Release Day Review: Undertow (Port Lewis Witches #2) by Brooklyn Ray

release day review

Nine Star Presents
https://ninestarpress.com/product/undertow/

Blurb

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is home to Crescent Cafe, a slew of micro-breweries, a downtown packed with antique boutiques, and violent, ancient storms. Thunder shakes rooftops and lightning cuts through dark skies, but Liam Montgomery has never been afraid.

Until now.

One night, Liam hears the scream of a kelpie, a Water horse whose cry foretells the beginning of a prophecy. Kelpies have not set foot on shore for decades, but as Liam digs into his magic and his family’s history, he uncovers a mysterious secret that could ripple into the lives of everyone around him.

Liam’s tea-leaves spells out murder. The life of someone he loves is on the line. An unwelcome kelpie speaks in riddles. The Queen of Water demands a sacrifice.

The Montgomery name is soaked in blood and secrets. Liam’s fate is sealed, but he’ll do whatever it takes to change it—even if it risks his circle, his magic, and his life.

Review

This shouldn’t be a book that I even want to read and yet I not only couldn’t wait to read it, I loved it! Super loved it!

It’s sooooo well-written. The descriptions are absolutely breath taking without being over done or feeling disproportionate to the story. Though this is new adult/young adult, in book two things take a decidedly more heated turn and the chemistry between Liam and Ryder is scorching! And yet the sex itself isn’t so over described that your own imagination isn’t required. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to describe things in such a way as to be specific but vague enough as to leave room for imagination.

The magic in this book is also off the charts. Wow. Not only do Liam and Ryder explore their powers with one another but there is something new in town after Liam and Liam has to use his powers to protect himself and Ryder.

There is a lot of new information revealed in this story and I can’t wait to read the next installment. This is in no way an ending but it still felt very satisfying. I think, if I have to directly compare, that this is even BETTER than book 1, which – let’s face it – rarely happens – but it sure seemed to here!

Highly recommended! (not a standalone)

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Spooky Review: Jazz Singer Audiobook by Nya Rawlyns Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Acid-Jazz-Singer-Audiobook/B075FFHHBP/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1506531207&sr=1-1

Blurb
Her name was RayLee. They called her the Acid Jazz Singer, her sultry voice mesmerizing human and demon alike. She’d been running for three years from her maker and only Travis McKenzie stood between her and the darkness that had become her life.
Travis hunted the hit squads of demons and paid lip service to the sheriff of the city. The half-blood had gifts of the magic shifting kind – and something more. It made him a stone cold killer and the only thing that mattered in his life was safeguarding the woman he was falling in love with.
The singer and the protector had a history. But that history changed when a southern bigot vamp turned Travis’ friend into a travesty – neither man, nor woman – but both. Travis fell hard for the trans known as RayLee. He was having a harder time dealing with his best friend, Ray.
Then the game changes, and Travis and Ray have to rely on an assassin with a secret agenda and uncertain loyalties.
Vladimira was the oldest of her kind, an enforcer – a gun for hire to the highest bidder. Vamp, human, demon. It didn’t matter. It was all about the job – until the stakes changed and she found a reason to care.
When the demon comes to claim Ray, Travis must walk through the bowels of hell to save the only being on earth he cares about.
The problem is – who is going to save Travis from himself?

Review

To be honest I’m not sure I would have chosen this audiobook book myself but after listening to it I would have missed out on a fantastic story. I was so caught up in what happens to Ray/RayLee and Travis that I had to know what happens next. The story kept up a good pace but the flashback sections did leave me a little confused at times and I had to listen to that bit again. But the journey is so worth it. Travis never seems to get a break and it makes an exciting story.
I applaud the unique characters created by Nya Rawlyns. They inspired so many feelings in me. There were times I loved them, hated them, felt sorry and angry and cried for them. I felt for RayLee trapped partway through transition, never being able to finally be who she is. And Travis having difficulty understanding his feelings for him/her. Into the mix comes a Vampire for hire. Is she after Ray/RayLee or Travis? More questions and suspense. This is a superb start to the series and I am eager for the next part.

Michael Ferraiuolo’s excellent narration along with the detailed descriptions made such a vivid picture. The story is told from Travis’s point of view and Michael Ferraiuolo’s characterisation of him really brings him alive. I also liked the defined switch between Ray and RayLee. If you like action and suspense with a touch of romance I absolutely recommend listening to Acid Jazz Singer

5 of stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

(Don’t forget – commenters on this month’s “spooky reviews” will be entered to win some Jordan L Hawk swag or $15 from Dreamspinner!)

 

   

 

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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Copy Purchased for Review

Starting from Scratch (Housemates #5) by Jay Northcote

Amazon Link
https://www.amazon.com/Starting-Scratch-Housemates-Book-5-ebook/dp/B06Y3YVY82/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492484586&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=starting+from+scratch+nortcote

Free on KU!

Blurb

Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

Review

Wow – did I love this!

If you know Jay’s personal journey at all, I’m sure there is a lot of him in this story.

I think the information regarding transitioning is so scarce and I’m grateful that the world is beginning to see more and more about it. I picture all those people out there, scared, hopeful, worried, lonely – and I figure a story like this would about make them cry with the wonder of it.

When you can finally see yourself in someone else’s story – that’s got to feel absolutely amazing!

What I loved was how simple and sweet this story was. There was some angst surrounding Ben’s “reveal” but that was kept brief and for the most part this was a love story – not a love story about a transgender person.

For fans of the author and the series – this will be a must and a delight – if you are new to the author this is a great example of how well Jay creates wonderful characters who get delightful HEAs.

Highly Recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

Starting from Scratch (Housemates #5) by Jay Northcote

release day review
Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Starting-Scratch-Housemates-Book-5-ebook/dp/B06Y3YVY82/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1492008773&sr=8-2&keywords=starting+from+scratch

Free on KU!
Blurb:
Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

Review
I received a free ARC of this book from the author, for my reading pleasure. This has in no way affected my review.
I love the Housemates series. Fun, lighthearted, hot and thoughtful NA series, and they just keep getting better, book by book. This story is Ben and Sid’s story. We met both of them briefly in book 4, but you do not need to read any of the others in the series to enjoy this book – although why would cheat yourself out of that treat?
I read romance for the sake of romance. I am not too concerned with the gender pairing or how many participants are in the romance, as long as it is a good story with a happy ending, I’ll read it!
However, I have been following Jay’s own personal journey, and have a person in my own circle who is also transitioning, so transgender characters in romances do hold a bit of special interest to me. This is by far the best romance with a transgender MC, I have read so far! So much more focus on the mental issues of transitioning, and not just the physical ones.
Ben has a great supportive network in his family, thank god, and when he finds the courage to come out to his friends, he luckily finds nothing but support there as well.
We get to see things from Sid’s point of view too, which I thought was great. Because yes, you would have thoughts and questions in your mind, if the person you were interested in turned out to be transgender, it’s human nature.
Due to its subject matter – and maybe the importance of the subject to the author – this is not as lighthearted a read as many of the others in the series, but it is still a great NA story, with a super sweet and steamy love story between its pages. Warmly recommended.

 

5 out of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

(originally posted here: https://goannago.wordpress.com)

For A Good Time Call (Bluewater Bay #17)by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell – Review by Beth!

release day review

Riptide Presents (tomorrow!)

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/for-a-good-time-call

Blurb

Thirty-seven-year-old Nate Albano’s second relationship ever ended three years ago, and since he’s grace—gray asexual—he doesn’t anticipate beating the odds to find a third. Still, he’s got his dog, his hobbies, and his job as a special effects technician on Wolf’s Landing, so he can’t complain—much.

Seth Larson, umpteenth generation Bluewater Bay, is the quintessential good-time guy, content with tending bar and being his grandmother’s handyman. The night they meet, Seth’s looking for some recreational sex to escape family drama. But for Nate, romantic attraction comes before sexual attraction, so while Seth thinks they’re hooking up, Nate just wants to talk . . . genealogy?

Dude. Seriously?

So they declare a “just friends” truce. Then Seth asks for Nate’s help investigating a sinister Larson family secret, and their feelings start edging way beyond platonic. But Nate may want more than Seth can give him, and Seth may not be able to leave his good-time image behind. Unless they can find a way to merge carefree with commitment, they could miss out on true love—the best time of all.

Review by Beth!

Let me say I love this series! I’ve read most of them so the references to the secondary characters just fits right in.
Seth, who seems to be just drifting along in life, always up to have an itch scratched is suddenly faced with Nate, an asexual character that is sub classified as a grace. Someone who needs the romance before the sex, to put it simply. So when they meet Seth sees one thing and Nate sees something completely different. And off they go from there.
There are a couple of sub stories included, Nate and his relationships with others close to him. Seth and his relationships with his family. And the town founders history and how it all ties up to Seth’s family. So you have a story that keeps you guessing, has angst, has secrets, has control issues and a HEA. In someways it almost seems like there is too much going on. I think one or two of the subplots could have been left out and still been a great story.

4.5 stars of 5 

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  Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

Fierce & Fabulous (Sassy Boyz #1) by Elizabeth Varlet

release day review

29951622Blurb
Fans of Heidi Cullinan will devour this scorching new male/male series by Elizabeth Varlet. Behind the Sassy Boyz’s seductive smiles and sinful dance moves are desires that will leave readers breathless.

Fitch Donovan never thought a lap dance could change his life, but from the moment the gorgeous dancer’s lips touch his, his world comes screeching to a halt. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the desire that rocks him to his core. He’s longed for this passion all his life—he just never dreamed he’d find it with another man.

Sharing a soul-shaking kiss with a straight boy is the kind of drama Ansel Becke just doesn’t need. Spotlights aren’t made for two and Ansel prefers to keep things on a one-night-only basis. So when Fitch shows up asking for an encore, Ansel knows he should send his gorgeous ass packing.

Though Ansel tries to pretend that what’s between him and Fitch is far from fabulous, there’s something about the big, burly contractor that makes Ansel’s world sparkle in a way no amount of glitter ever could. And Fitch will do whatever it takes to convince Ansel that when the thing you need most in the world falls right into your lap, you’d be a fool to let it go.

Review

The blurb really gives a good idea of the basic storyline, so I won’t go into more detail here other than to say this: Ansel is more than just a dancer – he is a very complex character with some pretty big “imperfections” and his “broken” needs Fitch and vice versa.

**

This is a new author for me (and a new series) and WOWOWOW! talk about impressed! I was really blown out of my seat by this.

I saw a great review for this on GR and had it already in my lineup from NetGalley but it’s not coming out for MONTHS. I try to keep my review lists in order – simply to not get behind in my reading – but every once in a while a book comes along and I just have to read it NOW! This is one of those.

I just loved how the very straight Fitch is portrayed and how the change to his psyche is portrayed. It felt very real and organic and though I think the author could have developed him better as identifying something like demi-sexual I applaud the fact that Fitch never claims to be gay. He simply falls in love with Ansel. That’s it. He just loves Ansel.

The other think I adored was how Ansel just comes out and tells it like it is.

Fitch:“But you wear heels and makeup. What’s the difference?”
Ansel:“I don’t tuck, most queens do. They often wear fake breasts too. Drag is for show. A performance. We don’t try to pass ourselves off as women. We dress like this every day. We just like pretty things.”
“So you’re trans?” Fitch scratched his jaw before popping another onion ring in his mouth.
“It depends on what you mean by trans. Transgender, I am not. I don’t identify as female. I enjoy everything male about myself. But technically I guess you could call me a transvestite. We prefer androgynous more than anything, a little bit of both and neither at the same time. Completely ambiguous. But personally I don’t like labels. I’m just Ansel fucking Becke and screw anyone who has a problem with it. I like heels. And I love makeup because it’s fun to play with color. It’s like painting.”

I just thought it was a tremendously awesome way to think about gender fluidity and how brave Ansel is for embracing all that society would make him feel “less than” for. It was awesome. And on the same hand – it was this that he had to struggle with so fiercely every single day – just to be himself.

The love between these guys – though it seemed kinda “insta” – isn’t. They build on it slowly and surely with lots hurdles along the way. Most importantly, Ansel’s drinking. I thought his alcoholism – though it seemed a bit too easily tackled – was at least addressed in a way that made sense and felt like it was on the right track.

The smexy times with these guys was SMOKIN’ and the feels were there, too.

This had all the things I love in a romance: real, unique characters, hot smexy times, deep and believable emotion and the time to see the relationship develop while not drawing out the angst unnecessarily.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for more in the series.

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

Heart (Spotless book 4) by Bailey Bradford

heartBlurb

Rolly has waited ten years to claim his mate. Now the wait is over, and he’s coming home.

Rolly has waited patiently for his mate. When he first met Erdwin, the boy was still a child. Rolly felt nothing but compassion for him back then, but Erdwin came of age five years ago, and Rolly’s stayed out of his life in order to give Erdwin time to experience life.

Erdwin never fit right in his skin. He didn’t like what he saw in the mirror. It didn’t match how he felt inside. As a shifter, he was stuck with the body he had. Surgery wasn’t an option for him. But Erdwin found a way to accept himself—by embracing the part of herself that felt like her true nature. She struggled with it, but with her family’s support, she became Edie, the young lady she was meant to be. She stopped worrying about her parts, and concentrated on her heart.

When Rolly, a powerful shaman, moves back home to the pack, Edie is transfixed. He makes her nervous—and arouses her. But what would a man like him think of a woman liker her?

Edie’s about to find out, and she will have to be stronger than ever to help fight off a threat to her pack, to her mate, and to her family.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of light BDSM and fisting.

Review

Erdwin is a shifter who longs to be a transgendered woman but since the shifter genetics preclude that type of surgery, he’s forced to be a transvestite instead. He makes the best with what he can and is slowly coming into his own.

Rolly knew early on that Erdwin – now Edie – is his mate, but he was too young then so he left his pack – where he was the shaman in training – to wait for Erdwin to grow up. Now he’s back and he’s got a lot of surprises in store for him.

**

This was a fascinating book! Edie is a wonderful woman with a penis! She dresses and acts as a woman but is actually quite toppy and in control in the bedroom. Rolly, meanwhile is quite content to let her rule the roost even though he’s much older and larger than her.

There is another mystery to solve around a shifter Rolly has taken in to help heal with his fathers and that takes up some space in the story.

I really enjoyed this and thought it was very brave and unique.

(I haven’t read the other books in the series but I’m going to – I think it’d help keep all the characters organized. The BDSM is very light in this.)

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Amazon Link

http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Spotless-Book-Bailey-Bradford-ebook/dp/B014L9YYNO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451191689&sr=8-1&keywords=heart+bailey+bradford

Static by LA Witt

Static_500x750Blurb
After two years together, Alex has been dreading the inevitable moment when Damon learns the truth: that Alex is a shifter, part of a small percentage of the population able to switch genders at will. Thanks to a forced implant, though, Alex is suddenly static—unable to shift—and male. Overnight, he’s out to a world that neither understands nor tolerates shifters . . . and to his heterosexual boyfriend.
Damon is stunned to discover his girlfriend is a shifter, and scared to death of the dangers the implant poses to Alex’s health. He refuses to abandon Alex, but what about their relationship? Damon is straight, and with the implant both costly and dangerous to remove, Alex is stuck as a man.
Stripped of half his identity and facing serious physical and social ramifications, Alex needs Damon more than ever, but he doesn’t see how they can get through this.
Especially if he’s static forever.
Review

WOW!

This ranks as one of my all time favorite books in this genre.
I can’t say enough good things about this – but I’ll try!

First – it’s sort of a unique shifter book. Instead of shifting into animals, in this world that LA Witt has created, some people can change their sex at will. Not just the important pieces, but their entire bodies. So they become more masculine, larger, muscular, etcetera for male and smaller, more delicate, etcetera for female. But like fraternal twins, they still retain that look about them so you can see the resemblance.

In this case Alex (both female and male version) is dating Damon as a woman. Damon doesn’t know about the male Alex and this causes a lot of worry as to how to go about telling him. The point becomes moot when Alex’s parents decide to force her to stay permanently male, or “static” by injecting an evil chip into her spine. Of course they have no knowledge of Alex’s female love-life, only a desire to have a son and NOT to have someone who can shift genders.

There is the possibility of removing the chip but it has the potential for disaster, paralysis, death, dismemberment – ok not really – but also continuing the static state. Some people choose this treatment voluntarily but not Alex. S/he has always enjoyed the huge freedom allowed by being able to be one then the other gender. And since she thinks she may be in love with her straight boyfriend, being stuck as a man is particularly harsh.

But… the time comes when Alex must show Damon the truth of the situation. And here is where things really get to be interesting on both a plot level and a sociological level. (This is what makes this book spectacular IMHO – the bringing in so flawlessly the social construct of gender identity and the breakdown of what it means to be woman or man – especially when – in this case – it’s the same person wearing a different “skin”.)

Damon really does care for – maybe even love Alex – so he’s willing to at least try to work through this crisis and see it through. He doesn’t know what he wants. For Alex to go through with the reversal surgery? To try to be with a man when he’s only ever identified as straight? To give up and let Alex do this alone? But no, he’s an amazing person and sticks with it.

The story is so full of social questions. There’s prejudice. There’s the discussion of what if feels like to be in the “wrong body”. There’s the gay/straight/person centric version of sexual attraction. There’s – Gah! So much!

In the end the two lovers must make a decision. Should Alex attempt the surgery and is the risk worth it.

I won’t tell you the final decision but it is thought provoking – to say the least.

LA Witt won some awards for this – as she should have – and I can see why. It’s so amazing, her ability to hit you with these social question while still weaving a beautiful and touching and sometimes erotic love story. Superb!

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lambda finalist

 

 

 

If you have any interest in transgender and gender fluidity or gender ID this is right up your alley. It also fulfills something for those GFY fans. But it’s still, at it’s heart, a love story and a story of knowing one’s heart – so truly, any fan of romance will be entranced.

I can’t recommend it highly enough!

6 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for review

To Buy

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/static