A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: With A Kick Collection #1 by Clare London and Joel Leslie (Narrator

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This collection includes Clare London’s first two London-based novellas of the With A Kick series—A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these books—Nice and Snow and Smack Happy.

With a Kick is a new ice cream shop, featuring ice cream for adults, i.e., ice cream made with liquor in a variety of flavors, one of which is named for the shop’s accountant, Bryan, and his new boyfriend, Phiz—Slap and Tickle. Patrick and Lee are the struggling owners who hope to be successful in the little shop located in the heart of London.

Each story is a self-contained romance, but Patrick and Lee are featured in each story that shows the progress of both their relationship and the business.

A Twist and Two Balls— Eduardo Mancini is going to be a star of the London stage. Unfortunately, his alter ego, Eddy March, hasn’t got further than a bit part in a TV series. One day, when he’s late for an audition, he can’t pay his taxi fare, so he runs off and is chased by the irate driver, Nuri.

This is a sweet romance that starts off with antagonism and moves to love between an awkward, self-proclaimed actor and a cab driver, who has a secret profession. I enjoyed the pace of this story and both characters were terrific. Eddie is hysterically funny as he discovers he doesn’t have enough money to pay Nuri. Nuri, on the other hand, comes off as gruff at first, but it turns out he’s got a sweet marshmallow center.

The two have their ups and downs as does Eddie with his career, but in the long run, it’s family that’s important, and family who help both of them, and the two men get to do what they love best and stay with the person they love best—each other.

Slap and Tickle— This short starts right off with a great scene between Brian, the staid accountant for With a Kick, and Phiz, whose name should have been Spaz. Phiz is a fast-talking, can’t-control-his-mouth klutz, who can’t hold a job because of said klutziness. He also suffers from social anxiety, yet he keeps choosing jobs that require socialization. Joel Leslie kicked it out of the ball park with the voice he gives Phiz. Good heavens, it was perfect! I was hooked immediately, so I was along for the ride as he and Brian got to know each other and began to share their most intimate desires.

This story has a mild BDSM theme and when Brian’s dominant side comes out, Phiz calms and quiets as he finally met a man who can give him what he needs.

Nice and Snow is the first short story—which is actually quite long—and features Nuri and Eddie during their first Christmas season. Nuri is now brushing up on law studies so he can pass the bar exam, and Eddie is working as an actor in a comedy show. Right up his alley, his natural sense of humor has made him very popular.

The story centers on their individual memories of holiday seasons and their plans for this first one. Of course, Nuri’s family wants them to share with them, but Eddie insists they start their own memories because his memories of Santa, Saint Nick, Baba Noel, or whatever name is used are not good ones.

A surprise cab fare and a short ride across town brings both men their Christmas wishes come true. It also leaves them realizing they may have to rethink their beliefs in the jolly old elf. A great story, it provides a nice closure to Nuri and Eddie’s story.

Smack Happy

A delightful short, short story about my favorite character, Phiz, and his Dom, Brian. Phiz is patiently—or impatiently—waiting for Brian to finish his work so he can give Brian a Valentine’s Day gift. Brian finally gives up trying to get anything done when Phiz’s antsy movements and constant interruptions make it clear Bryan had better pay attention to his boy. When Phiz presents him with his gift, the two try it out and find that a good smack on the rear was exactly what Phiz needed to make him happy and peaceful. Add in a taste of Slap and Tickle, the ice cream treat the guys at With a Kick created in their honor, and it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day for these sweethearts. Very cute and a perfect ending for this very nice audio.

Joel Leslie was, as usual, outstanding, and the stories were intriguing and fun. This audiobook sped by and I’m looking forward to the next edition in the series that should be released soon.

Highly recommended.

The cover features a handsome young man and there’s a sweet treat obviously created at the With a Kick ice cream shop in the bottom right corner.

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Audiobook Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Jocular Press
Audible.com Release Date: June 20, 2018
Language: English
ASIN: B07DVRZ7SY

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Wild Ride (The Bullriders #1) by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Typical of Andrew Grey, this story had an underlying sweetness to it, even though the MC was a macho bull rider. Dante was a great character who snagged my heart with his need to let go of control to the young man he meets at a bar the night he loses first place at the championship event. Ryan, a financial advisor, was there that night simply because he accompanied his friend Jacky, and little did he know that the good-looking cowboy he takes to his bed is famous.

Ryan gets Dante to give up his control, to submit to the more dominant man, and Dante is shocked that he enjoys it. Of course, later he’s embarrassed and does what he can to put miles between the men. And then Ryan shows up at his ranch to meet with Dante’s grandfather about financial issues his granddad wants kept private, and Dante is thrown for a loss.

The push pull of this romance was spiced up with a little D/s and a lot of rodeo. There was also the hurt-comfort theme as Dante’s grandfather’s health deteriorated rapidly and Dante was committed to his care. And there’s the surprise reveal that the Ryan is advising his grandfather about his desire to sell the ranch and the resulting backlash from that—all of which fans the drama. And last but not least, there’s the fact that Dante being gay has been confirmed in the media and he’s in danger of losing his major sponsor.

There’s a lot to this story and it’s very well-paced. Both characters were likable and perfect for each other. Narrator John Solo did an outstanding job with the voices, including the frail, old man, and made it easy to follow the story. In fact, this one was so interesting that I devoured it in two days—not my usual pattern for an audiobook but it was fun to listen to so I found excuses to keep my wireless earphones in. It was a definite treat.

I recommend this to lovers of mild BDSM, rodeo lovers, and simply those who enjoy a great audiobook that ends with a sweet HEA for two men in love.

Cover art: L.C. Chase has the perfect cover for this story.  Love the characters and the composition.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Published February 27th 2018 (first published April 1st 2013)
Original TitleA Wild Ride
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Bullriders #1

Book Blitz: Sound of Us by A.M. Arthur (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Sound of Us

Series: Us #2

Author: A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Briggs-King Books

Release Date: April 21, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 304 pages

Genre: Gay Romance

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Synopsis

Jake Bowden didn’t expect to be settling into a strong, loving relationship with another guy at only twenty-three years old—never mind with two. His chemistry with Cris is as strong as ever, while things with Charles are more like a simmer than a heavy boil. Charles says he’s perfectly content to go at Jake’s pace, but Jake isn’t sure slow is what he wants anymore. And when Jake wants something, he isn’t shy about going after it.

Cris Sable is head-over-heels in love with the two men in his life, and he’s vowed to do everything he can to protect the fragile, three-way relationship they’re cultivating—even if it means lying about his past. A dark past that resurfaces in an unexpected way and forces Cris to make the difficult choice between shielding Jake and Charles from it, or trusting them enough to help him face it head-on.

Charles Greenwood had forgotten what it felt like to be loved, until a feisty go-go boy and an ex-porn star fell into his bed, and then stole his heart away. He loves both men equally, but differently, slowly stoking the fire of the chemistry he shares with Jake, while passionately pursuing Cris—both in and out of bed. Their lives are entwining in the very best way…until Cris starts to pull away, distancing himself from the loving support of their triad. And after Cris disappears one night on a drunken bender, Charles vows to do whatever it takes to prove to Cris that he can trust them with anything—mind, body and spirit.

Three separate hearts will finally beat as one.

Note: This is the continuation of an m/m/m romance begun in Here For Us and is best read in order to fully enjoy the character and story development. The book also contains mild BDSM elements, including spanking.

Excerpt

Jake swallowed hard before facing Chet. “I want to move back to Benny’s apartment for a while, so I can prove I can function on my own and manage my meds, and that all of my progress isn’t going to go away if you guys aren’t here twenty-four-seven to prop me up.”

Chet’s frown softened into a fond smile. “I think that’s a very mature decision, Jake.”

“You do?”

“Very much so. In fact, I’ve been struggling with a way to bring this up myself.”

Jake edged backward a step. “You want me to leave?”

“Quite the opposite.” Chet invaded Jake’s personal space, trapping Jake between the island and his taller body. He hunched down to meet Jake’s eyes and planted both hands on the countertop behind Jake. “I love you here, in my house and in my bed. But I brought you here knowing it was temporary, and now that you’re managing your illness, you need to start managing your life again.”

“Yeah,” Jake said.

“So if you leave, I want you to leave knowing you will always be welcome back.”

“Thank you.” Jake’s lips curled into a sexy smirk. “Plus, us living in different places means we can go on, like, real dates. You and me don’t really do a lot just the two of us.”

“That’s true, and we can most certainly manage dates. I’d love to spend time with you outside of this house.”

“But what about other people knowing that all three of us are dating?” He squirmed enough that Chet stepped back, giving him space.

“What about it?” Chet asked. “Even if the three of us went out to a meal in a nice restaurant, no one would know we were together unless we began swapping kisses at the table.”

The mental image of the three of them dressed up and making out in a fancy restaurant made Cris’s dick twitch with interest. He’d never do it, but goddamn, he wanted to publicly claim these two amazing, passionate men as his, and no one else’s.

“I guess.” Jake didn’t sound happy about the idea of their threesome being discovered, and that hurt a little bit.

“Are you embarrassed to be dating two men at once?” Cris asked.

“Not really. I mean, it isn’t that I’m embarrassed by you guys. It’s just that this is so…abnormal.”

Cris flinched.

“Shit, that’s the wrong word,” Jake said. He pushed away from the counter and stalked to the kitchen table. Grabbed the back of a chair but didn’t turn around. “Chet explained polyamory to me and I get it. I do. But not everyone else will. Most people won’t.”

“That didn’t seem to be an issue when we started this weeks ago,” Cris said, confused by this new hesitation in Jake. And frustrated at talking to his back. “Will you look at us, please?”

Jake turned, arms crossed, a familiar look of defiance on his face.

“I think I understand,” Chet said. “Jake leaving moves this relationship outside of these four walls. It’s no longer protected. No longer hidden from outside scrutiny and criticism.”

“But that’s going to have to happen at some point,” Cris said. “We can’t hide forever, and we shouldn’t have to.” They’d already been hiding for weeks, and all Cris wanted to do was shout to the rooftops about how lucky he was.

“I know that, okay?” Jake snapped. “I just…I’m a go-go dancer, you know? People hear that and automatically assume I’m some kind of slut, so what will they think if they know I’m seeing two guys at once? Uber-slut dancer, aisle threesome?”

“You know you aren’t a slut, so why does it matter so much what other people think?”

Jake took three strides forward, hands balled at his sides, unexpected anger blazing in his eyes. “That’s easy for you to say. You’re this big, buff dude who can shut people up with a glare, and you’re comfortable with people looking at you. You did porn, for fuck’s sake. And maybe I dance half-naked for money, but that doesn’t mean I want people staring at my personal life and dissecting it. It’s too private for that.”

Cris frowned. “Just because I did porn doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with people getting up in my personal life either. Why the hell do you think I used a stage name? Yeah, I showed off my naked body, but Dane wasn’t me, Jake. Internet subscribers don’t get the real me. You guys do.”

“So if you don’t want people up in our business, either, why don’t you get what I’m saying?” Jake was coiled tight, one wrong word away from bursting into tears.

Cris had to fix this. “I do get what you’re saying. I guess I see our relationship differently. I don’t see it as this weird, bizarre thing that people are going to examine under a microscope like we’re a new strain of bacteria. I’m so goddamn proud to be with both of you, and I want to show it. I want people to know you guys are mine and that I love you. I can’t do that if we’re hiding in this house.”

A single tear slipped down Jake’s cheek, and the sight of it broke Cris’s heart a little bit. He swept Jake into his arms, grateful that Jake didn’t struggle or protest the hug. “I’m sorry,” Cris whispered. “I’m sorry I can’t say the right thing, I’m sorry.”

“You said the right thing,” Jake said into his armpit. “I’m the emotional mess who gets weepy over the way you say ‘I love you’.”

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Meet the Author

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

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