Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Audiobook Month Book Christmas class difference Closeted coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner farmer Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Holiday Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Length long distance love m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Monthly Theme Morgan New Year's Eve Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Older MCs Opposites attract Rating second chance at love Single Parent Thanksgiving Virgin Widower

Audiobook Month: A Second Harvest by Eli Easton Narrated by Will Tulin

 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-second-harvest-by-eli-easton-7193-b

Blurb

David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.

Review
(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

David is a Mennonite (a conservative Christian religion) farmer in rural Pennsylvania who has recently lost his wife of almost 2 decades to cancer. He has 2 grown children in college and a farm to run. He’s lonely. He’s lonely and worried about how he’s going to convince himself that life is worth living.

Christie is an again party-boy in Manhattan. When he nearly loses his BFF to an overdose he decides to take a good hard look at his life and re-evaluate things. When his aunt leaves him a house in rural Pennsylvania in her will, he decides to live there for 6 months to clear his head while he clears out the house.

On the surface, David and Christie are as opposite as you can imagine. But something in the two of them are attracted to one another like magnets.

Once Christie begins the cooking/sharing meal process, the two find any excuse to spend time together. The only thing that keeps this from being a “relationship” is David’s denial, and Christie’s belief that David doesn’t see him that way.

When David’s will finally collapses and allows Christie in – the passion is beautiful – but can it last?

**

As you know Eli is one of my “Hall of Fame Writers”. If she writes it I will automatically buy it and I’m NEVER disappointed. Sure, some I like more than others, but she ALWAYS delivers a love story that warms your heart. Every. Time.

This story is particularly satisfying. It’s longer than some of her other stories and as such we are given more time with our characters and that makes the bonding more special.

Because this is a very, very, slow burn – most of the story is the two becoming friends. It felt very authentic and plausible. When David finally does give in to his passions, it makes sense, and the readers understand just why he’s able to do so.

Christie is authentic and proud and “FIERCE” all the way through the story. His character stays true to form from start to finish and I really appreciated his lack of wavering.

The other thing I really appreciated was Eli’s consistency with David’s children. They too didn’t waver and behaved as I think they would have/could have in this situation.

I thought the level of steam was appropriate for the story – enough to entice but not so much as to over take the storyline. I don’t think anyone with religious issues (either fears or passions) will be upset by this – she handles the religious aspect with a delicate hand.

My only niggling complaint with the story is the ending. We got a very long and drawn out courtship, and then the ending was POW right there and the story was over. This is one of the issues I’ve had with a few of the author’s stories. I feel like giving us a bit more – especially given that Epilogue!!! – would have felt more balanced. I do appreciate the epilogue but I would have wanted to see a bit more of what decisions drew the couple to that ending.

In any case, it’s a truly wonderful story that kept me reading into late in the night and I couldn’t put it down.

Highly Recommended!

Audio

Will Tulin is a new to me narrator. He does a fine job with this, he’s easy to listen to and definitely has a great grasp of timing and emotion. He doesn’t do much with accents or making the characters unique, which was a little disappointing given the potential, but this is a good way to experience this story regardless. Each character was easy to distinguish as they were speaking and the females were voiced well, too.

Recommended

4.5 of 5 stars overall
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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Audiobook Audiobook Month Author Provided Book Contemporary Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/comfort m/m May/December Mid level steam/heat Monthly Theme Morgan Music/Rock Star Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Older MCs Teacher Widower

Audiobook Month: Imperfect Harmony Audiobook by Jay Northcote Narrated by Mark Steadman

 

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Imperfect-Harmony-Audiobook/B072K6M172?qid=1498440810&sr=1-1

Blurb

Imperfect harmony can still be beautiful…

John Fletcher, a former musician, is stuck in limbo after losing his long-term partner two years ago. He’s shut himself off from everything that reminds him of what he’s lost. When his neighbour persuades him to join the local community choir, John rediscovers his love of music and finds a reason to start living again.

Rhys Callington, the talented and charismatic choir leader, captures John’s attention from the first moment they meet. He appears to be the polar opposite of John: young, vibrant, and full of life. But Rhys has darkness in his own past that is holding him back from following his dreams.

Despite the nineteen-year age gap, the two men grow close and a fragile relationship blossoms. Ghosts of the past and insecurities about the future threaten their newfound happiness. If they’re going to harmonise in life and love as they do in their music, they’ll need to start following the same score.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

John is a music teacher who has recently lost a lot in his life: his lover, his mother, his music… now he’s living in his old childhood home trying to rebuild his life. He helps his neighbor out by driving her to choir practice and there he meets Rhys. Rhys is the surprisingly young director of the local choir and he’s entrancing.

Rhys has his own secrets and pain and John’s pain calls to his own. The two end up friends then more. But… John is 19 years older than Rhys. John has lost a lot and is unwilling to open himself up for more pain or resign Rhys to any either.

Together they must navigate their fears and hopes for the future.

**

Jay is a beautiful writer. Her love scenes are always erotic but not gratuitous. I think she handled the age gap and the pining very well. I really appreciated that both MCs had a loss they could refer to – it felt less lop-sided that way to me.

I loved how music thread it’s way through the story helping to heal in so many ways and as the music expanded so did the emotions. It was really well done.

The only complaint I had about this book – at all – was the ending. I wanted a bit more of the couple grappling with the huge issues between them and a more solid resolution. Though I feel that the couple did end on solid ground it felt a bit rushed in comparison to the lovely, slow and gradual build up we had in the rest of the story.

All in all it was another great story from an amazing writer.

4.25 of 5 stars

Audio

I really enjoy Mark Steadman’s narrations. This was a bit harder due to the age differences, several female voices and the seriously tough emotion that had to be portrayed right along side the lighter hearted, more romantic parts. I think he did an excellent job with this wide variety.

I highly recommend this as a way to enjoy this fantastic story!

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars
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Categories
6 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Audiobook Month Book Bullying Closeted coming of age Contemporary Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Finding Family Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Humor Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level angst Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Morgan Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Older MCs Rating Review Copies Single Parent Teacher Track Widower

Audiobook Month: Bonfires Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated By Nick J Russo

I think it’s appropriate to start out our Audiobook Month with two of my favs!  Amy Lane is one of my all time favorite authors and her audiobooks rank among the books I can listen to over and over and over.  Some of my favorite are: Clear Water, Bolt Hole and Beneath the Stain.  Narrating two of those is Nick J Russo – he ranks as one of my top three favorite narrators and it’s Amy’s works that help him hold that position.  So, with no further ado…. let’s start off our month of great listens with Bonfire!

 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bonfires-by-amy-lane-8682-b

Blurb

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)
I’m going to divide this review into two parts because it was amazingly emotional and really brought so many thoughts and feelings to the surface for me and I think it will for others as well.

The first part will be the review for people who don’t want any spoilers or any discussion about politics – because I know that can really set people off. The second part will be a bit more personal with some very biased opinions and a bit of spoiler action that you all can totally skip ☺

As you all know, I am a huge Amy fan. I’ve read nearly everything the woman has written and I not only admire her writing but think she’s pretty awesome as a person. From knowing a bit about her backstory, I can tell she wrote this book with her own experiences in mind. Larx is a high school principal – reluctantly – and a single parent. He was married before, but after exposing his bi-sexuality his wife left him and the kids. He’s moved from the city (other bad stuff happened there) to a small town to start over. Now, seven years later, he’s still single and thinking it will stay that way til his kids are graduated.

Aaron is the small town deputy, slated for Sherriff in the upcoming years. His wife died in a car accident and though he’s always considered himself bi-sexual he’s never acted on it and really never thought to do anything about it until his kids graduated. When he sees Larx – the man he’s known for years- running down the highway without a shirt a light switches on in his head and suddenly all those plans he had, change.

**
Part of what I absolutely love about this book is that the characters are closer to 50 than 40 and they feel so very REAL. They aren’t in perfect shape – Aaron struggles with his diet – they aren’t sleeping with everything that they see – neither has had any sort of significant anything for years – and they’re parents and their jobs first – not slaves to their lust! They live real lives and have real concerns and yet… Amy manages to find the romance in their lives and bring it out for all to see. It’s magnificent!

In addition to being real people, they have real kids. Neither of them was/is a perfect parent and their kids aren’t perfect either – well – Kirby and Christi might be but…. ☺ …. The kids fight, do dumb things and make mistakes. But – they aren’t evil incarnate either.

I did not see the ending coming… I mean I kinda did… but not exactly. Amy played the mystery out perfectly with just enough hints that you could see how we got there by the end, but it wasn’t hitting me in the face the entire time making me wonder how the MCs couldn’t see the obvious answer.

The good news/ bad news is the “bad guy” in the story is unfortunately very real and very possible. Maybe there were some exaggerations for impact sake, but, unfortunately the people like this exist and that’s up for discussion later.

As for the romance. Ahhhhhhh. Man, I loved these two guys together – so much! If I had any complaints at all it was that we didn’t get to see them together outside of a tense situation for very long. I wanted to see these two settled down and living life – quietly! – for a bit – just because they worked so hard for it (and so did I)!

We also get a bit of a secondary romance (or two!) and I really hope those characters get their own book in the future!

I can’t recommend this enough. It was sweet, exciting, romantic, touching, and also really, really relevant and thought provoking. For fans of the author this is a must, and for any parents, people from small towns, people with brains, or people with hearts – this is a must read!

**
Following, in the spoiler section, is stuff more political and opinionated and it might give away some parts of the story – so skip this or read it after you’ve read the book if you don’t want to be “spoiled”.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Audio

Well, you know I love Am[/spoiler]y and you know I love Nick so together – Oh Yeah!

Nick is just amazingly well suited to Amy’s language. I love how his voice gives life to her characters. I absolutely fell in LOVE with Aaron’s voice and thought Larx’s voice suited him as well. Nick does the younger voices well, including the females. While it was different than I’d imagined, I loved his choice for Yoshi, too.

All in all a great way to enjoy this and a perfect choice!

6 of 5 stars
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Categories
2.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Bi-Sexual Book class difference Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Exploration Gay Heat Index Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love Little to no angst long distance love m/m/m May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Reconcilliation second chance at love Sports Sports Standalone Widower

Gnarly (World of Love) by Mickie B. Ashling 

release day review 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gnarly-by-mickie-b-ashling-8583-b

 

Blurb

Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde. 

After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse. 

Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. 

Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.

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

 

Review

This just didn’t work for me.

Things I liked/loved: learning about the Basque, the language, the culture, the geography. The references to surfing. The information about Jai Alai. This country and the people sound amazing and so, so colorful. I could definitely feel the heat and passion and spiciness – it seems very rich and flavorful! I enjoyed learning about the advances in prosthesis technology.

Things that didn’t work: The ménage. I never felt like Iker was integral to this relationship and I really wasn’t sure why he was even part of this story. He felt like a third wheel. He’s so sweet and enthusiastic and I didn’t understand his willingness to be part of this couple or his attraction to the somber and rigid Ed. Which brings me to my second point. Ed. He was a total dick to Javi and seemed to completely forget him for 30 years! Then he suddenly shows up and expects that time to have just disappeared. Javi gave him a lecture – ONE – and that was completely insufficient. He’s bossy and manipulative and condescending at the best and cold and uncaring at the worst. I did not understand Javi’s attraction, nor Iker’s and I was always rooting for Iker and Javi to kick Ed to the curb.

This story was all over the map. It wanted to be a reunion story, a story of opposites attract, a May/December story, a bi-sexual discovery story, a PTSD/hurt/comfort/recovery story, a ménage…it was too much. As a reader I needed to understand how Ed could act like he did so that I could forgive him and I really received no other explanation other than – school kept me busy where I met my wife. And apparently left all of Javi and his life in the dust.   I ached for poor Javi and though I applaud his willingness to let Ed help him I couldn’t help but feel like he seems like a doormat almost as much as poor Iker.

Another thing that really bugged me was how the ménage worked. I felt like Iker was on the outside. Though it was sweet that Javi and Ed shared some firsts, Ed’s holding that over Iker’s head like a prize seemed unkind and definitely made me feel like the group was seriously out of balance.  We get a HFN instead of an HEA and that, too, left me a little disappointed.

I did not feel a strong connection between these characters and as a result the “romance” in this did not pass muster. The cultural information was interesting and for that I’ll give this a 2.5 of 5 stars.

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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age Contemporary Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m May/December May/December Men In Uniform Mid level angst Military Monthly Theme Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Reviewer Scorching/high heat Standalone Teacher Unrequited Love Widower

Men In Uniform Month : At Attention (Out of Uniform #2) Audiobook by Annabeth Albert Narrated by Cooper North


Audible Link
http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/At-Attention-Audiobook/B01MYCPFFJ/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1494462134&sr=1-2

 

Blurb

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

Sigh. This is just what I needed! I’d been in a bit of a slump – either the books weren’t hitting me right or they were too angsty or too short or too silly or… But this one was Just Right!

Annabeth Albert is fast becoming one of my top-tier-favorite authors. I’ve yet to be disappointed and I’m really enjoying this series (as I’d LOVED the gaymers series from which this is a spin-off).

Things that pinged my radar: Hot, alpha, military man with a tremendous soft side and a great father to boot. Equally hot, younger guy with confidence coming out his ears and determined to do the right thing – whether it’s in his personal or professional life. (Men who like kids – so, so sweet!)

While I worried for awhile that the pining would get to me, I realized that Apollo had been deeply in love and that needed to be honored. I did wish he’d have cut the crap a bit earlier than he did – but – I loved how Dylan handled it. He didn’t settle for second best and he knew his own heart enough to ask for what he wanted.

As for the smexy times – Whoooeee. So. Hot. Lots of dirty talk and sex in front of a mirror! Way, way, way smokin’! But the feels were there, too. There was definitely an emotional connection that went beyond the sex.

So… all in all this just hit the spot for me. Sexy. Sweet. Touching. Great writing. Fantastic!

(And these covers…. YOWZA! So HOT!)

Audio

Cooper North is an excellent narrator. His voice is really well suited to the younger Dylan. He doesn’t do a lot of accents or anything to make the various characters unique, and that is a bit disappointing.

I didn’t love his version of Apollo – only because I kind of had an idea of what he sounded like in my head and it was something more deep and rumbly. He did a nice job of making him sound “older” and you could always tell who was speaking.

However, Cooper North is good with emotion and timing and is very easy to listen to. This is definitely a great way to enjoy this story and though it wasn’t exactly as I’d have wanted it, it was still very satisfying.

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
4 stars 4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age Contemporary DA Exploration Football Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock Heat Index Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Little to no angst m/m Mary D May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Morgan New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Older MCs Part of a Series Purchased second chance at love Virgin Widower

Author Spotlight: Cardeno C Jesse’s Diner Audibook (Hope Book 2) Narrated by Paul Morey

Audible link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Jesses-Diner-Audiobook/B019N5MKA0/ref=a_series_c2_2_saTtl?ie=UTF8&pf_rd_r=0GDQ1QYTSECW46A2RCXE&pf_rd_m=A2ZO8JX97D5MN9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=series-detail&pf_rd_p=1374482202&pf_rd_s=center-2

Blurb

Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true.

 

Review by Mary

 

Cardeno C always gives us the perfect comfort reads and listening to the audiobook is being wrapped in a warm blanket. Paul Morey has such a mellow soothing voice.

This is a lovely heart warming story about love, acceptance and moving on. Jessie is a pivotal character even though he passed away 18 months ago. Jessie left his Diner to Tanner. Steve was Jessie’s partner. Mike is Jessie and Steve’s son and Tanner’s best friend. There is no angst just love and learning to take the next step after losing Jessie.

Mike is away at college and asks Tanner to check on his Dad Steve. Tanner is so sweet and innocent he doesn’t realise when Steve starts flirting with him. Steve is very gentle with Tanner and when they get together it is steamy.

Paul Morey’s narration is excellent. He captures Steve’s maturity, Tanner’s honesty so well. I loved Steve’s accent. Mike, the carefree college boy, is portrayed realistically without going too far.

 

This is a lovely short relaxing book to listen to.

 

3.5 of 5 stars

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Review by Morgan

Though this isn’t a short story, it reads like one, so I want to be careful not to give away too many secrets, because there are a few surprises in this.

You might think this is a simple story of May/December love, or a second chance at love romance, or a jock meets nerd (Steve was a football player and Tanner is very reserved and slight physically). But… it’s none of those and all of those and more! There’s a deeper layer to this story. There are things in Steve’s past that have shaped who he is and his relationship with Jesse is more complex than you’d guess.

Cardeno always does a great job of writing these “clueless” guys and then showing them the light.   I didn’t get as good a read on Steve, but he’s definitely the more social and outgoing of the pair. I liked watching him “show” Tanner about love and relationships, Steve was sweet, sexy and funny, too.

There were parts of this story that didn’t work for me as well. I wanted more about Steve’s past and his relationship with Jesse. It felt incomplete somehow.  I get that he and Jesse’s relationship was very different from his and Tanner’s, but I wanted to know a bit more about it and maybe get a bit more closure.

I also think that the “heavy” issue needed a bit more discussion. I think it’s a pretty big deal and it felt a little too casual for me in this instance.

I really wanted the “reveal” about Steve asking Tanner out on an official date to be more of an “a-ha!” moment. It lacked that POW! – where Tanner realizes he’s going to FINALLY get his dream man. 

That being said, it’s still a Cardeno C book, so it was still wonderful. I loved the premise and the characters and felt happy at the end for both of them, but I just wanted a little bit… more, I guess.

I think fans of the author and the series will love it and it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone.

4 of 5 stars

Audiobook

Paul Morey is a fantastic narrator. He gives Steve this lovely Southern accent and Tanner a nice “clueless” tonality that really works for this story.

Mike is given this dumb-guy voice and he made me giggle. I think that listening to this was a wonderful way to experience this story and it added to my enjoyment immensely.

Audio 5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book class difference Contemporary Cop/Crime DA Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless High School Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort lawyer m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Race/Species Difference Rating Scorching/high heat second chance at love Teacher Widower

Signs of Life (A resilient love story) Audiobook by Melanie Hansen Narrated by Robert Nieman

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/signs-of-life-by-melanie-hansen-8418-b

Blurb

A Resilient Love Story

Successful lawyer Jeremy Speer has it all—a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a cherished dream that’s about to become reality. He’s learned not to take happiness for granted, meeting the challenges of life and love head-on with unwavering commitment and fierce devotion. A series of tragic events leave Jeremy shattered, adrift on a sea of unimaginable pain. He’s able to piece his life back together, but instead of embracing it, he merely exists, using isolation and punishing physical exertion to keep the world at bay.

High school teacher Kai Daniels has a heart for at-risk kids—he was one himself, and a teenage brush with the law and some troubled years behind bars left him scarred inside and out. With courage, hard work, and the support of friends, he’s built a fulfilling life that leaves no time for a relationship.

An intense encounter with Kai at a gay club ignites a spark in Jeremy that he thought was extinguished forever, but he’s unwilling to destroy the fragile peace he’s managed to create, and he leaves Kai humiliated and disappointed. Things should have ended there, but a bizarre occurrence brings the two together in a way neither of them expected.

 

Review

(Book reviewed here previously: http://kimichanexperience.com/signs-of-life-reilient-love-book-2-by-melanie-hansen/)

Abridged

The story starts out rough. No holds barred. Jeremy loses his husband and their unborn child first thing. It takes him 2 years to rise from the depression that spurs.

Kai is a former gang member turned teacher. His childhood shaped him and he now works with at-risk kids to give them the chance that he didn’t have.

After meeting as a one time hook-up at a club, Jeremy freaks out and acts like a jerk. Luckily, Kai is truly wonderful and he understands the reasons behind the freak out and forgives Jeremy.

In the beginning they have a sex only, no-strings arrangement, but over time, feelings grow and emotions get involved.

**

This is a breathtakingly beautiful story. It’s so painful at the beginning but it has such a beautiful ending, the pain is worth it.

Melanie Hansen’s writing is perfection. She has improved even since book one (which was wonderful) and there are no rough edges to this book. The story line is clean, thought provoking without being preachy, real and rugged but still very sentimental and romantic. You can see this actually happening but still feel the fairy-tale-ness of the story. (The blazing hot sex helps with that!)

Kai and Jeremy are HOT together. Their chemistry is off the charts. But it’s also really touching and romantic when it needs to be. I loved how they fit each other so well. It’s never a big deal that Jeremy is rich – it’s just there. Kai is independent and always will be so it’s not a big deal. That was very refreshing.

It was nice seeing the happy Jase and Carey bits, seeing them with more of their HEA.

I really, really loved this story. It will count among the year’s best for me and I highly recommend it. (It’s absolutely fine as a stand alone, but book one was great, too.)

6 of 5 stars

Audio

Robert Nieman does a really nice job with this. He doesn’t do any accents or much to differentiate the characters – which I was a bit bummed about – but he’s really good with the emotion and pacing of the story. He knows how to make his voice reflect the tone of the moment and he’s very easy to listen to. His narration absolutely adds to the overall enjoyment of the story and I recommend it highly.

5 of 5 stars

Overall 5 of 5 stars

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Categories
6 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Aliens Alternate World Angst Level Beth Jumper Bi-Sexual Book Demons Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level steam/heat mpreg mpreg Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Purchased Race/Species Difference second chance at love Shifter Widower

Hunter’s Hope (Avanti Chronicles Book 9) by Hannah Walker


Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Hunters-Hope-Avanti-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07148243W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1495046221&sr=1-1&keywords=hunter%27s+hope

Free on KU!

Blurb
An outing takes a dangerous turn when the life of a little one is nearly lost and traps are discovered littering clan lands. Hunter, Tir, and the clan travel to all corners of Derin land, determined to face the threats and remove the men responsible for them.
Even his fabled Avanti training may not be enough to prepare Hunter for a new enemy. It will take every skill he possesses—physical and mental—to overcome what lies ahead.
With one of their own missing, and dangers closing in on all sides, help comes from a surprising source.
The men set out on both a rescue mission and quest to seek out those who are intent on destroying them. With a determination borne of desperation, they use everything in their arsenal to complete their mission.
Unsure who they can trust, the men fight not only for love and survival, but also everything they hold dear.

Review

I will start off by saying that I have a prejudice for this series. I have read all the previous books and have been waiting impatiently for this book to come out. I was not disappointed!
Hannah Walker has created a world with such depth and intricacy that you can easily see all the amazing detail of the landscape and it’s inhabitants.
I will warn you, that this book is part of a series and although each book has a happy ending there are several storylines running constantly through all the books. That said, Hunter’s Hope focuses on Hunter, an Avanti warrior and “offworlder” and Tir, a Chieftain of the Derin Clan. It includes family, both young children, brothers in arms and close friends.
Ms. Walker weaves a story that pulls you in from the start. As you watch the characters react and deal with the very stressful situations they find themselves in, you get caught up rooting for the good guys to win. When Hunter and Tir get together – their love and compassion for each other is so touching!
This story has everything, Love, Conflict, self-doubt, compassion, mystery and much more. The intimate scenes are well done and the love and respect each has for the other is wonderful.
For me this is definitely a 6 star rating!

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Copy Purchased For Review

Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Gay Heat Index Hurt/comfort m/m Mary D May/December May/December Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Misunderstanding Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Teacher Widower

Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy by Jake C. Wallace

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/happily-ever-after-isnt-easy-by-jake-c-wallace-8441-b
Blurb

How do you start a new life when your old one won’t let go?

Freed from a marriage he entered because he feared coming out to his judgmental family, Gabe Reynolds feels his life is just starting—at forty-three. But what was supposed to be exciting and wonderful has been nothing but disappointing. The man he’s loved since they were teens broke his heart—again. Gabe has no clue how to meet men who are looking for more than one night, much less date them. Add to that his job as a mental health counselor, helping to keep his mentally ill ex-wife stable, and caring for children that belong to another man, and he has little time to look for Mr. Right.

Just as Gabe is giving up, Brandt Sawyer, with his hard body and gorgeous eyes, crashes into Gabe’s life. Brandt pushes all Gabe’s buttons—though he could do without the younger man’s know-it-all attitude. Gabe never thought he could be so torn between wanting to punch a man and wanting to kiss him. Yet, as he gets to know Brandt, Gabe sees past the military-programmed ex-soldier and catches a glimpse of what could be his happily ever after.

But with a troubled ex and young children involved, Gabe can’t just walk away from his past. Guilt is tearing him in every direction—maybe even away from the man he’s falling in love with.

Review

Gabe Reynolds is a good guy with a lot going on in his life. Just when he thinks he’s never going to meet the right guy Brandt Sawyer appears. Brandt is a supply teacher at the high school where Gabe supports the students. For Gabe it’s lust at first sight but he doesn’t think he stands a chance and he isn’t looking for a one night stand. Brandt has just left the Army. When Gabe and Brandt first meet they clash over the welfare of student and Gabe thinks Brandt is too stern and stubborn for there to ever be anything between them. It takes a bit of matchmaking and a hot make out session in a car park for Gabe to see Brandt differently.

The story is told from Gabe’s POV. We hear about his fears and worries, including his need to still care for his ex-wife. The book deals with difficult issues, mental health, the tension in split families, self esteem, in a realistic way. I liked how there was not a lot of angst but you still understood the turmoil in Gabe’s life. The first three quarters of the story is the building of Gabe and Brandt’s relationship along with his relationship with his ex-wife Karen her husband Randy and their two children. The last part is where life throws Gabe curve balls and risks his new found happiness but these are resolved giving a HFN ending. There seems to be a possible story with two side characters, Marty a friend of Gabe’s and Brandt’s friend Lucas Gage. I would love to know what their story is, maybe there will be a second book.

I enjoyed the story and connected with the characters but it’s not on my read again list.

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
3.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Alternate World angels Angst Level Audiobook Book DA Demons Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Fantasy Fated Mates Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Historical Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Paranormal pining second chance at love Virgin Widower

On Wings of Thunder Audiobook by MD Grimm Narrated by Pavi Proczko

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/on-wings-of-thunder-by-md-grimm-8238-b

Blurb

Trystan is an unchosen angel—shunned by society, bullied, and without a future. In a hidden well, Trystan discovers a carving of a dragon, who were once the commanders of demons and now believed extinct. But Trystan learns the carving doesn’t depict an ordinary dragon. Stories tell that millennia ago, the great dragon Asagoroth and his demon army nearly conquered the three realms but was killed by the five elders. The powerful angels combined their life forces to cast a spell, sacrificing their lives.
But history is full of falsehoods. The five elders only managed to imprison the dragon, and Asagoroth had cast his own spell—one of releasement. It only needs the blood of an angel to liberate him from his cage….
Asagoroth, enemy of angels, conqueror of realms, is free. But even as the angels prepare for war, the great dragon surprises them with an ultimatum: hand over the angel who awakened him or face annihilation.
This was a story unlike any I’ve read/heard before.

First, it’s kind of a creation story in that we get the angels and demons and then… the creation of what will later become humans. So – it’s like the time before time existed.

Second, the angels aren’t like any angels I’ve seen before, nor the demons. They are best classified as the definition of “opposites” and neither is all good nor all bad.

Third, the romance was definitely unique and I don’t want to give any spoilers – but it’s not exactly what I was expecting.

I thought the world building was interesting and I thought the new spin on the origin of humanity was compelling.

I wasn’t crazy about the love story itself, however. Asagoroth – as a name – is a mouthful and I was listening to this so the poor narrator had to keep saying it over and over and over. Thankfully, about 60% in or so, Trystan finally dubs him Asa, and we get a little break now and then. Besides his bulky name, we don’t really get to know much about “Asa”. He’s not very approachable, and beyond his love of his “beloved” we don’t get to see him do much.

I will give one fairly predictable spoiler here – you find this out early on – so don’t read it if you need absolutely no spoilers in your reviews.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

He and Trystan really only interact sexually and that, in and of itself, sometimes felt a bit weird, too. The language is sort of formal – matching the angel/demon time period, but then suddenly the author will throw in “fuck” or “cock” or “ass” and… it just didn’t seem to fit.

I almost wish more “stately” euphemisms had been used, it would have melded in better with the rest of the story.

There just wasn’t a particular “hero” to root for here. Neither Trystan nor Asa is that compelling and though, at first, I was loving the “underdog” feel Trystan had – bullied, unchosen, ignored, isolated – but beyond that he didn’t have much of a personality – that we got to see.

Asa, like I said before, is a black box as well. What we do see is really gruff and bossy and not very likable. He loves Trystan but I was never sure why. (I think Trystan would have loved anyone who paid attention to him so his motivation was pretty clear.)

In any case, while I was definitely interested in the story, I didn’t love it.

The narrator, Pavi Proczko, is new to me, and he did a fine job. It’s an “Epic” type story with grand themes and strange words and he managed all those very well. (Kudos for the name Asagaroth alone!) He doesn’t do a lot to change the voices, though it was always easy to tell who was speaking. When he gets to the smexy times it always jerked me out of the story a bit – maybe because of his method of narrating – maybe because of the story itself. It just felt kind of jarring.

I’m certain that fans of “fantasy” may find this story more appealing than I, and I don’t consider myself a “fan” – but I’m not sure the juxtaposition of the almost fairy tale like creation story with erotic fiction worked very well here.

So… if angels and demons and that sort of fantasy story is your thing – you might want to check it out. If you like the angels as found in “Supernatural” or shifter stories – you might want to skip this.

For the story and the narration I’d give it 3.5 of 5 stars.

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