Audiobook: The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster, narrated by Seb Yarrick

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-missing-ingredient-by-brian-lancaster-9738-b

Blurb: It can take losing everything to realize what you had all along.
Up-and-coming London chef Marcus Vine is poised on the edge of success, but the only men courting him are investors. That leaves Marcus with some free time—which is fortunate, because his godchildren need him.

A year ago, a horrible accident killed Marcus’s best friend, Raine, leaving her children without a mother and her husband, Tom, without a partner. Consumed by grief, Tom has been going it alone, refusing help, but when Marcus sees him out with the children, it’s obvious that Tom and his two daughters need someone. His persistent caring finally wears Tom down, allowing him to accept the comfort Marcus offers. Soon Marcus is up to his elbows in homework, home-cooked meals, and after-school activities. Over time he helps them rebuild their world, until soon their lives are approaching normal.
Then the unexpected happens: Tom confesses he has romantic feelings for Marcus, and nothing can ever be the same.

Review:

Story 4 out of 5: Marcus, a successful chef is still reeling from the death of his best friend, Raine.
Raine left behind, Tom and their 2 children; all of whom are trying their best to cope with life without her when Marcus reconnects with the family. Marcus starts to help Tom with the day to day running of Tom’s house and his old attraction (to Tom) begins to grow again. Tom for his part, is beginning to see Marcus as more than a godfather/friend helping out; he’s beginning to feel an attraction as well.
This is the first time that Tom has non-platonic experienced feelings for any man and at first, he seems OK with it. Then he starts to second guess himself, he wonders what others will think, so he pushes Marcus away. The latter is understandably hurt, but he lets Tom figure it out and eventually, they do get their HEA.
The story is well written, with memorable characters – I really enjoyed the story, and hope to read more by this author.

Narration 4 out of 5: I quite enjoyed Seb Yarrick’s narration. He had a down to earth tone and he was good with the accents (I was pleased at how made Marcus’s Nigerian-born assistant sound ☺).
His pacing was good, giving a solid performance. I would definitely look for more of his narrations.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Audiobook: Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy, narrated by Colin Darcy

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stranger-in-a-foreign-land-by-michael-murphy-9679-b

Blurb:
Losing his old life and finding a new love.

After an accident stole his memory, the only home American businessman Patrick knows is Bangkok. He recovers under the tender ministrations of Jack, an Australian expat who works nights at a pineapple cannery. Together they search for clues to Patrick’s identity, but without success. Soon that forgotten past seems less and less important as Jack and Patrick – now known as Buddy – build a new life together.

But the past comes crashing in when Patrick’s brother travels to Thailand looking for him…and demands Patrick return to Los Angeles, away from Jack and the only world familiar to him. The attention also causes trouble for Jack, and to make their way back to each other, Patrick will need to find not only himself, but Jack as well, before everything is lost….

Review:
Story 3.5 out of 5: I have mixed feelings about the story. I liked the premise – an amnesiac who’s stranded in a foreign land, he creates a new life and gets a new love. But, I just couldn’t really get invested in the characters. Patrick is a businessman, (not sure what his business was), he has a good sense of humour (as evidenced by his monologues ☺). Then he has an accident and loses his memory and identity. He’s soon befriended by Jack, an Australian who won’t (can’t?) go back home. Both men become friends, slowly turning into a mutual attraction and romance. Then Patrick’s past comes back in the form of his brother. He’s forced away from Jack and he doesn’t handle the separation well. The men eventually get back together, but the story ends rather abruptly. An epilogue would have been great to tie everything together.

Narration 3.5 out of 5: I enjoyed the narration and I think it’s a good way to experience the story. Colin Darcy does a good job distinguishing between the characters, however, accents are not his forte – (his Oz accent sounded more Texan? to me).

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Release Day Review: Place Setting (States of Love) by Claudia Mayrant

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/place-setting-by-claudia-mayrant-10094-b

Blurb

Cameron Dunlop has lived in the Lowcountry town of Summer Corners, South Carolina, his whole life. He loves his home, but his little town in the Deep South doesn’t offer much in the way of dating options.

Chef Gray Callahan has enjoyed success in the kitchen, but his last relationship sunk like a bad soufflé. When plans for his sister’s wedding go awry, it provides the perfect excuse to pack up and go home, where he can help out as he decides how to start his life over.

Gray’s path crosses Cameron’s, and he realizes together they might have all the ingredients to save the day—with maybe enough left over for something sweet just for the two of them.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Review

This short story was such a sweet story to read. Gray relocates back to his small hometown and meets Cameron, who had a high school crush on Gray. There’s a pretty instant attraction. I like how quickly they worked together and the interest didn’t drag out. I enjoy reading cute stories like this where most works itself out with minimum trouble. The “Stick Shack” scene was cute and hot. Was happy Gray was able to pull through for his sister. I would LOVE to read a continuation of this book. Hope more in this series are made.

Number of stars out of 5

5


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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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Recent Release: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43184087-is-it-over-yet?from_search=true

Blurb

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?

Review

This was a difficult book to get through. Not because it was bad, because it wasn’t. It is actually a very good story but the anguish the two men, Rhys and Derek are going through just ripped through me. The couple have decided to end their marriage after one of the men cheated, but when their daughter’s wedding approaches they decided to try to pretend that everything between them is ok. The forced proximity of the drive to the wedding and the wedding itself really brings things into focus for both men.

The cheating occurs before the book starts and is only mentioned in conversations. The character who cheated, didn’t try to hide what he did but came clean right away. He doesn’t excuse what he did and readily accepts all the anger that is flung his way. It’s obvious to the reader that Rhys and Derek still love each other but there is so much anger still lingering between the two. The real question through the whole book is “is love enough”?

5 Stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Playing The Point by Ashley K. Broome

 

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36113607-playing-the-point?from_search=true

Blurb

In hockey getting traded was never easy. Henny knew his trade was coming but he wasn’t prepared to go from the Seattle Thunder to playing for what used to be his biggest rivals on ice, the Dakota Crusaders.
He planned to hide everything about himself that prompted the trade. With the preseason over and the regular season in full swing, Henny can only hope that the Crusaders will think he’s worth what they paid for him.
He wasn’t expecting the current captain of the Crusaders, Matthew Doherty to look past his former team and welcome him onto the team. The way they clicked on ice and how the entire team worked together made the trade easier. Now if he could stop starring at Doherty and focus on hockey, that would be great. He didn’t need a repeat of what happened in Seattle. He just wanted to play hockey.

Review

This is a fun hockey series. It’s got a lot of hockey feel to it with some medium steam romance and a lovely HEA.

I think this would be better as a short story – it would carry more punch – but it was an easy read and I was engaged throughout most of it.

I really hope the author gets an editor who can help them with the basic writing and some grammatical errors as there is a lot of potential there but the flow is a little ragged and there were some pretty obvious typos and other mistakes.

I’ve enjoyed reading from this new author and look forward to more from them.

3 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

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


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story The Legend of Gentleman John by TJ Nichols

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

Blurb
Banyn, a fae, escorts the souls of children to Magh Meall, but one Christmas, he comes for a lad who isn’t quite dead, and he breaks a rule rather than wait while John fights a battle he’ll ultimately lose. So begins a long-running affair that crosses the border between life and death, the human and fae realms, and even oceans to strange countries with different gods and rules.

John Rourke renounced a religion that had no place for him and returned to the old ways. Convicted of theft, he is sentenced to transportation and suffers brutal punishment—until he escapes to live on his own terms as a bushranger. When vengeance against his tormentor consumes him and threatens his life, John finds he has only one holiday wish—to see his fae lover one last time.

Review

Review

This story is told in the style of a fairy tale rather than a love story, which to me, made it more interesting than the usual holiday short that is around.

 

John Rourke is a man born with a soul that doesn’t match his body, in a time when that is not allowed. From a poor family he begs and steals to survive until one night, he isn’t supposed to. But the fae escort sent for his soul, helps him live instead and creates a bond that will see them through many years.

 

The timeline on this story does jump around causing me to stumble a few times with where and when I was reading, but I really enjoyed this legend and especially the final scene at the end. 

Although we are not given a huge amount of time to get to know the character of John, what is learnt makes him an interesting and likeable man. Someone who is battling everything life has thrown at them and doing their utmost to survive in a hostile world.

I would have liked for this story to be more drawn out and expanded, but as it stands, it has been one of the more interesting holiday offerings I have read.

 

4 stars out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Death to Christmas Sweaters by L.E. Franks

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

Blurb

Chess and Benjamin are casual lovers, each hiding his devotion to the other and his wish for more. But Chess is a wealthy playboy who—Benjamin believes—will never settle down. And Chess is sure, with the way Benjamin keeps him at arm’s length, that he can’t be interested in getting serious.

They’re destined for a head-on collision as Chess plans for a holiday escape designed to send Benjamin’s ardor spiking like the temperatures in Los Angeles, while Benjamin desperately drags his feet, wanting to cool things down to protect his vulnerable heart. But when the ghosts of Chess’s Christmas past and Benjamin’s unwelcome present converge at LAX, it’s obvious there are other forces at play and about to take over.

Drawn into their respective family dramas at a joint gathering, will Chess and Benjamin finally take a stand for each other and the relationship they both want, or will the holiday finally take its toll?

Review

This was a fun short story.

We first meet Chess and Benjamin when they are already in a relationship, both wanting to make it a more permanent thing, but each not sure what the other is thinking and so it looks like a break up is inevitable.  But thankfully they manage to stumble their way through to their own happily ever after.

 

I did enjoy this book. It was an easy read with both main characters being extremely likeable.

There was an array of friends and relations popping up throughout who mostly added to the story although some did feel superfluous. Even though we were introduced to a lot of characters for such a short tale, as a taster to a writer, it would make me look for more work by this author.

 

3.5 stars out of 5

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Boca Dreams by Scudder James Jr.

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

Blurb

You can’t correct the past.

Or can you?

Stephen’s not proud of who he was back in boarding school—spoiled and a player. Now, at the holiday reunion ten years later, he has a chance to show his former classmates who he really is: out and proud, devoted to helping others, and partnered with Victor.

Stephen understands why Victor, who grew up in a poor and abusive household, hates the rich kids at the reunion, but his attitude is ruining everything. Luckily Stephen bumps into Aaron, a former grunge rocker who has also changed. Stephen never forgot their one steamy night together.

With the help of three very unusual personifications of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, can Stephen revisit his mistakes and find the happiness that’s eluded him?

Review

Ahhh this was a sweet one. Even with a bud head Victor… if you zipp him out, thereis just a kind, friendly and sweet read.

 

Stephen will show off and come out as gay with his partner Victor at the reunion.

But… at the reunion everything turns out else than expected.

Stephen has the reputation being a rich guy with a bad attitude, nobody really know him who he is now. The same is with Aaron…

When Aaron sees Stephen he knows his feelings are still the same..

They had a one night thing…long ago… but not really. Both are still attracted to each other.

 

I loved Aaron he was kind, considerate and sweet. Stephen was adorable innocent and thank goodness he was into Aaron.

Really nice written, super short holiday read. Nice engaging characters and the environments well done.

Dreams come true!

 

 

Number of stars out 4 of 5

4 star

 

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review