A MelanieM Review: At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A May-to-December MMM Romance.

What’s the perfect recipe for an emotional MMM romance?

One autistic coffee shop owner, one morose mug maker, and a mostly cheerful police detective.

Fie Morogh Russell goes off to war with a broken heart and returns with a shattered spirit. He hermits away in Bideford, Devon, making mugs, with his service dog, Haggard, for company. Post-traumatic stress turns every memory into a minefield, and life is dismal with one or two rare exceptions.

Davet Heuse drags his younger brother to Bideford for a new start. Both autistic, the two siblings have fought hard to enjoy freedom by the seaside. While Davet runs a coffee shop from his tiny house, his brother pursues his dream at university.

Detective Sidney Little has transitioned from military service to the police force easily. His unrequited crushes and his estranged father are the only points of frustration in his life. He hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with either problem.

When a tragic accident brings Davet’s world crashing down around him, can Fie and Sid help him through the pain of loss?

In this May-December romance with a twist, three men struggle through one obstacle after the other to somehow find themselves in love on the other side.

At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan is the second book(s) that feature an autistic main character.  The other being her marvelous Grasmere Cottage Mystery series that I adored so.  Each character has been someone unique, just as there is such a large autism spectrum.  Donovan includes the behaviors and traits that go along with someone who is autistic without making it a screaming element of the story or character,  It simply is part of him.  Just as red hair or being a Scot is part of the others. I love that about her characterizations.  They are solid people, complete with a past, family, baggage (huge or small), secrets, and a need to be loved.

I really like the title here because it applies to more than just one character.  Each of the three men has a wounded heart that needs mending,  At first it’s only one character so damaged that he’s broken inside, needing others to help him to recover and go forward.  But as the story progresses, it becomes a path strewn with angst and past abuse for more than just Fie.  Since the blurb gives little away, neither will I.  I will mention there’s a mystery to solve, a bit of a red herring thrown in, a delight of a police station, and , a few holes I wish the author had filled in before the ending came.

I liked the relationships that developed between the three men.  Nothing instant as they had known each other for some time or in the case of Fie and Sid, actually served  together. Friendship was already established so to make a leap into romance for them and the reader wasn’t a big step.  But actually a natural one.

My only reservations here are that I wanted more about Davet’s background, his family, and the “red herring” I felt the author kept throwing at us, the readers with regard ot his parents and what they wanted.  That was frustrating and never really resolved.  Unless , of course, there intends to be a sequel.  I’m on board with that!

This is a charming, and different contemporary love story from an author I’m addicted to.  Whether it was her Sin Bin series or that terrific Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy, now I can add this one as well.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art: Soxsational Cover Art.  Complete fail imo.  Doesn’t match up to any of the characters, doesn’t contain any story element, could be a cover to any book. This is a story about 3 men in a small village, each has nothing to do with that model. Instead of being broken he looks like he’s going ‘huh”. smh.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Detail:

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2019 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB 07L7XSWVW
Edition Language English

In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Running Blind (Havoc #2) by S.E. Jakes

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Running Blind (Havoc #2) by S.E. Jakes
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

About Running Blind

An ATF agent who lives for danger finds what he craves from an outlaw biker.

It’s impossible for a one-percenter motorcycle club member to simply walk away—and no one knows that better than undercover agent Bram, who’s almost killed for trying. His cover isn’t blown—yet—but it’s only a matter of time. The Heathens won’t be satisfied until he’s dead, so he decides to lay low and heal.

But when his younger brother’s disappearance throws a wrench into his plan, Bram ends up in Shades Run, a town ruled by the notorious Havoc MC. In less than twenty-four hours, Bram finds himself at the mercy of Sweet, Havoc’s president, as he throws himself into the undercover role of a lifetime: himself. A man who’s never belonged anywhere, and who will do anything to protect his younger brother.

When finding Linc seems impossible, Bram is torn between Sweet, Linc, and revealing his true identities . . . and there appears to be no way out. Once again, he risks it all trying to save it all. Only this time he’s got no backup to save him if he falls.

 

Running Blind is available from Riptide.
And don’t miss book one in the Havoc series, Running Wild!

About SE Jakes

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family, and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

SE Jakes is the alter ego of New York Times bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Stephanie Tyler.

Connect with SE:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Running Blind, one lucky person will win an ecopy of Running Wild, the first book in the Havoc series! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 29, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Jeri Review: Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by LA Witt

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

I love that the Anchor Point series, although all set at the same Naval base, really are different. This was no exception.

Casey is on desk duty after seriously breaking his leg during SEALs training. And the chances of him continuing that training are zero. Logan is a former Marine, now working as a contractor on base. One guy has been there, the other guy never will go there.
It was heartbreaking to see Casey deal with the same platitudes over and over again about being lucky to never see war. But that is exactly what he signed up for. Being a SEAL was his dream. And Logan is plagued with PTSD from his tours of combat duty and is one of the guys that tells Casey how lucky his is. But it is sticky because Logan and Casey have some serious heat together.
So while they are enjoying the no strings sex, strings form. And each man really has to explain their unique but opposite positions regarding the military and war.
There is a TON of angst in this book, but also a lot of hot sex and a really genuine relationship between Logan and Casey. I think what I enjoy the most about this books is that they are so authentic. The author doesn’t keep it a secret that her husband is active duty Navy, so she really knows what she is talking about with PTSD, active duty, contract work, etc.
We get a few cameos of previous main characters- always a favorite of mine in a series to keep them all connected. I love that one of the supporting characters/previous main characters HATED the Navy in his book and is now a supervisor in a contract position. Felt like a full circle kind of thing.
Cover art by LC Chase works perfectly for the story and the series branding.
Book Details:
ebook, 265 pages
Published May 21st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626497532 (ISBN13: 9781626497535)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Anchor Point #7

In Our Spotlight Tour: INSIDE DARKNESS by Hudson Lin (giveaway)

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Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin

Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

Welcome to the blog tour for Inside Darkness! I’m Hudson Lin and I’m here to share some behind the scenes sneak peaks about my debut novel, available June 11th. Leave a comment on the tour posts for a chance to win a $10 gift card from Amazon!

 

About Inside Darkness

 

He’s come in from the field, but the darkness has followed him home.

 

After a decade as an aid worker, Cameron Donnelly returns home jaded, tired, and with more than just a minor case of PTSD. Plagued by recurring nightmares but refusing to admit he has a problem, Cam quickly spirals into an alcohol-infused depression, and everyone around him is at a loss for how to help.

 

Journalist Tyler Ang met Cam on a reporting assignment in Kenya, and their first encounters were rife with hostility and sexual tension. Back in New York, their paths continually cross, and each time, Cam’s brokenness reminds Ty more and more of his own difficult childhood. Letting Cam in goes against Ty’s instinct to live life autonomously, but the damaged aid worker manages to sneak past his guard.

 

Their relationship is all sharp corners and rough edges, and just as they’re figuring out how to fit together, a life-threatening accident puts it all in jeopardy. If they want a future together, both will have to set aside their egos and learn to carry each other’s burdens.

 

 

About Hudson Lin

 

Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with often-times conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.

 

Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.

 

When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the nine-to-five in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.

 

Connect with Hudson:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Inside Darkness, Hudson is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 16, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Runner by Parker Williams and Patrick Zeller (Narrator)

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Matt Bowers’s life ended at sixteen, when a vicious betrayal by someone who he should have been able to trust left him a shell of himself, fighting OCD and PTSD, living in constant fear and always running. When he buys a remote tract of land, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world and attempt to establish some peace. For ten years he believes he’s found a measure of comfort, until the day a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road.

He returns every day, an unwelcome intrusion into Matt’s carefully structured life. Matt appeals to the local sheriff, who cannot help him since the jogger is doing nothing wrong. Gradually, after tentatively breaking the ice, Matt begins to accept the man’s presence—

But when the runner doesn’t show up one day, it throws Matt’s world into chaos and he must make the hardest decision of his life.

I’ve been sitting here wondering what to write.  How do I write a review when I thought the writing was exceptional and the narrating so perfect that I was emotionally pulled into the story from the very beginning? There’s no getting around the fact that Parker Williams can write heartbreaking stories.  This is certainly one of those.  What happens to Matt Bowers at the young age of sixteen should never happen to anyone and yet it does.  We hear stories of sexual abuse over and over again until it almost numbs you.  It takes stories like Matt’s to make those numbers personal and give them a face again.  And a narrator like Patrick Zeller to give them a voice.

Something else horrible happened to Matt that day the teacher attacked him, a deep part of him died or maybe it just permanently changed in order to survive the attack and to try to heal as best he could.  He became a different Matt, a post attack Matt that handled  living post attack far differently than pre attack Matt ever could have envisioned.  He had to take control of his life in the small ways he knew how,  he had to clean, and, he had to make sure he was safe.  Words we would apply to Matt would be PTSD and OCD, however, those words would not be words he applied to himself.

Because this story is told from Matt’s pov, after the attack, Matt finds nothing but  pity and an inability for his Mother and brother to see him as anything other than a wounded preattack Matt, not as the functioning post attack Matt he’s become.  In that frame of mind,  with the help of lawyers, Matt takes charge of the settlement fund at the age of 18, leaves home, buys a remote house with land and basically becomes something of a hermit, remaining isolated and in his mind safe from harm.

So I have major issues there with an 18 year old and his mother not looking at other options for treatment, counseling etc.  Yes, a book can have literary license but my issues with the mother and brother will continue on throughout the story and it’s origins begin here.  I find them irresponsible and their following actions more so.  That Matt “writes off” their actions or apologizes for them because they love him?  That I find equally troubling.  That they  continue to do what they think is best, whether it actually is or not, is something I find controlling bordering on abuse.  That it’s done with love?  Doesn’t make it right or downright creepy.  Especially now that the local sheriff is also his brother.

The runner, a writer named Charlie, gets to know Matt in an unusual way.   And slowly they build a tentative relationship, one that also allows us to see that Matt has also built a life for himself on his land that has its own riches.  There is true beauty here in Parker’s narrative.  Descriptions of  Matt’s life on the land and his inner thoughts of his life and schedules.   And how it all starts to slightly fracture and enlarge as Charlie wedges himself into Matt’s life.

Its only as the brother bludgeons his way back in over and over, harsh and with such a shattering impact that I had to really think about the story and the way the brother is included into Matt’s life.  That he’s such a vivid character is due to the author’s terrific characterization, but I just never “liked him” or the manner in which he felt he had the right to control Matt’s life.  Same goes for Matt’s mother.  Ah well.  Great writing if you make me dislike the characters so.

Either way, these are difficult subjects to address and I’m not sure everyone is going to be able to look at them objectively.  Its far too emotional a story for that.  It is, however, a wonderfully moving one.  I love how it ended.  And for me Patrick Zeller will always be the voice of Matt.  Fragile at times, wounded certainly, and finding the strength that was there all along.  How I love him.

Yes, I absolutely recommend this story and this narrator.

Cover art: Reese Dante is perfection.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 6 hours and 11 minutes

Audible Audio
Published January 23rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 28th 2017)
ASINB0796Z54VX
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhsettingMaine (United States)

Book BLITZ Get Up by Reece Pine (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Get Up

Author: Reece Pine

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: December 25, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 69500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, MM, contemporary, wilderness, child abuse, mental illness, PTSD

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Recently dumped (again) for being cold, Guy gladly accepts his publisher friend’s request to go to a remote hut in wintry Nunavut to find out whether aspiring novelist Cam Campbell is a plagiarist. By agreeing also to help the eccentric ecologist survey wildlife for a month, Guy buys time to assess Cam’s innocence and hear stories about Cam’s late father–Guy’s favorite fantasy writer and the man whose book Cam is accused of stealing.

Guy’s investigation is soon biased by his attraction to Cam and the growing concern about Cam’s odd behavior. At times, Cam dissociates and is icier than Guy could ever be, yet he’s the only one who’s ever recognized, at a glance, the emotions burning beneath Guy’s surface. Guy knows he’s the best person to help Cam abandon the dangerous wilds outside and address those in Cam’s head, but he also knows that he’ll lose the chance if he comes clean about his ulterior motives for getting close to Cam. How can he convince Cam to come in from the cold… and why are they both really out there anyway?

Excerpt

Get Up
Reece Pine © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

At least he wasn’t nervous about meeting the kid anymore. He’d stopped feeling anything at all besides dread and the wheels of the suitcase he’d slung over his shoulder bruising his numb ass with every stumble. Finally, Guy glimpsed smoke wisping from a rustic pipe chimney a hundred yards farther than the thousand miles he’d already come. His brogues, so iced over they looked like glass slippers, skidded on the porch’s wooden boards. The leather-gloved hand he threw forward to balance himself rattled the doorframe with a thudding knock, sending ice shards showering behind him from the rafters overhead.

“Hell-lo?” he croaked. “Cam-meron C—”

The alluring burst of firelight that greeted him as the door opened was immediately extinguished by someone squeezing the swollen wood shut behind themselves as they stepped forth. Guy was suddenly too surprised to be awestruck over meeting Alessandro De Carli’s son at last. He was glad his frozen eyelids couldn’t blink, because the guy—the specter, presumably Cameron Campbell—might disappear if he did. For a second, he wondered if he’d knocked on the wrong gingerbread house door, only there was no other shelter for fifty miles.

Cameron Campbell was known to be even more reclusive than his late father, but he wasn’t actually supposed to be mythic. The tiny guy blocking the door with sturdy, unlaced boots looked like a wood nymph. Eyes as blue as distant stars stared at him unabashedly. Maybe the reason no journalists had ever snapped pictures of the kid, and why he had no online presence, was because he couldn’t be caught on film.

“Incredible.” Cameron must have read Guy’s mind, and he pressed rosebud lips together in exasperation. “Are you alone? Did you hitch here? There’s no corpse in a cab parked on the highway I need to go rescue? Insane.”

Guy respectively nodded and shook his head, hoping the well-earned insult was aimed at the driver on his way west who’d dropped him at the side of a barely used road, far from the highway. Guy had considered himself lucky to thumb a ride at all out of the tiny settlement of Ipasila, built around a gas station, which was the closest town to Campbell and two hours’ drive from the Hudson Bay hamlet of Arviat in southern Nunavut. In hindsight, the man had been almost as reckless as Guy himself had been for not driving him straight to the police. Instead, Guy had been let out of the relative safety of a truck armed with nothing more than the GPS tracker Guy had brought with him and prayed was accurate.

“C-Cameron…” Not Cameron, Guy revised. A Cameron was a strapping guy—like a Brad or a David—or a blonde woman. This pixie prince was either a Cam or a question mark. His eyes looked magnified behind the lenses of large glasses, the arms of which must have burned cold against his temples because Cam removed them—only for his naked eyes to be comically large. It was still possible he wasn’t even De Carli’s son, since he looked nothing like him. Wrote nothing like him either, which was why Guy was here. “You’re C-Campbell, right? De Carli’s s-son?”

It was Campbell’s turn to draw back in surprise. “Are you from a newspaper?”

“Am I s-selling subscriptions?” Traipsing from cabin to cabin after dark? “D-does it matter? Let me in.” Heat from indoors infused the porch floorboards and bled into Guy’s damp soles, announcing itself as pain in his brittle toes.

“I don’t do interviews about my father.” Cam reached inside the hood of his puffy coat, just a shade lighter than his luminous, creamy skin, to pull a long coil of black hair forward. It hung like gossamer over the gray scarf around his shoulders.

He’d let down his hair, so now Guy could enter, right? “Do I l-look like a journalist?”

“Nah, you look too honest.”

Guy’s brows were too frozen to frown at the sarcasm. He knew damn well he had a poker face. That was the problem; now that he was literally incapable of moving his face he probably looked normal, not dangerously hypothermic.

“I’m with your p-publisher.”

“You’re from Ames? In that case, first, tell Claire she should be fired and charged with attempted murder for sending you. Secondly, and for the hundredth time, I canceled the submission for Close to Home. I didn’t mean to send it to you guys in the first place. Third, stop hounding me about it.”

“Fourth, f-fuck off,” Guy anticipated his next order. “I c-can’t. And I’m from F-Fairbanks Press.”

“Ha! Are you guys even still publishing me?” Cam swept his bangs behind an ear, which was slightly pointed at its tip.

Of course, it is. “You’re the one who n-never answers emails.”

“Internet’s intermittent out here. And there’s nothing wrong with that manuscript that isn’t Fairbanks’ fault.” Cam pursed his lips, which were tinging blue before Guy’s eyes, and nuzzled his chin into his scarf. Guy was torn between thinking it served him right to be cold and wanting to offer his firstborn as passage to the gatekeeper who halted Guy’s shuffle forward by holding up a gloved palm. “Uh-uh, no way. You ought to know the drill, New Yorker. You are, aren’t you?”

Guy was as native a New Yorker as anyone who’d moved there in adulthood and would never live elsewhere. A load of the population was in the same burned boat as him, so yes, he could claim to be from New York, but that was irrelevant while the heat fleeing his eyes stung.

“S-so?”

“So the same rules apply here as there,” Cam continued, as though this were a holiday home in Connecticut. “You know, I met a hiker from Texas here who’d never even seen snow before, but he knew enough about it to come in September, not March. Why do you think I can’t get any volunteers to assist me at the moment?”

Because not only did this waif conduct questionable wildlife research in the middle of nowhere while purportedly editing a novel, but he also lived at the end of a spur trail a mile west of an icy road to nowhere.

Cam stamped his feet, blowing into hands he cupped over his mouth. “Come on.”

What did the little sylph want? For Guy to roll a seven? Produce a magic key?

“For God’s sake, guy, you need to strip!” Cam finally twisted the door handle behind him, spilling back into an amber glow. Guy tumbled in after, out of the deadly night air.

Instantly, his coat became the warmest bath Guy had ever had the pleasure of sinking into. Flames in the hearth curled into come-hither licks Guy’s jellied legs couldn’t obey. There was enough ecstasy to be had where he wilted against the closed door. The sensation wrenched him from numb to overwhelmed in a blink, and thrust him the closest to an imminent powerful orgasm he’d been since…he didn’t want to know.

Cam busied himself over at a kitchen counter, ignoring Guy, who stood, shaking in the doorway, suddenly struggling with a boner that had sprung from pure physical shock, surprising and mortifying him. He had to admit he could see how post-hypothermia blood rushing around could cause such a phenomenon, but man, did it have to? Thankfully, melting into a hunch helped hide it when Cam reappeared in front of him wearing only a few layers of sweaters and brandishing two steaming mugs of coffee.

Its intoxicating aroma further confused his senses by going straight to Guy’s cock. Now, there’s a new kink. He failed to convince himself his hand quivering was an aftereffect of the cold, not the sight of the now gloveless, pale hand offering a chipped mug with the handle out for Guy to grab. Cam raised an eyebrow at Guy’s taking it with his left hand.

“Oh, you’re a lefty?”

“I guess,” Guy said, distracted by just how fine Cam’s fingers were…and how Cam’s palm was apparently immune to the hot ceramic he held courtesy of calluses, frostbite, or immortality. “Looks nice….”

“Not too strong?” Cam asked, a smile curling the corners of his mouth.

“N-no such thing.” Guy slurped half the treacly concoction before gasping, “Thanks.”

“Sit.” Cam nodded to a couch piled high with blankets resembling a laundry pile. There was nowhere to sit except on top of them. “And I wasn’t kidding before. You need to strip, like, five minutes ago. Show me some skin.”

“What?” Skin?

“And a business card.”

Shit. Guy had no such thing—he should have made Huw make him a mock-up one before coming. If Cam was astute enough to ask questions like that, it might be hard to deceive him as planned. Plausible excuses whirled in his mind, but were as hard to grasp as the snowflakes he ruffled loose from his hair, stalling for time. He was surprised they hadn’t melted, since his scalp was beginning to burn….

“Of course, I’d prefer skin first. And so would you,” Cam said.

“I’m here to work,” Guy retorted, reinforcing the lie to himself.

“How do you know De Carli was my father?”

Guy blinked. “Isn’t he?”

“My pen name’s Cameron Stewart. I know my real name’s on the contract I signed with you guys, but that’s Cameron Campbell.”

“That’s De Carli’s son’s name.”

“It’s also as common as mud. How do you know I’m him?”

“Because…” Heat surged through Guy’s veins, and flashes from the fireplace in his periphery blinded him. Flames shot up his spine, turning his thoughts to smoke. His erection stirred as he willed it to subside. Instead, his heartbeat faded, which was a lot more alarming. “Because…”

Struggling to balance his tilting mug on the surging, damp footwell he slumped down upon, Guy bit at his glove to peel it from his roasting hand. It dangled from his lip, and he batted it away to better claw at his collar, trying to escape its stranglehold. Sweat made it slippery in his shaking hands, and he panted more feverishly than he had while staggering outside, where everything was white—as white as everything was turning now.

“Hey, stay with me, guy.” Cam rose from his slouch against the back of the sofa, surrounded by a blizzard of stars that swarmed Guy’s vision. He was warmth personified, the most enchanting thing in the dreamscape Guy had navigated to get here, and he was still miraculous, even now that everything had become a nightmare. His own sharp intake of breath echoed from afar as Cam lunged toward him through the static.

“I hoped you were him,” spilled in a murmur from Guy without his control. Strangely, Cam seemed to slip farther away the closer he got, as Guy sensed himself falling. It looked like he wouldn’t manage to save De Carli’s son after all. Well, he thought as all light vanished, at least he’d managed to meet him. And he got to die in the arms of a beyond-beautiful man.

No, forget that, his consciousness broke through. De Carli’s son was stunning, strange, and fascinatingly all the way out here. Never mind the fact Guy couldn’t write, he was going to live and find out what made Cam tick if it was the last thing he did.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Reece is allegedly a descendant of Ann Boleyn. If you have any ancestors who were in England circa 1500, then there’s a 50% chance you too are distantly related to Anne Boleyn. In fact, if you’re of European descent, then you and everyone else of European descent share a single ancestor, who lived around 1400. And in 3,000 years’ time, all of humanity will be able to trace their lineage back to someone who is alive today. Reece thinks it would be cool if that person was G-Dragon.

Website | Twitter

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay (Mischief holiday story)

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Rating: 5 stars plus out of 5

Life hasn’t been easy for Amir since he fled Iran after a brutal imprisonment. The trauma experienced at the hands of the guards left a dark spot on his soul. The one constant in his life since relocating to Chicago has been his lover—now husband—Esmail, whose steadfast love and support has soothed his wounded heart.

​But this Shab-e Yalda, Amir wants to be the one giving his husband something special, because even after the darkest nights, the sun will rise again.

Really, Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay  is one of those stories that makes me want to run outside, grabbing people to say “have you read this story? You must read this story…”.  Because it’s so powerful, it’s message of hope and love so enduring and impactful that I want to send it out there as a holiday gift to everyone.

And it starts out so gently, and like the gentle ripples spreading across a lake, you have no idea of the power of the swift currents waiting for you just underneath the initial surface you see, waiting to sweep you emotionally under.

You first meet Amir when he’s shopping for Shab-e Yalda.  Freddy Mackay gives a description of the religious holiday and the dishes they eat at the back of the story.  Don’t miss those.  But they aren’t needed to read the story through…the first time. Or the second. Or even third. From the manner in which you meet him and the way he’s handling the shopping, you know that there’s something wrong.  But the revelations about Amir unfold slowly, heartbreakingly, with hints and then facts that will crush you… little peeks into his  past history and horrors over the course of the story.  At points I had to stop because I just   not have enough tissues nearby to go on.  But go on you must.  Because this beautiful story is about surviving the dark, waiting for the light, the sunrise to arrive bringing hope and love.

Mackay’s writing is exquisite.  Each word, each sentence is precisely right…forming a picture in your mind and heart of the past, present, and finally, what the future may hold for Amir and husband Esmail.  Waiting for the golden rays of the  sunrise to put them back together again reminded me of the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Called Kintsugi which means golden repair because you can see the seams of gold glinting in the cracks of the newly whole pottery,  the sun shining down on Amir and Esmail seemed to help seal and mend the broken man huddled in the darkness.  So powerful, so enduring….this is a story that you will want to reread often.  It will be in the top stories of 2017 for me and I want everyone to go out and read it immediately!  That’s how highly I recommend Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay.

Cover art is wonderful containing an important element of the story but nothing can really do justice to this story.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

First Expected publication: November 29th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Afraid to Fly by LA Witt and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.

 

Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.

 

Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.

 

It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.

 

This was a great story of two broken men finding love and acceptance with one another.  Clint has had a hard battle to bring his life around and still has to face his ex’s scrutiny and his own doubts.  Travis has worked hard to keep relationships from getting too involved as they always leave but will Clint be the exception?

 

Both of these characters’ stories are heartbreaking.  After Clint’s drone catastrophe he doesn’t have anywhere or anyone to turn to and his life just implodes and he’s finally on an even keel but still incredibly lonely without any family around or anyone to lean on.  Travis knows that no one will ever want to deal with his back pain, heck he doesn’t want to deal with it and when thoughts from his past start to come back to haunt him he wants to run in fear.  I loved how Clint wasn’t willing to just let go and was willing to work for them to figure it all out.

 

Nick Russo did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I could just feel the characters’ emotions right along with them while listening.  The different voices he used for the characters helped me keep up with what was going on and get an idea of the characters personality some more.

 

I love the cover art by LC Chase and it follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon | iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9 hrs 22 min
Published: August 31, 2017 (ebook first published January 16, 2017) by Riptide
Edition Language: English

Series: Anchor Point #2

A Caryn Review: Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water, #3) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Reading this book reminded me a little of my progression reading through J.R.R. Tolkein – The Hobbit’s simple characters give way to The Lord of the Rings darker tone and complex world, and The Silmarillion’s vast scope is tragic, and so detailed and interconnected that it was very hard to read.  For me, that was the end of reading Tolkein!  And of course I am not comparing the Fae Out of Water series to Tolkein, but moving from the romantic comedy of Cutie and the Beast through The Druid Next Door to Bad Boys Bard was also a journey with increasingly complex world building and darker, more tragic characters.  There is nothing of comedy in this book, and the denouement is the fate not just of Faerie, but of all creation.

Gareth is the youngest of the Kendrick brothers, and he is the last true bard.  Where his brothers have been raised to fight with body and sword, Gareth was trained to use the powerful magic of his voice to influence and change people’s behavior.  Gareth’s training came at a much greater price than his brothers’ though – he was apprenticed to an amoral ghost, locked away from Faerie and subjected to the voices of the dead, and when he finished his apprenticeship he came back changed – aloof and unable to connect emotionally to anyone. 

Niall was the one person who was able to get through Gareth’s armor, and awoke passion and happiness in him.  He is human, and though Gareth always believed the races should not mix, he was swept away by his love and desire for Niall.  When Niall was taken by the Unseelie – and killed – Gareth was broken, bitter, and his hatred for anything Unseelie was limitless.  He removed himself completely from Faerie, cut most ties with his brothers, and never felt passion or romantic love for anyone again.

All is not as it seems though, and Niall is not dead.  And not human.  When he is released from hell to attend the Convergence between the Seelie and Unseelie realms, he finds he will have to face Gareth again.  And though he still loves Gareth, coming clean about who he really is, not to mention all of the lies he told, and all of the suffering their affair caused, seems to be an insurmountable task.

I enjoyed the tragic parts of the story, as well as the way both Gareth and Niall were imperfect and had some serious flaws that they had to recognize and address before they could save the world.  My problem with this book, however, was that the world building got so complex that it was incomplete.  Celtic mythology isn’t exactly common knowledge, and in the previous books everything that was introduced was at least explained – I wondered if there originally was more exposition, that was edited out to keep the book at a certain length.  If so, the editing could definitely have been better.  Fortunately this didn’t detract from the story too much, but I had to drop at least one star for it.

Cover art by Lou Harper fits in with the rest of the series, and with this story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleBad Boy’s Bard
ISBN139781626496231
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Fae Out of Water:

An Ali Release Day Review: Model Exposure (Haven Investigations #4) by Lissa Kasey

Standard
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
After being rescued by Ollie, Kade continues to suffer the aftermath of his ordeal, both physically and psychologically. Not knowing how else to clear his head, he pours his energy into Ollie—the love of his life—and Haven Investigations, but neither Ollie nor Kade can continue to ignore what they learned from their last case: Ollie’s brother, Nathan, might have betrayed Kade.

As they dig into Ollie’s past, secrets are revealed. Was Nathan’s death a suicide? Were Ollie’s parents much more than they seemed? Is someone out to kill Ollie, or is it Kade’s past coming back to haunt them again?

Amidst questions and uncertainties, one thing is clear: after everything they have been through together, Kade and Ollie have never been more in love and they want to get married. But first, they’ll have to deal with the continued threat of Kade’s past, the emotional wounds Kade fears are drowning him, and the possibility that everything Ollie believed about his family was a lie. A beautiful happily ever after awaits them—as long as they can survive long enough to make it to the altar.
 
This is the fourth book in the Haven Investigations series.  This is a continuation of the story from the third book and this should not be read as a standalone.  This story is told from Kade’s point of view.  He’s having a very hard time with his depression and anxiety which are fall outs from the incidents that happened previously.  
I have mixed feelings about this book.  I really love these two as a couple.  One of my favorite things about them is they’re not a traditional couple or traditional type people.  I always love when authors branch out and give readers something outside the norm.  I also like the fact that they’re pretty co-dependent and make no apologies about it.  Now I personally would never want to be as enmeshed as these two are, but again, I like that it’s different.  It’s actually something that the characters take note of and discuss.  I like when people are bold and unapologetic in their life choices (both is real life and in books).
On the flip side, I’ve not really enjoyed the overall plot in both this book or the last one.  They’ve been really over the top in my opinion and I feel like I have to suspend too much reality to follow along.  I prefer books that are a little more gritty and realistic.
If you’re a fan of the series you will probably enjoy this installment.  A few big relationship things happen between Ollie and Kade and the mystery of  Nathan is finally all wrapped up.  Despite my average feeling about the book as a whole I have to say there were some really touching scenes between these two men.  The date at the beginning was just fantastic.  
These covers are done by Garrett Leigh and I just love them.  They are some of my favorite covers in this genre.  I think they are very attractive and eye catching.  I love the artistry of them.  All the books in the series are complimentary of each other and they stand out.  As soon as you seen one of them you know they are all in the same series.
Book Details:
ebook, 256 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339789
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven Investigations #4