A PaulB Review: Max, Brad, and Maisie Mystery Series by L.G. Fabbo-Gonnella

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Series Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

murder-in-the-string-of-g-2Author L. G. Fabbo-Gonnella spins the classic noir murder mystery for modern times in the Max, Brad and Maisie series.  Max and Brad are two young (early 20s), struggling actors trying to break onto Broadway who work in a local pub to pay the bills.  When signing up to audition for a role in a new play at a renovated theater, they encounter the ghost of Maisie, a burlesque dancer who was murdered in 1959.  This begins an unusual friendship between the three as go about trying to emulate Hercule Poirot and Topper at the same time. 

Brad is a straight male of Italian heritage who fancies himself a ladies man with a thing for voluptuous women.  Max often complains that he thinks with the head in his pants instead of the one on his shoulders, which can get him into trouble.   

Max is a gay male who is searching for something meaningful.  Having moved to New York from Kansas, he finds a friend in Brad and they decide to room together.  He knows that they should not get involved in trying to solve these mysteries, but as Ethel always seemed to go along with Lucy, he backs his friend whole-heartedly.  He just hopes that they don’t get killed in the process.

Maisie doesn’t have that problem as she’s already dead.  Previously tied to the theater where she was killed, she know moves around with “her boys” as they try to solve the mysteries that they encounter.  While she was a burlesque performer, she is still a lady.  She laments the decline of civility in the modern world but finds a hobby in watching wrestling on television.

In Murder in the String of G, the trio set about to prove that Maisie was in fact murdered and whom committed the crime.  In Murder in the Square Circle, Maisie insists that she and her boys investigate when her favorite wrestler is charged with the murder of his rival in the ring.  In Murder in Noir, the boys finally have parts in an upcoming Broadway play (bit parts, but you have to start somewhere).  The boys find blackmail notes tossed on the floor and decide to investigate further. 

To say that these three are not Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot would be an understatement.  While they have good instincts as to what paths to follow, it seems they always stumble unto the proper solution to the mysteries.  Add to that the fact that Brad somehow seems to find himself naked and tied or handcuffed to a bed and you see that they should not be in the private investigating business.  If you are nostalgic for classic mysteries, give this series a try.  I will state that the books could use a more thorough editing but was not a major problem. 

Dustin Kime does a good job with the covers of the three books.  For String of G, the ghost of Maisie is superimposed on the backdrop of the Cassandra Theater where she was murdered.  For Square Circle, a young wrestler is on the cover.  And for Noir, the lead actor for the boys’ play is featured in a classic noir pose.

Buy links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A7SOOKM/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00A7SOOKM

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EC0ZY0A/
Amazon UK:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00EC0ZY0A/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EUSMEKM/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00EUSMEKM/

murder-in-the-squared-circle

murder-in-noirBook Details

Murder in the String of G

EBook, 127 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  December 2012 by Amazon Digital Services

ASIN: B00A7SOOKM

Re-Release Day Blitz & Giveaway for Settling the Score by Eden Winters

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Title: Settling the Score

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 10/6/2016

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 86,000 words

Genre: Romance, Humor, Age Difference, Movie Star, Author, Small Town, Mechanic, Getting Even

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Synopsis

Outed and dumped on national television by his rising star boyfriend, Joey Nichols must face the bigotry of the locals in his small Southern town alone. His dreams of a happy ever after lie crushed at his feet.

Novelist Troy Steele has an axe to grind against Hollywood heartbreaker types. Transforming Joey into a gorgeous, unobtainable hunk would be payback worthy of Troy’s poison pen. It’s a brilliant way to get back at Joey’s image-obsessed ex-boyfriend and the movie producer who’s mutilating Troy’s novels.

What begins as simple revenge may tangle them together in something far more complicated. Living well may be the best revenge, but Troy and Joey could rewrite that to loving well.

Excerpt

The Nichols’ dining room table could easily seat six people if it weren’t covered with business records, homework, and car parts. Instead of clearing it off, the family assembled in the living room, parents on the couch, Joey and his sisters on the floor. Overloaded plates balanced on each lap.

“Hush, it’s starting,” Joey’s mom warned, mostly to thirteen-year-old Stacey.

“Oops! Gotta go!” Stacey disconnected her call and dropped her phone onto the floor.

Joey and Jackie were quiet already, Joey afraid he’d miss something important if he so much as blinked.

Ten years separated him and his twin from Stacey. Mom often joked that it had taken her that long to forget the horrors of giving birth enough to try again.

Dad blamed his cousin’s homebrew.

“Good evening, I’m Evelyn Hugh. Welcome to Hollywood Seen. Tonight’s hottie, err, I mean, hot story”—the show’s hostess began, grin unapologetic—“is a young man who’s got all of Hollywood talking. Riker Sanderson has what it takes to survive in this town: looks, talent, and a legion of screaming fans.”

On cue, the camera focused on the audience, where the legion, mostly young and female, chanted, “Riker! Riker!”

“Sorry to disappoint you girls. Rumor has it that Mr. Sanderson is taken.” Evelyn pouted for the camera. “Or is he? Joining me tonight is none other than Riker Sanderson, star of the action thriller, Something to Die For.”

Taken? Joey swallowed hard. Surely she couldn’t mean…

The camera zoomed out, showing the beautiful man who’d stolen his heart and who’d shared his apartment up until a few months ago. Riker, more muscled thanks to a heavy training routine for the movie, sported gold highlights in his now much shorter hair. He looked downright sinful in tight-fitting T-shirt and jeans.

Joey idly toyed with the silver band on his middle finger, a nervous habit, before noticing its mate missing from Riker’s hand. Maybe he’d taken it off for the movie. It didn’t mean anything. No, nothing at all.

All worries disappeared when Riker slowly raised a simmering gaze to the camera. Something clenched deep in Joey’s insides. Those dark eyes hypnotized him, even if they were on a TV screen and not actually in the room. Bedroom eyes intense enough to cause instant paralysis. How many times had Joey lost himself in them, lying in a sweaty, satisfied tangle with Riker?

“Thank you for joining us,” the bleached-blonde hostess gushed, a woman Big Joe said gave him gout.

“Why does she do that to her hair?” Mom asked. “She’s ruined it.” She added the tried and true statement guaranteed to grant forgiveness for any unkindness spoken by a Southerner: “Bless her heart.”

With her whiney voice and constant fawning, Evelyn Hugh reminded Joey of one of the teenaged fans. “I can call you Riker, can’t I?”

“Sure, if I can call you Evelyn.” Her ordinary name sounded exotic when spoken in Riker’s deep tones. That was his gift. He could make anyone feel like the most important person on the planet just by talking to them. Joey had warmed himself by Riker’s fire on many a cold winter’s night.

“I loved you in the romantic comedy, Trying the Knot, filmed in your home state of Georgia. Although only a minor supporting role, your portrayal of the obnoxious cousin at the wedding turned out to be a real scene-stealer and resulted in your big break, didn’t it?”

Riker hadn’t really wanted the cousin role that required him to wear a fat suit and play a backwoods redneck, even if he’d had to beat out a lot of other hopefuls for the part.

“Well, Evelyn,”—Riker turned puppy dog eyes on the hostess—“I’d originally auditioned for the role of Chuck.”

“The pain-in-the-ass playboy who seduced several bridesmaids? Oh, you’re too sweet to play such a cad.”

“You’re too kind.”

A better-known actor had won the honors of playing asshole Chuck. Riker had stormed around the apartment for days.

Riker smiled like he’d hit the jackpot by missing the role. “Actually, I found the cousin part more intriguing. I mean, it stretched my acting skills to play someone so unlike myself.”

“Oh, please, I’m trying to eat here,” Jackie spat.

Joey flashed her a quick evil eye and went back to watching TV.

What a tantrum Riker had thrown about “playing a hick nobody.” In the end he took the money, and assurances from his agent of appearing with a few big stars being a good career move and a way to get noticed.

But he’d done the part enough justice to bring Hollywood knocking.

“What an amazing experience,” the man of Joey’s dreams replied, though that’s not what he’d called it to friends. “It really helped me grow as an actor.” He’d privately referred to the part as beneath someone of his talent and his own personal hell.

“What’s it like working with powerhouse actress Clair Clancy?”

Joey lost the battle to keep a straight face. He’d gotten more earfuls about “Clair, the air-headed bitch.” She’d only spoken to Riker twice during filming when their roles overlapped.

Onscreen, Riker described her as, “An amazing actress. A true professional.” He waved at the camera. “Congrats on the birth of your little girl, Clair. You’ll be an amazing mother.” This from the man who’d wanted to pass a law making it illegal for the woman to breed. Wow, what a good actor. For a moment even Joey believed him.

“In a real-life Cinderella story, a relatively unknown actor is chosen for the lead role of Mitchell Keller in the biggest film of the year. How’s that working out for you?” Evelyn leaned her head on Riker’s shoulder, eyeing him through batting lashes. How dare she? She needed to back off.

A punch to the shoulder brought Joey back to reality, breathing hard and fingernails digging into the palms of his clenched fists.

“She does that with everybody,” Jackie murmured. “What’s your problem, anyway?”

Joey took a deep breath and let it out slowly, a flush creeping up his cheeks.

After what could have been two years, or more probably, two seconds, Riker answered, “It’s really amazing.”

“Doesn’t he know any adjectives besides amazing?” Stacey cut in. “I mean, really! He’s an actor, he’s supposed to be good with words.” Oops, the last holdout in the family swayed to the “We don’t like Riker” side.

Joey ignored her. He’d show them. Soon he’d be living the good life, basking in the California sun. He and Riker had even talked about getting married.

“…and my producer, Ian Hagan, is amazing,” Riker was saying.

Stacey made an “I told you so” face.

Their mother swatted her arm, nipping in the bud whatever sarcastic remark she’d been about to sling.

Riker plowed on. “He took a huge chance in hiring an unknown for such a major role, and I’m grateful he believes in me. I’ve done everything I can to make sure he doesn’t regret taking a risk. We’ve wrapped up the final scenes. Now it’s in post-production, where they’ll add the Hollywood magic.”

What? Riker said a few hours ago that they were still shooting. Well, maybe they had to reshoot some parts.

“Oh, that’s fabulous.” Evelyn’s fake smile lost its battle to look sincere.

Joey knew how she felt. The standing local rule: Never mention acting around Riker unless you had a least an hour and didn’t mind listening. Folks in town phrased their words very carefully.

“Now, Riker, I know you’ve heard the rumors and seen the pictures posted on the Internet of yourself with someone who is apparently very close to you.”

Joey’s heart pounded and his ears rang. Rumors? Pictures? He peeped over at Jackie, who sat up straighter and put her plate down on the floor.

The smile fled Riker’s face, and he wore the same pleading expression he’d used to get out of cooking. “Yes, I have. For the record, I’d like to state that my personal life isn’t anyone else’s business.”

Oh, shit! What had they found out?

“Breathe, Joey,” Jackie urged.

No matter how he tried, Joey couldn’t, because Evelyn dropped a bomb. “Are you gay?”

Oh, my God! They’d been careful since Riker signed the movie deal. How had anyone suspected? Sure, in a few months maybe, when they were ready. Not now!

Jackie stiffened and Joey held his breath.

“Yes, Evelyn, I am.” Riker sighed, his anguished eyes filling with tears. Joey had never seen anyone who could cry on demand quite so convincingly, not even Stacey. “I’m not ashamed of being a gay American, and I don’t see how my orientation has any bearing on my acting ability.”

“I knew it!” Stacey shrieked. Jackie shushed her. Joey ignored her again.

Evelyn scented blood and went for the throat—her trademark. “The man shown with you in the pictures, is he your boyfriend?”

Man in the pictures? Boyfriend? Surely it couldn’t be… Who the hell were they talking about? If it wouldn’t have given too much away, Joey would have made a mad dash to his parent’s aging computer to find out. Evelyn Hugh moved much too slowly. Stomach too queasy to eat, Joey plopped his uneaten meal down on the coffee table.

Riker sat quietly gazing into the camera and Joey almost heard the wheels turning under that mop of highlighted hair. Finally, his lover became his ex-lover with the casually spoken, “I guess you could say we were in a relationship at the time. Nothing serious. We’ve decided to cool things down while I focus on my career.”

What!? Nothing really serious?! Joey gaped at the screen, a flash fire creeping up his cheeks all the way to his ears. Did Riker mean him? A boulder formed in his throat.

They’d talked about forever. He gasped for breath, unable to turn away from the train wreck of his life unfolding on national television.

“Yes, it’s true.” Riker used the same sorrowful tone the hick cousin had during a big scene in Trying the Knot. “I mean, he’s back home, I’m here. It wouldn’t work out.”

Jackie might have snapped, “Oh, cry me a river!” Joey was too caught up in his own personal drama to know for sure.

He knows I’m watching! He knows I’m seeing this! Why is he coming out now? Why couldn’t he tell the nosy woman it’s none of her damned business?

Riker focused directly on the camera, as if seeking Joey out. “Yeah, we kind of grew out of each other. It’s time to move on.”

“I certainly appreciate your candor, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people around town willing to keep you company.” Evelyn sat up, patting at her hair. “We all look forward to your upcoming movie. It’s sure to be a blockbuster. Thank you for joining us.”

Joey dared not dart out of the room like he wanted to and give too much away. At the moment the family only knew that he’d had a gay roommate. Should he act surprised?

The camera left Riker and zoomed in on the hostess. Joey saw her through a glaze of tears and fears. “Remember that you heard it first on Hollywood Seen.” Her goofy grin dimmed a few watts. “Now, here’s another Hollywood Seen exclusive, the photographs that started it all. Last month they began circling the Internet. Until tonight, spokesmen for Mr. Sanderson firmly denied their authenticity. A pity, really. They made such a handsome couple, don’t you agree?”

Joey’s reality crumbled, replaced by a nightmare. The TV screen filled completely with an image of Riker and himself dancing at the club in Atlanta, Riker’s leg wedged between Joey’s, Joey’s mouth locked to his lover’s neck and his crotch pressed against Riker’s denim-covered thigh.

Oh dear God! He looked like a humping vampire!

The image lasted forever. Enough already, take it down! He’d been stripped naked. Laid bare, all his deepest, darkest secrets exposed.

Calm down, no one can tell it’s you. Maybe they’ll think it’s someone out in Hollywood. That hope dashed to pieces with another picture, probably taken shortly after the first. In it, Joey and Riker both faced the camera. The hostess delivered the killing blow. “Our sources tell us that the man in the picture with Riker Sanderson is Joseph Nichols, Jr., with whom Riker lived in Georgia before moving to California.”

Joey fumbled his cell phone out of his pocket and barely managed to hit the right number. Instead of one of the ever-changing heavy-metal ringtones Riker used, a recorded message stated flatly, “The number you have dialed has been disconnected…”

Purchase

Rocky Ridge Books | Amazon | Allromance eBooks

Settling the Score SquareMeet the Author

Author AvatarYou will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written sixteen m/m romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Giveaway

One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Settling the Score and an ebook copy of Diversion.

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An Ali Audiobook Review: Another Way (Another Way #1) by Anna Martin and Narrator Brad Langer

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

AnotherWayAUDSMOn the surface, Jesse Ross is an average guy in an average relationship with his college sweetheart, Adele. But what his girlfriend doesn’t know is that he’s having an affair—with a man—and exploring his sexuality in ways she never could imagine. His compartmentalized life suits Jesse just fine, and he has no intention of coming out of the closet either as a bisexual or as a submissive.

However, Jesse takes a tumble when his Master, Will, admits to wanting more, wanting Jesse as his partner, not just his submissive. Suddenly Jesse’s conveniently pieced-together life isn’t quite so comfortable. In the end, Jesse has to lay it all on the line—for his girlfriend, for his lover, and for himself.
 
 
This is a hard review to write.  I am reviewing two separate things in this.  There is the plot of the book which I liked and the narration which I loathed.  I’ve never had such a wide divide before.  If I was only rating the book I would rate it higher.  If I was only rating the narration I would rate it much lower.  I literally could not finish this on audio and ended up having to switch to ebook to keep from abandoning this book.  The narrator’s voices were really bad.  His idea of a BDSM Dom was this ridiculous, deep, alpha voice and then his sub would get all high pitched like some mock characterization of a woman.  The plot itself was a good portrayal of two men who start their relationship as only a Dom/sub but over time start to fall in love and then begin a romantic relationship.  This story was a refreshing change from the typical BDSM story in the m/m genre where one MC is broken or damaged and they are using the BDSM to “fix” him (which is a trope I hate).  I do recommend reading the story but I really don’t think you should try the audio version.
 
Cover art by Taria Reed is lovely and dark.

Book Details:

Narrator Brad Langer
Length 7 hours and 56 minutes
Published September 30th 2011 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleAnother Way
ISBN 1613721617 (ISBN13: 9781613721612)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAnother Way #1

In the Book Spotlight: Tempting Jordan (Second Chances #3) by Andrea Dalling

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Tempting Jordan (Second Chances #3) by Andrea Dalling
Release Date: July 20, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Artesian Well Publishing
Cover Artist: Andrea Dalling

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Sales Links:  Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Jordan Callahan is disillusioned about dating since he caught yet another boyfriend cheating. He’s tired of giving his heart to men who only want his body. At his five-year high school reunion, he meets up with old flame Rick Ferguson. Tall, dark, and bisexual, Rick has been his dream guy since sophomore year. But Rick is in the closet and has dated a string of women since high school. If he gives in to the temptation of Rick’s kisses, his lost love could be his future—or just another in a string of men to break his heart.

Rick has tried to live up to other people’s expectations. Everyone in his small home town is waiting for the former captain of the football team to settle down with a nice girl. Well, girls aren’t in the cards for him, and he’s done trying. He wants Jordan, his best friend since first grade. But a relationship with Jordan means coming out—disappointing his family and inviting ridicule from friends. His golden boy reputation will be shattered if he follows his heart to the only love he’s ever wanted.

Pages or Words: 34,000 words

Categories: Bisexual, Erotica, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Jordan’s muscles slackened, and cold anticipation formed a lump in his stomach. Rick isn’t really jealous?

But the feral look in Rick’s eyes said he was.

The hand on his shoulder nudged him toward the ballroom. Did Rick want him? Was that why he’d agreed to come stag?

Rick’s fingers idly tapped the small of Jordan’s back as they walked. The whisper of contact was odd and possessive, and it sent Jordan’s blood surging to all the wrong places. He shouldn’t have had that second scotch. He was relaxed and horny, especially with Rick so close, when he needed to keep his wits about him. Rick would never forgive him if he let something slip about their past together in front of their high school friends.

The tapping continued, revving his nerves into high gear. His fly pressed painfully against his flesh. He turned to Rick. “Will you stop touching me?”

Rick’s easy smile fled. “Why?”

He grabbed the collar of Rick’s shirt and said in his ear, “Because, dumbass, you’re making me hard.”

Rick raised his brows and smirked. They moved forward again. The tapping slowed but didn’t stop.

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STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Andrea Dalling lives in the sexy Southeast, where the summers are hot and the romance hotter. During the day, she’s an award-winning technical writer, but at night, she writes steamy stories. She loves to torture her characters but eventually rewards them with a happily-ever-after. Married to her college sweetheart, she’s a progressive Christian and an advocate for LGBT rights. You can follow her on Facebook (andrea.dalling.romance) or on Twitter (@Andrea_Dalling).

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Tour Dates & Stops:

July 24, 2015
Parker Williams, Bike Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Bayou Book Junkie, Havan Fellows, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Jessie G. Books, Amanda C. Stone, My Fiction Nook, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, 3 Chicks After Dark, Boys on the Brink Reviews, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, MM Good Book Reviews, Christy Loves 2 Read, Velvet Panic, Nic Starr, The Hat Party, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Chris McHart, Kimi-Chan, Mikky’s World of Books

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: PDF Copy of the book.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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