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

Good Reads

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Audiobook: Love and Payne by Charlie Cochet (THIRDS Book 13) narrated by Mark Westfield

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/love-and-payne-by-charlie-cochet-10194-b

Blurb:
When THIRDS agent Osmond Zachary foils an assassination attempt on an anti-Therian politician his life is in danger. Austen Payne, a lonely and lethal TIN operative, must keep Zach alive. Thrust together with Zach’s plethora of relatives, can Austen keep him safe while struggling with his feeing for Zach and guarding his own heart?

Review of book by Neta (posted previously)

I have to confess I only read the first THIRDS book, Hell & High Water, so I read this book almost as a stand-alone. In regards to that I did not feel like I was missing too much information and even though I am sure reading all the previous books would have given me more background I can definitely say reading it on its own is no issue.
I do have to say that despite the popularity of this book series I did not get into it when I read the first one and # 13 did not change my mind even though I am a big Paranormal/Fantasy/Shifter fan.

I would say the biggest issue I have is believability, mainly in the world of the book. I like the background and evolution of Therians, as explained at the beginning, but when it comes to the various government agencies I feel like they are more prop then substance. I also think the mystery of the assassination attempt, and the subsequent hiding Zach was just not detailed enough. You have skilled agents, and advanced technology and yet the discovery of the perp is delayed and only comes as an afterthought. It’s almost like they intentionally miss the clues so it can prolong the ending. I feel the plot writing is underdeveloped and unbalanced, in a way that does not let me fully get into the story.

I enjoyed Austen and Zach as characters, but I feel the growing attraction between them took too much of the story. Sure it was fun and sexy at times but I felt the story needed more action and more emotional depth. They have known each other for four years, and while Zach is very interested, Austen has been keeping his distance but could not seem to stope checking in on Zach and coming to his aid whenever something happened to him. You do get the feeling of an almost Friends-To-Lovers (my favorite trope) vibe though they are not truly friends as Austen repeatedly pushes Zach away. I just kept going back to thinking I wish I believed the plot itself, and not have it as some sort of stage setting for Zach and Austen to get together. Because when you have these elements in a story they must work together with everything else. I feel like had the action and thrill been better and the world more complex this would have been a 5 Strat book for me.

Number of stars out of 5: 3 of 5 stars

Audio Review by Morgan

 

 

I still like this series quite a lot.  It doesn’t have that hook that it did but I really enjoy the shifting and the world Cochet has built is still full of funny lines and neat powers.  I’m a bit tired of the drama – so that makes the story more of a 3 than a 4 for me. 

The romance was nice and I loved the growly “mine!” in bear language this time around.

The audio by Mark Westfield is definitely the best way to appreciate this entire series.  He does such a nice job with the “sound effects” and doing his best to give everyone a unique voice and character.

I was glad I waited for the audiobook!

3 for the story and 5 for the narration – 4 overall

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Oil and Water (The Wildcatters Book 1) by B.A. Tortuga

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/oil-and-water-by-ba-tortuga-10084-b

Blurb

Oilman Max inherits a passel of trouble when his boss passes away, leaving him a house in England and a heck of a lot of money. He’s thinking London is the worst place on earth… until he meets Morgan.

Colorful, carefree, and a little crazy, Morgan is just what Max needs, and the two set out on the adventure of a lifetime, chasing pleasure wherever it takes them, learning that together they can make anything fun… and sexy.

Too bad reality has to set in, and Morgan’s multimillionaire father has a lot to say about what reality looks like. Will their different worlds conspire to separate them like oil and water?

Review

This was different from what I’m used to reading. The writing style is very distinct, bringing to mind stream of consciousness a bit. It’s a well-written story, but the pace was a tad too slow and meandering for me.

Our main characters, Max and Morgan, hit it off almost instantly and spend the biggest part of the book happily making out on what seems like one long extended vacation, going to various exotic locations. Money is no object for either man, so no pesky roadblocks from something like reality or work. It was a bit difficult for me to believe in the strength of their connection, because they were so constantly removed from anything real. When it’s all fun and games, how do you go from infatuation to a deeper emotion like love?

They do have one big threat to overcome, Morgan’s dad. Who seems to come straight out of the 19th century with his Bedlam antics and makes Mr. Rochester seem like a benevolent angel for only keeping his mad wife locked up in the attic. This part felt a bit contrived to me, but what was good about it, is that it tested both men’s feelings and their determination to be together.
This is Max’s moment to shine and he takes it.

I found myself losing interest a bit in the middle of the story, but the final chapters caught my attention again and I liked how the author wrapped things up. With a perfect stand-in for the proverbial bow.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


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Release Day Review: Second Hand (Tucker Springs #2) by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/second-hand-by-marie-sexton-and-heidi-cullinan-10079-b

Blurb

Paul Hannon flunked out of vet school. His fiancée left him. He can barely afford his rent, and he hates his house. About the only things he has left are a pantry full of his ex’s kitchen gadgets and a lot of emotional baggage. He could really use a win—and that’s when he meets El.

Pawnbroker El Rozal is a cynic. His own family’s dysfunction has taught him that love and relationships lead to misery. Despite that belief, he keeps making up excuses to see Paul again. Paul, who doesn’t seem to realize that he’s talented and kind and worthy. Paul, who’s not over his ex-fiancée and is probably straight anyway. Paul, who’s so blind to El’s growing attraction, even asking him out on dates doesn’t seem to tip him off.

El may not do relationships, but something has to give. If he wants to keep Paul, he’ll have to convince him he’s worthy of love—and he’ll have to admit that attachment might not be so bad after all.

Review by Karen

This was a really sweet out for you story, very competently written. It builds up slowly, allowing the MC’s to truly get to know each other and gravitate towards each other very naturally before taking that leap of faith together.

Paul is incredibly innocent and naïve. He doesn’t think too highly of himself and as a result he’s completely oblivious to any attempt at flirting made by El or anyone else for that matter. He’s the kind of nice guy that borders on being too nice for his own good. His attempts to hold onto his failed relationship, and his willingness to put up with the horrible way his ex-girlfriend treats him, was a bit hard for me to swallow. I really wanted him to have a little more pride or backbone. Though of course, a lot of that was probably because of his fear of coming out (even to himself) and his low self-esteem. It takes Paul a long time to accept himself and let go of his vision of what he thinks his life should be like.

For a guy who wasn’t looking for a relationship and commitment, El is amazingly patient and understanding with Paul, even when he’s scared himself of opening up and taking a chance on love. He’s such a family guy, which is always heartwarming to read, even if his family is not exactly the Brady Bunch. My heart ached for El and his mother especially. Her clutter addiction is hard on both of them, and rooted in such heartbreak.

This was an enjoyable read with a very satisfying happily ever after. I loved seeing Paul come into his own and choose El above all others.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Aerielle

Paul and El are one of my favorite couples in this series. Paul is so oblivious to everything, not just romance stuff but to life in general. El, who grew up with a hoarder has learned to keep himself from forming attachments to not just things but people.

After his break up with his long-time girlfriend, Paul longs to be someone’s first choice. That is a great sentiment but once Paul and El become romantically involved, Paul is still thinking about whether he wants to be gay or have the “easy life” of a straight man. This inevitably causes a blow up between Paul and El.

Sometimes books written by dual authors have flow issues, but this book is seamless. Second Hand is two men’s journey of acceptance. It’s a great addition to the Tucker Spring series!

4.5 Stars of 5

 


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Release Day Review: Gabriel and the Devil by Robert P. Rowe

release day review

Dreasmpsinner

 https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gabriel-and-the-devil-by-robert-p-rowe-10074-b

Blurb: Flirting with the devil can lead to a helluva good time.
Gabriel is a regular angel. The former altar boy plans to graduate from college, become an accountant, get a good job, find a wife, and live a faithful Catholic life.

But one Halloween night, the devil pops in out of nowhere, challenges everything he believes, and heats up Gabriel’s lonely life.
Marcello is full of the devil. He’s lusted after Gabriel forever, but what he really wants is Gabriel’s eternal soul. Still, his mischievous sense of humor, along with his tricks and jokes, leads to a misunderstanding that could condemn him to hell on Earth. Only the truth will let these souls find true love and happiness.

Review: Overall, this was a fun read – the good, religious boy and the not so good, devilish tempter. I thought the story was cleverly done – without giving the twist away – there is a bit of sleight of hand that works quite well.
My biggest complaint is how quickly Gabriel fell for Marcello; one moment he’s resisting Marcello’s tempting ways and almost as quickly, he’s fallen in lust/love. This is a story that could have been longer in order to fully stretch out the fantasy and fun. But the ending is nice, complete with a satisfying epilogue.

3.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

 

Recent Release: Picking the Corners by Ashley K. Broome

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36675273-picking-the-corners?from_search=true

Blurb

Nate Cross of the Vancouver Vikings would do anything for his best friend Roman Orlyck, including taking him in after a devastating concussion. Until Roman moved in, Nate didn’t realize how much he cared about him.
With the season looming and his linemate forced to sit out, Nate struggles between friendship and wanting more from Roman. Days turn to weeks and their friendship deteriorates, leaving Nate to struggle with their relationship and his performance on the ice. The question looms heavy—how are they supposed to play together when they aren’t even speaking?

Review

I recently found this author and I’m pretty glad I did. I’ve now read 2 of the 3 of her hockey books and they’re pretty good.

She seems to know about hockey and is good at character development as well as giving us some wonderful sexual tension.

I’m not crazy about her writing style and sometimes her sex scenes leave a little to be desired in the heat/flow department.

However, I was able to fall into the story without much effort and I wanted to keep reading til the story ended – a sign of good book!

The plot in this story is predictable but still enjoyable and I’d recommend this to fans of m/m hockey romance.

3.75 (rounded to 4) of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Home for Christmas (Texas #9) by R.J. Scott

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42931944-home-for-christmas?from_search=true

Blurb

Can Connor show River a real family Christmas?

When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.

River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.

From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.

Review

I was a big fan of the Texas series when it first started… I’m not sure I’ve actually read every book in the series – but most of them?

In any case, this is the next generation and it’s Jack and Riley’s college aged kid. I’m not sure – but this feels like soap opera aging – where you see the child born and then in 2 years they’re a teenager! LOL or I’m just getting too old to remember everyone’s age!

In any case this was really sweet and it was fun seeing Jack and Riley again as parents.

If you’re a fan of the series you’ll love this, if you just want a sweet holiday hurt/comfort – this is for you, too!

3.75 (rounded to 4) of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Fox and Wolf By Julia Talbot

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fox-and-wolf-by-julia-talbot-10064-b

Blurb

Apex Investigations: Book One
Werewolf PI Dylan Weems is a hired to solve the murder of a client’s customer. As an ex-cop, Dylan is the perfect man for the job, but he doesn’t expect the complication of alluring fox shifter Rey.
Ever since finding the dead body of one of his clients, Rey Mercier’s life is a mess, and he needs help desperately. He has no idea why he’s the target of some ruthless people or what he did to anger them. Hopefully Dylan and his motley crew of shifters at Apex Investigations can help him find out, but first Dylan and Rey have to deal with literal corporate tigers and dire crocodiles shifters… all while deciding what to do about the mate bond that’s becoming undeniable. And is that even possible between fox and wolf?

Review

This was a very enjoyable shifter romance with an interesting mystery subplot. A quick and entertaining read.

 

Rey is a bit of a mess at first, and obviously in way over his head with big bad dire … creatures out to get him. He hires a PI to help him investigate and hopefully solve the mystery of the sudden threat against his life. Dylan, the PI in question, doesn’t need long to become totally smitten with Rey, though both men are thrown by their unexpected connection. Dare they think the M-word (mate)?

 

I loved Dylan’s protective side and his use of endearments when addressing Rey, which he does very quickly. They are super sweet together. Dylan and Rey have a bit of an opposites attract vibe going, with emphasis on the attract. I was glad that their relationship was balanced, and that Rey could also be there for Dylan and help him out, so it wasn’t just a case of the bigger shifter protecting the smaller, seemingly more vulnerable one. The investigation itself didn’t always hold my interest, but I did really like how the bond between the two MC’s built up as well as the interactions between Dylan, Rey and Dylan’s pack.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, and prejudices muddled the waters for a while, but love, and the good guys, win in the end.

 

The world-building is a bit unclear, though I do like that there are all kinds of shifters with different abilities and characteristics in this universe. There also seem to be some racial prejudices between the different animal shifters, which makes “inter-species” relationships slightly more challenging, as Dylan and Rey find out. Dylan belongs to an atypical pack, led by an alpha wolf, but with members from different shifter species. So it’s a kind of chosen family story.

We get to know and care for the entire pack, the author doing a wonderful job of creating interest in the stories that are to follow in this new series.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 3.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Slave Dance (Alien Blood Wars series – book 3) by Samantha Cayto

Pride Publishing

https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/slave-dance

Blurb
What lurks in the dark is not always a monster. Sometimes it’s your deepest desire.
Quiet and steadfast, Emil has remade himself from botanist to chef. Taking care of people is what he does best. He hates having to fight the war with Dracul, but his loyalty to his captain forces him to do no less. Unlike others of his species, he has formed no intimate bonds and has no intention of doing so. That way lies sadness. He takes his pleasure from feeding those he loves, content with his destiny. That is until he runs into an abused boy who needs more than a good meal.
All turning eighteen means to Jase is that now the man who he is forced to call Master can abuse him publicly. A victim of sex trafficking, Jase only knows one way of life-brutal submission to whichever man claims him. When his Master joins Club Lux, it’s more of the same until he finds himself in the hands of its strange chef.
Circumstances force Emil into a new and frightening role and Jase into the arms of a scary and unfathomable Master. Emil is worse than any man—or so Jase thinks, when Emil’s alien nature comes out. Jase wants to be a good slave and Emil frets about saving Jase from himself. While they try to find their way, a vicious crew member begins to terrorize Boston. Now Emil fights on two fronts—the scariest being that he will fail Jase.

Review

I jumped in mid-series with this book, but the author does such a great job at world-building and connecting all the dots, that I was drawn into the story with ease. There are a lot of characters to get to know, but I had a clear idea of what was going on and with whom, so that wasn’t an issue in the slightest.

I was pleasantly surprised by the original take on the vampire/Dracula mythology that we get in this series. I’m a big fan of the paranormal genre, especially vampires and shifters, so I’m pretty stoked about having found a new author!

There’s an ongoing battle between Emil’s “band of brothers”, led by Alex, and a group of rogue deserters, led by the evil Dracul. The action-part part of the story is also a very important element, the focus is not solely on the romance. In between trying to save humanity from Dracul and his minions, Emil meets Jase when Jase’s Master (read abuser) brings him along to the bdsm club where Emil works as a chef. Supposedly, Jase is in a consensual slave/master relationship and it takes Emil and the others a little while to figure out that something else entirely is going on. But then it’s Emil to the rescue! Go Emil!

I have to admit that the scenes where Jase is abused where hard for me to read, and I was very happy when that part of the story was finally out of the way. I can see how it was necessary to have that be part of the book, because experiencing it alongside Jase, instead of having it be a kind of “behind closed doors”-event really heightens the emotional connection we feel as a reader to Jase. Still, not the easiest part of the book to get through. And of course, as a result, I very much rooted for Emil, the contrast between the alien and the actual monster couldn’t be starker.

Jase and Emil are both amazing MC’s, especially Jase who shows great resilience and courage. I do feel as if he might have recovered a bit too quickly though from everything he went through. Emil is a steady, kindhearted man, very much a caretaker, so he’s perfect for Jase. I loved the respect he showed for Jase’s independence and free will.

There are multiple pov’s used throughout the book, setting the stage for other storylines to come, and to help us get different, useful perspectives. We know how both MC’s feel, but we also get important insights from several, for the moment, secondary characters. One of whom is enslaved by Dracul, so reading his take on things is a great way to show readers why exactly Dracul is so loathsome and very much to be feared.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next, but I think I had best start with reading what happened at the beginning first. I dearly wish I had a Time-Turner like Hermione, so I could find the time to read all the books I want!

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Release Day Review: Cops and Comix By Rhys Ford

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cops-and-comix-by-rhys-ford-10013-b

Blurb

A Murder and Mayhem Short
It’s all fun and games until someone leaves a dead body on the floor.
Life for comic book store owner Alex Martin usually runs to the mundane. Sure, he has a regular influx of geeks and freaks, but for the most part, it’s a familiar weird. That all changes when he opens up Planet X Comics one morning and finds a corpse in the middle of his shop.
When Detective James Castillo is called in to investigate, Alex is torn between wanting to climb the man like a tree and giving him a wide berth. Luckily for Alex, the handsome detective is just as interested in him—as a suspect in the murder.

Review

This novella starts with a dead body, and you assume most of it will revolve round that drama and the struggle between Alex being extremely attracted to James and fearing he will be accused of murder.

I like that Ford chose to put enough of the romance and solved that conflict sooner than expected. I actually really liked Alex and James, they sort of had a slow buildup and it was very refreshing, considering most full length books jump right into the steam on the first date/meeting. There is a heaping amount of humor and a splash of bad Karma/Murphy’s Law mixed in and it makes for a truly fun read. And surprisingly (or not so much when you consider the talent of the author) you get well rounded characters in such a short story, James is a big softie and I liked his lack of macho ego. Alex is just the right amount of shy and geeky without turning into a total introverted outcast like some books tend to portray geeky/nerdy characters.

This short novella leaves you with a craving for more, written in Rhys Ford’s signature humor and fantastic writing style. The only reason I gave it 3.5 stars is that I felt it was a bit too short or rushed in some parts. Despite that it was just the kind of teasing taste to get you hooked on the series and I am definitely going to get the next ones and dive in.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review