Symbols by Mario K. Lipinski

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/symbols-by-mario-kai-lipinski-8516-b

Blurb

Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.

Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?

Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.

Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.

Review

This is a new author to me, and I’d definitely read something else by them. I believe the author is German and it seemed to me that the sentence structure and flow and very specifically the dialog felt “different”. I didn’t get the feeling of authenticity that I have from other YA authors, though it isn’t necessarily “bad” – just different.

Shane and Matt don’t always say or do things that I’d expect boys of their age to do. Some of that is intentional and some might be perception but some is also pure fantasy. Part of what I liked about this was the “perfect” way things happened and got resolved – not necessarily realistically – but in a way that’s wonderful and fun to imagine (and hope for!). (I’m thinking of the parent’s responses to the boys as a couple and to wanting to have sleep overs as one example and the language Shane uses to share his feelings as another – though there are others – that felt nice, happy, and fantasy like rather than realistic.)

I thought this book was a bit too long and could have benefited from some editing. There were some things that seemed to drag as well as a few more details and descriptions that only served to make things prolonged rather than better experienced. (One example I’m thinking of is the first exploration into lovemaking – while I loved it and it was sweet as hell- I was skimming and hoping they’d “get to it!” by the end.)

One odd juxtaposition – to me- was the super sweet way the sexual part of the relationship is developed and discussed and considered overlain with making accommodations for the size of Shane’s dick. From a reader’s perspective it didn’t seem to fit the tone of the story and definitely brought me out of things. I’m not saying that this isn’t an actual issue or that young boys wouldn’t have to experience it – but it sort of added to my sense of “fantasy” rather than reality and didn’t really seem to fit with the rest of the issues the boys had to struggle with. Maybe it just felt a bit too “porn” like… I’m not sure.

Who do I think will like this? I think fans of YA m/m romance in general will like this. This covers a lot of “hot” topics like bullying and prejudice and perceptions. It also acknowledges that kids their age (18 and 19) have sex and treated it fairly kindly. Maybe it’s not quite for YA kids themselves, though.

I was definitely compelled by this and kept interested throughout the book, I’ll look for more from this author in the future and I can recommend this cautiously to fans of YA romance.

(The cover is beautiful!)

3.75 (rounded to 4) of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher For Honest Review

Blitz for Guitars and Choices by Layla Dorine!

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Sequel to Guitars and Cages…Now on Sale for .99 or Free on KU

 Blurb
Asher Logan has been a lot of things: runaway, guitarist, cage fighter, cowboy, but the one thing he’s always avoided was being a father to his young son. Now faced with returning to his families ranch, he’s forced to deal with the knowledge that the move would put him right down the road from Shawn. Still, it’s better than staying in the city, with drunken, bitter older brother Cole, whose anger and prejudices have made him difficult to be around.
Add in the fact that Asher’s new boyfriend, Conner, is eager to make the move with him, and there’s little argument that he can make against it. But returning home means facing demons, and the barn he’s avoided since the day his father caught him and his first love together in the hay. Speaking of his father, when the old man finds out Asher is back, he knows it will only be a matter of time before he demands Asher come to the prison to see him.
Moving means facing a buried past and truths long hidden, but staying in the city isn’t good for anyone, least of all Asher’s young nephew, Rory. It’s a hard road to face, filled with tough choices, and an old secret that just might provide more questions than answers.
Book Trailer

Buy Links
US Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07177SZMY
UK Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07177SZMY
JP Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B07177SZMY
CA Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07177SZMY
AU Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07177SZMY
About the Author
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Layla Dorine can be found at:
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005197938547&fref=ts Twitter: https://twitter.com/layladorine
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/layladorine/
Tumblr: https://layladorine.tumblr.com/
Author Website: layladorine13.wix.com/layladorineauthor
Author on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9814124.Layla_Dorine

Author Spotlight: Cardeno C Red River (A Pack Story Book 2) Audiobook Narrated by Nick J Russo

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Red-River-Audiobook/B01HDO9MLI/ref=a_search_c4_1_10_srTtl?qid=1492135222&sr=1-10

Blurb

Two Alpha shifters join together to lead their pack and build a family.

Commitment, loyalty, and strength aren’t enough to make Wesley Stone’s birth pack accept an Alpha with a physical imperfection, even if it’s a meaningless mark. Putting the safety of his pack above his own wellbeing, Wesley trades himself for another Alpha and agrees to mate with a stranger in a mysterious, insular pack.

Alphas from Jobe Root’s family have led the Red River pack from the first day shifters walked the earth. Now the time has come for Jobe to fulfill his destiny, but to do that, he needs his mate by his side. Spiritual, easygoing Jobe reveres Mother Nature and trusts in fate, yet he can’t help being nervous about how his mate will react to his new life in Red River, his new life with Jobe.

Two Alphas with contrasting personalities, different upbringings, and divergent beliefs come together for the good of their packs. But to stay together, Wesley and Jobe must see beyond the surface and embrace every facet of themselves and their union.

Review

(Though this is part of a series, it’s absolutely a standalone, the other MCs are mentioned only briefly.)

Wesley was born to lead and though his “deformity” keeps him distanced from his pack and their trust, he knows that’s his mission in life.  When obstacles prevent him from taking over his own pack, Purple Sky, he’s forced to accept a position as Alpha for the Red River Pack.  The caveat is that Wes will have to mate their current Alpha, a man, Jobe.

Jobe worries about rejection in the hands of  Purple Sky’s Alpha- Wes, and hopes that Wes will come to trust and love him as a mate should. Jobe trusts fate, and fate tells him Wes is the right man for him to mate, despite all the fears and worries they share.

When Wes comes to his new Red River pack there are lots and lots of false-starts and misunderstandings to be worked through, but he can’t deny his attraction to Jobe and only hopes it will be enough to get them through.

In the end, after the explanations and secrets have been shared, there is more to rejoice about than simply being a good Alpha and Mate and the HEA is so wonderful!

**

Cardeno C.’s shifter books (all the different series) are my favorites! I love the world building and the unique properties that get revealed in this one! I won’t tell you what they are – and spoil your surprise – but they are fun and sweet and exciting!

I loved book one, but this is EVEN BETTER! (I hope we get the omega’s story next – it sounds so good!) I highly recommend this book and all of Cardeno’s books very highly!

 

Audio

Nick J Russo is a favorite narrator of mine – he’s SO easy to listen to. Nick clearly separates the two MCs, giving Jobe an even slightly different voice in his younger self than his older! I love the pacing and Nick’s cadence and his ability to handle emotions as well as humor. His growly voice is well suited to these shifters and he does a tremendous job “acting” for us with this narration. Highly Recommended.

6 of 5 stars

 

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Copy Purchased For Review

A Touch of Spring (Alpha and Omega #5) by Lisa Oliver

Blurb

Lone alpha wolf, Bronson Cunningham, dreams of finding a mate and starts to think it’s possible when his best friend Zander falls head over heels with Terry; a sweet dancing omega. His curiosity is piqued when a strange letter lands on his desk, simply addressed “You smell like mine”. That must be a shifter reference, right? But it seems the guy likes to stay in the shadows, because Bronson doesn’t scent him anywhere.

Harley thinks he has every reason to hide. A savage scar on his face means his trysts are best kept to dark alleys. Watching his mate, he quickly realizes Bronson is one of the world’s beautiful people. He wasn’t going to be interested in a scarred tattooist from the wrong side of town.

A letter, a meeting, secrets are revealed. But is Bronson strong enough to stand by Harley’s side when he faces his nemesis from the past…and will Harley let him?

Note: This book is a spin-off from Harder in Heels (Alpha and Omega #4). It can be read as standalone, but you will know more about the secondary characters if you have read the other one first.

M/M, contains intimacy between two men, coarse language and off page reference to prior abuse.

Review

Lisa Oliver is one of my auto-buys (except the BDSM series – but that’s just me ☺ ). What I love about her series is that she always gives us compelling characters who don’t always follow the typical “stereotype” but isn’t afraid to give us some clichés now and then, too. In this case we have an Alpha and Omega who meet and yet the Omega has had a past which makes him a bit frightened to be submissive. He’s also just so strong that he’s not your typical Omega in the first place!

There is very little relationship angst in this story and a lot of really fulfilling relationship building. Our couple works as a team for the most part and helps to defeat the bad guy together.

We also get a fun “opposites attract” story in that Bronson is so buttoned up and Harley lives life on the edge of society.

This was fun and definitely a standalone – though fans of the series will see a lot of familiar faces.

Highly enjoyable!

(Look for reviews for the whole series coming soon!)

4 of 5 stars

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Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased For Review

Guest Post: Joe Cosentino on Drama Luau!

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OS: Welcome again to Joe Cosentino, author of Drama Luau! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us about your newest book!

JC:
Thanks for having me! Here’s a little bit about Drama Luau; NICKY, NOAH, AND ME
Drama Luau, the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino

I remember sitting in my office at the theatre department of my college amidst students with questions, faculty with complaints, and administrators with requests. It dawned on me faster than a right-wing politician thinking up a new anti-gay law. The theatre department at a college is the perfect setting for a comedy mystery. As a college theatre professor, I could use my knowledge of theatre and academia, bump off anybody I don’t like in the books, and have a great deal of fun. An avid cozy mystery reader since childhood, I have long dismayed at how few gay cozy mysteries are out there. This was my chance to change that! But where would my series take place? I decided on fictitious Treemeadow College, a quaint, white stone, Edwardian, fireplace laden private university in Vermont originally founded by a gay couple: Tree and Meadow. Who would be my amateur sleuths? An adorable gay couple who are theatre professors of course! Given my wacky sense of humor and impatience for longwinded novels, I knew the clues and murders (and laughs) would come quickly, and there would be enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning rapidly. Finally, as a romantic, I wanted a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver as they solve a murder mystery in each novel.
Lethe Press released the first novel, Drama Queen, in 2015, where college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains at Treemeadow College, and Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. I wasn’t prepared for the response, which was amazing! Reviewers called Drama Queen “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” and “a captivating whodunit.” One reviewer wrote Drama Queen was the funniest books she’d ever read! The readers fell in the love with Nicky and Noah as they fell in love with each other. The audiobook, performed by Michael Gilboe, was also a hit. I did the happy dance on my desk when Drama Queen was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery Novel, Humorous Novel, and Contemporary Novel of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll.
Readers and my publisher asked for another Nicky and Noah mystery, and I was more than happy to oblige with Drama Muscle, a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention of 2016. In book two, Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. Also, Nicky and Noah’s relationship reaches a milestone by the end of the novel. Again, Nicky and Noah fans loved it, and Chip Hurley’s audiobook version was a favorite.
I kept on writing, happier than a priest at an altar boy convention. In Drama Cruise, it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back (which my spouse and I also did). Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. The great reviews continue, and Brad Enright is working on the audiobook for release this summer.
In my current release, Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at fictitious Maui Mist Resort, and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. The suspects are a handsome Hawaiian detective, a Bloody Mary type housekeeper, a cigar chomping hotel manager, the hotel owner and his senator wife (who give new meaning to the term family values), and a cute young waiter who wants to be a hula dancer more than an anti-gay politician wants a dark backroom in a gay bar.
Why is the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery set in Hawaii? They call it paradise for a reason. Maui is the most beautiful place on Earth. A few years ago I talked my spouse into taking the thirteen-hour plane ride to a land laden with white sandy beaches, tall and majestic waterfalls, multicolored craters on mosaic mountaintops, palm trees waving in the soft breeze, and laid back and friendly Hawaiians. We marveled at the hidden beaches, took the white-knuckle drive to the gorgeous Seven Sacred Pools, gasped at the sunrise at Haleakala, swam in the clear turquoise water, and flew through the crystal blue sky while parasailing. On our last night in Maui, we went to a luau complete with the boat procession, pig roast, huge and sumptuous buffet of Hawaiian foods, and the hula dancer show. The dancers were amazing! Incredibly muscular Hawaiian men wearing grass skirts, leis, flower headdresses, anklets, and bracelets, gestured with their arms, waved their knees, stomped, and grunted on an outdoor stage masked by a dormant volcano. It was great fun including all the things my spouse and I did on our trip into this fast-paced, humorous, spine-tingling mystery with a very shocking ending. Nicky and Noah have the time of their lives solving this one, and also find their relationship in for quite a change.
So grab your plate at the buffet table, and take your front row seat for the luau show. The grass curtain is going up on Drama Luau! And watch for Drama Detective, book five, releasing in six months, and Drama Fraternity, book six, releasing next year!

DRAMA LUAU (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
http://myBook.to/DramaLuau
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711186
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drama-luau-joe-cosentino/1125994872?ean=2940154062050

Blurb

Theatre professors and spouses, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are on their honeymoon at a Hawaiian resort, where musclemen in grass skirts are keeling over like waterfalls. Things erupt faster than a volcano when Nicky and Noah, along with their best friends Martin and Ruben, try to stage a luau show. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the grass curtain down on male hula dancers—before things go coconuts for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and aloha!

Praise for DRAMA LUAU, the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery:
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat. DRAMA LUAU joins his other books on my 5-star reread shelf. It may actually be my favourite one yet! Highly recommended.”
Divine Magazine

Praise for DRAMA CRUISE, the third Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press:“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“Joe Cosentino does it again with Drama Cruise, the third Nicky and Noah mystery. I loved the humor, drama, and theater work inside. Plus, the romance and murder investigation keep readers turning the pages. Absolutely, must read this latest book in the series.” Urban Book Reviews
“If you are looking for a good, funny book to shake the blahs, love mystery, humor and romance, and a story with a twist or two, you’re bound to love this.” Cathy Brockman Romances
“I have been an avid reader of Joe Cosentino’s books for some time and he has yet to let me down. His ability to write highly original, yet somehow realistic, characters is one of his greatest strengths as a writer. Their quirks and personalities fill the pages in a way that makes for a fabulously entertaining and totally engrossing read. I loved this book and highly recommend it to lovers of farce, humour, murder mystery and sweet MM love stories.” Divine Magazine
“The characters are charming and entertaining….had me in stitches….This is the delightful third episode in the Nicky and Noah Mystery series. It is a fun-filled and entertaining murder mystery for LGBT cozy mystery fans.” Readers’ Favorite
“Each (Nicky and Noah mystery) is a wonderful mixture of sex, comedy, romance and murder, but when Cosentino took it to an Alaska cruise and the high seas, well, it tossed it up into theatrically delicious magic….I loved this story. I love this couple. What on earth is going to happen to them next? I can’t wait to find out.” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“fast-paced, action-packed story….fabulous cast of characters….if you love a murder mystery then this book is for you.” Books Laid Bare Boys
“As this highly entertaining story rolls on, I find myself laughing and getting into the who- done-it craze. This is a great book, it made me feel happy just reading it. The main characters are almost perfect, which just makes things better.” Crystal’s Many Reviewers
“The humor is laugh-out-loud, he didn’t just say that, funny. The scenes of affection occur mostly off-stage, behind closed doors, yet remain joyfully suggestive and highly sensual. Every character gets his due and the ending will have you sniffling with happiness.” Diane Nelson, Sand in My Shoes Reviews
“If Clue had taken place on a college campus it would have been Drama Queen. This was a fun, campy, sexy romp.” Guilty Indulgence Book Reviews

Praise for DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention):
“reading these books is like watching a fabulous comedic, murder mystery, action, adventure, romantic film.” “I was giggle snorting and laughing so much I had to stop reading. Joe Cosentino’s writing is absolutely flawless. He’s a master storyteller and will keep you guessing and utterly riveted until Drama Muscle’s highly satisfying ending. This is an absolute gem of a book, and series.” Divine Magazine

“Joe Cosentino has done it again! He has created another brilliant masterpiece for us all. A cozy sleuth mystery combined with humor and attractive themes.” Danielle Urban, Universal Creativity Inc.
“Book 1, Drama Queen was always going to be a hard act to follow with its belly ache laughter approach but in this “smirkathong” – yes I was smirking throughout the book, my top lip still aches – the author succeeded in delivering another comic classic!” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“a perfect balance of humor and romance into a continuously twisting plot.” “Cosentino will keep you entertained and guessing until the very end.” 3 Chicks After Dark
“If you like a fast-paced, humorous mystery with some quirky characters, lots of twists and the hot, sensual, man-sex, this is definitely for you. I promise you a laugh a minute!” Cathy Brockman Romance
“As with the first book, there are laugh out loud, completely funny sections. And enough of the mystery and suspense that keeps me reading” “I look forward to the next story” The TBR Pile
“laugh out loud funny” “Readers will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the killer to be revealed.” “As a romance, readers will love seeing Nicky and Noah settling in to living together in their Victorian home.” “I highly recommend this series.” Joyfully Jay Reviews
“Such a well woven story that is literally laugh out loud funny.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“Joe Cosentino offers his readers something original and very different to the generic contemporary M/M romances out there and because of that I can’t recommend Drama Muscle enough; it is another moment of genius by Joe Cosentino!” Kirsty Loves Books
“This is a wonderful addition to the series! I fell in love with Nicky in the first book and he just gets better. Filled with humor and action. Noah evolves in this story, his character grows into a more mature yet still adorable sidekick to Nicky. They are perfect together, in detective work and in family situations. I hope that there are more to follow.” Crystals Many Reviewers

Praise for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, Contemporary Novel of 2015):
“Without doubt the funniest book I have read this year, maybe ever” “brilliant” Three Books Over the Rainbow

“I cannot stop laughing. Drama Queen is Hardy Boys-meets-Murder She Wrote-meets-Midsummer Murders, with a side of parodic, farcical, satire.” “Who-dunits don’t come more whodunnity than this.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“I’m hoping that this is just the start for Nicky and Noah. If Jessica Fletcher could have so many murderers in Cabot Cove, why shouldn’t the same hold true for Treemeadow College?” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews

“This fast-paced, hilariously funny, entertaining novel will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out who-dun-it!” Joyfully Jay
“a murder mystery, a comedic romp, an investigative caper, and a love story all rolled up into one nifty little novel” The Novel Approach

“The tangled weave of murder mystery and other mysteries comes to a startling conclusion that is both satisfying and mind boggling.” MultitaskingMomma

“I am not used to reading books that make me snigger out loud, but in Drama Queen Joe Cosentino has struck a great balance between his use of tongue in cheek humour and a compelling mystery which we want to see solved.” Divine Magazine
“Nicky and Noah are two sexy leading characters who conduct the investigation in this comedic caper with wit and style.” Vance Bastian Reviews
“Cosentino does a wonderful job of writing a mystery that keeps the reader guessing right up until the end.” Barron Owens Reviews
“I love this story, just the right mix, of fun, hilarity and mystery in the mix. The storyline is fresh and well thought out, and the dynamic of the characters is through the roof! Bike Book Reviews
“The author clearly knows of what he speaks on all matters theater, and the kind of authentic details he brings to the table in terms of characters and staging makes this immensely entertaining.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews
“If Clue had taken place on a college campus it would have been Drama Queen. This was a fun, campy, sexy romp.” Guilty Indulgence Book Reviews
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau; In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries; and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015! Coming next: Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery.

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

An excerpt of Drama Luau by Joe Cosentino:
The olive-skinned, barefooted muscular men wore loincloths (malo), coconut necklaces, shell bracelets and anklets, and flower (lei) head garlands. With the powerful emerald mountain behind them, the dancers (‘olapa) aerobically executed hand signs, knee sways, and foot stomps toward the turquoise sea (makai), as their deep, full voices chanted to the goddess of the ocean (Namakaokahai). The lead dancer (alakai) and the dance captain (kumu) moved front and center executing their tree in the breeze hand gestures. The dancer helper (kokua) made gestures to the ocean waves behind them.
“Stop!”
The ‘ukulele, steel guitar, and bass accompaniment ended. The dancers slouched and looked toward the rows of tables and chairs facing them.
“Kimu, stand further upstage.”
“Nicky, they don’t know what upstage and downstage mean.”
“Thanks, Noah. Kimu, stand behind the other dancers, so Kal and Ak are the focus of the dance.”
That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, an Edwardian style private college in the quaint state of Vermont. My husband and the love of my life, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, Noah Oliver, is by my side, right where I like him. Why am I directing a luau show at the Maui Mist Resort in Hawaii? Our honeymoon in Maui was a gift from our parents. But when the customers of my parents’ bakery in Kansas became glucose intolerant, and the clientele of Noah’s parents’ dairy farm in Wisconsin found themselves lactose intolerant, Noah and I were left tolerating the bill. So my department head and his husband hit the internet and found this luau show directing job, which came with free airfare, hotel, and food for two. Enticed by the gorgeous tropical location and the gorgeous luau dancers, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management at Treemeadow College, and Ruben Markinson, director of one of the top gay rights organizations in the country, decided to tag along and keep us out of trouble. Since Martin and Ruben are our best friends, that was more than fine with Noah and me.
Since you can’t see us, I am thirty-six, tall, with dark hair, green eyes, a Roman nose, cleft chin and long sideburns. Thanks to the gym at Treemeadow College (named after Tree and Meadow, the gay couple who founded it), I am pretty muscular. One minor thing. Actually, it’s pretty major. I have a nine and-a-quarter by two-inch penis, which causes Noah to tell everyone we are “going clubbing” when we have sex.
Noah is handsome with wavy blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, porcelain skin, and hotter and sweeter buns than any found in my dad’s bakery. Martin is short, thin, and bald. As an incredible gossip, he resembles an alien looking for a good piece of news to bring back to his home planet. Ruben is tall, thin, distinguished-looking, with salt and pepper hair and two large eyes watching over Martin. Though Ruben would never admit it, like his husband, Ruben revels in the dish too.
I said to the dancers, “The opening (ho’i) number will be fine. Let’s move on.”
Whereas the first dance was an introduction to the dancers, the second number, in honor of the creation gods (Kane and Lono), is a sensual dance, where the muscular dancers get to flex, grunt, and gyrate.
Sitting next to me at the front table opposite the stage, Noah rested a hand on my knee. “Did my character work with the dancers pay off?”
I nodded. “They all seem like characters to me.”
Noah squeezed my hand as the five dancers came on stage, now wearing grass skirts. Kal (short for Kalani), at twenty-five, is tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, the leader of the pack, and he knows it. Ak (Akamu), at thirty-five, was once the stallion of the troupe, but a receded hairline and wrinkles had transformed Ak to dance captain. As leaders, Kal and Ak take focus in the dance numbers, either dancing downstage center or up center on the platform in the shape of a volcano. Pretty ironic since Kal and Ak are ex-lovers and ex-friends.
Current lovers Keanu (dancer helper), at medium height with a growing paunch, and Ahe, young, small, and cute as a button, took their places midstage and looked at each other adoringly.
Finally, Kimu, at medium height with a bull dog face and protruding belly, stood farthest upstage. The only straight member of the troupe, Kimu, said, “Are you girls ready to dance?”
Keanu left his lover, Ahe, and approached Kimu. “What a surprise, Kimu. Liquor on your breath.”
Leader Kal added, “Yeah, Kimu, during the last number you were wavering more than the palm trees near the stage fan.”
Kimu answered, “Hey Kal, is it true that you gave Keanu a pity lei?”
These guys are worse than the divas I work with in the theatre. “Can we please start the number?”

Drama Muscle: A Nicky and Noah Mystery #2 (Audiobook) by Joe Cosentino Narrated by Chip Hurley

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Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Drama-Muscle-Audiobook/B06W9M1TM3?ref_=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl&qid=1494785851&sr=1-1

Blurb

It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body.
You will be applauding and shouting “bravo” for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!

Review

Another funny Joe Cosentino mystery with good narration. This is narrator was less campy, (than the one used for book 1), but enjoyable.
This time our heroes are helping out with the annual body building competition. Again, they get embroiled in a murder mystery when people start to wind up dead. Anytime they think they’re on to the killer, the suspect winds up dead!
Overall, this is another strong story that is nicely enhanced by the narration. I had no trouble following the players and found the performance and story highly entertaining.

The characters were well characterized by the narrator and he captured the tongue-in-cheek humour and atmosphere of the story. But, if I had one criticism, it would be that sometimes the narration seemed a bit stilted in the parts where he transitioned from a person speaking to the story narrative (non ‘person’ bits).

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

Jungle Heat Audiobook by Bonnie Dee Narrated by Philip Rose

audiobookreviewAudible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Jungle-Heat-Audiobook/B004BCT4PK/ref=a_listener__cco_1_6_i

Blurb

Congo Free State, 1888
On a mission deep in the jungle, Oxford anthropologist James Litchfield comes face-to-face with a local legend: a wild man who wanders with mountain gorillas and lives as one of their own.
The chance encounter with the savage, whom James calls Michael, leads to a game of observation and exploration. Their mutual curiosity turns to an attraction, one that Michael has never experienced and James is desperate to deny.
When members of the expedition unearth James’s secret discovery, a living specimen of man at his most primitive, Michael becomes a pawn in their quest for fame.
As their relationship deepens, James is compelled to protect Michael from the academics who would treat him as nothing more than a scientific acquisition and London society, which threatens to destroy their passionate bond….

Review

I bought this book expecting a gay take on Tarzan, and there is that
element to it. The book takes things deeper than straight Tarzan tales
ever do in how our hero adjusts – and in ways doesn’t adjust – to the
civilized world. The love story is really touching and sweet, the sex was
steamy and memorable and the tension when cruel fate is keeping the lovers
apart was really intense. Highly recommended.

6 stars

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Copy Purchased For Review

 

Sean Michael’s Guest Post and Excerpt for Golden!

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OS: Welcome to Sean Michael, author of Golden . Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us today.

SM:

Thank you very much to Open Skye Book Reviews for hosting me today.

I’m not a sports fanatic. I know a bit about most of the most common ones, but I don’t watch any on TV and I rarely see any of them in person. The Olympics come around, though, and I’m glued to my TV for two weeks straight – this is true for both winter and summer Olympics.

I pay attention to the announcers and am suddenly an expert in all these different sports that I have not seen in two years. Everything from fencing to dirt bikes. From boxing to weightlifting. The men’s swimming and gymnastics have always been my favorite. I guess that’s why they’re the ones that have inspired stories. Including this one.

Golden is a different take on the swimmer/coach relationship, seeing as it takes place after Justin has retired from swimming, but it’s still inspired by watching the summer Olympics and I hope you like it.

 

Sean Michael

smut fixes everything

 

Blurb:

After winning Olympic gold four years ago, Justin retired from swimming, and he’s been floundering ever since. The Fourth of July finds him contemplating doing something stupid, so Justin calls up his former coach, Chris Jarvis. To his surprise, Coach answers.

When Justin retired, Chris cut all ties with the swimmer he’d fallen in love with. He never wanted Justin to love him just because it was easy. But he’s been waiting for Justin to reach out, and he’ll gladly take Justin back into his life.

When he finds out Justin is drowning in a pool of self-doubt and the belief that his happy years are behind him, Chris realizes he made a mistake letting go so suddenly, and that Justin needs structure and a firm, dominant hand to keep him on the right track. It’s time to remedy his error—as long as he can convince Justin that it’s really love.

 

Buy links

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/golden-by-sean-michael-8497-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Sean-Michael-ebook/dp/B0727WVC3S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1494599671&sr=1-1&keywords=golden+sean+michael

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/golden-sean-michael/1114709692?ean=2940157571023

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/golden-29

 

 

Excerpt:

 

What am I doing? Justin sat in Coach’s car, heading toward the house he’d called home for years. What am I doing?

“This is a good thing, Just.”

“Is it? For you?” He gnawed on his lower lip.

“For both of us. I wouldn’t do this just for me.”

“I just… I’m…. Two hours ago I was standing on my balcony.” Thinking about jumping into the pool.

“Drinking and getting yourself worked up enough you called me.”

“I wanted to hear your voice.” Needed to, maybe.

“I’m glad you called. I’ve missed you a lot.” They turned onto the street where Coach lived.

“Why didn’t you call?” Why did you tell me to go and that I couldn’t come back?

“Because it wouldn’t have been right to put you in my bed and keep you. You had to find your own way in the world.” They pulled into the garage, and Coach shut off the engine, turned to him. “I wasn’t going to take advantage of you, Just.”

“Take advantage? I was twenty-three. I wasn’t a kid. You were my home, man.”

“I was your coach, I told you what to do every day, and then I wasn’t your coach anymore and it wasn’t my place. You think I did the wrong thing? You think what I did tonight I should have done right after you retired?”

“I don’t know. I don’t….” Justin got out of the car, went to hit the garage door opener to close it. He needed to go home. Think.

Coach climbed out and looped an arm around his waist, led him into the house. “I did the right thing, Just. You didn’t even know if you were into me or not. You needed to go out and see what else the world had to offer.”

 

Bio:

 

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

 

Sean Michael on the web:

 

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/

TWITTER: seanmichael09

INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics

 

Catch and Release (The Release #3) Audiobook by BA Tortuga Narrated by Lou Lambert

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/catch-and-release-by-ba-tortuga-8465-b

Blurb

Dakota Landry just got out of prison after twelve years. If anyone can understand how that feels, it’s his new friend, Sage, who is determined to help him get used to life on the outside—and believes Dakota didn’t commit the crime he was in for.

Jayden Wilson is a former prosecutor who agrees to look into the case at the request of Sage’s lover, Adam. He sets out to prove Dakota is just another “innocent” ex-con, but once they meet, Jayden is more and more convinced Dakota just didn’t do what everyone thinks he did.

Trouble follows Dakota, and nothing is easy as he struggles to figure out how to live, now that he has choices. And Jayden isn’t sure how Dakota, or any lover for that matter, fits into his life. Their path from friendship to romance is a slow one, but Dakota begins to believe he deserves a chance at life, and Jayden falls a little more for Dakota every day. Now they just need to tell each other how they feel.

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

This is book three in a series and it’s a heartbreaking group of men BA Tortuga has given us.

We met Sage and Adam in book one – and the hard, hard life Sage led, inspires him to help others, in this case, Dakota.

Dakota is a character that thoroughly smashed my heart to pieces. GAH! I cannot imagine living his life and yet he’s still persevering and trying to live his life when I think many others would have given up. He’s an amazing character.

Jayden is a bit more difficult to pin down. He’s a lawyer, and in the beginning, he’s only interested in Dakota’s case because he’s bored. Later, he admits to maintaining the research into the case because he’s attracted to Dakota. At some point these feelings deepen, but I honestly think it was his “lawyerly” interest that drove this primarily.

I have to say that I’m a big fan of this series and I’d really, loved books one and two. I was looking forward to this once I’d read the blurb because I’ve seen how well BA Tortuga can handle “broken” men and turn them around.

Unfortunately, I was left a little bewildered by the end of this story.

What worked for me: Dakota’s story. It’s one of triumph, perseverance, strong-willed, growth, discovery and faith. If you read this as a story about a man leaving prison and re-discovering life – who happens to be gay – then I think this story “works” really well.

I also loved seeing the guys from books one and two. It’s always nice seeing old MCs and following up in their lives again.

What didn’t work for me was Jayden and the “romance”. Jayden never felt like he really connected with Dakota, or vice versa. I’m just not sure how well they fit. The chemistry wasn’t there nor was there more than just a friendship/lawyer connection. For the reasons given below and more, I just didn’t feel their love like I had with other couples by this author.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

I think that this would have been better listed as gay literature, because the bulk of this is Dakota’s life story. Jayden’s presence as his lawyer and friend were more important than as his lover. It was too platonic and didn’t feel authentic to me.

If you’re a fan of the author or this series you’ll probably want to at least give this a look. If you’re new to the author/series I wouldn’t start here.

3 of 5 stars

Audio

Lou Lambert is a new narrator to me and his voice is definitely “western” – which fits the characters, but he’s a bit older sounding than I thought the characters would be.  He does a fairly nice job as far as being clear and easy to understand.  He didn’t do a lot to differentiate characters and he wasn’t great with expressing different emotions.  He gives the listener that “country” feeling and is an acceptable way to listen to this, but it didn’t really add to my overall enjoyment, nor did it change my overall rating.

 

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Beach Balls by Tara Lain Review by Dee

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/beach-balls-by-tara-lain-8440-b

Blurb

Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. But coming out would threaten all he’s built as the lead attorney for WMA Development, and the million dollars he can get when he finishes pushing a big land remediation project through the City Council. Then on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to live a different life. But Adam’s dreams are shattered when he walks into the council meeting and finds the fire-breathing environmentalist who’s screwing up his chances of winning is none other than that same beautiful man. Sky Sea Mickeljohn doesn’t compromise, so how could he find himself lusting after a damned developer? And what happens when somebody open’s Adam’s closet door? These two better start telling the truth if they’re ever going to find world peace.

Review by Dee

This is a fun, ‘opposites attract’ story. I liked the premise – a developer, Adam, finds out that the guy he has a thing for, Sky, is an environmentalist and that they are on opposites sides of a development project. I wasn’t a fan of Adam at first – he didn’t speak up when his colleagues made bigoted comments – but I warmed to him as he started to become more honest with himself about his values and sexuality.

Sky was nice, though he exuded a ‘righteous’ environmentalist zeal. The flaws in both men were a product of their upbringing/life experiences, part of their backstory (which we find out during the course of the story). Both men fall pretty fast and hard for each other, but there are bumps on the way to their eventual HEA. Both men have to reassess their priorities and beliefs to make things work.

I enjoyed reading Beach Balls and will try others in the series.

 

3.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review