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4.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Bi-Sexual Book coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Fated Mates Gay Ghost Heat Index Hidden Lovers High but not hopeless Historical Homophobia Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Psychic Speculative Fiction

Drawn by Elle Brownlee

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/drawn-by-elle-brownlee-7656-b

32162663Blurb

Sebastian (Sen) Holt is an artist currently in New Orleans. He’s always been a wanderer, believing in fate and following signs to guide his destiny. Although he itches to pull up stakes, getting a painting into a gallery keeps him rooted. One morning his good friend calls him in desperate need of help with her cleaning business. Her regular cleaner flaked, she can’t lose her client, and there’s no one else.

The job is at a large and recently restored house—and the owner, Morgan Ballard, comes home unexpectedly. They are immediately drawn together, as if they know each other, but they’ve never met. As they grow closer, Morgan behaves like two people. Sometimes he’s friendly and casual, and other times intimate and demanding. Sen juggles his painting through bursts of vision-like inspiration, the cleaning job, and an unexpected commission—all while trying to unlock the growing mystery of the intense connection he feels to Morgan. He’s not sure which scares him more—the strangeness surrounding their growing bond or that he’s found someone to make him reconsider his lifelong wanderlust.

Review

What a good time for this book to come out! It’s not exactly scary, but maybe spooky? In any case, it has lots of dark scenes, mystery and an eerie disjointed sense of reality that lends itself to the Halloween season.

On the one hand I really liked how this story developed and played out and really felt like the layers of metaphors really worked. The imagery of the artist and the paint and the canvas – mimicking the memories or pseudomemories getting played out and “remembered” was wonderful. I also liked the “flashbacks” and the clammy, damp feelings associated with the storms and Morgan’s own “memories”.

Though I pretty much figured out what was going on right away, I wasn’t exactly sure of the details and that kept me interested and turning pages.

What didn’t work for me was the length. I got bogged down in the middle third of the book wading through the (very good) descriptions of the flashbacks and the encounters with Morgan waiting for the punch-line. There just wasn’t enough action to keep me one hundred percent engaged. I understood the slow reveal, but I guess, for me, it was a little too slow.

The author did a magnificent and very thorough job of “painting” the picture for the reader, however, and I could almost feel the humidity and the electricity in the air.

Overall, I thought this was a fascinating and well-written story and well worth my time.

4.25 of 5 stars

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Categories
5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Alternate World Angst Level Audiobook Author Provided Bodyguard Book DA Enemies to Lovers Gay Historical Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Military Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Scorching/high heat

Guarded Audiobook by Kim Fielding Narrated by Greg Tremblay

audiobookreview

 

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Guarded-Audiobook/B01L2UAOWU/ref=a_search_c4_2_3_srTtl?qid=1473020598&sr=2-3

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A brutal war left Volos Perun with physical and emotional scars and with a reputation as a hero. Now he’s a soldier stationed at the palace, desiring Prince Berhanu while receiving only loathing in return. But when Berhanu foolishly refuses the king’s request to let Volos accompany him on a peace mission to the neighboring country, Berhanu is kidnapped and brutalized. Now Volos must risk his life as he works to save Berhanu and help his country avoid another devastating war.

©2014 Kim Fielding (P)2016 Kim Fielding

Review

This is short, but oh, so poignant. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy this than as an audiobook. Greg Tremblay turns Kim Fielding’s powerful story into a living breathing piece of life.

Greg gives us each powerful emotion, uses appropriate and consistent accents, paces his voice to match the current tenor of the scene and presents us with a work of art.

The world building is delightful, with feisty women, evil, evil villains, a hero – who at first isn’t much of one – finding his redemption and then there’s Volos. He’s the perfect hero. Humble, unassuming, loyal and dedicated. He loves Berhanu without pause, no matter the circumstances or how he’s treated.

It’s a wonderful story – vaguely historical but in unknown lands – and has a HEA that is absolutely perfect.

Highly recommended – with a caution about a potential rape trigger – 5 of 5 stars.

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4.5 stars Action/Adventure Alternate World Angst Level Book coming of age DA Enemies to Lovers Exploration Gay Heat Index Hidden Lovers Historical Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased Virgin

Marked by Fire (Sons of Britain #1) by Mia West

31448558Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Arthur burns for two things: a warrior’s ink, and Bedwyr, his older brother’s friend and shield-mate. Though the warlord’s son is beyond his reach, a Saxon incursion finally brings Arthur’s chance at the tattoo that will brand him a fighter. But when he abandons his training in the heat of battle, his reckless ambition costs Bedwyr his sword hand.

Once, Bedwyr trusted in two things: he was a warrior, and the presumed heir of Uthyr ap Emrys. Now, reeling from injury and banished by his father, he’s lost everything. The last person he can face is the cub who ignited his disastrous instinct to protect, especially when he arrives with Bedwyr’s armor and a dangerously hopeful scheme to restore him to his rightful place.

MARKED BY FIRE is the 1st book (28,000 words) of SONS OF BRITAIN, a fresh, dark, sexy retelling of Arthurian legend:

1. Marked by Fire
2. Etched in Stone
3. Bound by Blood

Content Note: Includes depictions of violence in battle settings.

Review

Mia West is so good at giving us short stories that are literally PACKED with greatness!

This is not long, but every word is important. Right from the start we understand how important being a warrior and being with Bewyr are to Arthur. Soon after both are taken from him – seemingly – and his struggle to right his wrongs.

What happens next is a funny, sexy, touching story of both recovery and connection between the two. I loved watching Bedwyr heal and the fact that Arthur never backed down (even at the end!). I also loved the role the women played in this “world” – Arthur’s mother is the blacksmith!

Though I didn’t always understand the world building – was being in a gay relationship shunned? – what does Bewyr’s father really think of Arthur? What’s going to happen to these guys now? – I’m betting as the series progresses these questions will be answered.

It’s a little bit dark, but very hopeful. The smexy times are good, but not the central importance to the story.

Highly recommended to fans of the author, historical/fantasy, dark but sweet romances.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Author Provided Book Cop/Crime Gay Heat Index Historical m/m Magic Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Morgan Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Paranormal Part of a Series Shifter Speculative Fiction

Hexbreaker Audiobook by Jordan L Hawk Narrated by Tristan James

audiobookreview

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New York copper Tom Halloran is a man with a past. If anyone finds out he once ran with the notorious O’Connell tunnel gang, he’ll spend the rest of his life doing hard time behind bars. But Tom’s secret is threatened when a horrible murder on his beat seems to have been caused by the same ancient magic that killed his gang.
Cat shifter Cicero is determined to investigate the disappearance of one friend and the death of another, even though no one else believes the cases are connected. When the trail of his investigation crosses Tom’s, the very bohemian Cicero instinctively recognizes the uncultured Irish patrolman as his witch. Though they’re completely unsuited to one another, Cicero has no choice but to work alongside Tom…all the while fighting against the passion growing within.
Tom knows that taking Cicero as his familiar would only lead to discovery and disaster. Yet as the heat between them builds, Tom’s need for the other man threatens to overcome every rational argument against becoming involved.
But when their investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of New York, Tom must make the hardest decision of his life: to live a lie and gain his heart’s desire, or to confess the truth and sacrifice it all.

Review

If you are unfamiliar with Jordan L Hawk, know that she has an amazing ability to interweave the fantastical with the historical, mix it up with a mystery and some romance and the output is an absolute gem of a story!

In this case we get some cops and robbers back in the day when gangs and mobs ran the streets of old New York but in this case they are witches and their familiars. The familiars are shifters so you get a human and an animal tied to you. (That was my favorite part of this story, the bond between witch and familiar- *sigh… so sweet and romantic in the case of Tom and Cicero).

A fair amount of the story is the mystery – to be sure – as with Widdershins, the other JLH series I’ve read – the mystery and action/adventure component of the story is the absolute center of focus, but the romance – at least to me – seemed to be more approachable and felt more important… maybe because there wasn’t the secrecy… I’m not sure, but that’s how it felt to me. Therefore it was nearer to my heart and I liked it more than that series.

I really liked the fact that when the characters re-connect after what could have been a potentially clichéd “Big Misunderstanding” the author gracefully avoided that pitfall and let them TALK IT OUT. Gah! I loved that. Instead of leading us down that ol’ trail, she let them use their words! Beautiful!

Add to it Tristan James and you have a blockbuster! Tristan’s voice is like honey, and he can do all those crazy accents so you really feel like each of the rich and well-developed characters are right there telling you their story.  I especially loved Cicero’s voice (and Tom’s) but Cicero – he holds a special place in my heart and Tristan just GOT that… so awesome!

For fans of the author, this is a series you’ll adore, if you haven’t picked up one of her stories yet, you’re absolutely missing out on greatness.

I highly recommend this to fans of great narrations, paranormal romances, historical romances, mysteries and great writing.

5 of 5 stars

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Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Hexbreaker-Audiobook/B01JJBT4B6/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1471216454&sr=1-1

Categories
4 stars Actor/Theatre adult - 18+ Angst Level Bi-Sexual Book Dancer Dreamspinner Exploration Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Historical Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Rent Boy

Flying Fish (Sword and Silk Book 1) by Sedonia Guillone

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/flying-fish-by-sedonia-guillone-7363-b

flying-fishBlurb

 

In eighteenth century Japan, during the golden age of samurai and of the Kabuki theater, young actors known as “flying fish” traveled the countryside, performing for audiences by day and giving their bodies to their samurai patrons at night.

Genji Sakura is one such flying fish, yet he dreams of the day he’ll find the man he can give his heart to and leave the loneliness of his itinerant life behind. Though he loves theater, he doesn’t love every part of his profession, especially some of the patrons. So when a handsome ronin, or masterless samurai, comes upon him stealing some solitude for a bath in a hot spring and their encounter turns passionate and profoundly erotic, Genji’s surprised and delighted.

Daisuke Minamoto’s past fills his life with a bitterness that grips his soul and makes him dangerous. Yet his passion takes him when he spies on a graceful young man bathing naked in a hot spring. He has always loved women but he can’t deny the call of his heart or his baser interests.

After an afternoon of sexual bliss, his heart and soul are tormented and torn. Keeping this miraculous lover will require giving up the one thing that has kept him alive for years: his hatred for the lord who murdered his wife. If he loves another, how will he go on and who will he become?

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices. This book was previously published and re-released with Ai Press.

Review

For fans of historical, and culturally unique m/m romance – this will hit all your buttons.

The author really made me “feel” the era/locale/history of the story. Poor Genji is essentially a slave to his place in society with no hope but he finds freedom in his dancing. When the previously “straight” Daisuke finds him bathing one day, he is caught in an unexpected desire.

Culturally, it’s not that they are two men, but who they are in their class creates the tension for this short story.

This was very beautifully written and (as far as I know) felt accurate.

Though the new cover is gorgeous, I think the older cover did a better job of setting the reader up – as far as what to expect from the story. There is nothing modern about this and the new cover feels a bit too modern for the story.12896333

4 of 5 stars

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Categories
5 stars adult - 18+ Alternate World Angst Level Audiobook Author Provided coming of age DA Exploration Gay Heat Index Historical Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Magic Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Virgin

Treasure Audiobook by Kim Fielding by Joel Leslie

audiobookreviewAudible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Treasure-Audiobook/B01HZLG1E0/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1468561243&sr=1-1

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Julian Massey has always been sickly. When the young man’s parents send him to the seaside town of Urchin Cove to recuperate, he finds himself stranded in a tiny cabin with only the quirky local inhabitants for company. Then a storm blows through, and he finds an unexpected discovery washed up on the beach: an unconscious man.
After stealing a treasure, Kit Archer is taken prisoner by a ruthless pirate, Captain Booth. When a storm hits the pirate ship, Kit is able to escape, but not without serious injuries. Jules nurses him back to health, and friendship grows into desire. But Captain Booth is bound to come in search of his treasure and the man who stole it.
In a world with dragons, sprites, and wizards, it’s going to take more than a little magic for Jules and Kit to find lasting happiness together.

Review

In a world that feels like Victorian England but instead of horse drawn carriages, we have dragons, and each village has at least one mage to keep things a bit magical, Julian Massey is the youngest son of a wealthy businessman. For whatever reason, he’s always been sickly and a disappointment to his father. If he knew what fantasies Julian had, he’d probably be even more disappointed in him.
At the suggestion of his family physician, Julian spends the summer holiday in a cabin on the beach. It’s rustic and for the first time in his life Julian is at his own loose ends. But instead of turning around and going home, he finds he enjoys doing for himself and the outdoors becomes a refuge instead of a scary place. He even begins to make friends with the eccentric townfolk. One night a storm blows in and in the morning Julian finds a sick man washed to shore, Kit. He nurses him to health and finds way more than he was looking for.

Kit is not just some lost sailor, but an escapee from the evil pirates off shore… and a mercenary and thief. But Kit has no harm for Julian only love until the evil pirate returns.

**

OOOOO! Such a delightful story! We get Julian’s return to himself through time spent on his own and then his discovery of love with Kit and his finding friends and loyalty with the townspeople. In addition we get pirates, too! And sword fights! And adventure!
This story literally has it all, romance, adventure and a really touching story about a man finding himself at last.
I loved this so much. Kim Fielding is a GIFTED writer and her stories are not only deliciously romantic, but also a bit moving and thought provoking. This reminded me – a bit – of her fabulous story “Brute”. Someone misunderstood but with a beautiful heart.
There’s just enough smexy times to make this a bit of a steamy read as well, but it’s the ending and the epic battle scene that seal the deal.

Highly Recommended

5 of 5 stars

Audio

Joel Leslie does an amazing job with the fairy-tale like story. The voices he chose for the townspeople were spot on and hysterical. He also managed to give a perfectly evil voice to the dreaded pirate boss and yet it didn’t feel like a cartoon. The timing, editing and emotions were well done and highly contributed to my enjoyment of this story.

5 of 5 stars

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4.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Alternate World Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age DA Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Exploration Gay Heat Index Hidden Lovers Historical Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Magic Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Paranormal Speculative Fiction Steam Punk Virgin

Clockwork Tangerine Audiobook by Rhys Ford Narrated by Greg Tremblay

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The British Empire reigns supreme, and its young Queen Victoria has expanded her realm to St. Francisco, a bustling city of English lords and Chinese ghettos. St. Francisco is a jewel in the Empire’s crown and as deeply embroiled in the conflict between the Arcane and Science as its sister city, London – a very dark and dangerous battle.
Marcus Stenhill, Viscount of Westwood, stumbles upon that darkness when he encounters a pack of young bloods beating a man senseless. Westwood’s duty and honor demand he save the man, but he’s taken aback to discover the man is Robin Harris, a handsome young inventor indirectly responsible for the death of Marcus’s father.
Living in the shadows following a failed coup, Robin devotes his life to easing others’ pain, even though his creations are considered mechanical abominations of magicks and science. Branded a deviant and a murderer, Robin expects the viscount to run as far as he can – and is amazed when Marcus reaches for him instead.

Review

Westwood (Aka Marcus Stenhill) finds a man being beaten nearly to death in an alley one night and saves him. Little does he know he’s rescued the notorious “toy maker”, a scientist punished for blending science and magic, a man whose creation, in fact, killed Westwood’s own father.

Robin (aka the “toy maker”) is constantly fighting against a society that doesn’t understand him or his work. He’s punished for being a “sodomite” and for his work, but he won’t stop because people are helped by his inventions.

After saving Robin and learning more about him, Westwood can’t help but fall in love…but how in the world would that work in this society and will Robin return the feelings?

**

So I’m not a fan of Steam Punk but I’m a huge fan of Rhys and Greg so I had to take this opportunity to check out this audiobook, even though I was a bit worried.

I shouldn’t have worried.

Rhys fills this short story full of magic, poetry, humor and love. Poor Robin is so misunderstood, a man ahead of his time, and it’s obvious that once someone learns what his true heart is, they can’t help but love him. Westwood wastes no time holding a grudge and we move quickly from the point of the story where he might hate Robin to a point where he really understands him instead.

Though this is a very short story we get a lot of world building, a fair bit of crazy contraptions and magic, some humor, a few heart string pulling feels, a bit of passion and, all in all, a delightful little romance.

I loved the grandmother and felt the believability of these two having a relationship in this time period was really well explained.

Greg, as always, does a wonderful job with the narration – giving us an unobtrusive British accent – more a hint than full blown- and he absolutely added to my overall enjoyment of this story.

For fans of the genre I think you’ll love this, for people out there like me – maybe a bit scared to try it – don’t be. It was really sweet and wonderful and worth the exploration.

For both the story and the narration 4.5 of 5 stars

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4.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Author Provided Book Gay Historical m/m Mid level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Tracy

The Duke in Denial: Scandal in Sussex, Book 1 Written by: Alexandra Ainsworth Narrated by: Joel Leslie

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Sebastian Lewis never expected to become a duke. But with the sudden deaths of his cousin and uncle, Sebastian’s position changes. He is determined to fulfill his new responsibilities with grace, even if it means remarrying, and even if the attractions of women, so often lauded by poets, fail to interest him.

Captain William Carlisle, newly returned from India, is elated when he meets Sebastian. Nobody knows of his inclinations, but his harrowing experiences in battle have prompted him to reach for the type of companionship he longs for. He thinks Sebastian might feel an attraction as well, but to his dismay, he discovers that Sebastian is courting his sister, Dorothea.

After a semi-arranged engagement and a disconcerting romantic tangle with William, Sebastian escapes London to look after his manor, only to face mysterious thefts, a headless ghost, and the arrival of his fiancée, her brother, and his family. Sebastian’s new estate sits on the south coast, England’s most vulnerable location, and Napoleon has set his sights on conquering the area. Amid this growing turmoil, Sebastian must sort out his feelings for his fiancée’s brother and keep his home safe…and determine if he has the courage to reach for his own happiness in the process.

This is a gay regency historical romance.
Audiobook Review:
The story begins in London with Sebastian Lewis on his way to a ball hosted by his Aunt Beatrice. He is to meet his fiance for the first time. Sebastian has been given the title of Duke of Somerset because his cousin Lewis has passed away. A gust of wind blows his top hat off his head and into the street. He tries to chase after his hat when somehow it ends up in a tree. He attempts to climb the tree and is interrupted by a man, who with the slightest touch leaves Sebastian breathless. William gallantly retrieves his hat and the two head to a tavern to enjoy a drink.
It is while they are at the ball that they learn of each other’s identities. William and Sebastian are instantly attracted to each other and William is dismayed to learn that not only is Sebastian a Duke but he is also betrothed to William’s sister Dorothea.
This story has a little bit of everything. Mystery, intrigue, romance and a lot of internal struggles due to Sebastian’s sense of duty and William’s longing for Sebastian.
There are a lot of things I really liked about this story, the realistic portrayal of Sebastian’s inner conflict about his attraction to William, Sebastian’s unwavering honor in upholding his duty, and William’s acceptance of himself. I really loved Sebastian’s Aunt Beatrice (she was amazing), and Sir Ambrose as the villian.
The story itself seemed to drag a bit in the beginning but towards the end the action picks up and moves at a faster pace. I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first part.
Now for the narration. Joel Leslie did such a fantastic job with his narration. His voice is very smooth and I really was able to enjoy all of the distinct “voices” for each character. No one sounded the same and it was so easy to follow along in the story. Joel has such a smooth tone and his pacing was spot on. I absolutely loved his voice for William. William’s voice is a little deeper than Sebastian’s and I was able to distinguish between the two very easily. Joel did a great job of highlighting William’s strength of character and also his frustration in not being allowed to love who he wants. I could hear William’s hurt when Sebastian would constantly pull away from him. There were times during the more romantic scenes where his voice would dip low and I really could feel the emotion that he was portraying.
I enjoyed Joel’s narration of William. I loved the accent and tone especially, like I mentioned earlier, when his voice would deepen.
Sebastian as a character frustrated me throughout the book. He seemed to run hot and cold although I think he is just overwhelmed by his feelings for William. Sebastian realizes that he has always appreciated the male form and maybe a time or two his eyes lingered a little bit too long on men. The time period also plays a big part in the story. Homosexuals were often arrested and hanged and when societal status means everything, a whole family’s reputation could be ruined. Sebastian is duty bound and is quite willing to put his feelings for William aside and go through with the marriage to Dorothea. He is willing to live a lie in order to fulfill that duty and that is very sad but very true to the time period the story takes place in.
William, on the other hand, knows who he is and what he wants and that appealed to me.
I have to say that Aunt Beatrice is one of my favorite characters in the story. She was funny and very supportive of her nephew Sebastian. I loved Joel’s portrayal of her. I couldn’t help but picture the actress Maggie Smith. He really captured her character so well I couldn’t help but smile every time she spoke. She was a true delight.
I highly recommend this narrator. He is very engaging, has a smooth voice and a wonderful tone to his narration. And I think the best aspect of Joel’s narration is that his “voices” are all very distinct which is a must when listening to a story.

After finishing the story I was a little curious about the narrator and investigated a bit. I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that I had listened to him before. I would never have put two and two together because in this particular story he had an American accent and I wondered to myself, is he from England or America? It turns out he grew up in a British commonwealth with American parents. What a surprise! I definitely will be looking for other audiobooks by Mr. Leslie.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Duke-in-Denial-Audiobook/B01CIJ39V2/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1462251543&sr=1-1