Whiskers of a Chance by Tempeste O’Riley

whiskersBlurb

Jason Grant runs his own IT business from home, owns his own home, and has the best friend he could imagine. What he doesn’t have, or believe he will ever have, is love. When Jason catches a glimpse of his new neighbor on moving day, his libido ignites and his fascination in piqued. He even manages to concoct an excuse to go over and meet the man who makes him hope and want for more than he has in years.

Keith Skyler is a shifter in a world where his kind is known to only a few, but they don’t often mix and they never mate. Keith has been hoping for a mate since before he can remember, but gay lynx don’t have true mates. As far as he knows, they don’t have mates at all. However, while moving his little family across Seattle—and away from their tribe—his reality tips and spins more than he thought possible.

When these two men meet over a dish of five-cheese broccoli-noodle casserole, sparks fly. Who knew a welcome to the neighborhood gift could give both of them their chance at love?

Review

Keith is a lynx shifter who suffers under the thumb of his autocratic father, who is also his alpha. In 3 years he will have a chance to stand on his own and challenge him, but for now he must either follow his rules or work around him.

Keith is positive he has no mate, as far as he knows there are no gay shifters, so he’s almost worried when he scents something “mate-like” on the air as he’s moving into his new house. He’s ecstatic to find that it is his mate and his mate is a man!

Jared is a little bit gun-shy in the love department. He’s been burned in the past and has a low self esteem as a result. When he spies his new neighbor moving in next door, he wants to be friendly and introduce himself. He is overwhelmed when he realizes that not only is this hot guy gay, but he’s totally into him!

There are quite a few things these guys have to work through to make it to their HEA. First there’s Keith’s very conservative (and controlling, evil, manipulative) father. There’s the whole “Introducing a human into the world of paranormals” and there is Jared’s resistance to a relationship based on the “mate bond” and his own low self-esteem.

But… love does conquer all and after some fierce fights, some fantastic alliances and some really hot sex… they do get their HEA.

**

I love shifter romances! The “mine”, that dramatic pull of attraction, the animal-like qualities that get explored, the magic… so much fun and creativity!

This follows a fairly common theme. Meet, mine, how to explain, oh-no not a human, it doesn’t matter, mine, etcetera. I did like the addition of the vampire-friend Sasha. He was fun and loyal and spunky and managed to force these guys into communicating when it looked like they were going to get stuck in the middle of a “Big Misunderstanding”.

The father was super-evil and it was nice that he got beaten down, so that was pretty satisfying. I enjoyed the “uber-skills” Keith ends up having – I love it when authors use the shifter element and actually do something with them as shifters!

I wasn’t super-impressed by anything being new or really unique, but it was a solid, fun, sexy read. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of shifter romance.

4 of 5 stars

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Copy provided by Dreamspinner Press

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6828

Solo by Carol Lynne

soloBlurb

Sam “Solo” Braun lives by one truth, the Grave Diggers Motorcycle Club above all. The creed has served him well, giving him the only real family he’s ever known.He would die for his brothers and them for him, but they don’t know he prefers men over women. Coming out to a group of men who fear no one isn’t high on Solo’s priority list, especially because he’s never indulged in more than one night stands.

Everything changes after one night with Eric James. For the first time, Solo can’t stop thinking about a single night he’d spent with a man. When fate intervenes, Solo comes face to face with his blue-eyed obsession only to find out Eric is a cop. Solo hates cops, and so do his brothers in the club. However, Solo decides to gamble everything and spend more time with Eric under the guise of getting information.

Falling in love with a cop is a very dangerous proposition for a man in Solo’s position, so why can’t he walk away?

Review

Solo goes to a bar full of guys in polo shirts knowing he’ll get laid. Sure enough he makes eye contact with a super hot guy with denim blue eyes. He dubs the man “Blue” and they agree to go back to Blue’s house for the night.

The sex is off the charts but Solo doesn’t do relationships – being a motorcycle club means he can’t be gay.

Blue, who is really Eric the cop, never expects to see Solo again, so he’s shocked when he runs into the man while doing some undercover work. They agree to work together to solve a case involving kids and drugs, and while the case is being investigated they agree to a “relationship”.

The men can’t stay apart and feelings get involved. What will it take to keep these guys together when being gay could get Solo killed and neither man can be seen with the other “professionally”.

**

This is a fast read, not very long, but full of steam. Solo is rough around the edges but willing to be vulnerable. Blue is not the preppy guy Solo thinks and together they have more in common than not.

I loved the emotional connection these guys made and how gritty the story felt, it seemed more “realistic” to me.

If you like alpha males, gritty romance, motorcycles and “tough love”… this is for you.

(FWIW I loved the old cover!)

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for review

Amazon Presents
http://www.amazon.com/Solo-Grave-Diggers-MC-Book-ebook/dp/B014L9PYUQ/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1443632511&sr=8-7&keywords=solo+carol

The Happily Ever After Mating Agency Presents: Kitten and Puppy (Book 4) by Jane Wallace-Knight

happily kitten puppyBlurb

There have always been conflicts between shifters of different species but these were supposed to be better times. Cheetah shifter Henry Dale was just sixteen when his entire coalition was burned alive. Having to stay with the neighboring wolf pack should have been terrifying for him, especially as one of them was responsible for setting the fire, but meeting the alpha’s son, Will Gray, made him feel safer than ever.

When the council came and took Henry away, deciding he would be better off with his own kind, he not only lost his best friend, but also his first love. On the night of his thirtieth birthday he decides on a whim to sign up to a mating agency, hoping that maybe he can find love again. He never thought he would see Will again but fate, it seems, has other plans.

Review

Jane Wallace-Knight has a delightful series where paranormals with unique situations can join a mating service that helps them to find their mates. It’s not “Mate” with a capital M, as in fate, but rather that perfect someone to fill your life.

In this case its two men who knew each other as boys, each seeking the other (subconsciously or consciously). They had made a strong connection as teenagers but were kept apart by leaders who viewed inter-species mating as wrong.

Despite time, distance and a vengeful enemy, these two “opposites” manage to find love.

**

I just love this series! It’s sweet and sentimental with a dash of sexy and sometimes some intrigue.

The author gives us two perfect MCs who have to fight to find one another and then fight for the right to stay together. It’s a light, low angst, fun read that I recommend to all fans of shifter romance.

(Look here for my review of book 3 in the series: http://kimichanexperience.com/the-happily-ever-after-mating-agency-the-dragon-prince-by-jane-wallace-knight/)

4.25 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Siren Publishing Presents

http://www.amazon.com/Happily-After-Mating-Agency-Presents-ebook/dp/B015NIJ2K2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1443246183&sr=1-1

Going Up Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Paul Woodson

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Blurb

Every dreary day, Zach Driscoll takes the elevator from the penthouse apartment of his father’s building to his coldly charmed life where being a union lawyer instead of a corporate lawyer is an act of rebellion. Every day, that is, until the day the elevator breaks and Sean Mallory practically runs into his arms. Substitute teacher Sean Mallory is everything Zach is not – poor, happy, and goofily charming. With a disarming smile and a penchant for drama, Sean laughs his way into Zach’s heart one elevator ride at a time.

Review

Zach is thirty-something. He’s a union lawyer living in a high rise owned by his father. He’s gay but only the rent boys he frequents knows that about him. He’s socially awkward and shy and …he’s lonely. Very lonely.

Sean is a substitute teacher also living in a high rise, but he’s got 5 roommates! He’s colorful, quirky, out-going and spontaneous. He sometimes dates, but mostly works – trying to make ends meet.

They meet when the express elevator breaks down and Zach is forced onto the regular elevator that runs for those not in the pent-house. Zach is enthralled by Sean. Sean is color in Zach’s black and white world. Heat to his cold, chaos to his order.

Over a year these two meet for thirty seconds of “dating” on the elevator. It takes a lot of effort. If Zach is too early or late he’ll never catch a glimpse of Sean and he has to ride Sean’s elevator which isn’t his norm. In fact he gets a bit conflicted when he makes friends with Jace and Quent (yay!) who also ride the express elevator so he splits his time between the two elevators.

He managed to catch his friends on the two days (because apparently Jace was made out of clockwork parts and would never be late, rushed, or anything but perfectly attired) and maybe, once or twice a week, Sean managed to make it into the elevator on time.

 

But he doesn’t approach Sean for more. Sean has to invite Zach over for a party for the two to actually start something real.

Zach sees Sean as his knight in shining armor, come to rescue him from his tower of loneliness and bring him to the land of the loving.

Fortunately, Sean is a knight in shining armor and he does and it’s wonderful!

**

This story is quirky, funny, sweet, tender and heart-breaking. My heart broke for the inner dialog in Zach’s head.   He’s so lonely and feels so useless. Sean is his polar opposite and they mesh so beautifully together.

I love Amy’s “light” fare, because she always gives us at least a taste of the angst, but without the horrible separation/death/bad decision making/curse that the heavier stuff includes. The chemistry is pretty hot, but mostly it’s tender and touching. Sean isn’t a perfect model of a man, but he’s absolutely worshipped by Zach. Zach who probably fits that model definition to a “T” but he’s so broken on the inside.

There was no coming up for air, there was only Sean, who tasted like coffee and magic and unicorns and knights in geeky armor and some sort of gravy he’d had for dinner.

 

The secondary characters are superb. Zach’s secretary and her girlfriend are a hoot! We get to see a glimpse of my all time favs Jace and Quent and then there’s all of Sean’s roomies living in a two bedroom with 6 people!

This is vaguely a holiday piece as there are some Christmas scenes but really, it’s wonderful any time of the year.

My only complaint was that I’d have liked more time with them together working on their relationship. I’d have loved to see more of Zach transformation from lonely shy guy to coupley “out” guy, but the ending was terribly sweet anyway.

“Happy. I’m happy. I’ve lived my whole life and not known what this feels like.”

Sean kissed him, and pulled back. “That’s awful,” he said, a little hitch in his voice. “We’re going to have to fix that.”

 

Audio

The audio says it’s by Paul Woodson, but you’ll recognize the voice of Philip Alces who does Amy’s Knitter’s series. I’m not sure what the deal is with the name, but it’s gotta be the same guy. I LOVE what he does here. His emotions are spot on and he absolutely brought Zach and Sean to life for me.

I pretty much adore any of Amy’s books, but this one along with Gambling Men go near the top as some of her easiest reads. Just fun and sweetness and gooey happy endings – huzzah!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4867

Sleigh Ride (Minnesota Christmas Book 2) by Heidi Cullinan

sleigh rideBlurb

The way to a man’s heart is on a sleigh.

Arthur Anderson doesn’t want anything to do with love and romance, and he certainly doesn’t want to play Santa in his mother’s library fundraising scheme. He knows full well what she really wants is to hook him up with the town’s lanky, prissy librarian.

It’s clear Gabriel Higgins doesn’t want him, either—as a Santa, as a boyfriend, as anyone at all. But when Arthur’s efforts to wiggle out of the fundraiser lead to getting to know the man behind the storytime idol, he can’t help but be charmed. The least he can do is be neighborly and help Gabriel find a few local friends.

As their fiery arguments strike hotter sparks, two men who insist they don’t date wind up doing an awful lot of dating. And it looks like the sleigh they both tried not to board could send them jingling all the way to happily ever after.

Warning: Contains a feisty librarian, a boorish bear, small town politics, deer sausage, and a boy who wants a doll.

Review

We met Arthur in book one. He was Paul’s f*ck buddy, he likes his sex rough, he’s a ginger, “pocket bear”, rough around the edges, not looking for a “partner” but he doesn’t like to be alone either.

Gabriel is the new librarian. He’s tall, geeky, awkward and in no way interested in Arthur.

Arthur’s mother works with Gabe at the library and schemes to get these guys working together in the hopes that sparks might fly between them, romantically. It’s a preposterous notion – they couldn’t be more different – but somehow… they connect – and how!

It is far from smooth sailing between them. Gabe has so many issues, including trust, and he needs special handling. Arthur is like a bull in a china shop when emotions are involved so it seems pretty hopeless.

They rally around the library fund-raiser and Arthur’s nephew and find that – if they’re both really brave – they might just have what it takes to make things between them work.

**

This book resonated with me on so many levels. It was amazing. I absolutely laughed then cried then swooned… it truly affected me very strongly.

I think Gabe’s character was the most compelling – for me. He feels such shame about his desires. He wants so badly to be the champion for the under-dog and when it comes to others he can be so fierce, but when it comes to defending himself and his wants and needs, he crumples.

My most favorite part of this book revolves around “William’s Doll” a story for children wherein a boy wants a doll and his folks won’t let him have it. Oh. My. God. I bawled! The way Gabriel handled it was absolutely amazing. I would have loved to have such a strong advocate in my library growing up. He was so brave. Bringing “big city” ideas to the sticks and letting people see that caring and nurturing are not exclusively feminine traits. (Or if they are, then we all have both types of characters in us.)

I also loved his vision of what a library should be. Being a library lover, I found his “new and improved” vision to be astounding. To look at the library as more than a stacking place for books and see it as a place for disseminating information of all types… amazing!

Another really touching scene was when Arthur and Gabe connected over graphic novels. Again, another “hidden” prejudice that gets “outed”. The love of literature can really extend past our traditional definitions.

And the smexy times. Though I connected the least with the things Arthur and Gabe liked to share in bed, I really appreciated Arthur’s no-nonsense approach to it. “Sex is sex”. If it feels good to both partners – do it. No need to perseverate on it and feel badly about it. So down to earth and such good advice.

“Next time I’m gonna lick you.” Arthur flashed his tongue over the nipple tip as he roughly palmed Gabriel’s dick, tugging his own out of his pants and thrusting them together, heated, velvet flesh. “For an hour. Make you crazy. Make you beg, honey. Let you say no to me, then I’ll makeyou say yes.” He humped, sliding their cocks together, sucking on Gabriel’s chest. “Because you don’t want me to stop, do you, baby? Say it. Hump me and say it.”

Finally – the ending. It has to rank – for me- up in the top ten most romantic endings I’ve ever read. It was absolutely wonderful and ooey and gooey and tear-jerking and perfect!

Gabriel bit his lip and closed his eyes, but the tears spilled out. He could feel everyone around him, feel them waiting, hoping, worrying.

Loving him. Just the way he was.

I think each book in this series can be read on it’s own, but I think it’s best read in order. This is (by far) my favorite in the series and I can’t recommend it, the series or the author enough.

6 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Samhain Publishing Presents

http://www.heidicullinan.com/sleigh-ride

What Can Be by Mary Calmes

what can beBlurb

Thirteen years ago, Eli went on a summer trip with his mother and never came back. Now, existing in a new life as Jacob Somerville, he’s again running from fear and memories, only to end up where he started. As Jacob struggles to reconnect with his father and brothers, he realizes that his lover, Craig Zhao, was the only thing filling his empty heart and standing between him and ghosts of the past. It will take the power of love—from his family, from Craig, and from himself—for Jacob to see that his life truly is filled with the promise of what can be.

Review

Eli/Jake has a reason to go home, but he’s scared. He doesn’t know who he is now. He’s run all his life and now he can’t decide the next step, so he cuts all ties, even though he has a happy life and love in Chicago.

Craig won’t accept that Jake wants out. He knows Jake. Knows all his secrets. Knows he needs Craig’s help.

When Eli/Jake finally faces his family after 13 years of absence, there’s a chance he could lose it all, or finally be free.

**

This is a no-holds-barred emotional read. Eli’s past is harsh and the love that he shares with Craig is special.

It was hard reading about what happened, and so many times I was tempted to rush to the end to see what he’s hiding, but the way it’s laid out is perfect – of course – it’s Mary!

Craig and Eli/Jake are a wonderful couple and I wish we’d gotten more of their story – but I almost think it would have been even more painful to have it drawn out. Seeing this – the pinnacle moment – was hard enough.

“You look at me and I feel like I could do anything just because you love me. We fit so perfect. I mean, I just have to see you, and I know I’m home.”

I love all of Mary’s work, and this is one of her more dark stories, showing us her breadth of talent.

I highly recommend this and the author, in this case, especially if you are in the mood for a happy ending but a darker story.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=62_519&products_id=2625

 

 

 

My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair and Other Twisted Tales by Abigail Roux, Andrea Speed, and Anne Tenino

MyHauntedBlender_500x750_0Die Laughing.

A collection of not-so-chilling tales of love and laughter from three of the genre’s masters of pulp.

Blurb for The Bone Orchard:

In The Bone Orchard, by Abigail Roux, Pinkerton investigator Ezra Johns and US Marshal Ambrose Shaw have a lot to learn about life—and the afterlife—in their quest to bring a vicious murderer to justice. Fortunately, they’ve got all the time in the world to figure it out.

Review:

Ambrose Shaw is after a serial killer in the old west when he gets shot and ends up haunting the spot where he died, trying to bring the killer to justice.

Ezra Johns follows Shaw to bring the killer to the gallows but then falls victim to the killer’s ghost.

In the time between the trial and his death, Ezra falls in love with Ambrose and then joins him in the afterlife, eternally fighting the ghost of the killer.

With a nice cross-over twist, we see some familiar faces as the relatives of Ezra facing danger and it’s up to Ezra and Ambrose to save them.

**
I loved this story. It was sweet and sentimental, funny and exciting, somewhat historical, a lot fantastical, and just a joy to read.

If you’re a fan of Abigail Roux you won’t want to miss this, nor will you if you love westerns and ghosts.

I give it a 4.5 of 5 dinging it a little only because I wanted a different ending for our boys. Was it still happy? Probably…depends on your way of thinking. ☺

Blurb for Horny

In Horny, by Anne Tenino, a group of supernatural law enforcers enlist the help of a human, Ryan Caulfield, to catch Zeus: the god voted Least Likely to Keep It in His Pants. But there’s more to Ryan than even he knows, and the satyr searching for Zeus is tempting him with far more than simple justice.

Review:

Ryan owns a bar in the middle of nowhere. One night a bunch of demigods shows up looking for Zeus. They set up a trap to catch him and stop him from selling erectile dysfunction potions. In the meantime a mysterious Oracular guides Ryan and Leander to become more than just a one-night stand and in fact shows Ryan that he may be more than just a barkeep.

**
Let me start by saying that in general I love Anne Tenino, have read most of her books and loved them. I started this story super psyched as a result. When I finished, I was left scratching my head.

The imagination is there. The characters are there. The plot is there. The execution… isn’t. I got confused by a lot and this is a short story.

I understood why Ryan was guarded and didn’t want to get involved with Leander, he was looking for permanence not a one-night-stand– but then when more of his history is revealed, it didn’t make sense, and his whole “too sensitive” thing never made sense.

Leander, who should have wanted that fast commitment and instant love, didn’t, and that didn’t make sense, given what we learn about his god house.

The other demigods’ characters were also a little confusing and I wasn’t sure there role in the story. They just muddied the water for me.

I think that this story would have come across better if the author had either edited it down more tightly, focusing on the main characters more, or elongated it to a full-length novel or long novella.

I give a 3.5 of 5 stars because it was funny and sweet and I really liked the idea, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations of what this author can do.

Blurb for: In City of Monsters, by Andrea Speed

An ex-investigator turned some-kind-of-shifter (he doesn’t know, but with his luck, it’s probably nothing cool) is hired to find a missing reverse tooth fairy in the hellish dimension of Dev. But even simple things aren’t easy for a guy with more vices than virtues, and his situation gets even more complex when a hot newcomer to Dev with a taste for danger joins him on the case.

Review:

Hunter is an unknown were who meets up with a newbie unknown were (humans who are infected with magic by an animal, sent to another dimension, Dev, and live out there lives as the wereanimal they were infected by.) Neither Sakari nor Hunter know what they are, but they find out and it’s hysterical.

Hunter’s job is to find things, right now he’s finding a reverse tooth-fairy’s twin brother to pay off gambling debts to a werehippo mob boss.

**

This is a hysterical short story, mostly about the city itself and a teeny tiny bit about Hunter and Sakari. There is like, one sentence of romance, and the rest is just hilarious world-building and nonsense.

Though I enjoyed the unique and funny nature of this story, I wasn’t exactly sure why it was included in this anthology, unless it’s meant to be a pre-cursor to a new series or something.

I liked it for what it was and give it a 3 of 5 stars.

**
Overall, the anthology was pretty dang funny, there were some ridiculously sweet parts (Bone Orchard), interesting worlds (City and Horny) and very creative uses of appliances (City).

I give it a 3.5 of 5 stars and I would definitely recommend it.

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Copy provided by Riptide Publishing

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/collections/my-haunted-blender