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Retro Review: Hell on Earth (Hellhound Champions #1) by Macy Blake

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42359596-hell-on-earth?from_search=true

Blurb

Protector. Boogeyman. Hellhound. Meshaq has been called it all. As alpha of the hellhounds, his goddess has tasked him with protecting the secrets of the supernatural world. He’s the police of other creatures and the enforcer of the goddess’s rules. If his duty leaves him lonely and longing for a mate and a larger pack, well, the goddess knows the secrets of his heart and she will grant them if it is her will.

Drew Metcalf is a man on the run. When he finds himself in a biker bar surrounded by leather wearing giants, he thinks he’s a goner. But there’s something different about the man slinging drinks. He makes Drew feel safe, something he hasn’t felt in a long time.

When Drew and Shaq’s worlds collide, a different kind of magic happens. Shaq doesn’t understand why he’s so drawn to the human whose life is shrouded in mystery and danger. What Shaq does know is that Drew needs his protection. Magical forces are at work, beginning a battle that will require all of Shaq’s skill as the goddess’s champion. With a terrifying threat looming, Shaq and Drew are in danger of losing more than their hearts.

Review

I had thought I’d already reviewed this – so I apologize for it’s being so late.

This is a really terrific series by an author that was new to me. (I did go back to the author’s first series – this is a spinoff of that series – but it’s a ménage thing that I don’t care for so I didn’t pursue reading it – however others have said they loved it too.) I love when the newb human stumbles into the world of paranormal and this is that in spades.

Shaq is awesome and when Drew finds out just how important he is to Shaq it’s even better!

This is a great new world (or spinoff world) and if you’re a fan of Fated mates, shifters, hot smexy times with a fair amount of magic and adventure – you should check this out. I don’t believe this is mpreg – but you could check for sure if that bothers you.

Highly Recommended!

4.5 stars

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Audiobook: Handle with Care By: Cari Z. Narrated by: John Solo

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Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/handle-with-care-by-cari-z-10360-b

Blurb
A fragile heart needs extra care.

Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years—boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas—and a difficult homecoming.

Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.

Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?

Review

Handle with Care was a sweet, friends to lover’s romance. I found the characters of Aaron and Tyler to be engaging. This is very much a slow burn romance. Aaron has a lot of hang ups due childhood neglect. He allows his work as a social worker to consume him, which is causing him to burn out. Tyler is the opposite. He is full of cheer and his spirits always seem high. Aaron’s reunion with his brother is rocky and the emotions are high. I loved when Aaron finally let go of all his resentment of the past and started to look ahead.
John Solo did a good job with the narration. He has a great range of voices and each character is easy discernable.

4 stars


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Audiobook: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch, narrated by Joel Leslie

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Tantor Link
https://tantor.com/salt-magic-skin-magic-lee-welch.html

Blurb:
Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.

When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

Review:

From the very first chapter of this book I was caught up in its intense atmosphere of desperation and mystery. Poor Soren, trapped on his father’s estate by powers unseen and with no way out of his predicament!

Listening to this story wreaked havoc on my nerves, there’s a constant sense of urgency and tension. It reminded me of a Gothic novel of yore, though luckily faster-paced than let’s say the good old Mysteries of Udolpho. The Victorian setting with the broken down manor and romantic moors lends itself perfectly for this type of story. Technical advancements are on the rise, but at the same time it’s far enough into the past to make legends and superstitious tales, even magic, seem plausible.

The writing was beautiful, fluent, gripping and evocative. I loved the attention to historical details, that touch of realism to contrast so wonderfully with the very original magical setting of the story. I adored the references to the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace especially! How awful indeed for Soren to have missed out on that experience.

John and Soren seemed an unlikely match at first, because of the differences in their characters, their station in life and the trust issues they needed to overcome. But they are really great together!
They have amazing chemistry. However, it was the yearning and the tender, vulnerable moments they shared that truly made them stand out to me. What struck me too is that Soren, in large part, is drawn to John because of how kind the other man is.

Narration: This is a suspense-filled story with an eerie atmosphere, which Joel Leslie managed to capture (and enhance) perfectly in his performance. He also did a great job with the accent of the characters, as per usual. I loved how he read John and Soren, making John sound just a bit rougher around the edges than Soren, whereas Soren sounds quite posh, the perfect young English lord.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 5


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Recent Release: In Safe Hands by Victoria Sue

Dreamspinner

Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/searchresults?q=victoria+sue

Blurb: Former helicopter pilot Maverick Delgardo’s injuries ended his Air Force career, leaving him bitter and one drink away from becoming an alcoholic. When his sister asks for his help on a private protection case to babysit a disgraced pop star, Mav reluctantly agrees.
Deacon Daniels, onetime lead singer and idol to his teenage fans, saw his career and reputation ruined when a reporter’s exposé led to a devastating scandal. Without money or a job, a heartbroken Deacon has lost custody of his baby niece. And just when he thinks his life can’t get any worse, a stalker’s threatening messages escalate to murder.
Mav only agreed to one meeting, but his protective instincts kick in, along with an attraction to Deacon. When the body count increases, however, Mav is unsure he is up to the task of protecting Deacon from a killer. But it is too late for Mav to step away, now that he’s lost his heart, and he must find the strength to reassure Deacon and his niece that they are in safe hands no matter the cost.

Review: This is a really good romantic suspense story. I really enjoyed it, especially the fact that I didn’t guess the killer until Mav did.
Mav, ex-military, disabled, bitter and one drink away from becoming an alcoholic – not the most lovable character, right? Wrong – underneath he’s really a good guy who doesn’t know how to handle not being a ‘complete’ man. Once he has a purpose, protecting Deacon, he finds himself. What I liked about his character is that he doesn’t become an ‘Alpha male’ once he gains more confidence – he still worries that he can’t protect Deacon, he worries about dropping Molly; but he does become a stronger person knowing that he can make a difference.
Deacon, he was so nice! I felt bad for all the things that had happened to him, and his horror of a mum! Yikes! But he persevered, didn’t really let life beat him down. He and Mav made a good couple. I enjoyed how their tentative attraction naturally progressed to something more – it’s a sweet romance with none of the cold/hot that could easily be added for ‘tension’. I really appreciated that ☺
The murder/mystery was really good – I liked reading from the murderer’s perspective as well.
Overall, a really good story!

4.5 stars out of 5


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Recent Release: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/blue-umbrella-sky-by-rick-r-reed-10315-b

Blurb

Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.

Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.

When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love.

When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted… and maybe begin a new romance.

But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.

Can they lay down their baggage and find out how redemptive love can be?

Review

I was very intrigued by the blurb but sadly this book did nothing for me. I really struggled to finish it. The two main characters are Milt, who’s husband passed away from Alzheimer’s and Billy, a young man struggling with sobriety. Milt has pulled away from all human contact until a flood forces him into Billy’s orbit. The two men have the beginnings of a friendship going on. Billy admits to himself early on that he was intrigued and falling in love with the lonely man. Milt in the other hand doesn’t want to move on from his deceased husband due to a promise he made to him on the sick bed. The ending seemed very rushed. I think if a few extra chapters of more build up were added I would have liked it more. I also found the frequent jumps back in time to be confusing since there was no notice that it had happed.

3 stars of 5


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adult - 18+

Recent Release: Rapid Response (Hearts and Health #8) by D.J. Jamison

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44143237-rapid-response?from_search=true

Blurb

A confused straight guy and a gay hookup artist walk into a bar …

Firefighter Sean Connolly is straight — until one impulsive night changes everything. He tries to dismiss it as a fluke, but when a fire rescue leads him back to the guy who blew his mind, he’s thrown into a chaos of confusion and want. He gives in to curiosity, exploring a new side to himself — not just his attraction to a man, but his desperate need to please.

Paramedic Jace Gillespie is a hookup pro, never letting anyone get too close. When he meets Sean, though, he feels a connection right away. An ill-advised threesome seems to kill a friendship in the making, but when they’re thrown together by work, it doesn’t take long for passion to reignite. Sean calls to something in Jace he never knew was there, and together, they explore a dynamic that fulfills them both.

But as feelings deepen, doubts surface. Sean is in the closet, and Jace struggles to trust his promise that it won’t last forever. With family conflict and his career in the balance, Sean finds it difficult to picture his life without secrecy, but if he doesn’t find a way, he may lose the one person he most wants to please.

Review

This is a really wonderful OFY romance with a delicious dose of the required angst for this trope, but it’s also very moving and filled with deeper emotions. The story is written with D.J. Jamison’s typical sweet and light touch, and has a lot of humor and heartwarming moments in it. Although she doesn’t make it easy for Jace and Sean to find their HEA and there’s sadness and dark times for them to overcome, still it’s always done with a delicate touch and she never errs to the melodramatic side.

There were a couple of cringeworthy moments for our MC’s to endure, that I barely even dared to read, those are so not my cup of tea because I tend to empathize too much with the characters. I could have done without the threesome scene in the beginning, where Jace’s friend, Lena , especially rubbed me the wrong way, both during and after. I found her difficult to like and not at all a good friend to Jace in the aftermath of that particular debacle. Awkward beginnings aside, I really enjoyed Jace and Sean’s story.

I loved the surprising dynamic between Jace and Sean, so refreshing that it’s the built firefighter that longs to give up control. Sean is so giving and caring. I adored him for that. I also loved that he worked so hard to keep his family together and tried to (re-)build bridges for all those he loves. He doesn’t always get it right, however, and some of his decisions were like a train-wreck waiting to happen… the fall-out wasn’t pretty. Jace is every bit as much an intriguing character, longing for love, same as Sean, and discovering new truths about himself as well as their relationship develops.

For those who’ve read the other books in this series, reconnecting with some of the earlier characters will be great fun, but the book can be read as a standalone too.

I very much enjoyed this story. It had an intensity and emotional drive that I really liked.

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5


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adult - 18+

Recent Release: In His Sights by L.A. Bryce

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43680948-in-his-sights?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Meet two men who need each other’s help but don’t realize it until it’s almost too late.

Noah is gay and terrified someone might find out. So much so that when he was blackmailed with pictures of himself with another man, instead of coming clean, he left his SEAL team without a word.

The other man is openly gay Mason, a former Marine and now part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task force. It takes eight years after their first meeting in the desert for a chance event bring the two men together again. Now Noah must decide if he’s ready to accept who he is or if it’s easier to cut and run. Can they navigate the obstacles in their path to build a relationship? And why does the thought of that scare them more than investigating a group of terrorists?

Review

This book involves Mason, FBI and Noah, a former SEAL. There is an instant attraction. The way Noah struggles with his sexuality is something that some readers can relate to. It was a shame he was blackmailed. His “hot and cold” with Mason was frustrating, but understandable. Mason lives with guilt for not being able to catch the people responsible for terrorist attacks that affects him personally. The two meet in a bar, had seen each other briefly years ago, and grew close. The book has humor, mystery, action, and some steamy mm scenes. Both go through a lot in the book. It’s not a cutesy and sweet romance, there’s many aspects to the book. Some surprises packed in the book also. Highly enjoyed reading.

Number of stars out of 5

4.5


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adult - 18+

Recent Release: Dirty Laundry (#3 Tucker Springs series – 2nd edition) by Heidi Cullinan

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dirty-laundry-by-heidi-cullinan-10335-b

Blurb

Sometimes you have to get dirty to come clean.
When muscle-bound Denver Rogers effortlessly dispatches the frat boys harassing grad student Adam Ellery at the Tucker Springs laundromat, Adam’s thank-you turns into impromptu sex over the laundry table. The problem comes when they exchange numbers. What if Adam wants to meet again and discovers Denver is a high-school dropout with a learning disability who works as a bouncer at a local gay bar? Or what if Denver calls Adam only to learn while he might be brilliant in the lab, outside of it he has crippling social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Either way, neither of them can shake the memory of their laundromat encounter. Despite their fears of what the other might think, they can only remember how good the other one feels. The more they get together, the kinkier things become. They’re both a little bent, but in just the right ways.
Maybe the secret to staying together isn’t to keep things clean and proper. Maybe it’s best to keep their laundry just a little bit dirty.

Review

I always love an outwardly tough and physically imposing hero who then turns out to be a gentle giant, caring and kind. Even better if they have a vulnerable side and insecurities to bring into that mix. So needless to say, Denver swept me off my feet as easily as he did Adam.

Heidi Cullinan did an amazing job writing with so much insight and sensitivity about Adam’s mental health issues and his struggle to cope with his OCD and to find the right people to help him do so. The panic attacks, the anxiety and worries that constantly plague Adam were all described very convincingly and I constantly felt myself tense up right alongside Adam. One of the things that struck me most was the metaphor of the horses for his OCD. I was so happy for him when he managed to grasp control of the reins for a while.

Denver and Adam are the sweetest couple, even when they’re being surprisingly kinky. There’s always an element of care or gentleness in their interactions with each other, even when things get intense physically. Which they do, these two have amazing chemistry!

There are a some hurdles to overcome, of course, because true love doesn’t normally come easy, not in romance novels nor in real life. There’s quite some angst (yay!) in this story, because Adam and Denver both have hang-ups to overcome, but they help each other get there. With a little help from friends as well.

The secondary characters were well-written, the good ones and the other one (maybe he was just a tad too awful though). I loved Louisa especially, she’s such a good friend to Adam, loyal and wise. The scene where she takes Denver to task was incredible!

I very much enjoyed this story, it’s one of my favorite books by this author.

m/m – contemporary – opposites attract – hurt/comfort – mental health – angst – nerd/cowboy – bdsm

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Recent Release: Redeem by Christina Lee

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44152554-redeem?from_search=true

Blurb
Successful financial analyst Michael Walsh leads a picture-perfect life that anyone would envy—unless they caught a glimpse beneath the surface. Haunted by failed relationships and self-doubt, Michael harbors a soul-deep loneliness that no number of casual hookups can fulfill. So why can’t he stop thinking about his New Year’s fling with a man whose quiet desperation matched his own?

Barista Stewart Jenkins has an abysmal track record with relationships, and no matter how hard he tries to keep things tightly under wraps, his life is spinning out of control. His hookup with the gorgeous Michael was only supposed to be sex—hot, dirty, uncomplicated—but that small taste leaves him yearning for more.

Every no-strings encounter that follows between Michael and Stewart peels away more layers, blurring the lines, until they’re left with a raw tenderness and acceptance they both crave. A relationship seems out of the question—they come from drastically different lives and are plagued by inexcusable sins. Being vulnerable is sure to reveal old wounds, and forgiveness seems out of reach, unless they can find a way around their fears on the road to redemption.

Review
Both Michael and Stewart have both come out of relationships they have tried to cling on to. Both of them have been painted as the bad guys. It during this period of acceptance and introspection that they meet each other and the penny drops. They know of each other through their former partners. Small world. Both of them are carrying a lot of baggage and resist getting involved with anyone again. They are so drawn to each other that they dance around admitting that they want anything more than to hook up. Both of them grow so much during this story that it’s a captivating read. They are getting together at the right point for both of them, they are now receptive to understanding where things have gone wrong in the past and do not want to make the same mistakes again. Even though they don’t quite want to open up to each other in the bedroom Stewart and Michael are so hot together, phew what chemistry.
Although this book can be read as a stand alone I personally think you get a deeper understanding of exactly how far both of them have come if you’ve read, or listened, to the previous two books. West (Jonas) relationship with Tristan is in Reawaken and Elijah and Kam’s story is in Reclaim.

5 of stars out of 5



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Recent Release: Exploring Limits by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/exploring-limits-by-nicki-bennett-and-ariel-tachna-10299-

Blurb

We could always share him….

After failing to capture the attention of their bicurious costar singlehandedly, Kit and Devon team up to seduce Jonathan, who plays King Arthur in the new miniseries Camelot.

The chemistry between the three actors is off the charts, and it brings out the adventurous side in all of them. Things heat up in the bedroom as the trio explores the pleasures of dominance, submission, bondage, toys, and anything else they can find to get the most out of their secret time together.

But a gay ménage presents problems without easy solutions—especially as they work closely together on set. For their threesome to survive and evolve into a true committed relationship, they’ll all have to test their physical and emotional limits.

This volume includes newly edited and expanded versions of the novellas:
Exploring Limits
Stretching Limits
Refining Limits

Review
I read these books along time ago when they were three separate books and I wanted to see if they tightened them up by putting them in two volumes. As I remembered it was a case of what felt lightning quick into very hot scenes. From this the physical attraction was evident but how was the relationship side between Kit, Devon and Jonathan going to be developed? Especially as Jonathan was supposedly straight, not even questioning. During these scenes they get to know each other in the context of what turns each of them on, rules of play, toys, role play etc but the book feels and reads like a series of hookups. I went in looking for more because as hot as it sounds I don’t think I can cope with 300 plus pages of sex. The pace changed about half way through when more BDSM comes into the picture but there’s still more sex than story.

I finished the book but It was slow going for me but that’s just my tastes it could very well work for you. I hope that the relationship side comes more to the front in the second book

2 of stars out of 5


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