A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Smoldering Flame (Rekindled Flame #3) by Andrew Grey and Michael Pauley (Narrator)


Rating: 4.25 out of 5

This is a sweet story about a firefighter and his young son who has childhood cancer and the photographer who came into their lives just when both needed him most.

When Dean brings his son Sammy to Marco’s photography studio without an appointment one evening, it’s evident that Sammy is quite ill, but all Sammy wants is to meet the stuffed Dalmatian he’s seen in photos. Feeling sorry for the young man and his son, Marco snaps several shots and refuses payment. Then when the three meet again months later, and it’s evident Sammy is much better, they hang out for a while and get to know each other while enjoying Sammy’s favorite foods.

Typical Andrew Grey in that the characters, including the child, are sweet, kind, generous, and loving, I can always count on this author to uplift my mood. Michael Pauley brought their voices to life and I especially loved the voice he gave little Sammy, whose childish squeals of delight over the simplest things served to remind me of how it’s often the little things in life that bring the most pleasure.

As the story moves on, there’s danger from fires for Dean, self-discovery for Marco, and a second hospitalization for Sammy. There’s just the right mix of angst and happiness, and it’s definitely a family drama as Sammy is a major part of Dean’s life and would be for any future romantic partner. I also like the way the author brought past characters into the story—from several different series—and I enjoyed the way the romance finally played out.

This is definitely a book I recommend, especially to those who enjoy a story of men with children or one with gorgeous, sexy firefighters. And the audiobook edition is terrific due to Michael Pauley’s narration.


Cover art by L.C. Chase depicts a shirtless firefighter, set against a background of flames, his hand on his helmet as he places it on his head. Very attention-getting and appropriate to the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio,Length: 6 hrs and 3 mins

Published March 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published February 13th 2018)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Rekindled Flame #3

A Stella Review: A Selfless Man (Men of Manhattan #6) by Sandrine Gasq-Dion


RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

a-selfless-manRyan Carter always hoped his life would turn around for the better. He has a job that he loves, and another one that he hates. Becoming a rent boy was never his life plan, but circumstances forced his hand. When his life falls apart, hunky firefighter Michael Callahan comes to his rescue. Ryan knows better than to believe someone as wonderful as Michael would ever want to be with someone who sells his body. But spending time with Michael gives Ryan something he’s never had before.


For months, New York firefighter Michael Callahan has been thinking about the hot guy he rescued while working crowd control during a robbery standoff. His brother is very happy dating a man, and Michael wonders if he’s finally ready for a relationship of his own. An apartment fire brings him face to face with the young man who’s been haunting him for months. Their friendship starts strong, but will Ryan’s alternate life put out the flicker before it has a chance to flame?
Can Michael convince Ryan that he wants him no matter who he is? Or will the relationship turn to ash before it even begins?

I read the previous books in the Men Of Manhattan series and I was very curious about this new installment, A Selfless Man. I don’t recommend to read it as a standalone cause here we found a lot of the couples of the previous stories, so reading the series in the right order would  be a wise choice.

I love firefighters’ stories, especially when they have some action in them and in this sense the book was a winner (even thought there is a little cliffhanger at the end, not related to the MCs story but to the mystery part). Plus firefighter and rent boy together? I couldn’t resist.

I adore when my characters fall in love at first time but the insta love needs to be supported by more elements, at least some knowledge of each other. In A Selfless Man the insta love was too much to me, really over the top;  it’s a shame because it took away credibility and I found it hard to feel Michael and Ryan as real persons.

That’s the only reason I didn’t rate it more than 3,5 stars. But in general I enjoyed the book. In fact I liked the plot, I liked how the relationship between the MCs developed and how many friends they have. Yes I admit if you haven’t read the previous books, too many characters can overwhelm your reading but if you follow the series, it will be a pleasure to meet them again and see how supportive and protective they are of their friend.

Now I just have to jump to the seven  book hoping for Bobby (Ryan’s bestie) to find his HEA and for the serial killer to be stopped.

The cover art by Wilde City Press is hot and well done. Too bad this pic has been over used, I saw it on so many covers it became boring to me.

Sales Links

Wilde City Press



Kindle Edition, 132 pages
Published September 14th 2016 by Wilde City Press
Edition Language English

Men of Manhattan series

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sleeping ’til Sunrise (Mangrove Stories #5) by Mary Calmes


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sleeping Til SunriseNumber five in the Mangrove series, this story features sexy fire chief, Essien Dodd. Essien moved to Mangrove when he took the chief position so that his precocious daughter, fourteen-year-old Ivy, would have a safe environment in which to grow up. His ex-wife passed away from cancer during the past year, and he stayed with her and Ivy to care for them until the end. Now he has full custody, and he wants to provide the best home life possible for his little girl.

Essien is a caretaker—from his job, to his family responsibilities, to his friends and neighbors— if someone needs to be taken care of, it’s a sure bet Essien will find out and be there to help. He had divorced his wife when he knew he was gay and needed to come out, and he’s enjoyed his freedom as a gay man since then, but now that Ivy lives with him full time, he doesn’t pursue relationships or one-night-stands because he wants to be available for Ivy 24/7. Ivy, on the other hand, seems to want him to find someone, so much so, that she actively seeks gay men her dad might like. After the match with the school counselor fell through because he was much too young for Essien and because he refused to let his daughter set him up, he finally told her that if he ever finds a man it will be a man, not a young boy, and he’ll find him all by himself.

What he didn’t tell her is that he has his eye on the gorgeous Dr. Roark Hammond. And Roark seems attracted to him as well, but Roark has a secret, and it’s one that Roark feels will put any hope of a long-term relationship into the impossible-to-have category. Will Essien settle for being put off? Will Roark be able to allow Essien to be his caretaker? Will they sleep together ’til sunrise and wake to greet each new day with hope?

I really enjoy this series, and this one has one of the author’s trademark heroes in Essien—the nice guy who doesn’t realize how much others admire and like him and care about his happiness. Essien deserves to find his man, and the man in this story equally deserves a guy like Essien. There’s nothing about this story to dislike. It’s fairly short, a very light read, and a very sweet romance. Another great bedtime story for the holidays.

Cover Art by Reese Dante depicts a gorgeous black man, sans shirt, standing against a picturesque sunrise coming up over the Atlantic. It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 90 pages
Published December 16th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627984712 (ISBN13: 9781627984713)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Mangrove Stories with links to Barb the Zany Old Lady’s reviews:

Love Heats Up with ‘Lost In The Fire’ by Draven St. James (excerpt and giveaway)


DSJ_lost in the fire

Lost In The Fire by Draven St. James
Release Date: September 22, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Loose ID
Cover Artist: Dar Albert


Buy the book: Loose Id


Aaron Evans embodies every complication Wren Tucker knows he doesn’t need. The tempting go-go dancer refuses to leave him alone and his attempts to get into Wren’s bunker pants don’t stop at the club, even the walls of the Firehouse aren’t safe. Wren’s control is only so strong, and his desire for Aaron is turning into a clawing need that’s digging through the many reasons keeping Aaron at bay.

Aaron is two cold showers away from hypothermia if the hot fireman of his dreams won’t give in to the lust Aaron sees blazing in Wren’s eyes. The only issue is, Wren is a forever man, and Aaron doesn’t have that in him to give, not with so many secrets locked behind the glitter and gold of his beautiful world.

As Wren begins to cave to Aaron’s delicious demands, he gets a deeper view of the tarnished landscape Aaron exists in. A murky pit of drug addiction that’s slowly dragging Aaron under, and Wren is going to have to fight like hell to save Aaron from it, to even have a chance at a new beginning with the man who has brought him out of the shadows.

Pages or Words: 56,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Erotica, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance


“One of these days, Wren Tucker…” Aaron turned to his side, pillowing his head with his bent arm. His eyes slid closed, and he murmured, “I’m going to get to you.”

You already do. Wren crouched beside the bed. The first time Wren had seen him, Aaron had been dancing. The light from the club had touched on every toned dip and groove of Aaron’s body as it swiveled on the raised stage, his tight ass shaking with the beat of the music. All of that had been amazing, but it had been Aaron’s face that had captivated him—the free expression, like he was in another world. His full lips mouthing the lyrics, his head thrown back, and the locks of his black hair waving around his flushed face.

In that moment of abandon, Aaron had met Wren’s gaze, a smile tugging at the corner of his sensual mouth. Aaron had continued the dance, but he hadn’t stopped focusing on Wren.

About The Author

Meet Draven St. James:
Draven St. James is a born and raised Oregonian. She has traveled extensively in search of mischief and mayhem to fill her books. Her ventures have been quite successful in inspiring a wealth of stories. Of course at the end of the day, coffee within reach, laptop at the ready is where she finds her peace.

Where to find Draven St. James:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/draven.stjames
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/dravenSJ
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DravenStJames
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dravenstjames/


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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Book from Draven’s backlist.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Can Forgiveness Be A Path to Love? Find out with Black & Blühe (Out of the Blue #2) by RJ Jones


Black and Bluhe 600

Black & Blühe (Out of the Blue #2) by RJ Jones
Release Date: July 31, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Vivid Blue Press
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell


Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Smashwords | Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Grayson Black has never forgiven himself for not saving his identical twin brother, Jet, from a savage beating at their father’s hands ten years ago. Jet’s near-death never would have happened if Gray hadn’t been so focused on his boyfriend at the time. He has sworn to take care of his brother ever since. Gray can’t afford a distraction from his self-imposed mission, the type of distraction presented by the gorgeous blond showing up at their gigs.

Kris Larson is a firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department. Since splitting from his girlfriend, his favorite way to spend nights off is watching the Black Brothers play in the bars of the Bay Area, especially the guitarist. But it’s not until the brothers are left homeless after a fire at their apartment building that Kris has the opportunity to know the real person behind the brooding façade.

Gray fights his attraction to Kris, but with a meddlesome twin who just wants him to be happy, it’s a losing battle. Before Gray and Kris can have a lasting relationship, though, Gray must learn to forgive himself, let go of the past, and lay more than one demon to rest.

Pages or Words: 57,000 words

Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Erotica, M/M Romance, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

I DOZED most of the way back to Richmond, Kris waking me up every now and then to check on me. I woke once and saw the exit to a local hospital, but when we didn’t take it, I looked at Kris and raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not taking you to a hospital. I’m having the hospital come to you.” This confused me for a second, but all I could focus on was the fact I wasn’t going to an emergency department. After spending so much time in one with Jet, there was no way I was ever going to voluntarily go to one myself. Between having Kris next to me and the gentle rocking of the truck, not to mention a throbbing head, it was hard to stay awake.
We pulled into the drive of the Larson home and Kris was quick to exit the truck and pick me up once more. Carrying me through the front door, we were immediately bombarded with my brother’s concerned voice.
“Oh. My. God. What the hell happened? Holy shit, Gray, are you okay? What… what…?” I grabbed Jet’s hand to reassure him as Kris placed me on the couch.
“Ease up, bro, I’m fine. Twisted my ankle is all.”
“And he smacked his head and has a concussion.”
“Ugh, thanks, Kris.”
“You’re welcome.”
Carol came in and made a fuss, grabbing a bag of peas and easing my foot onto an ottoman. Jet and Carol were making a palaver, talking about hospitals and why I wasn’t already at one. I heard Kris mention something about a Dr. Nichols arriving soon, but with the madness going on around me, I tuned them out. Carol seemed relieved upon hearing the doctor’s name and stopped fussing, then went into the kitchen and returned with a bag of corn for my head.
A minute later there was a knock at the door and I heard someone being ushered inside, muttering something about an idiot who was “always slipping on the same damn rock.”
“Oh, my apologies. I thought it was Kris I was seeing.” Dr. Nichols chuckled as he crouched on the floor next to me. He pulled a penlight out of his black doctor’s bag and waved it in my eyes. I squinted at the intrusion to my pupils while he peppered me with questions.
I was aware of everyone standing around, watching. Kris stood off to the side, and out of my peripheral vision I could see the strained look on his face. I sensed he was staying out of the way, not wanting to encroach on what the doctor was doing, but close enough to keep an eye on me. The doctor continued to prod and poke my head, flash the penlight at me some more and ask the same questions. I guess he just wanted to be sure. I insisted I felt fine, just a headache, no nausea or dizziness, but my ankle hurt the worst.
I shouldn’t have mentioned my ankle, because next thing I knew, the doctor was poking that too, and it hurt like a bitch. After he wrote a prescription for some pain meds, a note for work, and bandaged my ankle, the doctor turned his attention to Kris.
“You know what to look for, don’t you, Kris?”
Kris nodded once. “I do.”
“Excellent, he has a mild concussion and a sprained ankle. I expect his ankle is going to give him the most pain, but keep an eye on his head just to be on the safe side. You can never be too careful with head injuries.”
After a few minutes of the doctor talking with Doug and Carol and making Kris promise to take me to the ER if my condition worsened, he waved goodbye and saw himself out the door. Jet was immediately next me, looking all concerned and flustered, his own injury probably at the forefront of his mind.


STRW Author Bio and Contacts

RJ Jones

RJ started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men popped into her thoughts, insisting on telling her their story that she started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.
RJ’s initial thought was if she could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow her to concentrate on other aspects of the day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work.  But they didn’t shut up.  They told her their entire story and she didn’t sleep for days.  Sometimes she couldn’t keep up with what they were telling her and she had to keep a notebook by the bed.

Whilst RJ was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.
You see the problem? If RJ ever wants to sleep again then she needs to write.

RJ is a wife and a mother to two boys. Even her dog is a boy.

She is surrounded by males.

RJ writes emotionally charged, character driven romances. Her guys will always get their HEA, but it will never be easy.

Where to find me

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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Review:Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5:

Controlled BurnDisabled firefighter Scott McGregor is just beginning to settle in at his new home and profession as the owner/operator of Mountain Shadows Campground.  Complete with lodge and multiple rental cabins scattered throughout the grounds, Scott is finding balancing the renters, new and those that have lived there for years, a real challenge.  But that is nothing to having his ex lover and friend, Robby Hammond, back in his life again.

Years ago Scott McGregor outed Robby to his family in a moment of anger and the aftermath had lasting repercussions for all.  Now his accident and an old emergency contact card has brought Robby back into Scott’s life but nothing is as Scott had imagined or hoped for.  Robby seems to be hiding a part of himself and his life from Scott.  And Scott can’t seem to get past his old image of Robby to see the man that Robby has become.  With such a clash of outlooks and wrongful assumptions, it’s no wonder that Robby and Scott are having problems communicating.

As Scott tries to figure out how to make things right with Robby,two men temporarily check into one of Mountain Shadows seasonal cabins to work on a Native American artifact collection at the Flagstaff musuem.  Handsome and erudite, they just might be the thing to take Scott’s and Robby’s mind off their issues, especially with Robby’s connection to the collection by way of his job and his heritage.  But nothing is ever simple with Scott and Robby.  A phone call further complicates the assumptions and misunderstandings between the men. And that, along with the new renters, escalates things out of control.

Controlled Burn sees the long standing issues of perception and personal problems between Scott and Robby intensify.  In Firestorm we started to get an outline of Scott and Robby’s past relationship but with Controlled Burn, that outline starts to fill in from the very first paragraph.  It’s a flashback to Scott and Robby’s college days when they were lovers.  Laura Harner drops the reader into the middle of a heated argument between Scott and Robby’s conservative professional Army father.  It’s clear almost immediately that things are out of control between them and the ending is nothing short of traumatic for everyone there.  It would be years before Scott and Robby saw each other again.  Harner has the dialog just right for a idealistic college young man and a professional soldier sliding into dementia.  It’s full of passion and rage, fear and hatred, between two  people who steadfastly believe each is right.  And its such a terrific way to bring the reader back into the complicated lives of Scott McGregor and Robby Hammond.

Both of the main characters here totally surprise me.  There is so much  hidden depths to one, and a total deceptive clarity to the other.  Scott’s background and viewpoint are laid out before us.  Scott thinks he knows what he wants and what Robby wants too.  And he goes for it with all the subtlety of a rodeo bull.  It’s Robby that’s the enigma.  The true Robby is elusive to the reader and to Scott.  We have clues scattered here and there, a picture of a woman, and some astounding statements from Robby about his sexuality.  But something straightforward or anything less than opaque is missing.   I love this element of the story.  A real mystery at the heart of the series.  Because it is clear that Scott has never really understood Robby at all.  This element of the story seems so real, where its all about perceptions and assumptions and how blind you can be to a reality you don’t want to see.

Of course that’s not all that’s going on here.  There are multiple small and large mysteries at play at Mountain Shadows just waiting to come to the fore.  I love those too. This series just keeps getting better as the complications pile up.  My only frustration is not having the next story in line to read.  Short in length, deceptively deep in content, the Pulp Friction 2014 stories, Controlled Burn(Fighting Fire #2) in particular, are like delectable amuse-bouche, you can’t eat just one.  They are addicting.  Consider all of them and Controlled Burn highly recommended.

Cover art by Laura Harner is perfect for the story and series branding.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 50 pages
Published March 14th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire #2
Pulp Friction 2014 Series

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb