Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: From Brussels, With Love by Amy Calirel

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/from-brussels-with-love-by-emy-calirel-10834-b

Blurb

Dispirited after a recent breakup, Irish project manager Trevor is guilted into a trip to Brussels with his best friend. A chance meeting with cute and funny tour guide Jerome turns into a weekend of sex and friendship. Forgetting his phone at Jerome’s apartment shifts their fling into a long-distance relationship held together by postcards, texts, and stolen weekends. But distance isn’t the only thing keeping them apart—Trevor is a workaholic who values his success, while artistic Jerome is carefree but insecure.

Starting a life together means facing major challenges, but the loving words they’ve shared build a bridge across the sea—one that might let them meet in the middle.

Review

This was an okay read, but I think both the characters and the plot could have been a little better developed. I didn’t feel the magic between the MC’s and their romance fell a bit flat for me. A couple of weekends don’t a relationship make. Their annoyances and differences are glossed over, allowed to fester and throw a wrench into things at far too late a stage in the story. Some of the writing also felt too over the top, with overly dramatic, cliché plots and reactions from the MC’s and even sometimes from the secondary characters.

I’m from Belgium so I was curious to see how the author would incorporate Brussels/Belgium into the story, but unfortunately I didn’t get much of a Belgian feel from either the setting or the Belgian characters, apart from a little name-dropping of touristy places and a little bit of French thrown in. The setting didn’t feel authentic to me.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 2.5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Nothing Special by Jay Northcote

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46368624-nothing-special

Blurb

When Noah’s insecurity threatens their fledgling relationship, can Sol convince Noah that he’s enough?

Noah thinks he’s nothing special. Average height, a bit on the skinny side, and cute but rather geeky, he’s relentlessly ordinary. He certainly doesn’t expect to be noticed by Sol, the gorgeous dark-haired stranger Noah usually sees on his commute home.

When a friend persuades Noah to take a big risk in a bid to get Sol’s attention, things turn out better than Noah dared to hope. But Noah doesn’t believe he’s interesting or sexy enough to hold Sol’s attention.

As Sol tries to get closer, Noah tries to protect his heart by pulling away. If their relationship is going to survive, Noah needs to accept that Sol sees him very differently to how Noah sees himself. Because to Sol, Noah is something very special indeed.

Review

This was a very entertaining, easy read about two really sweet, drama-free guys. After some mutual pining and longing looks in the train, Noah and Sol get together in the cutest way thanks to Metro and a little prodding from Noah’s best friend. They seem to fall in like/lust/… maybe even love with heartwarming ease. Things are shaken up a bit near the end, though, with Noah’s insecurities attempting to put a brake on a good thing. Loved how the author did that and so unexpectedly upped the emotional stakes in this story. The epilogue was the cutest ever, so romantic!!
Recommend.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Opposites (Opposites #1) by T.M. Smith Narrated by Greg Boudreaux

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audible.com/pd/Opposites-Audiobook/B01M15QLY7?qid=1561171075&sr=1-3&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=26488232C6PWS7KAVJ7V&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_3

Blurb
In the year 2081 our planet survived global warming of an apocalyptic scale. When the dust settled and the water receded Dr. Anthony Smith, one of only a few hundred survivors of GWI, started society anew. Having come to the conclusion that injudicious breeding played a huge role in the destruction of Earth as we knew it in the twenty first century, he worked closely with other survivors to isolate the Dionysus gene. This gene has the ability to manipulate human DNA to ensure that all male children be born gay, and all female children be born lesbians. A new society is born.

In the year 2300 Dr. Smith’s descendants are ushering in the twenty fourth century having maintained control of the government that still rules society. Twins Aiya and Aiyan are preparing to meet their matches and take control of House Gaeland, the current ruling House. But not everything is as it seems.

Love is Love.. it knows no gender and doesn’t conform to restrictions and boundaries. Aiyan has found his soul mate in Kaden, the prince of House Devi that he is matched with and eventually marries. But when the person Aiya falls in love with tests the boundaries put in place after GWI, all hell breaks loose. And in the midst of one secret unraveling, another will emerge. There is a growing anomaly that threatens to destroy over two hundred years of progression. This anomaly is known as Opposites.

Review
Story:
Based on the cover and the blurb I had expected the story to focus on one couple, Aiyan and Kaden, with maybe a strong secondary character in Aiya. It goes far broader in scope though, and features seven main characters, all but one of whom fall in love with someone from among these seven. The book becomes even more crowded when taking into account all the parents that are never far from our young heroes and heroines.
Everyone gets about equal attention from the author, with slightly more time in the spotlight for Aiyan and Kaden, but because there are so many characters to follow up on, I feel as if we don’t get to truly know any of them. All the characters’ interactions, though well-written, remain almost superficial, making it very difficult to get into the story or care about what happens to them next. There’s too little time for self-reflection or internal dialogue and what dialogue there is among the group or pairings isn’t necessarily very revealing or meaningful.
When things get physical, we stay with the couple in question for a longer time, which struck me as somewhat unbalanced in the grander scheme of things. I’d have preferred it if the writer had taken more time to actually build these relationships on an emotional level too.
A lot of attention to detail has gone into the world-building and the story is certainly set in a highly unique universe, giving the reader a thought-provoking perspective. Still, there are some things that struck me as a bit strange. A futuristic society, with great biological advances, falls back into an almost medieval way of living but keeps quite modern sounding idioms that don’t fit the atmosphere of this alternate universe. The main characters are nearly all of royal rank or at least quite high up in society, but servants seem to be scarce, leaving all the menial work for princes and princesses to do themselves.
I don’t care much for Aiya who seems very passive and a stereotypical damsel in distress. Outside of a physical attraction there doesn’t seem to be much to bind her to her chosen significant other. Once Aiyan learns more about who his sister loves he reacts like an absolute boor. For twins with a supposedly strong connection, they don’t communicate well at all and don’t trust the other with their secrets. Aiyan, and some of the others, are shown to be bloodthirsty and vengeful, leaning towards gratuitous violence rather than attempting to keep up any sort of justice system. The book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts.
I really couldn’t get into this story, I tried, but it’s not for me.
Narration:
Greg Boudreaux did a great job narrating this story. It can’t have been easy with the multitude of main and secondary characters, several of whom had distinctive accents.
Number of stars out of 5: 3


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Bitten By Fate (Regent’s Park Pack #6) by Annabelle Jacobs

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43524485-bitten-by-fate?from_search=true

Blurb

Daryl plays with fire and gets burned by fate…

Former Primrose Pack member Jason Black happily accepted his role as beta in the new Regent’s Hill pack, knowing that merging the two was the best decision for everyone involved. Daryl Easton is loyal and honest but wary of change. The joining of the two packs wasn’t his preferred outcome, and he’s struggling to see all the newcomers as pack, including those now working alongside him.

When the alpha council proposes a two-week pack-building course to help improve troubled relationships, Jason and Daryl are sent along as backup. It soon becomes clear that the unit members and their betas won’t be the only ones taking part in tasks—Daryl and Jason will have challenges of their own to complete.

With the full moon adding to the rising tension, emotions are volatile, and tempers flare among the unit members. Jason and Daryl become closer than either of them expected, but with such opposing views on relationships, a messy outcome seems inevitable unless Daryl can let go of the past.

Review

I’ve been curiously awaiting Jason’s and Daryl’s story, excited to see how it would play out. It’s not exactly an enemies to lovers romance, but the animosity that still exists between some members of the Primrose Pack and their new pack serves a similar purpose and gives this unlikely couple something extra to overcome.

The forced proximity during the pack-building course was a great touch and I loved how the tension and emotions between Jason and Daryl continued to build throughout. As with the other couples in this series, Jason and Daryl also discover they have the potential for a mate bond, but that doesn’t mean they have it easy. Not in the slightest. They don’t just go happily into the sunset, instantly filled with joy and overcome with blind devotion. And that’s part of what makes their story so wonderfully gripping. The intense emotions, the passion, the angst, painful past experiences, the outside threat to the pack, … it all combines to make this a 5-star read.

Reading this book was bittersweet in a way, because this is the last one in the series and I’m loathe to say goodbye. The world-building, the character development, it’s all so expertly done. It’s not often that you get a shifter universe with such a sense of realism, well-rounded characters and a perfect mix of romance and suspense. I especially love that the alpha’s and even the beta’s are not stereotypical domineering, pumped-up beefcakes, but caring and insightful leaders, of either gender. I feel a re-read coming on.

m/m, gay, paranormal, shifter, opposites attract, fated mates, forced proximity, contemporary
Number of stars out of 5: 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Stallion Mage- Wild Foal (Stallion Mage book 3) by A.O. Spade

GoodReads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44177708-wild-foal?from_search=true

Blurb

As new mates, Alvarr and Laren grow closer, and when Alvarr shares the secret of his pregnancy with the stallion leader, Laren reacts with joy… but also with worry. Winter has taken hold of their land and shows no signs of stopping. The stallion shifters have less and less to eat, even when Alvarr’s earth magic is able to provide some sustenance.

They also have different ideas about the future. As a mage close to Nature, Alvarr knows the answer is to bring the tribes together, but he doesn’t want to challenge Laren’s leadership, nor burden him with the impossible task of making the other stallions follow him.

But as these questions loom over them, the biggest remains. How will Alvarr give birth to a baby? In the absence of healers and mares, there is no one to provide guidance through this unknown event.

Review

Stallion Mage – Wild Foal continues on with the final scene of book 2 in this series, where we left Alvarr severely wounded after being saved by Laren from an attack by Thane and Nassor. Laren has finally accepted that Alvarr is his mate, but he has an even bigger surprise still coming his way. Once Alvarr figures out how best to broach the subject, that is.

It was great to see them get the time to enjoy each other and learn what it means to be fated mates, in between trying to survive the rift, the harsh winter and the strife within their own tribe. I loved the scenes where they reconnect with the mares and the new discoveries they made while they were there.

I had hoped the shifters would have learned more about their history and former way of life, maybe even spend more time in their human shape but that was not the case. The story doesn’t yet cover that much ground and instead focuses on the healing of the rift between the mares and the stallion tribes.

I’m as impressed as before with the mythology and the universe the author created in this serie. I think it holds potential for still more stories.

We take our leave of Laren and Alvarr when they’re in a happy place and hopeful for the future, but with still a lot to discover and re-build.

shifter mpreg, m/m, fantasy, historical, fated mates

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
Uncategorized

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

audiobookreview

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

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Number of stars out of 5: 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

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

Dreamspinner

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

Blurb

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+

Release Day Review: Stealing His Heart (Connoll Pack series book #1) by Bru Baker

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stealing-his-heart-by-bru-baker-10269-b

Blurb

Danny’s parents raised him to believe his wolf was a curse. He’s part of the wealthy and powerful Connoll Pack, but only nominally. He abandoned that world to volunteer with supernatural kids, and he isn’t looking for a mate….

Max is a shifter who is also a detective. He’s working a case that could make or break his career. Danny’s caught up in the case he’s on, and he’s also irresistible. They’re a bad match—Max, an Alpha having trouble with his new powers and Danny, who trusts Alphas as far as he could throw one. But they can’t get enough of each other, and they might bond before they even see it coming.

They could be amazing together, but they have to get past a few obstacles—especially since someone close to Danny might be involved in the thefts Max is investigating.

Review
This is a cute shifter romance with a lot of humor and playful banter going around. It’s shifters, so there’s the whole mating thing, which is always fun, but it’s done surprisingly sweetly with a lot of emphasis on learning to know and trust each other, instead of just starting a relationship based on insta-lust and hoping for the best.

What’s a bit atypical in this story is that we get (some) werewolves who aren’t proud of their heritage, and actually look down on their animal half and try to suppress it or ignore it. In most shifter stories that sort of bigoted attitude is usually reserved for intolerant human antagonists and is not internalized by weres the way it is here.
Danny is raised in one such family and has the emotional scars to prove it. He’s used to fending for himself, so it was nice to see Max care for him and help him out. I liked seeing Danny get “adopted” so enthusiastically by Max’s family, which made for some heartwarming moments as well as unexpected revelations.
The mystery surrounding the thefts that Max is investigating is well-written and a nice way to introduce an element of danger and suspense into the story.

Stealing His Heart is the first book in a new series and it is set in the same universe as the Camp Howl series. We get brief glimpses of characters from the first series and references to Camp Howl as well, which I really liked. It’s always nice to see how the MC’s from previous books are faring.

m/m, gay, paranormal, shifter, finding family, fated mates

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Review by Morgan

I loved this!  I thought this was one of Bru Baker’s better stories!

I love their chemistry, the secondary characters and how their feelings for one another manifest.  I love the “mine/mate” feel to this.

Highly recommended!


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Categories
Uncategorized

Recent Release: Stallion Mage: True Mates (Stallion Mage book 2) by A.O. Spade

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43587581-stallion-mage?from_search=true

Blurb

As an earth mage, Alvarr is the only stallion who can survive outside the tribe’s territory. And this is exactly what he must do to find out what has been affecting the land so terribly. Most of the stallions believe that the lack of rain is just a bad season, but Alvarr’s trusted advisor, Elder Mastok, fears that Nature has abandoned them due to a terrible event from their people’s distant past.

Whatever the cause, Alvarr knows he must get answers before the tribe starts to starve. His journey takes him far beyond the stallion territory into the lost land of their ancient people. There, Alvarr discovers not only secrets about the way they once lived, but himself as well.

When he returns to leader Laren and the tribe, he is bearing more than ancient knowledge. It is only a matter of time before his secrets become known to all: he, a stallion, is with child, and Laren is his true mate.

Review

This book picks up right where we left Alvarr in the first one, alone and on a mission.

Romance takes a backseat and this is much more of an adventure story with Alvarr going on a solitary quest to find out more about the “Rift” that has brought such imbalance to the world of the horse shifters. The horses have lost so much of their history and knowledge, even worse, they have lost their hearts with stallions living apart from the mares and foals. I love that it’s this particular “imbalance” in their society that causes Nature to lose its way.

Laren is rather inflexible in his way of thinking and his distrust of all things unknown, and thus unsafe until proven otherwise, almost proves stronger than the draw to claim and protect his mate. Foremost in his mind is always the safety of his tribe though, and he comes through for Alvarr when push comes to shove. Eventually.

Alvarr is a wonderful character and I loved how he came into his own in this story. He grows so much on his journey, and surprises even himself with his new-found resourcefulness and inner strength. The Elders and Barron make for amazing secondary characters, and even Thane and Nassor, the villains of the tribe, are well-written and nuanced characters.

The mpreg aspect of this universe is done differently than in most omegaverse stories I’ve read so far and I really like this new angle. I also love the sense of urgency throughout the story (doomsday is coming for the tribe, after all) and the way physically weaker members, like Alvarr, Barron and the Elders, get to play such an important part in saving their brethren.

I’m very curious to see how it will all play out in the end.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+

Relase Day Review: Reunited by Andrew Grey

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/reunited-by-andrew-grey-10179-b

Blurb

Back in high school, nobody noticed quiet nerd Kevin Howard.
But everybody noticed handsome, athletic, and ultra-popular jock Clay Northrup.
They had nothing in common and lived in different worlds.
But a lot can change in fifteen years, and when they meet again at their high school reunion, Clay is no longer the big man on campus, and Kevin isn’t hiding in a corner anymore.

Can they put aside who they were? Can one night really lead to forever?

Review

Cute second chance at love story with a high school reunion turning into an unlikely first date. I liked that we get quite a lot of backstory for our MC’s, even in this short a novella. Both MC’s have changed a lot since high school, but we still get that opposites attract vibe which is always fun. Kevin is a great guy, but came off a bit boastful sometimes and not as restrained or centered as he prides himself on being.
There’s certainly potential for these two MC’s, both in the romance and finding family department, but there are practical challenges to be faced if they are to make a success of a real relationship.

I would have liked to have had more of an answer to the final question on the blurb. The ending, though sweet and hopeful, still left quite a bit open.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


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