A Stella Review: Still The One (The Best Gift #2) by Shawn Lane

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

Sequel to The Best Gift

Best friends Malcolm and Dusty have been together as a happy couple for five years. But now Malcolm’s budding career as a stage actor has taken an exciting turn, sending him across the country to Broadway, just as Dustin’s dream of being named Head Chef at the restaurant where he works is coming true.

As the distance tests their relationship, can their love and friendship survive? Can Malcolm find a way to prove to Dusty he’s still the one?

I read the first book in The Best Gift series by Shawn Lane around Christmas time, and although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t a huge success. Nonetheless when I saw this sequel, I wanted to give the author and the characters a second chance and I wasn’t disappointed at all, Still the One was a lovely reading.

What I found here was exactly what I was hoping to have in the first book, I finally felt the characters and saw how they were living their HEA. While The Best Gift seemed to me a little rushed, in this new short I learned more about Malcolm and Dusty, I saw them being truly in love and have a strong attraction, satisfied not just in their romance but in their jobs too. In fact both of them were living the jobs of their dreams. Then things changed and I saw them being scared of their future together.

I was pleasantly surprised with Still the One, well written and engaging, easy and quick to read, although a short story, it was well done. The chemistry between Malcolm and Dusty was pretty hot and the feelings real and clear. I will definitely look for more titles from the author.

The cover art is clean and simple and the colors works well together. I like it.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 46 pages

Published January 20th 2018 by JMS Books LLC (first published April 11th 2010)

ASIN B078L71T83

Series The Best Gift #2

Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Waking the Prince by Shawn Lane

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Living a quiet life in a remote village, Roland does not expect the arrival of the powerful warrior, Magnus, who speaks of fates and prophecies. Surely Roland can’t be the lost royal prince who is destined to slay the evil sorcerer, Veronious, with a legendary sword. Roland doesn’t even know how to wield a sword.

When Roland’s identity is confirmed and danger nears, he flees with Magnus, who trains him for battle by day and teaches him passion by night.

Just as Roland finds the legendary sword, Veronious learns Roland is the lost prince and casts a curse on him. The beautiful prince falls into a deep sleep, not to stir for a hundred years … unless he is awakened by true love’s kiss.

So, I obviously went into this story knowing what the ending would probably be but I wanted to see how they got there.  Roland has spent his life in a tiny village without much interaction with the outside world.  Magnus doesn’t expect to find the beautiful man who has never been trained as was expected.

Roland wants to not die a virgin and tests Magnus’s patience at times.  They both play off each other well though I didn’t like Magnus’s insistence at pushing Roland away and not showing him how he felt.  It was a little suspect at how they found out about the curse to me, I would have liked a little more story there.  I liked seeing Roland grow a back bone as the story went on and gained faith in himself to do what was needed.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and gives a visual of our sleeping prince.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 79 pages

Published: September 18, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634864442

Edition Language: English

A Stella Review: The Best Gift (The Best Gift #1) by Shawn Lane

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

Malcolm Rowland’s nearly year old relationship ends just before Christmas when he learns his boyfriend has been cheating on him.

Now Malcolm has no place to live and no job. His best friend, Dustin Jones, who has stood by him for years, takes him in. Dustin is determined to show Malcolm not only a great Christmas, but that love between the two of them can be the best gift.

The Best Gift was a cute story, very sweet and well written. I’m a fun of the friends to lovers theme so I enjoyed this short. The blurb tell you pretty much everything the plot is about.

That said, being long just 35 pages, you can’t expect to be a lot of development, on the contrary, I was actually able to know nothing about the characters and yes, everything happened quickly, maybe a little too quickly. The way Malcom and Dustin came together was so rushed it was unbelievable to me. And it left me with the desire to know so much more.

That’s the only reason I didn’t give The Best Gift three stars, but overall I liked it and will surely read more by the author.

The cover art is cute and simple, I like it.

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BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 35 pages

Published December 23rd 2017 by JMS Books LLC (first published 2009)

ASIN B0777J2YNH

Edition Language English

Series The Best Gift #1

An Alisa Review: Admiring Jesse by Shawn Lane

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Jesse is used to Valentine’s Day passing without finding his own sweetheart. But suddenly he starts receiving gifts from a secret admirer.

 

With encouragement from his too-sexy roommate, Gilbert, Jesse opens himself to the idea that someone is actually interested in him. Though he has doubts, Jesse can’t help but wonder if his admirer could finally be the man of his dreams.

 

This was such a sweet short story.  Jesse can’t see how anyone would really be attracted to him let alone how he would have a secret admirer, however his admirer seems to know all of his favorite things.  Gilbert is encouraging and I loved when he revealed himself to Jesse and explained his feeling for Jesse to see that it was real.  It was wonderful to see them still together in the future and continuing to build a life together.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is a sweet picture and is perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 24 pages

Published: 2nd edition June 17, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634864008

Edition Language: English

A Lila Review: Tempted to Taste (Sutter’s Bay #5) by Shawn Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

tempted-to-taste-by-shawn-laneRyan Callahan’s parents died in a boating accident off Sutter’s Bay when he was five years old. Now Ryan is back in the bay ready to live in the Victorian reproduction house his father built for his mother. And ready to get his dream job a chef in a restaurant. The job of head chef seems to fall into his lap when Mabry’s is short staffed, but when the sexy as sin owner, Chris Mabry, returns from vacation he fires the inexperienced Ryan on the spot.

Ryan’s dream seems to be over before he gets a chance to prove himself, but when Chris realizes how bad his restaurant’s situation is, he rehires Ryan. As Mabry becomes a success, things sizzle between Ryan and Chris and soon Ryan is cooking for Chris personally.

Tempted to Taste is more of a spinoff than part of the original series.  We do see characters from the previous books, especially Adam and Galaxy, but even so, this book exists on the outside of the others’ friends and family circles. It does have the Sutter Bay setting which helps to bring them together.

This story has a faster pace, which I enjoyed. The plot is simple and the main plot revolves around the main characters’ relationship. There’s no angst or unnecessary misunderstandings. The story has the right amount of fluff and smexy scenes to get the reader to forget about anything else but the story.

Ryan doesn’t waste any time getting settled or looking for a job. He knows what he wants and that includes Chris. From the start, both established an understanding about mixing work and pleasure and this fact never becomes an issue. They are direct and to the point even when they are falling for each other. Chris first impression isn’t a positive one, but he more than makes up for it.

If you’re looking for a quick read between stories or a distraction from the world, this is your story. Don’t expect a piece of literary fiction. This story is a simple romance with interesting characters and a beautiful setting. Plus, it can be read as a stand-alone.

As always, the cover includes the main characters and a view of Sutter’s Bay.

Sale Links: JMS Books | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 49 pages
Published: January 14, 2017, by JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634861489
Edition Language: English

Series:  Sutter’s Bay
Book #1: Sweet Reunion
Book #2: Twice in a Lifetime
Book #3: Galaxy’s Heart
Book #4: Finding Forever
Book #5: Tempted to Taste

 

A Lila Review: Finding Forever (Sutter’s Bay #4) by Shawn Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

finding-forever-by-shawn-laneFor years, Nolan Young has tried to deny he’s gay. With an abusive, homophobic father, who is also the mayor of Sutter’s Bay, Nolan has no choice but to ignore that part of himself.

Until he meets Leo Winthrop on the beach one day. Leo is exactly the kind of guy Nolan would want … if he could allow himself to act on his desires.

Leo has been dealing with demons of his own. His older brother brought him to Sutter’s Bay hoping it’d help Leo put his past behind him. The quaint town hasn’t been much help … until now.

Meeting cute and innocent Nolan changes Leo’s outlook and brings hope to his life for the first time in years. But can he convince Nolan to stand up to his father and take a chance on forever with him?

Finding Forever has a younger vibe than the rest of the stories, but it’s as heartfelt nevertheless. The things the main characters dealt with are part of who they are and how they became better young men in the end. For a novella, there’s an extensive amount of background and past headaches that follows Nolan and Leo. 

I enjoyed the way they met and how they get brought back together afterwards. The author did an excellent job being true to the characters’ ages. They were mature, of course, but they retained that sense of wonder that allowed them to rebound again and again. The pace is fast, but they became protective of each other in a way that felt realistic; even if fueled by lust and fear. 

Their relationship felt effortless and most of the conflicts in the story were external. We get to see how the main characters from the previous books rally around the youngster and help them succeed. By now, Sutter’s Bay is familiar territory and it’s easy to visualized the places the couple visits. 

Perhaps the only drawback is the extra time the main characters spend musing about each other and their problems, together with some areas in which the story pace slow. But other than that, this is a nice addition to the series. 

Another similar cover for this issue; still mainly generic with the two main characters and a view of Sutter’s Bay.

Sale Links: JMS Books Amazon 

Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: December 3, 2016, by 
JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634861458
Edition Language: English

Series:  Sutter’s Bay
Book #1: 
Sweet Reunion
Book #2: Twice in a Lifetime
Book #3: Galaxy’s Heart
Book #4: Finding Forever

An Alisa Review: The Gift of Casey by Shawn Lane

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

the-gift-of-caseyCasey Mackenzie unexpectedly finds himself in need of a “boyfriend” for his Thanksgiving dinner. For several months, Casey has been putting off family questions and invites with talk of his boyfriend “George.” Only now they actually expect to meet George at the holiday dinner.

 

George Accardo is Casey’s sexy neighbor who also happens to be an actor Casey once had a rather drunken rendezvous with. Casey has avoided George ever since. Until now.

 

Casey offers George fifty bucks to pretend to be his boyfriend for the duration of the Thanksgiving dinner. George has been intrigued by Casey since their first meeting but gave him space when Casey freaked. He accepts the job, though Casey assures him they will “break up” before Christmas.

 

Casey finds himself still charmed by George as Christmas approaches. Can George convince Casey he’s the gift he’s been hoping for before the holiday arrives?

 

This is really one of my favorite Christmas stories I read this year, just wonderfully heartwarming.  Casey gets in a jam when his best friend questions why his boyfriend won’t be attending Thanksgiving dinner.  The only logical answer is to have his neighbor, George, play his boyfriend, coincidently named George, right?

 

I loved these characters connections with each other.  Both Casey and George are really down to earth, attracted to each other but not quite knowing what to do about it.  George was wonderful just grabbing on to the opportunity to woo Casey with both hands now that he has it and Casey is willing to give him the chance so they can find when has been missing in both of their lives.  These two play off each other beautifully without having to be living in a perfect world bubble that is often seen in these types of stories.

 

The cover art is adorable and I love it.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 51 pages

Published: December 10, 2016 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634862905

Edition Language: English

A Lila Review: Galaxy’s Heart (Sutter’s Bay #3) by Shawn Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

galaxys-heart-by-shawn-laneTen years ago, Galaxy Winthrop had a one-night stand with the hottest guy ever. Galaxy also remembered one other thing from that night — the man’s mention of the Northern California town, Sutter’s Bay, where he once lived. Now, Galaxy has made it his mission to save his troubled little brother, Leo. The once-bright, bubbly kid has become sullen, quiet, and despondent. The quaint, picturesque Sutter’s Bay seems the perfect location to start a new life for himself and Leo.

Adam Colfer returned to Sutter’s Bay to run his dad’s diner. He’d thought he’d left the town behind when he moved to San Francisco, but it seemed Sutter’s Bay had other plans. After an explosive night with Galaxy a decade earlier, Adam had awoken to an empty bed. But now Galaxy is in Sutter’s Bay and Adam can’t help but wonder if this is his second chance to win Galaxy’s heart.

Galaxy’s Heart has the depth of an established relationship even after the main characters’ ten years separation. The opening scenes are more of a collection of vignettes, showing the original meeting between Galaxy and Adam, than a compelling narrative. If you sneeze, you would miss it, and the actual encounter fades to black—which is odd since it sets the rest of the story.

We see Adam in all the previous books, and Galaxy shows at the end of the Twice in a Lifetime. I enjoyed their simple relationship and how grounded they were in comparison with couples in other stories I have read recently. I think that level of maturity is sometimes missing in this genre.

Their reunion was sweet and easy going. The book has a fast pace, like all short stories, but the author packed it with as much plot twists as possible. We get to see most characters from previous books. Plus, some new ones are introduced.

My only problem with the story were the over-the-top events taking place to move the plot forward. They make sense taking into consideration that this is a previously published story and some of the details were consistent with early mm romance books. But, I think some could have been updated to give the story a more long lasting feel.

Overall, this is a nice addition to the series—a quick story to read in an afternoon or between longer books. As always, Sutter Bay brings the best out of the main characters; with a healthy dose of ‘suspend disbelief.’

The cover matches the previous books, with two men and a view of Sutter’s view.

Sale Links: JMS Books | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: November 5, 2016, by JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634861434
Edition Language: English

Series: Sutter’s Bay
Book #1: Sweet Reunion
Book #2: Twice in a Lifetime
Book #3: Galaxy’s Heart

 

A Lila Review: Twice in a Lifetime (Sutter’s Bay #2) by Shawn Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

twice-in-a-lifetime-by-shawn-laneFive years ago, British transplant, Jude, left San Francisco after the tragic murder of his lover, Martin. Heartbroken, he settled in Sutter’s Bay and opened a small flower shop, hoping that surrounding himself with bright colors and pretty things — living things — would somehow lessen the anguish he felt over his loss.

Jude never expects to find a love like he shared with Martin ever again. Certainly a love like theirs won’t come along twice in a lifetime. But then Jude meets sexy Rex Warner, the new veterinarian in Sutter’s Bay, and he can’t help but wonder if his luck has changed.

Will Rex be able to stop Jude from dwelling on the painful past and look toward a promising future instead?

Twice in a Lifetime is a solid romance story. We first met Jude in book #1 in the series, Sweet Reunion. There was an air of mystery about him that make him interesting enough to have me reading this story; to learn more about him. Plus, I can’t resist a man with an accent. 🙂

I loved the opening scene. The author did an excellent job letting us in Jude’s past without breaking our hearts over and over again. I’m glad the angst didn’t carry on. The reader’s able to appreciate the relationship between Jude and Martin without taking away from Jude and Rex.

Both MC have bigger than life personalities that blend well. They might look like polar opposites, but in the end, they complemented each other. They didn’t try to change the other. They loved their differences and celebrate their quirkiness. The way they first met marks the tone for the rest of the story–sexy, funny, and interesting.

The plot twists and scenes made the book flow quickly and keep the reader engaged. There are several smexy scenes that go with the overall structure of the romance. And, many more funny, everyday moments in which we see the characters interact with family and friends.

This series is growing on me. Twice in a Lifetime is definitely better than the first book. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

The cover for this story is beautiful and goes well with the theme. The colors are soothing, but I don’t think the models resemble the characters’ descriptions.

Sale Links: JMS Books | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: October 8, 2016, by JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634861410
Edition Language: English