Categories
adult - 18+

Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/nomads-dream-by-august-li-10134-b

Blurb

Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine?

Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach.

In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.

Review

To me this felt much more like a mystery/adventure story, and rather less like a romance. Though Janan and Isra fall in love and spend quite a lot of time together, I was left wanting more. As love stories go this one is rather more mellow than I like as far as feelings & passion go. It reads like an action-filled fairy tale and I prefer my romances a little grittier with MC’s who develop a deep emotional connection and build a life together as couple. We leave our MC’s before they get to do that.

This book has a peculiar mix of paranormal characters on the one hand and very religious characters on the other, which is certainly different from what I’m used to reading. I think the author did an amazing job in describing the Bedouin way of life and the beauty of the desert, and I also liked how she interspersed the story with Arabic terms & customs. Always with a light and respectful touch. I felt like I stepped into a tale of the Arabian Nights.

The story is set in modern-day Egypt which still has quite a way to go in matters like LGBT rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. These issues are important to the story and I was pleased to see our fictional characters come out on top and pursue a happy and hopeful life together. How that translates into their daily life stays vague, however, they are both still in the closet as far as I know.

The secondary characters are well-written. Flicker, the djinn who befriended and protected Isra, is intriguing and mysterious, and we also get two very strong and independent female characters, Sehrish and Nawra, which was a nice plus.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy, narrated by Colin Darcy

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stranger-in-a-foreign-land-by-michael-murphy-9679-b

Blurb:
Losing his old life and finding a new love.

After an accident stole his memory, the only home American businessman Patrick knows is Bangkok. He recovers under the tender ministrations of Jack, an Australian expat who works nights at a pineapple cannery. Together they search for clues to Patrick’s identity, but without success. Soon that forgotten past seems less and less important as Jack and Patrick – now known as Buddy – build a new life together.

But the past comes crashing in when Patrick’s brother travels to Thailand looking for him…and demands Patrick return to Los Angeles, away from Jack and the only world familiar to him. The attention also causes trouble for Jack, and to make their way back to each other, Patrick will need to find not only himself, but Jack as well, before everything is lost….

Review:
Story 3.5 out of 5: I have mixed feelings about the story. I liked the premise – an amnesiac who’s stranded in a foreign land, he creates a new life and gets a new love. But, I just couldn’t really get invested in the characters. Patrick is a businessman, (not sure what his business was), he has a good sense of humour (as evidenced by his monologues ☺). Then he has an accident and loses his memory and identity. He’s soon befriended by Jack, an Australian who won’t (can’t?) go back home. Both men become friends, slowly turning into a mutual attraction and romance. Then Patrick’s past comes back in the form of his brother. He’s forced away from Jack and he doesn’t handle the separation well. The men eventually get back together, but the story ends rather abruptly. An epilogue would have been great to tie everything together.

Narration 3.5 out of 5: I enjoyed the narration and I think it’s a good way to experience the story. Colin Darcy does a good job distinguishing between the characters, however, accents are not his forte – (his Oz accent sounded more Texan? to me).

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5



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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook Bad Attitude by KA Mitchell, narrated by Chet Daniel

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bad-attitude-by-ka-mitchell-9505-b

Blurb

Saving lives never used to be this complicated.

Gavin Montgomery does what’s expected of him by his wealthy and powerful family—look good in a tuxedo and don’t make waves. When a friend takes a leap off a bridge, Gavin tries to save him, only to fall in with him. At least at the bottom of the river he won’t feel like such a disappointment to his family. But he’s pulled from the water by a man with an iron grip, a sexy mouth, and a chip on his shoulder the size of the national deficit.
Jamie Donnigan likes his life the way it is—though he could have done without losing his father and giving up smoking. But at least he’s managed to avoid his own ball and chain as he’s watched all his friends pair off. When Montgomery fame turns a simple rescue into a media circus, Jamie decides if he’s being punished for his good deed, he might as well treat himself to a hot and sweaty good time. It’s not like the elegant and charming Gavin is going to lure Jamie away from his bachelor lifestyle. Nobody’s that charming. Not even a Montgomery….

Review: Story previously reviewed.
https://openskyebookreviews.com/release-day-review-bad-attitude-by-ka-mitchell/

Chet Daniels is new to me. He did a good job with overall narration – the entitled tone for Gavin and a more down to earth tone for Jamie, (although not a ‘Balmer’ accent as my Baltimore-born spouse will tell you). Mr. Daniels did have a curious way of transitioning between dialogue and non-dialogue parts. It wasn’t bad, just something I noticed.
I enjoyed the narration and I think it’s a good way to experience the story.

4 stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent release: Four Ever by Sloane Kennedy

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43588041-four-ever?from_search=true

Blurb

Surrounded by a group of devoted four-footed and two-winged family members, Zak and Killian have built what should have been a dream life in their countryside farmhouse. But a cruel twist of fate and the re-emergence of old demons has frayed the edges of the men’s seven-year relationship until just one wrong move could end up severing their bond for good.

Seemingly content to walk on eggshells around one another, things come to a head when ER nurse Zak brings his work home with him… literally.

After being forced to leave their posh Southern California lives, homeless stepbrothers Liam and Noah are slowly losing themselves to the streets they can’t seem to escape. When twenty-one-year-old Liam is beaten up while protecting his younger “brother,” the pair find themselves being welcomed into a home where being a stray is considered a good thing. But Liam and nineteen-year-old Noah have learned the hard way that nothing is given for free and there’s no such thing as the kindness of strangers. Survival means only counting on and trusting in each other.

Will Zak and Killian’s offer of a no-strings-attached place to heal end up being more than any of the four men bargained for? Especially when feelings between Liam and Noah begin to crawl to the surface and the truth of what Zak and Killian’s relationship has turned into becomes harder to deny?

And what happens when lines begin to blur and needs start to change? Will Zak, Killian, Liam, and Noah end up going their separate ways?

Or will they learn that love doesn’t always come in twos?

Review by Neta
This book has a LOT going on. In the first few pages we are already introduces to an established couple that has been going through some sort of issue for a while, around 15 animals, from cats to miniature horses and two young men, with a mysterious past, in the hospital. We learn pretty fast that there are many secrets these four men hold close to the vest and get little crumbs of the bigger picture here and there. That in itself makes the story very intriguing and keeps you guessing what the story behind them is, even if you do start to get the picture as it goes on.

What I found hard about this book, and the reason I gave it 3 stars, is the sheer amount of emotional baggage for both humans and animals, the physical trauma ad backstory is so complex and it just added too much details to the story. It’s hard to write a good romance about two people, let alone four, and when you add all the trauma and hurt they need to sort through and the issues each ‘couple’ has with the complexity of having the four of them get together in a poly relationship I just felt overwhelmed. Most of the important emotional things about them becoming a foursome where drowned in the complex sexual scenes between the four, that in my opinion, while hot on their own, could have been reduced to one good scene and have the other 3-4 converted into them talking about what is going on between them. Every time someone tried to talk, Noah got upset, and would not listen, which resulted in sex being used as a means to show him and Liam that they do want to be together and cement the strength of their emotions to one another.
It was hard to sort out Killian and Zak, and believing the quick way they ended up with the two younger men living with them, and then being their lovers too, while Liam and Noah have nothing to their name and are in such a difficult situation (no home, money and being physically hurt at first as well as emotionally traumatized. Because Killian and Zak have an advantage, despite their own issues, and it through the whole relationship out of balance for me. The first half of the book takes it’s time with them getting to know each other, while being attracted to each other very fast (while being hurt and scared, a situation I found hard to sort out sexual and emotional attraction in but oh well…). I wish the other half didn’t try to catch up the sexual parts of romance and took the time for them to get into poly in a slower, more sophisticated manner.

Add to that, the stray animals, Noah’s turbulent fast and his blackout attacks, it was all too much and there was no way to close all the plot lines like they should have been in the length of the story (maybe if it was much longer). They story was not bad but it was overflowing with drama and I felt like it should have taken a less dramatic approach in order to deal with the poly stuff.

Number of stars out of 5
3


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Review by Karen

Mind-blowing! She pulled it off! Four incredible MC’s in an equal, loving relationship with each other. Just…wow.

The author meticulously built up the relationships between all four men, giving them all a chance to fall in love with each other and connect one on one, but also managing to make them function as a whole.
A loving unit of four. Forever.

What I absolutely love about this author’s writing is her absolute knack for writing tortured heroes with a heart of gold. Which is exactly what we get here. Yay!
Each of these four men has known loss or has been badly hurt in the (not always very distant) past. When life throws them together, they are finally able to find the comfort and healing they need. To say nothing of happiness, of course.

Killian and Zak’s love for each other is evident from the very first, but there’s an incredible aura of sadness surrounding them and something is obviously holding them apart in spite of their intense love for each other. Their pain comes across so clearly. Anxious times that make for an intense reading experience.

Zak has made it a habit to bring home strays, wounded animals in need of a safe space to recover. One day however, he brings home a wounded stray of the human variety. Followed shortly thereafter by a second. When Killian and Zak open up their home to Liam and Noah, they are both taken by surprise by their feelings for their two new house guests and they have a difficult time processing the guilt and shame that comes with those new feelings. What does this mean for their relationship?

I loved seeing all four of them get to know each other, individually and together, learning to lean on one another and most importantly sharing laughter and falling head over heels in love. One of the things that I really liked too was that Liam and Noah are a catalyst in helping Killian and Zak to open up to each other again and get their relationship back on track. The one thing the four of them needed a little help in learning though is that communication is key, and that by avoiding certain subjects you might actually cause someone you love pain instead of sparing their feelings. That was a tough lesson to learn.

The character development is wonderfully done, as always, and the writing is well-paced and evocative. The mystery surrounding Noah’s past, with its far-reaching consequences, held me captivated and nearly broke my heart once it was revealed. The cast of secondary characters, which consisted mostly of family pets this time, is extraordinary. Especially dearest Waldo.

This was a deeply emotional, beautiful love story, with just the right amount of angst.
Signature Sloane Kennedy. 2,3 or 4 men, I don’t care. If she writes it, I’m reading it.

Number of stars out of 5: 6


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Tracker Hacker by Jeff Adams Narrated by John Solo

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/tracker-hacker-by-jeff-adams-10196-b

Blurb

A Harmony Ink Press Title

Codename: Winger One

Theo Reese is just an average high school student with a passion for hockey and an uncanny talent when it comes to computers… at least on the surface.

What his teammates, fellow students, and even his boyfriend don’t realize is that Theo leads a double life. When he’s not putting up his facade of normal, Theo is working as an agent for Tactical Operational Support, where his technical genius is more than just a hobby. At sixteen he is responsible for helping agents in the field and keeping the TOS network secure.

It’s a secret he has to keep—from everyone.

But secrecy becomes even harder when a hacker compromises the system TOS uses to track its agents and Theo’s dad goes missing. Theo must find him and stop the hacker, which means leaving the comfort of his computer screen and venturing into a very real and very deadly world.

And if that’s not enough to deal with, all the secrecy is really putting a strain on Theo’s love life.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Review

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Theo aka Winger is a 16-year-old technical genius. After hacking his parent’s phone, he finds out that they are a part of a covert organization. The organization brings Theo on board for a sort tech support role. Aside from that Theo seems to be a normal teenager. He plays hockey and has an adorkable boyfriend named Eddie. Theo struggles with keeping his two lives separate, especially with Eddie and I have a feeling that there will be a big blow up later on in the series.

The story was fast paced, and it held my interest the whole time. While I had trouble following some of the more complex technical lingo. Jeff did a good job explaining what was going on. I also enjoyed that hockey played a role throughout a good portion of the story. I eagerly look forward to reading the next book in the series.

John Solo did a great job with the narration. He has a great range and was able to give everyone a distinctive voice. One pet peeve of mine with YA audios are that the characters sound too old but John succeeded in portraying younger sounding voices for the teenagers.

4 stars



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Categories
adult - 18+

The Other Book by Roe Horvat

 

Good Reads

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43380012-the-other-book?from_search=true

 

Blurb
It was supposed to be just sex… Famous last words.

Tyler doesn’t overthink pleasure and avoids complications. He knows it might be stupid to get involved with his closeted boss, but the temptation is too great. At first, the cold and beautiful Joel Sandstrom seems to loathe Tyler’s guts.

Except one late night at the office, his reasons become clear…and his control breaks.

Every time they touch, Joel’s stony face comes alive, harsh lines smooth out, and for a minute, he looks serene. Happy, even. Just sex – dirty, intense, spectacular sex.

During their covert encounters, Tyler discovers the power he has over the lonesome man, and it’s a heady feeling. What if he could set Joel free and give him peace of mind? When Tyler realizes how much Joel needs him, he doesn’t regret breaking his own rules.

Gay erotic romance. Contains explicit scenes and sexual interactions between more than two partners. For adult readers only.

Review
Joel and Tyler are very interesting characters, their relationship hits you in the face unexpectedly and the Enemies-to-Lovers vibe is very strong in this book. It’s hard to wrap your head around what is going on at first but I did like that the story didn’t drag it out too long and they did come clean to each other in a relatively healthy way.

This book was very intense and erotic sexually, and in that sense I liked it even though I usually do not like when couples add a third (or fourth) in a relationship. Despite that I felt it was written well and didn’t affect my delicate monogamist sensibilities too much. It was also important for Joel to find freedom, in the confining darkness of the closet imposed upon him, so that scene was a pinnacle moment for him in a way.
I liked that despite the awful situation between Joel and his father the darkness was not too overpowering and it ended with a good HEA.
I know Roe Horvat wished this book to be read without reference to his previous work (according to his author’s not in the beginning) but I could not make that distinction and I feel like his other books (such as Vanilla Clouds) were better. That being said, this is a good length story with enough heat to singe off your eyebrows and good emotional development in the characters.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


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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+

Coming Soon! Making it Better by Lyss Em

January 21

Blurb
“You still mess me up after all this time, Luc.”
“Not my problem.”

Court’s forceful brand of dominance pushes Lucan’s buttons like nothing else, but he can’t forget how badly Court hurt him in the past. Their romance six years ago was heady, intense, and sizzling—and left Lucan with deep emotional scars. When he runs into Court at a fetish party, the spark is still there. But so is the pain.

For Court, Lucan is the mindfuck he never got over. He still doesn’t know why Lucan ended things, and when he sees Lucan in the flesh again, the desperate need to dominate comes rushing back. Court would do anything to have a second chance, but he won’t let Lucan mess with his head and break his heart again. Or so he tells himself.

“I’ll do it all right for you this time if you just teach me.”

When Lucan agrees to show Court how to be a good Dom, the two headstrong men toe a delicate line between restraint and uncontrolled passion. Will the same sick love that consumed their past destroy their future?

Making It Better is a standalone enemies to lovers, second chance, contemporary, BDSM romance with an HEA ending.

Review
My first thought starting this book was that Lucan and Court just don’t listen to each other. This is either going to be great or repetitive. Well I thought it was great. It’s not the kind of second chance story where they meet again and all their previous issues disappear. No, both Lucan and Court have to work at making it right. Lucan confronts his insecurities and comes to terms with the nature of his kink. Court has to understand where things went wrong the first time they were together. The journey they go on and the trust they build makes a great story. not to forget the kinks. The BDSM is very well handled and shows a good view of safe sane and consensual. There is a level of violence within some of the play and blood play which may be a trigger for some.

4.5 of stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Stallion Mage: secret omega by A.O. Spade

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43130979-stallion-mage?from_search=true

Blurb
In a tribe of stallion shifters, Alvarr is smaller and more delicate than the rest of his tribe-brothers. But he is also a rare stallion mage, a male shifter who can perform magic… a talent only found in mares.

The other tribe members mistrust Alvarr and his powers over the earth. Though the Elder stallions view the mage as something precious, they are the only ones who value him. Even the strong, commanding lead stallion, Laren, keeps his distance.

The leader’s rejection of the smaller mage hurts, until the Time of Mating brings them together. Two nights in the woods change the course of their lives forever.

Review

This was a highly original shifter story that really took me by surprise. One of the more unusual things about it is that the shifters main form is actually that of their animal self with the characters only occasionally shifting into their human form.

We follow the story from Alvarr’s point of view, who is a bit of a misfit in the stallion shifter tribe he lives with. He’s very inquisitive and has a gentle, loving heart, but physically he seems to be lacking as he is far smaller and more delicate than all the other stallions. This underdog makes for an unlikely hero, though what he lacks in stature he will make up for in courage.

I really enjoyed Alvarr’s conversations with the Elders as well as all the scenes to do with Nature’s magic and how that affects Alvarr and those around him. Laren, the leader of the tribe, is a bit of a (conflicted) enigma still. The well-being of his tribe is clearly very important to him, but he’s at a loss to figure out how Alvarr is supposed to fit into it.

I love that the story is set in a Stone Age like world, which really helped to create a mood of wonderment and magical possibilities in a civilization that is steeped in superstition and which has lost a lot of its own history. This universe is so far removed from our daily reality that the author has a lot of leeway for his world-building, hinting at an intriguing mythology though not unlocking all its secrets yet. This is only book 1, of course, and it appears the best is yet to come which is very promising. I can’t wait to see how the story will unfold further.

There were a few small editing mistakes here and there or an unlucky word-choice that didn’t quite fit the stone age atmosphere, but nothing too irksome.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+

Coming Soon! Cash by Garrett Leigh

January 22!

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43188699-cash?from_search=tru

Blurb
Cash is a car mechanic with a secret. Head down, sleeves up, he hides from the past as much as his shattered heart, until a reluctant stumble into a Tottenham bar ends in the one night stand of his dreams.

Hunt saboteur Rae can’t believe his luck when he wakes up the next morning. Cash is gorgeous, and the hottest hook up he’s ever had. He doesn’t expect to see him again, until a twist of fate lands him on Cash’s doorstep a few months later.

United by a cause that’s broken Cash before, they are drawn together. They have more in common than they ever imagined, but with Cash haunted by the past, and Rae so tangled in the present, it’s not long before love isn’t enough to keep them alive.

Review
I wouldn’t say this was a romance story more a statement story, if there is such a thing. The emphasis is on fox hunting and the lengths the saboteurs go to to prevent foxes being harmed. I’ve never really known much about the hunt or that despite being illegal now it still goes on. Although it doesn’t surprise me. I did feel a bit conflicted in thatI don’t agree with the actions on either side but as part of this story it works so well. Rae and Cash’s relationship is complicated. Cash’s past is troubling him and makes it a rocky journey for them. Rae is caught up in his life with the saboteurs that he is single minded. The angst ebbs and flows throughout the story which kept me hooked. I wanted to know if they were going to have a chance. I was happy with the happy for now ending. It feels right.
I didn’t realise there was a previous book, Lucky, Lucky and Dom’s story. I am intrigued by them. I am also interested in the next book Jude.

4 of stars out of 5


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