A MelanieM Release Day Review: Seeking Solace (The Walker Boys 3) by Ari McKay

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

All hands on deck for a shipboard romance—with a secret. 

Like his cousins, Devin Walker aspires to be a chef, but he wants to indulge his wanderlust while feeding his customers, and working a cruise ship seems like the solution. Since he can’t find an opening in the kitchen, he’s happy to start out in a position behind the bar.

While onboard Poseidon’s Pearl, Devin is assigned to shepherd a visiting executive. Paul Bailey is quiet and unassuming, and the car accident that cost him his leg also shattered his confidence. He doesn’t think he’s attractive to other men anymore, and Devin is eager to show him just how wrong he is. Paul has a surprising secret that might sink their passionate affair before it even leaves port.

The Walker Boys series by Ari McKay all center around main characters that are or have aspirations to be chefs with their own restaurants. Seeking Solace (The Walker Boys 3) by Ari McKay falls into the latter category.  Devin Walker, of the enormous Texas Walker clan, has been working on board the Triton line cruise ship learning the kitchen and “the ropes”, waiting for the chance to move up into the role of chef.  It’s a job he loves, even though he wants it to be temporary in the long run with his goal of opening his own restaurant, just as a trained chef would.

Everything is going according to plan, until he is assigned the role of liaison to a visiting executive who needs to learn more about the Triton cruise business from the bottom to the top, never realizing who the man is that he’s showing around.

So, yes.  It’s the false identity trope but it works here.  I mean haven’t you all seen Undercover Boss on tv?  Not that far fetched an idea anymore. The addition of Paul working through his acceptance of his disability, the worries over his appearance (scars and prosthetic) felt authentic and grounded this romance in a definite reality as opposed to a sheltered cruitse glow. I liked that the author(s) gave the readers a believable “behind the scenes” feel to the cruise line and it’s workings.  I enjoyed that and the staff.

The chemistry between Devlin and Paul was hot, sweet, and lovely to read.  I delighted in their romance and the cruise in general.  Plus don’t get me started on the food here.  I felt as though I was going to gain weight just through reading some of the detailed, vivid descriptions of the drinks and drool worthy  menu items alone!  Really mouth watering  and scrumptious!

The cruise takes place over two weeks so the attraction/instant love element is a bit of a stretch for me.  The physical attraction and like?  Absolutely.  Love?  On the road to, yes.  Which is why I enjoyed the HFN ending that McKay left the couple at.  That felt more honest with one exception involving the ship.  Won’t go there, spoiler territory.  I just thought it was unlikely that Devlin would have done that given his working relationship there.

The Walkers Boys and their search for HEA or in this case HFN is a fun series for people who love sweet contemporary romance with a mixture of food and travel.  From Texas to North Carolina and New York (Breaking Bonds) to cruising and back to Texas, this series has a little something for everyone.  They work well as standalone stories but are fun read together as well.

Cover art:  Alexandria Corza.  Has the moon and ship as the backdrop and Paul as the center model.  If that is supposed to be Devlin, a total miss of the mark.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640805231
Series The Walker Boys

Striking Sparks

Breaking Bonds

Seeking Solace

A VVivacious Review: You Had Me at Hero by Michael P. Thomas

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 
Mark Potts fell from a balcony while drunk that resulted in him being paralysed from the waist down, but he never gave up. Now twelve years later he works as a 911 operator, and is raising two wonderful kids with the love of his life, Starr Bradford who is a police officer.
 
When a string of words that should have never left Mark’s mouth creates a misunderstanding between Mark and Starr, it leaves Mark off kilter and wishing for a do-over. But when a 911 call results in Starr’s day taking a turn for the worse, will these two get that chance at repairing this rift in their relationship?
 
I liked the story quite a bit even though I’m uncertain how the author pulled it off. There are a million things in this story which could have separately taken entire books to resolve but the author manages to prioritise on what issues to get in the limelight to make this story into a success.
 
This is a gay couple who come from two different ethnicities with one of them being physically-challenged, who have an age gap of seventeen years and are raising two young children to be responsible adults and both of them work highly stressful jobs. I mean the challenges these two faced in their relationship alone could have provided fodder for a series of books and at the beginning of the book I really wondered if the author had maybe picked up one too many differences to go with our main couple but by the end of the book I think it worked. It sure made for an interesting read.
 
This is an established couple romance and that trope is a particular favourite of mine and this one didn’t disappoint. Also this trope was perfect for this story because it gave us the understanding that a lot of the issues Mark and Starr faced had probably been resolved in their six plus years of being together.
 
We get glimpses into the lives of Mark and Starr and how life is like for them and how they deal with it. Also I loved to see the issues that bothered them as parents and how they worked them out. Personally I really loved Mark and Starr as a couple and even the little rift at the end that creates the misunderstanding or difference of opinions seemed in character and I liked how they dealt with it given the circumstances.
 
All in all this book makes for a nice read which leaves you with a smile on your face, even if it does leave you wondering how these two managed to work around so many cons in their relationship.
 
Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I liked the cover.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 85 pages
Published February 18th 2017 by JMS Books
ISBN139781634863117
Edition LanguageEnglish

In Our Book Spotlight: When in Bloom by Nicole Dennis (Book tour and contest)

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When in Bloom (Southern Charm #4) by Nicole Dennis
magnifying glass and bookRelease Date: February 20, 2015
Goodreads Link

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Nicole Dennis Answers a few questions…

Q. How do you deal with interruptions from family and friends – how do you find the balance and mark the space you need?

I only have a Fat Cat at home, so life is fairly quiet.

Q.  What inspired you to write in the first place?

I never thought about doing anything else. From the moment I read, I wanted to create my own stories for my dolls. Then different characters started talking. It helped me get away from reality and a rough time in school.

Q. What’s the hardest step for you as a writer? Planning? Writing? Editing? Something else?

Planning. Plotting. Editing – yuck, I have a tendency to repeat the same word dozens of times (sometimes on the SAME Page!)

Author Nicole Dennis Bio:

Ever the quiet one growing up, Nicole Dennis often slid away from reality and curled up with a book to slip into the worlds of her favorite authors. Over the years, she’s created a personal library full of novels filled with dragons, fairies, vampires, shapeshifters of all kinds and romance. Always she returned to romance. Still, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told and she began writing them down whether during or after class. She continues to this day. Only recently has it begun to become fruitful, spreading out to let others read and enter her worlds, meet her characters, and see what she sees. No matter what she writes, her stories of romance with their twists of paranormal, fantasy and erotica will always have their Happily Ever Afters.

She currently works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her characters and worlds to escape reality from time to time. At home, she becomes human slave to a semi-demonic tortie calico.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicoleDennis.Author
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nicoledennis.author/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nicoledennisaut/books-n-promo/
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/nicoledennisauthor

Publisher: Totally Bound
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis

Sales Links:  Totally Bound

More About When In Bloomwheninbloom_800

Will the personal challenges of a former Army doctor and a brilliant florist get in the way of a chance at life and love?

Fighting type one diabetes since childhood, Jude Sebastian runs to prove he can live a normal life, until epileptic seizures begin to change his life. Even with Dawson, his medical alert Golden Labrador, at his side, Jude finds daily life difficult. He owns the floral shop Flowers in the Breeze, and designs everything from simple bouquets to elaborate themes for weddings and celebrations.

At the Shore Breeze Clinic, Jude comes across a man clearly suffering with a PTSD episode. A new arrival in the small town, Doctor Elliott Sheffield, a retired Army Ranger doctor, is looking for a second chance after what he saw in the Middle Eastern deserts.

Wanting a normal relationship, Jude tries to deny his disorder, but something is happening. He can’t regulate his sugars and his disorder worsens. When he returns to the clinic, Dawson alerts Jude to an oncoming seizure.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes referencing PTSD, seizures and diabetes.
Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance

When In Bloom Excerpt

Cursing under his breath as the sky turned orange with another incoming sandstorm, Dr. Elliott Sheffield hated the situation. Though they’d tried to tie down the damn tent, the ferocious wind tugged the straps, causing openings everywhere to expose the critical care unit to the elements. Why had he ever agreed to come to this desert hell in the Middle East?

After struggling through several storms like this one, he knew the clouds could turn the sky black for at least seven hours. Pushing out the noises of men calling out in pain and fearing for their lives, he concentrated to save the man on the operating table. His hands and forearms were covered in blood as he searched for the damned bleeder in the man’s belly.

“Come on… Come on… Where the fuck are you?”

As the winds howled, Elliott felt the grit of the fine layer of sand digging underneath the scrubs and within any openings of his uniform. Along with the sweat dripping down his nape, the sand mixed with the moisture and aggravated him. Damn stuff could get through any crack and crevice of tent, Humvee or building. This place sucked when it came to performing delicate surgery, but he didn’t have a choice. The soldiers were here. He needed to be nearby to care for them.

“Shit… Got it,” Elliott said and made the necessary stitches to close the nasty bleeder. He scrambled to put the soldier’s innards back in place, flushed everything with saline to cleanse, and stapled the exterior wound.

“Cover him up tight. We’ll come back and make it nicer.” He stepped back to let the other physician and nurse finish. He peeled off and tossed the gloves. Removing the sweat-soaked mask, he left the curtained-off operating theater and went back to the main infirmary.

When the blasted Taliban insurgents had overrun the garrison stationed at the American base, Elliott had transferred with most of the surgical team to the Canadian–British combat hospital at the Kandahar airfield.

It wasn’t any better here.

Elliott shoved a weary hand through his hair. He scratched at the heavy bearded growth. Since his boots had hit the sand, he’d adapted to the crazy, never-ending situations, difficult in the best of conditions, but aggravated in the worse. He’d figured out ways to suture and clean some of the most devastating wounds he’d ever seen in his career. He could never get around the constant issue of infection from the damn sand.

“Fucking sand…”

The thump-thump-thump of helicopter blades surrounded them. Everyone within the base knew the meaning behind those blades. It was never good.

“We have incoming patients,” someone called out.

“They’re not friendlies! Take cover!” another soldier shouted as bullets flew through the sand and darkness
.
Crouching, riveted as soldiers rushed around, Elliott thought about the patients. He knew their lives were at the most risk, unable to defend themselves. When dark figures invaded the tent, Elliott covered a nearby patient.

Several loud blasts blew through the base as bombs went off in rapid succession. He called out when searing heat scored through his shoulder.

Blood and gore rose in front of his mind. Within seconds, all the time it had taken to save these patients was destroyed.

“Doctor…”

“Doctor…”

Elliott blinked. He tasted the fine grit of the sand.

“Doctor…”

“Dr. Sheffield? Are you okay?”

When fingers touched his wounded shoulder, Elliott screamed and pushed back until he hit something hard then plopped his ass on the ground. The intensity knocked Elliott out of the intrusive flashback from his five years spent in Kandahar. He was home in the States. Having left Afghanistan and his ten year military career, he had now lived and worked in Florida for the last nine months.

He lowered himself until his scrub-covered ass hit the floor. He pressed his hands flat on the cool tile of the emergency room to ground himself in reality. He looked around, goggled as other staff fought to save a patient with a vicious belly wound. Two others moved toward him. He held up a hand and hyper focused on the blood-covered blue latex.

“Are you with us, Elliott? Can you rise?” another doctor said in a calming tone.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m here.”

“Where were you?”

“Kandahar.”

“Do you know what set you off?”

“Insurgents overran the base and hit the clinic and caused so much destruction among the patients and created more. It was the appearance of the wound. I took care of so many of them. Most were ruined by the fucking sand.” Elliott knocked his head against the wall.

“Easy. Can you stand? I’ll get you back to the lounge.”

“I’m okay, Harry, take care of the patient.” Elliott pushed himself to his feet and stripped the gloves from his hand. He wobbled out of the room and down the hall.

“Dr. Sheffield?” a nurse called.

He held up a hand. “Taking ten.”

“But…”

Something toppled with a harsh clatter. The broken glass caused Elliott to crouch again in a protective corner and cover his head.

“Dr. Sheffield!”

Lost again in the sand, heat and blood, Elliott stayed put in his cover position. What the hell was he doing here in civilian life? He couldn’t avoid the truth of how he suffered from PTSD.

“Dr. Sheffield… Major…”

He lifted his head at the sound of his Army title. Another doctor crouched in front of him. Through the haze of blood and sand within his memory, he almost didn’t recognize the fellow soldier. James was a friend, a psychiatrist and military officer with the Air Force.

“Major, are you with us?”

“Not an attack…” Elliott knew his gaze would be dead and haunted since he saw it so many times in the mirror after one of the dreams woke him.

“No, Major, a tray filled with containers crashed,” James said. “Major, I need you to stand and come with me. We’ll have a chat.”

“Yeah, guess I need to do that,” Elliott said as he looked beyond James. “I kinda lost it there.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time a soldier covered his ass,” James said as he rose.

Elliott followed James, who chose to find someplace quiet and separated from the chaos of the ER.

Pages or Words: 52,000 words

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Tour Dates: February 20, 2015

Tour Stops:

Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads, Amanda C. Stone, Divine Magazine, BFD Book Blog, MM Good Book Reviews, Molly Lolly, Bayou Book Junkie, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Fallen Angel Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Andrew Q. Gordon, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Hearts on Fire, The Hat Party

 

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: ‘E-copy of When In Bloom’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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