Time to Celebrate the Holidays: A Soldier’s Wish (The Christmas Angel #5) by N.R. Walker

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/series/242950

Blurb

The year is 1969…

Gary Fairchild is proud to be a hippie college student, and he protests the Vietnam War because he believes in love and peace. To him, it isn’t just a counterculture movement—it’s a way of life. When tickets to the Aquarium Exposition—3 Days of Peace & Music, or Woodstock, as it was better known, go on sale, there’s no way he isn’t going.

Richard Ronsman is a sheltered farm boy who lives in the shadow of his overbearing father. He’s hidden his darkest secret to earn his father’s love, but nothing is ever good enough—not even volunteering for the Vietnam War. And with just a few days left before he’s deployed, a striking hippie invites him to join them at a music festival.

Three days of music, drugs, rain, mud, and love forged a bond between these two very different men that would shape the rest of their lives. They share dreams and fears, and when Richard is shipped off to war, they share letters and love. For Richard’s first Christmas home, he is gifted a special angel ornament that just might make a soldier’s wish come true.

Review

Wow. This was so amazing! I have to admit – having grown up in the 70s and 80s I never really thought much about Vietnam. I mean, I learned about it as a general piece of history, but I never thought about what it meant to these men who truly believed it was the “wrong” type of war or to whom they never wanted to kill a human and they get drafted based on their birthday – ugh! How horrible – NR Walker really helped me to put it in context of today and I am amazed at how many men even went on without draft dodging.

In any case, this is a tremendously sweet story with a great look at history and a very sweet ending. If I have any complaints its that there was way too much sex in relation to the emotional connection that she usually gives us. IMHO.

4.5 of 5 stars


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Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel #4) by L.A. Witt

 

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41718469-christmas-homecoming

Blurb

August 1939. Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien have been close since childhood. By the time they realize there’s more between them than friendship, Jack is leaving their sleepy Iowa town for college. But they console themselves knowing he’ll be home for Christmas. Right?

It is Christmas before they see each other again, but that Christmas comes six years and a world war later. Aged, beaten, and shaken by combat, they’re not the boys they were back then, but their feelings for each other are stronger than ever.

Neither know the words to say everything they’ve carried since that peacetime summer kiss, though. Even as they stand in the same room, there’s a thousand miles between them.

But maybe that’s some distance the little angel in Roger’s rucksack can cross.

The Christmas Angel series books are standalones and can be read in any order.

Review

This was so sweet! Although this was a bit hard to swallow –I still loved it and was so glad for their HEA. LA Witt really did a nice job imagining the hardship of war for these boys and how it would affect their future decisions. I loved the line “We can be some other town’s ______ bacherlors” – such a lovely outcome for them!

4 of 5 stars


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Time to Celebrate the Holidays: The Magician’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/series/242950

Blurb

Vaudeville stage magician Christopher Fiend lives for the spotlight. His chance at big time stardom awaits him in Chicago, the next stop on the circuit after the little town of Twelfth Junction.

Edward Smith wants nothing to do with his family’s theater. Until Christopher catches his eye on opening night, then treats him to a very special performance during intermission.

When a dead body turns up in the middle of Christopher’s act, suspicion immediately falls on him. If Christopher and Edward can’t work together to clear his name, Christopher won’t make it to Chicago in time. Edward knows he shouldn’t get attached to a man who will be gone in two days, but his heart—and a very special angel—have other ideas.

The Christmas Angel series of holiday romances follow the travels of an angel ornament through the decades as she inspires (and sometimes nudges) lonely men to find their Happily Ever After.

The Magician’s Angel is the third in series, which can be read in any order.

Review

As I mentioned with Eli’s book from this series – these don’t need to be read in order just know they are vaguely connected through history via this angel of mysterious power.

I’ve been really enjoying learning/looking at the way the men in these stories have connected given the fact that – to varying degrees – they all needed to hide. It’s been fascinating.

This is during the age of Vaudeville and as a set, the artists in these travelling groups were more open minded than most. However, the lovers still have to hide.

I’m a big Jordan L Hawk fan, but I have to tell you this wasn’t a great story for me. I’m not keen on mysteries and this felt very much like a “Clue” mystery in the most OTT way – which can be fun – but I’m not a fan. I also don’t care much for magicians though I did appreciate learning more about the showmanship of Vaudeville.

Though I didn’t love it, it was well written and good, just not my favorite.

3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Summerfield’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #2) by Kim Fielding

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41718433-summerfield-s-angel

Blurb

After the hard winter of 1888 ended Alby Boyle’s work as a Nebraska ranch hand, he returned to New York City in search of his long-lost family. His mother and brothers are nowhere to be found, however, and after Alby’s years of absence, Five Corners no longer feels like home. His prospects seem as dim as the nighttime alleys.

When Alby pauses to admire an angel ornament in a department store window’s Christmas display, he meets Xeno Varnham-Summerfield. Wealthy, handsome, and enthusiastic, Xeno brings Alby some temporary cheer. But for Alby to achieve his dreams of love and a real home, well, that may take a bit of holiday magic.

Review

Kim Fielding is such a great writer! She excels at giving us less than charming situations with guys who probably shouldn’t be together and finding a way to make it appealing and possible nonetheless!

I learned some stuff about New York’s Cowboys in the 1800s! That was fascinating! Also – a bit about the YMCA – which was also cool.

I loved the HEA our guys got and I was so touched by the angel’s work in this story.

This was very sweet and highly enjoyable.

4 of 5 stars



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Christmas Angel (The Christmas Angel #1) by Eli Easton

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/series/242950

Blurb

When John Trent, a dedicated member of the new Bow Street Runners, finds an exquisite carved angel floating in the Thames, he can’t stop thinking about it. He tracks down its creator, a sad and quiet young sculptor. But neither the angel nor the sculptor is done with John just yet. The blasted angel refuses to leave him be, behaving not at all like an inanimate object should.

Alec Allston is resigned to the fact that his love will ever be a river that flows out and never flows in. All he wanted to do was create a special gift so that a small part of himself could be with his unattainable and noble beloved, always. But when the gift keeps showing back up at his shop in the hands of a windblown and rugged thief-taker, Alec will need to reconsider his conviction that love is destined to remain an aethereal ideal.

Review

This was so lovely! I didn’t realize until about book 3 that each book in this series is historical with an angel that “could”, in theory, be the same one, passed down from couple to couple (sort of). But the idea is that it is the same angel – even though she does nothing specifically the same in each story so you don’t have to read all the stories at all or in order.

In this case, we start in London during the industrial revolution when Bow Street Runners were a “thing” and homosexuals were definitely not “allowed”.

Most of these historical stories has at least that in common – these are men hiding their love from the world and each story gives us a glimpse at how that looks and how they can even find one another. It really does emphasize the dramatically different set of “rules” we play by today.

As always Eli Easton has given us an amazingly touching and yet sensual love story that really reaches in and tugs at the heart strings. Alec is lovely if not a bit misguided and John and his family are wonderful and warm and just what poor Alec needs.

I give Eli huge props for being able to literally grab me from word one of her stories and keep me invested. I’ll admit I’m not one for “back stories” and when it takes forever for our MCs to meet (not in this story – in general) I get bored quickly. However, Eli manages to keep the reader invested right from the start all the way til the end.

Recommended!

5 of 5 stars


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Recent Release: Escaping Solitude (The Escape Trilogy Book 2) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42189648-escaping-solitude?from_search=true

Blurb:

Ancient vampire Andrew escaped his tropical island exile with his beloved human sailor, Edmund. They’ve now returned to Andrew’s home in nineteenth-century New Orleans and must navigate not only their developing relationship—and equally haunted pasts—but also a hungry coven of vampires Andrew used to call friends.
Desperate to stay by Andrew’s side forever, Edmund examines the impressive coven library in search of an Elder, the only creature capable of turning Edmund. Although missing for centuries, Andrew believes an Elder must still survive somewhere; they just have to find him.
The search is put on hold when Edmund receives word that his mother is ill in London, and the lovers set off on an oceanic journey surrounded by new friends and old enemies. When things go terribly wrong, Edmund’s fragile human life hangs in the balance, and an Elder must be found or Andrew will be alone forever.

Review:
This is book 2 of the trilogy. It picks up with Andrew and Edmund landing in New Orleans, La – (Andrew had been exiled to a remote island). While in NOLA, Andrew learns more about Andrew and the company he kept before his exile. Andrew also gets to see another, somewhat hedonistic and sometimes darker side to Edmund. The one thing constant is their love for each other. So imagine my surprise when out of the blue, Andrew allows a ménage involving Edmund. For me, it came out of left field and almost made me stop reading. But the story is so good that, despite that blip, I want to see them get their HEA.
The story is short, but packed with historical imagery of 18th? century NOLA.
This installment ends on a cliffhanger, but by now I’m fully invested in the story that I can’t wait to read book 3.

4 stars out of 5


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Time to Get Scared: A Hymn In The Silence by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40517607-a-hymn-in-the-silence

Blurb
Since graduating from Whisperwood School for Boys, William has found a sense of normalcy in his life with James. He has a steady (albeit secret) relationship, a home, and a job—even if it doesn’t pay the greatest. Nevermind that he lacks James’ reckless bravery when it comes to dealing with spirits; he does his best and it hasn’t killed him thus far.

When a new client calls on their expertise in solving a grisly multiple homicide, William resists. They’re spirit hunters, not detectives. But the money is too much to pass up when they don’t know when their next meal will be, and soon they’re arriving at Evenbury Manor, nestled in a close-knit rural community, ready to investigate.

They’re in over their heads, but in very different ways than William could have anticipated. The hills are filled with creatures far more dangerous than any they’ve ever encountered, and their usual tactics aren’t working. On top of his renewed struggles with his addiction, William is left to fend for himself against the dead to protect not only the community, but the person in the world that’s most important to him.

Review
This is an amazing ghost story! A great mix of suspense, adventure, friendship and romance!

The change in pov with regards to A Light Amongst Shadows, from James to William, serves as a lovely way to gain more insight into William’s thoughts and feelings this time. His anxiety comes across far more, same for his opium addiction and how it effectively holds him hostage, it’s a crutch but a dangerous one.

William and James are hired to solve a mystery that may or may not involve supernatural culprits. Either way, they soon have reason to fear they are in over their head. Time to call in reinforcements! We get to reconnect with Virgil and meet a wonderfully brave and intelligent new character, Adelia! Loved her!

William and James are marvelous together as always. It was wonderful to see how they have come along since their time spent at Whisperwood. Their banter is fun to read, but their more emotional moments will tug at your heartstrings something fierce.

I loved how they included so many historical details, in the subtlest of ways, sometimes by using certain quaint words and other times by casually mentioning everyday facts of life of the 19th century. Going from the more banal stuff like fashion choices and horse-drawn “cabs’, to the more peculiar practice of taking memento mori photographs, which seems a rather morbid custom from a 21st century perspective.

This is a beautifully written story and a joy to read thanks to the authors’ eloquent and expressive writing style. I also very much enjoyed the quirky humor that they incorporated throughout the story with, among other things, the never-ending quest for a “company name” for these two fearless spirit slayers.

Kelley York and Rowan Altwood really understand how to tell a tale in a way that’s so clear and compelling that as a reader you are completely sucked into the story. It almost seems to play out before you like a (scary) movie. So it wasn’t always the most relaxing read… things have a way of going bump in the night in ghost stories, after all. I swear I almost jumped right out of my seat a couple of times. Don’t read this book in bed, you’ll be scared to death imagining what might come crawling out from under it…

I also loved the mystery, or rather mysteries, that needed solving. It was exciting to try and figure it out ahead of the characters. Emphasis on try. The plot was well-thought out and there was plenty of suspense and danger, with ghosts and other threats lurking in the most unexpected of places.

So recommend this!!

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Release Day Review: Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker

release day review

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42271990-nova-praetorian?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome. When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best. He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.

Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him. Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realises the gods have favoured him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.

Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso’s neck, and together they discover the senator’s move for promotion has an ulterior motive. Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.

And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian—the new guard—rise.

Review

Wow!!! What a read!!! I have always been drawn to ancient times, add in romance and its absolutely perfect. The language is the most difficult part of this book but luckily N.R. has a glossary at the beginning of the story that really helps.

Quintus is a kind yet stern man who ends up getting sort of blackmailed by Senator Severius into becoming his personal guard against an unnamed threat. Kaeso is a newly captured slave who has trouble accepting his new circumstances. The Senator gives Kaeso to Quintus to train and keep under control. Quintus is a man who prides himself on his control yet with Kaeso he struggles to reign in that control. Kaeso can tell that while a hard task master, Quintus is also a kind man who treats the slaves like people.

The attraction between the two men grow strong but Quintus refuses to make any unwanted advances toward Kaeso, due to his circumstances of being a slave. Eventually the two men figure out that the attraction they feel towards each other is mutual.

This book really kept me wondering what the Senator was up to. Is he up to no good?? Or is he really just that much of a jerk. I loved how the story all came together in the end. I believe that Nova Praetorian is one of those books that each time you reread it you will pick up on something you missed the first time. This isn’t an easy read by any means, the language is pretty confusing but stick with it because it is an amazing story!!!

5 Stars

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Neta

 
I really enjoyed this epic action packed new book by N.R Walker, if you liked watching Gladiator and Spartacus you will LOVE Nova Praetorian. This book has everything a history romance lover will enjoy, with well researched and well-rounded world building, writing style fitting the time period and a thrilling story of lovers facing impossible odds. Kaeso is owned by the slippery senator Servius, a man that Quintus despises and knows better than trust. Placing him temporarily in Quintuse’s care as his slave while he guards the senator is a move meant to weaken him, and he must stay alert if he wants a future with Kaeso by his side.

Kaeso and Quintus banter and quip at each other, they are a great couple and fun to read even if danger lurks at every turn. Quintus also has a group of 20 men and women trained at his Ludus, and they are almost like family. Their connection is lovely to read and some of them are so well rounded as they take center roles in the story I enjoyed reading about them immensely. As the plot twists in unexpected ways, it is both thrilling and intriguing, and keeps you at the edge of your seat as it SLOWLY unfolds and reveals its depths.

If I have to say anything I would change in this story is a slight dragging in the halfway mark, the days seem endless and similar, and considering the amount of times Quintus and Kaeso have sex (nothing wrong with that on its own) I felt like maybe that part of the story could have moved faster. Yes, there is A LOT of sex in this book as passion burns and scorch these men to the bone! Again, no issue with it on its own, but at some point it was slightly repetitive, and I applaud their stamina and ability to train a full day after each night, but maybe we could have gotten to the excitement at the end a bit sooner.

Once you get to the ending though, you are not going to put it down! The odds are against Quintus and his men (and women) yet they manage to save the day with honor and skill. The ending was very satisfying, providing the epicness you crave and a HEA that will leave you smiling.

Number of stars out of 5
4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to get scared: Unchained by Ainsley Gray

Good reads link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41318018-unchained?from_search=true

Blurb

If he takes their life, they can never truly leave.

That’s the mantra Noah Wilmington has lived by for years. He picks up whores and deviants from the local taverns, enjoys their company for an evening…and then hides their bodies in the woods.

Edward Yorke has approached the same man in the same public house time and again, never deterred by the cool dismissal he receives. There’s something about Noah that calls to him. A shared pain, a shared sadness…

But Noah doesn’t trust himself. It’s too risky to permit someone too close, and Edward is the one person in the world whose life Noah wants to spare. So, every time Edward has asked to buy him a drink, Noah declines.

Then one night, out of sheer loneliness, that “no” becomes a “yes.”

When Edward’s night with him sheds light on some of Noah’s dark secrets, Noah cannot simply let him walk out the door. But if he doesn’t want Edward dead, and he can’t let him leave, only one option really remains…

(Unchained is a gay Victorian-era romance novella with a HEA.)

Review
This was a truly thrilling read! Loved it!!
I don’t make a habit of reading stories with criminal or murderous MC’s, because I find them difficult to like or relate too, but this one came so highly recommended (Riley Hart, Christina Lee) that I felt I needed to take a chance. And wow… I’m so glad I did!

It’s an odd & slightly uncomfortable feeling to be rooting for a serial killer, a rather unrepentant one at that, and not even one who tries to stick to killing “other monsters” like, say, Dexter. The places our mind can go to in a fictional world… If nothing else, this is a great testament to the incredible skill of this author.

There’s such a scary and unsettling atmosphere permeating this book. Danger lurking behind every corner. You’re never at ease, because even when things seem to be going alright and you’re tempted to let down your guard…you’re really just waiting for that axe to fall.
And for all that I knew something was coming, must be coming…I was still completely taken aback when it did. On more than one occasion.

The writing is beautiful and evocative. Words flowing smoothly along, setting the mood perfectly and drawing us a wonderfully clear picture of enigmatic Noah and Edward and the world they live in. The late nineteenth century serves as an ideal background for their story.
Both Noah and Edward are very compelling MC’s, flaws and all. And though at first glance they seem really different, because duh “serial-killer”, they also have something important in common. They have both known great sadness and pain in their youth, and as a result are very much alone, and lonely, in their own way.

In a wonderful twist, we also have the prey actually stalking the predator. Unknowingly, of course.
I also loved that Noah, though the most dangerous one of the two men, is physically the least imposing, being smaller and less muscled than Edward. Brilliantly done!

This book put me in mind of the fable of the Scorpion and the Turtle, with the Scorpion staying true to his nature, no matter the consequences, even for himself. What would be the stronger force here? Nature or…?

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 

 

 

 

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Audiobook: My Fair Captain by J.L. Langley narrated by Joseph Morton

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/my-fair-captain-by-jl-langley-9628-b

Blurb: When Intergalactic Navy Captain Nathaniel Hawkins goes undercover to investigate the theft of an IN weapons stash, the mission raises painful memories from his past. Using a title he fled nearly two decades earlier, Nate once again becomes the Earl of Deverell, heir to the Duke of Hawthorne, in order to navigate the ins and outs of a Regency world. But planet Regelence—where young lords are supposed to remain pure until marriage—has a few surprises for Nate, not least of which is his attraction to Prince Aiden.

A talented artist, Prince Aiden Townsend isn’t interested in politics and the machinations of society gentlemen, and he adamantly rejects the idea of marriage and a consort. Aiden wants the freedom to pursue his art and determine his own future. But the arrival of the dashing and mysterious Deverell awakens feelings of passion and longing the young prince can’t deny.

As Nate uncovers a conspiracy reaching far beyond the stolen weapons, his future is irrevocably altered by the temptations of a life he never thought he could have. Drawn into the web of intrigue, Aiden is in danger of losing his life… and his heart.

Review:

Book reviewed previously: https://openskyebookreviews.com/release-day-review-my-fair-captain-by-j-l-langley/

Joseph Morton (new to me), had a nice voice. He didn’t attempt to ‘act’ out the different characters. Unfortunately, it also made the narration rather emotionless (to me); any emotion portrayed by the characters was delivered in the same (mono)tone.
Ovearll, the narration was okay – it was more reading, (which isn’t bad), than performance, but I liked it enough to get through the book. I will likely listen to the narrator again.

3 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review