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Hello world!

This blog is all about Romance!  We review books about romance (mostly m/m – but there might be an occasional m/f, f/f, m/m/f, space-alien-babies, what have you).

In addition we are inviting fan fiction, slash fiction, fan-art – anything that moves you to create.

We hope you find something that entertains you or inspires you – Enjoy!

Feel free to email us at openskyebookreviews@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

Release Day Review: Quenched in Blood By Ari McKay

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/quenched-in-blood-by-ari-mckay-9984-b

Blurb

Asheville Arcana
Will love mean rebirth… or death?
In the course of his work with the Asheville Paranormal Council, reclusive three-hundred-year-old vampire Julian Schaden discovers young Thomas Carter, the heir to a long line of demon hunters—a legacy Thomas knows nothing about.
He also knows nothing about the supernatural world or the danger he’s in. As Julian convinces him and later agrees to train Thomas to use his abilities, he struggles against unexpected feelings. Thomas is too young and innocent to become involved with Julian, but opposites attract, and this is one battle Julian is fated to lose….
Julian and Thomas grow closer as the demonic menace advances. A prophecy from a dying mage comes with a bleak warning: to save Thomas’s life, Julian might have to give up the only man he’s ever loved.

Review

This is an amazing series. It’s really rich and full of tremendous world building with lively and engaging characters and a bad guy really worth going after.

I loved the relationship building here – I felt like it went at a great pace and kept me interested without rushing it.

Of course the virgin aspect mixed with the “slut” as partner was really hot! But it was also really tender and Julian did a lot of growing along side Thomas.

The action/adventure was just enough without overwhelming the romance.

Overall I think this was excellent and I highly recommend it to any fan of the author, the series, paranormal romance and fantasy. I do think this is best read in order but you could muddle though if you really don’t want to.

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day: His Consort by Mary Calmes

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/his-consort-by-mary-calmes-9995-b

Blurb

A new life in New Orleans is all Jason Thorpe had hoped: his quaint little store attracts a devoted staff and his warm, loving heart grants him a loyal circle of friends. He’s perfectly content, having left behind the chill of a confusing and danger-filled night in Washington, until he discovers something unbelievable lurking in the steamy darkness of the shadowy streets of the Vieux Carré, something that turns out to be terrifying… and utterly mesmerizing.

The prince of the vampyrs, Varic Maedoc, is visiting New Orleans when he finds out the man who once helped his counselor is there in the Quarter. He thinks to simply meet and thank Jason—until he lays eyes on him. Varic’s devoted himself to protect the honor of his race, and he’s never wanted a mate before… but he immediately knows he must have this man, and no one else will do.

Varic may want to bring Jason safely into his world, but someone who doesn’t like the human’s soothing influence on vampyrs has deadly plans that would disrupt Varic’s dreams. Now, unable to tell friend from foe, Jason finds himself wondering how to hold on to the prince’s heart when he’s fighting for his life.

 

Review by Karen

I don’t think anyone can bring the soulmate/fated mate vibe to a story as well as Mary Calmes can. There’s no doubting the all-encompassing, blissful feelings that well up between Jason and Varic. I loved that they are so drawn to each other from the first, but even more that it’s not just about chemistry or power, but true love and appreciation of the other person that makes them so strong together.

 

I’m impressed by the amount of detail that went into the world-building and the setting of this story, bringing into it such history and a great cast of secondary characters. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them in a follow-up story! We get to know Jason really well from the first, whereas our prince remains far more enigmatic. It takes a while for him to make an appearance “on page”. The author sure understands how to build up anticipation!

 

Jason is an incredibly endearing hero, strong and capable, but with a soft heart underneath. Varic, he who has it all and has had it for what seems like an eternity, needs to swiftly adjust to what it means to have a modern-day man for a mate, and how vulnerable that makes him feel. It’s not as easy as he might have expected, but his devotion to Jason never wavers.

 

The story is excellently paced with various vampyr political intrigues to muddy the waters for our heroes. Danger lurks in unexpected places and it’s hard to know who to trust. I didn’t see the threat coming at all! It was brilliant! Though less so for our MC’s, of course…

 

This was such an enjoyable read, I was totally swept away by it. It was all so intense! Loved it!

 

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Morgan

I’ll start out by re-iterating that I’ve been a huge fan girl of Mary for a long time… I was stoked to find out she’s writing paranormal again because I LOVE that part of her writing – more? – than her contemporary – it’s a toss up because Marshal’s really has my heart … But this story was all over the place.

There is a TON of world building so I hope we get a series out of this – there are certainly a lot of characters to play with – legions of them – but I couldn’t really tell you a lot about the prince because he does not play a big role in this romance about the prince of the vampyr.

Fans of the author will find her quintessential “aw shucks” MC in our human. He’s ex special forces so he can take care of himself, but he’s got a heart as big as the sun. He literally wants to save everyone and he charms his enemies along the way.

There are so many new words and rules and people and a new conflict between the made vamps and the royal vamps – a lot of it went over my head and once the story shifted from Washington state to New Orleans I admit to finding it hard to keep track of who and what and where and definitely why.

Our couple spends very little time together. I’m totally on board with the “mine” but I there was a lot of time that I was wishing they’d spend some time not having sex and get to know one another. The way the story is laid out I almost thought Hadrian or Tiago was going to be the other MC – we spend more time with them than the prince.

In any case, it was a fun story and definitely had all the Mary charm – but it felt a bit scattered and not as cohesive as some of her other stories.

3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Femme Faux Fatale By Susan Laine

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/femme-faux-fatale-by-susan-laine-9982-b

Blurb

Mystery. Murder. Men in silk stockings. Hollywood nights are heating up.
Hardboiled Los Angeles PI Cain Noble is hired by wealthy and gorgeous Camille Astor to find her husband and a priceless work of art, both of which have disappeared.
At the nightclub owned by Mr. Astor, Cain encounters the mesmerizing Lily Lavender, who has the body of a goddess and the sultry voice of an angel—but is really a young man named Riley who attracts trouble like a magnet.
What’s a private dick in the vein of LA’s bygone era and a cross-dressing burlesque starlet to do when faced with the hidden decadence and lethal dangers of the Hollywood Hills? They have their work cut out for them because they haven’t even scratched the surface of an elaborate scheme more twisted than anyone could ever have imagined.

 

Review
The start of this story put me in mind of film noir, with the jaded PI meeting his dubious client for the first time. My initial reaction was that the characters were a bit caricaturist. This impression was strengthened the first time Camille Astor came into the picture. I think it’s intentional given that there are movie references included in the story. Once Cain met Riley that impression was less important and I put it to one side. Fireworks and good ole fashioned lust came into the story, yum. This is a tale that twists and turns. There are the obvious bad guys and the not so obvious worse guys which gave the story a pleasant edge. Some things I didn’t see coming and this kept me hooked. Overall good fast burn romance with murder-crime drama.

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Comfort: Rend (Riven #2) by Roan Parrish

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38944629-rend?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

Review

This was not what I was expecting.

I’d really loved Riven – it had angst and pain – sure – but the overall feeling was lighter and definitely had a brighter outlook to it.

I’d thought this would have a similar vibe. Well – it didn’t. It was very, very, very, very angsty – drama at every turn and full of sadness and emotional upheaval.

If this is your bag- you will be psyched because Roan Parrish is a great writer. However, if you’re looking for something lighter in line with Riven – don’t read this.

I thought it was interesting that our MCs are already married in chapter 1 and the book is not our guys getting together but Matt getting over his low self esteem.

I really didn’t like the fact that Matt was a mental health professional with apparently no ability to manage himself – at all.

I think that was definitely part of the problem I had with this. I appreciated the idea of it, but I didn’t necessarily like that our guys were already together.

In any case – it was nice seeing the MCs from book 1 and – as I mentioned – Roan is a great writer – I was just over Matt and his self doubt pretty much from sentence one so this just didn’t tick any boxes for me.

3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Haunted Seas (San Capistrano Series 5.5) By Angelique Jurd

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42427557-haunted-seas?from_search=true

Blurb
Life in the San Capistrano beach house is good. Ben and Alex’s family is settled and happy as they navigate day to day life. As they prepare for Halloween they get some news that may finally offer Alex the closure on his past he so desperately needs.

Review
I fell in love with Alex Davis in book one of this series and haven’t fallen out of love yet. He is such a beautiful gentle man who deserves everything good that comes his was.
In this short story, we drop back in on the world of Alex, his husband Ben and their three children, just to take a wee peak at how life is treating them.
In this quick visit we get a chance to see that life is pretty good for the family. The girls are growing, Lucy has found her two-year-old teeth and temper, Ally’s determined character seems to be back on track and Jamie is tentatively exploring his sexuality.
But once again, an explosive piece of news rocks the calm-ish waters of Alex’s life, leaving him a little lost on how he should feel, but as always, this beautiful tight-knit family rally around to love and support.

This is not a stand-alone book and you will need to have read the rest of the series to understand the story. I highly recommend reading them all. This also looks to be a gateway into book six Safe Haven, that will hopefully be with us in December 2018

4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Seer (Soulmates #2) by Erin M. Leaf

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42429170-seer?from_search=true

Blurb

No one knows that Nick Auspex is a Seer, but his power is very real—that’s why he knows he’ll always be alone. Since childhood, he’s seen visions of his soulmate caught in the midst of a terrible fire. So when he’s assigned to protect Jeff Wright, he knows their mutual attraction is destined to go nowhere.

When Jeff opens the door to find the Craft Council’s security expert on his doorstep, his first instinct is to send Nick away. Jeff is human, but Nick is a powerful Crafter, and everyone knows relationships like that never work. Jeff needs to figure out who murdered his parents, not screw around with some random guy when he’s never even dated another man before.

Of course, neither of them can control fate—and when two soulmates meet, destiny trumps fear. Will fire destroy lives or illuminate the truth hiding in the darkness?

Review

I loved the amazing bonding and magic and self discovery . The fire and danger got a little old. But I loved the connection these guys had with each other.  Really recommended to fans of magic and insta love/mate bond.

Much better than book 1 and I really enjoyed book 1.

5 of 5 stars

Time to comfort: Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan Narrated by Iggy Toma

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Love-Lessons-Audiobook/B00TYQO89K?qid=1542239317&sr=sr_1_6&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_6&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=8P1JGRY6EFCMR6GR8NJ8&

Blurb

Love doesn’t come with a syllabus. Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus. Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door. Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.

As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last. Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.

 

Review

Kelly is a small town guy with Disney –HEA – visions in his head. He just KNOWS life gets better in college and he won’t let anybody tell him otherwise. Walter is the jaded, older student and now roommate who, at first, wants to break Kelly of his romantic ideal nonsense, then feels it’s his duty to protect those dreams and finally to make them come true. This is a long book, so we cover a lot of ground and in a lot of detail. We get a good, hard look at what makes Walter so cynical and a good look at what makes Kelly so idealistic. We get to watch the relationship, in its early seedling stage nearly die before finally taking root to grow into a full-fledged, Disney-level-happiness, rock solid, Red-wood of a relationship. This is a new adult novel. Not quite YA – too much drinking, drugs, and sex for that. But the story is more closely that of a YA than some of the other, far more raunchy, Heidi Cullinan “adult” books. It is very well written and very involved, like the rest of Heidi’s books, and hits all the right buttons for me.

I just love the characters. They are all very well developed, three-dimensional, interesting and unique. There are several secondary characters that add complexity to the story and help to give this book it’s authentic flavors. Kelly is an amazing guy. Heidi has managed to give us a freshman boy, who loves Disney movies, is a die-hard romantic, a virgin and yet he is still very much a boy. I love him! I love that he idolizes Tangled and has dreams of how his first date, first sex and wedding should all be. I loved the juxtaposition of his money poor, love rich household with Walter’s money rich, love poor life. Walter, the playboy, the cynic, the last guy to imagine Happy Ever After is the PERFECT choice for Kelly.

Their story is told slowly, organically growing and unfolding tenderly in such a way that we can easily see how the switches can be flipped and how our jaded Walter can come around to being Kelly’s Prince by the end of the book. I could really relate to Kelly’s vision of what love “should and should not” be, I think many of us remember that time in our lives – whether it was high school, college, or later in life – and how hard it was to mesh that vision in our head with what life hands us.

What I admired was how Kelly held on to his vision of Disney-Princess-Happiness without shame or wavering even in the face of disillusionment and that, in the end, his enduring faith brought everyone around and actualized his feelings rather than crushing his spirit. The length of the book is both its strength and weakness. It takes a little dedication – there are times the story drags and it takes a little perseverance.

However, the pay out is definitely worth it. Because she doesn’t compromise on length, the story feels very natural and real, and because life is more than just romance, the added side stories Heidi guides us through help us to see how our MCs are growing and changing in a way that feels authentic. By the end I think everyone will have at least some tears in their eyes if they are not out-right bawling. It is an amazingly tender, sweet and satisfying book on many levels.

You will fall in love with Kelly and Walter and – now that I have read the sequel – I can tell you that you will be excited to know we get to see even more of them real soon and it only makes this book that much more sweet. I give it 4.75 hearts and I really recommend this book to anyone who ever had a Disney-Princess fantasy or anyone who ever thought true love only existed in fairy tales.

Audio

Iggy Toma is a new narrator to me and he did a fantastic job with this series. He adds so much real emotion that the listener is truly immersed in the story right along with the characters. He did some subtle variations on the voices, enough to differentiate the speakers, but did not go over the top with them. I really, really enjoyed listening to this and will probably find myself listening to it again and again – all 10 hours!

The listening experience contributes so much to the enjoyment to bump this to a 5 of 5 stars! I loved it!


Copy Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Slave Dance (Alien Blood Wars series – book 3) by Samantha Cayto

Pride Publishing

https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/slave-dance

Blurb
What lurks in the dark is not always a monster. Sometimes it’s your deepest desire.
Quiet and steadfast, Emil has remade himself from botanist to chef. Taking care of people is what he does best. He hates having to fight the war with Dracul, but his loyalty to his captain forces him to do no less. Unlike others of his species, he has formed no intimate bonds and has no intention of doing so. That way lies sadness. He takes his pleasure from feeding those he loves, content with his destiny. That is until he runs into an abused boy who needs more than a good meal.
All turning eighteen means to Jase is that now the man who he is forced to call Master can abuse him publicly. A victim of sex trafficking, Jase only knows one way of life-brutal submission to whichever man claims him. When his Master joins Club Lux, it’s more of the same until he finds himself in the hands of its strange chef.
Circumstances force Emil into a new and frightening role and Jase into the arms of a scary and unfathomable Master. Emil is worse than any man—or so Jase thinks, when Emil’s alien nature comes out. Jase wants to be a good slave and Emil frets about saving Jase from himself. While they try to find their way, a vicious crew member begins to terrorize Boston. Now Emil fights on two fronts—the scariest being that he will fail Jase.

Review

I jumped in mid-series with this book, but the author does such a great job at world-building and connecting all the dots, that I was drawn into the story with ease. There are a lot of characters to get to know, but I had a clear idea of what was going on and with whom, so that wasn’t an issue in the slightest.

I was pleasantly surprised by the original take on the vampire/Dracula mythology that we get in this series. I’m a big fan of the paranormal genre, especially vampires and shifters, so I’m pretty stoked about having found a new author!

There’s an ongoing battle between Emil’s “band of brothers”, led by Alex, and a group of rogue deserters, led by the evil Dracul. The action-part part of the story is also a very important element, the focus is not solely on the romance. In between trying to save humanity from Dracul and his minions, Emil meets Jase when Jase’s Master (read abuser) brings him along to the bdsm club where Emil works as a chef. Supposedly, Jase is in a consensual slave/master relationship and it takes Emil and the others a little while to figure out that something else entirely is going on. But then it’s Emil to the rescue! Go Emil!

I have to admit that the scenes where Jase is abused where hard for me to read, and I was very happy when that part of the story was finally out of the way. I can see how it was necessary to have that be part of the book, because experiencing it alongside Jase, instead of having it be a kind of “behind closed doors”-event really heightens the emotional connection we feel as a reader to Jase. Still, not the easiest part of the book to get through. And of course, as a result, I very much rooted for Emil, the contrast between the alien and the actual monster couldn’t be starker.

Jase and Emil are both amazing MC’s, especially Jase who shows great resilience and courage. I do feel as if he might have recovered a bit too quickly though from everything he went through. Emil is a steady, kindhearted man, very much a caretaker, so he’s perfect for Jase. I loved the respect he showed for Jase’s independence and free will.

There are multiple pov’s used throughout the book, setting the stage for other storylines to come, and to help us get different, useful perspectives. We know how both MC’s feel, but we also get important insights from several, for the moment, secondary characters. One of whom is enslaved by Dracul, so reading his take on things is a great way to show readers why exactly Dracul is so loathsome and very much to be feared.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next, but I think I had best start with reading what happened at the beginning first. I dearly wish I had a Time-Turner like Hermione, so I could find the time to read all the books I want!

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Time to Comfort: Physical Therapy by ZA Maxfield Narrated by Thomas Fawley

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6465468-physical-therapy?from_search=tru

Blurb
For reasons they can’t explain, Ken and Jordan are drawn together, each finding in each other the thing they most need.

When Jordan Jensen moves to St. Nacho’s he has one goal in mind: starting over. He wants to reconnect with best friends Cooper and Shawn yet is uncertain of his welcome. He has the skills to get a job, but isn’t sure any prospective employer can get past the time he spent in jail for alcohol-related vehicular homicide. He’s past the worst part of his life but knows it will haunt him forever. So Jordan plans a life of quiet service. One thing he knows for sure: finding love is entirely too much to ask.

On the first day of his new job, Jordan meets Ken Ashton. Ken has every reason to hate Jordan for his past: Ken’s baseball career was shattered in a drunk-driving accident. But for some reason he can’t explain, Ken needs Jordan’s touch and finds healing within Jordan’s warmth and strength.

Without entirely understanding it, Ken and Jordan develop a powerful emotional and erotic connection, but Ken must help Jordan find the faith to trust it. Unexpected help comes from the people of Santo Ignacio–and the town itself–a place where Physical Therapy can be a path toward spiritual healing and powerful, passionate love

Review
This is the second book in the series but is definitely a stand alone story. The characters from the first book are in the story but in my view you do not need to know their story to follow this one. This story lets you know there is bad blood between Cooper and Jordan and covers Jordan’s side. But I suppose book 1 would give the story from both sides.
For me this story is about healing for both main characters. Jordan brings a lot of emotional baggage with him when he moves to St Nachos. He is to be looking for redemption and finds love. Ken needs to. Heal physically from his injuries and emotionally after his life was destroyed in the accident. One caused by drunk driver. He also has to come to terms with having feelings for a man capable of driving when drunk, although he does seem to come to terms with it quite quickly. Too quickly for me. There is angst in the story, yet where I expected confrontation (Cooper and Jordan) it didn’t materise. The relationship between Jordan and Ken is a bumpy road. It did feel contrived that Jordan needs to atone for killing someone whilst drunk driving and his atonement comes in the form of someone injured through the actions of a drunk driver. It’s quite frustrating to listen to at times with the way Ken treats Jordan. But I also appreciate that Ken would have a lot of mixed feelings about Jordan. Also it’s not physical therapy, Jordan is a masseur. I liked that both Jordan and Ken were eventually able to work their way through both their personal and relationship issues.
The narration by Thomas Fawley is good. I hadn’t heard of him before this series. His characterisation of both Jordan and Ken fitted them well. He brings out the emotions giving them the gravitas they need to have impact. I like that he also focuses on the secondary characters giving them their quirks.

4 of stars out of 5 for both story and narration

Purchased by reviewer

Release Day Review: Cops and Comix By Rhys Ford

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cops-and-comix-by-rhys-ford-10013-b

Blurb

A Murder and Mayhem Short
It’s all fun and games until someone leaves a dead body on the floor.
Life for comic book store owner Alex Martin usually runs to the mundane. Sure, he has a regular influx of geeks and freaks, but for the most part, it’s a familiar weird. That all changes when he opens up Planet X Comics one morning and finds a corpse in the middle of his shop.
When Detective James Castillo is called in to investigate, Alex is torn between wanting to climb the man like a tree and giving him a wide berth. Luckily for Alex, the handsome detective is just as interested in him—as a suspect in the murder.

Review

This novella starts with a dead body, and you assume most of it will revolve round that drama and the struggle between Alex being extremely attracted to James and fearing he will be accused of murder.

I like that Ford chose to put enough of the romance and solved that conflict sooner than expected. I actually really liked Alex and James, they sort of had a slow buildup and it was very refreshing, considering most full length books jump right into the steam on the first date/meeting. There is a heaping amount of humor and a splash of bad Karma/Murphy’s Law mixed in and it makes for a truly fun read. And surprisingly (or not so much when you consider the talent of the author) you get well rounded characters in such a short story, James is a big softie and I liked his lack of macho ego. Alex is just the right amount of shy and geeky without turning into a total introverted outcast like some books tend to portray geeky/nerdy characters.

This short novella leaves you with a craving for more, written in Rhys Ford’s signature humor and fantastic writing style. The only reason I gave it 3.5 stars is that I felt it was a bit too short or rushed in some parts. Despite that it was just the kind of teasing taste to get you hooked on the series and I am definitely going to get the next ones and dive in.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review