Categories
adult - 18+

Shortbread and Shadows Author: Amy Lane

 Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/shortbread-and-shadows-by-amy-lane-11686-b

Blurb
Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club: Book One

When a coven of hedge witches casts a spell for their hearts’ desires, the world turns upside down.

Bartholomew Baker is afraid to hope for his heart’s true desire—the gregarious woodworker who sells his wares next to Bartholomew at the local craft fairs—so he writes the spell for his baking business to thrive and allow him to quit his office job. He’d rather pour his energy into emotionally gratifying pastry! But the magic won’t allow him to lie, even to himself, and the spellcasting has unexpected consequences.

For two years Lachlan has been flirting with Bartholomew, but the shy baker with the beautiful gray eyes runs away whenever their conversation turns personal. He’s about to give up hope… and then Bartholomew rushes into a convention in the midst of a spellcasting disaster of epic proportions.

Suddenly everybody wants a taste of Bartholomew’s baked goods—and Bartholomew himself. Lachlan gladly jumps on for the ride, enduring rioting crowds and supernatural birds for a chance with Bartholomew. Can Bartholomew overcome the shyness that has kept him from giving his heart to Lachlan?

Review
I don’t always know what I’m going to get with a book written by Amy
Lane but I know I am going to enjoy it. With this book Amy has given us love and magic, what a potent combination. I fell in love with timid, shy, naive Bartholomew who turns out to be a hero in this story. Lachlan is determined that Bartholomew will pay attention to him and realise how much he is attracted to Bartholomew. Here’s where love and magic get sticky because you can’t fool magic. Magic knows Bartholomew’s true hearts desire is Lachlan. Now the fun begins in the book. Such a wonderful comedy of errors occurs as
Bartholomew, his coven and Lachlan try to appease magic and put things right. True love blossoms in amongst the mayhem and Bartholomew realises he can rely on Lachlan to back him up and support him.
Whilst Bartholomew and Lachlan’s story comes to a wonderful happy for now ending there was a tiny cliffhanger. I do hope the next story is out soon this coven grabbed my heart with their spell and I don’t want to break free from them just yet.
Number of stars out 5 of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: His Hart’s Command by A.E Via; narrated by Aiden Snow

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/nothing-special-vi-his-harts-command/392780

Blurb:
Lennox Freeman (Free) is one of the best hackers in the world which has caused him to spend most of his life on the run. Never able to put down roots, he couldn’t trust anyone not to take advantage of him, even his own family.

Ivan Hart has lived and bled one creed all of his life: To Serve and Protect. His intense focus and determination in law enforcement has led him to finally commanding his own team. He’d worked hard to put together a squad of badasses capable of backing up a very dangerous team of detectives. Being God and Day’s last line of defense came with a lot of responsibility that he took very seriously.

After his divorce was final Hart turned right around and remarried his job. He had his good friends there in the office with him every day, so it was easier to ignore the few quiet hours he spent at home alone each night. He’d settled well into his new routine and was comfortable with it. Then God decided to disrupt everything by hiring another tech specialist for his department. A man whose brains, trendy looks, and voice would leave Hart tongue-tied and captivated at their first introduction.

Review:

I love this series in audio! Aiden Snow has been the perfect narrator for this series.
This is Free’s story (we first meet him in NS V). He’s a former hacker (with a heart of gold) who’s had a difficult childhood, so he’s a bit skittish around really big, burly men. But for some reason, he’s enamoured with Ivan Hart. Ivan, for all his big size, is a gentle soul. Both these men were made for each other.
Their journey to being a couple is so sweet, both men dancing around each other, but when the do get together – damn! They are so hot *phew*.
As mentioned before, Aiden Snow does a great job with the narration. He has a gorgeous voice, so well suited for the growly, alpha men that dominate the story. He has been great for the series so far . The only (minor) observation is that there is not that much distinction between most of the men –except for God, Day, Tech and Free, but the story is well written enough that you always know which character is talking. His accent for Free was great! As a Brit, I had been a little wary that he wouldn’t get it right, but it sounded great, especially since it was supposed to be a slight accent.
Great story (4 stars) with excellent narration (5 stars)!

Overall: 4.5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Stained Hearts by: Parker Williams

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stained-hearts-by-parker-williams-10754-

 

Blurb
Can two hearts stained by past pain find healing together?

Tom Kotke held his husband of twenty-five years on the day he died and spent nearly a year adrift. Determined to force Tom back into the world, his family takes him to the Park View Diner, where he meets young stained-glass artist Aiden Dawson. For a brief moment, Tom doesn’t think about his deceased husband—a terrifying prospect.

Slowly, Aiden draws Tom out of his shell and helps him feel alive once more. But Tom isn’t the only one who has suffered. Aiden fears no one sees beyond his wheelchair. Even if Tom can convince him he’s different, they’ll still have to overcome their age difference and a secret that could destroy their future together

Review
Oh my this book got me right in the feels. I just wanted to hug both Tom and Brian. If you’re anything like me have tissues ready from the beginning. Grief is hard and this book lays it all bare. It’s a beautiful portrayal of healing. It’s not all plain sailing for them but the best things are worth fighting for. The whole family pull together and heal in a lovely heartwarming way. Such a gentle love story between an older man and a younger inexperienced man with a disability. There is a great twist involving Brian which I didn’t see coming and made so much sense. Brought a lot of the story together. I loved catching up with Noel and Lincoln such a wonderful treat. Each of the stories in the links in the chain series can be read can be read on their own but the characters from the previous books have little cameo parts. I think it makes them even more enjoyable if you’ve read them.
I finished this book with a contented sigh after reading the happy ever after ending. Perfect.

5 of stars out of 5

 


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Working Jerusalem by BA Tortuga

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46852560-working-jerusale

 

Blurb
Buttoned-down and sexually repressed lawyer JD desperately wants to break free of the closet and explore his desires… and coffee shop owner Todd is just the man to take him on a wild ride through pleasure, pain, power play, need, and even love.

But though they complement each other better than coffee and donuts, they have to get past JD’s issues and confront the homophobic boss who wants to keep JD under his thumb before they can sample the sweet, erotic delights waiting for them.

Review
The blurb intrigued me for this book. I liked the idea of maybe a repressed guy breaking out of the closet and finding his kink. The relationship between Todd and JD gets steamy very quickly. The first half of the story is about them getting to know each other very well in all manner of ways. There is a very low level d/s element which is manly the dominant aspect. Todd is very take charge and guiding towards JD. The second half of the story is where JD takes a stand against his homophobic boss and the situation escalates to harassment and stalking. I did enjoy the story. I’m glad that the sexual relationship didn’t takeover the storyline but there was another side albeit a little weak. I found it to be an enjoyable and entertaining story. Interesting secondary characters who

3 of stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Hearts Untouched Author: Andrew Grey Narrator: Greg Tremblay

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/heart-untouched-by-andrew-grey-9888-

 

Blurb
An accident crushed Duncan’s Olympic dreams and landed him in a chair, but he knows it’s time to get his life back on track – and he has a plan in mind. Working with his friend Todd, an Olympic skeleton racer, on a promotional campaign will not only help Duncan regain some direction, but it’ll give Todd the financial boost he desperately needs. The sport Todd loves is draining his resources – so much so that he’s thinking of giving up racing just to make ends meet.

As the two men work together, their friendship blossoms into much more, and suddenly the future is looking brighter than it has in a long time. But just when love, happiness, and success seem within their grasp, the USOC steps in with plans to stop their campaign. That’ll mean an end not just to Duncan’s business, but to Todd’s dreams…and Duncan isn’t about to let that happen to the man who means everything to him.

Review
I’m not sure how to review this book. It was easy to listen to. The story flows with no great surprises. A good friends to lovers story that I get the feeling only possible because of Duncan’s injury. It meant Duncan looked at life and at Todd differently. It was nice briefly catching up with characters from the previous books. I did wonder why Duncan wasn’t more angry that he couldn’t compete any more but Todd still was. This is a story where everyone is nice, apart from the one ‘villain’ in the story. But even then they weren’t terrible. There is also a battle against the unjust actions of the USOC, again not so terrible. Overall a pleasant story without much bite.
Greg Tremblay’s narration is as wonderful as usual. He gives us the personality of each character. He fleshes out the story with his performance and it is so well done that I am happy to listen to him.

3 stars out of 5 for book
5 stars out of 5 for narration

Overall 4 of 5 stars

 

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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: The CEO Christmas Manny by: Angela McCallister; Narrated by: John Solo

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-ceos-christmas-manny-by-angela-mccallister-10040-

Blurb
Anything but business as usual.
Billionaire CEO Nic Price lives for his job. With sales down and grumbling from the board of directors – including Nic’s permanently dissatisfied father – the last thing Nic needs is distraction from the new manny, whose freewheeling approach to childcare is outlandish…and who makes Nic feel things he’s never allowed himself to feel.
Ex-teacher Sasha Lindsey is all about fun – that’s the reason people love him, so he has to be. After a bad break-up leaves him jobless and homeless, the live-in manny job with Mr. Price seems like a windfall. But his chemistry with Nic is off the charts, and he can’t afford another workplace romance disaster.
Can Nic leave his dominance in the bedroom and open his heart to the best thing that’s ever happened to him? Or will Sasha’s leap of faith backfire and ruin his chances at the family happily-ever-after he’s always dreamed of?

Review
I have so many mixed feelings about this audiobook that it’s been hard to focus them for this review. First I should say that I liked it. I enjoy Manny stories and on several levels this ticks a lot of boxes for me. But I found it hard to connect with Sasha and Nic. They’re similar in that they both have hateful parents and are driven in their chosen profession. Both of them are compassionate people but Nic’s demanding father has driven the compassion down to a very low priority in his life. Nic’s niece and nephew need attention from their uncle but is get a series of nannies. Sasha’s compassionate nature has meant he’s been taken advantage of in the past. which has left him with no home or job, until he becomes a Manny to Lucy and Ben. I enjoyed the slow burn story but did feel there was some unnecessary angst. Nic’s self centred attitude caused unnecessary pain to Sasha. Poor Percy (Nic’s friend and assistant) is left with the dirty work. I’d love to see Percy have his own story. Nic does eventually come to his senses and has a happy ending with Sasha. I would have loved an epilogue where Nic’s father suffered for his actions but alas it was not meant to be.
Jon Solo is an excellent narrator. The emotional ups and downs he gives emphasis and the overall tone he uses make it a more compelling listen.

4 of stars out of 5


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.

Categories
adult - 18+

Coming Soon: String Boys by Amy Lane

May 28

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/string-boys-by-amy-lane-10521-

Blurb

Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento.

Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain.

Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands.

Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.

Review

From the moment I started this book I knew it’s going to be an Amy Lane classic. Full of feels and emotional highs and lows. I felt like I was privileged to be an onlooker on Seth and Kelly’s life. The turbulence that the Cruz family goes through broke my heart. The story pulledon my heart strings. Growing up along sideSeth, Kelly and Mattie being with them as they struggled through life and learned what loving that special person is all about.In this story we get the whole journey of friends to lovers, the hate and family rife as well as unconditional love. Seth has a unique talent for the violin and Kelly wants that to grow. There are a lot of times when school and other circumstances mean Seth and Kelly can’t be together but friends and family are there to get them through and hold on tight. I cried and cheered within moments of each other many times when reading this book and probably will again when I reread it. If you like angsty stories that also fill your heart with joy I can’t recommend this book high enough. If you are still unsure about this book I would suggest that if you are a fan of Amy Lane’s Bonfires and Crocus books then this one would suit you as well.

 

6 of stars out of 5



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review

This was – has for me to review. I love Amy so much but this did not inspire me.

I was prepared for angst central and there was a bit – but I honestly was never attached to the characters in such a way that I felt it.

Perhaps it was just my frame of mind when I was reading it, but I just didn’t see these guys in the same light as some of her other couples.

First, they spend a ton of time away from one another but still visit so it was kinda – meh – on that front.

The family is both hard to love and so full of pain that I didn’t really get roped in to their drama.

The romance ends on a very bland note and I didn’t get the sense of relief that I usually do with her angsty stories.

It was good and interesting but not my favorite.

3.5 of 5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Honeythorn by Marina Vivancos

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44589386-honeythorn?from_search=true

Blurb

Omega Milan Pryor knows his duty. He must travel North through the continent towards the snow, the cold, and his new betrothed. They say that Lord Alpha Raphael Ledford, the man he is to marry, is as artic as the weather of his land. But Milan has always been an optimist. Perhaps he might find friendship in the arranged marriage. Even love.

It doesn’t take long for Milan to realize that all the rumours about Lord Raphael are true. Reclusive, distant, frigid. Milan finds himself unwelcome in what he must now call his new home. He’s used to fighting for what he wants—but can he survive a husband as cruel as Lord Raphael?

Being bonded to one who rejects you is a painful thing. Will Milan be able to win his husband’s regard? What terrible secret is Lord Raphael keeping, and will Milan be able to discover it before it’s too late?
Or will Milan perish along with his heart?

Review

This book is set as Regency era with a slight Steampunk feel. It’s Omegaverse with hint of mpreg possibility, but did not happen in the book. Milan is from a family in the South, who is arranged to marry Raphael from the North. I was sad for Milan in the beginning for Raphael’s behaviors. The talks about steam powered machines in everyday life was fun to read. I also enjoyed the stark contrasts between the personalities of both men. Other than a VERY rocky beginning, the slow build between the men was wonderful to read. There was a big twist towards the end that surprised me. The background characters were a delight to read and really added to the tone of the book. Overall a very enjoyable read.

Number of stars out of 5

5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Coming soon! Scott (Owatonna U Hockey #2) by R.J. Scott and VL Locey

March 27

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42108159-scott

Blurb
What happens when you try to fix the past and end up threatening your future?

Scott is struggling. Grieving the loss of his brother, carrying the weight of his father’s expectations, and getting his ass kicked in the rink, he’s in a downward spiral. He needs a solution and fast, but when his steroid use is exposed, he’s close to losing his place at Owatonna and more importantly, on the Eagles Hockey team. Thrown out of his house, with nowhere to go and no future in sight, he only has one choice; agree to mandatory counseling, random drug tests, and get his act together. Only then will he have a chance at normal. Meeting Hayne, a senior connected to the world through his art, is a shock to the system. Moving in with him is his only option, but falling for the shy artist leaves Scott in an impossible situation, and one he can’t escape.

Hayne has always been that quiet, creative kid who sat in the back of class drawing instead of listening to the teacher. A talented artist, the shy and sensitive young man is struggling with the loss of his childhood friend. Seeing his sadness reflected in his usually colorful paintings, he decides to attend grief counseling and meets Scott, a lost soul in desperate need of light and color in his life. Taking in a homeless hockey player certainly was never part of his carefully orchestrated ten-year plan. But now that Scott is in his life, he’s discovering the joy of this man’s loving smile and tender touch is one of the most beautiful palettes on earth.

Review

Ugh.

Sigh.

Sorry.

I loved book one SO MUCH! I love this spin off as a concept. I love the adjustment to YA/NA as far as theme and topics and steam. I love all of it.

Except … this mostly didn’t work for me.

I’m a fan. I’m following the stories including the supplementals and sometimes I was confused about what happened. I think a bit more surrounding the steroid crisis itself would have helped. Then I really wanted to see more of Scott’s recovery rather than hearing about it off page. I also didn’t buy the family turn around – it didn’t feel authentic and though I can totally get behind shiny happy HEAs – it didn’t resonate. These authors aren’t shy about giving us angst and drama – so own it! Let his family continue to be as they are – maybe give us some glimmers of hope? But it felt too cleanly tied up given the amount of fuckery they’d engaged in for the last 4 or so years.

I super loved Hayne’s family and I somehow wanted to know more about them at the beginning. I was having a hell of a time picturing him until the family came to town and gave me a more solid picture.

The evil roommates. I think we needed to either make this more of the story’s central theme or get rid of them. They were a distraction and OTT. (I hope they were OTT – sheesh!) I really wanted Craig to get a lot more smack down then he got as it is. What a Douche Bag!

Finally – I don’t know where these boys are going. I love that Ten et al are able to help them out – but I kinda wanted them to have a more concrete plan of their own.

As it stands we have this sort of mix of “reality” like situation meets total fairy land and it was conflicted and hard to follow at times.

I’m not sure how much of this comes from the 2 authors collaborative efforts or just because the story itself lacked cohesion but I felt it here more than in their other works together.

I’m still a fan and I still can’t wait for Benoit but I was disappointed.

2.75 rounded to 3 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Love You So Special (Love You So Stories #3) by Tara Lain Narrated by Ry Forest

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/love-you-so-special-by-tara-lain-9894-b

Blurb

Can a man’s secret yearnings be revealed in a tank full of fish?

Artie Haynes knows he’s nothing special, with just-your-regular-brown hair, a solid plumber’s job, not much education, and a family that can barely get off the couch. But Artie has quirks—like his love of tropical fish, a landlord who’s a professor of existentialism, a passion for the amazing piano music he hears at a concert hall while he’s fixing the bathrooms—and the fact that he’s never come out as gay and probably never will. But when he’s hired to build a guesthouse for the pianist whose music enchanted him, Artie is swept up into an unimaginable world.

Francois Desmarais may be famous, rich, and revered as one of the world’s great classical composers and pianists, but he’s soothed and challenged by the inquisitive, stalwart, protective man in his back yard. When Francois’s terrible fear of crowds turns into a dangerous plot, Artie can stay in the closet or prove just how special he is.

Review

This was so awesome! The story is very sweet and very touching. I’m not always crazy about Tara’s dialog – her characters sometimes feel really old fashioned in their speech – but it didn’t bother me much with this one. She is really good at giving us the Blue collar meets white collar guy and this one reminded me a lot of her “Knight of Ocean Avenue” – which is one of my favorites!

I loved the music and color imagery as well as the surprising way everyone acted and turned out. It was a bit sugary sweet at the end with Artie’s family – but you know what? I loved it!

The narrator for this is new to me and I wasn’t super impressed. He did ok but his accent wasn’t great and 50% of the dialog is supposed to be French accent.

The non French parts were good – so I’d give him another chance in the future.

It wasn’t a hardship to listen to but I don’t know that he added a lot.

I’d give the story 4.5 stars
Narrator 3 stars

And overall 4 stars – recommended!


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