Time to get scared: A Light Amongst Shadows by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

Good Reads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38884377-a-light-amongst-shadows?from_search=true

Blurb
James Spencer is hardly the typical troubled youth who ends up at Whisperwood School for Boys. Instead of hating the strict schedules and tight oversight by staff, James blossoms, quickly making friends, indulging in his love of writing, and contemplating the merits of sneaking love poems to the elusive and aloof William Esher.

The rumours about William’s sexuality and opium reliance are prime gossip material amongst the third years…rumours that only further pique James’ curiosity to uncover what William is really like beneath all that emotional armor. And, when the normally collected William stumbles in one night, shaken and ranting of ghosts, James is the only one who believes him.

James himself has heard the nails dragging down his bedroom door and the sobs echoing in the halls at night. He knows others have, too, even if no one will admit it. The staff refuses to entertain such ridiculous tales, and punishment awaits anyone who brings it up.

Their fervent denial and the disappearance of students only furthers James’ determination to find out what secrets Whisperwood is hiding…especially if it prevents William and himself from becoming the next victims.

Review
Amazing!!

This is at once a super sweet story of young love, and at the same time a very gripping ghost story! Full of mystery and hidden pain, with an unknown danger seeming to lurk around every suitably dark corner of the haunted, forbidding school where our young protagonists find themselves.

The setting of the book is left a little vague, an English boarding school, presumably somewhere in the 19th century and clues are strewn about with care and a joy for to reader to pick up on: carriages abound, there’s talk of laudanum and opium dens, corsets for men that have luckily gone out of fashion, snippets of “contemporary” poetry by Elizabeth Barret-Browning, mentions of Harrow and Eton…

James and William are both wonderful characters, but James especially is my favourite. He is so dogged in his pursuit of William, so optimistic and unapologetically himself, even after everything he’s gone through. I loved the back and forth between the two boys, even more so when they use poetry to flirt with each other. Brilliantly done! A true joy to read!

I loved that the authors stayed true to the spirit of the times. Prejudices and lack of knowledge/understanding regarding certain issues abound, making life and love for these boys so much harder. The characters don’t take on “surprisingly modern” attitudes as a quick fix.
I can’t explain better than that without giving away too much.
The language they use, the words they don’t speak… it all adds to the atmosphere.

There is a constant tension running throughout the book and the reader can never be at ease… We are left to wonder what is happening, the same as James and William. Is there really something that goes bump into the night? Who can they trust? Who is the villain in this story?

The secondary characters are (mostly) wonderful and they’re very well-rounded and interesting in their own right. I can’t wait to return to this world and see what else might lie in store.

I loved this book! Can’t say enough good things about it!

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Time to Get Paranormal: The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

 

Goodreads link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34715150-the-magpie-lord?from_search=true

Blurb:
Lucien Vaudrey returns to England after two decades of exile in China following the mysterious deaths of his brother and father. With the infamous title of Lord Crane and an Earldom Lucian also inherited his family’s enemies. Seeking help of the magical variety after a string of self-harm episodes he did not expect it to come from on such enemy.
Magician Stephen Day had his share of reasons to hate the Cranes but cannot ignore the supernatural threat handing over Lucian’s head.

Despite the multitude of reasons to hate Crane, Stephan finds himself quickly falling for the unusual lord, with his colorful tattoos and disregard of social rules. But, danger to his heart is not the only thing Stephan needs to fear, there is Evil in Carnes house and a plot so thick you can drown in it slowly reveals itself the deeper they dig into the sordid history of Lucians ancestors. If Stephan can’t find a way to stop it, they would never leave the house again- alive or dead.

Review:

The richness of language and twisting plot is done beautifully, this book is just the kind of historical I like to read and when it’s a KJ Charles book you know it’s guaranteed to be amazing! KJ weaves intricate mysteries and unique characters into works of fiction that are just mind blowing. Her Sins of the Cities is one such perfection and this book is a promising start to another series. The setting is just the right amount of raw and gut punching with the flair and sophistication of the upper class and the magical supernatural elements were fascinating and seemed completely natural in this world- something I find many paranormal books lack.

Lucien is probably the wittiest, most charming, rakish, wonderfully horrible man I have had the pleasure of reading about. I absolutely adored him, he is seductive and controlling yet vulnerable at the same time. Stephen is as much a contradiction as Lucien is, and TO Lucian as well. He is such a fiery, compassionate little man and I loved his level of control and knowledge in his respective field. He is so competent and never backs down even when all hope is lost.

The way the plot unfolded and slowly revealed more of the sordid history of the Crane household and family was suspenseful and I found myself wishing for more time to keep reading when I inevitably had to put it , and once I was done reading I was anxious to get the next one and keep reading. I am so excited for the next books and how the story will continue for this couple.

Number of stars out of 5
5 stars.

Purchased for Review

 

 

 

Time to get Paranormal: Home is Where You Are by Alex Jane

 

Good Reads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30348934-home-is-where-you-are?from_search=tru

Blurb
By the winter of 1870, Caleb Fletcher has carved out a sheltered existence for himself in a simple cabin, outside a small town in the backwaters of Nebraska, resigned to living out his days as a solitary wolf. But his quiet life is interrupted when another werewolf lands on his doorstep on the eve of a snowstorm, brutalized almost beyond repair, with nowhere else to turn.

When Caleb reluctantly welcomes Jacob into his cabin, and eventually his bed, it forces him to face up to the traumas he’s been running from; the shame that made him leave his pack behind, and the horrors of war he endured.

As the weeks pass, it seems that Jacob’s arrival might not be the coincidence it first appeared. Jacob has an agenda. One that involves Caleb. And if Caleb agrees to it – if he can let go of his past and his prejudices – it will change Caleb’s whole world. Maybe even for the better.

Without a mate – a family, a pack – a wolf has no home.
But what if home finds you

Review
Home is where you are is one of the shifter books that I will come back to over again. It’s different. It’s the kind of story that has a realism about it, if Shifters existed that is. First it’s set in 1870’s not long after the Civil War. I love this world Alex Jane has built. The werewolves are mistrusted by humans but they are willing to use the werewolves abilities when it suits them. The werewolves have their own communities and businesses, so there is an element of segregation. We meet Caleb after he has returned from war serving in a specific werewolf battalion. He feels the need to isolate himself from his pack, not just because of what we now recognise as PTSD but also shame he feels over being attracted to other male werewolves. The narrative evokes a picture of a lonely soul cutting himself off from the world. That is until Jacob comes into his life in quite a dramatic way. I love the way the story is about the culture in the old west, finding family, his home and giving himself absolution for his mistaken beliefs. If you think you’ll enjoy this book I encourage you to look at the rest of the series, following this family through many major events in their life.

5 of stars out of 5

 

Purchased by reviewer

 

 

 

Time to Get Paranormal: Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch

 

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40722060-salt-magic-skin-magic?from_search=true

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 the intense atmosphere of desperation and mystery that just oozed from its pages. Poor Soren, trapped on his father’s estate by powers unseen and with no way out of his predicament!

Reading this story was a bit like walking through a haunted house, always a certain tension and urgency in the air. You daren’t put the book down, because who knows what might happen if you look away! And you just need the characters to hurry the hell up before something goes really wrong.

I loved it!
It read like 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. Swoon!

I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for us next!

5 stars

Copy Generously Provided for Review

 

 

Audiobook: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton Narrated by Matthew Shaw

audiobookreview

Audible Link
https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Robby-Riverton-Mail-Order-Bride-Audiobook/B07G2RGB3Y?qid=1533353429&sr=sr_1_3&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_3&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=W1E89REAYVSSRC54DJ64&

Blurb

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.

The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run–all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn’t ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his “intended”, Robby’s only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is — and can’t resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

Damn, what a kerfuffle. If only Trace can get rid of the fugitive while hanging on to his own stupid heart.

Review

First, let me tell you how psyched I was for this. So psyched! Because Eli is one of my favs, this looks hysterical and one of my fav f/m tropes is the “mail order bride/forced marriage” scenarios.

Second, this surpassed my expectations by also being ridiculously touching – more on this in a bit.

I was wondering how the heck Eli could pull this off. Who would be fooled for long enough for this to work out and what would the long term game be. Well – she came up with a great plot and it totally made sense and kept me rooting for Robby. (If I have any complaints is that there is maybe too much lead in to the story and not enough post time with our couple as a couple… however that is a lot on taste.)

Trace is also another perfect MC for his role and plays it well. His family and their “secret” kept me laughing out loud! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that Robby likes to control things and has no problem brining Pa to hand – and it was one of my favorite parts of this story!

(All in all this was a wonderful “period” story from the old west that felt authentic and plausible in what should have been totally implausible. While I am eternally grateful for not living during those times, I believe she portrayed them accurately.)

Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

Audio

Matthew Shaw does a nice enough job. I wasn’t super wowed, but he is really easy to listen to and manages to keep all the various players separate.

This was a fine way to experience this really fun story.

4 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Retro Read: Blood and Rain(Book 1) by Shira Anthony

Blurb

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Review

First, I think anyone interested in this series should be PSYCHED to know that all 3 books are finally released. I didn’t touch this because I didn’t want to be in cliff-hanger torture while waiting for the series to finish. So…. Once I saw book 3 released I said – at last! – I can begin this series!

Second, this is Shira Anthony. So… you know you best be prepared for in depth world building, complex characters, lots of angst, and pain, and maybe some not-so perfect MCs.

I think, as someone who has enjoyed her other series – Blue Note and Mermen of Ea – that this (so far) seems to follow in their footsteps. Book one is all about the back story and world building and introducing us to all the myriad characters. Right now my interest in piqued with Charles and Francois more than Adrien – but time will tell…

I’m not a big fan – ok I hate – cliff hangers, and I’m actually more attracted to short stories than I am to epic multi book series – but – I’m looking forward to starting book 2. I do love Shira’s writing style and though I’m not loving the flashbacks and there was a lot of the time that I was really confused as to who was where and when but… – I love me some biting and vamps who like biting and all the magic – so….

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Escaping Exile (The Escape Trilogy Book 1) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40794384-escaping-exile?from_search=true

Blurb: Andrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.
Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream-but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.
As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?

Review:
I really enjoyed this ☺
The blurb sucked me in. I’m a ‘sucker’ (sorry!) for paranormal or historical stories and with this book I get both.
Andrew, (a vampire), has been exiled to some remote island as a punishment. He meets Edmund when he rescues the latter from a shipwreck – Edmund is the sole survivor.
As Andrew nurses Edmund back to health, he begins to look at the injured man less as sustenance, (he is a vampire after all), and more as a lust/love interest. While Edmund recovers the two men forge a friendship that turns into something more. Though it is a short story, it didn’t feel rushed – the backstory is interwoven into the current happenings, so the story feels longer than it actually is. I would have liked to know a little more about Edmund’s past, but that may come later.
This is book 1 of a trilogy but it ends with a good HFN. However, I am sufficiently hooked that I want to see what happens with Andrew and Edmund in the future.

4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Shared Revelations By: Andrew Grey Narrated by: J.J. Boyer

audiobookreview

Blurb

It’s the 60s, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be different. Eddie Baronski spent his high school years looking out for his partially deaf friend, Jack Emmons. Now that they’ve graduated, they spend their free time at Green Bay’s newly renamed Lambeau Field, taking in the practices.
When Eddie’s crush, Johnny Grant, a new Packers team member, offers him a ride home, Eddie thinks it’s the start of a grand romance. But Johnny and Eddie may not be on the same page, and love – true love – sometimes comes from an unexpected quarter.

Review

This was both really sweet and touching and not very satisfying.

I loved the idea that it spans almost 7 decades and gives a teeny tiny glimpse into the lives of these two men, but as far as page time I almost feel like we got more on page time with Eddie and Johnny and Eddie’s fantasies about Johnny than the real love story between Eddie and Jack.

While I’m sure there’s a reason behind the whole Lambeau field being the center of attention – I’m not sure what it was.

What I would have wanted was more interactions with Jack and Eddie as boys, and then maybe some glimpses of their struggles over the years so that the culminating Epilogue would have felt hard won.  This could have been about being gay, being deaf, growing up in the 60s, being hurt by an old closeted lover…. but it wasn’t any of those things.

I was expecting to see good ol’ Johnny again or at least hear about him – but he just disappears and I’m not sure what the first half of the story has to do with the second half at all.  Or what it matters that one of the MCs is deaf.  Or that some of it happened in the 60s.

So, while I appreciated the premise of this story – I think it mostly confused me.

Audio

JJ Boyer was a narrator, not really a perfomer. He did a nice job reading this story but didn’t really add anything to my overall experience.

So, while I’m an Andrew Grey fan and I usually love short stories – I’d have to give this a pass.

2.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: The Bureau by Kim Fielding narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Bureau-Audiobook/B07FB87WNZ?qid=1533351357&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=ZB9XMTGMAM0FQQVEZ38X&

Blurb:

This collection contains the first three Bureau novellas:

Corruption

Once a proud demon of the night sky who carried nightmares to humans, Tenrael has spent decades in captivity as the star attraction of a traveling carnival. He exists in miserable servitude to men who plunk down ten dollars to fulfill their dark desires.
Charles Grimes is half human, half…something else. For 15 years he’s worked for the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs, ridding the country of dangerous monsters. When his boss sends him to Kansas to chase a rumor about a captive demon, Charles figures it’s just another assignment. Until he meets Tenrael.

Clay White

Someone – or something – is murdering young men in San Francisco. Clay White has been fired from the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs, but he’s determined to track down the killer. When he comes across a vampire named Marek, Clay assumes he’s caught the perp. But the encounter with Marek turns out to be more complicated than Clay expected, and it forces him to deal with his own troubled past and murky psyche.
As Clay discovers, sometimes the truth doesn’t come easy – and the monsters are not who we expect.

Creature

Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who – or what – he is. Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.

When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream – to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs – all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him.
Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man – and what a monster truly wants.

Review

Book reviewed here previously

This is a collection of stories that introduce the Bureau of Tran Species Affairs.
The stories are a little dark, somewhat film noir-ish, but interesting. I read and enjoyed Creature, (my favourite of the 3), as a standalone, so when I saw that Joel Leslie was narrating the trio of stories, I was more than happy to experience the collection. The stories connect, but are definitely self-contained standalones.

What can I say about ‘a Joel Leslie performance’ that hasn’t been said before? He brings life, character and a wealth of acting experience to the stories he narrates; so much so, that one becomes personally invested in the characters. In this case, he made me want to take Tenrael (Corruption) home to care for. And John (Creature), you could almost ‘see’ how he bloomed under Harry’s care – I could feel the affection and emotion he felt for Harry, life (such as it was) in general.
Joel Leslie, simply put, is a pleasure to listen to.

5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Audiobook: Consorting With Dragons by Sera Trevor

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Consorting-with-Dragons-Audiobook/B07F3BGR2N?ref=a_a_library_c4_libItem_3_B07F3BGR2N&pf_rd_p=ae76b2bb-e63d-4a67-b357-dab3dee05ca1&pf_rd_r=XRAHEZ2Z33VXAZ7P1V4V&

Blurb

Lord Jasen of Grumhul, an impoverished young nobleman, has come to the Draelands to find a rich husband to help pay his father’s debts. To the shock of everyone, he ends up attracting the attention of King Rilvor himself and the dragons who control the magic in the land.
Becoming royalty wasn’t something Jasen either expected or wanted, but he can’t control his growing feelings for the kind and handsome king. Scheming factions at Court conspire to keep him from Rilvor’s side, and now, Jasen has to decide if the chance at true love with Rilvor is worth the burden of being the husband of a king.
Contains mature themes.

Review

 

First let me say, that I will absolutely be looking for this author in the future and second, that I had no idea Philip Alces had that accent (his own? Dunno… but it was wonderful!)

 

However, I didn’t love this story.

 

I did love the premise – Cinderella with dragons. I didn’t love that Jasen was a “slut” before we got to meet Rilvor and the steam factor in this is so low. Maybe that’s hypocritical – but my own taste would have been keep to one theme or the other. Keep Jasen and the sex scenes chaste or give us some hot smexy times!

 

I never read the “short version” and only listened to this, so I can’t compare, but I really do wish we’d seen more from Rilvor’s POV. I also hope that , since so much time went into world building, we’ll see more from this world in the future.

 

The writing was really good and as far as I could tell so was the editing.

 

As I mentioned before Philip Alces nailed all the accents and really put the listener in a great frame to appreciate this story/time in place. The secondary characters were good, though some of them I knew better than the 2nd MC.

 

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this and found myself happily listening without a desire to skip ahead. Well-done!

 

 

3.75 (rounded to 4) of 5 stars overall

 

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Copy Purchased for Review