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: Eye of the Beholder by M.D. Grimm

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/eye-of-the-beholder-by-md-grimm-10154-

Blurb
Is it better to risk it all… or never know what could have been?

After surviving an abusive childhood, Vulcan remade himself upon arriving in Los Angeles, California. He became a blacksmith for the paranormal community and strives to earn the respect of the vampire covens and werewolf packs that call LA home. He also prevents the pain of loss by keeping everyone at arm’s length.

But he never planned on meeting a former Roman soldier by the name of Marcus Cassius Vespillo. Something sparks between them and turns into a friendship he never considered possible. He can’t deny his intense attraction to the intelligent, courteous, ancient vampire. And it scares him.

Though Vulcan is wary of seeking more with Cassius, an attack leaves him at death’s door and forces him to reexamine his priorities. But Cassius has his own secret, one that promises tragedy and loss. And if that wasn’t enough, a slayer arrives in the States, one with a bloody connection to Cassius… and Vulcan himself

Review
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The world building is great. Only a few humans know that vampires, werewolves and gouls exist. Those who do work for them in someway. The story started by setting the scene for Vulcan then jumped forward. Cassius is a wonderful character. A very ancient vampire who falls madly in love with Vulcan. Theirs is a slow paced love story and it needs to be slow to get the most from the building romance. Due to his past Vulcan is hesitant to get involved with anyone let alone an ancient vampire. Running alongside the romance is a mystery one that climaxes just as Vulcan let’s Cassius past his defences. All in all I loved the new take on this trope. The epilogue is a wonderful ending.

4 of stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Don’t let Go by Andrew Grey; Narrated by Jeff Gelder

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dont-let-go-by-andrew-grey-9792-

Blurb
Avery Rivers is a country music sensation, selling records by the millions and playing to sold-out crowds. But behind that persona is Robert, a burned-out musician cracking under the pressure. He’s unable to write any new songs, and he wants out of the business—at least for a while. He changes his appearance and finds honest, hard work in Jackson, Wyoming. Maybe getting to be a regular guy for a while will get him past his block.

Hy Whitely was a championship bull rider until he watched his best friend thrown in the arena and decided the rodeo circuit was no longer the place for him. He wants to be plain old Zeke for a while, and when he returns to his family ranch, he bumps right into Robert—a one-night stand from his last rodeo appearance who is now working there as a ranch hand.

The heat between the men could sear the grass off the range, but each one is hiding a secret. Robert and Zeke, the men behind the public images, fall in love, but can they hold on when Avery and Hy are pulled back into the spotlight

Review
I remember reviewing the book when it came out and saying how much I enjoyed it. Well that hasn’t diminished at all. I love the concept of two people who both had secret identities, neither realising the other is someone famous. Both of them living in the moment enjoying each other’s company. Both Zeke (Hy) and Robert (Avery) have reached a turning point in their life and need to make a decision. Although it does seem in their heart they already knew what they wanted it just took meeting each other to make it happen. Their idyllic life is put in jeopardy when Robert is identified as Avery but the family and friends rally round to protect him.
I’m not completely sold on Jeff Gelder’s narration. To me it sounds flat and not paced very well. He does provide some level of characterisation that suits the characters making them distinct. The story kept me listening though.

4 of stars out of 5 for the story
3 of stars out of 5 for the narration
Overall 3.5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: The Case of the Voracious Vintner (The Middlemark Mysteries #2) by Tara Lain

Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-case-of-the-voracious-vintner-by-tara-lain-10132-b

Blurb
Where Bo Marchand comes from, gay men are just confirmed bachelors who never found the right girl. But now Bo’s a successful winemaker on the central coast of California, supporting his whole damned Georgia family, and all he really wants is the beautiful, slightly mysterious Jeremy Aames.

Jeremy’s vineyard is under threat from Ernest Ottersen, the voracious winemaker who seems to know all Jeremy’s blending secrets and manages to grab all his customers. Bo tries to help Jeremy and even provides a phony alibi for Jeremy when Ottersen turns up dead in Jeremy’s tasting room. But it’s clear Jeremy isn’t who he claims, and Bo must decide if it’s worth tossing over his established life for a man who doesn’t seem to trust anyone. When Jeremy gets kidnapped, some of the conservative winemakers turn out to be kinky sex fiends, and the list of murderers keeps dwindling down to Jeremy. Bo has to choose between hopping on his white horse or climbing back in his peach-pie-lined closet.

Review
The first book in the series was very nice and I was looking forward to reading this one, but I have to say I had a hard time reading it. A big part of the book, around 25-60% dragged out too much for me, I kept losing interest and deviating to other books because I was just bored. I think the most annoying thing was that I could tell what was behind the mystery, and the clues were very obvious. The characters, including Llewellyn and Blaise from book #1 were frustratingly clueless and it was too hard for me not want the plot to just get on with it. The last 35% or so are much more interesting, but most of the book could not hold me in suspense.

The couple is funny, their romance, while a bit cliché, was amusing and I liked how well wine making was incorporated into the book. Yet I can only give it 2.5 stars because it was so hard to finish and could not keep my interest for long.

Number of stars out of 5
2.5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Release Day Review: Educating the Professor by Sean Michael

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/educating-the-professor-by-sean-michael-10150-b

Blurb

Kenneth Brannigan is a small-town history professor. He’s happy with his life, loves the classes he teaches, and lives in a tiny apartment in a converted house with his best friend, Tim, next door. He’s still recovering from a bad breakup and is content to stick to his comfortable routine. It’s Tim who insists he come to the Queer Alliance’s Rainbow Mixer.

At the mixer, Kenn meets David Burgundy, a new-to-town TA who is working on his masters. Dave is drawn immediately to Kenn and is thrilled when Kenn offers to show him the best pizza place in town. One meal leads to two, which leads to Dave and Kenn spending most of their free time together… and Kenn loosening his self-imposed rules regarding dating and sex for some kinky fun.

Kenn’s ex isn’t going to just let Kenn be, though, and the happier Kenn is with Dave, the less the ex likes it. Will Kenn continue to run away from his past, or will his relationship with Dave help him face it head-on?

Review

This was a cute and sweetly kinky romance story. I thought it would have a bit of a May-December vibe going, because one MC is a professor and the other a TA, but both characters are more or less the same age and interestingly enough it wasn’t the professor dictating the rules in the relationship. Role-reversals like that are like catnip to me, loved that.

Kenn and Dave are drawn to each other from the first, but Kenn has secrets he doesn’t think he can share with his new friend/lover. So he tries to keep his distance and protect both their hearts, but he’s no match for Dave’s gentle persistence and understanding. To say nothing of the startling chemistry they share.
Kenn has a truly awful ex that doesn’t seem to know how to stay in the past where he belongs. It was great to see Kenn, eventually, stand up to that controlling jerk though. The BDSM part of the story certainly added spice, though it remains more on the level of their playing the occasional scene together rather than a 24/7 D/s lifestyle romance.

Definitely an enjoyable read.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+ New Adult

Audiobook: A Fool and his Manny by Amy Lane Narrated by Kenneth Obi

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-fool-and-his-manny-by-amy-lane-9714-b

Blurb

Seeing the truth and falling in love.
Dustin Robbins-Grayson was a surly adolescent when Quinlan Gregory started the nanny gig. After a rocky start, he grew into Quinlan’s friend and confidant—and a damned sexy man.
At twenty-one, Dusty sees how Quinlan sacrificed his own life and desires to care for Dusty’s family. He’s ready to claim Quinlan—he’s never met a kinder, more capable, more lovable man. Or a lonelier one. Quinlan has spent his life as the stranger on the edge of the photograph, but Dusty wants Quinlan to be the center of his world. First he has to convince Quinlan he’s an adult, their love is real, and Quinlan can be more than a friend and caregiver. Can he show Quin that he deserves to be both a man and a lover, and that in Dusty’s eyes, he’s never been “just the manny?”

Review

I adored this couple! I loved the idea of the younger guy who falls for his “nanny” but ends up getting him! He was just the right amount of contrite and then bossy to really flip all my switches and he felt authentic to me.

The romance moved at a very low angst, steady pace and I loved seeing all the familiar faces. While this is definitely a good standalone, it’s better if you’ve read the others before it.

Watching Dusty move from kid through to adult was just right, too. Enough of the kid stuff for him to feel “real” but not so much that it was weird seeing him as an adult.

If you’re a fan of the author, the series or “mannies” this is for you! If you’re in the mood for a sweet “coming of age” book – I think this is wonderful for that purpose, too.

As for the upcoming audio: I don’t want this to sound like John Solo isn’t good – he is! – but I sure do wish we could have Nick Russo or Gomez for this series as well – I’d love that so much!

5 of 5 stars

Audio

I guess Dreamspinner must have a contract for this series because Amy’s usual taste in audiobook narrators doesn’t seem to be able to continue here.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Kenneth Obi does a perfectly fine job – I just love her choices for her other books a lot more.

In the end, he was easy to listen to and does a nice job with timing, characters and emphasis.

3.5 of 5 for the audio

Overall 4 of 5 stars

 


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Escaping Mortality (The Escape Trilogy Book 3) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43206768-escaping-mortality?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Their ocean journey was successful, and Andrew and Edmund found an Elder just in time. As they wished, Edmund is now a vampire like Andrew. They have eternity together, but first, they must visit Edmund’s ailing mother in the English countryside with their flock of immortals, including the Elder, who has taken an ominous liking to his new creation.
When they arrive at Edmund’s family estate, his sick mother and her loathsome best friend await them. While ducking religious curses, Edmund struggles to harness an unexpected power gifted him by the Elder. Andrew fears for his beloved as Edmund becomes more and more monstrous—but vampires have always been monsters, haven’t they?
A battle is coming, for Edmund’s heart and his soul, and Andrew will lose neither. He escaped island exile and a near tragedy at sea to be with Edmund, the beautiful young sailor he loves. Andrew will do anything to keep Edmund by his side, but his most dangerous adversary may be Edmund himself.

Review:
This is the final book of the trilogy, and it is a fitting end to the story.
Andrew and Edmund have left New Orleans to find an Elder (Brien) who will make him immortal. They find and Elder (Brian) who turns Edmund, but not without some hidden consequences.
As the group (Felipe, Michelle and others), continue on their voyage to England (to see Edmund’s dying mother), they realise that Brien has given Edmund some extra powers. This includes the ability to control things and eventually, people; making Edmund more powerful – (a fact that will have dire consequences later).
When they get to England, we learn more about Edmund’s background, inheritance and his past relationships. Eventually, he finds out that he is indirectly responsible for his mum’s illness.
Again, the one thing constant throughout the stories is the love Edmund and Andrew have for each other. Ultimately, this is what sees them through trials they encounter with Brien and others.
In the end, both men get their eternal get their HEA. I loved the epilogue; definitely a treat to see he vamps well into the future ☺
This was a really good story. Loved it from the first to the last book.

4.5 stars out of 5


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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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