Categories
5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Bullying Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Fade to black/No Steam Families/Weddings Friends to lovers Gay Gay Geek/nerd/techie/gamer Heat Index Holiday Holiday Romance Humor Little to no angst m/m Monthly Theme Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series second chance at love Standalone The one that got away Unrequited Love

Holidays: The Probability of Mistletoe (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by E.J. Russell

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

When software engineer Keith Trainor decides to start his own company, he knows exactly who he wants as his partner: Parker Mulvaney, his best friend from high school. But in the ten years since graduation, their contact has dwindled to nothing, and it’s all Keith’s fault. If he hadn’t tried to kiss Parker under the mistletoe at the winter formal their senior year, Parker wouldn’t have bolted. At their ten-year reunion, Keith intends to do everything in his geeky power to make amends.

Parker should have known that scheduling the reunion the day before Christmas Eve was a recipe for a headache of monster proportions. But when Keith sends a text that he’ll be attending, the evening doesn’t look so bleak. Can an unnecessary makeover, a nostalgic breakfast, an abortive shopping trip, and a whole lot of mistletoe culminate in a long-overdue first kiss?

Review

I didn’t want this to end! It was sooooo cute and sweet and funny and charming and…

It has an adorable geek, a sweet extrovert, a family of nuts and tons of mistletoe!

This was a very slow burn, no heat holiday story with lots of heart. These two boys were just meant to be and Parker’s grand gesture was treated really well (though I kinda wanted him to explain it more to Keith and have Keith appreciate it more…)

I wish we could have seen these guys at least through their “first time together”, but… it was still wonderful!

Highly Recommended and among my favorites of the bunch!

5 of 5 stars

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4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Author Provided Book Contemporary Friends to lovers Gay Gay Heat Index Little to no angst m/m Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Scorching/high heat Standalone Unrequited Love

Cruising by Cate Ashwood

This story can be downloaded for FREE here: https://www.instafreebie.com/public/F… (less)

Blurb

Best friends Dylan and Jake have been inseparable since college, but Dylan has one secret he can’t bring himself to share with Jake—he’s completely, utterly in love with him.

Jake’s friendship is the most important thing in the world to Dylan, so as much as it hurts to see him with other people, Dylan keeps his mouth shut about his true feelings. When Jake wins a cruise to Alaska, he asks Dylan to go along, but what Dylan doesn’t know, is that there’s more on offer than a dream vacation.

Can Dylan and Jake sail off to their happily ever after, or are they cruising toward disaster?

Review

This was a low angst, fairly high steam, and full of fun romance about two best friends who have managed to go years without being able to admit their feelings for one another.

 

My only complaint was that I didn’t really get enough info to fully connect with the MCs. It was a nice short story though!

4 of 5 stars

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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book class difference Contemporary Dreamspinner Friends to lovers Gay Gay Heat Index m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat Misunderstanding Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) second chance at love Unrequited Love

Audiobook: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son By: Tara Lain Narrated by: Greg Tremblay

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/return-of-the-chauffeurs-son-by-tara-lain-9005-b

Blurb

Luca McGrath may be returning to Napa Valley, California, as a promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery, but his heart still lives with the bad-boy son of a billionaire James Armstrong. Luca spent his childhood playing games with the golden boy of California society, so blinded by James he barely noticed the dark, quiet lure of his conservative older brother, Dylan Armstrong.
But now Luca’s home, and his own powers of attraction are enough to make James question his dedicated heterosexuality and his promised marriage to a wealthy and powerful businesswoman. The obvious attraction between Luca and James spurs Dylan into action – but he’s fighting a huge secret. While Luca dreamed of James, Dylan dreamed of Luca. When Luca gets caught in the struggle between the brothers and gets accused of culinary espionage, he’s ready to chuck the fairy tale – unable to even imagine Dylan’s power to make his dreams come true.

 
Review
Book reviewed here previously by Mary and Beth: https://openskyebookreviews.com/return-of-the-chauffeurs-son-%E2%80%A8by-tara-lain%E2%80%A8/
I agree with both their views of the story. Tara Lain does a nice job of adapting this famous tale to an m/m romance and fans of the original will really enjoy this take on it.

4 of 5 stars

Audio

Greg Tremblay really does a nice job of giving these characters a voice as well as adding in some comic relief with some of the secondary characters (I liked those even more than the MCs!)
Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars
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Categories
3 stars Angst Level Anthology Book Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Fade to black/No Steam Families/Weddings Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Holiday m/m Mid level angst Monthly Theme Morgan Older MCs Part of a Series second chance at love Short Story 1-20 pages (1-5k words) Standalone Unrequited Love

Holidays: The Mature Man’s Guide to Surviving Change (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Chris Scully

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

In the sunny playground of Palm Springs, growing up was something confirmed bachelor and bad-boy chef Joel avoided at all costs—until a close friend’s death made him reevaluate his priorities. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to helping his widowed friend Perry get back on his feet by teaching him to cook and providing a shoulder to cry on. But when Perry announces that he’s ready to start dating again and then begins receiving gifts from an anonymous secret Santa, Joel is forced to confront the feelings he’s suppressed for so long.

As Joel struggles with jealousy and guilt amid the holiday season, he must decide if he’s ready to grow up and reach for what he’s always wanted but never thought he could have.

Review

Though this is already a short story, I think it’d have been better even shorter. There just wasn’t enough story to support all the words. I got really tired of Joel’s hemming and hawing and besides their time spent together before Dale’s death, I wasn’t sure what Perry saw in Joel.

I loved the secondary characters and thought the overall premise was interesting, but it dragged on too much for me.

2.75 rounded to 3 of 5 stars

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4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Cowboys Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Little to no angst May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Unrequited Love

A Cowboy’s Dance (White Oak Ranch #1) by Diana McKinley

Amazon Link
https://www.amazon.com/Cowboys-Dance-White-Ranch-Book-ebook/dp/B0753WDJ8J/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510866908&sr=1-1&keywords=cowboy%27s+dance

Blurb

As the old adage asserts, ‘When one door closes, another opens.’ For Texas rancher Cole Gentry, the realization that a major part of his life is unexpectedly coming to an end leads him to examine how he came to be so alone and mired in the closet, when in reality he wants so much more with a partner who’ll stick with him through thick and thin. On the eve of what seems to be a pivotal turning point in his life, Cole finds himself questioning the disastrous personal choices he’s made, all while he poured his heart and soul into saving the spread that was handed down to him by generations of Gentry men and women before him. Cole knows his choices haven’t garnered him anything more than an empty house and an empty bed and, at last, he can admit that it’s time to make a change.

Seasoned rancher Everest Cooper has waited patiently for many years for Cole to grow up and see him as more than a colleague, mentor, and friend. He has plans for the younger rancher which have absolutely nothing to do with their business relationship. Plans that center around making Cole his in every way he can bind the man to him – in body and in soul. When Everest attends the local ranchers’ monthly game night and realizes that Cole is finally alone and free for the taking, he doesn’t waste another second going after the only man he’s ever envisioned a future with.

When Cole learns of Everest’s desires, he finally has the opportunity for a deep and abiding relationship – the kind he’s always secretly yearned for. But will he brave enough to join Everest in the dance that could bring them both passion, solace, and a lifetime of love and laughter? Or will he slide back into previous entanglements that are known and comfortable, and miss out on all that Everest is offering him?

Review

I LOVED this book! This was really wonderfully sweet and so heart-warming! I loved how these guys melded and the absolutely BUCKET full of feelz!

If you are in the need for a really sweet, very sappy and totally wonderful story – this is for you! Everest is just perfect and he and Cole are so cute and sweet together!

Highly recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Boss/employee co-workers to lovers coming of age Contemporary DA Dee Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m May/December May/December Mechanic/Car/Racing Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series second chance at love Unrequited Love

Heart Unheard by Andrew Grey

release day review

Blurb:

A Hearts Entwined Novel
The attraction between Brent Berkheimer and Scott Spearman peels the wallpaper, but Brent is Scott’s boss, and they’re both too professional to go beyond flirting. Their priorities realign after Scott is badly injured in an accident that costs him his hearing, and Brent realizes what is truly important… he wants Scott.
Scott pushes Brent away at first, fearing a new romance will just add to his problems, but perhaps he will find unexpected strength and solace in Brent’s support as he struggles to communicate with the world in a new way.
Just as they decide the chance of a happy future together is worth the risk, Scott and Brent discover darker challenges in their way—including evidence that the “accident” Scott suffered may not have been so accidental.

 

Review

 A lovely addition to this new series! This standalone story features Brent and Scott (from Heart Unseen).
For 2 years, Brent has held off acting on his feelings for a younger Scott. Now 20 years old, Scott has all but given up on something happening between him and Brent, when he is badly injured in an accident. Brent realises that he has to do something about his feelings or he’ll lose Scott.
Both men are a little broken – Brent from a past personal tragedy and Scott, more recently, from becoming deaf due to the accident. I really liked how Scott’s disability was presented – there is no easy way to handle suddenly becoming deaf. Andrew Grey showed that it takes a lot of work to communicate and be understood in a world that relies on sound.
The romance between the 2 MC’s was not without some bumps, but not insurmountable. As an added bonus, there is a bit of a mystery as to who caused Scott’s accident and why – it added a nice twist to this really good romance. The next mystery is whether Dean (the 3rd friend) will get his act together and find love ☺
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series!

4 stars out of 5
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Categories
3.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Friends to lovers GFY/OFY Holiday Homophobia Hurt/comfort Mid level angst Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series second chance at love Standalone Unrequited Love Valentine's Day

Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows By Ari McKay

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fortunes-slings-and-cupids-arrows-by-ari-mckay-9013-b

Blurb

(Book 2)

Successful attorneys Dane Coulter and Cal Monroe are rivals in the courtroom and friends behind the scenes. But can they be more?
Cal’s always carried a torch for Dane, but Dane is so deep in the closet, he can’t even admit that he might be gay. His father, a raging homophobe who rules the family with an iron fist, forces Dane into an engagement—to a woman. Dane goes along with it to keep the peace and protect his mother, but for Cal, it’s the last straw.
He can’t let Dane make a mistake that could ruin the rest of his life, and he only knows one surefire way to make Dane admit what’s in his heart. But confessing his feelings to his friend could backfire, driving a wedge between them. And even then, the choice must be Dane’s—to live the life his father wants, or to give up everything he has for a chance at happiness in Cal’s arms.

Review

I have not read the first book, but I don’t feel like I was lost at any point. I thought it was funny that this wasn’t relased in February, since the theme for this is Valentine’s Day but…. it still works.

This it’s another enemies to lovers story – sort of – because they’re also friends. We have another villainous father, and a pair of lovers who have to subvert the evil intentions of “Daddy”.

I’m an Ari McKay fan, but this story just didn’t work for me as well as some of their other works. I thought the dialog and sappiness quotient were all a bit much and I was really frustrated with how Dane let his dad push him around and how willing Cal was to wait – indefinitely.

I also missed the tension between the two MCs as it was relieved fairly early on and the ILYs exchanged early as well.

If you enjoyed book 1, are a fan of the author, like the friends to lovers trope and are a fan of the underdog – this is for you!

3.5 of 5 stars

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3 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Cop/Crime Dee Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Fan Art Gay Gay Heat Index Karrie Jax m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Reconcilliation second chance at love Unrequited Love

Late in the Day by Mary Calmes

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/late-in-the-day-by-mary-calmes-8993-b

Blurb

Second from The Vault
Terrence Moss. Conrad Harris. Gold Team Leader. Darius Hawthorne. The Vault. Juggling all these names would bother some, but for Darius, it’s business as usual. When he closes a chapter in his life, he leaves a name—and the people associated with it—behind. He’s managed to keep a few colleagues, even fewer friends, and no companionship through his forty-plus years… but that’s now changing.
The newest chapter of his life is bringing serious change: a stable home, a recovered identity, an unlikely family, and now a chance encounter with the one man Darius ever loved: Efrem Lahm. The reasons they parted are still valid, and there’s no way they can trust each other. But Efrem has already decided he won’t let Darius go… and Darius will have to decide if he wants to take a chance with his heart this late in the day.

Review

This is a difficult review for me because I really wanted to love this book. Note: this is all on me. For one, I have not read ‘A Day Makes’ and so was unaware that this book was in the same universe (hitmen, vaults). And, to make matters worse, I have not yet read ‘Mine’. While this book could be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading either (or both) of the other books mentioned.

Darius is chosen to be the new Vault.

The story continues with Darius helping to get someone out of danger and relocate to a new life in Boston. As he is working on this, he is suddenly face to face with his old love, Efrem Lahm.

The story didn’t work for me – it started at some time in the present (?) with Darius dealing with closing down mob ties. Then it jumped to the past where Darius recalls how he became the Vault. Then fast forward some months later; he is suddenly in the custody of Homeland Security, where he reconnects with Efrem.

Also, Darius and Efrem do not get a lot of time together – the book seemed to revolve around all the other characters. Both MC’s do not get together again until two-thirds of the book.

Again, if I had read the other books, especially ‘A Day Makes’, the writing style would have made more sense.

It’s a good book, one that I’ll re-read once I’ve read the other books.

 

3 stars out of 5
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Categories
4 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ angels Angst Level Book Bullying coming of age Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Fated Mates Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Magic Mid level steam/heat Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series pining Race/Species Difference Rating Shifter Spooky! Stalker/Abusive Ex Unrequited Love Witches/Warlocks/Wizards

Spooky Review: Familiar Angel by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/familiar-angel-by-amy-lane-8950-b

Blurb

One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.
Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven him to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.
In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and he didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?

Review

I’m having a tough time reviewing this.

On the one hand, I enjoyed it – as I do nearly every Amy book I’ve ever read, and like those of hers I’ve read a million times.

Amy is very good at giving us clear, crisp writing with just the right amount of show versus tell. The back story for our boys is delivered in a bits and pieces with only small amounts of flash backs to fill in the gaps.

We’re shown the budding relationships between all 3 boys with telling glimpses rather than overt smacks to the face. Sometimes, however, the subtlety got a bit too murky.

It’s obvious that Suriel and Harry are falling/have fallen for one another, but I really missed that moment when it happened … and the reasons why they have to be apart are a little vague and I wasn’t always sure why the things that happened … did.

I loved the cat-ness in this story! The back and forth and the human manifestations of the feline persona were priceless!

The chemistry between Harry and Suriel isn’t as “warm” as some of her other couples, and – in fact – if we get to see the other brother’s stories – I’m sensing a lot more heat between them and their partners already than I did between Suriel and Harry. Instead, theirs felt more like a blanket than a fire – if you know what I mean. They wanted one another, and the passion was talked about – but I don’t know that I felt it much.

I absolutely loved the world building and the “moral of the story” with big Cass and all the “powers” and magic.

I’m really looking forward to the next books in the series!

4 of 5 stars

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Categories
4 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book Contemporary Cop/Crime DA Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Established Couple/Sequel Fated Mates Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat Military Monthly Theme Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Shifter Spooky! Unrequited Love

Spooky Review: Darkest Hour Before The Dawn (THIRDS Book 9) Audiobook By Charlie Cochet Narrated by Mark Westfield

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/darkest-hour-before-dawn-by-charlie-cochet-8963-b

Blurb

Sequel to Thick & Thin
THIRDS: Book Nine

THIRDS Team Leader Sebastian Hobbs and Chief Medical Examiner Hudson Colbourn are as much in love now as they were nearly seven years ago when a tragic event on the job destroyed their relationship. The two drift together only to be pulled apart time and time again. When Hudson draws the interest of dangerous enemies, both within and outside the organization, Seb wants nothing more than to protect the man who still means everything to him.
As life-and-death events, an uncertain future, and startling truths draw Hudson and Seb to each other yet again, they must make a choice: trust their love and take strength from what they share, or lose what matters most… for good this time.

Review
(Book review by Beth here: https://openskyebookreviews.com/darkest-hour-before-dawn-thirds-9-by-charlie-cochet/)

Beth really loved this and I can see why. Charlie is a great writer and – as always – really has a way with combining action, romance and humor.

I’m not a big fan of “reunion” romances – I like that initial spark too much – but I did love that after all this time our guys finally get their chance to be together.

Of course, there is other drama going on – and more danger – as well as some more Dex/Sloane interactions – and a furthering of the overall mystery/arc.

For fans of the series, this is a must, and while I bet you could read this as a standalone, I think you’d miss a lot.

I’m glad the series is wrapping up, however, because we are starting to ease into the land of soap opera (i.e. people coming back from the “dead) and I think we’ve just about done all there needs to be done with this.

Audio

Mark Westfield is the voice for this series, so I can’t really add much to this review that hasn’t already been said.

I thought his English accent was fine and I enjoy his little “extras” that he throws in to keep the narration fresh and engaging.

I still sometimes struggle to appreciate his intonation, as he does seem to end each sentence in the same way, regardless of the emotion being portrayed – but after awhile I don’t notice it.

Overall, I’d give this 4 of 5 stars.

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