Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Christmas Cole audiobook by BG Thomas narrated by Paul Morey

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/christmas-cole-by-bg-thomas-6184-

Blurb
Javier Torres was a sweet, plump, and very unpopular child. But over the years, he turned himself into a gorgeous gym god. The problem is he’s also become an egotistical snob. But one day his arrogance pisses off the wrong little old lady, and he wakes up to find that, like the Prince in Beauty and the Beast, he’s been transformed into something from his personal nightmares. Javier has nowhere to go but back home, where to his surprise, he is greeted with open arms, not just by the family he remembers, but by his new brother-in-law, Cole. Cole suspects there might be a pretty heart to go with the pretty face locked inside that new body, but has Javier learned enough to earn Cole—instead of coal—for Christmas

Review
This title is part of the 2011 Advent Calendar: I’ll Be Home for Christmas.
I quite enjoyed this take on the beauty and the beast / it’s a wonderful life type of story. It’s also a moral lesson of judging people by looks rather than who they really were. And how shallow he had become. It took a harsh lesson before he was able to see what he had become. He didn’t really understand until he went home to see his family and meets Cole again. Javier’s partner Mark is a horrible person especially the way he treated Javier after he was transformed.Quite a message in this story but it is heartwarming. The love and acceptance of family and of oneself.
The narrator, Paul Morey, does a fair job but I felt that the emotions were missing. After all Javier did suffer his worst nightmare and was deserted by Mark at Christmas. The characters were portrayed well enough. I could make out who was who and there was some characterisation.

3 of stars out of 5 for both story and narration

 

Purchased by reviewer

 

 

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

Blurb

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.
Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.
Review

Waiting until the last minute to buy his gifts has always gotten Grant in trouble, this time it gets him stuck in an elevator with a stranger during a store blackout. Could this be a blessing in disguise? Grant finds a new friend in Will but will with this friendship last past the elevator?

This story is a cute read. We have all wondered what we would do if stuck in an elevator and Grant gets to find out first hand. Grant is an interesting character with a painful background who finds something with Will. It was nice to watch the two men begin to connect as they wait for the elevator to begin working again. Grant has some interesting inner dialogue and keeps readers engaged to the story. Their adventure is open-ended and makes you wonder just what will happen next. It is a light and fun read with a touch of angst to it. Grant and Will begin to learn that life is what you make of it and for life to get better you have to try again.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Strength of His Heart by Victoria Sue

release day review

 

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-strength-of-his-heart-by-victoria-sue-10045-b

Blurb
To protect and serve…. All Vance Connelly ever wanted to do was continue his family’s tradition and join the Tampa Police Department, but his dreams were crushed the day he woke with the enhanced mark on his face. After years of struggling to adjust to life as an enhanced human, by a stroke of luck, he met Talon Valdez and became a proud member of the FBI’s Human Enhanced Rescue Organization.
Samuel “Angel” Piper is eager to leave his DEA undercover work behind as he joins the HERO team as Vance’s regular human partner. But Sam’s painful past is ever present, just below the surface of the life he has built for himself as an ambitious young agent. When the team investigates rumors of a new drug using enhanced blood, the case’s mysterious connection to Sam threatens not just his life but Vance’s.
Trust doesn’t come easy for Sam, but Vance is willing to fight to convince his partner that the strength of his heart might be the salvation they both need.

Review

Sigh.  There is so much I love about this world and this series – but there is so much that I get frustrated with as well.

In this case – I was really unimpressed with Vance and Angel’s romance – which was a drag because I really thought Angel would be one of my favorite characters’stories based on his presence in other books.

I find myself skimming a lot these days and I think the author could use a strong hand with an editor to really make these stories leaner and more powerful.  There was just so much thrown in here that I found myself confused a lot which led to frustration and finally to indifference.  Frankly, it was too much work to figure out who, what and where with this – even though I’d read all the books leading up to this book.

There is an awful lot of telling and not nearly as much showing as I’d like and the end result is more of a luke warm romance than something that really sets the heart/pages on fire.  When I read the next to last sex scene I was ready to be done with the entire series – it’s really awful – and if it hadn’t happened just near the end I would have DNF’d the book – it felt almost like non-consensual contact- though it wasn’t – and it happened almost at the end when our MCs are already supposedly in love and happy… it felt really uncomfortable and we didn’t get nearly enough Happy to make up for it.

2.75 rounded to 3 of 5 stars
 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Warren’s Peace by Emjay Haze

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb
The holidays are a time for second chances.

Warren Blessing lost his wife (two years ago), and his kids decide he’s been alone too long. They send him on a holiday singles cruise so he can meet someone new.

On the flight from Chicago to Miami, he sits next to an attractive man, but when the flight’s over, he doesn’t think he’ll see him again.

Fletcher Hammond is a professional mystery shopper for vacation destinations and travel. After a split from his unfaithful fiancé, he’s embarking on a singles cruise. He meets a lovely gentleman on the flight, whose conversation and cocktails help Fletcher through his fear of takeoffs, but he doesn’t expect to see him again.

As if by fate, a meeting in the ship’s dining room renews their mutual attraction. But can they build a relationship with distance and baggage working against them? Or will they part ways when they return to port?

Review
This is a cute and lighthearted read, low on angst or drama of any kind.

Our two MC’s, Warren and Fletcher, meet on a plane and reconnect on a cruise, spending almost all their time together having fun and living the VIP life, thanks to Fletcher’s mystery job. Reality has no chance to intrude, it’s all fun and games. I was a bit disappointed that little happened that would actually have enabled them to find a profound emotional connection. I’d have liked it better if they’d have shared some more meaningful conversations too (on page), or if there had been even the smallest problem to overcome.

Warren’s a bit ambiguous about his marriage and sexual identity, which made me feel sorry for his late wife. The kids are a nice touch, adding some extra merry fluff to the story as they cheer their dad on from the sidelines.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: The Magician’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/series/242950

Blurb

Vaudeville stage magician Christopher Fiend lives for the spotlight. His chance at big time stardom awaits him in Chicago, the next stop on the circuit after the little town of Twelfth Junction.

Edward Smith wants nothing to do with his family’s theater. Until Christopher catches his eye on opening night, then treats him to a very special performance during intermission.

When a dead body turns up in the middle of Christopher’s act, suspicion immediately falls on him. If Christopher and Edward can’t work together to clear his name, Christopher won’t make it to Chicago in time. Edward knows he shouldn’t get attached to a man who will be gone in two days, but his heart—and a very special angel—have other ideas.

The Christmas Angel series of holiday romances follow the travels of an angel ornament through the decades as she inspires (and sometimes nudges) lonely men to find their Happily Ever After.

The Magician’s Angel is the third in series, which can be read in any order.

Review

As I mentioned with Eli’s book from this series – these don’t need to be read in order just know they are vaguely connected through history via this angel of mysterious power.

I’ve been really enjoying learning/looking at the way the men in these stories have connected given the fact that – to varying degrees – they all needed to hide. It’s been fascinating.

This is during the age of Vaudeville and as a set, the artists in these travelling groups were more open minded than most. However, the lovers still have to hide.

I’m a big Jordan L Hawk fan, but I have to tell you this wasn’t a great story for me. I’m not keen on mysteries and this felt very much like a “Clue” mystery in the most OTT way – which can be fun – but I’m not a fan. I also don’t care much for magicians though I did appreciate learning more about the showmanship of Vaudeville.

Though I didn’t love it, it was well written and good, just not my favorite.

3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Purrfect Holiday by Jana Denardo

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

Blurb

Tony Gatti had his life planned: get his veterinarian license and go to work with his dad and uncle. Soon after achieving his goals, he learned the shadows and blurriness in his vision went beyond needing glasses. Retinitis Pigmentosa is a genetic mutation with no cure. With his sight almost gone, he moves into his grandmother’s St. Augustine, Florida home with his guide dog, Raven, to start life over. Nonna Concetta thinks she knows the perfect job for him. Her vet is looking for someone to destress the cats at a local rescue.
Javier didn’t plan to hire a cute former veterinarian to fill the role of cat cuddler, but Tony couldn’t be more perfect. Worried his attraction is inappropriate and knowing the holiday season always depresses him, Javier wonders if he should ask Tony out, or if he’d just be spreading the gloom to someone who already has enough of his own. But if he takes the plunge, could it turn out to be the best holiday ever?

Review

This is a sweet but pretty forgettable story of a man who doesn’t let his new medical condition get him down and who finds someone to love.

They both love animals and enjoy Tony’s funny grandma.

Beyond that there’s not much to keep this in your memory – but I enjoyed it well enough to finish it.

3 of 5 stars

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Femme Faux Fatale By Susan Laine

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/femme-faux-fatale-by-susan-laine-9982-b

Blurb

Mystery. Murder. Men in silk stockings. Hollywood nights are heating up.
Hardboiled Los Angeles PI Cain Noble is hired by wealthy and gorgeous Camille Astor to find her husband and a priceless work of art, both of which have disappeared.
At the nightclub owned by Mr. Astor, Cain encounters the mesmerizing Lily Lavender, who has the body of a goddess and the sultry voice of an angel—but is really a young man named Riley who attracts trouble like a magnet.
What’s a private dick in the vein of LA’s bygone era and a cross-dressing burlesque starlet to do when faced with the hidden decadence and lethal dangers of the Hollywood Hills? They have their work cut out for them because they haven’t even scratched the surface of an elaborate scheme more twisted than anyone could ever have imagined.

 

Review
The start of this story put me in mind of film noir, with the jaded PI meeting his dubious client for the first time. My initial reaction was that the characters were a bit caricaturist. This impression was strengthened the first time Camille Astor came into the picture. I think it’s intentional given that there are movie references included in the story. Once Cain met Riley that impression was less important and I put it to one side. Fireworks and good ole fashioned lust came into the story, yum. This is a tale that twists and turns. There are the obvious bad guys and the not so obvious worse guys which gave the story a pleasant edge. Some things I didn’t see coming and this kept me hooked. Overall good fast burn romance with murder-crime drama.

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Sanctuary (Mercy Hills Pack #5.5) by Ann-Katrin Byrde

Good reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36395933-sanctuary?from_search=true

Blurb

“Omegas for alphas and betas for betas…”

Ori and Patton have been best friends since they were pups. But growing up changes everything—Ori must settle on an alpha to mate, while Patton takes on the beta’s work of maintaining the walled enclave their pack lives within. They try to make the best of it, until a wealthy suitor comes calling for Ori, and they realize neither of them can face a future without the other. And on a moonless night, Ori and Patton escape over the enclave walls, breaking both shifter and human law in their determination to reach the sanctuary of Mercy Hills.

Hunted by their own people and forced into a dangerous masquerade among the humans, their original plan–so simple and direct—turns into a twisted path toward a promise of freedom that might not even exist. Because Mercy Hills doesn’t know they’re coming, and the trouble they’re bringing to the enclave’s doorstep may be more than those already beset shifters are willing to bear.

Finding out Ori is pregnant makes their mission that much more urgent. Omegas never mate with betas, let alone have pups with them. If their pack finds the two lovers, they’ll be separated forever.

But the pack never reckoned with the determination of a beta in love, or the stubbornness of an omega determined to keep his mate and his baby.

Review

I like this series quite a bit but I do find some of the detail a bit too tedious. I’ve never been a huge fan of “dystopian” and I sort of lump these types of stories as dystopian. In this world, the knowledge of shifters is out there and they are subsequently treated very poorly and kept in enclaves.

I really hate this type of story but I so admire the love stories the author is capable of giving that I wade through the sadness and despair to find the happy and the sweet.

Our two MCs have a truck load of misery to over come in this book and I have to admit I skimmed the entire first half as it was entirely too “difficult” and way too long – for me – but I really enjoyed the part where they finally made it to the Mercy Hills Pack and found their beginning to be really touching as well.

I think this is another author who could benefit from a stiff editing ☺

I think this is good for fans of the author and the series but I wouldn’t start with this – I think they need to be read in order.

3 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Fire and Agate by Andrew Grey

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fire-and-agate-by-andrew-grey-9959-

Blurb
When Chris Anducci is moved off jail duty and into the sheriff’s office, he doesn’t expect his first assignment to be protecting a witness against a human trafficking ring. Knowing the new sheriff doesn’t abide screwups, Chris reluctantly agrees to work the case.

Pavle Kasun has spent the last four years of his life at the mercy of others. When an opportunity presented itself, he took it, resulting in his rescue. Now the safe houses he’s placed in are being threatened and he needs protection if he is to have any sort of chance at a life.

Chris opens his home to Pavle, but he doesn’t expect Pavle and his story to get under his skin… and stay there. Soon they discover they have more in common than either of them thought. Slowly Pavle comes out of his shell and Chris finds someone who touches his heart. But as the men looking for Pavle close in, they will stop at nothing to get him out of the way. Even if Chris can keep him safe, he might not be able to protect his heart if Pavle moves back home.

Review
There are some very heavy topics included in this story, human trafficking, PTSD, organised crime, police corruption, but none of it has much weight. The story focuses on Chris and Pavel and is told from Chris’s point of view. I found it a little hard to accept that as Pavel had been held prisoner for four years and subjected to who knows what kind of treatment would be so quick and seemingly comfortable with entering In to a physical relationship with someone so soon. Putting that aside the story focuses on Chris and Pavel’s relationship and the criminal investigation part is in the background. There is very little realism in this story but I was quite glad of that. I enjoyed the positivity that Pavel was strong enough to fight the trauma of what he had been through not only to testify against his captors but to find love.

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Recent Releases: Halloween Short Freebies!

Inn Love by Lucy Lennox

No blurb but a competition for a bed and breakfast pits two guys against one another in a haunted house.  But… they find love instead!

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36431512-inn-love?from_search=true

 

Review

This was an adorable little story about some meddling ghosts and a little boy who finally grows up to achieve his dream.

There were a lot of times that I was annoyed with Ryan and I got tired of the other “contestants” but it was a quick story that had some cute and sweet moments.

3 of 5 stars

Monster Till Midnight by E.J. Russell

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42509627-monster-till-midnight?from_search=true

Blurb

Brady dearly loves Halloween. But the haunted house extravaganza he staged in his new town–in a house that’s actually supposed to be haunted–is a total bust. But then, an unexpected visitor barges out of his corn maze…

Review

I wish this had been full length! I loved this so much! It was clever, with some fabulous twists in it and loads of laughs!

It was a minute to read, but I wish that we had more time with these characters and their discovery of love that is more hinted at than explored.

In any case – highly recommended for a quick, fun, Halloween read!

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review