It’s Not Shakespeare by Amy Lane

ItsNotShakespeareBlurb

College professor James Richards is in a rut and feeling his age. He moved to northern California to escape heartbreak and humiliation, but so far the only good thing to happen to him has been his Boston terrier, Marlowe.

Then James’s toughest student sets him up with her best friend. Rafael Ochoa is worlds apart from James—chronologically, culturally, and philosophically—but he’s also beautiful, kind, and a shot of adrenaline to James’s not-quite-middle-aged heart. Together, the two of them forge a bridge between James’s East Coast sensibilities and Rafael’s West Coast casualness, but can their meeting of the hearts survive James’s lack of faith in happy-ever-after?

This is the prequel to You Can’t Make an Omelet from the DSP’s Halloween Howl Series.

Review

James has run from Maine because he got worked over spectacularly by his ex. He now works as a tenured professor in a small community college in California and he’s feeling each and every one of his 43 (bitter) years. Except… for his dog. He loves his dog and … well… he loves to teach, too.

Rafael is in his late twenties and hasn’t settled down because in his family they don’t believe in “the gay”. So despite his huge heart and hot body, he can’t find someone willing to be with him long-term.

When Rafael’s friend (and James’ student) set the pair up for a cute meet, it’s instant attraction but neither feels the other could possibly be in it long term.
But James can see the big picture and understands that sometimes life is the bridge where you meet and Rafael knows how to be loyal and true and sometimes those cute meets work out into forever.

**

I laughed when I read on GoodReads that this is the “prequel” to the teeny tiny short story from the DSP Halloween anthology. It’s wonderful (so is the Halloween story, but this is like 5 times as long!). James struggles so hard not to be a sad sack, but his heart is still broken and (more importantly?) so is his pride. When he sees the “underwear model” Rafi – it’s so wonderful how he’s willing to at least let go long enough to give it a try.

I loved that Rafi was so blunt and open with his feelings. We didn’t have to do the whole “men who won’t talk trying to figure their shit out” thing, because both men were fairly transparent. And… there were still problems to be worked out – real problems- and prejudices that had to be left behind.

The smexy times in this book are scorching and the humor is practically on every page but the most outstanding part of this story is the deep emotion and vulnerability that both guys show – pretty much from the start.

I loved this story very much and if you haven’t yet – I urge you to look it up!

(Plus – YOWZA that cover! Ai- papi!)

5 of 5 stars

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Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2589

Closet Confession by Kindle Alexander

closet confessionsBlurb

This stand alone version includes Bonus Scenes adding an additional ten thousand words to this novella. Closet Confession was previously released in the Night Shift Anthology.

Dr. Derek Babineaux is intelligent, dedicated, and one of the best ER physicians in the fast-paced world of critical care at Tulane Medical in New Orleans. Always on top of his game, he’s thrown off balance when the newest medical staff member finally unleashes his hidden desires.

Justin Delacroix’s job at the inner city’s busiest hospital might be just what he needs to ease back into civilian life after a long stint in the military. High-performing shifts make working as a trauma nurse at TMC the perfect way to utilize his skills and quick reaction times. There’s only one problem, his attraction for one sexy ER doctor is off the charts, but he has his reasons for not returning Dr. Baby’s night shift advances. Or maybe he doesn’t.

Review

First, let me warn you that since this was first presented as a short story in an anthology the first part takes place later in the lives of our MCs and there’s a flash-back that explains their back-story in the middle, followed by a new part added of their future.

So it’s a bit confusing but stick with it – it’s totally worth it!

Derek and Justin work at the same hospital and have the hots for one another. Justin does’t want to come out of the closet and also feels he isn’t good enough for the good Doctor.

Derek is tired of hiding his relationship but doesn’t want to push too hard.

In the end, both men realize they need to be brave to get what they truly want from life or else losing everything.

**

This is a super sweet, very hot, sometimes funny novella that will leave you with a smile on your face.

I loved the nurses and Dr. Baby’s aunt – so funny!

The smexy times are hot and the emotion is touching.

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Kindle Alexander Presents

http://www.amazon.com/Closet-Confession-Kindle-Alexander-ebook/dp/B014RVEJ4U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442112677&sr=1-1&keywords=kindle+alexander
(Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

Challenge the Darkness (Yellowstone Wolves Book 1) by Dirk Greyson

ChallengetheDarknessBlurb

When alpha shifter Mikael Volokov is called to witness a challenge, he learns the evil and power-hungry Anton Gregor will stop at nothing to attain victory. Knowing he will need alliances to keep his pack together, Mikael requests a congress with the nearby Evergreen pack and meets Denton Arguson, Evergreen alpha, to ask for his help. Fate has a strange twist for both of them, though, and Mikael and Denton soon realize they’re destined mates.

Denton resists the pull between them—he has his own pack and his own responsibilities. But Mikael isn’t willing to give up. The Mother has promised Mikael his mate, told him he must fight for him, and that only together can they defeat the coming darkness. When Anton casts his sights on Denton’s pack, attacks and sabotage follow, pulling Denton and Mikael together to defeat a common enemy. But Anton’s threats sow seeds of destruction enough to break any bond, and the mates’ determination to challenge the darkness may be their only saving grace.

 

Review

Mikael and Denton meet as alphas of neighboring packs who must unite against an evil shifter determined to take over the entire territory. They realize they are mates, but fight it – everyone knows two alphas will never work as mates, right?

What results is a long, slow romance between two hot-headed and hot shifters. Mikael is the first to realize how vital the mating between them will be. In addition to his own gut instincts, he’s received a message from the Goddess telling him that their partnership will be required to conquer the evil Anton.

The chemistry between these guys is combustible! They slowly get to know one another until they can’t stand to be apart. It was great watching the slow transformation from almost enemies to lovers.

Anton’s plot takes up a lot of storyline and involves several other players who I hope will become MCs in later books.

There is a fair amount of world-building and time spent as wolves – something I always appreciate in a good shifter novel.

The ending is climactic and exciting and also very sentimental and touching.

I really enjoyed this new shifter book and look forward to the series.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for review

Dreamspinner presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6793

Fairytale Shifters: Beauty and the Beast by Sean Michael

beauty and beast seanBlurb

As a rhino shifter, Tromp knows that he’s not the sexiest beast in the world. In fact he’s clumsy and he can’t see very well, and that’s whether he’s in his human or animal form. Still, he enjoys going to the bar and watching the other shifters hooking up, especially the dancers. Then he sees a slinky kitty dancing on the little stage and he’s immediately smitten. He knows a sexy beauty like that would never go for him, but he’s happy just to watch and fantasize about what could be.

For his part, panther shifter Pepper might be gorgeous on the outside, but he knows most people see him as nothing more than a piece of meat and he’s had a hard past. There’s something in the way the big rhino shifter looks at him while he dances, though, that makes him feel special. So when his stint on the stage is over, he heads right to the rhino’s table.

Can Tromp and Pepper ignore the world’s expectations and find what they need in each other?

Review

This is a short, erotic (lots of sex) story of a rhino shifter who meets a slinky cat shifter at a club and the two immediately find they fit the other’s needs.

I really liked how Sean Michael used the senses and the animals’ abilities in human form to make these more than people who shift into animals but people who have animal qualities too.

Of course it was also really sweet how Pepper and Tromp also clicked so well and so easily.

This is a great short story for all shifter fans!

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Sean Michael Presents

http://www.amazon.com/Fairytale-Shifters-Beauty-Sean-Michael-ebook/dp/B014U5MB8E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1441986133&sr=1-1&keywords=fairytale+sean+michael

Walk With Me Audiobook by Cardeno C Narrated by Alexander Collins

walk with me audioBlurb

When Eli Block steps into his parents’ living room and sees his childhood crush sitting on the couch, he starts a shameless campaign to seduce the young rabbi. Unfortunately, Seth Cohen barely remembers Eli and he resolutely shuts down all his advances. As a tenuous and then binding friendship forms between the two men, Eli must find a way to move past his unrequited love while still keeping his best friend in his life. Not an easy feat when the same person occupies both roles.

Professional, proper Seth is shocked by Eli’s brashness, overt sexuality, and easy defiance of societal norms. But he’s also drawn to the happy, funny, light-filled man. As their friendship deepens over the years, Seth watches Eli mature into a man he admires and respects. When Seth finds himself longing for what Eli had so easily offered, he has to decide whether he’s willing to veer from his safe life-plan to build a future with Eli.

Review

Cardeno’s home series is one of my all time favs! In previous books we’ve met the established couple, Eli and Seth, but now we get to hear their love story.

Eli is a young 18 year old when the story begins. He’s the son of the rabbi that Seth is working for. It turns out that the two had met even before this, when Eli was even younger and at summer camp. Seth had managed to really make an impression on the oh-so-horny Eli and Eli isn’t afraid to let him know.

Seth, who identifies as straight to begin, only sees Eli as son of his boss, and kind of a pest at first. Eli is over the top flirty and ridiculous with cheesy innuendos and come ons.
Over the years, Seth and Eli develop a deep and abiding friendship. Seth listens to Eli’s discovery of sex and his troubles in finding a boyfriend and Eli listens to Seth’s horrible wedding stories – there are so many of them!

It hurts to be rejected over and over, so eventually Eli decides to move on. He tries to date other guys, but not one of them ends up being “the one”.

After literally years, Eli finishes college and moves home to work on a PhD. Finally – Finally! Seth acknowledges that the “crush” Eli feels for him is more than that and the friendship they share can be so much more. He wrestles briefly with the fact that Eli is a man and not the woman he thought he’d end up with, but in the end his love for Eli and his willingness to explore lead them both to a real relationship of both friendship, super hot sex and love.

**

Eli is a hoot! He’s cheeky, brash, sometimes insecure and always honest. He never hides his emotions and that is truly refreshing.

Seth is a true nice guy. He puts up with so much – not just from Eli but also from his job! It was great watching their relationship grow- oh so slowly – over the years and when they do finally come together it is super-nova HOT!

Seth is surprisingly kinky and it’s wonderful to see Eli finally have the tables turned on him!

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and this ranks among the top as my favorite in the series.

(I love the new covers – this is my favorite – they are so damn cute!)

Audio

Alexander Collins sounds pretty much exactly like Mark Westfield… so I’m not sure what the name thing is all about but…
No matter what he calls himself, he does an absolutely amazing job with this! He does this great thing when there are phone calls or people in the hallway, it really makes it sound distinct and different like the people are talking from a distance. I found it really added to the story and made it seem even more like it was a movie or something. It definitely felt more realistic and made me even more immersed in the story. He does a passable Jewish accent ( although sometimes it sounded kind of Indian…) I loved this book and this narration made it even better! I highly recommend both the story and the narration!

6 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for review

Cardeno C Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Walk-With-Me-Audiobook/B014JYSDYC

Pinned Audiobook (SSU Book one) by Maris Black Narrated by Chris Patton

pinnedBlurb

On his first day of college, all Jeremy Miller can think about is getting away from his hellish home life, making the wrestling team, and finally getting a real boyfriend. He’s sick to death of being used by closeted football players who are too afraid to admit they like guys. What he doesn’t count on is losing his mind over the gorgeous, golden-eyed wrestling captain who needs to keep their attraction a secret at all costs.
After earning a full-ride wrestling scholarship and getting accepted into an elite sports medicine program, Beck thinks he’s got it made. Now he’s a favorite for the national championship in his weight class. Life has never been sweeter or more predictable. Never mind that he’s gay and wishing he didn’t have to hide it. There will be plenty of time for a social life after graduation. Until then he doesn’t need anything to get in the way of his big plans, and that includes the adorable little wrestler who’s got him all tied up in knots.

Review

This is a complex YA/NA story about two wrestlers finding love in a sport that is fairly homophobic, but in this case their coach is dangerously homophobic.

There is a lot of sex in this – so I think for groupings New Adult is more appropriate, but the angst and drama and sometimes over-the-topness sometimes felt more Young Adult.

Beck’s is gay but closeted, doesn’t want to lose his wrestling scholarship. Jeremy is the new guy, super attracted and attractive to Becks, but having to fight against the fear of outing.

The first part of the book is their push-pull of attraction, the second part is dealing with the aftermath.

The second part is where (for me) it got a bit too dramatic at times, though I appreciated the overall statements that get made and the end result. (I won’t say but it involves the Coach in a very bad way and Jeremy makes some decisions that are really hard to witness.)

At the end we get a very satisfying HEA and our MCs manage to bring the bad guy to justice! (I loved the whole Batman/Robin switcheroo underwear thing – very clever!)

Audio

Well I just love Chris Patton so I loved the hell out of this narration. He’s so easy to listen to and I think this hits his “age level” spot on. Kind of young, but mature enough for some hot man on man action. ☺

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Maris Black Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Pinned-Audiobook/B00YSSPEUQ

Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin Book 1) Audiobook by Jordan L Hawk Narrated by Julian G Simmons

widdershinsBlurb

Some things should stay buried.
Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.
So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult that murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.
As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?
Review

Percival Whyborne “Ival” is the master of 13 plus languages, he’s a shy, retiring, gay, virgin who is asked to translate some important documents for Griffin, an ex Pinkerton agent on the case of a murder.

The story unfolds with bits of the paranormal being involved in the case: curses, the occult, monsters and more. The mystery is absolutely the biggest part of this story, but it is closely entwined with the blossoming romance between Griffin and Ival.

In the end, the mystery wraps up and we have a HEA for our heroes, but the series continues undoubtedly putting our lovers into hot water, once again.

**

So, I read this to challenge myself and because it has gotten so many rave reviews. I will tell you this: it is an amazing story, rich with characters, world building, romance and even some horror/monster elements. There is no doubt that Jordan L Hawk is a master writer and story creator.

As for me… it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I got distracted by the language. Griffin calls Whyborne “my dear” all the time and it caught me out of the story each time. I am not one who cares for mysteries much and the mystery definitely occupies a lot of the story.

I didn’t mind the historical aspect – per se- but it’s not my favorite setting and so I kept being distracted by the “truths” of that time period and wondering just how this would all really play out… which is silly because it’s clearly fantasy… but that’s just how my brain works.

I liked the audiobook version though the narrator wouldn’t be my favorite. He doesn’t do a lot to make each voice unique though he tries hard to infuse some emotion and “acting” in with the story telling and certainly doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

I guess, for me, I won’t be reading more (or listening) to this series, not because of the characters – they were amazing and the love story they shared was really touching and sweet and at times very, very hot! – but because the historical parts and the mystery parts are just not my preference.

I have to give it excellent marks for writing and creativity and overall entertainment 4 of 5 stars.

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(Copy purchased for review)

Jordan L Hawk Presents
http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Widdershins-Audiobook/B00CYRDVS0/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl_s?qid=1441568963&sr=1-1