Release Day Review: Whiskey and Moonshine by Elizabeth Noble

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/whiskey-and-moonshine-by-elizabeth-noble-10086-b

Blurb

Drunk on love.

Like a well-aged whiskey, master distiller and old-money entrepreneur Malone Kensington is elegant and refined. Unfortunately he’s also a perfectionist who is more dedicated to the success of his generations-old company than his own love life.

That company needs a public spokesman.

What Colton Hale lacks in sophistication, he more than makes up for with the charisma that’s allowed him to survive on the street from a young age and charm his way into the lucrative—if overwhelming—public position at the Kensington Distillery. When Mal takes Colt under his wing, hoping to polish off his rough edges, opposites attract and a passionate romance blossoms despite the differences in age and background. But can it survive a Kensington Board of Directors who believe Colt is nothing but a gold digger and a kidnapper determined to profit from the love of Mal’s life—dead or alive?

Review

This is a quick and light read with a decent basic premise, enjoyable enough though the execution was somewhat lacking for me. The author had a whole bag of tricks at her disposal (boss/employee, cinderfella vibe, crime plot, potential for hurt/comfort, May/December), but I still didn’t really feel the magic between this couple.

Colt goes from a life on the streets to a successful career as spokesman, even making it onto a well-known tv-show, with incredible ease. He’s definitely the more interesting of the two MC’s and has some great scenes, especially in the beginning when he hasn’t shed all his conman ways yet. His honesty about his past is one of his redeeming features. Mal is a successful businessman, but not a great talker. And apparently his company is in great need of someone who can appear, and speak, in public. Enter Colt.

It’s basically an insta-love story, but I remained a little unconvinced by the tepid attraction between Mal and Colt and little happened to make me believe in deeper feelings than lust. Both MC’s were at times immature and hasty in their judgment of each other, the good and the bad. I could have done without some of the more theatrical, emotional outbursts. I especially didn’t care for Mal’s cavalier and irresponsible attitude towards potentially breaking contracts, his own financial security and even more importantly, that of his company’s employees whose livelihoods depend on him making clear-headed choices. Most of the things that bugged me about Mal were intended to show his romantic devotion to Colt, I think, but made a wholly different impression on me.

Mal loses himself too much in his infatuation with Colt, which turns into love at breakneck speed. There’s no obstacle that he can’t “break” or explain away. I’d have more easily believed in the strength of his love for Colt, if the obstacles in their path, like Colt’s unsavory past, had actually held any weight for Mal… if they’d made him pause, even for the slightest moment. But there is no doubt in his mind at any point, not even when they barely know each other. And I feel as if by the end of the book, they still do not know each other all that well, which made the eventual HEA rather unsatisfactory for me.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

 


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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


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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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Recent Release: BFF: Forever (BFF book3) by Devon McCormack

Good reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43224645-bff?from_search=true

Blurb
JESSE:

It began with his electric touch and a hurricane of frenzied passion that ravaged my body, my mind, my soul…my entire life.

We both knew where the line was, yet we crossed it because it was the only way we could be close to one another. We told ourselves it was nothing more than a fantasy–a beach vacay we could treat like a dream, cherishing it in our hearts, but evading the real life repercussions of our actions.

If only it had been that easy…

We couldn’t keep away from each other, and one lust-filled encounter after another birthed a connection, which turned into so much more.

Now I’m head over heels for my best friend’s father.

Oh, Eric Westright…you’ve changed me. I’m addicted to your touch. I’m a servant to your desires.

I kept telling myself it was nothing more than a dream, but now the thought of awakening from our life together terrifies me. I can’t bear a world where I never knew what it was like to be lost in those magnificent blue eyes, to feel his caress against my face, his lips against my own…him loving me deep inside.

Oh, please, if this is all a dream, don’t let me wake up. Let me have this. I know I messed up, but I can fix everything I’ve broken. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ll make it right.

I’ll do whatever it takes. Just please let me have him FOREVER.

Review
All the love for this amazing couple!! What a wonderful and inspiring love story. I’m still on cloud nine, this is going to be an awful book hangover.

It’s been a long time since I anticipated the release of a book the way I have this one. I’ve just been so curious about what else was in store for Jesse and Eric. It didn’t feel finished, or maybe I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. Honestly, my expectations were so high, I was almost afraid to start reading. I held back for about five seconds and then I was all in. And it was everything I hoped for and more.
All the romance. All the love. All the feels. Absolutely worth the wait.

The love these two characters have for each other just feels so all-encompassing. It goes way beyond the bliss of the initial attraction and early butterflies straight into the deeper joy that comes when you’ve gotten to truly know each other, the bliss and comfort you find in being there for your partner through the good and the bad, and the peace that comes with knowing that the reverse is true as well.

The author did an amazing job at describing how utterly gone Jesse and Eric still are on each other. Their devotion, the sheer magnitude of their love was an immense pleasure to read. I soaked up every word. Each time I read the words “my Eric”, I about melted on the spot from the sweetness of it all. Jesse’s humor, his limitless patience and understanding, Eric’s bravery and the vulnerable side he shows in this book… It was all just … wow. No words can do this story justice.

I was so happy about the way all the “loose ends” were resolved. Just so glad how it all worked out for Eric, Jesse and Ty especially. There were quite a few family moments that were very emotional, a bit painful, and a lot teary, but full of love and hope for the future.

I very much enjoyed all the wonderful secondary characters like aunt Connie, Charlotte and Stan, and even Tricia. Not to mention the loyal bands of friends both Eric and Jesse have. A lot of potential there for other future stories! So I’m happily readying myself to play the waiting game again.

Number of stars out of 5: 6


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Recent Release: Elias By Erin E. Keller

Good Reads

https://www.jms-books.com/erotic-romance-c-29_94/elias-p-2635.html?zenid=bt9b4JSEAEyjiUt7gDzs80

Blurb

Detective Thomas Doyle has been living a lonely, compartmentalized life ever since the death of his life partner, Aiden. He vowed never to let anybody get close to him again — the pain of losing a loved one is too much to bear. Despite his vow, Thomas is lonely, and has a number of one-night stands, sexual encounters with unnamed men he doesn’t care to remember. Then he meets Elias.

Elias Byrne knows the pain of abuse and rejection intimately. Unable to escape the clutches of his older brother, Elias dreams of someone to love, and of being loved in return. He admires Thomas, but the detective never pays him any notice. In a desperate attempt to get closer to him, Elias steals his wallet, then gives it back the next day.

Pretty soon, Thomas feels a strong attraction to the fiery, arrogant, younger man. Elias intrigues him, but he resists his growing feelings because he doesn’t want to get hurt again.

When Thomas rescues Elias from his abusive brother, can he also rescue them both from the loneliness that threatens to consume them? Can Elias conquer the detective’s hardened heart and find the love he always longed for? Or will Thomas stubbornly refuse to give himself another chance at love?

Review

Thomas has been nearly existing the past 2 years after the death of his partner Aiden. One day while on his way to work he feels a panic attack starting and ends up meeting a young man who ends up bringing him back to life. Elias has a hard life. He feels indebted to his older brother and because of this he allows his brother to prostitute him out. Elias see Thomas and becomes infatuated with him. He sees Thomas as a savior figure.
At first, I didn’t think I would like this book. I like for characters to be able to save themselves instead of waiting for someone to come do it for them. At first this is what the book seemed like but in the end, Thomas helped Elias become strong enough to help himself.
There are some difficult scenes in this book. Physical violence and an attempted rape scene so readers with triggers should be cautious. This story does end on a lighter note but hopefully there will be more to Thomas and Elias’ story down the road.
4 Stars


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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


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Recent Release: The Victorian (Lavender Shores book 9) by Rosalind Abel

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42104359-the-victorian

Blurb
Sexy bartender Seth Marino is the epitome of the allure and sophistication for which the town of Lavender Shores is known. For twenty years, Seth has found contentment and happiness as co-owner of the Blue Blossom Bed-and-Breakfast. Seth’s kind heart, good looks, and humor charm both locals and tourists—except the one person who despises him.

Charley Perez began building the life of his dreams a few years before Seth moved to town. Just as his hard work was about to pay off, Charley saw his hopes for building a restaurant worthy of his abuela’s recipes slip through his fingers when Seth arrived. Sure, maybe Charley has a temper, perhaps he should smile more, but does the whole world have to lay out the red carpet for the slutty bartender while never giving Charley a break?

When Lavender Shores welcomes a star-studded food-and-wine celebration, Seth and Charley are forced to work together, leading to an explosion of anger and passion. Both men find the heat and fire of hatred morphing into an irresistible attraction. But even as Seth sees a different side of Charley, the hurt and anger of the past simmer below the surface, threatening the future. And a lifetime of struggle isn’t easy for Charley, who must find the courage to show his true self in seeking help and reaching for his dreams.

Review

Genius! I think I have a new favorite couple in Lavender Shores.

As enemies to lovers stories go, this one is full on. These characters loathed each other and had done so for about two decades. Their mutual animosity ran so deep, I wondered how they would ever get over that. What could possibly get these men to reevaluate their opinions and start seeing each other in a different light? Not to mention forgive past hurts? Because some of their exchanges were incredibly vicious.

But the author managed it brilliantly, turning from enemies to lovers to hurt/comfort with a twist I didn’t see coming, but which tore at my heart. All at once, it became a very different story. Deeply emotional and heartbreaking.

Seth and Charley are both complex and wonderful characters. Their chemistry is off the charts, but what really got to me the most were the little things like Seth showing up on his birthday to be there for Charley, without any expectations, the tentative hand holding which is so much more revealing than angry sex ever could be… They aren’t the most “conventional” couple, but the love they feel for each other is so strong and true. It was absolutely inspiring. I also loved that it wasn’t an easy thing, for either of them. They are tested from the onset and that made every little step they took closer to each other even more rewarding.

I loved the bond between Charley and Mabel & Sapphire, it was so good to see him have those two in his corner. Same for his connection with Alex, the way he stands up for her and supports her…those were some of the best scenes in the book.

The epilogue was amazing, incredibly touching and romantic while still staying true to who these characters are. The perfect feel-good ending where we leave our MC’s in a happy, hopeful place.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


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Release Day Review: A Whole Latte Sass By Marguerite Labbe

release day review

Dreamspinner: 

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-whole-latte-sass-by-marguerite-labbe-10070-b

Blurb

Geek Life: Book Two

It’s no secret cosplayer Felipe Suero is looking for his happily ever after—in his love life as well as his career. He’s getting his degree so he can quit his miserable job and start his own costume business. Now he just needs to land the sexiest silver fox to ever attend a con.

Trask Briscoe’s life revolves around staying clean and sober, running the Magick Den, and attending local cons. His rules haven’t left much room for romance. But he can’t deny Felipe has caught his complete attention. He’s just not sure what he can offer a man so full of joy and sass.

When Trask finally accepts Felipe’s offer for a cup of coffee, he soon finds himself on a second date and a third. Between cosplay projects and roleplaying games, they discover a deeper connection than either of them expected. And Trask realizes that sometimes rules are made to be broken.

Now Felipe just has to convince his family—and Trask—that Trask has more love to offer than he ever dreamed.

 

Review

This book was an unexpected delight and I immediately ran to buy book 1 in the series because the cameos of those characters just captured me.  Marguerite has fantastic writing and I am so happy I got to know her, as now I have a new author to follow.
The gaming and geeky world described in the book is very accurate, as someone who was part of it many years and have friends who still are very into it I enjoyed how detailed it was- yet not too much for someone who is not really in this scene. I learned some new things on the way, mostly about roleplaying. Trask and Felipe are such fun, interesting and complex characters, I felt like their relationship, with all its hardships and Felipe’s family not always supporting it, was very mature, even if Felipe has a tendency to dramatic outbursts and storming off- they work it out and in no place is there a time where they just give up because of a misunderstanding. Feeling get hurt, yes, but in the end they always try to talk about it and figure out how to make both happy.

I think one of the things I liked the most was that when they did finally start dating and had their first kiss, there was no ‘explosion/electricity/shivers’ and all those other over the top descriptions we so often get in Romance and M/M Romance. It was very refreshing to see them act on their mutual attraction in more real-life way. It make it that much more interesting, and I liked that they took time to get to know each other more, in the romantic aspect. Despite some parts of the story that might have been a touch slow for me, the author wisely added POV’s of characters from book 1 and ones I assume will be in book 3. It was quite unique, because it gave just enough insight into these other characters, tempting you to read more about them (like Morris and Theo from book 1) and gave you an outside view of Trask and Felipe. I don’t think I have ever come across a book that had this kind of POV in M/M before and I really liked it!

Number of stars out of 5

4.5


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Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

No peacocks were harmed in the making of this story.

Rafa’s nautical skills are less than stellar. He’d rather be a full-time artist, but he has a duty to the family business and a fear of standing up to his father and brother.

Carpenter Lucas is determined to rebuild his business after a lover’s betrayal nearly destroyed it. But he runs into a snag when he misses the last boat to the job site.

Rafa offers to take him, but Rafa isn’t much of a sailor.

When they end up on the wrong island, fears for survival gradually give way to an appreciation of the beauty around them—and each other. Rafa insists a holiday miracle will save them, and he teases Lucas for being a Scrooge.

In the end, Rafa’s miracle might come from the last place he expects: inside himself.

Review

This advent calendar short story was so adorable to read. Good descriptions of the island. The scenes involving peacocks in the distance was really cute. There are sexy mm scenes without being graphic. The brother made me want to kick him. Only complaint is that it’s just too short. There are multiple potential chapter routes that the author left open for a full novel, but still a great read.

Number of stars out of 5

5

 

 

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf audiobook by B.G. Thomas narrated by Donald Tursman

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/grumble-monkey-and-the-department-store-elf-by-bg-thomas-1071-

Blurb
Kit Jefferies, a part-time department store Christmas elf, is an artist who loves life and his family. Unfortunately, his car dies at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere as he is heading home for Christmas. Enter Nick St. George.

Nick is a very unhappy man—he’s achieved his professional goals only to find the rest of his life bleak and empty. Deciding there was only one way to make everything right, he is on his way to San Francisco on a dark mission, and even the horrible sleet storm that blocked his path won’t deter him. That’s when he found Kit.

At first, Nick is pretty sure rescuing Kit was a big mistake. Kit’s personality is just too, well, effervescent. But as the miles go by, Kit begins to bring light to his dark heart. It might even be bright enough to illuminate a Christmas miracle

Review
The story was part of the 2013 Dreampinner Press “Heartwarming” Advent Calendar.
Nick is such a grump, love him. He is trying to get to San Francisco before Christmas Day when he meets Kit at a rest stop. He is so dismissive and judgmental of Kit. Nick is so angry at the world and takes it out on Kit. Kit seems to be everything Nick despises about being gay. Kit and his positive attitude gets through to Nick. Although I had my suspicions Where the story was heading to it was still bit of a surprise. On seeing the cover picture I thought the story would be humorous but I don’t think it gets there. Nick and Kit’s story has a happy for now ending and overall left me feeling thoughtful rather than buoyed up in Christmas spirit.
The narrator gives some attempt to voice the characters but it does sound more like Donald Tursman is just reading the story. If you don’t listen closely it’s hared to distinguish which character was speaking. Initially there was a hollow sound to the recording but either that got better or I got used to it.

3 of stars out of 5 for the story
2 of stars out of 5 for the narration

Reviewer Name: MaryD

Purchased by reviewer