4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Valentine's Day

Love and the Ex-orcism by Melanie Hansen

release day review


Dreamspinner Presents



Tom Hannity is not boring, despite what his ex-boyfriend says. He loves his circle of family and friends and finds peace in the beauty of flower arranging. Still stinging from his recent breakup, Tom attends an Anti-Valentine’s Day “Ex-orcism,” hoping for some fun and forgetfulness.

Mario Tellez is tired of party boys, and he’s had his eye on Tom for a while. When they run into each other at the Ex-orcism, sparks fly, until an accidentally overheard conversation drives Tom to do something he normally doesn’t do.

What should have been a hot and fun night turns into Tom and Mario seeing each other at their absolute worst, although surprisingly, it brings out the best in them, too. Navigating around the toxic people in their lives isn’t easy, and after a small series of bumps in the road, they finally come around full circle… to Valentine’s Day and laying old demons to rest.


Tom was dumped for being “boring”. When he meets Mario, the two click immediately and it’s almost too good to be true.

As time goes on, Tom begins to doubt that they have what it takes to last, especially when Tom’s ex plants some compelling seeds of doubt.

Luckily these boys know how to communicate and they find that – together- they have just what they need to be happy.


This is a short and sweet Valentine’s Day story about finding that one person that flips all your switches and having faith in happiness. It’s a little sexy a lot cute and a great little holiday story.

4 of 5 stars


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Double Dog Dared! Guest Post from Lex Chase and Bru Baker


Hello, everyone, I’m Bru Baker and I’m so stoked to be here at Open Skye! I’m promoting Some Assembly Required, the paranormal home goods store meet-cute book you never knew you needed until now. The talented Lex Chase and I collaborated on it, and not only was it my first time co-writing with someone, it was also my first time dipping my toe in the paranormal pond.

The best part of co-writing is having someone to bounce ideas off of and to share the workload with, which is exactly what I’m going to do here today. Lex and I come from pretty different genre backgrounds within the gay romance world. She writes epic adventure fantasy with mind-blowing detail and fantastical twists. I write contemporary with down-to-earth, relatable characters who you usually end up wanting to take home and fatten up with cookies and soup.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re both horrible influences on each other. This book is proof of that, especially since we basically wrote it because Damon Suede double dog dared us to do it. Impulse control is not a strong suit for either one of us.

So, Lex. A few questions for you:

What was the scariest part of writing something more contemporary for you?

Lex: For me it was getting over what I call ìHallmark Hell. Where “Boy Meets Boy” falls in love in three seconds, and everything is all so sugary and fluffy and the only tension is what they like to watch on TV. I like complicated stories. I like stories that make you think. Or stories with people that do terrible things in the name of justice. Or stories about itís not the monsters coming to get us, itís the monsters within us that are the true terror.

I also like explosions.

Lots. Of. Them.

Were there things you were dreading, either about contemporary or co-writing, that didn’t come to pass? (Or did they?)

Lex: We had taken the leap so suddenly, I was thinking in the back of my head wtf am I getting myself into?  We met over Twitter, and hung out there for a while, and you seemed pretty cool. And after meeting in person a few times, I’m like Oh.Okay. She’s not a serial killer..But what if she is?

I was fearing a clash of egos the longer we stayed together. But it turned out that wasn’t true at all because we were equally quirky in a very complementary way. We were also there for each other when things weren’t right, or when one of us needed to pick up the slack.

Also you let me write a fight scene! Yay!

Just exactly how much did you want to kill me every time I begged you to dial back the worldbuilding?-  Just kidding.- Except not really. How did you deal with tamping down your epic worldbuilding instincts?

Lex: I come from a background of being able to explain everything. I’m also a very quick and dirty worldbuilder. My worlds are never fully fleshed out because I like the sense of discovery alongside my readers too. I keep it simple as I can. When I’m working on a book I stick to the worldbuilding details I need at that moment. All the rest I can figure out later when I need it. As you know I write a high fantasy paranormal series featuring all kinds of shifters. The first book features wolves and cats. But I know the world extends far beyond that. Like there’s bird shifters for instance we meet those in the second book and a jellyfish shifter in book three. Do I need to know everything about them right this second? Nope. Don’t care. Not important at the current moment. As my mom says “Weíll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

When we did Some Assembly Required we set the ground rules: This book is about ghosts and CASA is purgatory. Together they help other sprits move on. But I asked “How do the ghosts work? How do the physics work? What’s their mythology?”

ÖÖ.aaaaannnnd I can see your eyes glazing.


Your characters tend to be abrasive with gooey centers. What is it about that character type that draws you in?

Lex: I love the asshole with a heart of gold. I write a bunch of ’em. I love guys that are complicated in one way or another. The world has wronged them in some way and therefore they have to toughen up out of one reason or another.

For Patrick it’s two fold, he fears abandonment of not only his companions, but also fear of the unknown. He tosses up a thick concrete wall around his heart. Instead of enjoying the time he has with other people, he pushes them away as fast as possible so he doesn’t grow attached because he thinks they’ll just leave in the end anyhow.

Also his fear of the unknown spawned his love of science in his living life. We only get a glimpse of it in Some Assembly Required. We learn in passing he has a doctorate in particle physics and had one day set his eyes on working for CERN. Patrick is very, very much a Man of Science. He only believes what he can see. But that becomes the bitch of it all, when you’re now a ghost and you find out everything you believed was wrong.

The book is basically one long love letter to meatballs. Why are meatballs so important to Patrick in the book? And just for fun–what’s your favorite kind of meatball?

Lex: Meatballs are delicious. They should be important to everyone. It’s a tossup on my fave. I really love Swedish meatballs, but sweet and sour ones you have at holiday parties are also quite tasty.

Question for you guys! Do you have that one friend who is the bad influence? Or are you that friend?

Tell us and don’t forget to record your entry on the giveaway widget!

Contemporary Paranormal Comedy
Length: Novel
Published:†February 8, 2016
Publisher:†Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-63476-810-8
Buy:DSPAReAmazonBarnes and Noble


Everyone wishes they were dead when wandering the purgatory of a home furnishings store, but these guys actually are.

Benji Goss is the quintessential good guy. When his boyfriend dumps him and moves out, Benji obligingly keeps the cat even though he’s allergic because his ex’s new place doesn’t accept pets. He’s always joked the cat would be the death of him, but not in a way he expects when a feline mishap crushes him under a DEL TORO bookcase.

Snarky loner Patrick Bryant is in such a rut he barely remembers the life he used to lead. The last thing he recalls is being decapitated by a DEL TORO bookcase in a freak accident. As a spiritual CASA resident, he haunts the aisles of affordable Italian furniture, assisting fellow spirits in moving on to their final destinations.

When Benji appears in the CASA cafÈ, Patrick considers the naive spirit just the man to cure his boredom. Benji’s relentless optimism chips away at Patrick’s sarcasm, making him question if there’s something beyond what he can see. But the heart is like CASA furniture there’s always some assembly required.

About the Authors:


Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial,  “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting”. Now she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of sweeping cinematic adventure depending on how she feels that dayóLex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and she unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.


Bru Baker got her first taste of life as a writer at the tender age of four when she started publishing a weekly newspaper for her family. What they called nosiness she called a nose for news, and no one was surprised when she ended up with degrees in journalism and political science and started a career in journalism.

Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now works in reference and readers’ advisory in a Midwestern library, though she still finds it hard to believe someone’s willing to pay her to talk about books all day. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when sheís engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

We’re giving away two $25 USD Amazon Gift Cards to two lucky winners! Will it be you? Click on the graphic to enter!

Do you have that one friend who is the bad influence? Or are you that friend?

Blog Tour Stops:

2/8 – The Novel Approach and Release Day!

2/9 – Gay List Book Reviews

2/9 -†My Fiction Nook

2/10 – Love Bytes Reviews

2/10 – Divine Magazine

2/11 – Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House

2/11 -†Open Skye Book Reviews

2/11 -†Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

2/14 – Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

2/17 – Joyfully Jay


Guest Post from Kris T. Bethke – Love at Roades End Inspiration















From Kris T. Bethke:

Hello there! Thanks for taking the time to stop in, and I’m thrilled to be here today to talk about my newest release, Love at Roades End. Well, I’m actually going to talk about the inspiration for this story.

See, before I wrote it, I had never been to a B and B. In fact, I’d never really been to the Finger Lakes region. But see, I was going to be. I’d planned a trip at the end of August 2015. I was going by myself, a little bit of a writer’s retreat, to relax, enjoy the beautiful area, and take in the scenic beauty. And stop at a winery of course! So I had my mini trip all planned, and about two weeks before I went, the inspiration for this story struck.

I saw Sean and Hunter rather clearly in my head. But I didn’t know a lot of the salient details. I’d researched B and B’s when I was choosing my own vacation spot, and because it was at the forefront of my mind, their story took place at one. My brain was constantly working, like a program open in the background, thinking of bits of their story. But I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to write the story until after I’d been on my trip, maybe while I was there, but at least I would experience some of what I was imagining first hand before I actually wrote it.

In the end, I couldn’t wait that long, and I finished writing this short story about a week before I went on my three day-two night trip. The area is beyond beautiful, I found a new favorite winery and am still kicking myself all these months later for not buying more of my new favorite wine, and it turns out that sometimes my imagination is pretty darn close to the real thing.

Of course I was there in the summer, when everything was green and lush, and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. But February in the Finger Lakes is a cold and harsh time. Fortunately, the weather where I live is not that different, and I’ve experienced a great number of winters deal with the cold and the snow. Fortunately for me, the weather wasn’t going to stop lovers from spending a romantic weekend away. This B and B would be booked to capacity, despite the lake effect snow and below freezing temperatures. And there was something magical to me about Sean showing up after a snow, and experiencing the warmth of Hunter’s B and B.

This story flew onto the page when I wrote it, because Sean and Hunter were meant to meet and fall in love. Their romance is an easy one, with Valentine’s Day as a backdrop. It’s short and sweet, and I adore these guys so much. I love the ease with which they connect. It was a fun story to write, and if you’re looking for a little Valentine’s Day adorableness, I hope you’ll pick this one up.


(Review posted here today:  )


Blurb: Love at Roades End

Sean Newvine is looking forward to his weekend at Roades End Inn so he can review his stay there for inclusion on his travel website. What he never expects is for the owner, Hunter Roades, to capture his attention from the very start.

The only problem is Hunter thinks Sean’s been sent by his brother on a blind date so that Hunter doesn’t have to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Once the awkward misunderstanding is resolved, Sean is charmed by Hunter’s formality and hospitality. And when they have a chance to really talk, sparks fly.

A passion-filled night has them both wanting more, but Hunter pulls away knowing Sean doesn’t live in town and the distance might be more than they can overcome. Sean and Hunter must figure out if they can make it work for longer than one night, or if their chance at love will end at Roades End Inn before it can begin.

Buy Links:





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Kris T Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time. A classic muscle car will always turn her head and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with an aquarium full of tropical fish and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved and that all love deserves to be celebrated. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to drop her a line. You can find her on Twitter @KrisTBethke or on her blog

A Tour/Guest Post/Blitz

The Promise by Victoria Sue Tour and Guest Post and Contest







Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Victoria Sue author of The Promise

Hi, tell us a little about your current book.

The Promise is the fourth book in the Sirius Wolves series. The humans have found out about the existence of werewolves and appointed a human liaison officer, Marcus. Marcus is a combat veteran, and a bilateral amputee. His last boyfriend left him because he didn’t want to be with a “cripple.”

Marcus struggles with insecurities surrounding the physical perfection that is werewolves, and doesn’t understand how any werewolf can find him attractive.

All that and fighting a terrorist organization bent on eradicating werewolves for good.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

Marketing definitely, but I think most authors wished they didn’t have to do that.

 As an author, is there one thing you would never have in your books?

Not to have a happy ending. I write what I want to read, so while I take my characters on a very torturous path, they always get there in the end.

When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I’ve always loved writing, even at school. Life happens though – and I didn’t start trying to write properly until two years ago.

How long did it take to write your book?

The first draft took four weeks.


The Promise coverBlurb:

The time of Anubis is at hand. Working together against him, the goddess Sirius and the god Orion have helped mankind prepare by uniting Blaze, Conner, Darric, and Aden to fight the evil in the world. But in the war to come, the werewolves will need more allies, and this will extend beyond werewolf kind.
Marcus, an ex-Marine who’d lost both his legs in a landmine accident, is now Human Liaison Officer for Blaze’s pack. Having lost his lover too when the man couldn’t bear to live with a cripple, the last thing he expected was that he’d fall in love again, let alone with the werewolf Kellan who seemed to be universally hated by the pack.
The Winter Circle is moving, and a psychopathic pastor has abducted Nate, one of the wolves from Hunter’s pack. For once the wolves cannot rescue him — it has to be a human — and now Marcus must save the wolves from their biggest threat: one of their own.
If Marcus succeeds, he will bring in a new era in mankind’s battle against the power of evil, starting with a simple promise and ultimately mending four broken hearts.

Pages or Words: 53,000 words

 Categories: M/M Romance, Ménage/Poly, Paranormal, Shifters (wolves)


Marcus inhaled appreciatively as he eventually made it to the top of the steps. He loved Aden’s pack house. The upstairs floor was Aden’s and his mates’ living quarters. He was incredibly lucky to be here, and one of the only humans who had been trusted to live with werewolves. Not just any werewolves, thought Marcus with a grin at his own joke. Blaze, Conner, and Darric were the Supreme Alpha triad who had been blessed by the goddess Sirius when they were born over seven hundred years ago. Marcus grinned to himself — didn’t that just roll off the tongue! It was one of those things that even when he’d seen it with his own eyes — first with his buddy in the army, and then here — it was still a truly fucking incredible thing. Werewolves. Thinking of every film in the movies, none of them came even close to how amazing it was, and how goddam lucky he was to be here.
It had only been because of his dad’s friend, Bud Mason, that he’d gotten this gig in the first place. Marcus was a newly washed up Marine with two bum legs. Career finished. Then Bud — Senator Mason — had called him. He knew Marcus was aware of werewolves. Marcus and his unit had been out on patrol, eyes on a swivel as always, but it had been quiet for days. Craig was scouting up front where he liked to be and a sniper had taken him out first.

Marcus had thought he was done for, until the most incredible thing Marcus had ever seen happened in front of his eyes. Craig shifted into a wolf as he lay on the ground.
Marcus had kept his cool, and even though the firefight grew up in earnest, and had pulled Craig to safety. Craig had later explained everything — how werewolves were known about by the government, but not in the main by the general public; that he had shifted because when injured it’s a natural thing for wolf shifters to heal themselves. Marcus had been enthralled. Unfortunately, Craig had been sent home by panicked generals who didn’t realize it wasn’t Craig’s training so much as his incredibly strong shifter sense of smell that was locating the landmines and keeping their asses safe.
The next day after Craig had gone, their Humvee rolled straight over one. Three Marines lost their lives and Marcus lost his legs. The left one above the knee and the right below.
A few of the wolves glanced up smiling as Marcus limped into the café area at the front of the pack house. Friendly guys, and girls. Lilly greeted him. “Morning, Alpha.”
Marcus had wanted to die of embarrassment when she’d first called him that. Apart from the obvious fact he was a human, he was pretty sure it was against some wolf protocol or something. In fact, Ricoh was standing with Aden one of the first times last year when Lilly had called him that, and he’d seen the shock on Ricoh’s face.
Aden though had explained Lilly meant it as a mark of respect as Marcus had ended up being one of their biggest supporters, and Blaze certainly didn’t mind. Marcus supposed if it didn’t offend their Supreme Alpha, he didn’t need to get all bent out of shape about it.

Buy the book:

(Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (all romance)

Banner300x250Meet the author:

Victoria Sue has loved books for as long as she can remember. Books were always what pocket money went on and what usually Father Christmas brought. When she ran out of her kids’ adventure stories, she would go raid her mom’s. By the age of eight she was devouring classics like Little Women, and fell in love with love stories.

She especially loves writing gay romance because as far as she’s concerned the only thing better than one hot guy, is two of them.

Where to find the author:


Victoriasueauthor (fb)

Goodreads Link:

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Cover Artist: 3 Rusted Spoons

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3 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Established Couple Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Holiday Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Military Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series

Ghosts (Power of Zero Book 2) by Jackie Keswick

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents


Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.

But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.

When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.


Jack and Gareth became lovers in book one, Job Hunt. They’re now established and taking care of Nico and Daniel, two teen-aged boys rescued from a pimp in book one.

The bulk of this book is dealing with Nico and Daniel and getting them stable, once and for all, now that they’ve been rescued. They have a lot to work through and some ugliness to face doing it.

Jack has his own “ghosts” haunting him – feelings surrounding Christmas as well as some lingering issues surrounding him and being tied up. Fortuantely, Gareth is a resilient as a rock and helps Jack unflaggingly throughout all this.

In the end, by helping the boys, Jack helps himself and Gareth ends up with a lovely new set of memories for the holidays.


This is a nice sequel. We get a bit more closure for Jack and Gareth and a little bit more background and insight into Jack and his past.

I felt like this wrapped things up nicely, even if it was a bit too “simple” for Jack as well as the boys.

Fans of book one will like this and I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t read book one.

3 of 5 stars


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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

6 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Bi-Sexual Book coming of age Contemporary DA Demi Dreamspinner Exploration Fan Art Friends to lovers Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Insta Love Karrie Jax m/m Mild/low level heat Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Virgin

Dormant Heart by Lane Swift

release day review


Dreamspinner Presents


Amateur photographer Josh Thornton is out but not so proud. He’s estranged from his family, his boyfriend dumped him, and his job at an estate agency is in jeopardy—especially after he crashes his boss’s car in the middle of nowhere on his way to Hartley Manor.

Callum Black works at the English country estate and lives there in an isolated cottage. Left mute by a childhood accident, he’s more comfortable in the company of animals than people. But when Josh—literally—crashes into his life with his camera and his friendship, Callum realizes his peaceful solitude has been more than a little lonely.

Josh’s affection for Callum deepens even as he’s consumed by doubts over Callum’s sexuality and whether Callum could ever love him. And Callum is haunted by the secret that stole his voice—a secret that keeps him tethered to Hartley Manor. When the past comes hurtling painfully back into the present, Josh and Callum have to overcome their fears and breathe life back into their dormant hearts in order to have a chance at their own picture-perfect future.



Josh is having a very, very bad day – in fact – the last three months haven’t been so great. His cranky boss – who seems like he’s up to something – sends him on an errand to the country where he’s meant to take pictures of a house that is coming up for sale. He wants Josh to drive his BMW – for appearances – and Josh ends up late, lost, covered in mud and crashes the BMW.

But… While on his way to meet the seller he runs into an angel in the woods – not really – but a man that looks like an angel – Callum.

Callum is mute since an accident took his voice at a young age. He has no other issues – other than some severe shyness – and he has a way with animals.

Callum and Josh strike up a friendship after Josh asks to photograph Callum with some of his woodland friends. (No – it’s not a fairy tale, but it is romantic and dreamy!)

The two have their issues to work out: Josh is worried about being in a relationship for the wrong reasons, Callum has never been with a guy – though he identifies as bi, both worry about Callum’s mutism and financially, neither man is in a great place.

In the end – after a lot of really moving and emotional time spent with one another – great things happen and our ending is so much more than just happy.


“If I could have got just one shot, I know it would have been perfect: Callum, kneeling down like he was—” I was about to say like he was an angel, but my brain caught up with my mouth in the nick of time. “Like he was out of a fairy tale.”

I’ve not read anything by this author before but I certainly will now! Lane Swift has a gift with words and an ability to evoke emotion that is remarkable. There were so many passages in this somewhat simple romance that read like poetry.

There is a bit of a mystery that gets solved and that’s very rewarding, but the most moving part of this story is the personal growth both characters achieve with one another.

I love that Callum wasn’t hung up on his sexuality. He had some moments of contemplation – but then he merely accepted his bi-sexuality and moved on. (I might even call him demi-sexual… it’s hard to define…but he’s definitely attracted to people not one sex in particular.)

Josh is so wonderful and though his background is harsh, his spirit stays strong. He made a wonderful complement to Callum’s steadfastness in that Josh is delicate and flighty and Callum is strong and solemn.

I devoured this book in one sitting because it was simply so beautifully written.

I can’t recommend this title enough and give it 6 of 5 stars.


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A Tour/Guest Post/Blitz Fan Art Karrie Jax

Conversation Hearts by Avon Gale Exclusive Excerpt, Inspiration and Prizes!



Book Tour!







It’s Valentine’s Day, and grad student–and male escort–Levi Barron expects to spend his evening with a client who’s paying him for his services in bed… not an assassin who needs to borrow the view from his hotel room in the morning.

With nothing to do but endure the company of his unwanted guest, Levi and the assassin, Sinjin, spend some time bonding over HGTV, minibar beverages, Flannery O’Connor short stories, terrible Valentine’s candy, and the necessity of lying about their jobs.

Their evening takes an unexpected turn when they decide to indulge in their mutual attraction, and in the morning Levi doesn’t know if he’s spent the night with a hired killer or a hydraulic engineer with a very specific fantasy. Either way, the two have enough chemistry–in and out of bed–that Levi isn’t sure one night with Sinjin will be enough.

And a message left in candy suggests the feeling is mutual.

Buy Links:




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Conversation Hearts - Avon Gale


IF GIVEN a choice, Levi Barron would definitely prefer to have been stood up, rather than have a gun pointed at his head.

His client for the evening was already two hours late, and just when it looked like Levi would be spending Valentine’s Day reading some poorly articulated thoughts of college freshmen about Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, he heard the unmistakable sound of a door opening. Levi put a bit more Southern in his Georgia accent as he went to meet his client—only to find himself greeting the business end of a gun.

“Well,” the guy said, sighing. “This is awkward.”

Levi couldn’t seem to breathe. He’d heard stories about this kind of thing happening (and he’d maybe, once or twice, watched a few similar-yet-sexy versions of this exact scenario on RedTube), but the reason Levi’s agency rented a room in a luxury hotel in downtown Nashville wasn’t just for client comfort.

It was also so that Levi and his colleagues didn’t end up robbed or sold into sex slavery.

“I don’t have any money,” Levi said immediately, raising his hands even though the man hadn’t told him to do anything with them. “The agency handles all of the financial transactions. Even, uh, gratuity.”

That Levi was a poor graduate student in American Literature being robbed at gunpoint was sort of hilariously depressing.

The guy lowered the gun. “What? I’m not here to rob you, for fuck’s sake.”

Oh God. Suddenly being a sex slave didn’t sound as appealing as those videos implied it would be. “Are you going to kidnap me and sell me to a sex dungeon?”

Worst. Valentine’s. Day. Ever.

“Are those actually real? I thought they just existed on RedTube.” The gunman, dressed in black with equally dark hair and eyes, looked kind of like Edgar Allan Poe. Only without the creepy mustache.

Levi couldn’t believe this was really happening. At some point he expected cameras and a television reveal, followed in a few days by an uncomfortable meeting with the English department about his choice in part-time jobs.

“Are you going to kill me?”

The man grimaced. “I’d rather not. Look, I just need to borrow the window for a few minutes in the morning. No reason anyone has to die.” The man paused. “Anyone other than the… never mind.” He set something down on the ground. Either the guy was going to pull a violin out of there and serenade Levi, or it was a rifle case.

Rifle case. Windows. Gun. Shady guy dressed in black, skulking around and breaking into hotel rooms.

Levi’s uninvited guest was an assassin.

“You’re going to kill someone on Valentine’s Day?” Levi made a face, even as he backed away and glanced anxiously toward the window. “That’s awful. What are you, evil Cupid?”

“Technically I’m not going to kill anyone until tomorrow,” quoth the raven. His voice went flat and cold. “But if you keep asking me questions, I might change my mind. Now sit down and let me think.”

Levi sat.


The Lady, or the Tiger?

When I was younger, we read a short story in school called “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton. I think I was in junior high school at the time, and this story has stuck with me since I read it.

The story takes place in a fictionalized kingdom, where a man of lower station has been accused of seducing the daughter of a king. According to the custom, the man is given a trial by ordeal to determine his guilt or innocence — he is brought to an arena in front of the kingdom, and given a choice of two doors to open. Behind one is a tiger, and the other is a beautiful maiden. If the prisoner chooses the tiger, he must be guilty and is therefore mauled to death. If he chooses the maiden, he’s innocent and is promptly married before the kingdom. But the princess has found out which of the two doors is which, and while her lover stands in the arena, looks for her to tell him which door to choose. She doesn’t want him to be mauled by a tiger…but she also knows that if he lives, he’ll be given a beautiful woman that isn’t her to marry. She gestures to the door on the right…

And the story ends with the line: “And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door – the lady, or the tiger?”

Now, this was written in 1882 so it’s a bit dated, but I will never forget that story for as long as I live. It was one of the first times my perception of narrative was altered, and the idea of an ambiguous ending with two plausible scenarios was so interesting to me.

(I like to think the best of people, so I’m going with the Lady coming out of the door instead of a tiger. Also you think you’d be able to hear the tiger roaring from behind a door, but now I’m overthinking things.)

Don’t worry, no one gets mauled by a tiger in Conversation Hearts. But there is an element to the ending in which the reader can decide between two plausible scenarios when it comes to one of the characters. I don’t want to spoil the ending (which I promise is happy, it is a Valentine’s Day story) but if you read it and feel like sharing your opinion of who came to Levi’s door — the assassin or the hydraulic engineer? — I would love to know what you think!

You can also read The Lady, or the Tiger? online for free if you like.

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Find Avon:
@Facebook||||  @twitter || bourbon and candy (avon’s mailing list)

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5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level BDSM Book Contemporary Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Fan Art Gay Heat Index Holiday Karrie Jax m/m Mid level angst Opposites attract Rent Boy Scorching/high heat Short Story 1-20 pages (1-5k words) Valentine's Day

Conversation Hearts by Avon Gale- Review

Conversation Hearts - Avon Gale


Dreamspinner Presents


It’s Valentine’s Day, and grad student—and male escort—Levi Barron expects to spend his evening with a client who’s paying him for his services in bed… not an assassin who needs to borrow the view from his hotel room in the morning.

With nothing to do but endure the company of his unwanted guest, Levi and the assassin, Sinjin, spend some time bonding over HGTV, minibar beverages, Flannery O’Connor short stories, terrible Valentine’s candy, and the necessity of lying about their jobs.

Their evening takes an unexpected turn when they decide to indulge in their mutual attraction, and in the morning Levi doesn’t know if he’s spent the night with a hired killer or a hydraulic engineer with a very specific fantasy. Either way, the two have enough chemistry—in and out of bed—that Levi isn’t sure one night with Sinjin will be enough.

And a message left in candy suggests the feeling is mutual.


An assassin and a rent boy walk into a bar… okay… a hotel room… the rent boy says “don’t shoot me” and the two proceed to become BFFs and have the hottest sex imaginable!

What makes this story magical is the dialogue between these two “characters” and I use that term with full meaning attached. They’re both a little nutty and a lot smart and snarky and surprisingly have a lot of common ground.

Though this is WAY TOO SHORT and I’d love if we can see more of them in the future – it’s hysterical, sweet, HOT and fun.

I have to thank Avon Gale for this passage – giving voice to one of the MOST annoying things in the world for me:

Levi stared at Sinjin, trying to understand what it was he was hearing. Was Sinjin—was he saying— “You’re gay?”
“Yeah, is that a problem?”
“Of all the things that I could be having a problem with right now, do you really think you being gay is anywhere near the top of the list?”
“Are you sure you’re not getting your PhD in sarcasm?”
Levi didn’t bother answering that. “That’s a coincidence, don’t you think? That the gay assassin and the gay rent boy end up stuck in a hotel room together?”
A coincidence. Not ironic. There was nothing that pissed off English majors more than misusing that word.
Thanks for that, Alanis. May it coincidentally rain on your fucking wedding day.

This story showcases the fact that Avon Gale is WITTY. Humor is an art and she excels at it. In addition, she has heart and all her characters resonate with it.

There’s no way you should skip this – it’s awesome! It’s a HFN – it’s only one day after all – but you get the impression that both men are absolutely going to be spending a lot of time together in the future.

Loved, loved, loved this – 5 of 5 stars.


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4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index Insta Love m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Valentine's Day

Love at Roades End by Kris T Bethke

release day review


Dreamspinner Presents



Sean Newvine is looking forward to his weekend at Roades End Inn so he can review his stay there for inclusion on his travel website. What he never expects is for the owner, Hunter Roades, to capture his attention from the very start.

The only problem is Hunter thinks Sean’s been sent by his brother on a blind date so that Hunter doesn’t have to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Once the awkward misunderstanding is resolved, Sean is charmed by Hunter’s formality and hospitality. And when they have a chance to really talk, sparks fly.

A passion-filled night has them both wanting more, but Hunter pulls away knowing Sean doesn’t live in town and the distance might be more than they can overcome. Sean and Hunter must figure out if they can make it work for longer than one night, or if their chance at love will end at Roades End Inn before it can begin.


This is a very short story about a man who goes to a lovely B & B at Valentine’s and ends up falling for the proprietor.

On the one hand – the writing is crisp and descriptive, the MCs are cute and loving, the story is simple and sweet. On the other hand – there is way too much description of the Inn, it’s history, the food, the furnishings etc . Since this is a short story about two guys falling in love – I want to see as much about the two of them together as possible. Instead of relaying that “we talked for hours” – let’s read that and save some of the descriptions of linens for later.

If this had been a longer story I’d have given it higher marks, and it was still quite a good story, but I wished for more contact between the MCs.

4 of 5 stars


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4.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book Christmas Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Established Couple Gay Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Reconcilliation second chance at love

What Can Be Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Robert Nieman


Dreamspinner Presents


Thirteen years ago, Eli went on a summer trip with his mother and never came back. Now, existing in a new life as Jacob Somerville, he’s again running from fear and memories, only to end up where he started. As Jacob struggles to reconnect with his father and brothers, he realizes that his lover, Craig Zhao, was the only thing filling his empty heart and standing between him and ghosts of the past. It will take the power of love—from his family, from Craig, and from himself—for Jacob to see that his life truly is filled with the promise of what can be.

(Book reviewed here previously)

Eli/Jake has a reason to go home, but he’s scared. He doesn’t know who he is now. He’s run all his life and now he can’t decide the next step, so he cuts all ties, even though he has a happy life and love in Chicago.

Craig won’t accept that Jake wants out. He knows Jake. Knows all his secrets. Knows he needs Craig’s help.

When Eli/Jake finally faces his family after 13 years of absence, there’s a chance he could lose it all, or finally be free.


This is a no-holds-barred emotional read. Eli’s past is harsh and the love that he shares with Craig is special.

It was hard reading about what happened, and so many times I was tempted to rush to the end to see what he’s hiding, but the way it’s laid out is perfect – of course – it’s Mary!

Craig and Eli/Jake are a wonderful couple and I wish we’d gotten more of their story – but I almost think it would have been even more painful to have it drawn out. Seeing this – the pinnacle moment – was hard enough.

I love all of Mary’s work, and this is one of her more dark stories, showing us her breadth of talent.

I highly recommend this and the author, in this case, especially if you are in the mood for a happy ending but a darker story.


Robert Nieman is a favorite narrator of mine. He always has impeccable timing and gives depth and emotion to his performance, I wish he’d do a bit more with accents and such to make the characters stand out more, but I always knew who was talking, etc.

He’s very easy to listen to and I think he added to the overall enjoyment of this audiobook.

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars


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