Review: Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Series Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Fifty Fifty Chances Are coverChance Dumont, owner of Chances Are bar and his lover, Rory, are still trying to deal with the aftermath of Rory’s attack and the return of Cannon, Chances’s former boyfriend.  It’s not going well.  Rory, a cop, has still not been declared fit for duty.  But truthfully the trauma of the attack has left Rory fearful and he may never heal enough to be a cop again.  And Chance?  He’s trying hard to be the lover Rory needs but their relationship is strained and fragile, just like Rory.

When a man is found naked and dead in the bathroom stall in the men’s room, his identity points to Chance and Rory as suspects.  Chance knows he didn’t do it but did Rory?  That’s the question and no one likes that the answer might be that its a fifty fifty chance that Rory did.

This series is just amazing.  It continues to get better with each new story.  It deepens in intensity and in emotional layering and I can’t get enough. We left Chance and Rory trying to pick up the pieces of their relationship after Rory has been attacked in Second Chances Are, and it’s not going very well.  And it can’t because the relationship started on tenuous terms and has never found a firm foundation.  The men aren’t communicating, primarily because one is traumatized and the other doesn’t want to upset him further.  It’s a realistic portrait of two men at the very first stages of recovery and they are still trying to find their way past the pain.

Lee Brazil packs a lot into 34 pages.  Great characterization, wonderful plot, and tremendous dialog and with each new story it gets better, more layered, more authentic.  Chance was a complicated man in the first two books but not always likable, something the character himself acknowledges. But here as Chance struggles to put Rory first instead of giving into his impulses for revenge, he becomes more human, more understandable.  He is so frustrated, as is the reader that we instantly relate to him.

Trust is the issue and focus here.  So many areas where trust is lacking.  There is the trust missing between Chance and Rory. Plus Chance still doesn’t trust Gerry, his bartender who stole from him and both men are struggling with that fact.  Rory can’t trust himself or anyone other than Chance, maybe.  Then Brazil shatters the tentative trust established between Chance and Rory with a murder that either man might have done.  The emotional detonation that occurs reveals to all involved just how fragile the binding was that held them all together.   It’s angry, it’s hurtful, and it’s damaging on many levels, but is it permanent?  That’s the question that Brazil gives us to answer and the answer remains elusive by the end of the story.

Again there is an element of bdsm and D/s but it absolutely works for the characters and story.  Don’t let it put you off.  And for you  romance lovers, well, it’s coming.  Romance and love is not an easy thing for Chance Dumont. Its hurt him deeply in the past and he hasn’t been able to get past that emotional trauma.  Now he is finally ready but is the man he loves?  Brazil is stringing that aspect of the series out for us and it is making it  even more enjoyable to anticipate the outcome.

It’s hard for me to believe that Fifty Fifty Chances Are is only 34 pages in length.  It has the breadth and scope of a larger book.  So does the series.   Really, the author’s work here is immaculate.  Pick it up but start at the beginning and work your way through.  There are four stories so far and I know that more are coming.  Lucky us.

Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events within:

Chances Are (Chances Are #01)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #02)
Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #03)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #04)

Book Details:

ebook, 36 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Lime Time Press
edition language English

Review: Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T. A. Chase

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Home Sweet Home coverYancey MacCafferty and Juan Romanos have been in love since the first time they met.  In a gay bar in Texas, an underage Juan just wanted to dance.  But danger was all around him.  Yancey, a young rent boy, sees Juan’s innocence and naivete and falls in love, all while saving Juan from a predator on the dance floor.  Eventually both ended up with their brothers on the ranch owned by Les Hardin and Randy Hersch, where they finished growing up and found their dreams.  For Juan, it was all about the horses and being a world class equestrian, eventually ending up at a show bar on the East coast. Yancey chose another path, that of college and an education needed to become a veterinarian.  And all during those years, Yancey and Juan never stopped loving each other, even though each was at opposite ends of the country.

Now Yancey has graduated from college and is ready to reunite with the man he loves and start his career. But to do that, he will have to leave the people he has grown to love including his brother for a new veterinarian practice in Virginia, just miles away from the show barn where Juan rides and lives.  He and Juan have been parted long enough.  He is sure that Juan feels the same way.  Or does he?  Yancey isn’t sure, exactly but its time to find out.  Can Yancey and Juan’s puppy love mature into the forever love they have always wanted or will the reality of being and living together bring their dreams crashing down?

I have been waiting like so many others for Juan and Yancey’s story since the first time we met them in Home of His Own (Home #2 – their brothers, Brody MacCafferty and Tony Romanos story).  These two young men were instantly endearing and their love story so heartwarming that it almost eclipsed that of their brothers.  Happily, I can announce that it was worth the wait.  Home Sweet Home is a wonderful story, reminescent of the first book in the series, No Going Home which remains my favorite.

In every book of the series, we kept getting glimpses of Juan and Yancey as they grew up.  The author always managed to throw in little details of their lives, whether it was Yancey returning for the holidays from college or Juan’s equestrian training at Edward’s barns in Virginia.  These small mentions managed to keep our interest in these young men alive and pique our curiosity over their future.  In fact, one of the many aspects I love about this series is that Chase continues to bring together all the characters from other books into the latest stories.  These people form a family, one cobbled together by need and choice so to have that family remain topical in every book is important to the cohesion and strength of the series.

The characters of Yancey and Juan have also grown as their characters have aged.  From teenage gay boys to confident, mature young men, Chase has developed their characters realistically relative to their age.  It’s wonderful getting reacquainted with these older versions of the boys we first met.  Along with their characters, their love for each other needs to grow as well. Luckily, Chase has taken care of that too.  The author has her characters adjust their views of each other and their careers in a very human and authentic manner.  I just loved how tentative and yet determined each man is to make their relationship and Yancey’s move work.  It is emotionally satisfying and oh so enjoyable to read about.

If I have a quibble, it would be with the ending.  In the epilogue we fly forward from 1 year to 5 years into the future, missing out on so much of their lives together that it felt like a missed chance to round out their story in favor of a quick finish (note see my mini rant on storying endings).   I don’t know if this rushed ending is due to Chase finishing up the series or just their story.  Either way, it didn’t measure up to the first part of the story and that was a shame.  But even with that quibble, I still love this series and recommend it. The Home series is heartwarming, sexy, and full of wonderful characters you will never get tired of.   Home Sweet Home is another great installment and one you won’t want to miss.

Cover art by Posh Gosh.  The young model in front is perfect for Juan and the cover gorgeous in design and detail.

Here are the Home series book in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events:

No Going Home (Home #1) – my favorite
Home of His Own (Home #2) Tony and Brody’s story (second favorite)
Wishing for a Home (Home #3) Derek and Max’s story
Leaving Home (Home #4) Peter and Chaz’s story
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) Juan and Yancey’s story (a tie with their brothers)

Book Details:

ebook, 137 pages
Published May 27th 2013 by Total-E-Bound
ISBN 1781843228 (ISBN13: 9781781843222)
edition language English
series Home #5

Review of Ghosts in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe

Standard

Rating: 5 stars

Dean Marshall and Andrei Cuza have been together 10 years, a anniversary they just finished celebrating.  These years together have not come without their own difficulties and challenges, especially with regard to Andrei’s Romany tribe who had disavowed him. Then there is the stress of Andrei’s job which to find and rescue abused and stolen children.  But they are happy and their love stronger than ever, as is the expectation they will spend the rest of their lives together.

But fate and an enraged criminal change all that.  As Andrei races to save a group of abducted children, Dean stops to help a women and her children stranded by a flat tire by the side of the road.  Unbeknownst to her, the woman’s estranged husband has followed her intent on retrieving his children.  The encounter ends with the man killing Dean and his wife and fleeing with his children.

When Dean wakes up, he is standing by a sheet covered body, watching as paramedics rush about the scene as policemen take notes.  He doesn’t understand by they won’t listen to him until a young girl appears and tells Dean that he is dead.   Her name is Ileana and she is Andrei’s dead sister come to help Dean because she didn’t want him to be sad.  While still not accepting the truth, Dean knows he has to get to Andrei because the two  missing children need his help, so Dean sets off to figure out how to accept his new status with Illeana’s help.

Andrei is shattered when he gets the call about Dean’s murder.  Everyone in his life either rejected him or left him until Dean and now he is dead.  Andrei believes his life is over until Dean and his little sister appear before him.  Andrei has been haunted by ghosts all of his life and one of his biggest regrets is that he feels responsible for his sister being caught in limbo unable to move on.  Their sibling love was so strong that when her illness killed her, she didn’t want to leave her brother alone and she didn’t understand the ramifications of staying in limbo.  For those spirits who  linger controlled by the strong emotions they held in life are hunted by Jackal Wraiths who consume the souls of the spirits they hunt.  A spirit only has so many chances to move on before they are stuck in perpetual limbo something the little girl never understood.

Now between his grief, rage,  and his guilt, Andrei’s love for Dean and Illeana must prove to be the emotion to rule his actions.  Dean is insistant that he not move on before the children are found, Illeana won’t leave Dean or Andrei and the strong emotions swirling around are sure to bring the Wraiths if the trio is not careful.  Andrei must figure out not only how to catch the murderer  and bring the children to safety but how to say goodbye to the only man he has ever loved before the time runs out for all of them.

This is listed as a Bittersweet Dreams title, a genre I usually stay far away from.  Lucky for me and you, that would be the last place I would list this book.  In fact bittersweet is a word that would not ever come to mind when I think of this amazing story of love, its all encompassing and enduring nature.  Timeless love is perhaps more accurate, because it doesn’t matter whether it is the love you hold for your partner or the love of a sibling, not even death changes the power and depth of your feelings for them.  Above all else, this story is about  love.

Marguerite Labbe pulls you into Dean and Andrei’s relationship right from the start.  Dean and Andrei are waking up and move right into a sensual scene of morning sex, that is hot and loving and feels so true for two men in an established relationship.  We get descriptions of their little mannerisms and small details that heighten their commitment to each other as well let us know that sex plays an important part of their lives.  I fell in love with both characters immediately without having the background knowledge that will come later in the story.  I felt how deeply they loved each other which made what follows all the more shattering.

Labbe does a remarkable and heartrending job of letting us “watch” as Andrei enters a building filled with pedophiles and the children they have abducted.  The police are coming but the danger and the anxiety starts ramping up as he reaches the children he comes to rescue.  Our hearts are in our throats for Andrei as the danger increases by the moment and the children are so very vulnerable and hurt.  Then we turn back to Dean on his way back from a successful business meeting and sees a woman in distress at the side of the road.  Back and forth we swing between the men and their disparate scenes, and our stomach starts to get queasy  and our eyes to tear because we know whats coming.  And come it does.  In the splashes of blood, and tears and cries of pain and loss so unbearable that you shatter along with Andrei.

But there is always the presence of Dean and young Illeana to shore us up. So real, so genuine are all the characters including the children, that their situation seems as real as Andrei’s.  They pull us back from grief and involve us in the plight of the two missing children as well as their own as times starts to run out before Dean too is stuck in limbo.  The author gives us so many outstanding elements, each as complex and expertly executed as the next,  in this story.  We have the otherworldly strand that involves Dean, Illeana, and the Jackal Wraiths which is very scary as well as vividly described, truly the stuff of nightmares.  Along side of this, Margueritie Labbe hauls us into the hunt for the murderer and the missing children.  My god, this was so well done.  As the police give up on finding the children, Andrei, and Dean know better.  And the race is on with just themselves and a friendly detective to continue the hunt which turns into a real knuckle biter itself.  Oh and did I tell you a hurricane is coming?

And throughout all this both Dean and Andrei must find a way to say goodbye.  Yes, I sobbed buckets of tears with this story,from beginning to the end.  But by then the tears of pain and loss had turned into tears of joy and happiness.  Yes, you read that right.  Joy and happiness about a story of murder and lovers separated by a criminal act.  The ending is perfection and one you will treasure, turning back to it over and over again.

Really, this is an exceptional book.  I raced through to the end, gobbling up each and every word, heart pounding, pulse racing, and yes, throw in some head throbbing to go along with the red eyes and runny nose.  And then I did it all again because I was afraid I had missed something the first time.  Yes, you can count on there being another reading in the future.  Because this book will haunt you, mesmerize you and leave you thinking once you have finished.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go buy this book, do it now.  Get some tissures and prepare to be enveloped in a love that knows no boundaries, even death.

Cover.  This cover by Reese Dante is one of the top ten for 2012.  Lush, haunting, just perfect in every way.