A MelanieM Review: Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Sequel to Tropical Depression
Stormy Weather: Book Three

Galen and Shane are back in the final installment of the Stormy Weather series, and a tempest of epic proportions is brewing. Once they couldn’t get enough of each other, but now Galen’s long hours are driving a wedge between him and Shane. Lonely and starved for his lover’s attention, bartender Shane falls in with a new crowd that doesn’t have his best interests at heart, and Galen struggles with a workload he can’t manage and an unscrupulous partner who wants to eliminate Shane. He can barely keep his head above water, let alone chart a course home to Shane.

While they’re floundering and trying to hold their relationship together, a hurricane heads for the Florida coast—and they’re directly in the path of the storm. It’s a crisis that will either finally break them apart or remind them how much they stand to lose if they don’t hold on to each other.

Also included is the free novella Bartender Rescue

I’ve loved all three stories about Galen and Shane by B.A. Tortuga but I think that the final one, Hurricane, has to be my favorite.  In Hurricane, B.A. Tortuga achieves a balance in the narrative here that I sometimes found missing in the previous stories.  In  Rain and Whiskey (Stormy Weather, #1) and Tropical Depression (Stormy Weather, #2), each of those novels sometimes felt heavy on the sex and sometimes light on the exposition, no matter how much I loved the hot and heavy between Shane and his man.

In Hurricane, it feels balanced.  We feel the stressed out, pushed to the limit relationship dynamics of Galen and Shane broken up intermittently by hot sex scenes.  Which interestingly enough only highly how badly the men are doing together.  As  misunderstanding and just plain ol’ blindness on Galen’s part is tearing them apart, a Hurricane is bearing down on their home, their sanctuary together.  It’s a great analogy by the author as it’s where the romance and love started.  Their home, bait shack, Goober the basset hound and new friend, even including Vic the alligator…all threatened by outside forces.

We see both sides, Galen’s and Shane’s, and the forces working to pull them apart.  All the wonderful elements that have made these men and the location ring true are now as deep seated in Tortuga’s narrative and an ol’ Cypress tree in the swamp.  The language, the colloquialisms, they are all in place laying Stormy Weather with authenticity.  But it’s the men at the heart of this trilogy (plus new story) that will make you remember them.  It’s their love for each other, and their ability to fight for it, even through a hurricane.

I did think the “vacation” element tarried a little too long…I wanted the boys back where they belonged, in their swamp with their dogs and water.   I thought the free last mini story was interesting.  I was nice to see familiar faces again and see that certain other people too  got a chance at love.  But I could have happily left them at the end of Hurricane, hoping that Galen and Shane had learned their lessons and  settled in for the long run.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  It’s pretty enough but that torso idea is clearly oversued.  I wish the shack and maybe even Vic had made an appearance.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd Edition, 228 pages
Published November 17th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published 2007)

An Alisa Review: Steel Trap (The Wyverns #5) by L.M. Somerton

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Secrets don’t stay hidden forever.

 

Hatchet has a thing for the enigmatic Mr. Smith, Horatio Trap’s spokesman. He’d love to get his hands on the pretty man and show him how good it feels to take orders for once rather than hand them out. He’s had his eye on Smith for years and he’s running out of patience.

 

The Wyverns’ involvement in the drug trade is limited to stealing money from the cartels—they don’t want junk peddled on their turf. When Trap orders them to destroy a crack cocaine factory in Phoenix, they are happy to oblige. But Smith throws a spanner in the works by posing as a potential buyer, putting himself in mortal danger.

 

Hatchet and The Wyverns come up with a plan to fake Smith’s death, muscle in on the deal and convince the cartel to do business with them instead. But when Hatchet’s cover is blown he’s left to save a bunch of illegals, destroy the drugs and wipe the factory from the face of the planet. It’s all in a night’s work for The Wyverns—but there are still secrets to uncover and the mysterious Horatio Trap and his mind games can’t stay hidden forever.

 

This was a great conclusion to this series.  Hatchet has claimed Smith as his, he just needs convince the man himself.  Smith hasn’t allowed himself to be taken care of too much by someone else and is used to calling the shots but Hatchet wants to show him that isn’t what he really needs.

 

Hatchet lets Smith go home after he is mostly healed from the injury he received in the previous book but the instant that he tries to put himself in danger again he knows he needs to teach him a lesson.  Smith still has secrets he is trying to protect but once they are revealed he is freer to let go of his long held control.  I loved that this story gave a nice ending to this series, I really liked most of the characters and stories in it.

 

The cover art by Posh Gosh is great and continues to follow the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 69 pages

Publication: October 17, 2017 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-78651-638-1

Edition Language: English

Series: The Wyverns #5

A VVivacious Review: Sightlines (The Community #3) by Santino Hassell

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

Chase Payne is the strongest psychic that the Community has ever known, so strong that he has never really left the Farm, the very place he was bred. But now that the Farm also houses Elijah, Chase has to find a way out before the Comm figures out the brilliant idea of using Elijah against him. Can Chase make it out of the Farm with Elijah and even more importantly, can he return once more to end it for once and for all?

This book more than made up for the crappiness that was Oversight. I had pretty low expectations considering how much I didn’t like Oversight but God, I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading this one.

This one is amazing and it makes for an amazing ending to a series that has for the most lived up to the potential that the first book teased about. If I have to compare the books in the series, I would have to say that Sightlines was the best because this book held my interest from beginning to end and at no point while reading this book did I want a break from reading this book while there were always places in the previous two books that had me losing interest. So, I guess Sightlines is pretty much a case of saving the best for the last. It truly is a very fulfilling read and I loved it so much.

One of the best thing about Sightlines is that we get to see a couple that already has history together so the romance element of this story didn’t need to be engaged in a constant war with the action in the book which was pretty much the case in the previous two books were developing the romance put a damper on the action and vice versa. This was the one book in which the action and romance were pretty much married to each other, so it was a constant dose of excitement instead of in starts and stops. We see Chase and Elijah trying to figure out their relationship while simultaneously working out the details to bring down the Community.

I guess the absolute best thing about this book would have to be Chase. I have no idea why I loved Chase so much because if you were only hearing his words you would think he was good for nothing but instead, Chase is the kind of guy who is all bluster on the outside and gooey in the middle and I don’t know how but he makes it work. Like I was reading all of his dialogues and somehow I was just able to see beyond and really see Chase. It was mind-blowing. Chase is an amazing character and moreover, he was an amazing narrator like I don’t know how but being in Chase’s head made the entire story purposeful.

The plot of this book is really intense and it just doesn’t let up which is probably the reason I couldn’t put this book down. In a weird way, I have been waiting to see how the Community goes down and I was scared it would be anticlimactic like an eventuality instead of a hard-won battle but seeing the way the plot plays out I would have to say that not only was it a hard fought battle but seeing the Community change actually gave me satisfaction, like that, was how invested I had become in this series that seeing things work out right gave me a feeling of happiness and hope.

Also, remember how the previous books built up Chase’s ability but never really delivered on it. Well, all I have left to say is that when you finish reading this book you will never doubt Chase’s ability again.

All in all, an amazing end to an amazing series.

Cover Art by Kanaxa. I really liked the covers for this series, they all look really cool.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 257 pages
Published October 9th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleSightlines
ISBN139781626495098
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Community #3

A Melanie Release Day Review: Building Forever (The Rebuilding Year #2.5) by Kaje Harper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Four years ago, Ryan and John decided they’d wait to get married until it came with full legal equality. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court, that historic moment has finally arrived. But two hundred miles separate Ryan’s hectic residency from John’s busy campus job. With a son in college, a daughter choosing her future, and a rambunctious Irish Setter needing attention, planning a wedding isn’t simple.

Of course, even the most perfect ceremony can’t solve all their problems. What does it take to build forever?

If you like me, fell in love with Ryan and John from The Rebuilding Years, then this is the story you’ve been waiting for.  Be prepared to laugh until your stomach hurts, cry more than a little, hold your breath through some white knuckle maneuvers and delays until we get to the culmination of their love story….their long awaited marriage.

It all happens in the heartwarming, joyous Building Forever (The Rebuilding Year #2.5) by Kaje Harper.  Much like John and Ryan, their inability to get legally married has left their readers frustrated as well as themselves.   So here we see the SCOTUS ruling having it’s effect all over again with the result that Ryan and John now finally get to get married.

Oh, if it was only that easy!

They are now living apart, divided by Ryan’s residency and John’s job.  Mark is in college and Rory is making her own plans, only their Irish Setter is still at home causing problems.  Getting everything into place for a wedding turns into an almost insurmountable feat, with obstacles piling up by the minute.  But (with Harper’s deft comedic touch and easily flowing plot) the narrative’s lively pace makes you howl and cry as the men scramble forward with love towards the one goal they’ve wanted…rings and HEA.

Harper brings in many of the secondary characters for the wedding, Tory and Mark their children, even the Irish Setter and of course the college as a setting.  All the elements are right, the dialog is perfect, and I just loved the ceremony.  Really, I couldn’t have asked for more.  For this couple or for us as readers.  It’s simply everything I wanted and didn’t know to ask for.

No, this is not a stand alone story.  Read all the others, starting with The Rebuilding Years and end here with Building Forever.  Better yet, read all three at once!  I highly recommend them all.

Cover by Karrie Jax.  I love the cover. It works for both men and setting.

Sales Links:

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2017
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Rebuilding Year #2.5

 

A Karen Review: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (London Lads #5) by Clare London

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is the fifth and final book in the London Lads series.  As with the others, it is a quick, short read, with a lot of humor, little angst, and a sweet – if predictable – happy ever after.

The timeline of this story was quite different: the entire thing takes place in a period of about 12 hours, while Garry is waiting in Glasgow airport to meet up with Will, who doesn’t show up until the very end of the book.  He has to endure the agony of uncomfortable chairs, overpriced airport food, incessant noise, and stressed out, rude travelers.  Most of the humor is about being stuck in an airport, a feeling that most of us can definitely sympathize with!

Garry and Will have been best friends for years, and though both men are gay, they haven’t ever dated.  They spend all their time with each other, to the point that their office mates assume they are a couple.  When Will is put up for promotion, Garry is thrilled for him, until he finds out the new job will be in New York.  Will has been in New York for several weeks, and is flying back to Glasgow to meet Garry for their traditional holiday with their university friends, and Garry is anxiously waiting for him at the airport, trying to figure out what he really feels for Will, and what he’s going to do about it.

Despite trying to mind his own business, Garry wakes from an uncomfortable nap to find 7 year old Emily and her older brother Max have decided to adopt him.  Garry doesn’t do kids, but they stick to him like burrs and he can’t shake them off.  For hours.  The kids almost seem like a figment of his imagination, or a bad dream, because they are shockingly intuitive at times, and as irritating as the rest of the airport at others.  They end up drawing him out of himself, and he talks about Will, and by the end of the long wait, he has finally managed to not only clarify how he feels about Will – he loves him and is in love with him – but has decided that he needs to man up and act on the feeling.  So all is prepared for a wonderful reunion when Will finally arrives.

I have enjoyed the stories, but I still think they would be much better combined into a single book, instead of separate short stories.  I don’t think they are worth the price individually, but as a compilation, I would have enjoyed them.

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs is OK, and fits with the rest of the series.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 61 pages
Published August 30th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 10th 2010)
Original TitleBetween A Rock And A Hard Place
ISBN139781635335859
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLondon Lads #5

A Caryn Release Day Review: The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #4) by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This entire book was one long paean of gratitude to love and family.  Which is, indeed, beautiful.

This book will mean nothing to people who haven’t read the rest of the BOATK (Bear, Otter and the Kid) series.  For those who are fans – like me – it is a very fitting ending to the series, but more than that it is a gentle and gracious goodbye to these beloved characters.  I won’t say it’s angst free (after all, is it physically possible for Mr. Klune to write a book without angst?), but the levels are much lower than in the three previous books.

We are back in Bear’s head for this one, but this is a more mature, confident, and settled Bear than in the earlier books.  The years of his marriage to Otter have given him a surety in the future, and happiness, that he was never able to believe in before.  He still has manic ramblings that lead him to outrageous hysteria like he had in the previous books, but the edge of panic isn’t there like it used to be.  It’s as if his thoughts are used to flowing into this crazy morass, but the reality of Otter’s love is now there to create a dam of sorts, to lift him out of the frenzy before it can really take hold.  So, still hugely entertaining, but no longer making the reader fearful of where it’s going to lead him.  Bear is continuously aware of how blessed he is to love and be loved by Otter and Tyson and his growing circle of friends and family, and he expresses that gratitude continuously, both aloud and in his head.  And I never got tired of hearing it.  He had been through so much pain in the past, and he learned never to take joy for granted.  Personally, I find that admirable and refreshing – I feel like it is much more common in our society for people to think they deserve that kind of joy regardless of what they’ve done with their life, or to lose sight of how amazing a gift it truly is once they’ve had it for a while.  Bear and Otter were able to look at each other with the love that comes from knowing someone else deeply and completely, and yet still be astonished by the depth of that love, and they expressed that love time after time. 

When it comes from the heart, you can never say I love you too much.

The book starts in New Hampshire where Bear and Otter moved when Tyson started college at Dartmouth.  The story of Tyson’s spiral into panic and addiction was revealed (I have to admit when I read The Art of Breathing I had a bit of whiplash trying to figure out how the Kid got to that point when things were going so well at the end of Who We Are.  I needed to know this!).  Bear and Tyson’s harrowing early years had left them so enmeshed – which was both a strength and a terrible weakness – that the process of disentangling was bound to be fraught with difficulty.  Even more so than in The Art of Breathing, in this book I really saw Bear and Tyson become separate individuals, though still incredibly close.   After Tyson left the nest to embark on his own journey, Bear was finally able to focus on Otter and his long-deferred needs and wishes.  Seeing the return to Seafare through their eyes, coming back to where it all started in order to start the next chapter of their lives, was really the focus of the story.  And it was full circle – endings, but also new beginnings, and throughout, an attitude of hopefulness.

The secondary characters are, as always, so lovable and so much fun!  Creed and JJ were by far my favorites, but Dominic, Ben, Anna, and the rest of the crew were there, joined their half sister Izzie and  Megan (Bear and Otter’s surrogate) and her Lamaze instructor boyfriend with a pregnancy kink, Marty.  Mrs. Paquinn is never far from anyone’s thoughts, and her memory remains a touchstone.  The Green Monstrosity starts bursting at the seams with the additions to the family, and Bear’s freak outs about becoming a father were hilarious (as was his pride in his super sperm).  I loved how all the things that made Bear so entertaining in the first book were still there, but with so much more!

Cover art by Paul Richmond is exactly right for the book, in ways I can’t find words to describe.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 346 pages
Published August 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleThe Long and Winding Road
ISBN139781635336818
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bear, Otter, and the Kid  aka BOATK:

Anne Barwell on Bidding Adieu to her series and her release Comes a Horseman’, Sequel to Winter Duet (guest post and giveaway)

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Comes a Horseman (Echoes Rising #3) by Anne Barwell
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at DSP Publications

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Anne Barwell here today talking about the writing the series finale, and her latest release Comes a Horseman (Echoes Rising #3).  Welcome, Anne!

✒︎

 

Bidding Adieu by Anne Barwell

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for Comes a Horseman, the 3rd and final book in my WWII Echoes Rising series from DSP Publications.

I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter.  DSP Publications also have the ebooks for Shadowboxing (book 1), and Winter Duet (book 2) on sale from 17th July-August 4th.

Although I started writing this series with a clear overall story in mind, part of me still can’t believe I’ve finished the final book.  I first began writing the early draft of Shadowboxing in 2002, but shelved it when the thought of all the research got a little daunting.  After my first novel with Dreamspinner Press, Cat’s Quill, was published in 2011, I dusted off the manuscript for Shadowboxing and started writing again. This time the research felt more doable, and hoping I might have a home for it, I went back to the beginning, edited it heavily, and finished the story.  I was delighted when Dreamspinner wanted to publish it, and ecstatic when it and Winter Duet, book 2 of my renamed Echoes Rising series, were republished by DSP Publications in 2016. 

Although this story wasn’t my first published book or series, it was the first thing I’d written that I knew was going to be a novel.  That novel quickly became a three book series, when I realised the story I wanted to tell either needed to be split into a series, or would be one very long book.

I’ve grown attached to these characters, as they’ve been a part of my life for nearly twenty years, and although I’m happy I’ve finally finished telling their story, I’m going to miss them. Despite writing in series, Echoes Rising is the first I’ve finished—although I’m working on completing my others in progress too.  The characters—much like myself—have changed and grown over those years, to the point where I had to rethink some of the scenes in this last story.  They might have worked at the beginning of the series, but these men are no longer the same as they were when they started on this adventure.  They’ve endured many hardships, lost people they cared about, but through it all they’ve built friendships which have impacted their lives. I figure that’s quite an achievement considering that—apart from Matt and Ken—none of them knew each other before the pieces moved into place leading into their mission into German in 1943.

I suspect—considering the strong personalities of these men—that although Echoes Rising is finished, that they’ll find another way to sneak into my writing.  I’m gearing up to set up an author newsletter and will be writing free fiction as a part of that, and Liang is making noises about sneaking into a 1950s murder mystery I want to write.  Matt already has a blink and you’ll miss it cameo in an upcoming release, so watch this space.

After all, these guys are spies, and very practised at getting into places they’re not to be.  I’ll miss the 1940s and WWII as well. I’ve learnt a lot more than I ever thought I would, so maybe other characters from that period still have stories they want to share. Only time will tell.

Finally, I want to thank the readers who have enjoyed reading about my characters’ exploits in WWII. I’ve loved being able to share this series with you. 

Blurb

Echoes Rising Book 3, sequel to Winter Duet

France, 1944

Sometimes the most desperate struggles take place far from the battlefield, and what happens in secret can change the course of history.

Victory is close at hand, but freedom remains frustratingly just beyond the grasp of German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer, Resistance fighter Michel, and the remaining members of the team sent by the Allies—Captain Matt Bryant, Sergeant Ken Lowe, and Dr. Zhou Liang—as they fight to keep the atomic plans from the Nazis. The team reaches France and connects with members of Michel’s French Resistance cell in Normandy. Allied troops are poised to liberate France, and rescue is supposedly at hand. However, Kristopher is no longer sure the information he carries in his memory is safe with either side.

When Standartenführer Holm and his men finally catch up with their prey, the team is left with few options as they fight to keep atomic plans from the Nazis. With a traitor in their midst, who can they trust? Kristopher realizes he must become something he is not in order to save the man he loves. Death is biding his time, and sacrifices must be made for any of them to have the futures they want.

Excerpt:

Matt nodded, his lips moving although he did not speak. He was counting, Michel realized, as they pulled away from shore, and using the rhythm of his movement to distract himself from the darkness.

The moon’s light highlighted the waves lapping around the boat—the water seemed to reach toward them before diving back again. Ken and Matt quickly settled into a unified motion, both focused on what they were doing, although Ken glanced at Matt a couple of times.

Frej signaled for Matt and Ken to change direction slightly and rest the oars. They did that for a few moments, letting the boat drift with the current. If Michel squinted, he could see the outline of the bridge in the distance and several shapes moving at either end of it. The guards on duty would hopefully stay focused on the bridge itself and not notice a small rowboat sneaking over the border. The area was well guarded, but as it had been secured for quite some time, they would not be expecting trouble.

On the other side of the boat, Liang quickly turned and leaned over the side. As soon as he started to make a gagging noise he shoved his hand over his mouth to silence it. If his seasickness got any worse, it would be difficult to mask the noise of him vomiting over the side of the boat. He was doing his best to silence his dry heaving, but his hunched posture suggested he felt miserable and unwell.

Frej leaned toward Ken and gestured. Ken nodded, rested the oars again, and then he and Matt changed direction. Matt was still counting under his breath, and he gripped the oar tightly.

“Who’s there?” The shouted question shattered the silence.

Kristopher glanced around, an expression of panic on his face.

Michel put a hand on his arm to calm him but didn’t dare whisper the reassurance he wanted to. He turned around and strained his eyes, trying to find the source of the disruption. Matt and Ken stopped rowing, the boat drifting back the way they’d come, caught by the current.

He heard boots against wood in the distance—the unmistakable sound of men running, probably over the bridge crossing the Rhine south of their position. “No farther or I’ll shoot,” one of them yelled.

Frej got down on the floor of the boat. Michel and Kristopher followed, then Liang. Matt kept hold of his oar, trying to keep it as still as he could. He leaned down into a crouch, as did Ken.

Gunfire sounded from the bridge. A couple of shots in succession before stopping. Michel heard an engine, a vehicle approaching. A door slammed, and then everything went quiet again. Logically he knew the bridge was a good few kilometers away, but Frej was right about noise carrying on the water. If felt too close for comfort.

Frej waited a few minutes. “Row,” he whispered urgently. “While they are distracted.”

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Rafflecopter giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/96bb1f281/?

You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here: https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/comes-a-horseman-blog-tour

July 25 –  MM Good Book Reviews

July 31 –  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

August 1 – Two Men Are Better Than One

August 1 – Top to Bottom Reviews

August 1 – Genre Talk at The Novel Approach Reviews

August 2 –  Love Bytes Reviews

August 3 –  Andrew Q. Gordon

August 3 –  DSP Publications Blog

August 4 –  Nic Starr

August 4 – Alpha Book Club

August 7 –  My Fiction Nook

August 8 –  Divine Magazine

August 9 – Aisling Mancy

August 10 – Lucy Marker

About the Author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

A Caryn Review: Enlightened (Enlightenment Series #3) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*Happy sigh*

What a wonderful happy ending!  If you’ve read the first two books, you will be so satisfied with this culmination of David and Murdo’s story.  I’m a little sad to leave them behind, but there’s always another reread!

I also found that by the time I finished Enlightened, the titles of each book really started to have new meaning to me.  Provoked introduced David and Murdo not only to each other, but to a new type of attraction that neither had experienced before.  Beguiled showed them discovering new and increasingly fascinating aspects of each other, and letting down some of their internal barriers.  Enlightened found them realizing that not only was a relationship possible, but absolutely necessary, and a source of more happiness and contentment than they ever imagined.  The words, the titles, are a perfect description of the progression of their friendship and love.

The book opens with David still residing at Murdo’s estate at Laverock.  Their time there has been idyllic – a time of quiet companionship, physical exploration, growing mutual respect, and surprisingly an evolving business partnership.  Both men were aware of how fragile and fleeting this time was, but knew it had to come to an end eventually.  The end, however, came in an unexpected and somewhat tragic way when David’s old mentor and Elizabeth’s father, Patrick Chalmers, made a dying request:  for David to find Elizabeth and once again keep her safe from her abusive husband.  Doing so required David to travel to London, and quickly, and leave their protected life in a bubble behind.  Murdo had been putting off going to London for weeks, but he now had a good excuse to delay their parting, so he accompanied David.

London for David was just the place Elizabeth and Euan lived, a place for the job he had to do.  But London to Murdo was so much more – the site of his father’s political machinations and the mistakes that Murdo made trying to live up to his father’s expectations.  Also the place he hid a secret from David that he was afraid would tear them apart – the woman he was engaged to.

That is the only spoiler I will give in this review.  Once that little nugget of information was dropped, the pace of the book sped up and the resolution to their problems was striking, shocking, complete, and perfect.  I loved this description:

The knot of ropes that bound Murdo to his father was Gordian in its complexity and subtlety.  Tonight, Murdo had swept a sword through it, disdaining its cleverness.  Severing it with determination and without concern for the consequences.

With one swift stroke, all the pieces fell into place, and if there was sacrifice, it was worth it.  And they rode off into the Scottish highlands to live in peace and happiness.

I still love the cover art for the series, the models were perfect, but I wish they would have incorporated both models onto this final cover.  I thought Murdo deserved at least as much presence as David in this one…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published May 6th 2014)
ASINB071RK71MR
Series Enlightenment #3

A MelanieM Review: By The Numbers (Sanctuary #10) by R.J. Scott (series finale)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

The final book in the Sanctuary series

Secrets and lies threaten Brandon and Daniel’s new love.

Brandon Hoselton is running scared, finding security in his obsession with patterns and numbers. With his family threatened, he feels he has nowhere left to go, and even considers ending his life to keep them safe. Until Sanctuary, in the shape of the enigmatic Daniel Karnes, gives him a reason to stay alive and offers the possibility of a future free from fear.

Former SEAL Daniel is new to Sanctuary, tasked with watching Brandon, a brilliant geek with way too many secrets. Falling in love with quirky Brandon is easy; now he just has to make sure secrets don’t end up with them both dying.

The only way of destroying Varga is to cut the crime boss’s money, and the two men become part of an intricate take-down involving millions of dollars. But Brandon has a secret he can never share with Daniel, and their new love is at stake.

When the villain has murder in mind, sometimes the only way to stay alive is to lie.

RJ Scott’s The Sanctuary series has been a long, wild, and convoluted one.  It started with a series of murders, conspiracies and the high society Bullen family and has worked it way here to the series finale and its central villain, one unknown at the start.  It’s been quite the ride! A wonderful rollercoaster of high action, sex, intrigue and romance! I’ve loved every minute and word of it.

I have to admit I have had my favorite among all the couple here.  Who hasn’t? Dale and Joseph?  The former Navy SEALS? Top of my list, can’t help it, they are so hot together.  And they are one of the original couples starting way back in The Only Easy Day (Sanctuary #2).  One half of the pair makes a brief appearance here.  Other characters (and mentions of their partners) pop up here.  Kayden Summers from Face Value (Sanctuary #3), Manny (from every book, and his own Full Circle (Sanctuary #5). So many couples and stories and one to wrap it all up.  I think a series finale has a bigger job than just a regular installment and that’s a heavy load for any novel to carry.

By The Numbers picks up almost exactly where Ghost leaves off.  Brandon and his sisters are in a Sanctuary safe house being guarded by Daniel Karnes.  If you are a reader new to the series, then this is not the time to dive into these books.  You are going to be lost. Stop reading and head back to book 1, Guarding Morgan.  RJ Scott starts with the assumptions that you’ve been with the series all along and have the background knowledge to understand the complex relationships and dynamics playing out on the page.  And they are plenty!  Especially with the sisters history and Brandon’s which is ugly and steeped in child slavery and crime.

The majority of this book is Sanctuary moving forward to taking down Varga while Brandon fights internally in the safe house with a secret that could be disastrous for all.  It’s a wonderful ploy, meant to keep readers on their seats, which is does.  But it also does something less wonderful to the romance of Brandon and Daniel which is going on at the same time.  For me, it lessened their connection to each other, made the ending less believable.  The story is told from multiple povs, necessary for this type of tale where each character is a key player in a complicated plot.  To trust?  Not to trust?  To act? Not to act? The action is wonderful, but I think it happens at the expense of the romance, which is sort of fine.  Taking down Varge should be the priority here above all else and that’s how it comes off in the story.

By The Numbers was a terrific high action tale!  The tension at the end, especially with Brandon was so well done, that I was on the edge of my seat!  As a M/M contemporary suspense story, I gobbled it right up.  As a series finale, well, I’m not sure it lived up to my expectations, especially in the romance department.  Brandon never had the chance to grow on me that the other characters did, nor did his relationship with Daniel.  Their time together was sacrificed for the needs to take down Varga, a complicated game to be sure.   I definitely enjoyed it and I love this series and highly recommend it.

Cover art by Meredith Russell works for the characters and series.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 136 pages
Published May 17th 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published May 15th 2017)
ISBN13 9781785640780

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Personal Challenges (Personal #4) by K.C. Wells

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This book is the culmination of the series which started with Making It Personal, the story of Will and Blake that served as the foundation for the characters and situations in the rest of the series. In book two we met Rick and Angelo, and in book three the focus was on Ed and Colin. I enjoyed most of the books, giving four stars to the early ones and five stars to book three. However, at least two years have gone by since I read that last book, and I have to be honest—the specifics of the characters and couples didn’t stick with me over the course of that time—understandable since I’ve read at least 500 more books since then.

That leads to my word of caution—this is not a standalone, and not only should you read the first three books before this one, but if it’s been awhile since you did, it would be in your best interest to reread, or at least review, the previous books before starting this one. I did not do that and my enjoyment of the early part of the book was compromised by my lack of recall. Of course, once I started to really get into the story, I did remember the situations in which the couples met and my enjoyment of this story increased exponentially.

Each couple in this series faces a personal challenge, or crisis, during this finale. For Will and Blake, it’s a medical problem with their newborn son, for Angelo and Rick, it’s simply a lot of interference from Angelo’s mother as she “helps” plan their wedding—for two years now—and it’s time to finalize everything. For Ed and Colin, it’s a voice from the past—Colin’s ex who contacts Colin to say goodbye as he’s dying and that leads to deep secrets being revealed and multiple heartstrings being pulled.

The story was interesting and I found myself looking forward to the next step in the process for each of the couples. At times humorous, most often serious, the author took the time to explore each couple’s issues in depth, and toward the end of the story it became highly emotional. And as luck would have it, I was in a waiting room surrounded by other people when I got to the last chapters. I had to furtively sneak a tissue out of my purse to wipe my eyes as I quietly sobbed through both the heartache and the heartwarming events as each couple came to closure in this story.

On a lighter note, aside from the main storyline, the author seems to have planted the seeds for a new couple to appear in a future book—Franco the ex-priest and Anthony, the wedding planner. I enjoyed their dynamic and would indeed like to see them get their own story.

So overall, yes, I recommend this to lovers of MM romance, and if you’ve enjoyed any of these couples’ stories in the past, by all means, pick this up.

~~~

Cover art by Meredith Russell depicts two men, both with bowed heads, one man with his arms around the other—a good symbol for the couples in the story without trying to depict any one individual couple. The sepia tones are fairly subdued and not necessarily attention-getting but the somber color scheme goes along with the seriousness of the issues the couples face.

Sales Link

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published April 7th 2017 by Island Tales Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPersonal #4