Audiobook: The Solstice Prince By SJ Himes Narrated by Joel Leslie

Audible Link
https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Solstice-Prince-Audiobook/B07CH442X7?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=ZY1S6912HW5YT2E02T5Y&

Blurb
Rescued from slavers, healer novice Jaime Buchanan finds himself alone and free in Pyrderi, a kingdom of magic, mythical creatures, and a culture as open and kind as his homeland was cruel and close-minded.

Despite his rescue, Jaime is not left without scars, both mental and physical. Traumatized by his experience and hiding his gift, Jaime struggles to earn his place in the kitchens of Angharad Palace, the heart of Taliesin City. His former life as a student of the healing arts leaves him at a disadvantage in the kitchens, and his damaged state is becoming more apparent by the day.

One day, when necessity and fate intervene, Jaime meets someone unexpected—Prince Maxim, youngest son of the Pyrderian king, a sword master and a devastatingly kind man. Unaccustomed to powerful people with compassion and heart, Jaime flees. A cascade of events reveals Jaime’s hidden talents of healing, and he finds himself not in chains, but at the beginning of a new life.

This swift change of fortune opens Jaime up to new possibilities, including a smitten prince who cautiously courts Jaime, easing him away from his fears and reminding him that compassion and love can make him strong. The winter solstice is quickly approaching, and Prince Maxim shows Jaime the enjoyment and excitement to be found in a land that embraces the ice and cold, and the mysteries of all things magical. He learns to see the man under the royal mantle, and Maxim is more than even Jaime suspected.

The winter solstice is nigh when tragedy strikes, and Jaime learns that his past of grief and sorrow can be a pillar of strength for his solstice prince. If there is one thing that Jaime believes above all else, it is in the healing power of love.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously by Beth)

SJ Himes has created a Cinderella romance. A young man who has been enslaved is rescued and brought to the palace. He catches the eye of the young prince and they slowly develop a romance between the two of them.

The story meanders through the 2 MC’s daily lives as SJ Himes builds a world where what’s acceptable in one kingdom is not in the next. We are teased with mythical creatures, the magic of healing and the final circle of life. It is also a slow build up to an intimate scene between Jamie and Maxim, and it is much more sweet than hot

A fairy tale to allow you to dream of a happily ever after.

Review by Morgan

I agree with Beth. This is a light, fluffy romance with a lot of heart.
Our characters develop personally and as a couple fairly rapidly over this short-ish story but there is a lot of magic and world building as well.

I look forward to more from this world.

Audio

Joel Leslie turns what I would consider to be a good story into an AMAZING story. He breathes in more depth and emotion to the characters as well as adds a layer of uniqueness that I didn’t feel in the written words.

Not to say the story was bad – it wasn’t – but Joel just adds to the overall enjoyment by a factor of 10!

Highly recommended in this format!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Release Day Review: Nudging Fate by E.J. Russell

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/nudging-fate-by-ej-russell-9553-b

Blurb

An Enchanted Occasions Story
Not exactly a match made in Valhalla.
Half-norn event planner Anders Skuldsson is under strict orders from Asgard not to meddle with Fate. But with Enchanted Occasions’ latest booking—a competition for the hand of Faerie’s one true prince—crashing around his ears, it’s really difficult to toe that particular line. But if Andy pretends to be a contender for the prince…. It’s only temporary, so Odin can’t blame him. Right?
Conall of Odstone’s half-brother, Prince Reyner, was supposed to choose a mate before being crowned and wed. But the idiot left Con to impersonate him. Again.
When Con meets Andy, his anger turns to desire… and despair. Even if Andy forgives him for his imposture, how could someone eligible for a prince’s hand settle for the court outcast? And the double-deception isn’t their only obstacle. Unless Andy makes the right choice, their fates could be sealed by…well… Fate.

Review

This is a wonderful case of two hidden identities and the not-as-predictable outcome as you might think! I thought this was fun, sweet, a bit sexy and very enjoyable.

The trope is a combo Cinderella/Cyrano and it really worked! I didn’t love the chemistry between these guys as much as some of Russell’s others characters, but they still had some sizzle.

Where the author excels is her world building and her characterizations – I didn’t see big plot holes and I thought the secondary characters really added (without overshadowing the MCs) to the story.

If you like fantasy, fairy tales and secret plot twists – this is for you!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Bad to the Bone by Nicki Bennett

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bad-to-the-bone-by-nicki-bennett-9442-b

Blurb

A second chance at first love—if he has the courage to take it.
Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again.
Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom.
But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.

Review

While I don’t usually like “second chance” books, I really enjoyed this one.

This was very heart-felt, with a real-ish type setting but enough “fantasy” elements to make it feel a bit like Cinderella.

I loved the added touches of making Ricky Native American, as well as rich. The “bad guys” were super bad and I definitely felt like I was reading an old timey romance – with a gay twist!

I thought Alex and Ricky Lee had great chemistry and their story was mostly sweet and little hot. I loved Sam – especially the end scene!

Overall this was exactly what you’d expect for the genre, well-written and a quick sweet read.

3.75 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: High Test by Elizabeth Noble Narrated by Colin Darcy

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/high-test-by-elizabeth-noble-9033-b

Blurb
The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet.

Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect, Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.

The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own

Review

This is a sweet Cinderfella May-December romance. Both Neal and Hayden are lovable genuine characters. The story is told from Hayden’s point of view. Hayden is coming to the end of his studies when he meets Neal at a college function. He enjoyed Neal’s company so much he nearly missed his bus. Neal never gets Hayden’s number. I really enjoyed this take on the fairytale. A slow building romance where they learn more about each other. Hayden never wants Neal’s money, just him. However there was a misunderstanding and Hayden never quite managed to correct Neal and feels guilty about it. I liked the way the age gap works between them, they are well suited in interests and outlook. I’m not sure that the vindictive woman was needed but I suppose there has to be some bumps in the road. Such a charming low angst story.
Colin Darcy is a new to me. I think he does very well portraying Neal’s Indian background without it sounding like a caricature. He also captures Hayden’s youth without making him sound too young. He has a pleasant voice making it very easy listening.

For the second time. This is where the misunderstanding begins

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Finding Mr. Wrong by C. Cochet narrated by Andrew McFerrin

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/finding-mr-wrong-by-charlie-cochet-9292-b

Blurb:

He’s nobody’s definition of Mr. Right—but that might make him perfect.

Matthew Hart is heir to the family fortune and owner of Hart & Home. When a near-death experience has him fretting over the future, he decides he needs a husband, and not just any husband—an appropriate man to protect the Hart legacy. The last thing Matthew expects is to cross paths with Jax Foster, his first love and the boy who crushed his heart when he disappeared.

Jax is unlikely to make Matthew’s list of suitable candidates. Bad boy, vagabond, deep in debt, with a father who can’t keep out of trouble, Jax has nothing to offer—except his heart and a second chance at the romance they never got to explore.

Review: The book has been reviewed previously
https://openskyebookreviews.com/finding-mr-wrong-by-charlie-cochet/

The narrator, Andrew McFerrin, is new to me. He was engaging – providing distinct voices for the characters. He was good with projecting the emotion and humour of the story as well. Overall, the narration was comfortable; I’d listen to the narrator again.
The story was ok, but the narration made me enjoy it more.

3.5 stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Holidays: All Creatures Great and Small (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Kasper Quill

Dreamspinner Press

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

Blurb
Growing up an orphan meant Charlie never celebrated Christmas. He’s committed to making sure his newly adopted cat, Max, doesn’t miss out like he did. Unfortunately, he discovers that giving Max the perfect Christmas might be easier said than done—and not without risk.
Charlie’s landlord, successful and wealthy real estate developer Aemon Scotfield, is charmed by the gorgeous redhead and his shameless alley cat. He finds himself compelled to help orchestrate a memorable celebration for Max—and Charlie—despite the mishaps that seem to just keep coming. As difficult as it will be to pull off the perfect holiday, the real challenge might be walking away when it’s over.

Review
I absolutely loved this story. I was laughing one minute and had tears in my eyes next. Wonderful humour. I loved Charlie. Determined to get himself out of a rut he decided to give his cat Max the kind of Christmas he never had as a child. The way Charlie and Aemon kept meeting was wonderful. Aemon has a sort of loving exasperation towards Charlie and his antics. I can totally see the kind of chaos that could happen in their home. Not the usual Christmas story but that makes it so much more special. This is definitely one I will read again at any time of year. I’ve never read anything by Kasper Quill before but I will certainly look out for more by her.

6 of stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Holidays: The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament(2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Clare London

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

Frankie Faraday is a promising young salesperson at Mason’s Emporium. Bill Mason is his boss, the son of the store’s founder, and the object of Frankie’s long-suffering, deeply devoted crush. Bill is steady and sober; Frankie is frivolous and flaky. Or so they seem to each other, until the night of the annual inventory, when they’re trapped together in the Seasonal Gifts storeroom, with nothing but candy and peppermint schnapps to sustain them until they’re rescued. And then the real truths—and something definitely more intimate—emerge!

 

 

Review

I loved this story, such fun. The story takes place in Masons Department store. Frankie is on of the sales assistants in the Seasonal department, he has a crush on his gorgeous boss Bill Mason. In a wonderful bit of slapstick comedy they get stuck together in a storeroom with no way out. This is where the Christmas magic happens. I love the way Clare has placed a seemingly flighty Franky with uptight Bill. When we see them relax with each other it then becomes clear both are living to perceived expectations rather than being themselves. Dreams can come true with a little courage to go after what you want. Wonderful short story.
5 of 5 stars
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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

 

 

High Test by Elizabeth Noble

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/high-test-by-elizabeth-noble-9033-b

Blurb:

The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet. Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger. The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own.

Review:
This is a cute May/December, cinderfella romance! Neal, older, wealthy guy meets Hayden, a struggling (car) engineering student. They meet and bond over a love of cars at a school function – where Hayden has to leave (without getting Neal’s contact info) to catch the last bus. They meet again and begin a slow romance.
It’s a cute story. They go out on a series of dates, getting to know each other before getting intimate. As Hayden falls for Neal, he needs to clear up the misunderstanding of who he really is, but before he can do so, it blows up in his face. Lucky for Hayden, Neal showed his maturity by making it a non-issue.
The supporting cast, including Steffie, Rick, Nathan and the dogs, round out the story nicely.
There were a few issues (for me) that did not make me love the story: 1. why would Neal, an astute businessman, assume that Hayden was related to the owners of the coffee company that owns the place Hayden worked at? 2. While the romance progressed slowly, it was still a bit surprising that they were already thinking marriage – Hayden had just graduated!

Other than that, it’s a sweet, pretty angst-free, cozy read.

3.75 stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Guardian of Magic by Dominique Frost

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36388756-guardian-of-magic?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

When a god falls in love with a mortal, the entire world begins to change.

“Guardian of Magic” is a passionate paranormal romance with a dash of magic.

Brady is a witch without a familiar, which means that he can’t get a witchery license to practice magic professionally. Just when he’s about to give up on his dream job, he finally does get a familiar, but the little black cat that chooses him is far more than it appears.

Brady’s ordinary-seeming familiar is in fact a god in disguise, an ancient guardian of magic named Malachai who has been watching Brady for a long time… and is determined to make Brady his.

When Malachai asks Brady to become his eternal companion, Brady must decide between the freedom of being a mortal or the burden of immortality. Will immortality be worth it for a love that will last forever?

Review

This was absolutely amazing! This is a “new to me” author, but I’m absolutely going to be looking for them in the future!

For me, a book that I can’t put down will capture me right from the start with a premise that has me hoping/wondering from page one. It will also have some humor, probably an underdog, and mix in some magic/powers – booyah! That’s my kind of story.

Since Brady is getting on in years, he’s been shunned for his lack of familiar. However, there’s a lot more to Brady’s story than that. When he meets Malachai he’s so psyched – but… it’s even better than that because Malachai is a God! Talk about getting more than you baragained for.

His being mated to a God has some unprecedented consequences and we get to see him learn and grow magically as well as personally.

This struck all the right notes with me and I highly recommend it!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Holidays: The Christmas Throwaway Audiobook by RJ Scott Narrated by Sean Crisden

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Christmas-Throwaway-Audiobook/B00OLBK8YC/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1511117032&sr=1-1

Blurb
Christmas is a time for giving – what do you do when no one gives a damn? For Zachary Weston Christmas means sleeping on a churchyard bench in the freezing snow with nothing better in his future. Thrown out of his home for being gay, he is left without money or, it seems, anywhere to go. Until a stranger shows him that some people do give a lot more than a damn. Ben Hamilton is a rookie cop in his small home town. He finds a young throwaway, fresh from the city, sleeping on a bench in the churchyard on a snowy Christmas Eve. Can he be the one to give Zachary his own Christmas miracle

Review
This has always been my go to heartwarming Christmas story both to read and listen to. It is full of hope and the message of kindness. Touching and heartwarming just perfect Christmas fiction. The Characters are believable. Zach is thrown away by his father just before he turns eighteen. Ben finds him sleeping in a churchyard. The gruff way Ben says ‘you can’t sleep here’ sounds wonderful narrated by Sean Chrisden. Ben’s family take Zach in and here he finds the family and the happy ever after he deserves. This stands with the Christmas classics for me and I try to either read or listen to it every year.
I do like the sound of Sean Chrisden’s voice lovely and mellow but at times the narration seemed to be a little fast. This was definitely not enough to spoil my enjoyment
I loved his portrayal of all the characters, especially Zach and Ben. Lovely.

5 of stars out of 5

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Copy Purchased for Review