New Release Blitz – Overtime (Cayuga Cougars #4) by V.L. Locey

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 68,000 words approx.
 

Cover Design: Reverie Formatting and Design

Cayuga Cougars Series


Book #1 – Snap Shot: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge: Amazon US | Amazon UK
BlurbSander March is one season away from the pros, or so everyone tells him.If only Sander had as much faith in his ability as the Cougar coaching staff does. Outwardly, he’s cocksure, borderline bitter, and slightly sarcastic. All that strut and sass hides a wounded soul though. Working to hide a brutal past filled with humiliation, abuse, and a family member who still haunts him, Sander has never found the kind of comfort and understanding he so desperately needs. Until he meets Mateo Castillo, a minor league baseball player for the nearby Elmira Egrets. Mateo and Sander click instantly, and a budding friendship develops between the two athletes.

Mateo then introduces Sander to his boyfriend, Noah Coombs, an aspiring manga comic creator. The three men find themselves bonding strongly, and that slowly gives way to sexual attraction. Eventually, Mateo and Noah invite Sander into their relationship. The path to happiness isn’t going to be easy for Sander as he faces criticism from his friends, teammates, and the press for his choices. The brash young star can handle all that, it’s when his abuser shows up in Cayuga that Sander fears not only for his own safety, but for the lives of the two men he has grown to love. Will Sander’s past tear him away from Mateo and Noah, or will he be able to leave the darkness behind?

Warning – This story has disturbing subject matter.

 

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.


When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

 

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Book BLITZ Get Up by Reece Pine (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Get Up

Author: Reece Pine

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: December 25, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 69500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, MM, contemporary, wilderness, child abuse, mental illness, PTSD

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Synopsis

Recently dumped (again) for being cold, Guy gladly accepts his publisher friend’s request to go to a remote hut in wintry Nunavut to find out whether aspiring novelist Cam Campbell is a plagiarist. By agreeing also to help the eccentric ecologist survey wildlife for a month, Guy buys time to assess Cam’s innocence and hear stories about Cam’s late father–Guy’s favorite fantasy writer and the man whose book Cam is accused of stealing.

Guy’s investigation is soon biased by his attraction to Cam and the growing concern about Cam’s odd behavior. At times, Cam dissociates and is icier than Guy could ever be, yet he’s the only one who’s ever recognized, at a glance, the emotions burning beneath Guy’s surface. Guy knows he’s the best person to help Cam abandon the dangerous wilds outside and address those in Cam’s head, but he also knows that he’ll lose the chance if he comes clean about his ulterior motives for getting close to Cam. How can he convince Cam to come in from the cold… and why are they both really out there anyway?

Excerpt

Get Up
Reece Pine © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

At least he wasn’t nervous about meeting the kid anymore. He’d stopped feeling anything at all besides dread and the wheels of the suitcase he’d slung over his shoulder bruising his numb ass with every stumble. Finally, Guy glimpsed smoke wisping from a rustic pipe chimney a hundred yards farther than the thousand miles he’d already come. His brogues, so iced over they looked like glass slippers, skidded on the porch’s wooden boards. The leather-gloved hand he threw forward to balance himself rattled the doorframe with a thudding knock, sending ice shards showering behind him from the rafters overhead.

“Hell-lo?” he croaked. “Cam-meron C—”

The alluring burst of firelight that greeted him as the door opened was immediately extinguished by someone squeezing the swollen wood shut behind themselves as they stepped forth. Guy was suddenly too surprised to be awestruck over meeting Alessandro De Carli’s son at last. He was glad his frozen eyelids couldn’t blink, because the guy—the specter, presumably Cameron Campbell—might disappear if he did. For a second, he wondered if he’d knocked on the wrong gingerbread house door, only there was no other shelter for fifty miles.

Cameron Campbell was known to be even more reclusive than his late father, but he wasn’t actually supposed to be mythic. The tiny guy blocking the door with sturdy, unlaced boots looked like a wood nymph. Eyes as blue as distant stars stared at him unabashedly. Maybe the reason no journalists had ever snapped pictures of the kid, and why he had no online presence, was because he couldn’t be caught on film.

“Incredible.” Cameron must have read Guy’s mind, and he pressed rosebud lips together in exasperation. “Are you alone? Did you hitch here? There’s no corpse in a cab parked on the highway I need to go rescue? Insane.”

Guy respectively nodded and shook his head, hoping the well-earned insult was aimed at the driver on his way west who’d dropped him at the side of a barely used road, far from the highway. Guy had considered himself lucky to thumb a ride at all out of the tiny settlement of Ipasila, built around a gas station, which was the closest town to Campbell and two hours’ drive from the Hudson Bay hamlet of Arviat in southern Nunavut. In hindsight, the man had been almost as reckless as Guy himself had been for not driving him straight to the police. Instead, Guy had been let out of the relative safety of a truck armed with nothing more than the GPS tracker Guy had brought with him and prayed was accurate.

“C-Cameron…” Not Cameron, Guy revised. A Cameron was a strapping guy—like a Brad or a David—or a blonde woman. This pixie prince was either a Cam or a question mark. His eyes looked magnified behind the lenses of large glasses, the arms of which must have burned cold against his temples because Cam removed them—only for his naked eyes to be comically large. It was still possible he wasn’t even De Carli’s son, since he looked nothing like him. Wrote nothing like him either, which was why Guy was here. “You’re C-Campbell, right? De Carli’s s-son?”

It was Campbell’s turn to draw back in surprise. “Are you from a newspaper?”

“Am I s-selling subscriptions?” Traipsing from cabin to cabin after dark? “D-does it matter? Let me in.” Heat from indoors infused the porch floorboards and bled into Guy’s damp soles, announcing itself as pain in his brittle toes.

“I don’t do interviews about my father.” Cam reached inside the hood of his puffy coat, just a shade lighter than his luminous, creamy skin, to pull a long coil of black hair forward. It hung like gossamer over the gray scarf around his shoulders.

He’d let down his hair, so now Guy could enter, right? “Do I l-look like a journalist?”

“Nah, you look too honest.”

Guy’s brows were too frozen to frown at the sarcasm. He knew damn well he had a poker face. That was the problem; now that he was literally incapable of moving his face he probably looked normal, not dangerously hypothermic.

“I’m with your p-publisher.”

“You’re from Ames? In that case, first, tell Claire she should be fired and charged with attempted murder for sending you. Secondly, and for the hundredth time, I canceled the submission for Close to Home. I didn’t mean to send it to you guys in the first place. Third, stop hounding me about it.”

“Fourth, f-fuck off,” Guy anticipated his next order. “I c-can’t. And I’m from F-Fairbanks Press.”

“Ha! Are you guys even still publishing me?” Cam swept his bangs behind an ear, which was slightly pointed at its tip.

Of course, it is. “You’re the one who n-never answers emails.”

“Internet’s intermittent out here. And there’s nothing wrong with that manuscript that isn’t Fairbanks’ fault.” Cam pursed his lips, which were tinging blue before Guy’s eyes, and nuzzled his chin into his scarf. Guy was torn between thinking it served him right to be cold and wanting to offer his firstborn as passage to the gatekeeper who halted Guy’s shuffle forward by holding up a gloved palm. “Uh-uh, no way. You ought to know the drill, New Yorker. You are, aren’t you?”

Guy was as native a New Yorker as anyone who’d moved there in adulthood and would never live elsewhere. A load of the population was in the same burned boat as him, so yes, he could claim to be from New York, but that was irrelevant while the heat fleeing his eyes stung.

“S-so?”

“So the same rules apply here as there,” Cam continued, as though this were a holiday home in Connecticut. “You know, I met a hiker from Texas here who’d never even seen snow before, but he knew enough about it to come in September, not March. Why do you think I can’t get any volunteers to assist me at the moment?”

Because not only did this waif conduct questionable wildlife research in the middle of nowhere while purportedly editing a novel, but he also lived at the end of a spur trail a mile west of an icy road to nowhere.

Cam stamped his feet, blowing into hands he cupped over his mouth. “Come on.”

What did the little sylph want? For Guy to roll a seven? Produce a magic key?

“For God’s sake, guy, you need to strip!” Cam finally twisted the door handle behind him, spilling back into an amber glow. Guy tumbled in after, out of the deadly night air.

Instantly, his coat became the warmest bath Guy had ever had the pleasure of sinking into. Flames in the hearth curled into come-hither licks Guy’s jellied legs couldn’t obey. There was enough ecstasy to be had where he wilted against the closed door. The sensation wrenched him from numb to overwhelmed in a blink, and thrust him the closest to an imminent powerful orgasm he’d been since…he didn’t want to know.

Cam busied himself over at a kitchen counter, ignoring Guy, who stood, shaking in the doorway, suddenly struggling with a boner that had sprung from pure physical shock, surprising and mortifying him. He had to admit he could see how post-hypothermia blood rushing around could cause such a phenomenon, but man, did it have to? Thankfully, melting into a hunch helped hide it when Cam reappeared in front of him wearing only a few layers of sweaters and brandishing two steaming mugs of coffee.

Its intoxicating aroma further confused his senses by going straight to Guy’s cock. Now, there’s a new kink. He failed to convince himself his hand quivering was an aftereffect of the cold, not the sight of the now gloveless, pale hand offering a chipped mug with the handle out for Guy to grab. Cam raised an eyebrow at Guy’s taking it with his left hand.

“Oh, you’re a lefty?”

“I guess,” Guy said, distracted by just how fine Cam’s fingers were…and how Cam’s palm was apparently immune to the hot ceramic he held courtesy of calluses, frostbite, or immortality. “Looks nice….”

“Not too strong?” Cam asked, a smile curling the corners of his mouth.

“N-no such thing.” Guy slurped half the treacly concoction before gasping, “Thanks.”

“Sit.” Cam nodded to a couch piled high with blankets resembling a laundry pile. There was nowhere to sit except on top of them. “And I wasn’t kidding before. You need to strip, like, five minutes ago. Show me some skin.”

“What?” Skin?

“And a business card.”

Shit. Guy had no such thing—he should have made Huw make him a mock-up one before coming. If Cam was astute enough to ask questions like that, it might be hard to deceive him as planned. Plausible excuses whirled in his mind, but were as hard to grasp as the snowflakes he ruffled loose from his hair, stalling for time. He was surprised they hadn’t melted, since his scalp was beginning to burn….

“Of course, I’d prefer skin first. And so would you,” Cam said.

“I’m here to work,” Guy retorted, reinforcing the lie to himself.

“How do you know De Carli was my father?”

Guy blinked. “Isn’t he?”

“My pen name’s Cameron Stewart. I know my real name’s on the contract I signed with you guys, but that’s Cameron Campbell.”

“That’s De Carli’s son’s name.”

“It’s also as common as mud. How do you know I’m him?”

“Because…” Heat surged through Guy’s veins, and flashes from the fireplace in his periphery blinded him. Flames shot up his spine, turning his thoughts to smoke. His erection stirred as he willed it to subside. Instead, his heartbeat faded, which was a lot more alarming. “Because…”

Struggling to balance his tilting mug on the surging, damp footwell he slumped down upon, Guy bit at his glove to peel it from his roasting hand. It dangled from his lip, and he batted it away to better claw at his collar, trying to escape its stranglehold. Sweat made it slippery in his shaking hands, and he panted more feverishly than he had while staggering outside, where everything was white—as white as everything was turning now.

“Hey, stay with me, guy.” Cam rose from his slouch against the back of the sofa, surrounded by a blizzard of stars that swarmed Guy’s vision. He was warmth personified, the most enchanting thing in the dreamscape Guy had navigated to get here, and he was still miraculous, even now that everything had become a nightmare. His own sharp intake of breath echoed from afar as Cam lunged toward him through the static.

“I hoped you were him,” spilled in a murmur from Guy without his control. Strangely, Cam seemed to slip farther away the closer he got, as Guy sensed himself falling. It looked like he wouldn’t manage to save De Carli’s son after all. Well, he thought as all light vanished, at least he’d managed to meet him. And he got to die in the arms of a beyond-beautiful man.

No, forget that, his consciousness broke through. De Carli’s son was stunning, strange, and fascinatingly all the way out here. Never mind the fact Guy couldn’t write, he was going to live and find out what made Cam tick if it was the last thing he did.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Reece is allegedly a descendant of Ann Boleyn. If you have any ancestors who were in England circa 1500, then there’s a 50% chance you too are distantly related to Anne Boleyn. In fact, if you’re of European descent, then you and everyone else of European descent share a single ancestor, who lived around 1400. And in 3,000 years’ time, all of humanity will be able to trace their lineage back to someone who is alive today. Reece thinks it would be cool if that person was G-Dragon.

Website | Twitter

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An Ali Audiobook Review: Close to You (Sunshine and Happiness #3) by Skylar M. Cates and Tristan James (Narrator)

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 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
close-to-you-audioIt’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.

How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.

For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.

When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.
When I started this I was under the impression I could read this as a standalone since it’s about a different couple than the previous books.  Once I started it though I felt like I was missing something so I went back and read the previous books.  I’m glad I did that because these two are side characters with important roles in those stories and it helped me transition into this book.
The story is told from dual points of view and it’s told in the past (when they were teens) and the present.  Tomas comes from a loving home but Marc grew up in a very abusive home.  Child abuse is shown and while I didn’t find it super graphic, be aware if this is an issue for you.  As this story goes along Marc has to start working through his issues to be happy with himself and to be able to have a relationship with Tomas.  Marc has a lot of intimacy issues and fear based on his childhood and these two’s journey is painful and angst filled.
While there is a lot of angst and heartache is this story it ends with a beautiful happily ever after and I loved the journey the author took the characters and the readers on.  This was my first time reading this author and I will definitely be looking to read more of her work.
Cover Artist: AngstyG:  I like the cover.  I’m not typically a fan of the color brown in a monochromatic form but this still stood out and it really fit the mood of the story.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Audiobook
Published December 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 28th 2016)
Original TitleClose to You
ASINB01N9ENUL1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSunshine and Happiness #3

A Stella Review: Daddy’s Boy by Vicktor Alexander

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Rating 4 stars out of 5

Daddy's Boy coverMy name is Tyler Simpston. I was introduced to the darkness and sex at a very young age. Those are two things I know quite well. They are my constant companions. I’m used to the inky tar squeezing the life from my soul, the joy from my spirit, and the light from my life but I know that I have no one to blame but myself. It is all a result of my job as a paid… “companion.” And no, I don’t need to be “redeemed” from my profession. I like my job, love it actually. It’s my past I need to be saved from. My past and a man named KuJoe who is hell-bent on blackmailing me.

When my benefactor passed away I had to find someone new. Someone who would take care of me and keep me in the life to which I’d grown accustomed, so I set my sights on Dodger Vanderbrook, the wealthiest and most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen in my life. But there’s something different about Dodger. Not only is he interested in more than just my body, but he makes me long for something more as well. Something more than just trips to foreign lands, fancy clothes, and checks with lots of zeroes written on them. It wasn’t long before Dodger had me wanting to be with him without money even being a part of our interactions. We weren’t having “appointments” we were having “dates,” and Dodger wasn’t a “client” he was more like a… “boyfriend.” But here’s the thing, I still have to take care of KuJoe because not only is KuJoe threatening to reveal my deepest darkest secret but he’s threatening to pull the most important person in my life into the world of prostitution: my little girl, my daughter, Stella.

I will do anything to prevent that from happening. Even turning my back on what could possibly be the greatest love of my life, my only chance at happiness, and returning to pay-by-the-hour prostitution. But in the end will I just let Dodger let go or will I finally fight back and stop being a Daddy’s Boy?

I already knew I was going to love Daddy’s Boys so much because I have a soft spot for Vicktor Alexander,  I adore how he can write. The book has everything I loved reading about  and everything I’m scared of reading about. There’s a lot of abuses, dark scenes, sometimes a little too much to take. I had to stop twice cause I couldn’t take it anymore. The pain, the suffering, just the thought of what little Tyler went through made me cringe often. His memories were the parts I was more afraid of. It’s not a simple book, there are a lot of facets to discover. And I know for a lot of people will be uncomfortable with it. I can say now, having spent some time thinking about it, that I’m surely going to re read it, not in the next future, but one day I will, cause it’s staying in my heart.

As I already said the writing was really great, it wasn’t a surprise cause Vicktor is too good with words, especially in the way he can make me feel and see every little detail. I’m honestly not sure how much I appreciated this quality in Daddy’s Boy when he made me feel sick, but all the emotions Tyler and his story with baby Stella infused in me were worth it.

I’m not going to talk about the specific in the story cause the blurb is very eloquent, there are a couple of things that will be revealed only later in the book, some were predictables others not. One more reason to stay glue to my kindle.

This next part of the review has been removed as it contains elements that might be considered “spoilers”.  To continue reading, click here.

That said, I’d love to recommend Daddy’s Boy cause I loved it very much. It’s dark and it’s sad, but it was too emotional and too well written to be ignored. I gave it four stars and I would probably given more but what I talk in the spoiler prevented me from doing it.

Cover art by Vicktor Alexander. The more I look at the cover the more I think it fits the book, in all the grey and the model’s look. Nothing special but well done.

Sales Links:  The Rooster and The Pig | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Published August 14th 2015 by The Rooster and The Pig
ASIN B013Y1SEZY
Edition Language English

Review: Risking It All (Truth or Dare #5) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4 stars

Sebastian “Bastian” Grey has been asking his lover Rick Claremont for more, more time spent together, more commitment, heck, he would even settle for Rick letting him into Rick’s house but Rick has always pushed him away. But now Rick is adopting a small kitten. Can making one type of commitment mean that Rick is ready to make another?  Bastian can only hope that this might mean a new step forward in the relationship with a man he has wanted since Bastian was 16.

Rick Claremont came from an abusive childhood so trust has never come easy.  Rescued by Bastian’s older sister, he has watched Bastian grow up into a gorgeous man but one who takes risks all the time, in work and pleasure.  It doesn’t matter whether Bastian is running into burning buildings or jumping off sky jumps at mountain resorts, his life is always at jeopardy and Rick is hesitant to give his heart to someone who might not be around to make a relationship work.  Then a decision to get a kitten leads to thoughts of taking down some of the barriers that have kept the men from a deeper commitment.  Can Rick trust Bastian to stay safe and help him feel safe too?

This is the fifth book in the Truth or Dare series by Lee Brazil and the only one I have read to date.  The series seems to revolve around the Blake brothers and the people they fall in love with the exception of this one.  Risking It All is the story of Sebastian Grey, Dr. Arden Grey’s brother, and Rick Claremont, a young boy she rescued from an abusive life. Without having the foundation of the other books I was still able to enjoy Bastian and Rick’s story and get an understanding of each man’s history.  This is especially true for Rick Claremont whose past is horrific from every angle.  Father left, alcoholic mother died leaving him in the care of an abusive stepfather who was a monster.  I felt Rick had depth to his character and liked how Brazil created a character who is dealing effectively with his past abuse.  Too often we are given stories populated by characters broken by their past, it was a nice change to be given someone who has surmounted his past and we get a glimpse into how he has achieved this remarkable goal.  I found Rick believable, likable, and totally someone I become fond of immediately.

Bastian Grey was a little more problematic as his story is most likely told with his sister’s, Dr. Arden Grey, in Giving Up (Truth or Dare #4).  I would not necessarily have known he was a firefighter but I liked his “voice” and found his frustration with the status of his relationship with Rick so realistic I could almost hear his teeth grind.  You  could see how his impulsive nature could give Rick second thoughts when it came to trusting himself into Bastian’s care but his inherent “goodness” is also on display as well.  I would have liked to see more of Bastian’s story included here for those of us unfamiliar with the series.

There is an element of mystery when Rick’s stepfather is murdered and Rick finds himself  among the suspects, however temporarily.  The end of the book becomes overcrowded with characters I didn’t know or care about (perhaps from previous books) and I felt their addition obscured the relationship building between Rick and Bastian.  This is a novella in length but the characters and storyline almost cry out for a full length novel. The characters are wonderfully human displaying the full spectrum of behavior, from impulsiveness of Bastian to the wary attitude of Rick.  I would have loved much more of them and it gives me the impetus to look into how the series all started.

Cover: Victoria Miller gives us a beautifully dark cover in keeping with the dark elements of the story.  I loved the use of green in the fonts which really made the title and the author’s name stand out.

Truth or Dare Series, in the order they were written:

Keeping House, #1 – Mischa Blake and Donovan Holloway, m/m

Telling the Truth, #2 – Terry Blake and Twins Dex and Trick,  m/m/m

Giving Up, #3 – Branden Blake and Dr. Arden Grey m/f

Taking the Dare, #4 –  Dan Blake and Morgan Hawk,m/m

Risking it All, #5 – Bastian Grey and Rick Claremont  m/m

Review of With or Without Series by JL Langley

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ating: 5 stars for the series

My first introduction to JL’s shifters came when I picked up the Hearts From The Ashes anthology and read With Love, the first in Langley’s shifter series.  It featured a young clutzy Omega wolf named Laine Campbell who was perpetually in hot water over things he said or creating chaos with the things he did.  Everything about Laine was adorable, from his hair to his manner of speech and I fell in love immediately.  So did Dev, the Alpha wolf moving to Ashton with his betas and business partners.  He was hooked on Laine and I was hooked on Dev.  I could not believe it when the story was over. I wanted more shifters, specifically I wanted JL’s shifters and I wanted them now. This is a reoccurring theme with JL Langley’s books so be prepared.

Then came Without Reservations in 2007 and my addiction was official.  Without Reservations is the story of Chayton Winston, a veterinarian living in New Mexico.  He is also a shifter and all his life he has been dreaming of a fair haired mate, much to his Native American  parents chagrin.  His entire life Chay has considered himself heterosexual until an injured wolf is brought into his office.  The wolf is a gorgeous male shifter and his mate.  He is also Caucasian something he is sure his mother will never accept.

Keaton Reynolds wakes up in a veterinarian ‘s office to find himself injured and being treated by his mate.  He should be overjoyed except he just got out of a relationship from a shifter who had a girlfriend on the side but also said he was Keaton’ mate.  Keaton is not one to repeat his mistakes and a hetero shifter is not someone he wants to take a chance on, no matter what his body and even his heart may think.  But Chay won’t give up on Keaton and finally Keaton agrees to get to know Chay better.  And slowly they start to build a relationship together.  But there is Chay’s mother’s disapproval to overcome and a power struggle in Keaton’s Georgia pack that threatens them both.  How will they overcome the odds to find the happiness they both deserve?

I reread this book all the time.  Chayton Winston and Keaton Reynolds are such wonderful creations that I return to their story time and again.  Chayton is one of the nicest people you will meet in the author’s novels.  He is both elementally patient and rock solid in his beliefs so that when presented with a man as a mate, he accepts it.  If it switches his sexuality over to gay, ok as long as he gets his mate, something no wolf shifter would ever turn down.  And you believe this paradigm shift absolutely as being in character for Chayton because he is so real from the moment we meet him.  Keaton also engages our hearts and affections with his prickly nature  and forceful personality packed into a slight build.  A small white wolf, he has the personality and power of an Alpha without needing to lead. Keaton would rather teach and help educate so the fact that his mate would be a healer, a veterinarian makes complete sense.  JL Langley surrounds these two with people as authentic and believable as they are and gives us a mystery to boot.  Just an outstanding novel.

With Caution came next.  It remains my favorite of the series and again one I read over and over again.  With the characters of Remington Lassiter and Jake Romero, JL brings a level of complexity and depth to her characterizations that I had not seen before.  And added to our main characters, she introduces us to the rest of the men who will become their pack.  Each man is a unique unforgettable creation as they sit astride their motorcycles and roar into our hearts.  Remy is a shifter we meet in Without Reservations and he makes a rather disastrous first impression upon us in that story.  But here we discover the dark background that surrounds him in shocking detail as well as the reasons for his actions.

There are parts of this novel so bleak and despairing your hearts will bleed for Remy and his brother Sterling  even as our hero bleeds out from the abuse.  Remy’s sexuality and his acceptance of a male mate is a huge part of this story and his past as well.  I cannot give Langley enough credit for the sensitive way she deals with child abuse and recovery as an adult.  There is also a murder mystery to be solved, and the exploration of a naturally submissive nature.  There is some mild bdsm that works beautifully within the plot of the story and the glimpses of new couples, mates, for future stories.  One couple in particular has had the fans clamoring for their story since this book was published.  This story has depth, multi-layered characters and a multitude of themes running through it, not the least of which is how Reservaton law can also isolate the members it is supposed to protect, control issues and child abuse.  Heavy themes indeed but this book is also packed with love and redemption.  With Caution is an incredible read you won’t want to put down.

Next comes a series of free stories that can be found on the Fiction With Friction website until JL Langley’s site is back up and running.  These are in order:

A Lot To Be Thankful For (With or Without Series 3.1) Sterling Lassister and Rhys Waya (the fans just wouldn’t shut up for their story)

A Sterling New Year (With or Without Series 3.2)  with Sterling Lassister and Rhys Waya (love, love these two and so will you, get on the bus)

With Abandon (With or Without #4) brings back Aubrey Reynolds and the rest of the Georgia pack that we met in Without Reservation.  Aubrey is Keaton’s brother and our introduction to him in Without Reservation was not exactly a positive one.  Matt Mahihkan, one of Gadget’s sons from With Caution is back and going to college in Georgia. Matt was a quirky young man who we got to know only superficially but JL Langley brings him together with  Aubrey Reynolds and that combination sparks all sorts of problems not the leasts of which is that Aubrey is not out to his family or the pack. And Matt is not only out and proud but turns out he is Aubrey’s mate. It took me a while to like Aubrey, perhaps some of that was left over emotions from Without Reservation.  But his reluctance to accept Matt officially as his mate made him hard to like.  He has to grow on you, something none of the other characters has had to do.  Matt, of course, is absolutely adorable and we entrust our affections with him from the get go.  And with Matt, comes some of the members of the New Mexico pack we have come to love as well.

Next come three free short stories in succession. I am convinced JL Langley thought the fans would be showing up on her doorstep if she didn’t at least throw them all several bones. I will admit to being one of them:

Christmas Dinner at Reynolds Hall (With or Without, #4.1)

Attack of the Killer Dust Bunnies (With or Without, #4.2) 

Christmas Cookies and Garland (With or Without, #4.3)

So what and who are coming next?  That would be Sterling and Rhys.  This is the story everyone has been yelling for, myself included. I believe JL Langley said it will be done in a few month from now but isn’t sure when it will be published. That will depend upon Samhain Publishing’s schedule.  Be still my heart.

Without Fear (With or Without series #5) – coming from Samhain Publishing.

So that’s JL Langley’s shifters in a nutshell.  I am not sure I did them justice.  Shifters of all species hit my buttons. Native American shifters hit them twice.  I don’t care if they are wolves, big cats or even weresloths of London (thank you, Charlie Cochrane for that memorable story).  But thinking back to the beginning, it all started with JL Langley’s wolves who come to life on the pages of the With and Without series, grabbed both my attention and my heart and have never let them go.  I have these books in paperback (prior to my Kindle) and I have them now in eBooks as well.  From their killer covers to their outstanding characters and plots, I return to them often.  To reacquaint myself with old friends and find comfort in their presence.

Some find JL Langley through her cowboys and others through her sci-Regency series.  I found her through her shifters.  If you are new to JL Langley as an author, try them all.  Start from the beginning of each series and work your way down.  You will find yourself with a new  addiction just as I did.  Write me. Let me know what you think. I will be waiting.

Review of Ruffskin (Dance With The Devil #4) by Megan Derr

Standard

Rating: 5 stars

It is a typical night at The Bremmer, it’s pouring outside and Johnny is arguing with Grimm inside over an alleged flirtation at a party they just left.  A messenger interrupts them looking for Peyton Blue, the werewolf coowner and bartender of The Bremmer.  The strange courier has a package to deliver, one that has an immediate effect on their beloved barkeep.  When Grimm chases after the courier, he disappears  under a magical spell.

The package is from Peyton’s past, bringing with it bloody memories and a death sentence.  It is up to Johnny and Grimm to find the messenger, and finish the conflict started years ago when Peyton still belonged in the Blue Pack.

Ruffskin is a short story that follows the characters of Dance in the Dark (Dance with the Devil #2), Johnny Goodnight and his boyfriend/guard Grimm,  and their friend Peyton Blue, a werewolf.  Without reading Dance in the Dark, you will miss the backstory on all the characters involved in the case here which would be a mistake and leave you confused as to the elements involved in Ruffskin.  That said, this is a marvelous addition to that universe.  Most of the denizens of The Bremmer, local bar and hangout, have interesting pasts and it’s bartender and owner is no different.

Of course, it is a dark and stormy night that brings Peyton’s past home to him, a past he has tried so very hard to forget and one that could cause his death.  Johnny Goodnight is none other than John Derossiers, son of The Dracula Derossiers who rules the territory they live in. When the mystery and conflict from Peyton’s past intrudes on the bar and his father’s land, Johnny is called in to investigate and solve the problem.  And what a problem it is.  A dreadful dark secret that is at the heart of the chaos in the Blue werewolf pack. This is a very sensitive subject matter that Megan Derr gives a delicate and compassionate treatment, identifying the matter through the use of a poem instead of outright stating the nature of the abuse. Simply and elegantly done.

Ruffskin contains all the usual elements I have come to expect from Megan Derr.  Great characterizations, smart dialog and a storyline that keeps the reader engaged right to the end. Ruffskin is listed as the fourth book in the Dance With The Devil series but the author states at the beginning that this story fits in right after the second book as I have noted above.  While Midnight could almost be read as a stand alone (it figures into the books that follow it), the first three books should be read in the order I have indicated below:

Dance With The Devil (DWTD#1)see my review here.

Dance In The Dark (DWTD#2) – see my review here.

Ruffskin (DWTD#4)

Midnight (DWTD#3) – see my review here.

Cover:  Again another gorgeous cover by London Burden in keeping with the series and containing a simple graphic of a object center to the storyline.

Review of Lessons in Power (Cambridge Fellows #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Standard

Rating: 5 stars

Cambridge 1907

After the tumultuous doings where Orlando lost his memory albeit temporarily, Drs. Coppersmith and Stewart are now happily ensconced in their newly purchased home, Forsythia Cottage.  But it’s not long before mystery and murder find them again.  Matthew Ainslie, friend and acquaintance (depending upon which of the men you talked to, Orlando never quite forgiving Matthew for his actions on Jersey) has a problem.  An old flame of Matthew’s is accused of murder and Matthew doesn’t believe he did it.

As Matthew lays out the details of the case to them, the murder hits much closer to home than either one of them could have imagined.  The murdered man is none other than one of the boys who sexually abused a very young Jonty over the course of a semester at boarding school.  The news brings memories of the abuse back to Jonty with a vengeance, shattering his carefully fabricated acceptance of those events.  As Jonty withdraws from Orlando and their relationship, a second murder is committed and the other abuser from his past is found dead.  As suspicion falls upon his beloved Dr. Stewart, Orlando and Jonty race to find the murderer and help Jonty finally find some measure of peace with his past.

For me this is a tour de force from Charlie Cochrane.  Lessons in Power still contains dialog that delights with the lightness of Gilbert and Sullivan lyrics and the shear witty remarks of Oscar Wilde.  But the reality of rape and the long term trauma, bitterness and sense of violation that rape victims contend with lives in these pages as well.  And that incongruity serves to highlight the horror and damage done not only to Jonty but other victims of the same sexual violence that seems to know no age or continental restraints.

Threads of Jonty’s abuse have been trickling through the storylines of the previous books in this series.  Thunderstorms leave him scared and shaken into silence until Orlando brings him out of it.  And when asked, Jonty has said that he has told no one the names of his attackers lest his father or Orlando go after them.  But here that abuse and the true torment that Jonty has endured is brought to the front and center of the story.  It is with amazing skill and talent, that Charlie Cochrane never loses the flavor of Edwardian England and its settings in her stories, from the Stewart family castle to the hallowed halls of St. Brides.  Here the sun never sets on England even as Orlando and Jonty deal with the realities of murderers and child abusers.   The author treats all with sensitivity and care even as she made me weep with Jonty and his family.

It took me several books before Jonty and Orlando became near and dear to my heart, so I would recommend that all the books be read in sequence.  Otherwise certain references and characters mentioned here can’t be understood in the context they need to be.  I have come to love all the characters here, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, Miss Peters, Mr. Wilson, all of them and find I cannot go to long before I need to head off to St. Brides and another mystery with my Cambridge Fellows.  This is a wonderful book in a wonderful series.  Don’t let either of them pass you by.

Cover: I think this cover is perfect.  I love the sepia tones and graphics of the haunted looking young man in the classroom.  I just wish the fonts were solid and one type for ease of reading.

Available from Samhain Publishing, Amazon, and ARE.