A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Luca Dell’Oro is the owner of an event planning business in California. He takes a job in Italy to cater a funeral for an Italian opera singer. The client is a grieving widower, the man Luca loved in sixteenth-century Italy. Luca is a vampire, but how is Francesco still alive? That seems obvious, but the details are sad and Francesco has many reasons to hold a grudge. At first, we’re not sure what his motives are for hiring Luca to bury his wife, Elettra. I will say the blurb is a little misleading, almost to misdirect you about the plot when there isn’t a lot of plot to begin with. This is a pretty straightforward second chances story with a lot of baggage.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this to be so funny. Everything in the first half of the book is entertaining. Luca does like to hear himself think. His reminiscences allow us to get to know him. Italian Weddings and Funerals, which he runs from his home, allows him to stay involved in the life around him. I loved learning about his unique vampiric powers little by little. He seems a man content in his life and in charge of his surroundings. He has hired an interesting cast of quicky employees. I was drawn in by the descriptions of them from Luca’s point of view. Unfortunately most of them are either not there or fade into the background during the second half of the book. The new characters we meet are not fleshed out. Even the man Luca shares a room with in Italy is barely mentioned.

In the second half, the tone changes which makes sense going from planning a wedding, to planning a wake. Still, Luca also changes when he arrives in Italy and the book seems to be more wrapped up in what is happening around him. In many ways, he ran away from Italy, his friends, his lover, his life–oh, there were reasons, but this is the first time he has had to confront his losses. It seemed strange to me that although Luca is quite wealthy, he chooses to cater for a living and basically be the help, and be treated as such by those who were once his equals. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a form of self punishment for being a vampire, like denying himself food and love. He also seems to have been in mourning for centuries, never really living once separated from Francesco. I’m not sure I like this new Luca. But, Luca is a much more solid person as compared to Francesco, who comes across as selfish and weak–bound by the expectations of others and definitely spoiled.

The sex scenes are well written and explicit, but don’t seem meant for titillation so much as just part of what happens. Vampires like sex and blood, so if it will bother you for the main characters to have sex with others in the same story, be warned. I wonder if we will see Luca’s lover Keefe again since we spent so much time with him before Italy, although this too now seems like a pattern for Luca.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended, however it was also an abrupt turnabout. I mean they have been separated for centuries and jump right back into being together. Don’t you think they might have changed a bit over time? Wouldn’t they get to know each other again, and I mean for longer than a couple of weeks? Also, Francesco did seem to care for his wife to have spent 500 years with her and he really hasn’t had any time to mourn. It will be interesting to see how things develop in book two because nostalgia and memories are quite different than daily reality and right now, I think Luca deserves better. I also liked Luca better as a character without Francesco, or maybe just the humor and confidence he showed in his home environment in California. I would call this a HFN (happy for now.)

The cover art is by Martine Jardin. It has an old fashioned sepia feel and shows a place they spent time together in the past when they were young lovers and both met Elettra.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 109 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by eXtasy Books (first published March 14th 2011)
ISBN139781554878253
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Review: Stumbling in the Dark by Deja Black

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Rating: 3 stars  out of 5

In this novella, 94 pages on my iPad, we have Jake, a 12-year-old boy who has been abused by his stepfather and his mother.  While on a camping trip Jake runs away,  knowing that to stay would be tantamount to worsening abuse.  His stepfather sounds like a pedophile and has been watching Jake a little too much, between all the verbal and physical abuse.  “He’d had to struggle to move out of Brad’s spidery touches when they were just a little too much to the left of weird as he gripped Jake and yanked him close…” Jake is lucky enough to run to the circus, where a lovely circus couple, Colleen and Leonardo, realize the abuse and take him in as their own.   They become the mom and dad Jake should have had. I loved that immediately, when Jake’s biological mother and stepfather come looking for him, Colleen asks if Jake’s family had come.  “No, amore mio. Not his family.  A woman and a man.”   He knows right away there’s something not right.

Fast forward ten years and Jake is now 22 and a knife thrower in the circus.  He has been in love with Blaine, the lion tamer, since he was young but Blaine has never shown any interest in him.  We are told this has happened but we don’t see it, we don’t see their history. Jake says Blaine treats him like a child but again, we aren’t shown that.  Since Blaine doesn’t want Jake, Jake tries to soothe himself by sleeping around.

What I loved were Jake’s parents, especially Colleen.  She is the catalyst for Blaine getting his head out of his butt.  “Now, we can continue this conversation, or you can intercede before he’s found another vapid fool to dip his cock in.”  She pulls no punches and she wants her boy happy.

There were things that just didn’t work for me.  Blaine not bothering to even attempt to mention the shifter aspect until after he’s done something permanent, the whole dream aspect, and the fact that Blaine says “I wondered what to do because I couldn’t envision leaving you…” yet that was exactly what he had planned to do, so that was confusing.

All in all, it was probably just too short to make the story rich.  I needed more backstory of the Pride, to be shown more instead of just told, and even more of Jake’s biological parents. They just drop out of the picture. I wish the book had been longer with more detail, I would have connected with it more.

The cover art, a headless very muscled torso, must be a stock cover because I just read another book, Lush Lunches, with the exact same cover.

Sales LInks:  Extasy Books  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 34 pages
Published June 14th 2018 by Extasy Books
ISBN139781487419325
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Step Into Love (Taboo Love #2) by Lili Draguer

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Colton Johnson has successfully buried the crazy attraction he feels for his younger stepbrother for so long, he can pretend he’s not attracted to Asher at all. Graduating and dealing with the daily chore that is his bipolar disorder are the only two things on his mind. Then Colton makes the impulsive decision to accept his stepmother’s invitation to visit. What Colton doesn’t know is that Asher has been making plans.

With boundless enthusiasm, good looks, and endless amounts of persistence Asher Miller usually gets what he wants. The one plan that hasn’t worked out for him is falling in love. He never thought his off limits, damaged, hot-as-sin stepbrother would be the one to catch his heart. For years Asher has squashed down his forbidden desire but now he’s eighteen, he’s following Colton’s footsteps to college…and all bets are off. It’s time to take the steps that will seduce Colton into love.

I enjoyed this story and liked that they gave a glimpse of what a relationship can be life with someone who is bi-polar.  As my spouse is it hits close to home for me, there are times that they can never think anything positive and it can be a struggle.  Colton has worked hard to keep his hand off his step brother and when Asher starts to come onto him it sends him running.  Asher knows what he wants and isn’t scared to go for it, even if he has to push a little bit.

I liked both of these characters.  Asher is quite mature for his age and the openness he has with his mom helps the situation also.  Colton has to deal with a jerk of a father while trying to succeed at school, when Asher stands up to his father it gives him the chance to see that there is someone who would want to be with him.  We get to see how both of them feel and their reactions to what the other does.

The cover art by Latricia Waters is cute and gives a nice visual of the characters.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 102 pages

Published: June 29, 2018 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: Taboo Love #2

A MelanieM Review: A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters

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Rating: 1.75  stars out of 5

 

Daymon is the second prince of a kingdom in which Evokers—those who possess intuitive magical abilities—have long since been treated with fear and mistrust. Marked as an Evoker himself, Daymon is captured by those who wish to take advantage of these powers. Now, the prince must put his faith in Rhyder, the captain of his guards—and the man Daymon has claimed as his own—to free him.

It’s never a good thing when the blurb gives you more world building than the actual story.  But that, and much more (or actually much less) happens in A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters.

I was drawn to the tale by the synopsis as this was a new author for me.  It has such possibilities.  All of which remain hard to find here because the reader will be scrabbling for anything to hold onto once they start into this disorganized mess of a story.

There is almost zero world building so you have little idea about the Evokers, the history of the kingdom although you will get some about Daymor’s childhood.  Wisps really.  All done in “memory flashbacks”.  Because for most of the story Daymor is a prisoner and the story/action is actually happening around him.

This means that the author need not describe anything int he story that would ground his “abduction/attempts to rescue/actual rescue” in any emotional or action worthy way or other characters.  Even on Daymor himself.  Yes, its all missing in “action”.  So the story is merely Daymor as a prisoner (floating in a narrative bubble) as nebulous “action” maybe occuring around him that you have no idea what it is and why is is happening.

The whole story just makes no sense. Neither do any of the characters.  Especially when they talk about making some difference with Evokers at the end.  Really?  When did that happen?

If you are a fan of Diana Waters, than this is a book for you.  For all others, I’ll leave the choice up to you.  It’s not one I would recommend myself.

Cover art: Erin Dameron-Hill. Cover art is lovely but would make one think its a space novel or involve more magic than this actually does.  Misleading but lovely.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 64 pages
Published June 1st 2018 by eXtasy Books Inc (first published May 26th 2016)
ASINB07DCK5BJ1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWild Magics #1

An Alisa Review: Jordan and the Secret Pack by Sam Magna

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

Taking a short break from touring around the world Derek and his closest friend Lisa set out to snowy Mount Triffle. Their hasty departure proves to be fruitful when they find a cheerful welcome in a local club. They link up with a jazz band and the lead, Troy, invites them into their home. Derek soon finds out that there is deeply felt affection growing for the mysterious one named Jordan.

Jordan has a quiet, sinister nature about him that peaks Derek’s interest. In a wave of unseen emotions, they follow each other without being aware, while exploring the formidable landscape of the mountain. When Jordan finally reveals himself to Derek, the dread of discovering a hidden monster is short-lived. Derek wants to help the tormented werewolf, and keeping him close genuinely seems to him to be worthwhile.

This story really did not hit the mark for me.  Derek is visiting with his friend and meets Jordan.  Jordan warns Derek off but doesn’t stay away and soon Derek is involved in Jordan’s problem.

I could not connect with the characters in this story and also did not like the sex scene, they were completely unrealistic for male-male pairings.  There were also many time jumps that I lost what was going on and the end of the story was left open and the “sinister” plot was quickly resolved without any real conflict.  At least it was short so I didn’t feel like I wasted a lot of time.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is okay though you only ever see Jordan as a wolf for a few seconds.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages

Published: May 27, 2018 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Stowaway Heart by Suede Delray

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Joel Ricki has decided he’s had enough of being in foster homes. A few weeks before his eighteenth birthday, he plans to grab a bus to anywhere. Before he does, he has only one desire, to see The rock group Unhinged in concert. He doesn’t have a ticket but he’s not going to let that stop him. In fact nothing will stop him from seeing the band that saved him.

Stone Lewis is the frontman for Unhinged. He is gorgeous, and talented. It appears he has everything. Yet he can’t sleep at night and he drinks too much. Consumed by guilt and grief, the nightmares remind him of the brother he lost in a horrific car accident two years ago. Then Joel Ricki shows up on their tour bus and everything changes

This was an alright story but there were just a few things that couldn’t redeem it for me.  Joel successfully gets into the concert but hides out on the wrong bus.  Stone takes Joel under his wing and helps him build a life now that he is free to make those decisions.

Joel has had to do a lot of things to survive the times he has been on the street and wants to escape the endless circle he has been in and we see him get the chance to do this with the help of all the members of Unhinged.  He is very emotionally open and innocent and wears his feelings on his sleeve.  Stone feels responsible for Joel but not just in the older brother sort of way.  Stone hides his feelings behind booze and what his record label wants him to do.  I can’t forgive him for using and hurting Joel the way he did throughout the book though, I just feel that he dug the knife a little too deep before he finally opened his eyes.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is okay gives a nice visual of Stone.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages

Published: April 27, 2018 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English

RELEASE BLITZ for Waiting in the Wings (Upstaged #2) by S. L. Danielson (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Waiting in the Wings (Upstaged #2)

Author: S. L. Danielson & Cheryl Headford

Publisher: Extasy Books

Cover Artist: Extasy

Genre/s: new adult, mmfiction, gay, contemporary

Length: 62,790 words/188 pages

Goodreads

Blurb

The Von are on their way.  With a recording contract under their belt and a tour opening for a popular band, the world is at their feet.  For those left behind prospects are not so bright, especially with someone trying so hard to break them apart.

With the spotlight on The Von, no one sees the evil waiting in the wings until it’s too late.

Buy Links – Coming Soon

Excerpt

After a long moment of waiting for Asher to return, Vince heard the door open, albeit slowly. He put down his glass of orange juice and peered suspiciously at his friend. “Hey, what is it? Bad news in the mail, also known as bills?” he joked. Asher didn’t say anything, which worried him. He stood and walked over to him to look at what he had in his hands.

“I… It… I don’t know what to do.” Asher turned to Vince and grabbed his arms with bruising intensity. “Vince, I don’t know what to do.” He pleaded, begged, but there wasn’t anything Vince could say as his gaze flicked between the two photographs and Asher’s stricken eyes.

“Let me see them, please?” He wrested the slips of paper free from Asher’s grip long enough to see the photos and got the shock of his life. Glossy, set in some cool, trendy club surrounded by gorgeous people, Erik kissed a total stranger like he might inhale the guy and Billy was kissing a redheaded guy who looked very familiar.

What the… No. Not again. Wait. I know that guy… Holy shit, I know him!

Vince’s stomach twisted, and he covered his mouth, completely understanding why Asher looked ready to vomit. “We’ve been fucked over again? What the hell? There has to be an explanation. Drunk again…something… We have to… Shit. When they come online, I’m not gonna roll over for him again. What the fuck?” He tore from Asher’s grasp and tugged his hair, letting the angry tears come.

Vince grabbed the edge of the sofa and forced himself to sit down, his face buried in his hands. “What the fuck is going on over there? You know, I wish they’d never gone. I don’t care what it means to the band anymore; I want him home with me!” He kicked a textbook off the table, his anger evident. “Fuckers! I’m so sick of being lied to and being left behind. No one wants big, nice, sweet Vince! No one!” He leapt off the sofa, went to the kitchen, and hung his head over the sink. The tears wouldn’t stop.

He jumped when Asher’s hands slid around his waist and his head rested on the back of his neck. From the way his body shook, Vince was pretty certain he was crying, too.

“I wanted to believe him, Vince. I really wanted to believe him this time. I knew… I knew this was going to happen, it always does, but I-I worked so hard to convince myself it was different this time. That he was different.” Asher sniffed, rubbing his cheek against Vince’s back. “But he’s not different, Vince. None of them are.”

“I’d have sworn my Billy was different. I knew him before we even dated. Gawd, we couldn’t get enough of just hanging out together.” Vince turned and leaned his head against Asher’s. “I guess it didn’t mean very much to him, did it? If being away from us this short a time makes them do this…” He paused. His head and heart were in torment. He felt awful for Asher, too. He and Erik had a tumultuous relationship from the very beginning and although he’d thought it was fine, it sure wasn’t now. The computer beeped, and he glanced over. “Fuck. They’re gonna come online now. I don’t even know what to say.” He looked at Billy’s ring and wanted to toss it across the room.

“Well.” Asher drew his spine up straight. “I, for one, am going to get some answers. I don’t care what you do with Billy, but as far as me and Erik go, unless he has some pretty good reasons for what happened, this is it. We’re over.” The computer beeped again, and the call was live.

About the Authors 

S. L. Danielson

S. L. (Stephanie) Danielson began writing at the tender age of five. She knew it was her calling from the moment she put pen to paper. In her teens she began writing alternative works and the genre stuck. She created ever more elaborate tales and finally in her early 20’s years began to create works with her new love; male/male romance. She has since written more than 30 works (both solo and collaborations).

Stephanie is classically trained in business, accounting, and HR/training, possessing both an undergrad and graduate degree. She also owned and operated Romance First Publishing where the ultimate goal was to help other unknown, as well as known authors get their start in the publishing world.

Beyond writing, her other hobbies include: painting, gaming, and spending time with her husband and two cherished cats.

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Blog/Website

Facebook

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Cheryl Headford

Born into a poor but loving mining family in the United Kingdom, Cheryl grew up in the beautiful and history rich South Wales Valleys, becoming the first in her family to attend university. Practicing law, as a family lawyer for over twenty years allowed Cheryl to learn more about human nature at its worst and best moments, and develop empathy and a view of life not limited by social standing or background.

Tapping into the heritage of her people that throughout Earth’s ages welcomed the wandering bard into the hearts of their villages as keepers of lore, Cheryl trained as a Druid and brings the richness of her Celtic past and spiritual training to elevate her writing. Since a child, Cheryl has been fascinated with other worlds, which exist within and alongside her own and has reveled in creating worlds and characters for others to enjoy.

Despite lack of family support, Cheryl continued writing privately and eventually found the Gay Authors website. With the positive response and a warm welcome received, she found the confidence to pursue her passion to a greater degree. Feeling gay fiction was a woefully neglected corner of the market where readers were all too often presented as limited to erotica, Cheryl strives to write quality gay fiction where sex and sexuality is not the central premise. Instead, concentration is given to character and narrative development through storytelling that goes beyond the physical.

Cheryl still resides in Wales, UK, and enjoys writing, reading, art, and taking part in medieval reenactments.

Social Media Links

Twitter

Facebook Profile

Facebook Author Page

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Blog

Website

RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

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An Alisa Review: Kaleidoscope (CyNapse Security, Inc. #1) by Jo Tannah

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Julian Davis has no time for love—everything must be under control. He steers clear of messy emotions or out-of-control passions. This attitude is the key to his success as the VP of CyNapse, one of the world’s leading technology companies. When Tarek Kettner is assigned as his lead bodyguard, Julian’s life is turned upside down. The baby-faced bodyguard had always been Julian’s secret weakness. After one intimate encounter with Tarek, Julian begins to question his life decisions.

Tarek is one of the deadliest bodyguards working for CyNapse Security, Inc. He also wants to show Julian what it would be like to have a meaningful, loving, and trusting relationship instead of one based on physical passion and lust.

Can Julian let go of his apprehensions and embrace Tarek’s offer of love when his life is in danger?

I enjoyed this story, it apparently connects with a previously released story from Jo but it didn’t take away from this one even though I hadn’t read it.  Julian has spent his life keeping most at arm’s length and not getting into any relationships.  Tarek has been able to keep his thoughts about Julian at bay until he finds him at a gay bar one night when Julian has once again slipped form his protection detail.

Tarek and Julian seemed to kinds jump head first into their relationship and they weren’t on the same page.  You could see how they both wanted more but didn’t voice it until much later.  There were a few times throughout the book where a topic seemed to be talked about and resolved but would come back up a few times and I’m not sure if that was due to the characters actually feeling like it wasn’t resolved or if it just wasn’t caught in editing.  I liked these guys but can’t say I was fully invested in their relationship either.  I am interested to see the mystery come full circle so I look forward to other books in the series.

The cover art by Angela Waters is great but doesn’t seem to match either of the characters.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 153 pages

Published: March 9, 2018 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: CyNapse Security, Inc. #1

An Alisa Review: The Officer and the Vampire Chef (A Loving Nip #16) by Charlie Richards

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Rating:  3.25 stars out of 5

Just a little Love Bite: When a vampire chef meets his soul mate, he must discover if the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach.

Patrick Brown knows he’s a little odd for a vampire, enjoying cooking and dancing. It works for him, though, since he’s his vampire coven’s chef, and he loves spending hours doing both as he shimmies around his kitchen. On a routine food run he stops a robbery at his local grocer’s. To Patrick’s surprise, the blood of one of the officers calls to him like nothing ever has. He realizes the human policeman is his beloved, his soul mate. While Patrick easily scents the human’s arousal, betraying his interest, Officer Allen Robinson barely gives him the time of day. Undeterred, Patrick begins a quest to learn everything about the human, and with the help of friends, he sees him again…and again. Can Patrick figure out a way to woo his closeted cop, or will fears and prejudice destroy their chance at a future?

This was a sweet short story.  Patrick enjoys his life but desires to have to have a soul mate like many around him have found.  Allen has kept his sexuality a secret forever and his strong attraction to Patrick sends him running even farther in the closet.

Patrick tries to woo Allen but it didn’t seem to do much.  Allen knows he’s running but can’t help himself and when he sees Patrick out with some friends.  I could feel Patrick’s desire for Allen and what seemed acceptance of his fate when Allen didn’t come back after his first visit.  I was able to see Allen’s fear of coming out but didn’t really connect with him.  As expected in a short story it seemed to be tied up in a bow much faster than I would have liked but I still enjoyed this story.

The cover art by Angela Waters is nice and I love the visual of Patrick in his kitchen.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 94 pages

Published: March 2, 2018 by eXtasy Books

ISBN13: 9781487418878

Edition Language: English

Series: A Loving Nip #16

An Alisa Review: Timtuk Canyon Ranch (Mojave Mountain Wolves #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

How do you join a mountain wolf pack when you’re afraid of heights?

When Smith Ryland develops a sudden, pathological fear of heights, he seeks professional help. A lifelong animal ecologist, he can no longer climb trees or trek through rainforests to follow the bird colonies he’s studied for eleven years. He takes a job looking after wild animals in the oddly named Timtuk Canyon Ranch, in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. He’s astonished to find the ranch is in the mountains. How can he handle this unusual assignment? And what’s up with Jones, Just Jones, the mysterious, magnetic owner of the ranch?

Jones has secrets. Smith intrigues him because Jones is the caretaker of numerous animals most people don’t even know exist. Smith is comfortable with all the animals, including the ones that aren’t part of the…everyday world. Jones senses Smith needs the ranch as much as Timtuk needs him. Can Jones trust this newcomer? Something is changing, bringing with it…magic, but also the threat of lethal danger to Timtuk Canyon Ranch.

This story left me a bit confused.  Smith has been trying to get over his new fears and it seems to work out well after he accepts a new job.  Jones and Smith have an interesting connection that confuses Smith as Jones seems to appear and disappear at will.  Smith’s inner beast has been suppressed and being around Jones starts to bring it out along with some knowledge about his family.

There were so many things that didn’t add up during this story or were not explained, I had a little trouble figuring out what was going on.  I’m hoping that as this series continues I’ll start to understand more of what is happening.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is nice and I like the visuals of the characters.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 112 pages

Published: February 23, 2018 by eXtasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: Mojave Mountain Wolves #1