An Ali Audio Review: No Tears for Darcy by Vicki Reese and Brock Hatton (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Letting love pass them by would be a crime.

Former forensic accountant Cameron has lost nearly everyone he’s ever loved, and now his vintage clothing shop has been broken into and trashed. When town police chief Will Carson asks an out-of-town cop friend of his for help, Cam takes one look at the dark-haired, blue-eyed detective and knows he’s in real trouble—and it has nothing to do with vandalism or murder.

Pete Minchelli is on leave from his job in Philadelphia due to a gunshot wound, but he figures he can help an academy buddy with some light police work. Plus, he’ll have a chance to experience small-town life. He’s tired of the big city and all its corruption. But he quickly discovers that not all the bad stuff happens in cities. What he doesn’t expect to find is death, treachery—or love.

This was a romantic suspense with a pretty entertaining plotline.  The story is told from multiple points of view.  This is not something that always works for me but in this case I found myself enjoying see the story unfold through the various character’s eyes.
I liked both Cam and Pete and I thought their romance was lovely.  It was sweet and I really liked the two of them together.  They had what I would consider a happily for now. I would definitely like to read a short story about them down the road.
This was narrated by Brock Hatton who was a new narrator for me.  I thought he had a nice voice and did a good job on the different characters and the different points of view.
Overall I really enjoyed this and would recommend it. Both the author and narrator were new to me but I would try both of their works again.
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Audiobook Details:
Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
Audible Audio
Published September 13th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published April 3rd 2018)
Original Title No Tears for Darcy
ASIN B07GVRFNKN
Edition Language English

David C. Dawson on story location, writing, and his new release ‘For the Love of Luke’ (author guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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For the Love of Luke by David C. Dawson
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host David C. Dawson here today on tour for his latest story For the Love of Luke. Welcome, David.

Thank you so much to Scattered Thoughts and Words for letting me stop by!

For the Love of Luke is a story of love, and has been a work of love for me. Not just the wonderful heroes Rupert and Luke, but also the British locations they visit in the book.

One of them is Middle Claydon, a village in Buckinghamshire where Rupert’s parents live. The village actually exists and I live about fifteen miles away from this beautiful spot. It’s a very romantic area to go walking, and there are three other Claydon hamlets nearby; Botolph Claydon, East Claydon and Steeple Claydon.

As described in the book, Claydon House was the ancestral home of the Verney family since 1620.

In the nineteenth century, Florence Nightingale’s sister Parthenope married the then Lord Verney and lived here. And that’s why Florence Nightingale often stayed at Claydon House. She wrote her seminal book Notes on Nursing here. Historians say she preferred the company of women to men, but lived a chaste life. According to her own writings, there were three women she loved dearly in her life. In the nineteenth century, there was no understanding or belief that a woman could be a lesbian.

If you ever get to visit Buckinghamshire, go find this beautiful spot. The surrounding countryside is lush and green, and the pretty church of All Saints is in the grounds of Claydon House.

 

About For the Love of Luke

A handsome naked man. Unconscious on a bathroom floor.

He’s lost his memory, and someone’s out to kill him.

Who is the mysterious Luke?

British TV anchor and journalist Rupert Pendley-Evans doesn’t do long-term relationships. Nor does he do waifs and strays. But Luke is different. Luke is a talented American artist with a dark secret in his life.

When Rupert discovers Luke, he’s intrigued, and before he can stop himself, he’s in love. The aristocratic Rupert is an ambitious TV reporter with a nose for a story and a talent for uncovering the truth. As he falls deeper in love with Luke, he discovers the reason for Luke’s amnesia. And the explanation puts them both in mortal danger.

EXCERPT:

The leathers Rupert brought for Luke were a snug fit. They clung tight to almost every part of his body. Luke admired himself in the full-length mirror. He turned side on. They felt good. He had to admit it. They looked damn good. Tight, black leather jeans enhanced the bulk of his thighs and the narrowness of his waist. They sagged a bit in the ass, but Rupert explained that was necessary to allow Luke to sit comfortably on the motorbike. Luke turned up the collar of the black leather jacket and closed the zips on both sleeves. Kevlar protective panels in the back, sleeves, and shoulders of the jacket filled out the upper part of his torso, adding bulk to his hours of work in the gym. He crossed to the bed and sat to pull on the reinforced bike boots, fasten their zips and Velcro covers.

Luke smoothed his hands across the surface of the leather stretched tight across his thighs and grinned at a stirring in his groin. The sensation both surprised and pleased him. He stood, and the rigid shape of the boots forced him to lean forward, like a skier about to descend a black run. He attempted to stand straight, the upper part of his body compensating for the enforced bend in his knees. The jeans pulled tight against his crotch, and his cock rose to the stimulation of the leather hugging his body.

“Sexy man.” Rupert’s voice came from the doorway. Luke turned. Rupert wore a one-piece racing suit made of red leather. White leather panels stitched into it enhanced the shape of his torso and legs. He crossed the bedroom to stand behind Luke at the mirror and placed his hands on Luke’s thighs. “I’ve not worn those leathers for a long time.” He studied Luke’s reflection in the mirror with an admiring grin. “They fit you really well. How do they feel?”

Luke took Rupert’s hands in his and pulled them to wrap around his waist. “They’re making me horny,” replied Luke. “I was getting a hard-on just standing here, even before you came in.”

Rupert slipped his hand down and caressed the front of Luke’s leathers. “And now you’re rapidly outgrowing those jeans. By the second, it feels like.”

He placed both hands on Luke’s shoulders and pulled him gently forward. He bent his head and kissed the side of Luke’s neck, slowly and tenderly, his tongue warm and moist against Luke’s skin. “I want you right now, the way you look and feel,” breathed Rupert. “But we’ve got to get moving. It should take us only an hour and a half to get there. Come on.”

About the Author

DAVID C. DAWSON

David C. Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay heroes in love. His debut novel The Necessary Deaths is published by DSP Publications and was described as “a real page turner”. It won Bronze for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews called it “an exciting read with complex characters”.

The Deadly Lies is the second book in the series and came out last December.

For the Love of Luke is David’s third book. His fourth comes out in 2019.

David lives near Oxford in the UK, with his ageing Triumph motorbike and two cats.

LINKS:

Website: www.davidcdawson.co.uk

Dreamspinner Press book: http://bit.ly/ForTheLoveOfLuke

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.c.dawson.5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/david_c_dawson

Giveaway

Answer this simple question and you’ll have the chance to win a digital copy of For the Love of Luke! Email your answer with your name to: david@davidcdawson.co.uk. Competition closes on midnight October 16, 2018.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Question: In For the Love of Luke, what’s the name of the English village where Rupert’s parents live?

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Unlikely Hero by Sean Michael and Jeff Gelder (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Eric doesn’t know where else to turn when his daughter is kidnapped, so he calls on his powerful ex-lover, Brock. Brock never expected to hear from Eric again, but he never got over the man, either. When Eric comes to him to help find the three-year-old Josie, there’s no way Brock can turn him down. He has the money and the contacts Eric needs, and he can’t let Eric walk out of his life again. Not after all these years.

Brock has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. Together, Eric and Josie turn Brock’s world upside down while they work with police and private security to find the people who took Josie, and to keep Eric and Josie safe while they do. Even as they get to know each other again, Brock has to fight the feelings he still has for Eric, at least for time being, which just makes it all that much harder. Can Eric and Brock find out who wants to hurt them before it’s too late, or will Brock fall off his pedestal as Eric’s hero?

I had read Unlikely Hero by Sean Michael when it first came out and thoroughly enjoyed the story then so I was curious to revisit it in audiobook format.

It had been some time so the audiobook made the story fresh again.    I love tales with ex lovers getting that second chance at love and Unlikely Hero certainly has that with Eric turning to Brock for help  after nine years because his daughter has been kidnapped.  We get an extremely emotional setup that eventually leads to their breakup details later as they work on getting Josie back.

Brock is all big, strong, hugely rich, and gorgeous man…he all but has the word hero written on his chest.  Eric is the more vulnerable high school teacher who broke it off years ago because he wanted a “normal life”, read that one outside that of a multi-millionaire, with a house in the burbs with kids.  He now has that child who has been kidnapped for no reason anyone can understand.

The rest of the novel seeks to unravel the mystery behind Josie’s kidnapped and watching Brock, and Eric reconnect, and try to figure out how to move forward as a couple, and then as a family with Josie.  Josie, a three year old, is a major character here.  I found her far more successful in the novel than here in the audiobook.  That’s due primarily to the narrator.

Narrating the voices of children accurately is incredibly tough.  You either nail it or you don’t.  And imo, Jeff Gelder just can’t get a child’s voice right.  Josie comes off sounding more like a elderly woman than a three-year old, which is very disconcerting.  Not only does she sound “older” than she is., but it comes dangerously close to being portrayed like a comedy routine because of the disconnect between the voice and the character.  That’s too bad because Gelder’s other voices are just fine for the men he’s playing.

Other factors that seem highlightered here that   perhaps I didn’t notice in the other format?  The length of time it took for the police to put all the clues and details together to catch the perpetrator seemed odd and too long.  I can’t remember.  Maybe the book was written back in 2009, so forensics was less advanced than now and that’s hard to remember when the audiobook comes out in 2018.  But when you start to focus on things that annoy you like a badly done child’s voice, then other elements start to pop up as well.  Funny how that happens.

Still, Unlikely Hero is a sweet contemporary romance with a child firmly at the center.  Love that element?  Then you are sure to love this story.  You might want to read it, however, instead of listening to it.  Jeff Gelder’s “Daddy B, Daddy B” after a while was downright irritating instead of endearing as it was in the story.  What a sham

Cover art: LC Chase is just adorable and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Second Edition
Published March 2nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 2009)
Original TitleUnlikely Hero
ASINB07B4GW8Z9
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tramps and Thieves (Murder and Mayhem #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.

He’s back! That angst-filled, ready to run, totally addicting thief Rook Martin and the cop that loves him Dante Montoya in Tramps and Thieves, the second story in Rhys Ford’s Murder and Mayhem series.  Damn, am I happy about that!

Picking up from the tenuous beginnings of a relationship for himself and Dante amid the broken building of Rook’s business in book 1, Murder and Mayhem, Rook dives headlong into trouble by trying to pull off a prank and ends up falling on a corpse instead.  The complications and clues pointing back to Rook being not only involved in the crime but head suspect pile up immediately.  That pulls in his boyfriend and local detective Dante Montoya.

And where’s there’s Dante, there is also his wonderful Uncle Manny who now works for Rook, Rook’s crazy rich grandfather who engenders ambivalent feelings of love, hate and more from Rook, all the many other Martins…lazy, losers, haters, a few loving cousins, and a rich city’s worth of characters that flow out of the head of Ford and into this carnival of lies, double twists and turns, smoke games and so much more.  I love the way the author keeps us guessing along with Rook and Dante.  Ford builds suspense and anticipation into every turn of this murder mystery, there’s so many layers here, made up of pain-filled pasts, twisted family dynamics and more.

But back to the superb characterizations.  You can’t choose just one to highlight because Ford has crafted each so carefully.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s Dante, or Rook, or Manny or the frightening grandfather.  They have an authentic depth to them, they ooze passion and love and fear and yes, intelligence.  I believe in these people.  You will too.

Finally, Ford give a nod to one of my favorite books (if you haven’t read any of Dashiell Hammett’s stories do so now) and movies (Humphrey Bogart, I’ll say no more), The Maltese Falcon with an element here in the story.  Be still my heart.  It’s just perfect.

Can you read this as a stand alone?  Maybe.  But why would you?  Go read the first story, Murder and Mayhem and then run and pick up the marvelous Tramps and Thieves.  I can’t wait to see where Rhys Ford is taking this series next.  It and it’s author are both highly recommended.  But if I could put in a word for a romance for Uncle Manny please?

Cover art by Reece Notley.  Again its Dante, not Rook on the cover.  I miss Rook but he would be a hard character to find a match for.  Dante is much more easily matched.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Tramps and Thieves
ISBN139781640800380
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Murder and Mayhem #2
Characters Rook Stevens, Dante Montoya

In our Author and New Release Spotlight: Cemeteries by Moonlight (States of Love) by Hunter Frost (author interview)

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Cemeteries by Moonlight (States of Love) by Hunter Frost
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Available for Pre-order Links:

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Hunter Frost here today.  Welcome, Hunter.  Please tell us about yourself, and your latest release, Cemeteries by Moonlight:

Many thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for giving me the floor today. I’m thrilled to answer a few questions in hopes that you’ll get to know me and my work a little better. Also, I’m excited to promote my newest release – Cemeteries by Moonlight – that drops on January 18th. This book will be my first from Dreamspinner Press and part of the States of Love series. I was incredibly fortunate to claim Louisiana and craft my story around the ever-intriguing French Quarter. Cemeteries by Moonlight is a murder mystery with a cast of quirky characters anchored by the romance of a crime fiction writer and a cemetery tour guide. I consider it delightfully noir with a paranormal edge, and I loved writing it.

  

Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

From everywhere and everything. Inspiration is such an interesting creature. I am inspired every day by any number of objects (like art, furniture, landscapes, slot machines), experiences (like walking in the park, driving, shopping, flying, hiking, eating at a buffet), or media (movies, music, books, or Twitter)… I could go on. It’s the spark that ignites when I say to myself, what if…And voila, a story is born!

For my most current release, Cemeteries by Moonlight, I was inspired by my many trips to New Orleans. I’ve been there with friends, boyfriends, and even met a guy there I’d only previously talked to on the internet (who ended up having a glass eye and working as a car salesman – but I digress). I have walked the streets of the French Quarter at both ten at night and five in the morning. I’ve eaten beignets at Café Du Monde. I’ve been propositioned by prostitutes and given a lap dance by a man in drag. I’ve also felt the bitter cold in St. Louis Cemetery in February. The place can be magical and yet painfully real at the same time and I knew I’d have to use it one day as the setting of a story.

Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?

I’m a hardcore planner all the way. I could plan for years if I let myself. Thankfully, I’ve cut back on that I think my planning obsession stems from feeling like I have some sort of control when the characters are speaking to me in such a cacophony of voices. That said, keeping a thorough outline doesn’t mean I don’t allow for change. Quite the contrary, for with that outline down I can be pulled several different directions and follow those unlikely paths, if I so desire. Because I know that down the road if something breaks or falls flat, I can always come back to the original plan. Planning functions as a safety net. I don’t mind taking the leap, if I know I won’t die a horrible death miscalculating the jump.

Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

Obviously I’m drawn to mystery and paranormal as evidenced by my newest book. Something about danger and suspense gets me going. Fear is a crazy sexy thing at times and it’s fun to play with in novels. I also love contemporary because it’s natural and comfortable when it comes to reading and writing. But I really do adore historicals. I’m a history geek with an MA in British history and regularly read Victorian and Regency era romance. The language, the fashion, and the culture are all so achingly beautiful. One day I have plans to write a couple historicals, but I know I would anguish over minute details that most wouldn’t care about. If I can manage to let the little things go, I might be able to get them published by 2050 😉

Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

My parents read to me from very early on and I soon grew to read voraciously on my own. In my formative pre-teen years I was in love with suspense novels like those of R.L. Stine. But I’m not talking Goosebumps. The books I read were from the late eighties and geared toward a slightly older teen. Point was the publisher and my favorite author was Richie Tankersley Cusick. Her stories always had murder, mystery, romance, and chill-inducing suspense. I read them on the edge of my seat and I could never guess who was the killer. To this day, I’ll pick one of her books up to study how she managed to keep me hooked from the first page to the last.

I’m still learning, but I do believe practice makes perfect. So expect more mystery, suspense, and always romance from me in the future.

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Cemeteries by Moonlight

By Hunter Frost

When a serious bout of writer’s block threatens to delay mystery author Drew Daniels’s newest book, his aunt offers her New Orleans apartment in the heart of the French Quarter as a writing retreat. She neglects to mention that it’s occupied by the enigmatic and sexy Finn Murphy, a cemetery tour guide with a penchant for Victorian attire and a Cajun accent.

A body discovered in an open crypt forces reclusive Drew to deal with Finn’s eccentric group of friends and his underlying attraction to the hot Cajun—despite warnings about Finn’s violent past. Drew might write this stuff, but he’s never had to solve a real-life murder. With a deadline looming and a killer on the loose, this retreat is proving to be anything but helpful for Drew’s novel. Drew can only hope he won’t end up a tragic tale for the Ghostly Legends & Lore, Inc. haunted tour. 

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Release Date: January 18, 2017

About the Author

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Hunter’s early addiction to the smell of printed books led her to spend most of her childhood in libraries and bookstores. There she fell in love with stories featuring medieval castles, ghosts, and handsome heroes. Though writing has always been a part of her life, after college she went on to explore careers in graphic design, the culinary arts, and dog grooming before returning to graduate school to get her MA in British history. To pay the bills she spends her days working for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but to appease her overactive muse, she writes the kind of fiction that keeps her sane. She adores romance in all forms, but prefers her stories with two heroes that find their happily-ever-after with each other.

Hunter would rather watch Spaceballs (or any Mel Brooks movies really), despite being born in the same year as Star Wars. She loves Monty Python, MST3K, and cheesy rom-coms from the ’80s and ’90s. Her wacky sense of humor is only paralleled by her hopeless romanticism. She’s a goth at heart and a sucker for men with long hair. She adores everything British, but insists tea be drunk without milk. She’s a pescetarian with vegan tendencies and has two fat little cats named after her favorite beverage – Latte and Java. She dreams of coastal living, marshmallows, and Matt Bomer.

Feel free to connect with her through any of her social media accounts, or send her an email. She welcomes messages from readers and/or Brits looking to adopt.

E-mail: hunter@hunterfrost.net

Website: www.hunterfrost.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hunterfrostMM

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HunterFrostMM

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hunterfrost75/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hunterfrostmm/

A Lila Audiobook Review: Fish Out of Water by Amy Lane and Narrated by Greg Tremblay

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

fish-out-of-water-audioPI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.

Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.

Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s spiraled out of control.

Fish Out of Water is a departure read for this author. There’s no comparison to Amy Lane’s ability to make a character miserable, and this book is no exception. At least, no animals died in the making of this story. It has all the traditional elements of her stories, but it’s more than a romance. The mystery aspect was well intertwined with the rest of the plot lines.

Ellery is my favorite character in the story. Perhaps because he evolves the most as he works on Kaden’s case. I like the way he gives his all to the cases even when he knows his clients aren’t innocent. But he gets even better when he’s doing his best for his deserving clients.

Jackson has an edge that takes a moment to get used to, but after a couple of pages, the reader sees it as a defense mechanism. I give kudos to the author for showing the character’s bisexuality, not just tell us about it. Some may not like this approach, but it works well with the characters.

The story starts slow and it’s over nine hours long. It’s full of action, drama, sex scenes, and all the extras that make a story great. It was hard to follow in parts, but overall, it’s an interesting take on a mystery story arc.

Greg Tremblay did an excellent job, as always. One of the things I like the most about his narrations is his ability to voice male and female characters with the same intensity. By the end of the story, all the characters have individual characteristics that are easy to follow.

The cover by Reese Dante is simple and quite literal. At the same time, the lines are clean and go perfectly with the story. It’s not the normal MM Romance cover, but it goes with the unconventional story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Length: 9 hours and 20 minutes

Published: October 10, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B01LZQ0MBK
Edition Language: English

A VVivacious Review: Orientation by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 
OrientationRobert and his lover Ethan have drifted apart to the point that they are mere strangers living together. As things between them worsen Robert wonders if he ever truly loved anyone other than his first lover Keith who died of AIDS.
 
Then on one particularly lonely night Robert comes across a suicidal girl, Jess but it appears that there is more going on between Jess and Robert than either can guess at first. But what exactly does this sense of familiarity and love translate to between a gay man and lesbian?
 
I really think this book is not aptly named, I mean I don’t think it ever deals with orientation, I mean the characters in this book are not conflicted about their orientation and neither are they troubled by it. While this book ends on a note that kind of stresses orientation, this book is truly just a story of love.
 
It is a very engaging story. I read this book at a stretch; I just couldn’t put it down. It is a short book but what I liked about it is that the story never becomes predictable. What kept me turning the pages one after the other was the fact that I had no idea where this story would take me or how it would end.
 
Our MCs are Robert and Jessica who are both in ways dealing with loss. They bond over this fact but what truly makes them want to be with the other is the fact that there is a deeper sense of familiarity and love that underlies there meetings. Since the moment they met Jessica has felt that she is meeting someone she already knows and loves. Complicating this fact is that even though they feel love towards the other their orientations are completely incompatible. This story also follows two other characters, Ethan, Robert’s boyfriend and his drug dealer, Tony.
 
This story really focuses on its characters, you can sympathize with Robert’s desire to be blind to the obvious, to not have to face his boyfriend’s infidelities as well as his potentially lethal lifestyle and bury that under the joy of having someone else who understands his love for Keith. While Ethan’s struggle with his addiction is painful, he is wasting away and try as he might to climb out of the abyss he is in, he only ever manages to dig himself deeper. Tony’s guilt over being the reason many people have lost touch with themselves and his shame over not being able to give up the opportunity to make just a little more money is honest. And then there is Jess who is reeling form loss, is burdened by her lack of finances and struggling to understand these new feelings that have awakened in her… for a man…
 
This story really ties together the lives of these four characters and makes for a compelling read. This book is firstly about love and secondly about the human condition. It is an amazing read.
 
Cover Art by Wilde City Press. I liked the cover but I’m unsure as to how it relates to the story.
Sales Links
Books Details:
Wilde City Press
Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 192 pages
Published July 25th 2016 (first published May 7th 2008)
Original Title Orientation
ASIN B01J4KIP94

A MelanieM Review: Hidden Wings by Ana Raine

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Hidden WingsKanji is the last royal Kuro swan, an ancient race who once served the demonic Sidhee. The Kuro were betrayed and given as slaves to the Dryma fairies. When a Dryma is born, his soul attaches to a tree and to sustain their lives, the Dryma conscript the Kuro to protect their woods. In their servitude, the Kuro are languishing and dying off. Kanji is desperate to reunite his people with their stolen wings, but the task seems impossible.

When Kanji discovers a plan to unite the Sidhee and the Dryma, he tricks the Sidhee prince and attends a masked ball in disguise. There he meets Prince Tristan, who is nothing like the other fairies. Kind and compassionate, Tristan has a plan to free the Dryma from their dependence on the trees—and their need of the Kuro’s protection. It could mean freedom for Kanji’s people, but it might also mean choosing between them and the life of the fairy who is—impossibly—his mate.

When Tristan is wounded in battle and left for dead, his survival depends on the success of his experiments. Can Kanji dare to believe, or must he come to terms with the loss of his mate?

Hidden Wings by Ana Raine caught my attention primarily due to the inclusion of swans in her fantasy story, well that and the fae. I have long admired the species as much for their deadly attack skills as for their elegance and loyalty.  So I had high hopes for seeing such natural history characteristics included as part of the plot and folded into the character of Kanji, the last of the royal Kuro Swans. What I ended up with was a interesting mixture that didn’t always make sense but still managed to be entertaining none the less.

Ana Raine set a huge task for herself with this tale, specifically creating the two species, their individual cultures and collective histories and then bringing them together in the forms of Tristan and Kanji.  I think that in putting her attention towards the Dryma and the Kuro, the characters of Kanji and Tristan came off as pale comparisons.  There is a richness in the mythology that Raine has created that just is so lovely, the dependency on the trees, the need for sacrifice that runs throughout many ancient cultures, and then threading those elements through her story that pulls you in and makes you forget some of the other aspects that might otherwise have you shaking your head.  I’ve seen swans take out foxes and dogs.  Swans are deadly. Where is that here?

Also, for many of you, this is not your happily ever after, nor is it meant to be.  Hidden Wings is part of Dreamspinner Press’  Bittersweet Dreams titles which states in part that “… these stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.”  Note the no traditional happy ending.  So, you wouldn’t go into this book expecting to get one and you don’t.  I didn’t mind that, but I know many readers will.

No, what bothered me was that I thought the characters and their relationship as mates needed more substance, at least as much as their species and cultures got.  Hidden Wings has so much promise, enough that the author could easily pull more stories from without having to establish a base universe once again.

If you are a fan of fantasy, pick it up and decide for yourself.

Cover art by Anne Cain is lovely and works for me

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published January 6th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634767519 (ISBN13: 9781634767514)
Edition Language English

 

 

An Aurora YA Review: Out of Order by Casey Lawrence

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Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Out of Order coverCorinna “Corey” Nguyen’s life seems perfectly average for a closeted bisexual whiz kid with her eyes on college and a budding romance with her friend Kate. Sixteen and navigating senior year with her tight-knit group of best friends through crushes, breakups, and pregnancy scares, Corey mistakenly believes that running for valedictorian and choosing the right college are the worst of her worries. That is, until prom night, when she’s left alone and in shock, hiding inside a diner restroom, the only witness to a multiple homicide.

With graduation looming, the pressure is on for Corey to identify the killer and ensure that the crime that has changed her life forever will not go unpunished.

I love mysteries, and I love books that really make you think, and this book does both in a masterful way. There are so few books that I’ve read that are pure mysteries or thrillers that are also YA books. In fact as I sat down to write this review, I thought for a good five minutes about any books similar to this one, and I could only think of one that I had read or even seen. I always love to read books like this, and this book was not only a standout simply for the subject matter, but it was just well written. From the larger scale parts of the book that involved the murder, which were fascinating, to the plots that involved Corey simply living life as a teenager, every part of the book was really interesting to read. In general it was just very exciting, and it kept me very engaged from beginning to end.

I love characters and the way they’re developed, I make no secret of it. And this book did not disappoint as far as character. Most notably, Corey was absolutely wonderfully written. She was endearing, I loved her, and I wanted to see her come out on top. She seemed like a real teenager without seeming like she was a stereotype. She was very interesting while, again, seeming very much like a real teenager who was simply put in an extraordinary situation, which is one of my favorite things to see in any form of entertainment. I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a very fun read. It kept me engaged the entire time, and I really liked the characters and writing style.

Aaron Anderson is the cover artist. Definitely just based on seeing the cover in a store or online, I would have picked up this book because the cover is very intriguing. It makes me wonder what the book is about and is very well put together. I think that the fact that it doesn’t feature anyone’s face is actually very smart. It doesn’t assign an image to any of the characters for the reader before they read the book, but it still makes the reader interested and still does a good job of showing what the book is about.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press  –  All Romance (ARe) Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages, and in paperback
Published March 21st 2015 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781634760126
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.harmonyinkpress.com
A YA Imprint of Dreamspinner Press

 

A MelanieM Review: A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders #2) by Liv Olteano

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Sequel to A Tooth for a Fang
Leader Murders: Case Two

CounselorAmongWolves[A]FSFive dead leaders, their bodies arranged in a pentagram. Treason, lies, and backstabbing. A make-believe affair that turns into a real mating.

Timothy Sands is a PBI counselor, half-fey, half-elf, with a secret crush on Herman Weiss, PBI director. As a new chapter is added to the Leader Murders, it is Weiss’s responsibility to investigate what seems an impossible-to-solve case. The other problem? Weiss is suffering from rages, and his only salvation lies in Tim’s emotional-grid-balancing skills. They only have to pretend to be a couple for Tim to use his talents, and he owes Weiss a big favor. Piece of cake, right?

The fey might be involved in the Leader Murders. Someone on the Council might be their ally, and another prominent PBI figure looks more and more suspicious as they investigate. The stakes are upped when Timothy’s father, the Fey King, threatens to leave the Council destitute if they don’t hand Timothy over to him. Weiss’s brilliant solution? Mating Timothy and forcing the Council into protecting him.

There’s only one small hitch in that plan: instead of protecting one, the Council might decide to get rid of two.

A Tooth for a Fang was the first book I had read by Liv Olteano, and I loved the author’s darker take on werewolves, lycans, wolfshifters of all sorts (two different things in this series) and the supernatural in general.  As much as I love all my romantic wolf shifter love stories, reading one where the wolves have a more manipulative aspect to their character that dominates all their relationships and outlook was refreshing and new.  And the author took it further and separated out the wolf shifters or lycans from the werewolves, a divide both emotional and physical.  But it was Olteano’s focus on domestic abuse in a Mate/Mate bond that was unexpected, intriguing and powerful.

For many stories, the weres and their mates meet and the mate bond snaps into place (a broad generalization I know), and they are happy together at the end.  But what happens when one mate hates or grows to hate the other?  In a species where the need to be dominant is inherent and expected, then the possibility of mate/spousal abuse appears.  This element is a major part of the plot in Liv Olteano’s Leader Murder Mystery trilogy.  Those mates who have been abused (no matter what species they belong too, were, lycan, vampire… whathaveyou) and those that see a wrong that needs to be addressed in their society  have banded together to enact new laws to protect abused mates and enable them to “divorce” their abuser.  Not a small thing in a hide bound society that resists change.   But some of them have gone further and several murders of abusive leaders have occurred.

The first book involved a were and a human lured into a mate bond.   That pair is still on shaky ground when this story opens  But A Counselor Among Wolves has a different focus and pairing.  This time its Timothy Sands, a half elf,half fey, who works for the PBI (Paranormal Bureau of Investigations).  A loner due to his heritage, past history, and inclinations, Tim has been in love with the PBI’S Director,Herman Weiss, a Werewolf Alpha,  for 5 years, to no avail.  Weiss, as he is called, has been mated for years and last year his female mate produced the heir Weiss had been waiting for.  His mating?  Not at all happy, as everyone found out in the first story.  The difficult relationships established in the first story get even more so here.

The “revolution” is building, Tim is part of the group that is working towards Mate Bond reforms (through legal methods) and Weiss is trying to deal with new murders, his imploded relationship, his son, and his increasingly unstable personality.   The one being who might hold some of the answers Weiss requires?  That would be Tim, who wants to keep his shields and secrets intact.

Olteano’s supernatural beings are anything but superficial in their creation.  The author delivers not only each species physical characteristics, but background, natural history, cultural history and current racial and societal issues as well.  Like I said, these aren’t your cuddly sort of wolves.  Even Weiss’ toddler son is capable of  well thought out manipulations and the boy/pup demonstrates a constant defiance that shows he is challenging his father (and others) for dominance even at the youngest of ages.  His is a remarkable portrait as well.  How many  5 year olds do you know who attack their mothers, trying to force them to submit? As Olteano points out, that makes it hard to establish a maternal bond, now doesn’t it? A Counselor to Wolves (and the series to date) is just one neat twist and turn after another.  But always at its heart, are serious subject matters such as domestic abuse and violence.

Still this is a romance, of sorts, one between Tim and Weiss that struggles to coalesce at first under the stress and extraordinary circumstances. Then gets mired down in the politics and machinations of the investigation and murders.  Throw in Tim’s father, who has his own nefarious plotting underway that also involves his son, and well, this book has plenty of layers to satisfy any lover of espionage and suspense.   Plus Tim and Weiss are just plain hot together.  You will root for them, really you will.

In this story, some of the revelations help speed us along to the final story that will tie up all the investigations and plotting revealed here.  All the couples will have their moment on stage in the final story.  That’s especially important because neither of the two couples relationships and pairing are on particularly stable ground.  There are too many unknown elements still at play, and that include’s Tim’s father, the Elf King.

Now comes the waiting…how I hate that part.  I want the final story now.  This is such a terrific series.  My admiration for Liv Olteano’s writing and plot grows with each story that’s released.  I loved  lycan Travis Chandler and the former human Rick Barton who took a vacation from an abusive lover and ended up as a mate.  And I love Tim, one of a kind Tim and the dominating Alpha, Weiss and his son.  We have one more couple to come forward and then the author will tie things up.  I expect it to be messy, bloody, hot, and one heck of a wild ride towards the end.  As I said, I can’t wait.

New to this series?  Pick up A Tooth For A Fang first, then proceed to A Counselor Among Wolves.  These books need to be read in the order they were written to understand the character and plot developments that are occurring within. The author tries to fill in gaps in each story but its far too complicated for that to one in any one book.  I highly recommend them both.  Then we can wait together for the final installment to arrive.  See you there.

Cover Art by  AngstyG.  Love the cover, its dark and yes, angsty.  Works a treat for the characters and story within.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages, also in paperback
Published May 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632169235
edition languageEnglish
seriesLeader Murders #2

The Leader Murder Case Mysteries Trilogy: