A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Lucky Break (Clean Slate Ranch #4) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A lovely addition to the Clean Slate Ranch series, this story features Shawn, the assistant cook at the ghost-town saloon who helped Miles when his abusive ex showed up in Saddle Up, book three. Robin, one of the ranch hands, befriends Shawn after an initial minor hostility due to the fact Shawn looks like Robin’s former husband, Xander, who died in a rodeo accident three years before. But once Robin gets to know him, the resemblance takes a back seat because Shawn is a completely different personality: shy, sweet, virginal, and reclusive. Shawn has kept the fact he lives in his car a secret for two years, but now that it’s out in the open and he’s given the cabin next to Robin’s, the two slowly become friends, and then more.

The story is a good length and focuses on the slow buildup of a relationship with plenty of kissing and not much else through most of the book as each man slowly begins to share pieces of his past with the other. The author allows time for readers to get to know the characters as they get to know each other and that’s something I appreciate. When circumstances occur that bring Shawn back to his hometown where the public shame and humiliation that forced him out of town took place, Robin accompanies him and finally learns Shawn’s truths.

But it’s not until much later, when they are back at the Clean Slate Ranch, that Shawn learns Robin’s truths about how he lost his husband and the guilt he carries over it. Past characters round out the story and new ones are introduced as I suspect the series may continue for some time—at least, I hope so because I want Derrick and Levi and Hugo to all have their own loves.

As with other books in this series, there’s a sense of family, friendship, trust, and support by all the characters at the ranch.  Those who love a sweet cowboy romance, with a small age gap (8 years), should enjoy this one. Add slow burn, virgins, smaller tops, and widower to the tags, and you get the picture of how very nice this story is.

The bright cover features a handsome cowboy walking toward the camera with a bright blue sky background.

Sales Links:   Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: October 21st 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488056986 (ISBN13: 9781488056987)
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #4

Clean Slate Ranch Series

Wild Trail

Roped In

Saddle Up

Lucky Break

Check Out the Release Blitz for Release (Rent Boys #1) by A E Ryecart (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Release (Rent Boys #1)

Author:  A E Ryecart

Publisher: Indie published

Cover Artist: Tammy Clarke

Release Date: August 9, 2019

Genre/s: contemporary MM romance

Trope/s: opposites attract, sex worker hero, class difference, found family, slow burn

Themes: salvation, redemption, attainment of a better/different/more fulfilled life

Heat Rating:  2 flames

Length: 70 000 approx. words

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Amazon Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  

 

When life holds them captive, can love be their release?

Blurb

Selling his body since he was a fifteen-year-old runaway, rent boy Sean Farrell has learned the hard lesson that the only way to survive the streets is to act tough and cocky. But an act is all it is, as underneath he’s never felt more adrift as he struggles with crippling self-doubt. Sean’s distilled life into three simple rules: earn enough cash to get by, stick close to the friends who have become his family — and don’t let anyone steal his heart.

Art is Laurie Cassell’s profession and passion. His calm and ordered life is just how he thinks he wants it, but it’s becoming harder to ignore the creeping feeling that calm and ordered has become dull and predictable. Laurie craves more but doesn’t know what, or not until a man with dark hazel eyes and a bad attitude swaggers into his life — and leaves with his heart.

Two men who should never have met, let alone fallen in love. Can Sean and Laurie release the other from lives that are holding them captive?

*** Release is a slow burn, opposites attract MM romance. Found family, good friends who give advice our men don’t want to hear, and the redemptive power of love can all be found between the pages. No cliffhanger, and a guaranteed HEA. ***

 

Excerpt 

“Didn’t you hear what he said? He doesn’t want a drink. Are you fucking deaf as well as stupid?”

The words were out of Sean’s mouth before he could think. This wasn’t his fight, this wasn’t his problem. What am I getting myself into? But Sean knew why he hadn’t walked away. The drunk was a bully, and his hectoring voice had scratched down Sean’s spine like nails over a chalkboard. Sean moved in closer, narrowing the space between him and the drunk to no more than a hand’s width. 

“Piss off. This hasn’t got anything to do with you.” The drunk made a good effort at standing his ground, but his voice had lost its edge. He was no longer so sure of himself, the ground beneath his feet no longer so stable. 

Sean said nothing, offering only a grim smile. He knew what the drunk was seeing. 

Tall and well built, and with his hair cut short and severe, Sean looked like a squaddie, a soldier off-duty for the night. Have you got the uniform? Have you got the fatigues? Words, and others like them, he’d had panted into his ear more than once. Sean watched as the drunk hesitated. Unexpectedly challenged, he deflated like a balloon stabbed with a pin.

The guy shrugged and walked off, banging his shoulder into Sean in a final show of defiance. Sean let him have his second or two of triumph; he was gone, and that was all that mattered.

A soft and cultured voice drifted out of the shadow.

“Thank you. You didn’t have to, but, thanks. I appreciate it. He didn’t seem to want to listen to me.” The added words were accompanied by a nervous, hesitant laugh.

Now that the drunk had gone, Sean focused his full attention on the guy.

Dark, heavy hair fell in a floppy fringe across his brow. Pushing it aside, the guy looked up. 

Under the bar’s muted lights, Sean couldn’t determine the colour of his eyes, other than they were large, dark, and full of gratitude. There was a fine-boned delicacy about his clean-shaven face — no hint of designer stubble — and he was well, if conservatively, dressed. Late twenties, thirty at a push, Sean guessed, just a few years more than his own twenty-four.

“Are you waiting for friends or was that just a way of telling him,” Sean said, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder, “to take a hike?” He stared down at the guy, who looked as awkward and out of place in the overpriced, pretentious bar as he did. 

The guy nodded, fiddling with the mixer stick in his glass, stirring the ice, and pushing down on what looked like a whole load of salad leaves.

“I am. This wasn’t my choice, but, well…” He screwed up his nose as he looked beyond Sean and into the bar. 

Sean glanced behind him, surprised to see how in just a few minutes the crowd had swollen. He turned back to the guy and met his wry smile with one of his own.

“Yeah, well, this place was my choice, but I’ve gotta ask myself why.”

The guy laughed. “Everybody’s allowed one erroneous choice. It’s a friend’s birthday, and he wanted to come here, so I didn’t get a lot of say.”

“So where is he, then?”

“Late, as always, but I’m early. As always.”

 

About the Author 

I love all kinds of MM romance and gay fiction, but I especially like contemporary stories.  Born and raised in London, the city is part of my DNA so I like to set many of my stories in and around present-day London, providing the perfect metropolitan backdrop to all the main action. When I’m not writing at home, in the gym, in cafés – in fact any place I can find a good coffee – I can be found with my feet up thinking of more ways to put my men through the emotional wringer!

 

Author  Links

Blog/Website

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Facebook Readers’ Group 

Talking RoMMance… with a British accent

(This a shared group. The other UK authors are Jack L Pyke, Louise Mae, and Susan Mac Nicol)

 

Giveaway 

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Four ( Love By Numbers #2) by Tia Fielding

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

After fleeing from an abusive relationship, genderqueer Kaos is welcomed by friends Makai and Emil (book one – Ten) who give him a safe place to stay while he looks for part time work until he can get a Wisconsin tattoo license. There he meets veterinarian Padraig Donovan, a silver fox who lost his husband four years before and is still having trouble getting used to being alone.

Padraig is stunned when he meets Kaos (who happens to be more feminine that day) since he’s never given a moment of attraction to anyone with feminine qualities before. But everything about Kaos appeals to him and soon they’ve become friends, then friends who kiss and cuddle, and eventually more. But it takes a long time to get there and an equally long time for Padraig to come to terms with his grief and for Kaos to accept his own reactions to his second chance for love.

This is a May-December, slow burn, second chance love story. There’s a lot to like here and the author did a lovely job building the characters and allowing their relationship to develop. And there was plenty of puppy love as the couple adopted and trained a mutt so those who love men with pets stories should love this as well. On a dark note, there was an underlying dramatic turn of events involving a break-in at the vet’s office and a scene describing animal abuse.

But the overall story offers hope and a sweet romance so those who look for age gap and hurt-comfort MM romance should enjoy this one.

The cover by Garrett Leigh features a young blond man looking toward the camera, a hoodie/shrug over his head. This is a great representation of Kaos, and the overall look of the cover is eye-catching.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Dreamspinner Press

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 222 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07T8PCDHC
Edition Language English
Series Love by Numbers 

Ten

Four

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh, my! This book has so many of my favorite tropes that I really enjoyed it immensely. I’d tag it age gap, May-December, slow burn, men with children, family drama, Alaska, hurt-comfort, and second chances. Plus, it had a sneak peek at past characters Griff and River to let us know how they are doing.

As the story opens, Reuben is irritated when he learns his friends aren’t going to make the flight to Alaska to begin the vacation they’d insisted he take to destress from his high-powered corporate law office. Add to his irritation the fact that his ex-wife needs an immediate answer about buying out his share in their law firm and he’s not a happy man when he boards the tiny plane in Alaska to begin a solo tour with a chatty tour operator named Toby.

Toby has been providing for his ailing father and younger sister for years so he’s no stranger to responsibility. And he’s flown this trip many, many times over his favorite areas in Alaska and is happy to give personal attention to his solo traveler. Too bad the silver fox is grumpy and straight, or so he thinks. But halfway through the trip, a sudden storm causes them to crash, and it’s Reuben who rescues Toby before their plane catches fire. 

I loved the way the author took both men out of their comfort zones and allowed them to have new experiences and new perspectives—aha moments, so to speak. One of my favorites came at the end of the book when both men acknowledge that the summer they spent together has been all about second chances and what they plan to do with those chances. I’m glad the author didn’t make the crash site the entire setting of the story and, instead, gave them the perfect excuse to spend a few months together and infuse a few other interesting characters into the mix.

Both characters are well-developed and engaging, and added to the chemistry between Reuben and Toby, we have a 14-year-old teen daughter for Reuben who was a spot-on perfect example of an annoying teen girl of that age. (Been there. Had that!) Watching her slowly gravitate toward her father, and he to her, was heartwarming. Meanwhile, Toby had to learn to rely on help from others, giving him a new perspective on how his father has felt for years. Both men changed over the time they spent together during Toby’s recuperation, and the changes had a ripple effect on their families.

When they allowed themselves to live their dreams, the impossible became possible. Set against the background of the most majestic state I’ve ever visited, how could I not love this story? I highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially those who love the tags I mention at the beginning of this review.

The cover predominantly features glorious Alaska scenery with a top pane that holds a partial shot of the MCs’ faces.

Sales Links: Kobo | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 3rd 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488051275 (ISBN13: 9781488051272)
Edition Language English
Series Frozen Hearts :

Arctic Sun

Arctic Wild

Arctic Heat coming soon

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh, my! This book has so many of my favorite tropes that I really enjoyed it immensely. I’d tag it age gap, May-December, slow burn, men with children, family drama, Alaska, hurt-comfort, and second chances. Plus, it had a sneak peek at past characters Griff and River to let us know how they are doing.

As the story opens, Reuben is irritated when he learns his friends aren’t going to make the flight to Alaska to begin the vacation they’d insisted he take to destress from his high-powered corporate law office. Add to his irritation the fact that his ex-wife needs an immediate answer about buying out his share in their law firm and he’s not a happy man when he boards the tiny plane in Alaska to begin a solo tour with a chatty tour operator named Toby.

Toby has been providing for his ailing father and younger sister for years so he’s no stranger to responsibility. And he’s flown this trip many, many times over his favorite areas in Alaska and is happy to give personal attention to his solo traveler. Too bad the silver fox is grumpy and straight, or so he thinks. But halfway through the trip, a sudden storm causes them to crash, and it’s Reuben who rescues Toby before their plane catches fire. 

I loved the way the author took both men out of their comfort zones and allowed them to have new experiences and new perspectives—aha moments, so to speak. One of my favorites came at the end of the book when both men acknowledge that the summer they spent together has been all about second chances and what they plan to do with those chances. I’m glad the author didn’t make the crash site the entire setting of the story and, instead, gave them the perfect excuse to spend a few months together and infuse a few other interesting characters into the mix.

Both characters are well-developed and engaging, and added to the chemistry between Reuben and Toby, we have a 14-year-old teen daughter for Reuben who was a spot-on perfect example of an annoying teen girl of that age. (Been there. Had that!) Watching her slowly gravitate toward her father, and he to her, was heartwarming. Meanwhile, Toby had to learn to rely on help from others, giving him a new perspective on how his father has felt for years. Both men changed over the time they spent together during Toby’s recuperation, and the changes had a ripple effect on their families.

When they allowed themselves to live their dreams, the impossible became possible. Set against the background of the most majestic state I’ve ever visited, how could I not love this story? I highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially those who love the tags I mention at the beginning of this review.

The cover predominantly features glorious Alaska scenery with a top pane that holds a partial shot of the MCs’ faces.

Sales Links: Kobo | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 3rd 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488051275 (ISBN13: 9781488051272)
Edition Language English
Series Frozen Hearts :

Arctic Sun

Arctic Wild

Arctic Heat coming soon

A Stella Review: Made For You (Love & Family #2) by Anyta Sunday

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Ben wants to find a new home.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parents’ death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all?
Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start.
But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is…

Jack wants an old home to fix.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig?
Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide.
But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines…

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home –– a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

Set in New Zealand, Made For You (Love & Family #2) is an MM gay romance featuring two guys at very different places in their lives – but both finding out they are looking for the same thing.
Can be read as a standalone.

 

I honestly haven’t read the previous title in the Love & Family series by Anyta Sunday, called Taboo For You, cause the title obviously let me believe it was about something I wasn’t comfortable with. I was wrong and since I loved this new novel so much, I will surely come back to the first book as soon as possible.

Made For You was an awesome reading, I want to recommend to all of you, even if you haven’t read Taboo For You, it worked easily as a standalone. It conquered me, I fell deeply into the plot and the characters lives. I picked this book cause I’m a sucker for the age gap between the MCs and I love stories with children. But I wasn’t ready for the amazing deliver I got from the author.

An amazing reading, well written, engaging and easy and quick to read. I loved Ben and Milo, they were so hilarious although their hearts were still recovering from the loss of their parents. I ached for them but was so happy to see Jack come into their home, first to renovate it, little by little to build a new life for the three of them together.

It was exactly what I was in the mood for, not a shallow read at all, but there weren’t so many dramas or angst, the right amount of sweetness, it was a real and believable novel.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is cute, I like it a lot

Sales Links:

Links: https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/made-for-you/

https://amzn.to/2XIAB0a

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 258 pages

Published May 1st 2019 by Anyta Sunday

ASIN B07QQ4TZLW

Edition Language English

Check Out the New Book Release for The Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Soulstealers

Author: Jacqueline Rohrbach

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 1, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 90100

Genre: Fantasy YA, LGBT, Magic, soldiers, power struggle, spirits, Penumbra, slow burn

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Arnaka Skytree grew up believing she was chosen to bring new magic to the world. As the heir to the cult of druids responsible for keeping their floating palace habitable for the wealthy aristocracy, she’s expected to wield her power as those before her did: by culling the souls of peasant women.

But when Arnaka learns more about the source of her magic, and that her best friend’s soul will be harvested, she embarks on a journey to end the barbarous practice and to restore a long-forgotten harmonious system of magic practiced by the original druids. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the only girl chosen to restore balance to their world—many others have powerful magic inside, and with them, she will tear the floating palace from the sky so everyone can live in the sun—out of the shadow of the eclipse.

Excerpt

Soulstealers
Jacqueline Rohrbach © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1
The Choosing

Flowers bloomed around Arnaka Skytree. Tiger lilies tickled her feet while orchids pried open one eye. Rose, the pricklier of the three, stuck her with one of its thorns. She puffed some air up in its direction, fluttering petals and her bangs. Late for her Choosing, Arnaka forced the insistent garden out of her mind, to focus on the currents of air traveling around her, picking out the magic radiating from the flowers the way her older brother picked out soldiers to die for him—delicately, decidedly.

Strong magic ran in her family. The ritual she had to go to was nothing but a mere formality. She would be a druid like all the other women in her family before her, down to the original matriarch—Arnaka the Creator—whose name she shouldered. She was bound to it the way her magic was bound to living things. Soon, it would be the last tattoo burned by magical fire into her skin.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she pressed her finger deep into the sifted dirt around her, begging the world to swallow her whole. The flowers, sensing her sadness, bowed their heads, but they couldn’t give her what she wanted. Destiny’s feet were too heavy for soft petals.

“Lady Arnaka? Are you here?”

Nara, one of her maids, stumbled into the conservatory. Arnaka felt the young woman’s life force before she opened her eyes to watch the bony girl blunder over the flowers, which recoiled from her steps, lifting their leafy underparts to avoid a trampling. Arnaka gave Nara’s approach a small, fond smile.

When she finally saw Arnaka, Nara jumped as if surprised. Her brown eyes widened, giving her the appearance of a deer about to be speared. “Lady Arnaka. Your mother wants you in the hall for the ceremony.”

“I know.”

“She sent me here to get you.”

“I assumed.”

“Lady Arnaka…” the poor girl prompted her.

Arnaka sighed. Nara, who was brought here as a servant and lived on the daily whims of her captors, had no choice but to play her role in today’s events. She wasn’t trying to drag Arnaka to the ceremony out of spite, avarice, or revenge. Doing her job without getting hurt was her only goal.

Pity softened Arnaka’s voice. “Of course. Tell Mother I’ll be right there.”

Nara hopped from one foot to the other. Voice barely above a whisper, she said, “I’m supposed to escort you, Lady Arnaka.”

Arnaka lifted her head and glowered at the servant, hoping the severe expression might be enough to send her on her way. Having company on the long trek toward the hall forced Arnaka to be strong. Really, all she wanted to do was run, hide, vanish.

You promised, she reminded herself. You promised you’d go through with this, and that you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

With a wince, the servant tried again. “My lady, please. Your mother. She’ll—”

“Very well. Come on,” Arnaka interjected before Nara completed the statement with “punish me.” Hearing about her mother’s temper coupled with her propensity to harshly correct servants for slight failures would only twist Arnaka’s already knotted emotions.

“Thank you, Lady Arnaka.”

Said as if she had a choice. “You’re welcome.”

Banter wasn’t something Arnaka lavished on the silly, sweet girl. The walk down the hall was silent. Nara didn’t seem to mind the quiet, or notice. Newly employed, she occupied a world where magic was still magical. The diamond archways casting rainbows to the reflective surface beneath their feet dazzled. Gold shone. Ruby and sapphire mosaics sparked her brown eyes to flame. Tiredly, Arnaka grabbed the gawking servant, who tripped over her own feet as she ogled the spectacle, by the upper arm to drag her inside the transport.

“Ceremonial hall.”

In moments, they arrived. In front of them, the entire court gathered. Thousands of nobles, maybe more, in their best attire.

Her mother broke from the crowd and rushed over. “Arnaka, my daughter. You are radiant today.”

Both of them had black skin that always seemed moonlit and black hair that grew in thick waves. Her mother’s was always swept up into elaborate twists. Arnaka cut hers rebelliously short, letting her curly bangs cover her golden eyes, the pride of her family line. Look into your future mirror, the elder druids always liked to say, you are the spitting image of your mother.

Although her mother was undeniably beautiful with her high cheekbones and angular features, Arnaka’s pleasure in hearing about their resemblance waned. She didn’t want to be kin to a monster.

The swirl of Mother’s elaborate gown extended a foot or two in each direction. Mercurial as the woman herself, its folds, bows, frills, and ruffles shifted on whim in color and in style until she settled on a deep royal purple with a long ivory lace train that fluttered in the air like a cobweb in the breeze.

“Wasteful as always, Mother.” Arnaka pointed to the dress, to which she still made minor adjustments. Meanwhile, the living gathered around her looked wary. Druid magic required life, willing or not. “Glad you settled on something before the whole assembly was depleted.”

A few of the nobles glanced at their feet and cleared their throats but did not comment on the awkward exchange. Her brother puffed his chest. “Sister,” he bellowed, not unlike a braying goat. “We have waited for this moment your whole life.”

Lacking the refinement of magic, Escan’s features looked blunt and staggered as though whoever carved him had jittered uncontrollably during the process. Only his eyes, the color of golden flame that was his family’s legacy, rendered him attractive. Every girl wanted babies with ladder-climbing genes and nothing said advancement quite like the bloodline of old aristocracy. Otherwise, her brother lacked figurative magic as well as literal. He was doing his best to steal the moment despite it.

Arnaka looked at the assembly of aristocrats before her. Like her mother, they wanted all the religion with none of the sacrifice religion required. Servants were there to pay the life price for their magic. In a pinch, merchants would do. Who better to understand there was a cost to doing business? This was probably the first time in centuries any of them felt the intrusive pull of magic’s touch at their own doorstep.

Resigned to what was to be, Arnaka raised her voice to carry across the room. “I am here to bring new magic.”

Applause broke out. Arnaka winced away from it, hating the fact they clapped for her, for the evil thing they were about to do. You promised her, Arnaka had to remind herself again. You looked her in the eye and said you’d go through with this, then you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

She’d been so focused on remembering her vow that she forgot the ceremony. The pain from the burning as her final tattoo, a small circle on her forehead, seared her skin surprised her. More than any of the other tattoos branded into her arms and back, it hurt with pain beyond the smell of her own flesh, beyond the residual throb of the wound. It foretold what was to come after.

As the smoke around her cleared, a young woman a few years older than her was escorted forward. Unnamed at birth, she existed to be Arnaka’s spirit sister until she became a soul familiar, forever bound to serve as an instant source of magic. But Arnaka knew her name, a deep secret between them that she’d sworn to keep. She held onto it even as the knife plunged into the young woman’s throat. She thought it when the soul heeled at her side—Hannah. Again when she went to bed with the thing looming over her shoulder—Hannah. Only once more after that.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion! Follow Jacqueline on Twitter.

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A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Lust and Other Drugs (Mytho #1) by TJ Nichols

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Police officer Jordan and dragon shifter Edra might have to work together, but they don’t trust each other—even if sparks do fly between them.

If anyone finds out Jordan’s a mytho sympathizer, it could kill his career. No one can know that he frequents the satyr dens and uses the drug Bliss. A dead satyr might not get much attention, but two dead humans who appeared to overdose on Bliss? That shouldn’t even be possible.

And it might not be an accident.

Edra, Mythological Services Liaison, has been covering up mytho crimes to protect the community’s reputation. With a mayoral election looming, the last thing his people need is a scandal like this one.

To get a murderer off the streets, Jordan and Edra will be spending a lot of time together, and it won’t be easy to keep up with their deceptions. Or keep resisting each other.

While I love Fantasy, I’m usually not big on crime/mystery novels, so I was a bit unsure whether I wanted to read “Lust And Other Drugs” or not. In the end, it was the cover that convinced me to give this a try. And I’m so glad it did, because this book was absolutely brilliant!

As I said above, I’m not a big Mystery reader, so I can’t really judge the quality of the crime solving part of the novel. I can only say that I enjoyed it and was glad it didn’t take up a huge part of the book. It’s essential to the plot, but it’s just one essential part among others.

The romance is a very slow burn. There’s an instant spark between our MCs, but they don’t tumble into bed or into a relationship right away. It takes time and it’s not easy. While relationships between a mytho and a human might not be forbidden, it is most definitely taboo. And very bad for Jordan’s career in an anti-mytho police force. And Edra has good reasons to be wary of humans in general, especially the human police. I really enjoyed the slow dance of attraction and the UST was so scorching hot.

The Fantasy part was actually really interesting. While a lot of the elements aren’t exactly new (dragons, collapsing worlds, magic,…), the author managed to give it a very unique twist. For once, the end of the world isn’t caused by evil magic, but by a mundane human experiment gone wrong. And it’s not the end of the human world, but the end of another realm. All our fairy tales and myths are based on the mythos, that used to visit our human world. The world building was very well done and made perfect sense to me.

I loved the politics, the way the world reacted to the sudden appearance of mythological creatures and how the daily life works now, 10 years later. Again, it all made sense. Humans are always wary of anything that’s “different” and after such a huge upheaval, it only follows that humans want to go back to what’s “normal”. They become more intolerant and humans that don’t fit in are also viewed with hostility.

Jordan was rather surprising. He loves wearing lingerie and likes to put on eyeliner and lipstick every now and then. I’m usually not really into femme MCs, but the way the author described the feeling of the silk against skin was incredibly sensual. And the way Edra reacted was just hot as hell.

Overall, I really, really loved “Lust And Other Drugs”. The ending is a very open HFN and it’s obvious there’s more to come. The love story doesn’t really have a satisfying result and the crime isn’t fully solved either. But it didn’t end on a cliffhanger. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series. I want to know what happens next!

The cover by Tiferet Design most definitely did it’s job. It’s what caught my attention in the first place and what ultimately made me decide to read the book. I think it looks really great and totally fits the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 1st edition, 203 pages
Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN1 39781644051887
Edition Language English

Series Mytho #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Milt’s husband of many years, Corky, has passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a horrible deterioration of mind and body.  As is the case with many who suffer from this disease, Corky forgot who Milt was at times and at other times was angry and resentful toward him. He escaped his home, sometimes while nude, and in short, tested Milt’s reserves to the nth degree.  But Milt never stopped loving him and now, sitting in his new mobile home in Palm Springs, California, he’s far away and yet still close in his heart.  Some thought Milt was being too reactionary when he packed up and moved across country, but he and his adopted dog, Ruby, are beginning to acclimate to their new lives together.

Then, along comes a flash flood and a friendly neighbor to rescue them. Billy Blue, handsome, young, a former singer, now working at Trader Joe’s is an alcoholic in recovery for several years and planning to stay that way, despite the emotional ups and downs he begins to feel when Milt enters his life. Though several years older than Billy, Milt is nevertheless exactly the man of Billy’s dreams and Billy has to exercise all his life lessons to remember that good things happen in their own time, not on his time schedule.

Those who follow my reviews know I get a little (okay, a lot) peeved when authors glaze over a “drinking problem” or have their character in detox and then have him live a happy life, drinking again whenever he’s out with friends—with no consequences.  But in this story, Mr. Reed presented alcoholism and recovery, through the twelve step fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, as clearly, kindly, respectfully, and honestly as I’ve ever read. And I’m old, so I’ve read a lot! I appreciate his attention detail more than I can say.

A frequently heard term in AA is “the joy is in the journey, not the destination.”  And for me, the joy was in the journey of reading this beautiful portrayal of a man coming to grips with the death of his husband, moving through the stages of grief as time goes on, and ultimately recognizing that it’s okay to love again.  There’s also joy in being present for Billy’s journey as he follows direction from his sponsor and does what he’s learned is most important to his balance—to put his sobriety first.  After all, he wouldn’t have any chance with Milt if he wasn’t the man he is today and that’s due to working the program. 

I simply loved this story.  It’s not explicit, thankfully.  That wasn’t necessary.  What was necessary was to allow two men to have an opportunity to get to know each other, become friends, and eventually move to a firm and loving relationship.  Slow burn, hurt-comfort, age gap, men over forty, grief, men with pets—I can think of many more tags I’d use for this one. But ultimately, the tag I’d use first and foremost is amazing.   Thank you Rick R. Reed! You have set the bar high. 

The cover by Reese Dante features two men in an embrace—perhaps a kiss about to happen—set against a beautiful blue background of the sky over Palm Springs.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 190 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B07NNX7J4Q
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Accidentally on Purpose by J.M Snyder

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Love older MCs? Love slow burn, even in the bedroom? This one is just right for those of us who want to read about two older guys who find their way to romance. Granted, in this case, they get a little push from a 14-year-old, but nevertheless, they get there.

Alan Travers has custody of his nephew Brooks, and when Brooks is police-escorted home from the mall one night, Alan’s not upset because it’s Detective Jim Garrison who brings him home.  Jim is the “hot” cop Alan has been admiring from afar and has been too tongue-tied to ask out.  It just so happens that Brooks offered to help him find the perfect opportunity to have a chance to talk by using himself as bait to get picked up for breaking curfew. 

Alan is still pretty tongue-tied and definitely self-deprecating. At fifty-three years old, he’s not in the best shape—or at least, not from his perspective—but Jim likes what he sees and the two end up going out after days and days talking on the phone until late at night. So at the end of their date, which doesn’t feel like a first date at all, they finally make it to bed. 

The author takes the time for the two to get to know one another and even in the bedroom scene, several chapters cover their time together. After all, it’s been some time—years—for both of them, and Alan has to get past the hurdle of undressing before another man, and Jim has to search for condoms. When he finally found some, though unopened, the box was over ten years old!  There were quite a few laugh out loud moments in this story and the sweetness of their romance shines through. When Brooks goes missing the morning after his date with Jim, Alan gets the chance to see his detective in action.   All is well in the long run, and the couple manage to find their way to a nice HEA by the epilogue. 

Very enjoyable, I recommend this to those of us into late-life romance. 

The cover features two handsome older men, a light blue background and a cup of coffee – symbolic of their first meeting when Alan dumped his all over Jim’s shoes.  Any cover featuring an older MC attracts my attention these days.  Very nicely done!

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 173 pages

Expected publication: November 24th 2018 by JMS Books LLC

ASIN B07JMGFC8L

Edition Language English