Categories
adult - 18+

The Captain and the Baker (The Captivating Captains #7) by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54451031-the-captain-and-the-baker?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=3fYNEGJETN&rank=1

Blurb
When a hot-tempered TV chef and a mild-mannered baker meet on the rugged Cornish coast, they’ve got the perfect ingredients for a red-hot snack.

Sweary and stressed celebrity chef Jake Brantham is the captain of several floating restaurants. When he’s sent to the idyllic village of Porthavel to turn a pirate ship into the next gastronomic sensation, it’s the last place on earth he wants to be.

Locryn Trevorrow is the bakery king of Cornwall. From the humble pasty to a wedding cake fit for a mermaid queen, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the art of baking. He lives in a cosy world of gingham and ganache, but at night he goes home to his smugglers’ cottage alone.

When he’s adopted by a lost kitten, Jake soon discovers that there’s more to Portavel than cream teas, lobster pots, and the annoyingly fastidious Locryn. As the village prepares for the wedding of its favourite young couple, Jake and Locryn find themselves as unlikely matchmakers for two locals who’d given up on love.

Torn between the call of Hollywood and the kisses of Locryn, will Jake choose a mansion in Beverly Hills or a cottage on the Cornish coast?

Review
The Captain and the Baker was another delightful read in the Captivating Captains series. I am obsessed with cooking shows and competitions, add in British humour and this book had everything I like.
The main characters, Loc and Jake are complete opposites. I loved all the banter between these two. My only negative about this book was that it was told from only one point of view, I really would have loved to get some scenes from Loc’s view. Otherwise this is a fun, quick read.
I highly recommend this book!!
4 stars



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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Twice Baked by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/twice-baked-by-andrew-grey-10815-b

Blurb
When the pickiest eater in America is tapped to judge a cooking competition along with his chef ex-boyfriend, will it be a recipe for a second chance… or disaster?

Luke Walker’s humor about foods he can’t stand made him an internet celebrity and his blog, The Pickiest Eater in America, a huge hit. He plans to bring that same lighthearted comedy to the show—but he won’t be the only host.

Meyer Thibodeaux might be a famous chef, but he’s solemn, uptight, and closeted. He’s also Luke’s ex. As different as they are, the sparks between Luke and Meyer never really went out, and as they work together, each begins to see the other in a new light, and the passion between them reignites, hot as ever. But secrets, gossip, and rumors on the set could sour their reunion.

Review
Another enjoyable story from Andrew Grey. Luke and Meyer attempted a relationship in the past but Meyer’s refusal to be out caused the relationship to fail. Fast forward a few years and Luke is asked to be a judge on a popular cooking show, that Meyer just happens to also be a part of. You can pretty much guess the rest of the storyline. There is a little awkwardness between the two as they struggle with seeing each other again. Throw in a little drama from an unknown source. The only surprise in this book was the reveal of the “bad guy” totally not who I thought. This isn’t the most original of stories but it was enjoyable never the less.

4 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster, narrated by Seb Yarrick

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-missing-ingredient-by-brian-lancaster-9738-b

Blurb: It can take losing everything to realize what you had all along.
Up-and-coming London chef Marcus Vine is poised on the edge of success, but the only men courting him are investors. That leaves Marcus with some free time—which is fortunate, because his godchildren need him.

A year ago, a horrible accident killed Marcus’s best friend, Raine, leaving her children without a mother and her husband, Tom, without a partner. Consumed by grief, Tom has been going it alone, refusing help, but when Marcus sees him out with the children, it’s obvious that Tom and his two daughters need someone. His persistent caring finally wears Tom down, allowing him to accept the comfort Marcus offers. Soon Marcus is up to his elbows in homework, home-cooked meals, and after-school activities. Over time he helps them rebuild their world, until soon their lives are approaching normal.
Then the unexpected happens: Tom confesses he has romantic feelings for Marcus, and nothing can ever be the same.

Review:

Story 4 out of 5: Marcus, a successful chef is still reeling from the death of his best friend, Raine.
Raine left behind, Tom and their 2 children; all of whom are trying their best to cope with life without her when Marcus reconnects with the family. Marcus starts to help Tom with the day to day running of Tom’s house and his old attraction (to Tom) begins to grow again. Tom for his part, is beginning to see Marcus as more than a godfather/friend helping out; he’s beginning to feel an attraction as well.
This is the first time that Tom has non-platonic experienced feelings for any man and at first, he seems OK with it. Then he starts to second guess himself, he wonders what others will think, so he pushes Marcus away. The latter is understandably hurt, but he lets Tom figure it out and eventually, they do get their HEA.
The story is well written, with memorable characters – I really enjoyed the story, and hope to read more by this author.

Narration 4 out of 5: I quite enjoyed Seb Yarrick’s narration. He had a down to earth tone and he was good with the accents (I was pleased at how made Marcus’s Nigerian-born assistant sound ☺).
His pacing was good, giving a solid performance. I would definitely look for more of his narrations.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

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


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Categories
adult - 18+

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


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Categories
adult - 18+

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


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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Book Bullying Gay Gay High but not hopeless Hurt/Abuse m/m Neta NetGalley Nine Star Press Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Scorching/high heat Stalker/Abusive Ex Standalone Virgin

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


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Categories
3.5 stars adult - 18+ Audiobook Book Dreamspinner Fade to black/No Steam Gay Gay Little to no angst m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Thanksgiving

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


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Categories
3.5 stars adult - 18+ Dreamspinner Gay Gay Halloween m/m Magic Mary D Mid level angst Mild/low level heat Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Stalker/Abusive Ex Standalone vampire Witches/Warlocks/Wizards

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


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Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Author Provided Book Dee Gay Gay m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Standalone

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


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