A MelanieM Review:The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.

I just love The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara.  It’s a first for me by this author.  I picked it up because I was intrigued by the cover and the description.  At the time I had no idea it was part of a series.  I had to find that out once I went scrabbling for more information at Goodreads for information about the author and found that there was a story that preceded this one.  Too late, I was already heavily involved with Cooper Dayton, Oliver Park, and Cooper’s visit home.

I’ll tell you immediately Adhara’s characterizations are amazing.  Layered, complex, and highly interesting people/beings emerge immediately from the story.  I didn’t have to read the first novel to get into the stress filled  relationship and shaky dynamics that is the partnership, personal and professional, between Cooper and Oliver.  It’s like being close to quiet lightning. it crackles and you don’t want to look away from the energy.

They are struggling to figure out how to emerge from what was clearly a disastrous event.  Cooper’s ex partner and his unwitting involvement  in his corrupt affairs.  Yes, this will send me running back to that first story but I didn’t feel I needed it to read this book.  I got enough information to feel satisfied that I had sufficient groundwork here to go on.

A call from Cooper’s family and  an invitation from Cooper for Oliver to accompany him seems like a good idea until a body is found under the gazebo in his family’s backyard.

How Adhara builds this case, all the emotions, the labyrinthine path filled with clues, old personal history, memories both good and bad is incredible.  The author builds it around Cooper’s family, his memories of his childhood, and his tenuous connections to his father in present time.  All the while as he and Oliver try to figure out where they stand with each other.  And keep Oliver’s identity as a werewolf from the family.  I did say that, didn’t I?

I’m so in love with this author and story.  I  need the next book in the series to arrive.  I guess the first story will have to do until then.

Love shifters?  Murder mysteries?  And romances?  Why not combine all three?  Pick up one beautifully written story with outstanding characters and a romance you will go crazy over in The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Cover art is simply and relevant from a scene in the story.  Love it.

Sales Links | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488089367
SeriesBig Bad Wolf #2

A MelanieM Review: A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In the first full-length novel of the Boystown series, it’s late summer 1982 and private detective Nick Nowak is asked to find a retired gentleman’s long lost lover. Instead, he finds himself embroiled in a decades old murder connected to the man who wants to be Chicago’s next mayor.

Meanwhile, an ambitious young reporter develops a friendship with Nick’s lover Bert, making Nick wonder exactly where their relationship may be heading.

 

Nick Novak has never quite dealt with the traumatic assault that outed him to the  Chicago PD, cost him not only his job on the force but his lover who was violently beaten in the gay bashing. A tragedy where suspects were never arrested or looked for because the victims were homosexuals.  His lover blamed him for his closeted state and being part of the PD.  His guilt, his inability to protect the one he loved? And being the one not to face years of reconstructive surgery?  All took  its toll emotionally, professionally, and mentally.

Its why NIck is a PI, estranged from most of his family, and still not able to put his past completely to rest.

Now it comes home again when an elderly man asks Nick to find a lover he made a connection with long ago.  Turns out he also has a connection with Nick.  He was the one to call Chicago PD when he witnessed Nick and his lover being attacked, and perhaps kept them from being killed.  Nick’s past and this man’s are intertwined in ways Nick is just beginning to understand.

A Time For Secrets is a dark, gritty tale.  We’ve been moving deeper into this territory with each story as the 80’s progress.  Its 1982 now.  We’ve gone from a mention of a gay flu to a mysterious virus to GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) which Harker, Nick’s Chicago PD lover, was diagnosed with.  Now they are starting to call it  AIDS while searching for answers and, of course, preventative measures.  Yes, people are starting to think they should use condoms.

Nick is still very much Nick, who is trying to handle a lover who is probably dying (although no one is saying anything), his lover’s mother (who hates Nick and blames him for Harker’s illness), and his feelings towards both Harker and the idea of commitment. While it should be work that directs his attention away from the personal issues, this case continues to direct it back, as it pulls in his  family members with their ties to the police and his past.

Thornton’s writing is fast paced and smooth for all the intricacies of plot and heavy emotional heft of this story.  Parts of it will just plan old out and out hurt to read.  That’s because these characters and their plight have become or do feel so real over the course of this story.  It may be the 80’s, but bigotry and hate know no decade.  Nor does AIDS and impending loss.

This story and series makes it all believable, vivid, and immediate again.

As it does to corruption and politics.  Also so timely.

A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton is another brilliant story in the Boystown series.  There are ten books in all.  They are moving, dark, sometimes hard to read, and bring forth a character and perspective that’s not to be missed.  I highly recommend both this book and the entire series.

Cover art brands the series although would not be my pick for a cover.

Sales Link:  Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published January 23rd 2015 (first published March 30th 2012)
ASINB00R1OTW98
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #4

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREOR

A Release Day Review: MelanieM Review of Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Dirty HeartFinal book in the Dirty Series arc.

Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

What a magnificent story!  Even with all the intricacies, cultural layering and mysteries that have flowed through all the stories of the Cole McGinnis series, really none can prepare you for this book.  Its just that powerful and emotionally wrenching.

The big mystery and heartache at the center of this series has been why  Cole McGinnis’s  cop partner on the force and close friend/brother shot Cole and killed his lover.  It was an act of betrayal that Cole never quite recovered from, even with his strong and passionate love for Jae-Min Kim.  Like that saying that all roads eventually lead home, Rhys Ford has been leading Cole and the readers back to the beginning where Cole will find out the answers to the violent action that shattered his life.  This is that book.

Little by little, more things from Cole’s past find him again.  Some are indescribably wonderful and moving, some heartbreaking, and raw.  You never know from page to page which element Rhys Ford is going to serve up, what you can be certain is that it will piece your heart, make you weep with either joy or pain with the believable anguish that Cole is going through, along with his family and loved ones.  There are some devastating events here, sometimes one after another.  After a while I thought I had become inured.

I was so wrong.

Its because Rhys Ford writes so beautifully that her characters resonate so with the reader, as does the pain and emotional turmoil they are going through.  Here emotions, thoughts, even rage that Cole had imagined he had buried rise up, overwhelming him, and the reader in the process.  At parts, the story is so moving, I had to stop reading, because I couldn’t see the Kindle any more through the tears.  I don’t think anything  can prepare you for parts of this book.

The  relationships here are deepened, even more realistic than ever as certain elements are revealed about peoples lives, the comedy that is a hallmark of this author ‘s writing and this series is ever present, a necessary levity when the angst threatens to swamp us and the lives involved.  Clowns and llamas are a perfect pairing and I can only imagine how Rhys Ford saw that.

Rhys Ford is not one to give up the mystery easily.  Its been years in the making so its a heart-racing, white knuckle, fast paced scary race at towards the end. What a shocker!  I did not see that coming, even after all those books, so well done, Rhys Ford.  That was  really a great twist. Then you went on and delivered further. How worthwhile an ending.  Its superb.  Ford really pulls it all together.  First a shocker, then a summation, and then a epilogue that will leaving you giddy with joy.

Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford is one spectacular book. Never has her characters been more nuanced, more moving and real.  The story includes stunning narrative explosions, a conclusion to a convoluted mystery spun over 6 stories and characters that will never leave me.  This jumps to into Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word’s Top Ten Rec list.  Its February so for you readers still new to the series, you have plenty of time to read through the series before the book comes out in March.  Pay no attention to anyone trying to spoil this book for you.  No no NO!  Its too good a tale for that.  Make sure you pick it up fresh!  But pick it up you must!  Highly Recommended as is the series.

Cover artist Reese Notley does a wonderful job with the cover and branding the series.

Sales Links coming in March

Book Details:

Expected publication: March 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleDIrty Heart
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCole McGinnis #6

Cole McGinnis Series:

A MelanieM Review: Whiskey and Wry (Sinners #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

He was dead. And it was murder most foul. If erasing a man’s existence could even be called murder.

Whiskey and Wry coverWhen Damien Mitchell wakes, he finds himself without a life or a name. The Montana asylum’s doctors tell him he’s delusional and his memories are all lies: he’s really Stephen Thompson, and he’d gone over the edge, obsessing about a rock star who died in a fiery crash. His chance to escape back to his own life comes when his prison burns, but a gunman is waiting for him, determined that neither Stephen Thompson nor Damien Mitchell will escape.

With the assassin on his tail, Damien flees to the City by the Bay, but keeping a low profile is the only way he’ll survive as he searches San Francisco for his best friend, Miki St. John. Falling back on what kept him fed before he made it big, Damien sings for his supper outside Finnegan’s, an Irish pub on the pier, and he soon falls in with the owner, Sionn Murphy. Damien doesn’t need a complication like Sionn, and to make matters worse, the gunman—who doesn’t mind going through Sionn or anyone else if that’s what it takes kill Damien—shows up to finish what he started.

Rhys Ford’s Sinner’s Gin pulled me in.  It made me love the characters, setting and plot. But with Whiskey and Wry everything just got better.  In Whiskey and Wry , the author dug deeper, added layers guaranteed to shock with nasty twists and turns, introduced Sionn Murphy, a character that will connect the remaining members of Sinner’s Gin and the clan Morgan in multiple ways.  And Ford brings back to life Damien Mitchell, Miki’s “brother” and band member everyone thinks is dead.

That shocker and twist does many things to the series.  It gives Miki back the other half of his “story” and presents the band with enough members to start thinking about going forward again if they are emotionally ready to.  All these factors definitely enrich the plot as well as deepen all the characterizations.

And on top of that, Ford has the mysteries (yes, plural) that Damien, Miki, and the Morgan clan, including Sionn Murphy (a Finnegan on Brigid’s side) have to solve and solve quickly as the bodies and body parts start to mount up once more.

I love the way Rhys Ford writes.  At times it flows like quicksilver.  It flashes, and darts, moving so fluidly and quickly that your mind must race along with it, especially when it comes to the villeins and their plotting against Damien.

Sionn and Damien are the primary couple but, no one or relationship stands alone in this series.  With their wounds they can’t.  So Miki and Kane, Donal (father) and Brigid (mother), and all the various siblings make their very necessary appearances as buttresses to the soul and heart. The support they provide in the storyline along with the amazing sense of synergy gives Whiskey and Wry, and all the stories of the Sinners series that outrageous spark, angst,  deep love, and dangerous appeal that will draw a  reader back again and again.

I loved this story.  The danger, the suspense, the sex and warmth.  Everything about it except that it had to end. Now I’m on to the next in the series.  I can’t wait for more of the Morgan clan the men they come to love.

Cover artist Reece Notley again does a great job with the characters while branding the series.  Love it.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 254 pages
Published August 19th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleWhiskey and Wry
ASINB00EN9487K
edition languageEnglish
seriesSinners #2

Sinners Series: