Audiobook: Set Ablaze by K.C. Burn Narrated by Darcy Stark

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/set-ablaze-by-kc-burn-9520-b

Blurb

California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”
Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.

The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.

Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously by Morgan – https://openskyebookreviews.com/release-day-review-set-ablaze-by-kc-burn/)

Overall:
Wonderful story with two amazing MC’s, both of whom have known serious pain and loss in the past.
It’s heartwarming to see how they handle this together, coming out so much stronger with the other’s support and love.
There’s also a very welcome cuteness overload, not in the least thanks to the “third” in their relationship…Fang.
Sweet and entertaining read with an immensely satisfying HEA.

Story:
The attraction between Jez and Hayden flares up hot and bright from the moment they set eyes on each other, but they each have their reasons for not immediately acting on it.

There are some obstacles in their way: Jez is Hayden’s best friend’s little brother, he’s also hiding something, Hayden makes some wrong assumptions, neither of them is winning any prizes as far as communication goes and then there are Hayden’s so-called friends, Vic and Jordan, who are continually spouting off homophobic, racist and misogynistic slurs.
Hayden’s so afraid of rocking the boat and losing his “friends” that he pretends, even to himself, that all of that is said “jokingly”.

Once Hayden’s blinders are off, he stands up for himself and for what he wants. I love how sweet he is with Jez, how accepting of his veganism, and he’s simply too adorable when he finds out Jez brought a stowaway into his house. Enter Fang…the cutest of all pugs in the history of pugs.

The stalker plot was very well executed and brought some welcome suspense to the story, the threat of creepy Jason hanging like a cloud over Jez’s new-found happiness and exacerbating his anxiety. Is he making it all up in his head, or is there really trouble in paradise?

Miguel, Hayden’s best friend and Jez’s older brother, is a very unlikely, though endearing matchmaker. He doesn’t make a good first impression on the reader, very much like his brother in terms of avoidance tactics, but he grows on you once he finally gets around to having a heart to heart with Jez and Hayden.
Hearing about what happened to Jez from his perspective was enlightening and heartbreaking at the same time.

I loved the writing style and the build-up of this story. The author brings us some beautiful and poignant imagery throughout the book to describe our MC’s state of mind. I was especially moved by Hayden’s painful realization he’s been bleeding from a thousand cuts without even knowing it.

Narration:
The narrator, Darcy Stark, was a revelation. He has great acting skills and easily draws you into the story, setting the right mood and making the characters come to life. He did wonderfully distinct and fitting voices for both MC’s, and also did a great job at differentiating the voices for the secondary characters.
I especially loved the narration in the scenes that were more emotionally intense, with heartbreak, pain, hope and fear each coming across so clearly in the narrator’s voice, making you feel all of it too, right alongside the MC’s. This book was truly a pleasure to listen to.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Release Day Review:All He Ever Needed by Cate Ashwood

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41059360-all-he-ever-needed?from_search=true

Blurb

Some secrets are too heavy to hold on to forever.

For Ethan, pretending has become second nature. After all, he’s spent the last decade pretending to be straight, pretending to be happy, and pretending he isn’t desperately in love with his best friend. But in a single moment of raw honesty, all those lies come crashing down around him and he’s left wondering what to do next.

When Jase learns his best friend is going through a breakup, his first instinct is to come to Ethan’s rescue, and he knows just the thing to help. The cabin where they spent summers as kids is sitting vacant, and a week there is the perfect remedy to start healing a broken heart.

In the seclusion of the mountains, long-buried fears and emotions take their friendship into unexplored territory that will either bring them closer together… or tear everything apart

Review

The story stars off with Jase whisking his best friend Ethan off to a cabin that they spent their childhood at after Ethan breaks up with his long-time girlfriend. Ethan eventually tells Jase the reason behind the breakup. He’s gay. Jase has trouble coming to terms with this. Jase can’t stand the thought of Ethan with other men. He’s confused by these feelings but admits to himself that he’s been attracted to men in the past. After an awkward first kiss, it finally clicks in place for Jase that Ethan has always been his. They spend time at the cabin exploring their mutual attraction, but Ethan knows once they leave that real life will come crashing around them. Jase really struggles with his “coming out” whereas Ethan finds acceptance. Jase is eventually able to realize that loving Ethan is the only this that matters.
This is the first book I’ve read by Cate Ashwood and I absolutely loved it!!! Friends to Lovers is one of my favorite tropes. Ethan has always known how he felt towards Jase, but Jase never even thought of Ethan that way. Cate does a great job conveying the characters thought and emotions. The chemistry between these two are off the charts. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: 415 Ink: Savior by Rhys Ford

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/savior-by-rhys-ford-9856-

Blurb

A savior lies in the heart of every good man but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside a savior.

The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.

It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.

Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life — much less his heart — but the brash, Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies or saving the man he’s too scared to love.

Review by Mary
Wow Rhys Ford doesn’t hold the punches in this sequel. The book is different but just as terrific as the first in the series, Rebel. It can be read on it’s own but in my opinion you get a better sense of this family by reading starting with the first book. We met both characters in Rebel but in Savior we get to understand them better and see through their eyes. All the brothers have created their family through a strong bond of surviving the system and the worst childhood imaginable. In this book both Rob and Mace have overcome adversity to get to where they are now. Mace however is still struggling with a past that haunts him and it only gets worse. Because of the abuse he suffered as a child he has built strong barriers which he believes protect others from him, what he believes his father made him. Both of them are attracted to each other but hold back for various reasons. Mace’s control slips and they both give in to their desire. It’s tempting to see Rob as Mace’s savior but I see them as saving each other. Both have to face fears, it’s just that Mace’s fears come back to challenge him and he has to face them head on. This is a slow building romance. It has to be because of their misunderstanding in the beginning, they seem to, I would say, dislike each other rather than hate and to break through Mace’s defences. For me it would not be believable if they rushed into a full hot and heavy relationship. The very fact that Rob is steadfastly there for Mace all the way shows the potential strength of their relationship. I was on such an emotional rollercoaster with this story. What Mace went through as a child broke my heart. I think the first book has the drama and this book is a lot more emotional. I can’t wait for book 3, looks like Ivo has met his match.

5 of stars out of 5

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Review by Xanthe

Book 2 in the 415 Ink series and its a fantastic follow up to Rebel. It’s not necessary to have read the first one but I think it will enhance your enjoyment of the overall feel and knowledge of the characters and their self made family.

In Savior, we follow Mace and Rob. They first met when Rob started work at the tattoo shop and both men felt the instant attraction but deny it for a long time.

However, Mace’s past comes back to haunt him and he finds himself surprisingly leaning on Rob when it all gets too much. With what happened in his past and now his present, will Mace make the stand for himself and for a live he deserves.

Man, these guys break my heart! First with Gus and now Mace. What makes it so much easier to read and to deal with such emotion is the family unit that they’ve built for themselves. You know that the 5 men who call themselves brothers are there for each other through life, death and all of the in between. It also helps that Rhys’s writing just pulls you in from the beginning, not letting you go until you’ve ridden the roller-coaster of emotion along with the MC’s off the book.

Mace stands strong and supportive, pushing his brothers to be better men but never expected more for himself. The secrets he holds within himself are things that would break others and comes close with him. It’s hard to read and think about the history of character and what they fictionally went through.

Rob’s character is perfect with Mace’s as he won’t be pushed around and will stand up for himself and others when the need arises. He is emotionally invested in Mace, even before anything happens and its heartwarming to read someone caring about the wellbeing of another without needing something in return, just needing to know that they’re ok, or at least going to be. I love how passionate he is about his art and work as a tattooist, having to fight for it amongst younger guys but smart enough to take good advice when he hears it.

Another mark for Rhys’s writing is how involved it gets you in the story overall but invested in the goings on of characters.

The emotional parts of the story involving Mace’s past, and when it reappears in his present, bring a tear to the eye and make you so grateful for the family that he got to join in the end.

It’s great that whilst we’ve moved on to another couple in the 415 Ink world, we still get to read about the others brothers and some of their goings on, especially with Chris now running amok in a house full of man childs!

I highly recommend this book and I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, looking forward to book 3!

I received an ARC from the publisher and am happily giving a review.

 

 

4 of 5 stars 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Smoldering Flame (Rekindled Flame #3) by Andrew Grey narrated by Michael Pauley

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/smoldering-flame-by-andrew-grey-9585-b

Blurb

Sometimes the strongest flames take the longest to ignite.

Firefighter Dean’s life revolves around his very ill son, Sammy. Caring for Sammy and working to make ends meet leave Dean time for little else, and romance isn’t something he can even consider—no matter how much he longs for someone special to join their family. Because money is tight, Dean couldn’t be more grateful to the photographer who does Sammy’s session free of charge.

After growing up in the foster care system, Marco knows how to rely on himself, and his hard work is about to pay off—he’s poised on the cusp of fame and success he could only have imagined as a lonely child. When Dean brings Sammy into Marco’s studio, Marco can see they’re struggling, and both the boy and his father stir Marco’s heart. The slow burn between the two men isn’t something either expected, but neither wants to lose the possibility of a loving future. With Dean’s dangerous and possibly life-threatening career and Marco’s demanding one, can romance and forever find a place to fit?

Review

This is a book in a series, but does not have to be read in order and does well on it’s own. Andrew Grey mentions other characters from some of his other stories, but that’s about it.

Though this is in the fire-fighter series, the main character is a photographer and we spend most of the time in his head and though the issue of fire fighting is certainly there and a big issue, it’s not the main thrust.

I thought this was a lovely story about two men bravely willing to trust their hearts once again though they’ve been hurt before. Sammy is a cute kid but definitely doesn’t occupy the story.

There were some times when Marco acted in a way that felt inconsistent but in the end I really appreciated the way these two had to realistically assess their relationship and they made real life decisions.

Michael Pauley did a nice job differentiating all the different characters and giving Angus a fun accent!

Highly recommended in this format!

3.75 (rounded to 4) of 5 stars for the story and 5 of 5 stars for the narration, overall 4.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Laugh: Rhino Ash by Lindsey Black

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36437886-rhino-ash?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb
Ashley Jameson always tries to do the right thing, but that’s hard when your nephew keeps eating crayons, your niece is dressed as a pudding and your obnoxious older brothers crash the church’s Sunday brunch with the guy you’ve been crushing on for five years. Going to work to fight fires is a welcome relief from family obligations, until the Riot Squad arrives to investigate and Ashley once again finds himself dealing with his siblings. Oh … and Finn Hale.

But Finn’s dark past continues to haunt him. As work gets increasingly busy with a string of arson attacks on illegal immigrants, Finn steps in to be the shoulder Ashley needs to lean on, but Ashley struggles to do the same for the man he loves. Juggling family and work can be difficult, but Ashley soon discovers that the real challenge is when it’s not a struggle at all … because you’ll do anything for the ones you love.

Review
This is the second book in a series but can be read as a stand-alone. Although once you read about this crazy family you might want more.
(https://openskyebookreviews.com/fishy-riot-by-lindsey-black/)
If you have read Fishy Riot and loved it you’ll like this book. Ashley is one of the younger siblings and initially get portrayed as simple, but he’s rather complex and hides his vulnerability. His family all mother him which can be very amusing. He has had a long standing crush on Finn Hale. His close friends call him Halesessed. He thinks no one else really knows this but of course that’s not true! Finn doesn’t show it but he is living his life in contrition for past mistakes and actions. He was made to feel this way by his parents and it takes Ashley’s love to make him see there is nothing to feel guilty about. This is a sweet love story about two people coming out of their shell, or self imposed isolation, to find happiness. Along the way there is an investigation into arson and people smuggling, harassment, and a few near death experiences certainly kept me hooked. The antics of the family, especially his niece and nephew had me laughing. I don’t know if I could cope with children like that!

4 of stars out of 5

Purchased by reviewer