Audiobook: Redeeming the Stepbrother by Andrew Grey, narrated by Jack Wesley

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/redeeming-the-stepbrother-by-andrew-grey-9507-b

 

Blurb

A Tale from St. Giles

Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.

As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.

When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.

But he isn’t the only one with a secret.

At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.

Review

Story:
This was a sweet and mellow modern take on Cinderella, refreshingly focusing on one of the stepsiblings rather than the Cinderella character.

Florian, the stepbrother in need of redeeming, is not such a blackguard as the title or knowledge of the original fairytale might lead you to suppose. He is quite a pleasant young man, no bully or anything like that, but he keeps to himself and basically looks the other way for years any time his mom goes all evil stepmother on his younger stepsister, Isabella, and therein lies the rub.

Ella is a wonderful young girl, very loving and forgiving, and she really blossoms once Florian decides to help her and starts sticking up for her at home. I love that this particular Cinderella gets a magic night at the ball, but then goes off on an adventure and gets herself an education rather than focusing on getting a boyfriend. She’s only eighteen, after all.

We only have Florian’s point of view throughout the story, which I thought a bit of a pity. Dieter’s perspective from time to time would have been helpful. As it is, he remains very much the enigmatic Count. He appears to be the more interesting of the two men, but we know next to nothing of what he feels or thinks. We also get very little German endearments or quotes, though that could have really livened things up. Verdammt! Das ist wirklich schade.

Florian and Dieter gravitate towards each other very easily, but it all happens so mildly, almost tepidly, that I can’t say that I was very engrossed by their story.
It takes them a long time to realize and speak of their feelings for each other and when they finally do so, Florian seems resigned to an unhappy outcome, thinking that it’ll be over almost instantly, because Dieter is set to return to Germany soon. Florian, with all his insecurities, can be rather passive, and a bit of a damsel in distress at times. It doesn’t even seem to occur to him that he can fight to keep Dieter in his life, one way or another.

Of course, this is a romance and a fairytale, so Florian and Dieter are assured of their HEA. However, there is still a spot of bother to overcome, remember the evil stepmother and the other, even more evil, stepbrother?
This part of the plot ups the stakes for all involved and brings with it an element of danger and emotional distress that pushes the characters to evolve and grow. Nice twist!

This is the second book in the Tales from St. Giles series, but it can be read perfectly as a standalone.

Narration: The narrator had a warm and pleasant voice, but I felt a bit too much like he was just reading the story out loud instead of really bringing the characters to life. He made Florian’s mom sound really shrill, which was a bit unpleasant to listen to, but perfectly in keeping with her personality.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to get scared: Unchained by Ainsley Gray

Good reads link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41318018-unchained?from_search=true

Blurb

If he takes their life, they can never truly leave.

That’s the mantra Noah Wilmington has lived by for years. He picks up whores and deviants from the local taverns, enjoys their company for an evening…and then hides their bodies in the woods.

Edward Yorke has approached the same man in the same public house time and again, never deterred by the cool dismissal he receives. There’s something about Noah that calls to him. A shared pain, a shared sadness…

But Noah doesn’t trust himself. It’s too risky to permit someone too close, and Edward is the one person in the world whose life Noah wants to spare. So, every time Edward has asked to buy him a drink, Noah declines.

Then one night, out of sheer loneliness, that “no” becomes a “yes.”

When Edward’s night with him sheds light on some of Noah’s dark secrets, Noah cannot simply let him walk out the door. But if he doesn’t want Edward dead, and he can’t let him leave, only one option really remains…

(Unchained is a gay Victorian-era romance novella with a HEA.)

Review
This was a truly thrilling read! Loved it!!
I don’t make a habit of reading stories with criminal or murderous MC’s, because I find them difficult to like or relate too, but this one came so highly recommended (Riley Hart, Christina Lee) that I felt I needed to take a chance. And wow… I’m so glad I did!

It’s an odd & slightly uncomfortable feeling to be rooting for a serial killer, a rather unrepentant one at that, and not even one who tries to stick to killing “other monsters” like, say, Dexter. The places our mind can go to in a fictional world… If nothing else, this is a great testament to the incredible skill of this author.

There’s such a scary and unsettling atmosphere permeating this book. Danger lurking behind every corner. You’re never at ease, because even when things seem to be going alright and you’re tempted to let down your guard…you’re really just waiting for that axe to fall.
And for all that I knew something was coming, must be coming…I was still completely taken aback when it did. On more than one occasion.

The writing is beautiful and evocative. Words flowing smoothly along, setting the mood perfectly and drawing us a wonderfully clear picture of enigmatic Noah and Edward and the world they live in. The late nineteenth century serves as an ideal background for their story.
Both Noah and Edward are very compelling MC’s, flaws and all. And though at first glance they seem really different, because duh “serial-killer”, they also have something important in common. They have both known great sadness and pain in their youth, and as a result are very much alone, and lonely, in their own way.

In a wonderful twist, we also have the prey actually stalking the predator. Unknowingly, of course.
I also loved that Noah, though the most dangerous one of the two men, is physically the least imposing, being smaller and less muscled than Edward. Brilliantly done!

This book put me in mind of the fable of the Scorpion and the Turtle, with the Scorpion staying true to his nature, no matter the consequences, even for himself. What would be the stronger force here? Nature or…?

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 

 

 

 

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Audiobook: The Garden (Lavender Shores book 2) by Rosalind Abel (Author), Kirt Graves (Narrator)

audiobookreview

Audible link:

https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Garden-Audiobook/B07818317C?qid=1537258121&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=9ZY4F78NEJRAWW7GD50X&

 

Blurb

Beautiful Gilbert Bryant designs jewelry for the rich and famous, and he made his escape from his gossipy little hometown of Lavender Shores. However, with so many friends and family, he keeps getting pulled back. When he attends his best friend’s engagement party, Gilbert can’t help but sample one of the new men in town. It’s just some innocent—or not so innocent—fun. Nothing that will even cross his mind once he gets back to his everyday life.
Walden Thompson dreamed about living in Lavender Shores since he visited as a child. He finally gets his chance, and he embraces the opportunity to start over, to become someone new. He leaves both hurts and dangerous habits in the past, where they belong. When Gilbert crosses his path, Walden gives in to his baser instincts. He can indulge in the carnal pleasures this once and still be okay.
Their few hours together haunt Gilbert, the two-hundred-mile buffer from home no longer shutting out the past or the sexy man he left behind. Walden is just beginning to recover from the smoldering encounter with Gilbert when they are thrust together once more. This time, neither of them can walk away, no matter how hard they try. But when their pasts crash into each other as surely as the magnetism that pulls them together, walking away may be the only option.

Review

Overall: Very emotional hurt/comfort story that gives you all the feels. Even more so thanks to the wonderful narration, which really adds an extra layer of intensity to an already deeply moving romance story. Blissfully satisfying HEA.

Story:
Local manwhore meets & corrupts innocent new teacher. That’s how Gilbert, and the local busybodies, first perceive what happens between him and the cute teacher with the adorable red glasses. But of course, there’s so much more to this story…

I loved that Walden saw through Gilbert’s carefree, love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude to the wounded bird hiding beneath all that. The Gilbert we meet in the first chapter, desperate to keep his vulnerable heart safe, seems miles removed from the man that falls in love with Walden. Gilbert really is the perfect human embodiment of Walden’s secret garden, a hidden, closed-off wilderness just waiting for a loving hand to help him blossom once more. I absolutely loved that analogy.

I also adored all the references to beloved children’s classics like The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables, Disney even. It made me like Walden even more. He can no more stop himself from falling in love with his Gilbert, then Anne with an e could keep herself from loving hers.
There’s no bickering, however, between Gilbert and Walden, like there is between the happy couple in the Anne of Green Gables series. Walden and Gilbert are careful with the other’s emotions from pretty early on, and whatever hurt they feel is more due to their own painful histories and an understandable hesitance to risk heartbreak again.
They are so great together, providing the comfort and acceptance that each man so desperately needs, even when they are trying to hold back. So scared of being hurt again.

Walden has suffered a horrible betrayal, and still carries a lot of shame with him for how he dealt with his pain in the aftermath. Him opening up to Gilbert about his past made for a deeply touching scene. My heart ached for him.

We know from early on that Gilbert has been in therapy for years, so we know something awful is hiding in his past to leave such scars. But oh… when that revelation finally comes… I wanted to punch something. I hated that he took on all the responsibility for “his” wrongdoing , when in fact it was he who’d been wronged, not to mention betrayed by a person who should have looked out for him.

I felt relieved and almost giddy when they finally felt free to truly choose each other, and to choose happiness together. Not a moment too soon and very much deserved.
What an amazing couple, sigh. Talk about a book-hangover.

Narration:
Kirt Graves did an outstanding job at narrating this story, making me feel as if I stepped right into the lovely world of Lavender Shores. He has a wonderfully pleasant voice and I loved how he brought alive the characters. I think he did absolutely amazing in giving a voice to Walden and Gilbert.
Luckily no over-acting, but bringing just the right amount of emotion and tension to each scene.

Number of stars out of 5: 5

Reviewer Name: Karen M.


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Release Day: Three Bears By A. Nybo

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/three-bears-by-a-nybo-9881-b

Blurb

At Three Bears surf break, the attraction between a group of friends is anything but “Luke warm….”
Dan goes to stay with his best friend Josh in Margaret River, the surfing capital of Western Australia, to sort out his sexual confusion. But his best friend is the source of that confusion. Having never been attracted to a man other than Josh, Dan fears risking their friendship just to discover men aren’t his thing.
Within the first few days, Dan meets Luke, a local barista who offers him surf lessons. Dan soon finds himself emotionally coveting not one, but two men. When they go to Three Bears, his hidden desires begin to emerge. As the ambiguity of Dan’s mixed signals clears, it becomes apparent both of his surfing companions want him—badly.
It is only when Luke and Josh hook up that they formulate “Operation Three Bears,” an adventurous plan that might lead to a satisfying outcome for all of them.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Review by Aerielle

Three Bears is a surf spot with 3 different grades of waves, a Papa, a Mama and a Baby, so don’t let the title full you into thinking its about three burly, hairy guys. This is a story about three men coming together in a beautiful story about self-discovery and self-acceptance.

Dan meets Luke at a coffee shop and strikes up a conversation which leads to Luke offering to teach Dan how to surf. Dan is in town visiting his best friend Josh. Dan has always felt an attraction towards Josh and wants to spend this time to try and sort out his feelings. After hearing Dan talk about Luke, Josh eventually goes to the coffee shop to meet him too. This leads up to all three going to Three Bears to surf. All three guys feel an attraction towards each other, but no one voices this. Luke becomes aware of Dan’s attraction towards Josh and Josh sees Dan checking out Luke. Luke and Josh eventually start a relationship and try to figure out how to include Dan. When all three finally come together the chemistry is off the charts!!

My only real issue with this book was the authors writing style. I have never read anything by A. Nybo before. I found that some scenes tended to end too abruptly. I do enjoy MMM as long as it is done right. This book was borderline for me, with Josh and Luke plotting ways to get Dan to join them but in the end they both had real strong feelings for him and they felt incomplete without him. Three Bears is apart of Dreamspinner Press’s World of Love series but it is a standalone novella.

4 stars

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Review by Karen

This is a quick and at times amusing read, but I didn’t really feel very invested in this throuple’s road to bliss. 

It just didn’t click for me. The author takes the time to set the stage, so to speak, introducing the three MC’s to the reader and each other, but as far as the actual relationship between the three men is concerned, everything feels very rushed to me.

Once they’re on the same page, they all jump into the physical side of things very quickly, especially considering Dan is still in the closet for nearly half the book. This bothered me, I’m more of a slow-burn kind of girl. I’m also not a fan of fade-outs, so that ruined the more sensual scenes for me. 
A missed opportunity to explore the connection between the three men some more and raise the emotional stakes. 

The connection between the MC’s feels lacking in intensity for me and I just don’t see where or how they actually fell in love with each other. Josh and Dan have a shared history and years of friendship between them to build on, but Luke is a recent addition and they don’t really know him all that well. 

In an mmm romance good communication and a solid emotional connection between all the MC’s is crucial, and I just didn’t feel like that was the case here.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 2.5

 

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Review by Truus

Short sweet read. It’s all about three guys with their friendship and love.
Dan is confused about his sexuality… to figure out all his feelings he goes to his best friend Josh… even though his feelings for Josh are the reason why he is confused.
On his way to Josh he meets Luke… Luke will teach Dan how to surf.
Dan is more confused because now he is attracted to two guys.

He doesn’t know those same guys have strong feelings for Dan.

I found it an amusing read, not strong developed but that didn’t bother me. It was a sexy entertaining read, it had a lot of tension… it was funny, light and fresh. All three had nice friendly caring personalities. A threesome can be tricky in a story, the dynamic can be awkward but in this short one it was convincing and they fit perfect.

Number of stars 3,5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: The Wilderness (Lavender Shores book 8) by Rosalind Abel

Good Reads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41500273-the-wilderness?from_search=true

Blurb
Will Epstein had it all—playboy good looks, wealth and prestige, and a gorgeous fiancé to costar with him on a reality television show. But that was years ago, before he was abandoned at the altar on national television. In the aftermath, Will’s world crumbled, leaving him humiliated and lost.
Andre Rivera married his first love and lived a dream life until tragedy stepped in. His wife’s sudden death left him devastated and struggling to build a life for his young daughter. Being a pilot offers Andre a sense of freedom from Lavender Shores, but he feels trapped and unable to move forward.
A shared sense of loss fosters a surprising friendship between Will and Andre, giving them both the salvation they need. But when feelings cross the lines of friendship and secrets are revealed, Will and Andre have to confront their own fears.
Amid the gold of a Lavender Shores autumn, Will and Andre must grasp their chance at love… before it slips away.

Review
I always love stories where both the MC’s are a bit older and have already lived and loved… and lost, before finding each other. The emotions seem more deeply felt somehow. This book took that to a whole new level.

Will and Andre have both known way too much sadness in their lives. Seeing them finally find love and happiness (again) was wonderful, but not easy. I might have shed a few tears along the way.

These two men were not meant to be friends, and they certainly weren’t meant to be lovers.
After a disastrous first meeting, they become fast friends, finding comfort and acceptance with each other. I love the strength of their friendship and how it slowly turns into far more, though only Will has caught on about that at first. Andre is blind to his true feelings quite a bit longer, because he still struggles with the guilt of moving on after his wife’s death.

Will outwardly has it all, but he’s so unsure of his own worth, constantly searching for approval from others. I love how he was able to work through all that after all, and became his own man.
Andre is a great father, and it’s always clear that he and his daughter, Katniss, are a package deal.
The author makes it a point to show that Will gets this and loves Katniss as well, which I find very important. And super endearing!

As always the subtle literary references and the beautiful descriptions and imagery used by this author make this book, like all the others in the Lavender Shores series, an absolute joy to read.

Number of stars: 6 of 5 stars!

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Time to get scared: A Light Amongst Shadows by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

Good Reads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38884377-a-light-amongst-shadows?from_search=true

Blurb
James Spencer is hardly the typical troubled youth who ends up at Whisperwood School for Boys. Instead of hating the strict schedules and tight oversight by staff, James blossoms, quickly making friends, indulging in his love of writing, and contemplating the merits of sneaking love poems to the elusive and aloof William Esher.

The rumours about William’s sexuality and opium reliance are prime gossip material amongst the third years…rumours that only further pique James’ curiosity to uncover what William is really like beneath all that emotional armor. And, when the normally collected William stumbles in one night, shaken and ranting of ghosts, James is the only one who believes him.

James himself has heard the nails dragging down his bedroom door and the sobs echoing in the halls at night. He knows others have, too, even if no one will admit it. The staff refuses to entertain such ridiculous tales, and punishment awaits anyone who brings it up.

Their fervent denial and the disappearance of students only furthers James’ determination to find out what secrets Whisperwood is hiding…especially if it prevents William and himself from becoming the next victims.

Review
Amazing!!

This is at once a super sweet story of young love, and at the same time a very gripping ghost story! Full of mystery and hidden pain, with an unknown danger seeming to lurk around every suitably dark corner of the haunted, forbidding school where our young protagonists find themselves.

The setting of the book is left a little vague, an English boarding school, presumably somewhere in the 19th century and clues are strewn about with care and a joy for to reader to pick up on: carriages abound, there’s talk of laudanum and opium dens, corsets for men that have luckily gone out of fashion, snippets of “contemporary” poetry by Elizabeth Barret-Browning, mentions of Harrow and Eton…

James and William are both wonderful characters, but James especially is my favourite. He is so dogged in his pursuit of William, so optimistic and unapologetically himself, even after everything he’s gone through. I loved the back and forth between the two boys, even more so when they use poetry to flirt with each other. Brilliantly done! A true joy to read!

I loved that the authors stayed true to the spirit of the times. Prejudices and lack of knowledge/understanding regarding certain issues abound, making life and love for these boys so much harder. The characters don’t take on “surprisingly modern” attitudes as a quick fix.
I can’t explain better than that without giving away too much.
The language they use, the words they don’t speak… it all adds to the atmosphere.

There is a constant tension running throughout the book and the reader can never be at ease… We are left to wonder what is happening, the same as James and William. Is there really something that goes bump into the night? Who can they trust? Who is the villain in this story?

The secondary characters are (mostly) wonderful and they’re very well-rounded and interesting in their own right. I can’t wait to return to this world and see what else might lie in store.

I loved this book! Can’t say enough good things about it!

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Audiobook: Set Ablaze by K.C. Burn Narrated by Darcy Stark

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/set-ablaze-by-kc-burn-9520-b

Blurb

California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”
Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.

The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.

Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously by Morgan – https://openskyebookreviews.com/release-day-review-set-ablaze-by-kc-burn/)

Overall:
Wonderful story with two amazing MC’s, both of whom have known serious pain and loss in the past.
It’s heartwarming to see how they handle this together, coming out so much stronger with the other’s support and love.
There’s also a very welcome cuteness overload, not in the least thanks to the “third” in their relationship…Fang.
Sweet and entertaining read with an immensely satisfying HEA.

Story:
The attraction between Jez and Hayden flares up hot and bright from the moment they set eyes on each other, but they each have their reasons for not immediately acting on it.

There are some obstacles in their way: Jez is Hayden’s best friend’s little brother, he’s also hiding something, Hayden makes some wrong assumptions, neither of them is winning any prizes as far as communication goes and then there are Hayden’s so-called friends, Vic and Jordan, who are continually spouting off homophobic, racist and misogynistic slurs.
Hayden’s so afraid of rocking the boat and losing his “friends” that he pretends, even to himself, that all of that is said “jokingly”.

Once Hayden’s blinders are off, he stands up for himself and for what he wants. I love how sweet he is with Jez, how accepting of his veganism, and he’s simply too adorable when he finds out Jez brought a stowaway into his house. Enter Fang…the cutest of all pugs in the history of pugs.

The stalker plot was very well executed and brought some welcome suspense to the story, the threat of creepy Jason hanging like a cloud over Jez’s new-found happiness and exacerbating his anxiety. Is he making it all up in his head, or is there really trouble in paradise?

Miguel, Hayden’s best friend and Jez’s older brother, is a very unlikely, though endearing matchmaker. He doesn’t make a good first impression on the reader, very much like his brother in terms of avoidance tactics, but he grows on you once he finally gets around to having a heart to heart with Jez and Hayden.
Hearing about what happened to Jez from his perspective was enlightening and heartbreaking at the same time.

I loved the writing style and the build-up of this story. The author brings us some beautiful and poignant imagery throughout the book to describe our MC’s state of mind. I was especially moved by Hayden’s painful realization he’s been bleeding from a thousand cuts without even knowing it.

Narration:
The narrator, Darcy Stark, was a revelation. He has great acting skills and easily draws you into the story, setting the right mood and making the characters come to life. He did wonderfully distinct and fitting voices for both MC’s, and also did a great job at differentiating the voices for the secondary characters.
I especially loved the narration in the scenes that were more emotionally intense, with heartbreak, pain, hope and fear each coming across so clearly in the narrator’s voice, making you feel all of it too, right alongside the MC’s. This book was truly a pleasure to listen to.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Release Day Review: Counterpoint by Anna Zabo

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39675785-counterpoint?from_search=true

Blurb
Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.

When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.

Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Review
This was an amazingly tender love story, extremely well-paced and beautifully worded, crescendoing into a very intense, emotional conclusion. Very enjoyable read.

I completely fell in love with Dominic/Domino. What a wonderful idea to have a nerdy booklover, who struggles with anxiety, hide beneath the persona of a cocky, untouchable rockstar.
Dom hides in plain sight, changing his clothes and hairstyle when circumstances call for it, in true Clark Kent/Superman style.

He has a hard time reconciling these two aspects of his personality, and coming to terms with the fact that he doesn’t have to pick one over the other. Dominic is Domino and vice versa. He is still himself, regardless of how he dresses. Domino can only be strong and self-assured thanks to Dominic’s core of inner strength.
Domino Grinder is very important though, serving two purposes: he allows Dom to perform on stage without succumbing to a panic attack and he offers Dominic Bradley privacy and much-needed anonymity, enabling him to lead a “normal” life, unhindered by paparazzi or fans.

Still, Dom knows his true identity will be revealed sooner or later and then his carefully constructed house of cards will come tumbling down. When he meets and falls, hard, for Adrian Doran, that house of cards seems even more crucial to him, but also far more precariously balanced.

Adrian Doran is a great character. As soon as he meets Dominic, their connection seems inevitable in a meant-to-be, happily ever after way. They click immediately and have insanely intense chemistry together, to say nothing of how utterly sweet they are with each other.
I think Adrian has Dom from the second he shows him his magnificent library. Worked like a charm for Beauty and the Beast, and Dom is equally enchanted!
I adore Adrian for his patience and the care he takes with Dominic. He knows full well that Dom keeps secrets from him and is so respectful of his lover’s privacy, doing everything he can to show Dom that he can trust him.

I loved the camaraderie and playful yet caring dynamic between all the members of the rock band. Their friendship is so important to Dominic. Adrian, likewise, is incredibly fortunate with his friends, Jackson, and Janelle.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Any Given Lifetime by Leta Blake

 

Good Reads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41733251-any-given-lifetime?from_search=true

 

Blurb

Neil isn’t a ghost, but he feels like one. Reincarnated with all his memories from his prior life, he spent twenty years trapped in a child’s body, wanting nothing more than to grow up and reclaim the love of his life.
As an adult, Neil finds there’s more than lost time separating them. Joshua has built a beautiful life since Neil’s death, and how exactly is Neil supposed to introduce himself? As Joshua’s long-dead lover in a new body? Heartbroken and hopeless, Neil takes refuge in his work, developing microscopic robots called nanites that can produce medical miracles.
When Joshua meets a young scientist working on a medical project, his soul senses something his rational mind can’t believe. Has Neil truly come back to him after twenty years? And if the impossible is real, can they be together at long last?

 

Review by Karen

One of the most original love stories I’ve ever read! A great twist on the popular May/December trope and an incredibly unique second chance at love story. It nearly broke my heart, but luckily the author stitched it back together!

 

Leta Blake has an incredible gift with words and shows true excellence in weaving together Neil and Joshua’s almost epic tale. The emotions in this story soar to great heights, but there is also a lot of sadness and loss to overcome. And it’s all written in such a beautiful and moving way, as if she’s writing on our hearts instead of on the pages of the book.

I don’t think anyone could read this story and not feel touched by it.  

I love the way she uses dreams and their symbolism to help the characters deal with everything that happens, and also gives them a way to connect with each other when that doesn’t seem possible in real life.

Neil is a strange and complex character, in both his lifetimes. He doesn’t make friends easily, so I was glad to see him form a friendship with Derek. Neil’s so intense and focused, so dedicated to his research, and to Joshua’s happiness. Absolutely amazing guy. I was so impatient for him to grow up so he could finally reconnect with Joshua. But the author knew better than to rush that, and she builds up the tension and emotion very skillfully.

Joshua has built a life for himself, though he never really stopped loving Neil or grieving for him.

I loved how the author gave him a way to be (mostly) happy during the years it takes Neil to grow up, again. A bittersweet interlude, that afterwards connects with Neil in the most wonderful way. Can’t say more about that, but absolutely loved it.

Alice, Neil’s “second” mother, is amazing. She loves her little boy with all her heart, knowing and accepting who he truly is, however far-fetched it must have seemed. She struck me as really special and precious, and I was glad to be given a glimpse of her HEA as well. I simply adored that we got scenes from her perspective too.

This is a truly extraordinary love story.

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Neta

I was ready for some heart ache reading when I started this book, but like any other Leta Novel I read to date I was grossly unprepared for the emotional weight of it.
Neil and Joshua’s story is a heart wrenching tale of humanity and love, and I was overcome with emotions about life in general while reading.
First, you start out with Joshua in pain after losing Neil, missing out so many things they never did together because of fear. And the way he slowly built his life, picked himself up and met Lee a few years after that was awe-inspiring. I loved how Leta wrote his emotions, his love for both men, how their lives were interwoven and connected through Neil and because of his death, or should I say his life. This book really got me thinking ABOUT life and what the near future might hold for me and my loved ones, because it dealt with all that in Joshua’s life. Also, through the advancement of the nanite technology in the years 2019-2032 (the future of our present-day the book takes place in) Leta also talks about how technology evolved in our lives. Some of it is amazing and saves lives, other parts of it are too rushed and end up doing more bad then good, or changing how we live irrevocably. It is a very relevant topic in our time today, I think, and I liked that this book, despite it being a Romance, managed to enfold so many real emotions and feeling/fears readers face now or might face in the future.

The non-linear timelines are interesting, and really emphasized the convoluted nature of their lives, of Neil’s very existence. They show glimpses into the past and expose the nature of the characters, not just details from their past.

Second, the reincarnation theme has been written about, and the concept of finding yourself stuck in a too-young body is often referred in a humoristic way in books and film. Not here, Leta brought the truest- most painful depiction of a reincarnated reality in Neil. Having been born with the full knowledge and most of his memories he is in a constant state of loss and longing for the Joshua. And his mother, god bless her soul, is such a wonderful character, a true image of motherhood and limitless love. Neither one asked to be in this situation, her expecting her dead boyfriend’s baby, and Neil to simply die and not be stuck in a child’s body, desperate to grow and meet Joshua again. It was such a twisted way to live, and you can’t help but want them to be together while liking Lee and Joshua as a couple too. And they are also surrounded by mazing friends, Derek and Chris who are accepting and supporting through thick and thin.

When Neil, now aged 20 again, and Joshua meet for the first time in this lifetime, it is an explosive, erotic expression of love and longing. They ARE meant to be together, and the strength of their love is incredible. Especially as Joshua keeps talking about Neil’s faults when he remembers him, Neil is not an ideal, a sweetened memory made better by time. He is as much alive in Joshua’s heart as he is in the future Neil’s soul.

This book is about life, in all its forms, and love, of the purest kind. It deals with humanity, is about setting up your goals in life, about the journey as much as the ending. About taking chances, knowing what you need and want, and I found myself grateful for friends and family, thinking about the years to come while reading. Only Leta can take you through such a journey while you read about two men in love longing to be together. I kinda wanted to re-read it straight away, but my heart needs some room to expand before I can do that again. An amazing book by an author I admire, go read it if you like May/December, Second Chance and are just plain looking for a book unlike any other. You won’t be disappointed.

 

5 magnificent stars.


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Get Paranormal: Alpha Heat by Leta Blake

 

 

 

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40103645-alpha-heat

Blurb
Young Xan Heelies knows he can never have what he truly wants: a passionate romance and happy-ever-after with another alpha. It’s not only forbidden by the prevailing faith of the land, but such acts are illegal.

Urho Chase is a middle-aged alpha with a heartbreaking past. Careful, controlled, and steadfast, his friends dub him old-fashioned and staid. When Urho discovers a dangerous side to Xan’s life that he never imagined, his world is rocked and he’s consumed by desire. The carefully sewn seams that held him together after the loss of his omega and son come apart—and so does he.

But to love each other and make a life together, Xan and Urho risk utter ruin. With the acceptance and support of Caleb, Xan’s asexual and aromantic omega and dear friend, they must find the strength to embrace danger and build the family they deserve.

Review

What a captivating story! It surprised me and touched me very deeply.

I admit I was still a bit unsure about mpreg/omegaverse books, but if this is what I have to look forward to… Bring it on!

I fell completely in love with Xan and Urho, who are both amazing, complex characters.
Xan is so filled with self-loathing and he has completely given up hope on ever being happy or deserving of happiness even. It was heartrending to read. I wasn’t prepared to feel such depth of emotion for a fictional character, but only a rock would fail to be moved by Xan’s troubles.

Urho was a perfect match for Xan.
I loved their connection and Urho’s acceptance and understanding of who Xan truly is. The first moments where Urho gets a glimpse of Xan’s true self, and his struggle to accept his own reaction to that truth were so intense! Loved that.

At first glance, Urho appears to be quite conservative and rigid in his thinking, but he bends and even breaks the rules when he needs to in order to be able to help others. He’s modest and brave and oh…be still, my beating heart! Just such a lovable, strong & silent type hero.
Xan throws Urho for a loop, because he doesn’t fit their society’s established gender roles and so Urho is required to rethink some of his long-held beliefs.

I was a bit apprehensive about how Caleb would fit in. But I needn’t have worried. He’s such an extraordinary individual. The bond between Xan, Urho and Caleb is not a romantic one, but it is a deeply loving one, just the same. They’re a family unit. The author totally makes it work.

This book also stands out to me because of the astonishing amount of detail that went into the world-building and the great set of secondary characters that surround the MC’s.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Number of stars out of 5: 5

Review copy provided by the author