Release Day Review: Stand by Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stand-by-your-manny-by-amy-lane-9516-b

Blurb
Learning to trust and falling in love.

Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once—not even Sammy!

An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot—if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.

Luckily, family intervenes—Cooper needs a job so he can care for Felicity, and Sammy needs someone who can see past his illness to the wonderful things he has planned for his life. Each heals the damaged places in the other’s heart. But falling in love is a big responsibility for young men deep in family already. Can the two of them get past their fear of the immediate future to see forever with each other?

Review

I absolutely loved these guys! The hurt/comfort between these two was off the charts in the sweet factor and I fell in love with them and their little extended family/ies.

I kinda wanted their “de-virgininzing” to be hotter – but I guess that’s more the Dreamspun thing than anything else. Book 2 was a bit steamier and so this was a bit of a let down.

The glimpses of previous MCs was appreciated and I’m looking forward to the next in the series very much.

I really hope Nick Russo gets to do the narration…. Just my hopeful hint!

For fans of the author and the series this is a must, if you’re new to the series this isn’t my favorite of the bunch but it’s Amy so it’s great!

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana #2) by Ari McKay

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/forged-in-fire-by-ari-mckay-9518-b

Blurb

The magic touch.

Ever since Harlan Edgewood was bitten by a possessed werewolf, his monthly shifts have been agonizing. When he meets Whimsy Hickes—a mage who specializes in transformation—the attraction is mutual. But Harlan believes his curse is too great a burden to inflict on any romantic partner.

Fortunately, Whimsy thinks he can help.

When Harlan is provoked into an unexpected change, Whimsy uses his magic to help ease Harlan’s pain, but with an unexpected consequence. While he’s shifted, Harlan’s wolf claims Whimsy as his mate.

As they draw closer, suspicious events in the Asheville magical community escalate. Shifters are disappearing, others are murdered, and Harlan’s curse makes him an obvious target. It will take all of Whimsy’s magic to force back the rising evil—and if he fails, Harlan will lose not only his life, but his very soul.

Review

Loved this!

Whimsy is so wonderful and I loved that he had his own mo-jo powers and wasn’t a wimp! Harlan is also terrifically old-fashioned and adorable and I thought the sexual chemistry between these two was off the charts!

While I grew a wee bit tired of Harlan’s “woe is me” attitude I was grateful for his willingness to put faith in Whimsy and their relationship.

The “mystery/action” elements in this series are interesting and captivating without stealing the central spot light from the romance.

I loved book 1 and this was just as good! (Reviewed here: https://openskyebookreviews.com/audiobook-out-of-the-ashes-asheville-arcana-1-by-ari-mckay-narrated-by-andrew-mcferrin/)

Looking forward to more in this series!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Recent Release: Seducing His Brother’s Receptionist By Charlie Richards

Extasy Presents

http://www.extasybooks.com/charlie-richards/978-1-4874-1954-7-seducing-his-brothers-receptionist/

Blurb

Out of the Cage: When a weekend fling gets a man into hot water, he discovers a knight in shining armor in the most unlikely of places.
Wendell Burgeon just wanted a hot night in town. Instead, he picks up a stalker…a dangerous one. When his make-up doesn’t hide the bruising, a friend at the office jumps to conclusions and tries to cheer him up. Cecil Rochette convinces his brother Teague to give Wendell a ride in his classic car…the one Wendell has been drooling over for years. To Wendell’s shock, Teague’s behavior belies his brawny jock image. He’s kind and sweet and seems interested in him, asking Wendell on a date when the car ride is over. He even comes to his rescue when his stalker shows up. Can Wendell’s knight in shining armor truly be as wonderful as he seems? When Wendell discovers that Teague has secrets of his own, he must make a decision. Who’s the more dangerous…his stalker or his knight?

Review

I thought this was sweet. I loved the GFY aspect and the really sweet MC – Wendell. Like all of Charlie’s books, the shifting was fun and I LOVED seeing Jared again!

Very enjoyable. Best as part of the series but fine on it’s own.

4 of 5 stars

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Time to Laugh: Agent Bayne (PsyCop #9) Audiobook by Jordan Castillo Price Narrated by Gomez Pugh

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Agent-Bayne-Audiobook/B079YXBLPG

Blurb

Victor Bayne is through with the Chicago PD. Can he handle the FPMP?
After years of frustration as a PsyCop, Victor Bayne reports for duty at the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program. As a fledgeling agent, he’s ready to smoke out a few ghosts and be home each night in time for dinner. But is he prepared to add a professional dimension to his romantic partnership with Jacob Marks?
Jacob has already established his territory in the Program—he’s competent, he’s respected, and he’s pretty much fearless. The last thing Vic wants to do is screw up in front of him.
When fellow agents start turning up dead, Vic is expected to do more than just lay their ghosts to rest. But what if his psychic talent isn’t quite enough? As the death toll rises, he and Jacob scramble to determine who’s in danger, and who’s a killer.
Using all the resources at their disposal, they close in on their suspect. But as they do, their past comes back to haunt them…and even Jacob worries they’ve tampered with forces they should have left alone. Are their combined talents enough to protect them from enemies both living and dead?

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

This book made me ridiculously happy!

First, it gives us more Jacob and Vic and even some Crash! We get to solve another mystery and just when we think we know all there is to know about Vic’s talent… there’s more to know!

Aaaand – it seems like there could be many of these with Vic as FPMP. I wouldn’t be sad if these went on for – I don’t know – EVER!

Aaaand – I love his new phone! So funny and realistic!

Aaaand- Jacob and Vic are still rock solid. They are such a great couple and I love watching their relationship evolve over time.

If you’re a fan, you’ve already read this and if you haven’t started this series – go do it!

I cannot wait for the audio!

Highly Recommended!

5 of 5 stars

 

Audio

OMG so hysterical!  Gomez IS Victor Bayne to me – and I thought this was some of his best work!  His “phone” voice cracked me up so hard I laughed out loud.  He does accents and “characters” and handles the dry wit of this to perfection.  Absolutely wonderful – something fans of the series won’t want to miss and anyone new to the series will find entrancing!

 
6 of 5 stars

out-of-this-world-small

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Copy Purchased for Review

Time to Laugh: Stirring Up Trouble by ZA Maxfield

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8520270-stirring-up-trouble?from_search=true

Blurb
Toby Andrews is cooking up more than a little trouble for Evan Blankenship. Because of pranks, indiscretions, and plain bad timing, his ability to work in New York’s temples of haute cuisine is a thing of the past. When Toby’s sister tells him he should look up an acquaintance whose restaurant — Le Potiron –is failing, he doesn’t have much choice.

Pretty soon he’s in bed, literally, with a cook who hates people, trying to save a restaurant that only the neighborhood mothers seem to love, and on the verge of another –possibly painful — lesson or two about what it means to be successful.

Evan hates everyone but Toby. Toby likes to stir things up. See what’s on the menu at Le Potiron, in Stirring Up Trouble.

Review
Toby is brilliant in the kitchen, but his also impulsive and undisciplined. The opening scene where everything goes wrong in the kitchen had me laughing so hard! The story just takes off from there. Failing restaurant, hot guy in a kilt, and baby food, I loved how ZA took us through Toby getting his job, starting to date Evan, to revamping the restaurant. All with laughs and giggles and let me tell you, the scene with Evan’s twin, followed up by Adam, Toby’s nephew was off the wall funny.

So a sweet and funny story that ends in a HEA, Sounds like a great afternoon read!

5 of 5 stars

Purchased for Review

Coming Soon: Life of Bliss (Love Life #2) by Erin McLellan

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39695252-life-of-bliss

Blurb

Nobody plans to accidentally marry their frenemy with benefits.

Todd McGower and Victor Consuelos do not like each other. They can’t have a conversation without insults flying, and Victor seems to get off on pushing Todd’s buttons. The fact that their antagonism always leads to explosive sex . . . well, that’s their little secret.

Victor has a secret of his own. His full-blown crush on Todd is ruining his sex life. He hasn’t looked at anyone else in months, and he’s too hung up on Todd to find a date to his cousin’s wedding.

In a moment of weakness after a heart-stopping night together, Todd agrees to be Victor’s fake boyfriend for the wedding. Victor will have his plus-one—which will get his family off his back—and Todd will get a free mini-vacation. It’s a win-win.

But pretending to be fake boyfriends leads to real intimacy, which leads to too much wine, and suddenly, Todd and Victor wake up with wedding bands and a marriage license between them. That was not their plan, but a summer of wedded bliss might just change their minds.

Review

I loved the blurb for this. Frenemies. Fake relationships. Secret romance. It sounded funny and sexy and intriguing.

Welllll…. It was hard to get into and I kept going back to see what I’d missed because it felt like I needed more information than I had and it felt like I’d skipped a chapter or something. (Which happens if you don’t read a book in one fell swoop.) It turns out that this is a book 2 of a series and (I hadn’t paid attention to that) and I think someone really needs to read book 1 to enjoy this book 2. I figured things out, but it didn’t feel as engrossing as I bet it would if I’d read book one.

I wasn’t that attached to these guys and I never felt the chemistry like I wanted to.

My recommendation is to read book 1 first and then this.

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall Book 1) by Tara Lain Narrated by Nick J Russo

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/volley-balls-by-tara-lain-8014-b

Blurb

2nd Edition

A Balls to the Wall Romance

A double dose of alpha male might be better than one.

Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lovers’ lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation—and his attraction—from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male–or two?

A “pumped up” version of the Volley Balls story, twice as long as the original.

First Edition published by Etopia Press, 2011.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)

I read the original edition and though this says it’s twice as long as the original, I can’t say that I noticed a heck of a lot of difference.

I love this series and though this wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, it’s still a lot of fun!
(I’m not sure if she’s redoing the entire series, but I see that there’s at least a new cover for book two so…) In any case, FAST Balls is my favorite of the series, reviewed here https://openskyebookreviews.com/fast-balls-balls-to-the-wall-5-by-tara-lain/) and I think that, though it’s not necessary, reading them in order helps to introduce the characters in a really nice way.

David is the owner of an art gallery who’s recently left an ex who abused him. He’s not really looking to date, but open minded when opportunity comes along. Edge and Gareth are Australian Volleyball players who are in town during a tournament. Gareth knows he’s gay but he’s deeply in the closet, Edge has some secrets of his own and some self-examination in his future.

To me, you have to just accept a lot on faith with this story. Don’t try to look at it too deeply- there are a lot of plot holes and amazing insta-love moments that aren’t terribly realistic. We don’t get a lot of relationship building here, as Gareth sees David once and is pretty smitten and makes some important life decisions with only a little bit of encouragement from David to go on.

The relationship between Edge and Gareth actually makes the most sense – given their history – and I guess the triad kinda makes sense – given that David is the only one with any real relationship experience at all. (This was the hardest for me to swallow. I could buy David and Gareth, Gareth and Edge and even David and Edge, but the three of them, coming together, and agreeing that this would work for them? I had a hard time seeing this given the brevity of their time together and the situation with Edge and… Well, it was a hard sell. The other thing that bothered me was the dialog – sometimes David and Gareth spoke in ways that didn’t always feel authentic. “Shall I …” etc. I just reminded myself this is fiction and kept reading. )

The sexy times are plentiful. Gareth’s mom is awesome. The art sounds fun. Seeing Edge switch gears and share with Gareth and David – super, scorching, hot and at times sweet, too. I didn’t really buy the triad, but found the guys fun to read about anyway, and I really enjoyed the other books in the series so…

3 of 5 stars

Audio

Nick is one of my favorites. Is his Australian accent good? Not the best. Is it good enough. You bet! I still loved this even though it wasn’t my favorite by this narrator. He’s still easy to listen to and fun. He’s great with the comedic timing and the smexy times and that makes this worth the money!

4.5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Laugh: Hidden in Darkness by Alice Winters

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38612013-hidden-in-darkness?from_search=true

Blurb: When Felix lands a job taking care of a man recovering from severe injuries, he thinks his life may have just turned around. Anything has to be better than the place he’s leaving. There’s something about Lane that draws Felix to him and makes him question if this place could finally become a home for him. But when someone begins stalking Felix, he is left to question who Lane is and what actually happened to him. Together, Felix and Lane will be forced to see just how far they will go to protect each other. Being chased by cops, kidnapping a man, and breaking into a drug operation seems to be his normal since arriving in Lane’s life. Felix may be out of his element, but one thing he is sure about is that he doesn’t want to leave, even if it costs him his life.

Review:
I really had a lot of fun reading this 🙂 Felix is a snarky, height-challenged man who has a heart-breaking past. Lane is a recently blinded, (in the line of duty), detective. Felix is hired to to be a companion (babysit) Lane, with hilarious and adventurous results!
Be warned- Felix does not treat Lane’s blindness with kid gloves- in fact, some of the things that Felix did to Lane, (like putting the toilet seats up and getting Lane to sit), were funny, and a little mean, (but mostly funny!). I liked that Felix did not pity or patronise Lane, (hence some of the things he said/did).
Both men eventually begin to open up to each other, providing the story with a bit of tenderness and heart.
This is a story to be enjoyed as is – don’t try to analyse how feasible some of the exploits are – just enjoy the ride!

4.5 stars out of 5

Copy purchased for review

 

Time to Laugh: The One that Got Away by Rhianne Aile and Madeline Urban

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-one-that-got-away-by-rhianne-aile-and-madeleine-urban-5285-b

Blurb: When David Carmichael suffers a migraine and then a broken shoulder, Trace Jackson, his best friend, simply moves in to take care of him. Their easy camaraderie continues with no problems until David discovers an undercurrent of heat and tension flowing between them. Despite knowing his best friend is straight, David is slowly falling in love. What he doesn’t know is that Trace is struggling with a similar discovery.
Trace has never desired another man before. He’s a ladies’ man with quite the reputation, considered a top prize around town. But his close, treasured friendship with David makes the emotion and arousal growing between them irresistible. Soothing David’s doubts, Trace makes it clear that he wants to know if they can make it work. Because Trace is sure he wouldn’t love another man — that’s not the issue. He just loves David.

Review: This is one of my favourite re-reads- there is no angst, no misunderstandings, just a humourous, sweet romance.
Trace and David have been friends for a while. David injures himself (during a migraine episode) and Trace stays to look after him. David is gay and during his recuperation time, he is slowly falling for his straight friend. Trace, for his part, is beginning to see David in another (more sexually attractive) light. The men slowly realise that they could be more than friends and go for it. There are some funny scenes, especially with Mabel, Trace’s cat and the poker game ☺
This is not a deep book, just entertaining, so just enjoy it for the feel good read it is.

3.75 stars out of 5

 

Copy purchased for review