Categories
Angst Level Book DA Dreamspinner Gay Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Morgan New Adult no rating Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words)

Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/trust-trade-by-ki-brightly-8104-b

Blurb

Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

Review

This is a book that was simply too hard for me to finish. I put it off and put it off and got an extension and put it off – and when I finally decided to try it again, I got to about the 30% point and it was just – so – painful.

I give huge kudos to the author for writing a story that is so compelling that I cannot make myself read it because of the pain it evokes.

I will say, however, that part of why I couldn’t read this was that the appeal of this book (to me) was the hurt/comfort aspect and what I saw from Freddy wasn’t enough comfort to make wading through the hurt worth it.

I’ll admit that I skimmed a bit here and there to see if it got to a point where the sun did shine through and I never found that brightness (at least not to my satisfaction).

So, I won’t rate this as I definitely didn’t read it in it’s entirety and I can say that people looking for a hard look at life on the streets, victims of abuse, the sex trade, incest, – this is the story for you- because it’s got all that and more. It was too dark for me (given world politics I just can’t absorb this into my psyche right now). I am hopeful that the right audience will find this book, because it does look to be really gripping.

DNF 30%

 

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher For Honest Review

Categories
4 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book Contemporary Cop/Crime DA Dreamspinner Exploration Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat Virgin

Matter of Time Volume 1 Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Paul Morey

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-matter-of-time-vol-1-by-mary-calmes-5114-b

Blurb

Jory Keyes leads a normal life as an architect’s assistant until he is witness to a brutal murder. Though initially saved by police Detective Sam Kage, Jory refuses protective custody – he has a life he loves that he won’t give up no matter who is after him. But Jory’s life is in real jeopardy, especially after he agrees to testify about what he saw.
While dealing with attempts on his life, well-meaning friends who want to see him happy, an overly protective boss, and a slowly unfolding mystery that is much more sinister than he could ever imagine, the young gay man finds himself getting involved with Sam, the conflicted and closeted detective. And though Jory may survive the danger, he may not survive a broken heart.

Review

When I first read this series I really, really loved it and it’s what put me in the Mary Calmes fan club for life! There’s a bunch about this story that I still adore, but I’ve noticed that this particular Mary story isn’t one I re-visit often and so I decided to do just that. I wanted to see my guys again and I wanted to write a formal review, seeing as I haven’t yet.

What can I say? On the one hand, I absolutely love Sam Kage and find him amazingly sexy and endearing. He’s Alpha to the core, and that really appeals to me, so when he finds himself in love with the train-wreck that is Jory and he’s all mushy – yeah – that really does it for me!

(I find myself comparing this story to Kaje Harper’s Life Lessons series (https://www.goodreads.com/series/62285) – the cop/gay guy is too similar to ignore, but, honestly, that series really delves far more deeply into their relationship in a way that feels more realistic while this tends to be a bit more about the action and adventure. So they are kinda like apples and oranges in that resepect.)

On the other hand, Jory makes me crazy. I didn’t ever really bond with him as a character. He’s pretty self-involved, but in a clueless way. I never understood, besides his good looks and talents in bed, why everyone loved him so much. I suppose he has a “heart of gold” but he’s always in trouble!

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

The thing about this series is it’s length. It is LONG. There is just SO MUCH DRAMA!

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

So… you have to keep reading, because by now you’re totally enthralled and wondering WTF will happen to these guys next, because, obviously, it ends in HEA, but WOW, they’ve got a rough road to get there!

The other thing that kinda makes me crazy is all the secondary and tertiary characters. It’s supremely evident when listening to this, because there are so many side little stories and whatnot. I’m just not so sure how vital they are to the overall story.

We get that Jory is clueless. That’s hit over our head over and over. We get that Sam’s in the closet. We get that everyone loves Jory. There are a lot of little moments that illustrate this for us, and I’m not sure we needed them all.

Finally, the narration.

First, there is this horribly, cheesy lounge music at the beginning of every chapter that I despise! I just have to grit my teeth when it comes on.

Next, I love Paul Morey and he does a great job voicing Sam and Jory. Unfortunately he’s been around long enough that his voices also sound like other characters near and dear to me, so when I hear the evil guy

Spoiler Inside SelectShow
near the end sound like Shane from Amy Lane’s Promise series (https://www.goodreads.com/series/41456) , I kinda get freaked out! I know it’s not his fault, and depending on what order you’ve listened to books, that voice may be weird coming from Shane but… It’s just something I noticed this time around.

So… If this is your first exposure to the series I don’t want you to think it’s not good. Because it is. It’s one of the best out there and the figures are almost iconic if you know Mary and her stories, Sam and Jory are kind of a theme for her.

I’d read a few reviews before deciding if it’s for you, but really, if you’re an m/m fan, you’re gonna need to read this and you’ll love it, I’m sure

Overall, for the narration and this book.

4 of 5 stars

4-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased For Review

Categories
6 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age Contemporary Established Couple Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Red Dirt Heart 2 Audiobook by NR Walker Narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Red-Dirt-Heart-2-Audiobook/B01N9RDPCZ/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1484947264&sr=1-2

Blurb

Up until Travis arrived on his doorstep, Charlie had lived a very solitary life. He had surrounded himself with isolation; a couple million acres of red dirt, scorching sun, and loneliness. Six months on, winter has settled over the desert, and Charlie has the life he never dreamed possible. But living and working together, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for six months straight starts to take its toll. Charlie is a stubborn, stubborn man, who tends to have more conversations in his head than what comes out his mouth, whereas Travis has no problem saying what’s on his mind. And even as they both struggle to communicate, struggle to make sense of need versus want, Charlie can see that he’s pushing Travis away – yet seems helpless to stop it. When it all boils down to whether Travis should stay or go, maybe the decision won’t be theirs to make.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously: http://kimichanexperience.com/red-dirt-heart-2-by-n-r-walker/ )

This is a series that must be read in order, so I’m assuming you’ve at least read book one if not the entire series by now.

Travis and Charlie have been living and working together for 6 months now and things are mostly on an even keel. The two stubborn boys clash now and again, but mostly, they love one another.

They have some minor/major-ish squabbles over Travis wanting to raise a baby Kangaroo and Charlie worrying incessantly that Travis isn’t happy out in the boonies. But then … real trouble hits when immigration pulls Travis’ visa and Travis faces exportation.

**

Wow oh wow this was a great book! I had wondered what trouble the boys would get into since the last book ended fairly happily settled and boy do they have trouble.

Charlie really fretted this book. Like constantly. He just can’t get his brain wrapped around Travis being happy out there. The two fight and fight about it and almost split up as a result. But then Charlie digs deep and does some really, really amazing growing and – pull out the tissues – the end result is so sweet, it makes your teeth ache. (The scene at the Cattleman’s meeting and Immigration are the places where the Kleenex will come most in handy!)

I love Charlie and Travis as a couple and was so pleased to see them dealing with real life issues but still retaining the fairy tale romance.

I highly recommend this book and the series!

Audio

I’d forgotten how heartbreaking and wonderful this part of Charlie and Travis’ s story is, what makes it even more emotional is the amazing job Joel Leslie does with Charlie’s part -not that Travis doesn’t have his moments, but the end – when Charlie finally busts free and shares his feelings – MAN – talk about a Kleenex moment! You can hear the tears in Joel’s voice and it brings the sobs out even harder!

I absolutely love this series and I think Joel is absolutely AMAZING in his narration.

Highly Recommended!

6 of 5 stars

out-of-this-world-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased for Review

Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book class difference coming of age Contemporary Cop/Crime DA Enemies to Lovers Gay Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Morgan Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Purchased Rent Boy Scorching/high heat second chance at love Single Parent Widower

A Sinner Born (Brooklyn Sinners Book 3) Audiobook by Avril Ashton Narrated by Renard Pasquale

audiobookreview

Blurb

Syren Rua is at war. He battles painful childhood demons and his intense need for the first person who makes him feel. As Faro, Syren makes deals with the worst while taking the steps necessary to bring his family’s killer to justice. He isn’t one to indulge in selfish needs, but he’ll make the time in this instance. Syren has been watching Kane Ashby, craving the grieving man for his own. He’s always stayed away from temptation, but that’s about to change. Kane isn’t over the death of his longtime partner. He’s certainly not ready for a relationship, sexual or otherwise, but Syren isn’t a man who takes no for an answer. The unpredictable Syren offers nothing but secrets and brings with him memories so dark, they could wipe out any chance the two might ever have. Syren brings Kane’s heart back to life. But it is also Syren who could inflict the most damage. Inside Scoop: One of our heroes has a panty fetish. And it’s hot. This book also contains brief references to rape and child abuse.

Review

This is a VERY INTENSE story. Syren’s story isn’t ieasy and I think that there are a lot of things in this that could be potential triggers for people, so read the blurb and it’s warning carefully.

I think first of all this is a story about two very broken men, with a whole car full of luggage. We have Kane’s story- he’s still in love with his dead partner and it shapes his entire life.

Then we have Syren, who has been beaten and raped and abused so long that all he has room for in his heart is revenge.

When they get together it is so improbable that they’d find in one another the bridge that can lead to mended hearts, but yet they somehow do.

I can’t say this was my favorite, because books one and two are still so near and dear to my heart, but, that being said, this book holds its own in the company of such greatness.

There is a lot of deep emotion, pain and wonderful sentiment in this story. There were things that bothered me some: Kane’s pining, Syren’s inability to tell the truth, the way the two finally get together in the end (I needed Kane to grovel a whole helluva lot more than he did) but those are small in comparison to the rest of the story which is fantastic.

(Some of this is my own taste in that I’m not a fan of angst for angst sake, nor do I care for BDSM or similar styles of romances and this has a LOT of angst and elements of BDSM that just don’t sit well with me. )

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

First, I want to know where Renard Pasquale is now. Damn, he’s so GOOD! I can’t believe there aren’t more of his narrations around and if anyone can tell me more about where he is now I’d love to know!

There are a lot of different voices, characters, accents and dialects in this story and for the most part Renard does the MOST AMAZING job with them all. (I super love the Cajun CI and the Jamaican lover!) He also handles the pacing and the drama – oh the drama! – with ease.

What I didn’t love was Syren’s voice. It didn’t seem to fit the character – at all! – and it bothered me a lot. Syren is this petite, suave and sophisticated character who I picture as very swishy and somewhat femme. The voice we get is a somewhat caricature – a Daddy Warbucks type whose voice is far too deep (to me). This kept me from enjoying this narration as much as the others in this series. Not enough to make me stop listening, but I’m not as full of the love for this as I am for the others.

He also didn’t do a great job with Syren’s daughter but… the rest were superb!

3.5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

4-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased For Review

Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Author Provided Billionaire Book Contemporary DA Gay Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Scorching/high heat

Painted on My Heart by Kindle Alexander Review

Kindle Alexander Presents

(Free on KU!)

https://www.amazon.com/Painted-My-Heart-Kindle-Alexander-ebook/dp/B01N2YB8Y5/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483308119&sr=1-1&keywords=painted+on+my+heart

Blurb

Artist Kellus Hardin let love and loyalty cloud his past decisions, a mistake he definitely won’t make again. Now, lost and alone, he’s left to pick up the shattered pieces of his broken heart while facing the truth of his reality.

Arik Layne exudes power, confidence, and determination. But when an encounter with the guarded artist shakes him to the core and alters all his future goals, he finds more than just his heart on the line.

For Kellus, opening himself to love isn’t an option.
All Arik wants is to make the artist his.
Can love create a masterpiece when it’s painted on your heart?

Review

This is a very, very moving story. Like Always and some other Kindle Alexander stories, this one will have you weeping at times, turned on at others, and moved by the end.

Arik is – to me- like Avery in a way – confident, sure of what he wants and most of the time able to get it.

Kellus is “broken”. He has some serious issues in his past and in his future that shape his decisions and sometimes it’s really hard to watch him make these decisions – over and over.

I loved Arik with Kellus, but at times I wanted to strangle Kellus. I felt his division – his loyalty and love for his ex, but I really wanted him to move on. I think Arik went easy on him and should have been even more stringent in his desire for Kellus to make stronger boundaries.

I think the ending was the ONLY way this was going to end up a HEA and I was grateful for it. I NEEDED it and was so pleased for Kellus (and thus Arik) that we get it.

It was wonderful seeing all the other couples and finding out where they are in life these days. That was fun!

Though this wasn’t my favorite by the author, it was, as always, amazing and I think fans of the author, fans of hurt/comfort romances and fans of artists/billionaires will love this story.

4.25 of 5 stars

(Who’s with me that we need some of Kindle’s books in audio format????!!!)

4.5-stars-small

 

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

Categories
5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Audiobook Book College/University coming of age Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Established Couple Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Humor Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Mild/low level heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased

Who We Are (BOTK Book 2) Audiobook by TJ Klune Narrated by Charlie David

audiobookreview 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/who-we-are-by-tj-klune-3724-b

 

Blurb

Sequel to Bear, Otter, and the Kid Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They’ve moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself. But that’s not the end of their story. How could it be? The boys find that life doesn’t stop just because they got their happily ever after. There’s still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter’s parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do… well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother’s abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it’ll take to become who they’re supposed to be. Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole-those who make us who we are.

Review

So…  This is not a standalone. LOL. It’s book two of 4? – for now 3. And it must be read in order.

We met everyone in book one and Bear and Otter had just gotten together and told Creed and Anna. Now it’s time to tell the parents. (I gotta tell you that scene made me laugh out loud so often my husband had to Shush me!)

There’s more angst regarding the Kid and his mother. We also meet Dominic (who is one of my favorite characters in this series!)

Anna and Creed have some important news and we are faced we a HUGE crisis near the end of the book – HUGE.

I liked this story a lot more than I liked book one because it felt more grounded, to me was funnier, it had a more emotional and physical connection between Otter and Bear and seemed to address what felt like actual issues than just the stuff in Bear’s head. (Also it’s shorter and felt more tightly edited – but that could be in my head.)

That being said, I really liked book one, too! And I think I liked Sean Crisden’s narration a lot better than Charlie David’s. It’s not that Charlie does a bad job, he’s an amazing voice actor/actor/narrator but to me Otter needed the deeper voice and Bear’s should have been less growly. Also I wanted something a lot different for Dominic than we got. I thought his Mrs. Paquin was hysterical though and the family dinner scene with “dranken” Bear was SPOT ON!

So… it’s not that he didn’t do a good job, it’s just that I liked Sean’s a bit better.

In any case, if you’re a fan of audiobooks you’ll still want to listen to this because it’s great and funny and sweet and tear-jerking and wonderful! Also, the book is good too if you don’t like audiobooks.

Highly Recommended.

(While I didn’t LOVE the cover for book one, I HATE this cover.  The faces look kinda “off”, especially the Kid’s… I hope TJ Klune does a re-issue with a lovely set of new covers by Reese Dante 🙂 )

5 of 5 stars

5-stars-small

 
Morgan - Signature-small

 

Copy Purchased For Review

Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book coming of age Contemporary Demi Dreamspinner Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Humor Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Mild/low level heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Single Parent Unrequited Love Virgin

Bear, Otter and The Kid (BOTK Book 1) Audiobook by TJ Klune Narrated by Sean Crisden

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bear-otter-and-the-kid-by-tj-klune-3212-b

 

Blurb

Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living. With a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that – until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world … something or someone. 

 

Review

This is a re-read/re-listen for me, as I originally read and listened to it in 2014. When I first read it, I was absolutely blown away by the humor, the angst, the feels and the quality of the representation Sean Crisden brought to the characters. In a world where not all narrators are the same, and some really don’t do much to ADD to a reading experience, I still hold Sean as one of the ones that shoot for excellence and shape the characters for the readers/listeners.

I’ve read/listened to this a few times, though never all the way from start to finish as I did this time – it’s too long for that! It’s 350 pages and that can take some serious commitment when you’re listening as that’s over 12 hours.

There are people who will always be “new” to the genre and stumbling across this title in their forays, but I’d say most of us who’ve been reading this genre have read (and loved) this or at least know of the series/author, etcetera – so, I’m not going to go into any sort of plot summaries – there are lots of reviews out there that cover that.

As I was listening to this again, I wanted to remember how it FELT to experience this story. I think TJ does an amazing job of getting into Bear’s head. One of the first things that I thought about this is how I FELT Bear’s tension/anxiety/stress. This book was published in 2011 (so probably written way before that) and it’s amazing how much has changed in those five/six years as far as gay acceptance in our world. Sure, there are still lots of hurdles to overcome, but we’ve made some big strides. In reading Bear’s anxiety about being “like Otter” – aka gay – I think TJ captures beautifully that original questioning of one’s sexuality and in Bear’s case, probably not even really having a proper label for his specific situation. (Maybe he’d be Demiromantic? I don’t know that it matters…)

In any case, Bear’s sexual identity is really just one piece of this story. He’s also dealing with his ex-girlfriend, his best friend and his brother – most importantly – his brother and how his role in their lives is how he defines himself. (In book two I think we see this even more – but that’s for later. J ) Back to how it made me feel – well I kept wanting to feel calm! Bear is so tightly wound that I kept wanting him to find some solace with Otter, with Creed, with Anna. Something so his monkey-brain would settle down and just BE.

I also really appreciated Anna and her role in this with this re-listen. She definitely got the short end of the stick in that her boyfriend who loves her really didn’t trust her enough to confide in her and that really had to hurt.

There are some other things I noticed this time around that made me eager to complete the series again – how Ty says “I’m going to still like girls” and how together Ty was in comparison to Bear and when does that change? I know he still has anxiety but – at least here- he seemed more together than Bear at times.

The love between Bear and Otter felt really poetic and if I have a complaint is that, even with 350 pages, I still don’t know that we got a lot of their relationship building.

For me, this is where TJ’s writing style really shines. He mixes in the angsty with the humor so well here. The smexy times aren’t so much hot as they are heart-felt and that’s well-suited to the book itself.

4.25 of 5 stars

Audio

As I said at the beginning, Sean does an amazing job with this. I LOVE his Otter and his Creed and think he does a great Anna, Ty and Bear as well. But mmmm Otter’s voice is Delish!

There is no doubt that listening to this is the way to enjoy this. Sean is wonderful and he makes the 12 hours fly by!

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased for Review

Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Established Couple Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series second chance at love

Close to you (Sunshine and Happiness Book #3) Audiobook by Skylar M Cates

audiobookreview
Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7478

Blurb

It’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.

How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.

For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.

When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.

Review

Books one and two reviewed here:

Here For You http://kimichanexperience.com/here-for-you-audiobook-by-skylar-cates-narrated-by-paul-morey/

Lovers Losers and You https://thebloggergirls.com/2015/09/12/book-review-lovers-losers-and-you-by-skylar-m-cates/

This is an amazing series. Though, technically, each is a stand alone, the MCs in the other books all lived together at one point and are all interwoven in the other’s lives, so they pop in and out and having read the previous books will only add to your overall enjoyment of this book – plus they’re all so beautiful.

We’ve met Tomas and Marc – two friends who are clearly avoiding the elephant in the room – that is – why aren’t they lovers?

Finally, we find out their backstory. It’s not a pretty one. This is definitely a book where you need your big-girl-panties, because it’s filled with angst and pain and separation.

But, it’s beautifully written and Skylar Cates gives us an amazingly sweet Epilogue (my favorite!) to sort-of balance things out a little.

The bulk of the story is written in both first person present tense as well as in a series of flashbacks. So, fair warning, those aren’t always a favorite way to read a story. For me, the flashbacks worked, but I wasn’t a big fan of the present tense.

That being said, it was still a gripping and beautiful book about two men finally finding the courage to overcome the past to find love and hope, today.

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Mmmmm Tristan James.  Man I love this guys voice!  He’s so, so easy to listen to.  I have to say I wish there’d been more done with Tomas’ accent, but he did a nice job differentiating all the different characters (there are a LOT of them!).  (Tristan does a great job with the other Hispanic accents!)  Tristan is great with pacing and at telling the story in a way that makes sense, with the right inflections and emphasis placed on the right words and phrases.  I think this is a great way to enjoy this story and recommend it to fans of the author, the narrator and the series.

4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Established Couple Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Magic Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat second chance at love Shifter Speculative Fiction

Crucible of Fate (Change of Heart Book 4) Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Sean Crisden

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/crucible-of-fate-by-mary-calmes-802-b

Blurb

Change of Heart book 4

In the secret city of Sobek, Domin Thorne is making his way as the newly chosen semel-aten, the leader of the werepanther world. He aspires to make sweeping changes – he’s set goals for himself and the people he chose to bring with him, modeling his reign after that of his friend, Logan Church. But Domin may have set too lofty a goal: His normal leadership style isn’t working.

While juggling a homesick Crane, a moody Mikhail, a bullwhip-wielding Taj, servants with murderous intentions, a visiting ex, and a mate on a dangerous goodwill mission, Domin has to figure out his new role alone. He also must determine how to deal with a conspiracy, all the while falling hard for a man who, for the first time in Domin’s life, reciprocates that love.

Whether Domin is ready or not, Fate has stepped in to teach him a lesson: Internal threats are just as dangerous as external ones.

Review

Reviewed here previously http://kimichanexperience.com/crucible-fate-audiobook-mary-calmes-narrated-sean-crisden/

(Abridged)

First, this is NOT a standalone. You must be following along in the series for this to make sense and to resonate with you.

Most of this book is about Domin, Logan’s right hand man, learning about his new role as semel-aten and making widespread changes to the way things are run. There are some pretty intense battle/kidnapping scenes (after all, this is what we’ve come to expect with this series and book 4 is no different in that aspect) and some moving relationship building between him and Yuri. (Can I just say awwwww – I love that these guys find one another and that we finally see Koren get the boot!)

We get to see a bit of Logan, Jin and Crane, but most of the book is Domin, showcasing his growth as a leader, a man, and a mate. (He really does make some big changes here and I think Mary did a nice job of showing just how they come about.)

There is no way you could understand or appreciate this book without having read the first three, and even having read the first three, it is tough to keep all the “foreign” phrases and terminology straight. I highly recommend reading all four books in a row to fully appreciate this book. (And perhaps listening to them – though it’s frustrating to have 2 narrators – because hearing the words might make it easier, depending on your learning style.)

Before this, Yuri and Domin had gotten together, but it was a tenuous relationship. Some of the best, most emotional parts of this book are Domin and Yuri cementing their relationship with one another. Mary writes excellent sex and there are some scorching scenes in this story.

The politics of the changes Domin works toward are fascinating, but very complex. In many ways this is a departure from Mary’s works in that Yuri and Domin are not the exact center of this book, but an integral piece. This really feels like a book that ties up loose ends and focuses on Domin and the entire were-panther world more than anything else, his relationship included.

I loved this book as a giant epilogue to the series, but wished for more of the heart-wrenching, tender relationship scenes between Yuri and Domin.

Fans of the series will love this and I think all those out there who wanted to shoot Koren will be so pleased! (No he doesn’t get shot!) I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to anyone who read the first three books.

(By now we have another installment, so we know this isn’t an epilogue – per se – but it does tie up a lot of loose threads. The next book, as you may or may not know, really does tie up ALL the loose threads – but not before making things nearly impossible first!  I reviewed book 5  here: https://thebloggergirls.com/2015/10/27/audio-review-forging-the-future-by-mary-calmes/ (for those of you following the series for the first time.)

Audio

Hallelujah! Sean Crisden is back! Can I get a Woot Woot!

After listening to another narrator, it made me all the more appreciative of Sean’s work and I’m so grateful he was able to return to the series and give us books four and five!

I suppose only Mary knows for sure, but I think Sean’s version of the pronunciation is the best when it comes to the unique names of the people and places in this series. It was great to have him return with not only those pronunciations, but his unique character voices too! I love Domin’s doctor – what a great accent!

I give the book a 4.5 of 5 stars, the narration a 5 of 5 stars for an overall 4.75 of 5 stars

5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased For Review

Categories
4.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Established Couple Fated Mates Gay Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Length m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Race/Species Difference Scorching/high heat Shifter Speculative Fiction

Honored Vow (Change of Hearts Book 3) Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Jeff Gelder

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/honored-vow-by-mary-calmes-962-b

Blurb

 

Jin Rayne is still growing into his frightening new powers as a nekhene cat and his place as reah of Logan Church’s tribe when he learns that a sepat, an honor challenge, has been called. Logan, who has never wanted to do anything but lead his small-town tribe, must travel around the world to Mongolia and fight to become the most powerful leader in the werepanther world.

Logan won’t be the only one making the journey. As his mate, Jin must fight with him to honor his commitment to Logan, his culture, and his tribe. But the trial is long, involving a prolonged separation between the two men, and Logan’s humanity is at stake. In order to make it through the nightmarish sepat, Jin and Logan must accept their fates, trust each other, and honor the vows between them no matter the cost.

Review

OMG.

Can we just say that?

So… Mary’s not done with us yet. This is the third book, and it must be read in order. No question.

Logan and Jin have come together and been torn apart in the first two books, a few times now. Well, that’s not done. There’s more separation as Jin continues to learn more about his cat and his powers and the politics of the various tribes.

And more fighting. WOW. More fighting. These guys do NOT have an easy go of it.

This is definitely the most (except for Crane L ) brutal story and at one point I literally almost lost my mind. (You’ll know it when you read/listen to it.) But – the payoff is worth it. There is so much love when these guys settle down. So many strong emotions and I guess that’s the flip side to the violence is the extreme love that follows.

My favorite thing in this series is the growth of power Jin feels throughout each book. The developing nekhane cat and what happens once he’s bonded and grown his family. That is fascinating! I, personally, HATE the separation, it physically hurts to see these guys live without one another –but I guess that’s the mark of great writing, isn’t it? To make the reader feel so strongly.

I’m not a big Jeff Gelder fan, but he’s not the worst I’ve listened to either. Just like with book two, Jeff Gelder does a fair job with this narration. I still love Sean more because he adds unique character voices, emotion and (to me) pronounces things as they should be. While Jeff Gelder is a bit monotone and doesn’t do a lot for the accents, having someone read all the strange words and keep you going through the violence might make this book easier to take. (Since I’m a “cover my face and close my eyes in a horror movie kind of person”, it helped me!)

There are some surprises ahead and fans of the series are going to be pleased, if you’re new to audio, I’d listen to the sample before deciding if this is the book for you.

4.25 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased for Review