A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Stand By Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I loved this story! Amy Lane always brings family drama to life with a touch of angst balanced with a touch of humor, and both are in evidence here in this third installment of the Mannies series.

Little Sammy Lowell is all grown up, and though his uncles Channing and Tino (The Virgin Manny) still dote on him, he now has a little sister and brother in the household so he’s not the center of attention he once was. Sammy is finishing his bachelor’s degree and will be heading into a master’s program next term. His major is music and his first love is piano; so much so, that he’s supplementing his coursework by volunteering to teach in an enrichment program for disadvantaged middle school students in a low income neighborhood. Plus, he’s planning to do a weekly gig at a pub that will let him play to a live audience and he’s psyched about it, even though it’s in a tough part of town and his uncles might object. The biggest glitch in all his plans, however, is his medical condition. He has a form of anemia that leaves him weak and exhausted if he neglects his diet and he’s the king of forgetting to eat when he’s composing or playing so he’s always suffering from the effects of low iron.

Cooper Hoskins is raising his “sister” and working to keep food on their table and clothes on her back by doing construction for the company where Brandon (Manny Get Your Man) is supervisor. Unfortunately, he loses the battle to shore up an air conditioning unit on a rooftop and when it comes tumbling down, Cooper, and all his secrets, come tumbling down with it. When he awakes in the hospital, he panics and reveals Felicity’s existence to Brandon. Unfortunately, Felicity was one of the foster kids from his last foster home and when he finally aged out of the system and left, she found out where he lived and showed up to live with him. After returning her to a foster mother who didn’t even know she’d left, Felicity showed up again and Cooper let her stay. Now, the gigs up, but after a phone call from Brandon, Channing and Tino step in, and with Channing’s wealth and connections, the two men become her official guardians. They also offer Cooper a job as their manny, to begin once his wounds heal.

It’s almost too good to be true and it takes Cooper a while to build trust in this shiny, happy family, but with Sammy’s help, Cooper begins to see his own worth and the two young men start to find their own form of happiness when they act on their attraction.

One more key piece the author has used in all the stories—both men are virgins. Slowly, a few stolen kisses lead to more and Sammy and Cooper realize they never settled for someone else because they were meant to be. Now they have to hope Sammy’s health cooperates, and that his uncles approve. And Cooper has to protect his naïve boyfriend from some of the tough guys both inside and outside the bar where’s he doing his music gig.

Some things just don’t come easy to either young man, and it’s a pleasure to watch their growth and to revisit the large extended family of Amy Lane’s Mannies books. There’s a foundation of family strength throughout the story, as well as an underlying sense of humor, and of course, the usual heartbreaking moments mixed with heartwarming romance. Amy Lane does it so well. 

I very highly recommend this book. It can stand alone, but it’s really going to be so much better if readers start with The Virgin Manny and work their way through the series. For those who’ve already read the first two, you can look forward to a few enjoyable visits with all of the past characters, including Tino’s sister, who is now on baby number six. All in all, it’s a very satisfying conclusion to a terrific series. 

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Cover art by Bree Archer features a handsome young blond man with a baby grand piano in the background. It’s the perfect depiction of the bright and outgoing Sammy, whose love for piano stands out in this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 182 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Stand by Your Manny
ASINB07CLJKL66
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Mannies

Amy Lane’s “Christmas Kitsch” Blog Tour and Spotlight Stop!

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ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords welcomes Amy Lane, stopping by on her Christmas Kitsch Book Tour.  Here are a few words  from Amy and her phrase for this stop on the tour.  My review is up tomorrow but I will tell you all right now this story is one of Scattered Thoughts Best of 2013!
The Scavenger Hunt– 
 
In addition to the Riptide giveaway, I’m having a scavenger hunt on my own blog.  At the beginning of the blog tour, I’ll publish the tour dates on Yarning to Write.   For every stop on the tour I’ll have a “phrase” for the scavenger hunt.  At the end of the tour, I’ll put up a post for the people who have found the phrases.  If you comment — and then send me an e-mail with six of the twelve phrases and your address!– I’ll send you some Christmas Kitsch swag.  The post collecting the winners will go up on the 13th (the day of the last stop on the tour) and you will have a week to go read all of the tour stops and collect your phrases.  The hunt closes on December 21st, at the end of the day and I’ll get your swag into the mail between Christmas and New Years!  (Hopefully after I get my own Christmas cards out in the mail. I’m not known for my punctuality, I’m afraid;-)  Look below for today’s phrase!

Today’s phrase:

And don’t forget to collect “The Millionth Kiss Rocks” for the scavenger hunt on Amy’s blog on December 14th!

Riptide contest details:

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Enter your details in the Rafflecopter below to gain entry in the *Home for the Holidays* giveaway! This week of the tour closes at midnight, EST, on December 13th. Then, one grand prize winner will be contacted at the end of the Home for the Holidays tour on December 16th. Contest is valid worldwide.

Enter here at Riptide Publishing Rafflecopter Link

 Christmas Kitsch Blurb:

Christmas Kitsch coverSometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.


20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit http://www.aliforneycenter.org/.

Bio:

Amy Lane has children, pets, consuming hobbies, an amazing spouse, and a very dirty house.  The only time she does housework is Christmas, so that children, pets, spouse, hobbies, and home may exist in peace on hearth for at least once a year.

Feel free to visit Amy in the following places:

Blog: www.writerslane.blogspot.com

Website: www.greenshill.com

Twitter: @amymaclane

FaceBook: Amy Lane

FaceBook Fan Group: Amy Lane Anonymous

Or to contact her at: amylane@greenshill.com

Review: Wake Me Up Inside (Mates #1) by Cardeno C

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Rating: 4 stars

Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno CZev Hassick has always been attracted to Jonah Marvel from his first memory of the man. They were children and Jonah was a toddler playing in his backyard.   It was Zev’s first shifter change and his travels brought him near the Marvel home.  But it was toddler  Jonah that brought him closer and the child too sensed the connection, coming over to play with the wolf pup.  From then on, they were inseparable as time and again, Zev worked to attend the same schools as Jonah, pursuing a relationship with the human that was frowned upon in the shifter world.

Then Jonah goes away to college to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, putting a strain not only on their relationship but on Zev as a shifter in need of his mate.  As the son of the Alpha, Zev was expected to find a female shifter and mate, not only to produced progeny but to remain healthy.  But Zev has never been attracted to anyone but Jonah and it wasn’t until high school that he realized that it wasn’t just a deep friendship he had with Jonah but a mate bond.  But Jonah’s humanity and college goals stopped Zev from claiming him, also from even telling Jonah that he was a shifter.

Now Jonah is about to graduate from college and its time for all the secrets to come out.  But Jonah isn’t well.  He feels like he is losing his mind.  And his father’s behavior is unsettling.  Not all the secrets belong to Zev.  Will Zev and Jonah’s relationship be able to withstand the tumultuous events on the horizon or will the secrets of the past tear them apart?

Wake Me Up Inside is the first book in the Mate series from Cardeno C and I can’t wait for more.  Cardeno C has a straightforward narrative that delivers the story in a manner that makes it easy for the reader to follow the timeline of Jonah and Zev’s relationship as it grows from childhood to adult.  There are just enough flashbacks to explain their history without it overwhelming the story. I  found the  flashback to Jonah and Zev as toddlers especially endearing.  Take a good long look at that marvelous cover and it gives you an accurate picture of a scene in the book.  Boy and wolf pup and Jonah and Zev, always together no matter the form Zev is in.  How does that idea not draw you in?

It is the characterizations that make or break a story for me and in Zev and Jonah we get two characters to connect with immediately.  Zev is wonderful as a shifter with huge expectations placed on his shoulder by his father and pack at an early age,  The author lets us watch as Zev shoulders these responsibilities with ingenuity and grace as he ages.  He accepts his role as future Alpha and then makes it his own.  Zev is just a lovely creation and he was easy to relate to. So was his mate, Jonah who had plenty of problems of his own.  His father was full of secrets and extremely overprotective.  But his ease at accepting his sexuality and his own depths of compassion and responsibility made him a perfect match for Zev and the reader.

I liked the concept of the shifter society as one held back by its own traditions and isolation.  I just wished it had been explored a little more throughly.  We get bits and pieces of shifter law and lore but establishing a firmer back story for the Pack governing structure would have helped at the end of the story when all sorts of leaders and governing agents appear at of  nowhere.  The same lack of back story popped up again towards the end when an unexpected pair bonding becomes an essential part of Zen and Jonah’s story.  It is not much of a spoiler to tell you one is a vampire and until that is revealed I had no idea that vampires were part of this universe.  I wish that had been folded into the story earlier on so its appearance would have been less startling and made more sense.

My few quibbles aside, this is a terrific addition to the current wolf shifter fiction available.  I hope that each new story will give us more information about the Mate universe Cardeno C is creating.  I anticipate that Zev and Jonah will make a reappearance and a certain couple gets their story told.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  This was a Best Cover of 2012.  Just look at the pictures, the composition and its relation to the story within….all perfection.  I never tire of looking at it.