Release Day Review: Place Setting (States of Love) by Claudia Mayrant

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/place-setting-by-claudia-mayrant-10094-b

Blurb

Cameron Dunlop has lived in the Lowcountry town of Summer Corners, South Carolina, his whole life. He loves his home, but his little town in the Deep South doesn’t offer much in the way of dating options.

Chef Gray Callahan has enjoyed success in the kitchen, but his last relationship sunk like a bad soufflé. When plans for his sister’s wedding go awry, it provides the perfect excuse to pack up and go home, where he can help out as he decides how to start his life over.

Gray’s path crosses Cameron’s, and he realizes together they might have all the ingredients to save the day—with maybe enough left over for something sweet just for the two of them.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Review

This short story was such a sweet story to read. Gray relocates back to his small hometown and meets Cameron, who had a high school crush on Gray. There’s a pretty instant attraction. I like how quickly they worked together and the interest didn’t drag out. I enjoy reading cute stories like this where most works itself out with minimum trouble. The “Stick Shack” scene was cute and hot. Was happy Gray was able to pull through for his sister. I would LOVE to read a continuation of this book. Hope more in this series are made.

Number of stars out of 5

5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Recent Release: The Victorian (Lavender Shores book 9) by Rosalind Abel

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42104359-the-victorian

Blurb
Sexy bartender Seth Marino is the epitome of the allure and sophistication for which the town of Lavender Shores is known. For twenty years, Seth has found contentment and happiness as co-owner of the Blue Blossom Bed-and-Breakfast. Seth’s kind heart, good looks, and humor charm both locals and tourists—except the one person who despises him.

Charley Perez began building the life of his dreams a few years before Seth moved to town. Just as his hard work was about to pay off, Charley saw his hopes for building a restaurant worthy of his abuela’s recipes slip through his fingers when Seth arrived. Sure, maybe Charley has a temper, perhaps he should smile more, but does the whole world have to lay out the red carpet for the slutty bartender while never giving Charley a break?

When Lavender Shores welcomes a star-studded food-and-wine celebration, Seth and Charley are forced to work together, leading to an explosion of anger and passion. Both men find the heat and fire of hatred morphing into an irresistible attraction. But even as Seth sees a different side of Charley, the hurt and anger of the past simmer below the surface, threatening the future. And a lifetime of struggle isn’t easy for Charley, who must find the courage to show his true self in seeking help and reaching for his dreams.

Review

Genius! I think I have a new favorite couple in Lavender Shores.

As enemies to lovers stories go, this one is full on. These characters loathed each other and had done so for about two decades. Their mutual animosity ran so deep, I wondered how they would ever get over that. What could possibly get these men to reevaluate their opinions and start seeing each other in a different light? Not to mention forgive past hurts? Because some of their exchanges were incredibly vicious.

But the author managed it brilliantly, turning from enemies to lovers to hurt/comfort with a twist I didn’t see coming, but which tore at my heart. All at once, it became a very different story. Deeply emotional and heartbreaking.

Seth and Charley are both complex and wonderful characters. Their chemistry is off the charts, but what really got to me the most were the little things like Seth showing up on his birthday to be there for Charley, without any expectations, the tentative hand holding which is so much more revealing than angry sex ever could be… They aren’t the most “conventional” couple, but the love they feel for each other is so strong and true. It was absolutely inspiring. I also loved that it wasn’t an easy thing, for either of them. They are tested from the onset and that made every little step they took closer to each other even more rewarding.

I loved the bond between Charley and Mabel & Sapphire, it was so good to see him have those two in his corner. Same for his connection with Alex, the way he stands up for her and supports her…those were some of the best scenes in the book.

The epilogue was amazing, incredibly touching and romantic while still staying true to who these characters are. The perfect feel-good ending where we leave our MC’s in a happy, hopeful place.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Recent Release: Slave Dance (Alien Blood Wars series – book 3) by Samantha Cayto

Pride Publishing

https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/slave-dance

Blurb
What lurks in the dark is not always a monster. Sometimes it’s your deepest desire.
Quiet and steadfast, Emil has remade himself from botanist to chef. Taking care of people is what he does best. He hates having to fight the war with Dracul, but his loyalty to his captain forces him to do no less. Unlike others of his species, he has formed no intimate bonds and has no intention of doing so. That way lies sadness. He takes his pleasure from feeding those he loves, content with his destiny. That is until he runs into an abused boy who needs more than a good meal.
All turning eighteen means to Jase is that now the man who he is forced to call Master can abuse him publicly. A victim of sex trafficking, Jase only knows one way of life-brutal submission to whichever man claims him. When his Master joins Club Lux, it’s more of the same until he finds himself in the hands of its strange chef.
Circumstances force Emil into a new and frightening role and Jase into the arms of a scary and unfathomable Master. Emil is worse than any man—or so Jase thinks, when Emil’s alien nature comes out. Jase wants to be a good slave and Emil frets about saving Jase from himself. While they try to find their way, a vicious crew member begins to terrorize Boston. Now Emil fights on two fronts—the scariest being that he will fail Jase.

Review

I jumped in mid-series with this book, but the author does such a great job at world-building and connecting all the dots, that I was drawn into the story with ease. There are a lot of characters to get to know, but I had a clear idea of what was going on and with whom, so that wasn’t an issue in the slightest.

I was pleasantly surprised by the original take on the vampire/Dracula mythology that we get in this series. I’m a big fan of the paranormal genre, especially vampires and shifters, so I’m pretty stoked about having found a new author!

There’s an ongoing battle between Emil’s “band of brothers”, led by Alex, and a group of rogue deserters, led by the evil Dracul. The action-part part of the story is also a very important element, the focus is not solely on the romance. In between trying to save humanity from Dracul and his minions, Emil meets Jase when Jase’s Master (read abuser) brings him along to the bdsm club where Emil works as a chef. Supposedly, Jase is in a consensual slave/master relationship and it takes Emil and the others a little while to figure out that something else entirely is going on. But then it’s Emil to the rescue! Go Emil!

I have to admit that the scenes where Jase is abused where hard for me to read, and I was very happy when that part of the story was finally out of the way. I can see how it was necessary to have that be part of the book, because experiencing it alongside Jase, instead of having it be a kind of “behind closed doors”-event really heightens the emotional connection we feel as a reader to Jase. Still, not the easiest part of the book to get through. And of course, as a result, I very much rooted for Emil, the contrast between the alien and the actual monster couldn’t be starker.

Jase and Emil are both amazing MC’s, especially Jase who shows great resilience and courage. I do feel as if he might have recovered a bit too quickly though from everything he went through. Emil is a steady, kindhearted man, very much a caretaker, so he’s perfect for Jase. I loved the respect he showed for Jase’s independence and free will.

There are multiple pov’s used throughout the book, setting the stage for other storylines to come, and to help us get different, useful perspectives. We know how both MC’s feel, but we also get important insights from several, for the moment, secondary characters. One of whom is enslaved by Dracul, so reading his take on things is a great way to show readers why exactly Dracul is so loathsome and very much to be feared.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next, but I think I had best start with reading what happened at the beginning first. I dearly wish I had a Time-Turner like Hermione, so I could find the time to read all the books I want!

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Recent Release: Love it Like You Stole it by Ki Brightly

Nine Star Presents

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40718985-love-it-like-you-stole-it?from_search=true

Blurb
Michal, or Meeko, is in trouble. Tearing cars for money to get his mechanic certifications and impress his day-job boss Ben who he has been crushing on for years, was supposed to be temporary. Now in dept to a dangerous man Michael is sucked in to crime and in fear for his life.
Ben has been in a routine for a long time, with his auto repair shop doing good and raising his niece right it seems like he is in a great place, and with a great boyfriend to boot. But Ben feels off, nothing is interesting anymore, except Meeko, his young employee, and the dream car he is fixing up. Michael is such and important par of Ben’s live that when he starts acting strange Ben can’t help but try to help him. Longing to be together yet so many things keeping them apart, will their bond survive and danger Meeko is tangled in? Can they even fix it before it’s too late?

Review:
I have to say the first thing I like about this book is the writing. It had such a distinct, lyrical and expressive style I honestly think it elevated the story for me and made it an emotional journey. It was written in such a way that I felt like every character is so tangible, I could picture them so clearly, especially Ben with his gestures and all the little details of how they move, it was almost like the book was animated through the words. The use of car related lingo was a nice touch, for me this book was, as Ben and Meeko often say, Cherry.
Ben is such an interesting character, gruff and gentle, and I loved how he and Meeko seemed to fit each other emotionally and just had the same vibe about them. Meeko being 19 did some stupid things, and to me it made sense, he had his childish bits and he had to deal with the results of some really bad decisions. I enjoyed not having their ages specified, I could probably figure it out but despite the obvious gap it’s not such a big issue in the story. It was the longing they had for each other, the craving for the other that was just captivating, with the writing I was drawn into the story and could not put it down.

All the characters were well rounded, interesting and quirky, the shared history, described or hinted was really developed, and I got the feeling like the author knows all these characters inside and out. The crime theme was interesting, not my go-to genre, not as glamorous and raw, I liked it and felt it was refreshing.
Plot wise I would say some parts did drag a bit and I could have skipped of rushed them, some things just seemed slightly repetitive.

4.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Audiobook: Full Plate by Kim Fielding Narrated by Kenneth Obi

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-full-plate-by-kim-fielding-9767-b

Blurb

Opposites come together for a spicy surprise.
Bradford “Tully” Tolliver has everything—money, a great car, a beautiful condo, and a promising career as one of Portland’s hottest young lawyers. Sure, he puts in long hours and has no social life to speak of, but who needs romance when corporations pay top dollar for his expertise? He hesitates when a colleague asks if her cousin can live with him, but the arrangement will last less than a year, and then the cousin—Sage Filling—will return to his tiny hometown.
But Sage is handsome and intriguing, and his cooking makes Tully swoon. Sage has obligations back home, though, and Tully has offers he might not refuse from a persistent—and very wealthy—ex. Since Tully and Sage each have a full plate, can they make room for a side of love?

Review

I’m not a big chef nor a big lawyer fan, but I’m totally a big Kim Fielding fan!

I’m also a Portlander so I absolutely loved all the trivia and locale references of PDX!

This was a low heat, slow burn romance. A Misunderstanding for these pair of Opposites was at it’s center and it was generally sweet and an easy listen.

While I was a bit underwhelmed by the beginning I thought the ending made up for it!

I’m not blown away by the narrator. He does a solid job but didn’t “wow” me, though he’s easy enough to listen to that he’s not distracting and it’s a good way to experience this – especially if you want to go hands free.

3.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Coming Soon: Hex and Candy (Series: Strange Bedfellows) by: Ashlyn Kane

August 21!

Dreamspinner Presents:
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/hex-and-candy-by-ashlyn-kane-9797-

Blurb
True love’s kiss can break the curse. But then what?

Cole Alpin runs a small-town candy store. He visits his grandmother twice a week. And sometimes he breaks curses.

Leo Ericson’s curse is obvious right away, spiderwebbing across his very nice body. Though something about it worries Cole, he agrees to help—with little idea of what he’s getting into.

Leo is a serial monogamist, but his vampire ex has taken dating off the table with his nasty spell, and Leo needs Cole’s companionship as much as his help. When the hex proves to be only the beginning of his problems, Leo seeks refuge at Cole’s place. Too bad magic prevents him from finding refuge in Cole’s arms.

Cole’s never had a boyfriend, so how can he recognize true love? And there’s still the matter of the one responsible for their troubles in the first place…

Review
I liked the premise for this story. The idea that there are witches around with different talents who are discrete around the ‘mundanes’ or ‘muggles’ as they call them. As well as vampires, werewolves, elves etc. Leo comes to Cole for help. He had a brief relationship with a vampire who left him cursed. A curse that is seriously messing up his love life. Cole knows that only true loves kiss will break the curse but can he be the one. The realisation that there is more the world than he ever realised was a bit of a shock for Leo. Bring into this budding new love Cole’s meddling grandmother and Leo’s friend succumbing to a vampire and you have an entertaining story. My favourite character was Cole’s familiar Nineveh, she would say exactly what she thought. Personally I thought it ended abruptly but if it’s the start of a series with Cole and Leo maybe it was the best place. Although I wouldn’t mind reading more about about Leo’s friend Jimmy and his Vampire.

3.5 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Home Skillet by Cate Ashwood and Sandra Damien

Goodreads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40215810-home-skillet?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Sometimes the only way to move forward… is to go back.

JAMES
I don’t know what’s more shocking—the sudden end to my marriage, or the fact that I’d married a woman at all. But now I’m broke and homeless, kicked out of my Upper West Side apartment while my ex-wife walks away with everything we’ve ever worked for.
So what’s an executive chef stripped of his dignity gonna do?
Go back to Jersey with his tail between his legs, that’s what.
BEN
I can’t say that spending a decade pining after my best friend was the best use of my time. While I’d pretty much become an expert at the whole unrequited love thing, I’d resigned myself to the fact that Jimmy and I were never gonna happen. But when Jimmy turned up on my doorstep in his hour of need, I jumped at the chance to offer him my bed—er, couch. I mean, what are friends for, right?
Now that he’s released from the shackles of matrimony, I can’t wait to show him exactly what he’s been missing out on all these years.
What I didn’t anticipate was him showing me that maybe I’d been missing out too.

Review: I liked this friends-to-lovers, slow burn story, despite the few issues I had with James (Jimmy).
Jimmy and Ben had been friends with benefits whilst in college, when out of the blue, Jimmy announces (to Ben) that he’s getting married (issue #1); to a woman (issue #2). The marriage, in name only (issue #3), is to further his culinary career (issue #4). When said marriage fails, Jimmy heads back to his bestie, Ben who offers him a place to stay. Of course their feelings for each other are rekindled (Ben’s feelings never really went away), and they find their way to being back together. However, Jimmy is still in the closet and plans to stay in it for the foreseeable future (#5). I was not a fan of Jimmy.
Eventually Jimmy is outed. He and Ben work through the issues resulting from the outing and Jimmy’s divorce settlement to get to their HEA.
A nice story set in the 90’s; good for a sweet, uncomplicated read.

3 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Crossroads Audiobook by Riley Hart Narrated by Sean Crisden

cross audioBlurb

After divorcing the woman he’d been with since he was seventeen, Nick Fuller is starting over. He owns the restaurant of his dreams and he’s determined to meet new people, find new passions, and experience life to its fullest. Easier said than done—that is until he meets his new neighbor, Bryce Tanner…

Bryce is all about a good time. He plans to show Nick how it’s done, help him meet a few women, and enjoy the gift of the single life he’s been given. But things don’t go as planned, and soon they realize they’d rather be together than with anyone else.

Neither man has ever wanted another guy, but there’s a connection between them from the start—a spark they can’t deny. They find themselves navigating an unfamiliar new world and dealing with unforeseen obstacles. Physical desire isn’t enough, and now Nick and Bryce are at a crossroads. They have to decide which way to go: the easy path they’ve always followed, or the one that’s determined to trip them up at every turn.Crossroads - Two Men

Review

(Originally posted here for book http://kimichanexperience.com/?s=crossroads)

(Abridged)

Double GFY people! Yes! It sounds so fantastical, but it is SO WELL DONE! Riley Hart is an amazing writer and she absolutely manages to pull this off.

She spends a lot of time building the relationship (as friends) between the two guys and then showing us that with an open mind (and an open heart) the two can explore their feelings for one another physically as well as emotionally.

I loved the similar yet different reactions each man received from their families. Though Nick had only ever been with one person, his feelings for Bryce follow a similar pattern and it’s totally reasonable that his mother would think he’s jumping the gun again. It’s also fair that Bryce’s family would think his impetuosity is throwing him into another doomed to fail relationship.

But… both men are being true to their authentic selves. Just like the motorcycles, Bryce KNEW Nick was THE ONE. And just like his cooking Nick knows his own heart and has to trust it where it concerns Bryce.

The sex is OFF THE CHARTS hot! But … so is the love. These guys aren’t afraid to reach for one another emotionally and it’s so very sweet and tender.

I loved this book – gave myself a book hangover as I had to read it all in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down at 2 a.m.

I can’t recommend this enough!Crossroads - Men Kissing

Audio

Lord! The heat is SCORCHING. Sean Crisden does an absolutely perfect job with this narration! The feels, the smexy scenes, the humor… just perfect! I absolutely adored the book and the audio only makes it BETTER!

I cannot recommend this any more!

6 of 5 stars

out-of-this-world-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased For Review

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Crossroads-Audiobook/B017JEXN58/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1447962625&sr=1-2Crossroads - Crossroads