Recent Release: Escaping Exile (The Escape Trilogy Book 1) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40794384-escaping-exile?from_search=true

Blurb: Andrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.
Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream-but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.
As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?

Review:
I really enjoyed this ☺
The blurb sucked me in. I’m a ‘sucker’ (sorry!) for paranormal or historical stories and with this book I get both.
Andrew, (a vampire), has been exiled to some remote island as a punishment. He meets Edmund when he rescues the latter from a shipwreck – Edmund is the sole survivor.
As Andrew nurses Edmund back to health, he begins to look at the injured man less as sustenance, (he is a vampire after all), and more as a lust/love interest. While Edmund recovers the two men forge a friendship that turns into something more. Though it is a short story, it didn’t feel rushed – the backstory is interwoven into the current happenings, so the story feels longer than it actually is. I would have liked to know a little more about Edmund’s past, but that may come later.
This is book 1 of a trilogy but it ends with a good HFN. However, I am sufficiently hooked that I want to see what happens with Andrew and Edmund in the future.

4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: The Bureau by Kim Fielding narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Bureau-Audiobook/B07FB87WNZ?qid=1533351357&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=ZB9XMTGMAM0FQQVEZ38X&

Blurb:

This collection contains the first three Bureau novellas:

Corruption

Once a proud demon of the night sky who carried nightmares to humans, Tenrael has spent decades in captivity as the star attraction of a traveling carnival. He exists in miserable servitude to men who plunk down ten dollars to fulfill their dark desires.
Charles Grimes is half human, half…something else. For 15 years he’s worked for the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs, ridding the country of dangerous monsters. When his boss sends him to Kansas to chase a rumor about a captive demon, Charles figures it’s just another assignment. Until he meets Tenrael.

Clay White

Someone – or something – is murdering young men in San Francisco. Clay White has been fired from the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs, but he’s determined to track down the killer. When he comes across a vampire named Marek, Clay assumes he’s caught the perp. But the encounter with Marek turns out to be more complicated than Clay expected, and it forces him to deal with his own troubled past and murky psyche.
As Clay discovers, sometimes the truth doesn’t come easy – and the monsters are not who we expect.

Creature

Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who – or what – he is. Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.

When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream – to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs – all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him.
Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man – and what a monster truly wants.

Review

Book reviewed here previously

This is a collection of stories that introduce the Bureau of Tran Species Affairs.
The stories are a little dark, somewhat film noir-ish, but interesting. I read and enjoyed Creature, (my favourite of the 3), as a standalone, so when I saw that Joel Leslie was narrating the trio of stories, I was more than happy to experience the collection. The stories connect, but are definitely self-contained standalones.

What can I say about ‘a Joel Leslie performance’ that hasn’t been said before? He brings life, character and a wealth of acting experience to the stories he narrates; so much so, that one becomes personally invested in the characters. In this case, he made me want to take Tenrael (Corruption) home to care for. And John (Creature), you could almost ‘see’ how he bloomed under Harry’s care – I could feel the affection and emotion he felt for Harry, life (such as it was) in general.
Joel Leslie, simply put, is a pleasure to listen to.

5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Steamy Romance: Balls Up by Lexxie Couper

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24083717-balls-up?from_search=true

Blurb: Rhys McDowell. Striker for Manchester United. Bad boy on the soccer field. Badder boy in the bedroom. Rhys lives by the motto: never second-guess anything. His only regret in life is that he fell in love with the wrong man long ago, and no one has ever been able to erase that guy from his heart.
Until now.

Curtis Clarkson. Ex-captain of the Australian cricket team. A man once feared on the pitch, Clarkson is now a highly respected businessman with a devilish glint in his eye and a willingness to follow wherever life leads. He never expected it to lead him to a man. A cocky soccer player, no less. And a private shower in Heathrow airport.

When lust and desire take control of both men, all the rules of the game change utterly. Curtis never thought he’d fall for a guy. And Rhys never thought he’d fall again, period.
But when fame follows your every step, what happens behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there. And the penalty box may very well leave you not just sweaty…but broken.

Review: Now, this was a hot story ☺. Apparently, it’s part of a series but can totally be read on its own (the other stories are M/F). Anyway, Rhys is a footballer, trying to forget a guy he’s been in love with for a while. On a flight back to Oz (Australia), he bumps into Curtis, a cricketer. They’d met before, so they were somewhat familiar with each other. When their flight is delayed, they end up having a steamy encounter in the airport lounge shower, (and I’m not referring to the hot water producing steam)! There is also hot session at when they get together at their hotel.
Apart from the steam factor, there is a lot of humour in their verbal sparring. Along with the situation of both men being dogged by the press and making their relationship public makes this novella fun to read.

4 stars out of 5

Copy Purchased for Review

 

Recent Release: Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40553540-curl-around-my-heart?from_search=true

Blurb: At Pearl’s Hair and Nails, no one questions Tate Robinson about his high heels, crop tops, and lipstick, because he’s the boss and he can wear what he damn well pleases. The shop is his life, and he doesn’t need anything more. Until a man walks in with his adorable daughter, and Tate has to untangle her helmet-hair…and his growing feelings for the single dad.

Reece Evans has been on his job for years, has his own place, and now has custody of his eight-year-old daughter. But he doesn’t trust himself to avoid screwing up. Adulting is not his strong suit—or so he’s been told. And now a sexy beautician, who also happens to be his new downstairs neighbor, has Reece wanting and reaching for more than he thinks he’s capable of.

As Tate and Reece move past their own fears about relationships, Reece’s ex issues a threat that could destroy everything. Will Reece’s worries about other people judging him undermine his budding romance? And will Tate’s fear of rejection make him push Reece away? Or have the sweet single dad and his precocious daughter curled too tightly around his heart to give them up?
***Please be aware that this book contains references to drug addiction.***

Review: I generally like light-hearted, fun stories, but I decided to broaden my reading horizons and try a story with a bit more like real-life. I am glad to say that this was a very good choice.
This is a story of 2 men – a little broken by their families, trying to rise above expectations and how they find love and strength in each other.
Reece is a single dad, trying to raise his daughter (LJ) the best way he can. He meets Tate (a hair stylist/salon owner) when LJ needs her hair done for a photo shoot.
There is an instant awareness (attraction) between the 2 men, but they dance around each other until LJ points out their mutual attraction, (even then, they still take their sweet time to start dating).
But their lives are not without issues. Tate deals with a family that refuses to accept that he likes to wear feminine clothing and, to a lesser extent, that he’s gay. He’s not disowned, just not made to feel welcome at family gatherings. Reece is dealing with an unsupportive mother who believes that he’s not reliable (after a youthful indiscretion) and definitely not suited to raise his daughter. He’s also dealing with a junkie ex-girlfriend and her family wanting to get custody of LJ. Phew!
You’d think this would be an angst-ridden read, but it isn’t. Yes, there is some drama between the 2 MC’s and with their respective families, but there is humour, sass, heart and a good story. The story takes place over the span of 2 years, so you get to see the progress made by the characters.
If you’re looking for a well-developed story, this is a good one.

4.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Recent Release: Taking Love’s Lead by H.L. Day

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40663967-taking-love-s-lead?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Zachary Cole’s new personal shopper is stunning in more ways than one. Gone is the staid, professional Jonathan. In his place is sexy, whirlwind Edgar, whose methods and lifestyle are less than orthodox. Still reeling from the experience, Zack can’t get him out of his head. He needs to see him again. Even if it does involve dragging his heavily pregnant sister and her dalmatian into his cunning plan.

Sick of being dumped yet again, dog-walker Edgar’s pledged to stay single and put energy into finding a career more suited to an adult instead. Zack might be extremely tempting…and just happen to pop up wherever he goes, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to change his mind. He’s got bigger priorities in life than a website designer after a brief walk on the wild side. His heart’s taken enough of a bruising. He’s not prepared to get dumped again.

Zack wants love. Edgar only wants friendship. Can the two men find common ground amid the chaos of Edgar’s life? Or is Zack going to find that no matter what he does, there’s no happy ending and he’ll have to walk away?

Review:
This is a fun, sweet and offbeat story of opposites attract.
Edgar and Zack couldn’t have been more opposite and yet, so meant for each other.
Edgar is a professional dog walker who feels compelled to get a ‘grown up’ job (not his words). He applies to be a personal shopper – it’s hilarious how he gets rid of the other candidates for the job – pure genius ☺. Anyway, he gets the job on a trial basis, which is how he meets Zach, a web designer. Zack is a staid, by the book kind of guy, but somehow finds himself intrigued by and bending the rules for Edgar.
Zack decides to pursue Edgar, the latter having sworn off relationships. What ensues is a comedy of errors that was fun to read.
The banter and the overall development of their relationship is fun to read. The point where Zack shows that he’s in the relationship for the long haul, is tender and sweet.
Definitely recommend as a fun, well-paced read.

4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Release Day Review: When He was Bad by Poppy Dennison

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/lifes-a-beach-by-poppy-dennison-9528-b

Blurb: Coconut Cove: Book Three

Lights, camera… wardrobe?

Coconut Cove is television’s newest hot sensation. The glitzy teen drama set in the beach lover’s paradise of Key West is the talk of every gossip rag eager for dirt and hookup news on the hot young actors—like Levi Phillips, who plays the show’s resident bad boy.
Levi’s attraction to costume designer Whit heads into high romance when Whit orders Levi out of his clothes—in an attempt to save Levi from heat exhaustion, of course.
Sassy Whit knows just how to dress, and undress, Levi, and soon the sexy duo are steaming it up off-screen, which is no surprise to their friends and cast mates.
But love in the public eye is complicated, and rumors pose challenges that can threaten careers and love….

Review: Another fun, light installment to the series that can be read on its own.
The short story focuses on Levi, another character on the fictional tv series and Whit, who is in charge of wardrobe.
Both men have crushed on each other for a while, to the point that the whole production cast/crew have been waiting for them to get together! Both MCs like to good naturedly snark at each other and it is fun to see them finally take the steps to getting together.
There is not a whole lot to the story, but the way they get together and want to stay together is nicely written and fun to read. It’s an easy read, one that I will reread if I need a quick pick me up.

3.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Steamy Romance: Curious by R.G. Alexander

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25030645-curious?from_search=true

Blurb: Are you Curious?

 

Jeremy Porter is. Though the bisexual comic book artist has known Owen Finn for most of his life—long enough to know that he is terminally straight—he can’t help but imagine what things would be like if he weren’t.

Owen is far from vanilla—as a dominant in the local fetish community, he sees as much action as Jeremy does. Lately even more.
Since Jeremy isn’t into collars and Owen isn’t into men, it seems like his fantasies will remain just that forever…until one night when Owen gets curious.

Review: This is one is one of my favourite ‘friends to lovers’ story. Both men are somewhat strong willed, alpha types who have been best friends since childhood. Owen is straight and in the D/S lifestyle while Jeremy is bi and crushing on his friend.
After witnessing a threesome involving Jeremy, Owen decides to explore his curiosity about what it’s like to be with a man. He and Jeremy explore together – Owen shows Jeremy the ropes, so to speak (smile), and Jeremy shows him that loving a man is beautiful.
The steamy scenes between the 2 men are really hot!
There is a large, supportive family (Owen’s), who have always welcomed Jeremy – they round out a really good story and start to a really good series.

4 stars out of 5

Copy purchased for review

 

 

 

 

Audiobook: Once Upon a Wolf by Rhys Ford, narrated by Derrick McClain

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/once-upon-a-wolf-by-rhys-ford-9694-b

Blurb:

Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs—or four—and quiet evenings…. Until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough—right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.
Loving a werewolf—loving Gibson with all his secrets—has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

 

Review:

 

Book previously reviewed https://openskyebookreviews.com/once-upon-a-wolf-wayward-wolves-series-by-rhys-ford/

 

I enjoyed the story and was looking forward to listening to Derrick McClain narrate. He gives a good performance, his cadence and inflections gave a sense of urgency and tension at the very beginning of the story – where Zach is running from the wolf (Ellis). I almost forgot that Ellis was ‘playing’ with Zach, I was so worried!
With Mr. McClain one gets a nuanced performance, making the narration very easy and pleasant to listen to. I had no trouble knowing who was speaking.
All in all, it’s a very good start to a new series to read and listen to.

4 out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steamy Romance: Hush by Tal Bauer narrated by Joel Leslie

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Hush-Audiobook/B07CJXNKWB?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=7P7G86KQTKY2WQ1DW2PZ&

Blurb:
Federal Judge Tom Brewer is finally putting the pieces of his life back together. In the closet for 25 long years, he’s climbing out slowly, and, with the hope of finding a special relationship with the stunning Mike Lucciano, US Marshal assigned to his DC courthouse. He wants to be out and proud, but he can’t erase his own past, and the lessons he learned long ago.

A devastating terrorist attack in the heart of Washington, DC, and the capture and arrest of the terrorist lead to a trial that threatens to expose the dark underbelly of America’s national security. The Russian president is gravely injured and fixated on revenge, while a gay Russian dissident is arrested and put on trial in Judge Tom Brewer’s courtroom. As Russia beats the drums of war and the United States struggles to contain the trial before it races out of control, secrets and lies, past and present, collide in his courtroom, before his bench.

With the world’s attention fixed on Tom and this case, secrets from his past explode during the course of the trial, which place him at the very center of the case and make him the only man who can try to stop the world’s slide into war.

Review: I am a big fan of Joel Leslie (no secret there) and while I thoroughly enjoyed his performance and the story, I didn’t think that the 2 were a good fit … (as I type this I fully expect to be black-balled from several FB groups ☹ ).
Let me explain. Hush is part romance, part thriller – the first half, the romance is where I think Joel Leslie excels – he captures the tentative way Tom comes out of his 20+ year stint in the closet for Mike, the almost comical way Mike and Tom dance around their feelings and the comic relief of Kris, (Mike’s best friend). When the thriller/drama part of the story begins, it took me a bit to get used to hearing Joel Leslie outside of a humourous, romantic setting. However, once I got caught up in the ensuing events, especially trying to figure out who was pulling the strings, it got easier to accept his narration.
As mentioned before, Joel Leslie gives a very good performance and the story is very good. I just need to remember that artists grow into other roles and I need to grow along with them ☺

5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Home Skillet by Cate Ashwood and Sandra Damien

Goodreads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40215810-home-skillet?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Sometimes the only way to move forward… is to go back.

JAMES
I don’t know what’s more shocking—the sudden end to my marriage, or the fact that I’d married a woman at all. But now I’m broke and homeless, kicked out of my Upper West Side apartment while my ex-wife walks away with everything we’ve ever worked for.
So what’s an executive chef stripped of his dignity gonna do?
Go back to Jersey with his tail between his legs, that’s what.
BEN
I can’t say that spending a decade pining after my best friend was the best use of my time. While I’d pretty much become an expert at the whole unrequited love thing, I’d resigned myself to the fact that Jimmy and I were never gonna happen. But when Jimmy turned up on my doorstep in his hour of need, I jumped at the chance to offer him my bed—er, couch. I mean, what are friends for, right?
Now that he’s released from the shackles of matrimony, I can’t wait to show him exactly what he’s been missing out on all these years.
What I didn’t anticipate was him showing me that maybe I’d been missing out too.

Review: I liked this friends-to-lovers, slow burn story, despite the few issues I had with James (Jimmy).
Jimmy and Ben had been friends with benefits whilst in college, when out of the blue, Jimmy announces (to Ben) that he’s getting married (issue #1); to a woman (issue #2). The marriage, in name only (issue #3), is to further his culinary career (issue #4). When said marriage fails, Jimmy heads back to his bestie, Ben who offers him a place to stay. Of course their feelings for each other are rekindled (Ben’s feelings never really went away), and they find their way to being back together. However, Jimmy is still in the closet and plans to stay in it for the foreseeable future (#5). I was not a fan of Jimmy.
Eventually Jimmy is outed. He and Ben work through the issues resulting from the outing and Jimmy’s divorce settlement to get to their HEA.
A nice story set in the 90’s; good for a sweet, uncomplicated read.

3 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review