Recent Release: Like Smoke (Vikings #1) by Catherine Lievens

Blurb
Trygve is used to being on his own. His wife rejected him when he became a draugr around the year 800, and he hasn’t trusted anyone but his best friend, Thorvald, since then. He lives and works alone, and he has no intentions on changing that.

Then he meets Isaac.

Isaac’s life has been rotten—he was kicked out by his parents when he was sixteen, he was kidnapped from the streets at twenty, and he spent the last eight years chained to a wall and being abused. So when a tall blond man, appears out of thin air and kills the man who’s been torturing Isaac for so long, he begs for death—or to be taken away.

Trygve knows he should dump Isaac in a hospital and go back to his solitary life, but Isaac needs help, and for some reason, he seems to trust Trygve, so Trygve lets him stay with him. Neither of them expects their unlikely friendship will become more, and they take things slowly, for both their sakes.

But someone is after Isaac, and Trygve knows he will do anything to protect the first person he’s loved in more than a thousand years.

Even if that means killing people he’s not being paid to kill.

Review

This had some really interesting world building.  The Berzerker/Viking as a Vampire type is new to me but- of course – the Alpha male falling for the small guy is not new and one of Catherine’s hallmarks.

If you are a fan of the author’s other works you’ll probably like this as well and if you haven’t read her but you like the big guy dominating the small guy and rescuing him all the time – this will be up your alley.

I enjoyed it for the humor, the unique world building and the predictable HEA.  I also LOVE the cover!


Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Familiar Demon By Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/familiar-demon-by-amy-lane-10187-b

Blurb
Familiar Love: Book Two
For over a century, Edward Youngblood has been the logical one in a family of temperamental magical beings. But reason has not made him immune to passion, and Edward’s passion for Mullins, the family’s demon instructor, has only grown.
Mullins was lured into hell through desperation—and a fatal mistake. He’s done his best to hang onto his soul in the twisted realm of the underworld, and serving the Youngblood family when summoned has been his only joy. Edward concocts a plan to spring Mullins by collecting a series of items to perform an ancient ritual—an idea that terrifies Mullins. He can’t bear the thought of losing Edward and his brothers to a dangerous quest.
But every item in their collection is an adventure in brotherhood and magic, and as Mullins watches from the sidelines, he becomes more and more hopeful that they will succeed. When the time comes for Mullins to join the mission, can he find enough faith and hope to redeem himself and allow himself happiness in the arms of a man who would literally go to hell and back—and beyond—to have Mullins by his side?

Review by Mary

When I started Familiar Demon I wondered if I should have read (or listened) to Familiar Angel first but its not necessary. It became clear as I continued that everything was to be explained. Although I think I will listen to it because I liked the characters.

This is the story of Mullins a demon and Edward a familiar. Their friendship and love has spanned more than a century. There are a lot of twists and turns involving gods and elves and all manner of other mystical creatures. Which gives the story a good pace. During the search for ingredients needed in the spell to free him Mullins tells his story. Explaining to Edward how he ended up in Hell and it only endears him further.

With the help of his family Edward manages to gather almost everything he needs to release Mullins from Hell. Into this story comes characters from some earlier books set on Greens Hill, the Little Goddess Series, and they form a key part of the story. I am tempted to look into them.

There are some aspects that didn’t seem clear but maybe they are destined to be explained in the next book. I wouldn’t say this is one of my favourite books by Amy Lane but is different and if you like fantasy it might be right up your street.

 

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Morgan

I bet I’m going to be in the minority again. Sigh.

This was just too complex for me. I had such a hard time understanding what was going on with all the Green’s Hill people and the “sphincters of hell” kept bringing me out of the story. I also did not understand the Other at all and the end result was this hodge podge of fantasy that just didn’t make me feel like I was as “in” the story as I wanted to be.

I adore those 3 boys. I loved the Angel story from book 1 and by comparison I was underwhelmed with the connection between Edward and Mullins.

There was just too much going on and I’m sad to say this just didn’t work for me as well as many of Amy’s other books did.

Now, that being said, it was still an Amy story – so parts of it were still really good – but parts of it felt discombobulated and rushed – but that could just be me. I have read the Green’s Hill stuff – once – awhile ago – and maybe if it was fresher in my mind – but I didn’t care for it – one of the MCs dies! – and it wasn’t one of Amy’s best – IMHO.

So – for fans of Amy, for fans of her Green Hill, and for fans of Familiar Angel this will definitely be a must read – but if you aren’t in one of those categories you might be terribly confused.

3 of 5 stars



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: The Dragon Boss by Anna Wineheart ; Narrated by John Solo

audiobookreview

Blurb

What happens when you send an accidental dick pic with your resume?
On the run from dark-web criminals, Lucian Bolt has given up on a permanent safe place – all he needs is a temporary one, so he can earn some quick cash and run again. Better to flee than linger in the truth: Because of his electronic whispering abilities, his family has been murdered. A person like him doesn’t deserve happiness.
Then Lucian meets Knox, and things change.
As the boss of Whole Fish Seafoods, Knox has everything – except a family. Fifty years ago, wolf-shifters murdered his mate and child. Believing himself a failure, Knox has sworn off taking another mate…until he meets the job applicant that stumbles into his office.
Lucian smells like wolves. Suspicious, Knox frisks him and plants his seed in Lucian. Only to find out a week later that Lucian’s not the non-magic human he claimed to be. And that Lucian is now pregnant… with a dragon child.
With Knox, Lucian glimpses what a happy future could be like. And with Lucian, Knox has someone to protect again. As the sparks between them grow, and as the dark tendrils of their pasts coil ever closer, can Lucian and Knox find their way to a future together?
The Dragon Boss is a stand-alone dragon-shifter novel with sentient shopping carts, a kraken, and a dragon who will not fail his mate. No cheating, no cliff-hangers, but there definitely is a happily ever after.

Review

On one hand this was really creative with a sort of “normalized” magic in society setting but there are still plenty of secrets.  I really thought the computer whisperer idea was fantastic and the “alive” shopping carts interesting.

On the other hand there some pretty big plot holes that kept me from loving this more.  The computer whisperer can’t figure out a way to get his dick pic back and he sent it in the first place.  Then the Dragon Boss doesn’t take precautions even though he knows the guy is magic.  And they sleep together right away and often despite not really liking one another and being in constant danger.  Then there is the kidnapping… that plot line made me crazy.

So… I did read all of it and was happy for the HEA – but I was bothered by these plot issues that kept this from being unique and well crafted.  I’d definitely take a look at the next book in the series.  Dragons are awesome and Lucian’s magic was cool.

Audio

John Solo is just not my favorite. He’s fine. He’s acceptable but I don’t enjoy him like I do some of the others. It might be just a personal thing.  He does a fair job of telling the story and it’s a nice way to enjoy this if you can’t read it.

Overall for both the story and the audio 3 of 5 stars.

 


Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/nomads-dream-by-august-li-10134-b

Blurb

Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine?

Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach.

In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.

Review

To me this felt much more like a mystery/adventure story, and rather less like a romance. Though Janan and Isra fall in love and spend quite a lot of time together, I was left wanting more. As love stories go this one is rather more mellow than I like as far as feelings & passion go. It reads like an action-filled fairy tale and I prefer my romances a little grittier with MC’s who develop a deep emotional connection and build a life together as couple. We leave our MC’s before they get to do that.

This book has a peculiar mix of paranormal characters on the one hand and very religious characters on the other, which is certainly different from what I’m used to reading. I think the author did an amazing job in describing the Bedouin way of life and the beauty of the desert, and I also liked how she interspersed the story with Arabic terms & customs. Always with a light and respectful touch. I felt like I stepped into a tale of the Arabian Nights.

The story is set in modern-day Egypt which still has quite a way to go in matters like LGBT rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. These issues are important to the story and I was pleased to see our fictional characters come out on top and pursue a happy and hopeful life together. How that translates into their daily life stays vague, however, they are both still in the closet as far as I know.

The secondary characters are well-written. Flicker, the djinn who befriended and protected Isra, is intriguing and mysterious, and we also get two very strong and independent female characters, Sehrish and Nawra, which was a nice plus.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Recent Release: Playing The Point by Ashley K. Broome

 

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36113607-playing-the-point?from_search=true

Blurb

In hockey getting traded was never easy. Henny knew his trade was coming but he wasn’t prepared to go from the Seattle Thunder to playing for what used to be his biggest rivals on ice, the Dakota Crusaders.
He planned to hide everything about himself that prompted the trade. With the preseason over and the regular season in full swing, Henny can only hope that the Crusaders will think he’s worth what they paid for him.
He wasn’t expecting the current captain of the Crusaders, Matthew Doherty to look past his former team and welcome him onto the team. The way they clicked on ice and how the entire team worked together made the trade easier. Now if he could stop starring at Doherty and focus on hockey, that would be great. He didn’t need a repeat of what happened in Seattle. He just wanted to play hockey.

Review

This is a fun hockey series. It’s got a lot of hockey feel to it with some medium steam romance and a lovely HEA.

I think this would be better as a short story – it would carry more punch – but it was an easy read and I was engaged throughout most of it.

I really hope the author gets an editor who can help them with the basic writing and some grammatical errors as there is a lot of potential there but the flow is a little ragged and there were some pretty obvious typos and other mistakes.

I’ve enjoyed reading from this new author and look forward to more from them.

3 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Coming Soon! Prince of Air and Darkness (The Darkest Court #1) by M.A. Grant

February 25!

 

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41550787-prince-of-air-and-darkness?ac=1&from_search=true

 

Blurb

Phineas Smith has been cursed with a power no one could control.

Roark Lyne is his worst enemy and his only hope.

The only human student at Mather’s School of Magick, Phineas Smith has a target on his back. Born with the rare ability to tap into unlimited magick, he finds both Faerie Courts want his allegiance—and will do anything to get it.

They don’t realize he can’t levitate a feather, much less defend the Faerie Realm as it slips into civil war.

Unseelie Prince Roark Lyne, Phineas’s roommate—and self-proclaimed arch nemesis—is beautiful and brave and a pain in the ass. Phineas can’t begin to sort through their six years of sexual tension masquerading as mutual dislike. But Roark is also the only one able to help Finn tame his magick.

Trusting Roark’s mysterious motives may be foolish; not accepting his temporary protection would be deadly.

Caught in the middle of the impending war, Phineas and Roark forge a dangerous alliance. And as the walls between them crumble, Phineas realizes that Roark isn’t the monster he’d imagined. But their growing intimacy threatens to expose a secret that could either turn the tide of the war…or destroy them both.

Review

Many people have liked this – I’m not one of them.

It just didn’t hit me right and I found myself only half-heartedly reading along. I’m not super big on fantasy to begin with and maybe this is too much for a “light” fantasy reader.

I didn’t feel the connection between Roark and Phineas like I wanted and the opposites attract/enemies to lovers thing was the only thing I liked about this.

3 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Barbies and Beaches by Asta Idonea

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

For the first time ever, Shane is not looking forward to the annual Boxing Day barbecue at Matty’s house. He recently divorced, none of his friends know what to say to him now, and Shane is tired of the pity and awkwardness. Things take a turn, however, when he meets Matty’s English cousin.

Neil is struggling with the Australian heat, having left the UK after a bad breakup. When Shane suggests the two of them head to a secluded beach to cool off, the growing intimacy between them might make both reassess their current situation.

Review
Just a few beers with the guys and then he can withdraw. Shane doesn’t want to be there but… it’s a 26th December tradition. He is intrigued by the sleeping guy on the couch.

Neil thinks it’s time to return to the other side of the world where it’s not so terrible hot… he can’t handle the heat. Who is that guy watching him ‘sleep’?

Two men sneaking out of the party. The two both with baggage… and a lot of attraction.

Sweet read, just enough developed to get into the feelings and understand where they come from.
I loved the entourage and the way this story is written. Engaging personalities put in a bubble and having a hea. Well done. A sweet short Christmas read!

Number of stars out 3 of 5

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Home and Heart by Sean Michael

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/home-and-heart-by-sean-michael-10058-b

Blurb
Is it possible to find the heart’s home twice in a lifetime?
Six years ago, Sawyer Burroughs’s life fell apart. His soul mate and husband of four years died of cancer, and he fell into depression… and a bottle. It’s taken six years, but he’s turned his life around and is ready to start again on the other side of the country.
In his new apartment, he’s welcomed by his young and carefree neighbor, Derek, from across the hall. Derek is eager to make Sawyer feel welcome and even offers him a place to stay when Sawyer arrives ahead of his furniture.
The upstairs neighbors are just as friendly, and soon Sawyer finds a place with the friends-with-benefits threesome. He’s not the shy, vanilla lover they think he is, though, and he’s hiding more than a pair of nipple rings. As it happens, the guys have kinky secrets of their own, but for four men to make a BDSM relationship last, they’ll have to figure some things out.

 

Review

Second chance romance where Sawyer finds not just one man but three. Reading the blurb I thought yes, bring it on. Then I started reading and well it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Sawyer has left his old life behind and wanted a completely fresh start. The first day in his new apartment he meets Derek. Derek sort of takes him under his wing and looks after Sawyer. It wouldn’t be a Sean Michael story if sex didn’t appear and it sure did. Started a few pages in and kept up a relentless pace. Twos, threes and fours. A Dom, Luke, and I suppose the best way to describe Derek as a trainee Dom, a brat, Benny, and Sawyer who is all sub. Luke figures out what Sawyer needs and helps Derek provide it for him. There is a great dynamic between the four of them. Sawyer is ready for a change and Derek, Luke and Benny are just what he needs. As the story progresses I understood there are two couples in the dynamic. They played together but also strengthened their relationship apart. Mostly it is the building of Sawyer’s relationship with Derek but occasionally Luke and Benny. They were already in a relationship when the story started. I particularly liked that Luke is teaching Derek to be Sawyer’s Master whilst strengthening his Dominance over Benny. My take on it is that it’s two couples who play together rather than a ménage. I never thought I’d say this but I would’ve liked less sex and more on the story between the four of them. It feels like only a third of the book is about the relationship between each other, the rest is sex, hot hot sex but it’s exhausting.

 

3 of stars out of 5



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn’t easy and it’s made worse when the men, he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.
While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a bourgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives.

Review

Charlie is running away and trying to hide. He stops to work as a faller hoping to get some money for a ticket to London where he imagines he will be safe, but will he make it? The big men he is working with surely will not look kindly at him if they ever find out what he likes.
When the biggest man of them all turns out to be the one Charlie can count on will the two fight to stay or run?

Charlie has been through a lot and is learning early on how tough life can be. He longs for a chance to live and love. When a chance for love comes with Jack Charlie must make some hard choices. It was nice to see the way Charlie and Jack connected as their attraction turned into something more. There is so much Charlie must learn before he can truly be free. Charlie and Jack are good men who must let go of their past to find a future. Both men go through some self-searching and they learn the hard way that love is worth fighting for.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Tulsi Vivah by Anna Kaling

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

 

The festival of Tulsi Vivah ushers in the Hindu wedding season and tears away the love of Kristopher’s life. Three years of passion and tenderness are reduced to a shameful skeleton in the closet as Arjuna submits to the marriage his parents have arranged for him. His family has never even heard Kristopher’s name.

The festival, a ritualistic wedding between the holy basil plant, Tulsi, and her eternal lover, Vishnu, is as much of a play-act as Arjuna’s upcoming nuptials, but he believes the wedding will honor his parents and please Vishnu. So why is his Tulsi plant—whose leaves heal and bless the devout, who is Vishnu’s representative on earth—dying? Arjuna tends to her with all the care of a concerned parent, but it might take more than his devotion to save her. She might need Kris, with his clever green-fingers—and maybe a revived Tulsi can heal two hearts.

Review
Not exactly my cup of tea, but still a sweet and hopeful holiday romance. In the end. It took a while to get there.
I guess what bothered me so was that we have an established couple that breaks down, not because of an outside threat, but because of one of the MC’s himself. Not something I like to see in a romance. Pet peeve of mine.

I had a hard time warming up to Arjuna, because I hated how he treated Kris and even more how he broke up with him. So much in their relationship happened on Arjuna’s terms, which is just very unhealthy as well as unbalanced and I didn’t feel as if Arjuna appreciated Kris’ efforts enough. He suffered too during their separation, so that did win him some highly-needed bonus points. But then it also takes Arjuna (a lot of) time to realize it would be awful of him to marry Sharanya under false pretenses, and that initial willingness to spend a lifetime lying to a spouse like that again didn’t endear him to me.

I liked learning more about Hinduism and its mythology, and the really wonderful thing for me was that the Tulsi plant was used as a subtle way to show Arjuna that he should feel free to pursue love and happiness, even if it comes in the form of a relationship with Kris and not in that of an arranged marriage to a woman.

In the end, Arjuna makes some brave choices and is a very lucky man to still hold Kris’ affections. However, both MC’s had to face a learning curve in order to better understand the other’s point of view and create a stronger foundation for their relationship.
I loved the final scene where Kris finally meets Arjuna’s parents. A very heartwarming send-off for our MC’s.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review