A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : American Fairytale (Dreamers #2) by Adriana Herrera

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The minute I saw this book was available I grabbed it. Book one, American Dreamer, was so outstanding I knew I’d be in for a treat with more. Could the author top her debut book? Oh yes. Milo’s story is highly entertaining and fulfilled my fantasy of having everyone find Mr. Right to make them happy.

Am I sappy? Yes, I am. But the story made me feel so very good I simply want to share the experience with others.

Four young men grew up together in New York City. All sons of Caribbean immigrants, the men are of an age to strike out on their own. In American Dreamer, Nesto pursued his dream by taking his food catering business to Ithaca, where he met the man of his dreams. Now, in book two, we spend time with Camilo Santiago Briggs, or Milo to friends and family, a social worker and project manager in a nonprofit that serves victims of domestic abuse.

When he’s assigned as liaison to Thomas Hughes, a wealthy donor who is contributing to renovating the home for women and to funding future projects, he’s thrilled to be chosen. Until he meets the man and realizes he’s the guy he recently hooked up with at a friend’s wedding, and he wants to crawl into a corner and hide out. But Thomas isn’t going to let that happen. He’s smitten with Milo and plans to pursue him until he’s good and ready to walk away.

Milo is attractive, friendly, driven, and fiercely independent. He’s family-oriented, a hard worker, and takes his responsibilities to his mother, his friends, and his job seriously. Born in the Dominican Republic, Thomas is strong, wealthy, goal-driven, and totally head over heels for Milo. He values Milo’s individuality and refuses to give up before finding a way to make their lives mesh.

Just like with American Dreamer, there’s so much to like about this story—the writing, the pace, the interesting Dominican Republic cultural information, the relationship-building, the secondary characters, and the core message of drawing strength from family and friends.

I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author in future. I can’t wait to read stories devoted to Milo’s best friends, Patrice and Juanpa. I very highly recommend this book to all lovers of MM romance, and especially to those who enjoy stories so rich in cultural heritage that readers are inspired to learn more.

The cover features a close-up of a handsome Lantinx man wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt. It’s very appealing and similar in design to the cover of book one.

Sales Links:   Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: May 20th 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488054061 (ISBN13: 9781488054068)
SeriesDreamers #2

HFN Or HEA? What Makes a Story a HEA for You? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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HFN Or HEA? What Makes a Story a HEA for You?

 

Here we are sailing into May.  Hard to believe, right?  Weather is still all topsy turvy with Spring blossoms vying with snowflakes depending upon where you live.  Here its’ winds and pollen, blossoms and varying temperatures.  All of which makes staying indoors and reading or listening a great way to spend the time.

Which segues into this Sunday’s topic.  HFN Or HEA?  What makes a story a HEA or HFN for you?  That came up last night as I finished reading a story I wanted to review this week.  It ended on a great note.  There was a proposal, the couple was definitely in love (yes, having declared it previously), but no wedding.  Just a proposal.  Also there is a child in the mix, that while a custody battle was semi settled, there wasn’t a permanent solution figured out.  Just a “feeling” that everything was going to work out in the end.  New job, etc.  It got me thinking.  How would I classify that ending?  I believe that author has it as a HEA.  And in many ways I can see that.  They are a committed couple, engaged.  They see themselves as a family unit going forward so yes, ok.

But….for me, there is also a lot of things still “up in the air” so to speak.  Elements in their lives that need settling before I might consider this a HEA.  Maybe more stability …I just don’t know why the feeling of that HEA totally escaped me here.  But it did.  Perhaps since we get to see progress of other couple from the story here, this might carry through to the third novel.  The author has a way of progressing her characters through her series, maturing the relationships or letting the readers see a progression in bits and pieces.

But again, it got me thinking why does one ending leave me so completely satisfied with the fate and relationship for a couple and another , nodding in recognition of a HFN?  And before I continue further I should say that HFN means Happy For Now and HEA means Happily Ever After.  Sign, sometimes I just assume people know what those terms mean.  HFN is where the couple might face an uncertain future, it could be temporary with a HEA still in play.  But life always manages to throw in obstacles in the path to HEA so for me HFN has always felt a more realistic choice in some cases however my heart wants a HEA for everyone.

I mean can you have a HEA after a short amount a time?  I’m talking about stories where the couples meet, fall in love in a week or two and have a HEA?  Possible?  Maybe ….or maybe not.  Maybe a HFN feels more authentic.

What makes a HEA feel real to you?

For me it’s where I have been on the journey with the couple to find their HEA, the relationship dynamics and characters felt real and believable.  I’ve watched the romance grow in depth, from stage to stage until everything comes to a culmination that says they made it, they are an established couple with a future ahead of them that we can and do believe in.  It’s golden (even if certain authors are then going to put them through the wringer lol).   Eventually we know they will toddle off together happy as rainbow clams.

But that’s me.  What’s your definition?  What elements have to be in play for a story to be a HEA for you ?  Or a HFN?  Let me know….a gift cert will be in your future.  Cut off date in 2 weeks time.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 28:

  • HFN Or HEA? What Makes a Story a HEA for You? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Book Blitz – Clare London’s The Accidental Baker

Monday, April 29:

  • Review Tour – Love Is A Walk In The Park – V.L. Locey & Stephanie Locey
  • Review Tour – Rebecca Cohen’s Anthony, Earl of Crofton
  • Release Blitz for Annabelle Jacobs ‘ Wounded Soul
  • DSP PROMO Amanda Meuwissen on Coming Up for Air
  • An Ashlez Review: Sweating Lies – Criminal Delights: Taken (Lies #1) by Emma Jaye
  • A MelanieM Review: Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Love Is A Walk In The Park by V.L. Locey & Stephanie Locey

Tuesday. April 30:

  • PROMO Mourning Dove by R.R. Campbell
  • Blog Tour – Sweating Lies – Criminal Delights: Taken  Lies #1) by Emma Jaye
  • Blog Tour – Grace Kilian Delaney – Living On A Dare
  • An Alisa Review: Rescued by Love by Deirdre O’Dare
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Coming Up for Air by Amanda Meuwissen
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Murder Most Lovely (Lacetown Murder Mysteries #1) by Hank Edwards and, Deanna Wadsworth
  • A MelanieM Review: Don’t Fight the Spark by Kasia Bacon

Wednesday, May 1:

  • Review Tour – Montana Sky (Montana #6) by RJ Scott
  • Review Tour – Lillian Francis – Under The Radar
  • Release Blitz – Bryan T. Clark – Escaping Camp Roosevelt
  • Release Blitz Made For You by Anyta Sunday
  • A MelanieM Review : Under The Radar by Lillian Francis
  • A Lucy Review: All My Fault by Michael Gouda
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Montana Sky (Montana #6) by RJ Scott

Thursday, May 2:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: RUNNING ON EMPTY, a Havoc novel by SE Jakes
  • Release Blitz – 717 miles by Sophia Soames
  • DSP PROMO Murder Most Lovely by Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth
  • Blog Post – Avery Cockburn – Play Hard (Glasgow Lads 4.5)
  • An Ali Review:Starting from Zero by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Review :717 miles by Sophia Soames
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Destructive Forces by Harry F. Rey

Friday, May 3:

  • The Doctor’s Secret by Heidi Cullinan Tour
  • Blog Tour – Unimaginable by Iyana Jenna
  • Release Blitz – GB Gordon – Match Grade (Criminal Delights)
  • An Alisa Review: Unimaginable by Iyana Jenna
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs #4) by L.A. Witt
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dangerous Times by Isobelle Winter
  • A MelanieM Review:The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) by Heidi Cullinan

Saturday, May 4  May the Fourth Be With You!:

  • HARMONY INK PROMO Gina Harris and Anne Key
  • A MelanieM Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

 

A MelanieM Review: Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.

Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.

Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.

As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

As a fan of both hockey and hockey fiction, I’m always on the lookout for more contemporary romances with hockey and gay hockey players at the center of the action.  So I was delighted to come across this new release from Carina Press.  It represents both a new author and a new series for me.  And since I ended up loving both the story and this couple, it will send me running to pickup the first story in the series.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about the format the author uses in Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid.  Told from both points of view of the main characters, we start the novel when they are teenagers vying for status and an award.  It is their first meeting and the beginning of their personal hockey competition and interaction.  From then on the story starts jumping forward as they meet in different cities in various time intervals, the competition and heated rivalry flaring hotter and hotter. Each time frame advancing both the personal competition between them as the best hockey players currently coming up in the game, and something more.  A physical closeted relationship that’s still somewhat impersonal….until it starts to be something more.

As I said I started out unsure about this flash forward framework because it didn’t allow the reader to see any development of a relationship between the men.  Until I realized that was the point.  There wasn’t one.  Only the one we saw on ice.  But midway, those jumps in time slowed and a relationship between the men started to develop beyond the competition and mere physicalilty they had allowed themselves.  And we as readers relished it all the more for the lack of intimacy that had gone before.

Due to this format, we need the 2 pov narrative to fill us in on the men, their background and the drama that is happening around them and to them in some cases.    These characters are well developed and if they seem a tad familiar to those that follow hockey there is a reason for it.  If you read the Afterword by the author, you will know that Reid was a fan of the HBO hockey series about  Penguins/Capitals rivalry, specially the one between “good boy” Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and  “bad boy” Russian Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. As a Caps fan, I can tell you it’s a hard fast competition that continues today between “The Kid” and “Ovi” .  And it sparked the inspiration for this romance and story.

The slow to develop emotional intimacy is what we crave here because what they already have is an intense physical one.  So the payoff for the men at the end is a realistic one.    It’s not a HEA but an authentic HFN which I thoroughly appreciated.  It’s what they had worked for, were still working for, and, cleared eyed as to how the NHL is run, homophobia included, make plans that we as readers not only get behind but quietly cheer for.  And hope to see this couple pop up in future stories.

I really enjoyed this tale.  The author has a feel for hockey action on the rink, a well developed storyline, great characters and a ending I believed in.  Love it.  And now to go back and check on the first book in the series.

This is definitely a standalone novel as far as I can tell.  One that I recommend, especially if you are a fan of hockey and hockey romances like me.

Cover art by Carina Press.  Ok not a fan of this cover.  Could be for any romance, nothing really distinguishes it as a hockey novel.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published March 25th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title Heated Rivalry
ASINB07H5K8SFW
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Game Changers :

Game Changer

Heated Rivalry

An Ashlez Review: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

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Rating : 4 stars out of 5

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

 
Perhaps it’s the Canadian in me, but I loved the hockey-centric learning of this book.  It was hockey focused as it should be, and normally in a hockey romance you get a few game play/practice references and nothing more – if you’re a fan of hockey this is a definite must read.
 
It was very “coming out” focused as well, and honestly I get each side of the story.
 
Tristan was adorably written – Ryu was too – which I hope is the next in the series – their descriptions their descriptions, their lives, their jobs, I just was engrossed.
 
I thought Seb was pretty bossy from the beginning – makes sense throughout the book, honestly – his actions in the beginning though kind of ticked me off a lot!
 
Personal distaste aside, Seb grew on me, of course, not as much as Tris I like the big floppy grinned character more than anything else!
 
Excited for the next book in the series.
Cover Art – typical hockey book art – I love the colours though and clearly it’s super relevant to the book
Book Details:ebook
Published March 25th 2019 by Carina Press (first published October 30th 2017)
ISBN 1488053758 (ISBN13: 9781488053757)
SeriesHat Trick #1
CharactersTristan Holt, Sebastian Cruz, Ryu Mori, Trevor Morley, Daniel Bellamy
settingAtlanta, Georgia (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

My first book from this author, but it won’t be my last. This story engaged me and kept me riveted with not only memorable characters, who happen to be sexy hockey players, but also men who grow from 18-year-old rookies looking for a quick hookup to mature all-stars who know each other better than anyone else in the world and become willing to risk their hearts for a chance at permanence.

Talk about slow burn! These two took forever to realize their instant lust attraction—which they perpetuated for several years—was more than they ever thought they could have. After all, pro hockey players didn’t come out. They didn’t settle down with one man.  And they certainly didn’t leave their homeland—Russia in Ilya’s case—to find their HEA with the man who newscasters set up as an archrival.

After years of texting, secretly meeting up after games in each other’s hometown, Ilya and Shane—Lily and Jane on each other’s cell contact list—finally face the fact that they aren’t just meeting to scratch an itch. They care deeply for each other and there’s a glimmer of hope for a future together if they plan it well.  And since Shane is a planner…

From the beginning of this story, I was swept up in the rich characterizations, the excitement of pro hockey, and the secretive sexy banter and wish fulfillment. I enjoyed being with Shane as he matured and developed feelings for Ilya. And Shane was fortunate to have two supportive, interesting and loving parents—especially his mother who was a hoot with her knowledge of pro sports.  Ilya, unfortunately, was not as blessed. An aging father who suffered from dementia, a demanding brother who constantly wanted money, and a stepmother who was zero in the nurturing department were all he had in his homeland and he got to the point where he dreaded going back to Russia in the off season.  I adored Ilya with his accent, his sense of humor, and his ego—huge and well-deserved.  And together, these two men were fantastic.  By the end of the story, after they’d made their decision to be a couple, I couldn’t put the book down. 

Every word, every page turn brought me closer to the end of the book, and I didn’t want to finish.  I savored their time together, and I am hopeful we’ll see them again at some point in the future because I’m not ready to release them from my heart.  Very highly recommended. 

Cover art is every bit as heated as the title.

Sales Links;  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Expected publication: March 25th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title Heated Rivalry
ASINB07H5K8SFW
Edition Language English
Series Game Changers #2

A Lila Review: Not Dead Yet (Not Dead Yet #1) by Jenn Burke

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dying isn’t what it used to be. 

Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.

His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.

As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.

Not Dead Yet has an interesting twist on ghosts and other paranormal creatures. They share a world with humans but their existence is a secret, an underworld of magic, power, and money.

It takes time to get into the story and get rid of all preconceptions about paranormals. The timeline gets a bit murky to start with but after a couple of conversations between the main characters, everything gets smoother.

The mystery is well done and not easily predictable. The murders are interconnected and the investigations keep the readers engaged. The end happened too fast with a dosage of bad guy spilling its guts, but it worked with the overall story.

If you are looking for more than a romance, this book will work for you. It has a really slow burn with interesting characters and adventures.

The cover goes with the story but based on the descriptions, Hudson seems too young. Other than that, it was nice.

Sale Links: Amazon | Nook | Carina

Book Details:
ebook, 300 pages
ISBN: 1488036233
Published: February 4, 2019, by Carina Press
Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : See the Light by Kate McMurray

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I really enjoyed this story.  Kate McMurray has a way of creating characters that are memorable—not because they are perfect, but because they are flawed. 

In this instance, Jeremy and his best friend, Max, grew up in New Jersey and took advantage of their proximity to Broadway to indulge in their favorite activity—going to musicals. Actually, Max’s favorite activity was watching Jeremy enjoy the shows.  His beautiful face would light up and he’d become entranced with the action, while Max enjoyed the side benefit of his best friend’s pleasure. And Jeremy could sing and dance so added to his good looks, they both knew he’d be Broadway bound as soon as they were done with school.  And Max? Max honed his art talent, and when it appeared he could apply his talent with a brush to makeup as well as paint, he began to uses his face, and then others in school play productions (including Jeremy’s) as his canvas.

They’re now in their late twenties, Jeremy’s boyfriend has dumped him and kicked him out of his apartment, and so he comes knocking on Max’s door looking for a place to stay.  And even though Max took his own apartment years ago because he loved Jeremy with all his heart, and he knows it’s a bad idea to be so close to him without revealing his secret, he gives in and Jeremy moves to his couch. For a while…until he ends up in Max’s bed.  And Max wants him there. He finally tells Jeremy just how much he loves him, but then doubts himself and worries that if Jeremy can’t return his love, they’ll lose what they have as best friends.  And that would kill Max.  So just as Jeremy lands the lead role on a new Broadway show—his chance of a lifetime—and Max gets the contract to do the makeup for that same show and another huge production, Max asks for a cooling off period and sends them both into chaos.

And that’s when the angst kicked in.  For me, it was too much angst for too long.  Yes, we learn that Max suffers from depression and has lower self-esteem than seems warranted by what we learn of him, but the period of separation and anxiety and self-induced angst that then carried over to Jeremy at a time when he should have been on top of the world made me start to really dislike Max. And that’s too bad because he was a well-developed character.  Perhaps that was the point the author wanted to make. Those who suffer from depression sometimes scuttle their own boat. I’ve seen it in my family.  He should have been (blank) and he should have done (blank). Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  But he nearly tanked them. 

What saved the day is this young man, who knows now that he’s in love with his best friend, has been for a while though didn’t realize it until recently, who’s now at the pinnacle of his career because he kept trying, and dreaming, and hoping, and working toward his goal.  And when he stops to think about it, he realizes he can’t give up on Max.  He takes all his positive energy and focuses on the show and on being there when Max finally comes down from his anxiety ladder and sees the light.  Pun intended. 

So I loved the beginning, didn’t care for the level of tummy-turning angst in the middle, but from Chapter Twenty to the end, I couldn’t put the book down.   I was there at the premiere, sitting in the front row as Jeremy stood alone in the spotlight and belted out the first notes to the song. This is most definitely a love story and if you’ve ever gone to a Broadway play or sang out loud with Streisand or Minelli, this book is for you. 

Cover art is light and bright and eye catching.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: January 28th 2019 by Carina Press
ASIN B07GB9Q512
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

How to describe this story?  Hmm.  I feel wrapped up in warmth and goodness. Like I received an unexpected gift.  Annabeth Albert paints a clear picture of her characters early in the story so readers, like me, can shadow them and experience their joy, their sorrow, their emotional growth, and yes, their love.

Canaan Finley is working the register when his favorite Navy SEAL, the guy his team calls Rooster, comes into his family’s cafe for a smoothie. The hot guy has caught Canaan’s attention each time he comes in but this time, Canaan isn’t going to let the moment pass without making…a pass.  He manages to surprise Rooster who is equally attracted to the cute guy making his smoothie just the way he likes it.  A cute intro, I like the way the author set the two up so that it’s natural to ask Rooster when Canaan needs a fake boyfriend.  He used to be in a rock band that’s just finished a European tour and would like to attend their “reunion” camping trip but won’t go alone. Why? Because his ex and the guy he cheated on Canaan with are both going to be there and Canaan doesn’t want to seem a loser. 

Over the course of the trip, which is no simple excursion to the woods, Canaan and Rooster are caught in a canyon during a flash flood.  Rooster’s quick thinking and rock-climbing skills save them both and over the course of time, as the two are stranded on a ledge above the canyon, attraction blooms into a solid foundation for a relationship.

The author’s skills in creating two very different characters who complement one another in unusual ways, getting those characters to be important to readers, and then making the characters important to each other is what I love best about her work.  These men are flawed, and they have backstories that include good judgment and bad mistakes, but I got so attached to them after a few chapters that I couldn’t go on with my daily routine until I knew more, more, more! Each scene was better than the previous and I simply had to know what came next and whether or not these two could find their way to their HEA.  And if a certain couple named Ben and Maddox (On Point) happened to run into them while they were out on a date, and if that run-in led to Rooster finding out about Canaan’s past adventure with the couple, well, all I can say is that was icing on the cake of my happiness.

I very highly recommend this story. In fact, I very highly recommend the entire Out of Uniform series to all MM romance lovers. And if you love SEALs or military men in your romance, this one is super perfect.   

The cover features two bare-chested men, one hugging the other from behind. The one in front, wearing camo pants, is Rooster. Canaan, of course, is behind and the models chosen look like those described in the story.  The coloring and theme of the cover matches the other Out of Uniform books in the series.

Sales Links:   Carina Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: January 14th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title Rough Terrain
ASINB07GB8B4XR
Edition Language English
Series Out of Uniform #7

Series Out of Uniform /add to Goodreads here:

Off Base

Homecoming (1.5)

Off Leash (1.6)

At Attention (2)

I Do (2.5)

On Point (5)

Wheels Up (4)

Homebodies (4.5)

Squared Away (5)

Tight Quarters (6)

Rough Terrain (7)

 

A MelanieM New Release Review: Owned by Fate (Dragon Soul #5) by Sean Michael

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

The Beteferoce brothers: five dragon shifters, each with a strong elemental power and a destiny that will not be denied.

Dr. Mike Beteferoce turned his back on magic long ago. His heart broke and his desire for a soul mate disappeared. When he sees his family crest branded above Corryn’s heart, his first instinct is to flee. The last thing he wants now is a Fae interfering in his life—especially one who has already rejected him.

But fate has other plans.

Corryn knows Mike is his soul mate, has known since the sigil was branded on his skin centuries ago. Long before Mike came to him as a studly young dragon just entering his prime. It was far too early for them to be together then, but now their time has come.

But despite their draw to each other, Corryn doesn’t believe Mike can accept him for who—and what—he is. Mike must breathe life into their bond—loving Corryn as both soul mate and Fae—if they are to fulfill their destiny

In what I assumes is the finale for the Dragon Soul series,Owned by Fate (Dragon Soul #5) by Sean Michael gives us the last story of the fifth Beteferoce dragon brother.  He’s the one that has been missing from the other brother’s stories, a mere mention in passing of a brother who never comes to close into the new family dynamics that is happening.  Each brother has been finding his mate, drawn in part through a tattoo placed there by Corryn, an elf long in service to the Beteferoce family.  But we never knew exactly what  Mike or Corryn’s story was. Now we get both because they are fiercely intertwined as we should have suspected.

In a  deeply satisfying finale, we learn the origin of Corryn’s role with the Beteferoce brothers, the magical tattoos he’s used to draw each mate to each brother, and his own back history with Mike.  In one section, it’s unbelievably painful, enough to draw tears, I’ve come to care that much for Corryn over the series.  All the brothers and their mates for that matter, so it’s an enormous plus that we get the inclusion of all the couples here at the end for the big finale.

I loved the section with all the mated pairs flying together as I could see it so clearly.  My only wish is that this book was twice as long.  Half for the couple to figure their relationship and the rest to all come together to untangle the lore surrounding them  and their mates and the resolution.

But I will be happy with Owned by Fate. It supplied me with the answers to the questions raised in the other stories, all the brothers appeared with their mates and got their HEA, and a lovely finale!  Sigh!  Dragons are definitely a weakness of mine and Sean Michael’s series checked all the boxes.  If you love sexy men, kinky hot scenes, and dragons this is the series for you!

Cover art is nice, brands the series and is eye catching.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 234 pages
Published December 3rd 2018 by Carina Press
ASIN B07DCTM62M
Edition Language English
Series Dragon Soul

 

Series:

Branded by Flames

Seduced by the Tide

Bound by Thorns

Born of Air

Owned by Fate

A MelanieM Review: Loving a Warrior (Loving a Warrior #1) by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

Melanie Hansen’s ability to bring us inside this intense world of SEAL training and the brotherhood that forms between the men that make it through this grueling six months is remarkable.  As she has done before, the people she creates  come alive for us, laid out in all their frailties, brutalities, complexities, and, the inner drive and grit that keeps them from cracking under the enormous pressures and pains BUD/S puts them through to see them out as SEALs with their Tridents at the end of the story.

And in between, we are given a journey of determination, questioning, growth, and romance between two very different men. Matt Knytych and Shane Hovland.  One (my favorite) Matt is the most complex perhaps of the two, certainly the most focused on his goal of getting his Trident, being a SEAl like his uncle, his idol and mentor. Matt is that one creation that has such power as a character that it’s almost impossible to turn your attention away from him to any other character or element.  He’s blinding in his ability to draw your eye to him and his life, leaving all others to wander along the edges.  It’s funny really, because Matt’s not the “gorgeous” one here. He’s not the tall one, overly good looking one etc.  But for sheer determination, grit, and, power on the page, nothing is comparable to him.  Matt burns with a narrative incendiary intensity.  His is not the easy road you might think it will be.

Shane Hovland is the gorgeous one and, ironically, the lesser of the two men in strength of characterization but only because Matt shines so brightly and with such great strength. Shane is the former Marine taking BUD/S for the 2nd time, the reason for which I’ll leave to the story.  His back story is every bit as interesting as Matt’s but again but it comes across as lacking…something.  Unfair I know.  And totally realistic as is this entire story.

Hansen pulls us through the training, their lives, the questioning about the costs of pursuing a romance….everything and we believe in them in every way.

She also makes us feel for those that don’t make it. How is that possible?  It’s only fiction, yet I felt the anguish and their pain just as deep.  And the pride for those that receive their Tridents.

It ends as it should, a HFN.  And where it should.  A powerful story of love of country and of two men for each other.

Melanie Hansen has quickly become a Must Read Author for me and  Loving A Warrior is an excellent example why.  I highly recommend it and can’t wait for the next story in the series to arrive.

Cover art is perfect for the men and the story.  I only wish I knew who to credit it to.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published November 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ASIN B07DCTPL94
Edition Language English
Series Loving a Warrior #1