A MelanieM Review: Heart2Heart Anthology, Vol. 3

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Rating: 5 stars out ot 5 (because just one of these stories earns it that let alone so many)

Once upon a time, a group of authors wondered… What if the Heart2Heart app — the dating app with a glitch that matched up the oddest, most perfect couples, and sponsored the charity date raffles that helped dozens of people find love — offered a classifieds section, too?

Need a handyman who knows how to wear a tool belt? Have a closet of drag costumes that needs a new home? How about finally tracking down that guy who made the perfect drink, or who’s just the right height to reach the top shelf?

Join some of your favorite authors of gay romance as they bring you sixteen brand-new stories inspired by reader suggestions!

Once again, all proceeds from this collection will go to the authors’ favorite LGBTQ charities, to ensure that love in all its forms will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!

This collection will be available for only 90 days before it’s gone forever.

It’s rare that I come across an anthology that I actually gush about because the stories are just that good but Volume 3 of the Charity Anthology Heart2Heart is absolutely amazing!  From the overall concept to the authors involved to the stories inside, this is a 5 star ride all the way.  I’d say E Ticket but how many remember what those are any more?

The fabulousness starts right at the beginning with a split story that explains the concept behind the stories of this Collection.   That’s right a story, The Closet (Parts 1 and 2) by Eden Finley, both open and close this incredible collection.  The story both calls forth the birth of the ads format and sees in retrospect what those ads have caused to happen.  It’s lovely, poignant, and oh so touching.  And throughout all the other stories, the fact that this one was missing it’s ending hovered in the background waiting gracefully for it’s time to come.

Want to know just what a treasure awaits you? Here they are without ratings because, honestly, they all shine so brightly and with such variety, that you will be rereading them over and over again.  I can say that only 2 missed the mark with me and slid to a 4 and I think that was just my reading preferences.

  • The Closet by Eden Finley Part 1: 

A young man and a friend go to empty his deceased uncle’s home, one he hadn’t seen in years only to find someone who had loved him and knew him far better than anyone else.   As I said , this story “bookends” the collection.  It splits upon a revelation and the idea of putting ads in a dating app that the friend runs called yes Heart2Heart.  I won’t spoils the amazing delights this story holds but it sets the bar and gets your heart ready for what’s to come.

  • The Book by Aimee Nicole Walker:

Bookstore owner seeking identity of adorkable customer...” i

This how the ad starts.  Oh these ads. So many had me laughing out loud, including this one.  The story was fun, charming, sexy, and yes, romantic. Loved it!.  If you know this author, then you are aware of how quickly she can build a universe, fill it with great characters, and a relationship that you know will last.  She does it here. Line up the hearts!

  • The Date by Annabeth Albert

Wanted: Companion for exquisite five course gourmet Valentine’s Day dinner at a top-secret Portland restaurant, no sex or romance required…

I should just leave this at “nuf said”.  Because if you are again familiar with her stories, you are in for a treat.  In fact, I wanted this to be double the length as I didn’t want to leave this could behind.  I loved the food (yes, yes, there is food), amazing characters to grab your heart, and the perfect setting.    I want this couple for a lifetime, including their marriage! Listening, Ms Albert?

  • The Yarn Wrangler by Charlie Cochet:

Help Wanted: Yarn Wrangler.  Have you ever thought to yourself,  : I wonder what a house full of yarn looks like? Have you ever dreamed of getting paid to box up a whole bunch of yarn?…”

Yes, bring on the guffaws!  They are warranted!  While the start is oddly not humorous it quickly tumbles into lovely gentle laughter and love.

That’s how Simon meets Liam in a house full of yarn collected by his grandmother.  Plus there’s a cat with a yarn batting average any pitcher would be jealous of.  Oh but there’s an expensive boyfriend and….well, this a gem to be unraveled slowly.  And smiled and yes, giggled at.  Happy endings all around.

  • Dork Lord by Damon Suede: Missed Connections: Lion eyes, I love to watch you swim.

Tarquin, a swimmer finds his match where he least expects it.Hot, sexy, typical Damon Suede story.

  • Top Shelf by Hailey Turner: 

Can You Be My (Tall) Knight in Shining Armor? is how this ad starts. A very cute tale about a short guy in need of some tall help in his new apartment in DC.

  • The Family Reunion by K.M Neuhold:

Needed:fake boyfriend to get my parents off my back.

This is the story of Lawrence, the premed student needing a break and Roman the son needing a boyfriend for a reunion with his family in Boca.  Neuhold nicely turns around the character of Roman who isn’t all that likable to begin with into soHelp meone we can connect with in the end.  Lovely story.  And a believable ending.

  • The Last Drop by Layla Reyne

Dear Mr. Manhattan, We met nine months ago at a bar in New Orleans… starts the long ad

I just found this author with her book Dine With Me.  My only issue with this story is no recipes!  I needed the recipes for the drinks and meals served like crazy!  You will drool through this story.  Over the men and their relationship too..   Greg Valteau, chef and owner, and Tony Monaco, bartender extraordinaire.  Everything about this is sensual, hot, and amazing.

  • The Dog Walker by Lily Morton

SOS Call From Cornwall! Me: Broken right arm with a general lack of ability to do anything for myself for a few weeks….” is how this ad starts off.

No getting around this.  The Dog Walker is one of my favorites.  Something about this understated, gorgeously written story got under my skin immediately.  From the language to the layered relationship and the gentle revelations exposed over time.  It’s continued to haunt me.  I want more.  I can’t sing its praised enough.

Surprisingly it starts off with sex between Sim and Ziggy, a bold act for a nuanced relationship. Won’t say anymore.  Buy this collection for this story alone.

  • The Treehouse by Lucy Lennox:

“Help Wanted: Building  a treehouse for my kids this weekend and need a extra pair of hands…..”

This is why I read anthologies.  To wonder why I don’t read more stories by Lucy Lennox and smack my head.  This is a wonderful bright contemporary love story.  Great characters like Harvey the Angora Rabbit farmer just returned from NZ and Bryn with two kids trying to build them a treehouse, plus a matchmaking sister in a small town.  I adore this story.  You will too.

  • The Restoration by Mary Calmes

“Help Wanted: Laborers to assist with basement restoration. ….”

Of course, this is Mary Calmes so we are talking about the restoration of more than just a basement.  It’s a broken marriage in need of repair.   Alasdair McKenna aka Sandy is separated from his military husband who is always away on assignment and needs his flooded basement restored.  It’s been six months since he’s seen Kyler but it seems that Kyler is still looking after him…..

This is very Mary Calmes in the relationship between the men, one very protective, scary in a military way.  Sandy with his circle of friends who support them both.  The story works so well because the author knows her men and their dynamics.  It all works and works just as it should.  HEA!

  • The Vase by May Archer

FOR SALE: Antique Vase Authentic Limited edition hand-painted vase  from  local artist…”

I really left the best parts of that ad out, as I have for most of these ads.  Nauticolli indeed.  May Archer has another winner here with this story.  I easily wanted ti expanded, and a sequel too.  I has so much heart and I love the main characters and their relationship, short as it is.  Their future is so bright and I want to know what happens next.  Surely we need a followup story?  Pretty please.  We need to know how Malachi will get on with Landon’s cats don’t we?  Just read this story!

  • The Helping Hand by Nora Phoenix

Wanted: Someone with serious  furniture assembly skills and a buttload of patience who speaks IKEA…

Anyone who has ever had to assemble anything let alone something from IKEA, well you will relate to this story and the characters.  A gentle bear of a science fiction writer who needs help assembling his new furniture and the nature photographer who will show him patience for his furniture and in loving him as well.  Another gentle story, sweet, and endearing.

  • The Dream Machine by Piper Scott writing as Emma Alcott

For Sale of the Low, Low Price of Free….

 

I will admit that this story seems the odd one out of the bunch, not a contemporary romance but one with a science fiction or whatever twist.  Just want a story I connected with but I could have been that it felt jarring among the others.  In another collection, it might have gotten a different reaction.

  • The Wedding Date by Susan Hawke

Date Needed! If you like weddings, awkward events where your date’s ex is the man of the hour, open bars, and crappy cake, I’m your man!…

Back to the lovely contemporary romance and with a unexpected twist.  Especially as it starts off with Hunter who fosters kittens with special needs.  Absolutely endearing, and the kittens are described in depth and will grab at your heart along with Hunter.Quinn answers the ad and the story is on.  Another true charmer in a collection’s worth.

  • The Wrong Guy by Sloane Kennedy

We bonded over a screw… of the nuts and bolts variety.

Travis and Jackson have been friends for a while and yet some things remain to be discovered between them.    It takes an ad to bring it all out in the open.  I liked this story.  Felt raw and real in places, emotional and painful, especially when assumptions you’ve made about someone turn out to be false.

  • The Closet Part 2 by Eden Finley

I debated putting the ad in that started it all.  In the end, I hit delete.  That’s as much a part of this story as walking into that closet.  And reading this ending.  It’s everything.

This is a one of a kind collection of stories.  It’s one you must read, and not just because its for chairty.  But because these stories resonate.  They are full of laughter, love, sex, sensuality, food, and romance.  Even yarn and kittens!

Don’t let it pass you by. It’s only here for 90 days.  Grab it up now.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by AngstyG is perfect for the collection and tone.  love it. Makes you feel it just looking at it.

Sales Links:     

All Proceeds Go To Charity:

Amazon US

Everywhere Else

Book Details:

Buy for $4.99 or try Kindle Unlimited to read over a million titles
Kindle Edition, 761 pages
Published October 1st 2019
ASINB07XP6D2M5
Edition Language English

Here is a Collection of Stories Not to Be Missed! Check Out the Charity Blog Tour for Heart2Heart Anthology, Vol. 3 Tour

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Heart2Heart Anthology, Volume 3

Supporting LBGT Charity

A Collaboration of Short Stories By:

Annabeth Albert, May Archer, Mary Calmes, Charlie Cochet, Eden Finley, Susan Hawke, Sloane Kennedy, Lucy Lennox, Lily Morton, K.M. Neuhold, Nora Phoenix, Layla Reyne, Piper Scott (writing as Emma Alcott), Damon Suede, Hailey Turner, Aimee Nicole Walker

This collection will be available for only 90 days before it’s gone forever.

51d9ZOHIesL

Once upon a time, a group of authors wondered… What if the Heart2Heart app — the dating app with a glitch that matched up the oddest, most perfect couples, and sponsored the charity date raffles that helped dozens of people find love — offered a classifieds section, too?

Need a handyman who knows how to wear a tool belt? Have a closet of drag costumes that needs a new home? How about finally tracking down that guy who made the perfect drink, or who’s just the right height to reach the top shelf?

Join some of your favorite authors of gay romance as they bring you sixteen brand-new stories inspired by reader suggestions!

Once again, all proceeds from this collection will go to the authors’ favorite LGBTQ charities, to ensure that love in all its forms will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!


Book Buy Links

All Proceeds Go To Charity:

Amazon US

Everywhere Else


About the Heart2Heart Anthology Series:

The first 2 volumes of Heart2Heart made a combined total of more than $50k USD. The net proceeds were donated to six incredible charities, including One-n-Ten, Ali Forney Center, Trevor Project, Rainbow Railroad, Trans LifeLine, and the Bisexual Resource Center. These volumes are no longer available, but thankfully the passion for the project hasn’t faded. Every step of the process has been donated:

  • Cover design, logo, and promotional graphics by AngstyG
  • Beta reading, editing, proofreading by the team at LesCourt Author Services, as well as Allison Roy
  • Promotional posting by LesCourt Author Services and the A Novel Take PR group
  • And of course, the authors’ time and efforts

More information on the Charities chosen for Volume 3:

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LGBT Youth Line

‍🌈 LGBT Youth Line: a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit* youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 and under) across Ontario. We do this by:

-Providing anonymous peer support and referrals;

-Training youth to provide support to other youth; and

-Providing resources so youth can make informed decisions.

Homepage


Kind Space

‍🌈 Kind Space: committed to providing accessible resources, events, social, and educational programming to celebrate and support people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

Home


The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity

‍🌈 The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity: aspiring to support and transform Canadian and indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast in a shared vision of a discrimination-free gender and sexually diverse world.

http://ccgsd-ccdgs.org


These are all great Charities and we need to take care of our youth and the next generation. Love is Love. Be safe and kind. No one should have to suffer for who they are or who they love!!

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Review: Floodgates by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Floodgates coverAll Tracy Brandt ever wanted was a happy life.  Instead what Tracy had was a complicated one.  Business partners with a man many consider to be a Russian thug, Tracy knows better, even when their offices are bombed and he barely escapes with his life.  Then there is Tracy’s love life.  He thought he and his lover were happy and committed, then Tracy found his lover in bed with another man and the relationship was shattered.  Or so Tracy thought.

But lately his ex,Breckin Alcott, has been trying to renew their relationship, something Tracy is sure he doesn’t want or does he? Then in the aftermath of the bombing, Tracy’s overprotective brother, DEA Agent Alexander Brandt, and his infuriating ex partner Cordell Nolan or Cord for short, show up at the hospital and things go from bad to worse.

For five years, Trace and Cord have been fighting the attraction between them.  For Cord, it never worked because Trace wanted a commitment, something Cord was unwilling or unable to give at the time.  For Trace, Cord was a player, a new man every night and that was something Trace would never be, just a one night stand.  So for five years its been an impasse.  Then Trace’s office gets bombed and Cord returns to help investigate and protect Tracy, a man Cord now wants to commit to for a future together.

When it appears that Trace is the target of an unknown assailant, not just the bombing, then Cord is determined to protect Trace at all costs. And if it means that they can finally break through the barriers that have been separating them, then nothing will stop Cord from finding who is behind the attacks on Trace so they can finally get their HEA.

I have loved Mary Calmes’ stories from the moment I read about Jory and Sam in A Matter of Time (both editions).  For myself, Calmes is a comfort read.  You know what to expect with her characters and dialog and you know how it will all end.  The pleasure is in getting to that expected denouement and whatever couples involved HEAs.  It is the comfort of the known, like the pleasure you have in a visit from an old friend.  Perfect stories for that old armchair and evening in the jammies and bunny slippers.

But sometimes even that is not enough when other parts of the story let you down and familiar characters fall flat instead of fizz with effervescence.  And that unfortunately is how Floodgates felt to me.

In Floodgates, Tracy is the Jory character and Sam is represented by Cord.  Not a problem at face value as we have seen this in her contemporary fiction before.  However, Tracy is that uber perfect character who never admits how hurt he is (physically or emotionally). Trace trusts everyone, including those people that clearly have the letter V on their foreheads for villain. He teases his ex who cheated on him and wonders why the man doesn’t think they are over.  The ex, Breckin, is such an unsavory cad that you want to dust him for stds just seeing a mention of him on the page.  But Trace is warm and welcoming each time they talk or meet or what have you.  Really, after pages of this, you wonder why anyone would find Tracy realistic in any way because he never comes across as a viable human being.

Cord  doesn’t suffer from the same characterization flaws that Trace does except that as an experienced detective, the mistakes made in the investigation and the “smack hand to the forehead” lack of any authentic police work, makes Cord as superficial a character as any of the others found here. And again there are an untold number of superficial characters to be found here.  Normally that is not a problem because the reader is so involved in the main characters journey to love and a relationship.  But when that founders, so does everything else like a domino chain effect.

And then there is Tracy’s business partner, Dimah Masir, a Russian who may or may not be a Russian mobster (first red herring alert).  Dimah also may or may not have a mobster brother (second red herring alert).  Tracy says he’s not but Dimah sure has plenty of henchmen running around and law enforcement officers who believe he’s a thug.  No matter.  After much is made of this connection, Dimah disappears entirely only to make an astonishingly unbelievable appearance almost at the end of the story.  The only reason for Dimah to be in this story is to either be served up as a rather inedible red herring or Calmes intends to bring him back for his own story.  Either way I did find him the most interesting element here so I was sorry to see him vanish.

And that brings me to the plot.  It just didn’t work.  At the beginning it appears that the bombing is connected to Dimah and his shady connections.  But when Calmes discards that element, then the detours and misdirections that follow make no sense whatsoever.  But perhaps the worst element is a villain that pops up out of nowhere, with little foundation laid for his role, and an arrow over his head that clearly marks him as the nut job to watch out for.  Which of course, no one does, including the DEA agent and an seasoned detective.  A 5 year old could figure out this character’s role in the plot.  Unfortunately almost everything about Floodgates is a jumbled mess, lacking complexity or coherency.

And that includes nitpicky little details like a Vermont shack used to “store syrup from the maple trees”.  Uh no.  In Vermont as in other maple syrup producing states, a sugar shack is where the maple sap is boiled down into syrup, a labor intensive process that happens only in the spring when the sap is rising.  And that process?  Makes it much more expensive than $6/bottle for high grade maple syrup.  A small mistake, true, but when the story is falling flat, it’s the small errors like this one that become highlighted in the narrative because your attention is everywhere but where it should be, which is on the plot.

For me, Floodgates is that Mary Calmes story that will never be reread or remembered.  For some, the issues listed above will not matter.  For them, its enough that it is a Mary Calmes romance.  Its predictability, characters, sweetness, and HEA is all they need to recommend it.  And that’s perfectly fine.  But for others, this may not be the romance for you.  There are other Mary Calmes stories I would recommend, including her wonderful supernatural series or other contemporary stories like Frog. If you are new to this author, I would start there. For everyone else, I will let you make up your own mind.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  What a spectacular cover, evocative and one of the best of the year.

Book Details:

ebook, 234 pages
Published March 3rd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 2nd 2014)
ISBN 162798738X (ISBN13: 9781627987387)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

ScatteredThoughts Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Guest Posts and Contests

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It’s already midApril and I have just realized that I missed posting my March 2014 Review Summary and Best Covers.  Sigh.  Sometimes Gardening_Tools_Clip_Artthings just get away from you and this certainly did last month.  So I am posting the review to run later today.  There are so many wonderful authors and books represented that you are sure to find several to add to your TBR or Must Read stack of stories.   Included in the reviews are the penultimate story of the Cut & Run series from Abigail Roux and the first 2 stories in the second group of Pulp Friction 2014 series.

Spring has finally come to Maryland (although it may only be here a week).  My cherry blossoms are blooming as are those around the tidal basin.  So I am off to grab some weeds and bird watch in the sun.

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Here is the week ahead in reviews, author guest blogs and contests:

 

  • Monday, April 14:                 Author Spotlight: Jim Provenzano and Book Giveaway
  • Tuesday, April 15:                 Memories of Love by Jim Provenzano
  • Wed., April 16:                       With Pride by Megan Derr
  • Thursday, April 17:               Megan Mulry :Author Guest Blog and Book Tour (Contest)
  • Friday, April 18:                    Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry
  • Saturday, April 19:                Floodgates by Mary Calmes

Review: Where You Lead by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Where You Lead coverChicago-based ATF agent Peter Lomax’s past relationships never seemed to work out.  Ex boyfriends had issues with his possessiveness as well as his job.  Then Peter meets Carver Fleming at a friends party and everything changes.  Artist and gallery owner, Carver doesn’t mind that Peter is possessive.  It is a quality that Carver understands quite well as he feels the same. Nor is he bothered by the fact that law enforcement is far from his artistic world. From the beginning Peter and Carver recognize that they are perfect for each other and soon settle in to a committed relationship.

But six months into the relationship, Carver gets a call from home that changes everything.  Carver’s mother has had a stroke and he is needed home to help his father cope with his mother’s changed condition.  Unbeknownst to Peter, Carver agrees to return home, knowing such a move would not be temporary but permanent.   From Chicago to Colt, Carver’s small hometown in Kentucky is a drastic change and he realizes that not telling Peter about his plans will cause major problems between them.

Carver doesn’t want to lose Peter.  He knows that Peter’s friends and career are based in Chicago and that Peter won’t want to leave a city he loves.  So Carver plans for the two of them to visit his parents at Christmas, hoping the visit and his surprise plans will get Peter to agree to come with Carver when he moves to Colt permanently.  Carver is hoping that the charm of his hometown and his loving family will win Peter over.  Can love triumph over the hurt Peter feels at being left out of Carver’s plans?  And can a man with no family attachments of his own find one to love in Carver’s?  At Christmas, anything is possible as Peter and Carver are about to find out.

A trademark of all of Mary Calmes’ stories is that she always populates them with genuinely likable people. Her characters are guaranteed to endear themselves to the reader almost immediately from the moment they appear on the page, and our affections for them only deepen as the story progresses.    It is one of the elements that make Mary Calmes a  must read author for me and so many others.  Where You Lead is another such short story from this prolific author.

While Calmes does not provide too much back history on Peter and Carver, both men still manage to resonate with the readers.  Peter had not had a satisfactory long term relationship and neither has Carver, although for different reasons. They come complete with relationship issues anyone would recognize.  And when Peter and Carver meet, the connection between them snaps into place with lusty enthusiasm that continues throughout the story.

The story begins in Chicago at an art gallery opening to benefit the fallen agents fund.  Peter is there with his ATF partner Elliot and his wife.  The dialogue between Peter and Elliot feels appropriately affectionate and boyishly juvenile, just what you would expect of old friends.  With just a few sentences, Calmes delivers a working partnership that feels real and honest.  I wish we could have seen a little more of Peter’s life with the ATF and Elliot.   As his profession is such a large part of who Peter is as a person, additional background or scenes of his work would have fleshed this part of the character out for me.

As the location switches to Carver’s home in Colt and the situation with his mother, the plot develops further to include not just romantic love but that of family as well.  This for me is where the story really came to life.  I loved Carver’s parents.  His mother is such a strong character, especially as she deals with not only a stroke but the onset of dementia, possibly from Alzheimer’s.  It’s such a loving and painful portrait of a woman who realizes she is losing herself and the effects on those she loves.  Carver’s father is another fully realized persona and the dynamics of the father-son relationship feel authentic and grounded in reality of two such opposite personalities.

Where You Lead is only 68 pages long, and you will want the story to continue once the end is reached.  I felt as though a evening with friends had ended before I was ready for it to be over.  I would have loved for a little more exposition, maybe a epilogue to furnish a little more resolution to a heartwarming story.  It was never in doubt as to what Peter would do.  So the only real angst here is the family as it faces the reality of his mother’s heartrending future. That they will do it with love and each other’s support is a gift that they will give each other, another certainty that Calmes shares with her readers.

This story was released at Christmas but can be read at any time of the year.  Its message of love and family reaches beyond any holiday celebration.  I love this author and definitely recommend this story for all lovers of contemporary romance.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  This  cover is exquisite.  One of the best of the year.

Book Details:

ebook, 68 pages
Published December 25th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published December 24th 2013)
ISBN 1627984763 (ISBN13: 9781627984768)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.marycalmesauthor.com/

A Touch of Spring, a Ray of Sunshine and the Week Ahead in Review

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Winter-Tree-34870004It’s 60 degrees here today.  The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and thoughts of Spring are crowding into my mind.  I know that February still has to run its course.  And March can and most likely will be blustery and cold.  And yet, and yet.  All this warmth and sunshine is playing games with my head, luring me out to garden centers bare of plants and hardware stores still packed full of snow shovels and sand for the driveway.

There I linger not over the snowblowers and mittens, but the seed packets and starting trays.  The small portable greenhouses and adjustable hoes for tilling around established plants in the gardens.  New feeders and birdbaths beckon, and then even more until I have to flee before I find myself laden down with purchases at the counter.

Instead I am heading off to lunch with our DC Metro Romance Group of authors, publishers, bloggers and readers.  We postponed it already once this month due to snow.  I can’t wait to hear how every one is handling this long winter.  New books, new conferences, time to get caught up.

Here is the week ahead….Its almost March and I hear my gardens calling.

Monday, Feb. 24:           The Experiment by Alicia Nordwell

Tuesday, Feb. 25:           Where You Lead by Mary Calmes

Wed., Feb. 26:                 Jasper’s Mountain by John Inman

Thurs., Feb. 27:               The Prince and the Practitioner by Christian Baines

Friday, Feb. 28:              February 2014 Summary of Reviews, Best Covers of the Month

Sat., March 1:                  Hunter By Blood by Robin White

Scattered Thoughts July 2013 Book Review Summary

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Scattered Thoughts July 2013 Book Review Summaryjulyjpeg

It was an outstanding month with regard to books I read.  So many great books and authors that it made this month a joy to be a reader and reviewer. And even more remarkable is that every one of the 5 star rated books were all part of a great series, whether it was a long established series or a series just getting started.  Mary Calmes released her 7th book in her A Matter of Time series,, Missouri Dalton new Guidebook series promises to be an instant classic for young and old,  Amy Lane made us weep as she  finished up her beloved Promises series, and Kendall McKenna continued to prove she is one of the best military fiction writers I know with her third book in the Recon Diaries series.   And that’s just the tip of the books read and reviewed this month.  So many great stories, truly something for everyone.

All the reviews are linked.  So take a look, see what story you might have missed or new author to add to your must read list.  The bar has been set really high for August.  Just saying.

 

July 2013 Book Review Summary
5 Star Rating:
Birds of a Feather (Bellingham Mysteries #5) by Nicole Kimberling (contemporary romance)
Forever Promised (Promises #4) by Amy Lane (contemporary romance)
Necromancy and You (Guidebooks #2) by Missouri Dalton (YA horror supernatural fiction)
Parting Shot (A Matter of Time #7) by Mary Calmes (contemporary romance)
The Final Line (Recon Diaries #3) by Kendall McKenna (contemporary romance)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:
Attachment Strings (Jeff Woods Mystery #1) by Chris T. Kat (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Fever Anthology by M. Rode (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Grime and Punishment (The Brothers Grime #1) by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5 stars)(contemporary romance)
Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino (4.25 stars)(contemporary romance)
The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest (4.25 stars)(contemporary romance)
Vampirism and You (Guidebooks #1) by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars) (YA horror supernatural)
Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7) by R. J. Scott (4.75 stars)(contemporary romance)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:
Bully For You by Catt Ford (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Love On The East End by Lily Sawyer (3.5 stars)(contemporary romance)
Pick Up Men by L.C. Chase (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Tattoo You by Willa Okati (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Waiting for Ty (Lovers and Friends #2) by Samantha Ann King (3 stars) (contemporary romance)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
Changing Planes by Karenna Colcroft (2 stars) (contemporary romance)

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:
Side Line by Ben Ryder (1.5 stars) (contemporary romance)

Review: Parting Shot (A Matter of Time #7) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Parting Shot coverDet. Duncan Stiel, closeted homicide detective, had a childhood so bad that he never talks about it.  All the events in his past has lead to Duncan growing up as an adult who keeps his personal life and his emotions hidden, including his sexual orientation. Duncan’s reserve and determination to remain closeted has already cost him the only real relationship he has had to date (see Acrobat).  So when Duncan meets and hooks up with Aaron Sutter, billionaire and equally closeted gay man, Duncan thinks that finally he has met a man on the same page emotionally as he is.  No longer will he have to worry that Aaron will want  him to meet family or friends, or even come out of the closet where Duncan is most comfortable, all the things that caused his last relationship to break up.  Duncan is a man consumed by his job, including the need to occasionally go undercover.  The last thing Duncan ever expected was to  find love with Aaron Sutter.

Aaron Sutter has finally realized that Jory will never be his and that it is time to move on.  Duncan Stiel is as far from the type of guys that Aaron normally finds attractive,  Instead of a slender blond twink, the detective is tall, muscular, and an alpha in every way.  And in no time at all, Aaron is smitten, lusting after the detective in a manner so unlike himself that Aaron is astounded at his own behavior. When Duncan is hurt, Aaron has an epiphany that shakes him to the core, making Aaron question the decisions he made in the past.

But Aaron is also involved in a mean, and desperate fight with his father over control of Sutter Enterprises. Staying in the closet and away from Duncan might be the only way he can stay in control.  Duncan too is involved in a criminal case so dangerous that it threatens not only his fragile new relationship with Aaron but their lives as well.  As the obstacles mount up against them,  the men must fight not only against outside influences but their own inner demons as well if they are to find their way to love and a future together.

I love Mary Calmes.  She is a wonderful storyteller who has created a pantheon of characters both memorable and addicting that they have cried out to be included in one book after another.  Parting Shot is not only an addition to A Matter of Time series but incorporates characters from other favorite novels of mine as well, including Mine and Acrobat.   The inclusion of these characters is important in a number of ways in describing why Mary Calmes is so good as what she does.  Both men, Nate and Terrence Moss (also known as Conrad Harris) make only a brief appearance here, but just the mention of their names brings up a well of memories and emotions created by their stories (Acrobat and Mine respectively).  They make an impact despite the brevity of their scenes in Parting Shot because of Mary Calmes’ incredible gift of creating characters we commit to memory and bury deep within our hearts.   Just look at Duncan Stiel and Aaron Sutter.

Both men started out as satellite characters in other stories.  Aaron Sutter was once the boyfriend of Jory Keyes before Sam Kage arrives into the picture.  Aaron continues to flow through their story, a man determined to regain Jory’s affections and then finally as a true friend to be counted on. Hard to make an arrogant billionaire with a predilection for sharing his lovers with other men likable but Calmes made him a complex and ultimately appealing character.  No matter his actions, there was just something about Aaron as created by Calmes that spoke to the reader and garnered their affections.  Aaron just demanded that he have his own story and now he has gotten it, to my absolute delight.

Duncan Stiel was a little harder sell.  He was a complete jerk when he appeared in Acrobat, although handsome, and competent, a complete alpha male.  Parting Shot helps explain Duncan’s behavior by presenting us with his past.  Once we see his traumatic childhood revealed, then those personality traits that made him so unappealing becomes understandable.  Duncan Stiel of Parting Shot is someone the reader connects with on every level.  I just love him.

These two men have arrived independently at the same stage in their lives where they want a real relationship.  Both have Jory and Sam as an example of what they are missing in their lives and what they can attain if only they take a chance and change.  The men meet and fall instantly in lust.  That’s extremely realistic knowing what we do about these men.  But what follows is also just as authentic given their personality traits and their pasts.  They just mesh with each other in almost every way.  I have seen this happen in real life.  When the timing is right, things (and people) just fall into place.  Not the case of “instant love” that appears so often in other stories but a connection based in reality and the personalities of the men involved.  I believed totally in their relationship and feelings towards each other.  It just felt right.

Aaron and Duncan are also an extremely sexy couple.  They are equals in and out of the bed.  I loved that about them as well.  Their sex scenes together are hot, sensual, realistic, and sometimes quite funny.  Aaron is really out of his element here and Mary Calmes incorporates that aspect into their relationship in some wonderfully funny scenes and dialog.  They cracked me up, just amazing.

Duncan is involved in a case with some very dangerous criminals, pulling him undercover yet again several times in the book (including a undercover gig that brings in Marshall Sam Kage). This storyline flows along side one in which Aaron is dealing with his father who is determined to overthrow his son as the head of Sutter Enterprises so the father can resume his control over the company.  The corporate fight Aaron is engaged in is just as critical as the criminal investigation Duncan is engaged in.  Each power struggle and criminal case has ramifications for both men.  It will cause them to examine their closeted lives and determine the paths their lives will take in the future.  Powerful stuff indeed.   And Mary Calmes makes it just as exciting and suspenseful as it sounds.

This is a completely absorbing novel.  Once you pick it up, be prepared to remain situated until you have finished the book.  It pulls you into the lives of Duncan and Aaron and all those around them.  If you are new to the series, it helps to read the preceding books to fully understand the nature of these men and the relationships they had in the past.  Grab up Mine and Acrobat while you are at it.  Have a very merry Mary Calmes sort of weekend!  I highly recommend them all, including Parting Shot.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  I love Dante’s cover but it really doesn’t pertain to this story.  It could be the cover for any number of books and that’s too bad because this story had so many elements that could have been used to make it relevant to the story within.  Consider this cover a misstep.

Here are the books  of A Matter of Time in the order they were written and should be read:

A Matter of Time (#1)

A Matter of Time (#2)

A Matter of Time (#3)

A Matter of Time (#4)

Bulletproof (A Matter of Time #5)

Just Jory (A Matter of Time #5.5)

But For You (A Matter of Time #6)

Parting Shot (A Matter of Time, #7)

A Matter of Time, Vol. 1 (A Matter of Time, #1-2) reworked and reedited

A Matter of Time, Vol. 2 (A Matter of Time, #3-4)reworked and reedited

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published July 19th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808758 (ISBN13: 9781623808754)
series A Matter of Time

Crazy Week Ahead, Ghoulish Cocktail Recipes, and This Week’s Reviews

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Sooooooo, sitting here wondering why I do things that make myself crazy.  I’m really not a masochistic sort, occasionally absent minded but truly, people,  usually I am a better planner than this.  So this week, the alarm people are coming to fix the alarm system that wants to beep, squeak, squeal, or otherwise make high pitched noises at all hours of the day, none of them actually caused by any realtime event. And all are picked up by Captain (African Grey Parrot) who finds these noises irresistible enough to mimic.  So even after they are banished , thanks to Captain’s skill at mimicry, they will always be with us. Cue the Excedrin.

Also this week?  A friend is coming to stay for the week.  I haven’t seen her in a while and I am looking forward to getting caught up on her life (outside of the computer chats) face to face.  So what else is also going on?  My wonderful book group is coming over on Sunday for lunch and togetherness, my niece and her boyfriend just flew in from CA for her birthday and my mother is making noises about a “birthday celebration” for my niece over at the Farm this weekend too.  What aligned among the stars and planets that said all this had to happen this week and weekend?  Hey! *waves hands frantically over head* Can we not do this?  Please?  This is making me crazy.  I  like to do things slowly, think the forward momentum of a sloth.  I enjoy getting ready for events and people the same way.  This is not making me happy.  Sigh.

So I plan on lots of writing today so I don’t have to do that as well.  Here is my schedule for the week if I am not carted off to Bedlam.

Monday, June 22:                    Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino

Tuesday, June 23:                    Parting Shot by Mary Calmes

Wednesday, June 24:              Welcome, Brother by Erica Pike

Thursday, June 25:                 Attachment Strings by Chris T. Kat

Friday, June 26:                       Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) by Missouri Dalton

Saturday, June 27:                   Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

Cocktail Recipes: In honor of Missouri Dalton’s new series which I absolutely adore, here are a couple of scary Cocktails to cool you off:

The Necromancer’s Martini:

Vampire Martini

1 part vodka
1 part strawberry liqueur
1 part lime juice
1 part cranberry juice

Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass to serve.

Vampire Cocktail

Bloody Vampire Cocktail

1 part rum
1 part cherry kool aid

Pour both of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass to serve.

Scattered Thoughts Book Review Summary for June 2013

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june

June 2013 has come and gone but some of the books I read that month continue to linger in my heart and mind, just some outstanding stories. As always, there is something for everyone here, from contemporary to paranormal books, terrific additions to wonderful series.  If you missed them the first time, here is your chance to check them out again:

5 Star Rating:

Hobbled by John Inman

Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Mighty Casey by Willa Okati

One Breath, One Bullet by S.A.McAuley

Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas (4.75 stars) (contemporary)

A Silence Kept by Theo Fenraven (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Aria of the Eclipse by Vivien Dean (4.75 stars)(science fiction)

Flawless by Cat Grant (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Stonewall by Martin Duberman (4.25 stars) (non fiction)

The Hanged Man’s Ghost by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars)(paranormal)

The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton (4.25 stars)(paranormal)(series)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay (3.5 stars) (contemporary)

Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey (3.25 stars) (contemporary)

When Dachshunds Ruled the Serengeti by Michael Murphy (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat (2.75 stars)(contemporary)

The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus (2.75 stars) (contemporary)