Darkling by Brooklyn Ray

Nine Star Presents on January 8, 2018

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36572967-darkling?from_search=true

Blurb

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

Review

This is more about Ryder learning and growing and coming into his own more than a romance. Maybe romantic fiction? It’s got a definite YA/NA feel and the steam is pretty low.

However, it’s fascinating! Ryder is trans and there are some other non-traditional folks in this story – but that’s not the focus. Which is awesome! It just is. Instead, the true story is about Ryder dealing with his own duality in the paranormal world and what that means to him and his family and friends.

It’s a really detailed and unique world the author has given us and if you’re at all interested in witchcraft – this is for you!

Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: Tart and Sweet (Candy Man Book 4) By Amy Lane Narrated by Philip Alces

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/tart-and-sweet-by-amy-lane-8858-b

Blurb

In the Army, Robbie Chambers turned on his lover out of fear—and he hasn’t been able to live with himself since. Now he’s out of the Army but still trapped in the closet that brought on his most cowardly moment, and he starts to think he’ll never be able to fight his way free.

Until he sees Cy McVeigh. Beautiful and uninhibited, Cy is dancing on the boardwalk at Old Sac for no other reason than the moment called for it. Robbie not only joins in the dance but is smitten from the very beginning.

However, Robbie still has old business to clear up, and when he helps out a kid in need and comes face-to-face with the man he betrayed, he’s forced to come clean with himself. He can’t redeem his mistake if he’s still locked into his old patterns, and he won’t ever be worthy of Cy if he can’t earn Adam’s forgiveness. He’s going to need all the help he can get from the people at Candy Heaven in order to make things right with his past so he can have a future with Cy.

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

This is book four in a series and I guess – in theory- you don’t have to read these in order – but ya should! Without reading about Adam and Finn, you really can’t truly appreciate Robbie and why it’s such an AMY thing to do to give him his own book! Also, Ezra and Miguel’s book also gives you insight as to why Ezra has to be the one to help Robbie.

On Facebook we had a long discussion – Mary and Amy and all the peeps – about whether or not Robbie even WAS redeemable and a lot of people thought he wasn’t… well – she managed to find a way.

At first you think Robbie was a true a-hole. He dumped Adam in the middle of a war-zone and left him high and dry, knowing what that could potentially do to him. And we, as readers, are already very invested in making Adam (and Finn) happy so how can we look at Robbie and root for him?

Well—- there are some things we learn that help – for sure – but I think the most important lesson Amy teaches us is that anything (I guess within reason!) can be forgiven if you really mean it and are determined to “not be that guy” anymore.

That’s awesome because who doesn’t want to believe they can outgrow their mistakes, right?

In any case – we now get to see just what makes Robbie tick and learn more about the bi-sexual and oh so tempting Cy (who briefly thought about pursuing our Ezra). And… for me this is HUGE – we get to see Mickey and Shane again!!!! WOOOOOT!

Of course I devoured this in one sitting the minute I got it and I loved every last bit of it. Just like all the other “Amy lite” books it has some hot smexy times, some super satisfying feels and some hard bits that we have to be brave to withstand.

Based on the ending I’m not sure if this is the last one? It sort of leaves it open for more, but not in the near future… As Darrin said – all his boys are happy and healthy so I guess this is a good place to stop, (or take a vacation!) right?

Highly recommended to fans of the series, an okay standalone but better read in order.

5 of 5 stars

Audio

So, Philip Alces has done all the other books in this series (and several others by Amy) and he does his typical good job with this. I definitely think he’s getting better over time, though I do think his voice is a bit “old” for the characters he’s portraying.

However, he attempts to do a Russian accent for Anna and Mickey and…. Well – it sounded more Scottish than Russian. Also – I have a huge soft spot for Paul Morey’s narration of Amy’s Making Promises (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8578296-making-promises?from_search=true) and his interpretation of Anna, Mickey and Shane – so I was disappointed by Philip’s accent – but glad he gave them an accent at all!

This is a lovely closing book to the series and – of course – it was great having the same narrator throughout – I thought he did a nice job of giving Ezra a bit more of a distinct accent this time and I adore his Miguel, Adam and Finn … so all in all I was quite pleased. I’d have made this a 6 if his Russian accent was better *wink!

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Ghost (Executioners #1) by J.M. Dabney

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Executioners-Book-J-M-Dabney-ebook/dp/B073WH7WFJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501109910&sr=8-1&keywords=ghost+dabney

Blurb

Gideon Jane earned the name Ghost for his reclusive nature when he joined a group of guys in Powers, Georgia in a band called Executioners. It had been his way of settling into small town life after living in New York for the past twenty years. He loved the band and his small organic farm. What he didn’t love was being single, but it appeared it was his new reality. He didn’t want his ex back, although he did want something. What that was eluded him until the evening he walked into Nightingale’s Books.

Small town girl Harper Sage knew pain, and she’d lived with it—she had the scars both mental and physical to prove it. It would’ve been easier to hop in her car to find safety and anonymity, but Harper stayed to prove she was stronger than hurled fists and bruising prejudice. She found herself within the safety of a close-knit group of rough bikers and bar bouncers. That didn’t mean it was all perfect.

What’s a girl to do when she craves normalcy and acceptance: she just smiles. Choices are made, some with dire consequences and others that bring her closer to her dream. Will she make the right decision or finally discover escape is her best option?

Author Note: This book contains scenes of violence and descriptions of self-harm.

Review

I was both really dreading this and anticipating the hell out of it!

I KNEW Harper’s story was going to be rough – everything leading up to gave the impression that she knew nothing but pain in her life – well, this shows just how awful her life has been – worse than I thought. My heart ached for her and I was so, so pleased for her to find someone who could love her like she needed to be loved.

I thought the author handled the sex scenes very gracefully and with a lot of tenderness and dignity while not pulling any punches nor sacrificing any sensuality or emotion without being clinical or abrasive.

4.5 of 5 stars
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Audiobook Month: Prosperity by Alexis Hall Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Prosperity-Audiobook/B01G98DNDW/ref=a_search_c4_1_4_srTtl?qid=1501109008&sr=1-4

Blurb

 
M’lady’s name is Shadowless, cos she’s the fastest ship in the sky. And she ain’t no everyday airship, she’s an aethership, meaning she don’t need engines nor turbines nor nowt but an aethermancer and the stars t’ guide her.
When luckless Dil falls half-dead onto the deck of the skyship Shadowless, he joins an outlaw crew haunted by visions of maelstrom. Driven by a ruthless captain, guided by a pilot with madness in her eyes, they hunt the power that holds up the clouds. Until it turns – to hunt them

 

Review:

Prosperity was my first introduction to Steam Punk and I haven’t found any other I like as much as this story. The world building by Alexis Hall is superb. The mastery of it is that the story uses slang and dialects, easily understood because the context makes it easy to deduce the intended meaning. I do recognise some of them but they are so old I doubt many people use them nowadays (at least not where I live).

The story is set in a kind of frontier mining town where characters are as large as life such as gapped tooth Alice, M’lord and the hero Piccadilly (Dill). My heart is with Piccadilly. He is a bit of an Artful Dodger character, looking for a place to belong. They are on a grand adventure going into danger to mine phlogiston from the sky but are unaware that M’lord got the sky claim in an underhanded way. There is danger from Pirates and they must beware of the Kraken, tentacled monsters of the sky. The pace and exciting battles made me stop just to listen soaking it all in. This is not a romance more an adventure with relationships included.

Nicolas Boulton’s narration is excellent. The accents he uses and feeling he puts into the story make it stand out. Terrific narration turns a good story great and a great story excellent. It enables you to drift into their world and escape for awhile.
Piccadilly describes Ruben’s voice as “like velvet and kisses” and this sums up how I feel about Nicholas Boulton’s narration.

6 of 5 stars

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See Me: Lightning Tales, Volume 3 Audiobook by K.C. Wells, Narrated by Joel Leslie

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Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/See-Me-Audiobook/B071ZJG6GV?qid=1496853339&sr=1-4

Blurb

Adrian DeSoto spent most of his time in high school being bullied and beaten up, simply because he was perceived as gay. Always slight, effeminate, he was the perfect victim for guys like Martin Cavanaugh, one of the high school jocks. When it all got too much, Adrian was faced with two options, one more devastating than the other. Eleventh grade saw a new Adrian, one who hid his fears and pain behind a mask in a bid to survive.
Eleven years later, and Adrienne is one of the top drag acts in Orlando. She’s fierce, funny, and exuberant. A face from the past gives her a shock, and after that there’s only one thing on her mind – revenge.
Marty Cavanaugh has a particular kink. He loves it when a drag queen goes down on him. But that’s as far as it goes. He won’t admit to himself what’s under that tight fitting dress. And then he meets Adrienne and his whole world goes into a tailspin…
Warning – Contains men in drag, honey! You have been warned.

Review by Morgan

I really enjoyed book one in this series, and I haven’t (yet) read/listened to book two, so I believe this is totally fine as a standalone.

I love the different levels of complexity explored here. We get a lot of “gay guilt” but also this weird hybrid that allows Marty to feel “okay” as long as it’s a drag queen which is kind of the reverse when some gay guys feel drag queens aren’t “manly” enough for their “gayness”… or whatever. There’s a lot of crossing over sexual identity lines that are fascinating to explore.

Adrian/Adrienne is awesome! What a great character! I wish he/she’d have made Marty earn his way back with a bit more groveling, but I was pleased to see that hurdle crossed without a lot of angst.

I thought Marty’s self evaluations and movement toward self appreciation and forgiveness was authentic and moved at a good pace, but I do wish he and Adrian had spent more time together on page getting to know one another again as adults. There’s a big (6 week) time leap that frustrated me a bit and I wish we’d seen some of what happened during that time.

The birthday “gifts” were funny and sweet and though I wish we’d had more work up on page towards these events, they themselves were well done.

I’m not sure I’d have been as motivated to read this as I was to listen to it. Joel’s addition to the equation meant I was totally enthralled by all the flavor and color he adds with the addition of accents and other auditory pizazz which really brought these guys to light. Marty felt a lot more “flat” than did Adrian/Adrienne and I think listening to this helped him to “pop” more and feel more like a three-dimensional character.

Given that this is a relatively short story I think it met my expectations for feeling fully developed, but – as I said – if it’d been a bit longer I’d have felt more of a connection to our guys as a couple with staying power. Where it stands it still felt a bit like the main connection was their sexual chemistry and some lingering feelings from high school rather than a more mature and mapped out relationship between two adults.

All in all it was a fairly light read with a bit of emotional impact and a very good way to spend a few hours.

4 of 5 stars for the audiobook

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Review by Anna

 

Adrienne is a fierce drag queen, however her alter ego, Adrian, is not quite as confident. He is still haunted by his past, by the incessant bullying and loneliness in High School and when Adrienne spots one of her tormentors is the audience when she’s on stage, she can’t help giving Adrian the revenge he needs.

Marty, is not the same guy he was in High School, in fact he is one of the most lonely, sad and depressing characters I have read in a while, when we first meet him. He is a severe closet case, hiding so far back he can see Narnia. In his attempt at denying himself, he has developed a kink for drag queens. Men, but with all the outer trimmings of women.

This was a super sweet enemies-to-lovers story, with a long slow burn between the two main characters. I did however feel a bit let down, that we did not get to experience the first couple of weeks of their relationship. I felt cheated when the story suddenly jumped 6 weeks in time.

 

This is book 3 in the Lightning Tales series, and even if the story sort of works as a stand-alone I was a bit confused at the beginning as to Ric’s role in this. He plays quite a big part in this story, and I didn’t know him! I might have to go back and get his story too.

I listened to the audio version of this book and thought that Joel Leslie did a credible job with the narration, but I never warmed to his choice of voices for the two main characters, unfortunately. It was, however, not too bad, and the prose of the story flowed easily, the plot and the characters were engaging and interesting. I would recommend for an easy read with loads of queens!

 

 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Frozen Heart (Love Lessons #1.5) by Heidi Cullinan

Amazon Link
https://www.amazon.com/Frozen-Heart-Lessons-Heidi-Cullinan-ebook/dp/B071DPM14J/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1496622128&sr=1-1&keywords=frozen+hearts+heidi

Blurb

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

Review

 

This is absolutely for the die-hard fans of the series. It is seriously OTT in the amount of cuteness allowed on page! Kelly and Walter are probably my favorite (or tied) couple in this series and Kelly is my FAVORITE MC for sure. I LOVED seeing this side of the “proposal” and all the surprisingly kinky sex these guys get up to!

I also loved all the “dissecting” of Frozen as a movie.  Hysterical and insightful both. (A+ for these covers, too!)

Highly recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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You are the Reason Audiobook (The Tav Book 2) by Renae Kaye narrated by Dave Gilles

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Dreampsinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/you-are-the-reason-by-renae-kaye-8376-b

Blurb

Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays, who are femme and girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.

Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub in fright. That’s where he meets Lee, who is cute from her cherry-red hair, to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously: http://kimichanexperience.com/you-are-the-reason-the-tav-book-2-by-renae-kaye/

Book 1 here: http://kimichanexperience.com/the-blinding-light-audiobook-by-renae-kaye-narrated-by-jonathan-young/)

In book 1 we met Davo, whose motto “I’m gay but not a pussy”, is a bit offensive but who has a good heart – if a bit misguided. Davo’s coach and society in general has him believing that being feminine (for men and women?) is equal to being weak, slow, a failure So, though he finds a way to reconcile being gay with being okay, he does all he can to avoid being seen as weak by avoiding anything remotely feminine or girly or sweet in his personality or in his companions.

After Davo meets a “woman” named Lee some of Davo’s world gets shaken up. When it turns out that Lee is in fact a cross-dresser, a man, Davo is stunned, but also compelled. Strangely, the attraction to a woman felt better to him than being attracted to “one of those” types of gay men he’s been taught to abhor.

**
While I know there are many “issues” that could be seen in this story – to me – I saw someone finally uncovering his own prejudices and exploring life more fully. It was simple – like Davo himself – and the author drove these points home with a simple use of his nickname – Davo – when he was being a “bro” and Dave – when he’s being more thoughtful. I thought that was masterful.

Instead of having Dave’s parents be the villain we are shown that others in our world can do as much – or more – damage to our belief systems.

We get to see the MCs from book one and their trials and tribulations with a baby – definitely comic relief!

Another absolutely brilliant plot point was the explanation of pheromones. I have no idea how “scientifically true” it is – but it sounds very plausible. It allowed me to fully engage in the idea that our uber-gay Davo could find a “woman” attractive and was a beautifully executed explanation to this seemingly impossible plot device. Bravo!

I wasn’t too keen on the odd girlfriend/Thor/handcuffs scene – it felt out of place and seemed to stereotype aggressive females as a villain in a way that’s not helpful and it didn’t seem to fit the rest of the story or move it forward in an important way.

Other than that niggle I really, really loved this and highly recommend it!

6 of 5 stars

Audio

Dave Gilles is a great narrator and I’ve enjoyed several of his narrations in the past: Loving Jaye, The Shearing Gun, Mending Noel and others. I thought he did a great job with Davo and some of the other supporting characters and he handles the comic timing and emotions well. I wasn’t crazy about his depiction of Lee – he felt way to screechy and far too old to match his character and it was a bit disconcerting. It wasn’t enough to make me not like this and I certainly loved hearing the story brought to life but I do wish he’d gone a different way with that voice.

4.5 of 5 stars for the audio

Overall 5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided By Publisher For Honest Review

Seven Minutes by Grace Kilian Delaney

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/seven-minutes-by-grace-kilian-delaney-7854-b

 

32930685Blurb

Can love be found in seven minutes?

Heavy metal singer Stone Manson never acknowledged his attraction to men. But when he meets sexy cross-dresser Devon at a party and spends Seven Minutes in Heaven with him, he can’t deny his reaction. His confusion leads him to mess up—big time—with Devon, but after some soul-searching, Stone decides to do whatever it takes to show Devon he’s worth the risk.

Devon’s got a thing for hot, tattooed rock stars—just not the sexually conflicted and closeted ones. Stone’s persistence has Devon warming up to the idea of the singer in his bed, and maybe even in his life, until a threat emerges from Devon’s past. Now it’s Devon’s turn to trust Stone or both their lives could be in jeopardy.

 

Review

This is a short story that tries to accomplish a lot in a few pages. That’s a tough job to do and I don’t think this really does all it sets out to do.

I liked the juxtaposition of the tough guy/ heavy metal singer and the ultra femme cross dresser. That really worked. It was great having Stone take time to research “sexuality” and just come out and ask Devon’s opinion and preferences. I appreciated the honesty in that.

What didn’t work for me was their insta-relationship which moved from a kiss to forever without much time actually spent together. There’s a lot of time in this short story with our MCs apart and not nearly enough with them together.

The side stories with Devon’s family and Stone’s best friend detracted from the time that should have been spent on relationship building – IMHO.

The writing was good, but the characters all felt a bit immature and I wasn’t sure of their ages. Stone has been in a long-term relationship and has an ex-wife and is clearly older than Devon but his maturity is on par with Devon.

If you look at this like a slightly long-winded fantasy sequence with a small “message” regarding sexual identification then I’d say it works. If you want to see a well-drawn short story about two men meeting, exploring their sexuality and falling in love, I think this falls a bit short.

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Wriggle & Sparkle by Megan Derr

30141326Blurb

Lynn is a kraken shifter in every way: detailed, tenacious, resilient, and hard-working. Also possessive, vain, arrogant, and demanding. It makes him an excellent agent for the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Security and Investigation—and impossible to work with, as the long list of partners who have transferred away from him will attest.

His newest partner is a unicorn, possibly the worst type of paranormal for work that often turns ugly and violent. Everyone knows unicorns are too delicate for such things. Then Anderson proves to be a unicorn like no other, the kind of partner Lynn has always wanted—the kind of partner he wishes was more. But if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that the only thing harder to keep than a partner is a lover.

Warning: Contains tentacle porn

Publisher’s note: This was originally published as a serial at Yaoifix. It has been edited and revised for release with LT3, but nothing significant has changed

 

Review

WOW.

This was absolutely the most unique shifter story I’ve ever read. Ever.

When I first saw the blurb for this on NetGalley, I said – Nope. Tentacle Porn. Not . For. Me. But… I really like the author and so I read some reviews and was really surprised by their take on this “collection of stories”. (It’s mostly one long story but since our MCs hook up and stay together throughout it’s more like a collection of short stories than one true long story.)

I was intrigued by the gender fluidity and the unique shifters. What got me hooked, however, was the snarky humor and the contrast of a kracken and unicorn together.

What a payout!

This was sweet, funny and so, so interesting! I’m still not sure how I feel about the tentacles. It’s not my thing. But it didn’t skeeve me out like I thought it would. Instead, the author made me appreciate what they could do for both partners and I sort of got their appeal. (The closest I’ve come to “liking” this is tail porn with Charlie Richard’s Gargoyle shifters… and this is that, x 10!)

(I looked up kracken on the internet and I’m not sure how the author did it – considering that I found no “sexy kracken” pictures – At. All – but she did make me think they were infinitely HOT! Kudos!)

(this was the closest I could find – heh heh )843e100a747b44a3ec9a3c517f387e10

The story/writing is fast paced. We don’t have to wait to see our MCs together, they begin their relationship almost right away. Instead of artificially created angst, their natural relationship progresses with the MCs natural insecurities and the story’s inherent “dangers” providing the conflict.

The danger/mystery/action didn’t detract from the romance but served as a background for moving the relationship/story forward in a way that is just right.

My two favorite parts of this book were the world building and the ending. I love, love, love a book where the shifters integrate themselves into their human selves. At all times, the author reminds us with clothing choices, food choices, nick names, sterotypes, half shifts, full shifts, accessories, thoughts, etcetera, etcetera, that these guys share their human halves with another being. They shift fairly often and their shifted form defines their human selves. So many times shifter books use the shifting to jump start a relationship (mating) or the occasional bite during sex (mating) and occasionally enhanced senses/strength etcetera as the only link to the fact that they are more than human. So when an author actually takes the time to make a truly different being – someone who shares their body with another – and integrates them fully – I find myself way more compelled and interested and appreciative.

The ending is wonderful! I don’t want to say too much about it because it is it’s own reward – but it was great and totally surprised me with it’s greatness!

So… I find myself pleased to say that I really recommend this book to fans of shifter romances, humorous romances, unique shifters, tentacles, gender fluidity and sweet HEAs.

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

 

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Wriggle-Sparkle-Collected-Kraken-Unicorn-ebook/dp/B01K2IBTEK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1472933903&sr=1-1&keywords=wriggle+%26+sparkle+by+megan+derr#nav-subnav