your attention immediately.  I also like how it has a different vibe compared to the author’s other books, and since this is a different type of story for her, I think it’s perfect.
Sales  Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon | Audible | iTunes
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published April 10th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published March 17th 2017)
ASINB06Y3MPXNF
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

* Novel-length expansion of original short story found in Charmed & Dangerous anthology. *

Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.

Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.

While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down.

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford is an ‘glued to your seat~ that just did not happen”great action-packed urban fantasy.  What makes it so intriguing and darkly addicting are her labyrinthine character relationships and dynamics built into the story.  Some are revealed immediately, some are built up throughout the story as the characters get to know one another and a level of trust is achieved.  Then there are the convoluted, messy tapestry of lives that Ford has been surreptitiously weaving throughout Dim Sum Asylum that explodes like narrative grenades at certain points at the story that just leaves you and the characters totally astonished and sometimes  shattered.  Ah, I love it when that happens!

Roku MacCormick is a tortured soul as he has lost so much.  His background and history is dark and pain filled yet he works for order as a police officer in the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division, an unusual division all its own.  He’s about to get a new partner under circumstances you will need to read for yourself.  Trent is someone who will grow on you as he does on Roku.  He is also a reason (well one of them anyway) that I would love for Rhys Ford to write a sequel. I will let you discover the puzzle that is Roku and Trent together.  I will say that I love Roku and the character grows, healing a bit by the end of the novel. Together?  Roku and Trent start to form something extraordinary.

Roku is half fae/half human in a world that still considers anything fae something that should be “put down” because of the wars and their “insect” strangeness.  Yes, these aren’t your usual fae which I adored.  Ford has gone to species of insects for Fae Clans, from Mantids to Dragonflies, for her fae and it works beautifully.  This universe is so unusual and so appealing in its strangeness that I really need to know more. Especially about the “splices”, those genetically created beings made from fae and human DNA, think parents who wanted kids with wings, or some such nonsense.  No not Roku as he will tell anyone that asks, and yes, people ask him all the time. He was made the “normal” way. Rhys Ford has a universe here that cries out for a series as it full of magic and mysteries for ten novels, maybe more (that includes characters too).

Extraordinary world building, Odonata Fae, Mantid Fae, Crime lords, Ford’s magical, messy maze like relationships,  love, and characters I can never get enough of…Dim Sum Asylum is all that and so much more.  There’s mysteries, hate, love and romance.  And now if I can figure out how to bribe this author, I need a sequel because this is so much bigger than just one story.  It’s amazing!

And yes, it’s one I highly recommend you pick up and start reading when it’s out in June!

Cover art is wonderful.  Works for the story and characters.

Links coming soon

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Expected publication: June 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB06XBCN3R9
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersRoku MacCormick, Trent Leonard

settingChinatown, San Francisco, California (United States)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: There’s this Guy by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

theres-this-guy-by-rhys-fordHow do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

What can you say about a book that opens up on the darkest moment of a man’s life, that point where he see’s no hope, no light and then carries you and him on a journey that see’s him safe, in love and with a future that burns as bright as the sun?  You say that you love it and cherish the man and couple you have been reading about.  That’s what you say.

Jake Moore is that man.  His life is one long night of pain, bloody beatings and unmeasurable sorrow.  And it hasn’t ended by any means.  The person most responsible is still barely alive, punishing Jake even from his dying bed.  The hell that this vicious man has made Jake’s life is brought vividly alive through Jake’s confused thoughts and memories of his past, his mother, conversations…his anguish bleeds off the page and into your heart.  He’s a welder by trade, also an artist which is where he pounds out his anger and confusion that he feels over his life and sexuality, welding pieces from the bits left over in the shop and things that he finds to bring home.

Then Dallas Yates and his best friend (and all around wonder) Celeste come into Jake’s life via the renovation of a Art Deco building across the street.  Between the two of them, Dallas who makes Jake yearn for everything he’s been told was evil and Celeste, flamboyant, feminine and proud of who she is (and how far she’s come), makes Jake think  past other boundaries he’s always been provided with.  It’s never downplayed how broken Jake is or that he needs professional help to recover, an important element I really loved here.  The relationship build is slow as Celeste questions Dallas on his ability to and his reasons for being attracted to Jake (there is a past element here for Dallas).  Layers upon layers here, like the detritus that has to be removed from the Art Deco building before she can shine, have to be peeled back before Dallas and Jake  can be a couple and have a future.

I almost gave this 4.75 stars over things as small as not seeing the opening of Bombshell, and other such things that really are extraneous.  Would I have loved them here?  Absolutely.  But were they necessary to the plot?  I don’t think so (although I do think they are in some cut pages somewhere on Rhys Ford’s computer).  I got the men, I got their love and their journey and that was deeply moving and so memorable.  I loved them so, and all..well, most of the secondary characters too.  From Celeste to the Yates family.

Want a story full of hope?  Want a story full of recovery, love and a journey towards a brighter future for a man who thought a future was something he didn’t deserve?  There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford is the story for you.  But let Rhys Ford put it better.  From Rhys Ford’s Foreword on There’s This Guy:

This book is for anyone who has stared into the abyss and wondered if they can or should go on.

You should.

Take that next step forward and go on.

And should you need help finding the strength for that step, reach out. There are people and places who will help you.

Keep walking until you find the sun on your face and until you can see the stars again.

You are worth that step. Worth that journey.

The world is a better place with you in it.

OK, I’m about to start crying all over again.  Probably will pick up the story and start reading it again as well.  Get the idea? Yes, I highly recommend it.   How I love this author!

Cover art is ok, but honestly I don’t know what I wanted for such a complex story and character.  Color me confused.

Sales Links 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2017 by Dreamspinner Presss
ISBN 1635334993 (ISBN13: 9781635334999)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lila Audiobook Review: Hanging The Stars (Half Moon Bay #2) by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

hanging-the-stars-audioAngel Daniels grew up hard, one step ahead of the law and always looking over his shoulder. A grifter’s son, he’d learned every con and trick in the book but ached for a normal life. Once out on his own, Angel returns to Half Moon Bay where he once found…and then lost…love.

Now, Angel’s life is a frantic mess of schedules and chaos. Between running his bakery and raising his troubled eleven-year-old half-brother, Roman, Angel has a hectic but happy life. Then West Harris returns to Half Moon Bay and threatens to break Angel all over again by taking away the only home he and Rome ever had.

When they were young, Angel taught West how to love and laugh but when Angel moved on, West locked his heart up and threw away the key. Older and hardened, West returns to Half Moon and finds himself face-to-face with the man he’d lost. Now, West is torn between killing Angel or holding him tight.

But rekindling their passionate relationship is jeopardized as someone wants one or both of them dead, and as the terrifying danger mounts, neither man knows if the menace will bring them together or forever tear them apart.

Hanging the Stars is a beautiful second chance story. I have a soft spot for young couples that get an opportunity to reconnect and this story doesn’t disappoint. The connection between Angel and West still runs through them after a decade apart. What they had made a difference in the men they became and what they wanted for their future.

The story starts strong and directly into the action. We get adrenaline filled scenes that set the path for the characters to see each other again. There are small coincidences that make their first encounter even more meaningful. Having them get together without trouble or misunderstandings worked for the story.

Each main character has a very defined backstory that intertwines with the other. They have family and friends in common, but at the same time, they have a separate story that’s only theirs. And that’s what makes their story special. A lot is going on against them, but they are ready to face everything together. 

All the twist and turns are fast-paced and keep the reader trying to flip the pages faster. Well, in this case for the audio to hurry up. But this also is the reason I didn’t give the story a higher rating. It was easy to miss an important element with all the information coming our way.

Overall, this is an interesting addition to the story. We get to see Lang, Deacon, and Zig again. Plus, I love Roman and his relationship with Angel. I hope the author give us more stories in this series because there are several characters with a lot of potential for love. 

Greg Tremblay did a good job giving life to the characters and making them unique. Especially the young ones. 

The cover by Reece Notley is nice but a bit generic. Plus, the model’s picture has been used in several stories recently. 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Length:  7 hours 41 minutes

Published: January 12, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN: B01N9PZE6V

Edition Language: English

Series: Half Moon Bay

Book #1: Fish Stick Fridays

Book #2: Hanging the Stars