Recent Release: Haunted Seas (San Capistrano Series 5.5) By Angelique Jurd

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42427557-haunted-seas?from_search=true

Blurb
Life in the San Capistrano beach house is good. Ben and Alex’s family is settled and happy as they navigate day to day life. As they prepare for Halloween they get some news that may finally offer Alex the closure on his past he so desperately needs.

Review
I fell in love with Alex Davis in book one of this series and haven’t fallen out of love yet. He is such a beautiful gentle man who deserves everything good that comes his was.
In this short story, we drop back in on the world of Alex, his husband Ben and their three children, just to take a wee peak at how life is treating them.
In this quick visit we get a chance to see that life is pretty good for the family. The girls are growing, Lucy has found her two-year-old teeth and temper, Ally’s determined character seems to be back on track and Jamie is tentatively exploring his sexuality.
But once again, an explosive piece of news rocks the calm-ish waters of Alex’s life, leaving him a little lost on how he should feel, but as always, this beautiful tight-knit family rally around to love and support.

This is not a stand-alone book and you will need to have read the rest of the series to understand the story. I highly recommend reading them all. This also looks to be a gateway into book six Safe Haven, that will hopefully be with us in December 2018

4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Fair isn’t life By Kaje Harper

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fair-isnt-life-by-kaje-harper-9973-b

Blurb

 

Luke Lafontaine survived the past year by not thinking about the father he lost, the dairy farm he couldn’t save from bankruptcy, or his way of life that vanished with the rap of an auctioneer’s hammer. Cleaning up city folks’ trash at the Minnesota State Fair is just another dead-end job. But at the Fair, surrounded by a celebration of farm life,  ambitions he’d given up on and buried deep start to revive. And seeing Mason Bell in the parade—gorgeous, gay, out-of-his-league Mason—stirs other buried dreams.

Mason left his hometown for college in Minneapolis without looking back. Student life is fun, classes are great, gay guys are easy to find, but it’s all a bit superficial. He’s at the State Fair parade route with his band when he realizes a scruffy maintenance worker is Luke, his secret high school crush. Luke should be safely home working on his dad’s farm, not picking up litter. Mason wishes he hadn’t fallen out of touch. He’s an optimist, though, and it’s never too late for second chances. Now he just has to convince Luke.

 

Review
Luke has gone through a lot, losing his father, his farm and home, and only narrowly escaping a life on the streets. He’s lost hope and I felt quite sad for him. All that loss really impacted him and continues to define him throughout the story. It’s more than a simple background story for the cliché “tormented hero”.
Luckily this is fiction, and Kaje Harper managed to give Luke a way to turn his life around with a little help from his former high school crush, Mason. Although reality intrudes when we are shown that Luke’s farm was no exception and that other dairy farms also struggle to survive, with no miracle to fix their issues.

Luke is physically more imposing than the smaller and more studious Mason, but their relationship doesn’t conform to stereotypes, which I loved! Luke looks to Mason for guidance and help to discover new things, like say make-up. The issue of what it means to be a real “man” is touched upon and handled in the best way. I really liked Luke and Mason as a couple, they are a great fit.

This story has an very realistic feel to it, with a “true story” kind of vibe running through it thanks to the incredibly authentic (not always likable) secondary characters and real life issues that crop up. Even the happy for now ending adds to that feeling.

Number of stars out of 5: 3.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Comfort: Designs of Desire by Tempeste O’Riley Narrated by Max Lehnen

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18139107-designs-of-desire?from_search=tru

Blurb

Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.

As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.

James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?

Review
It seems like this is one of those stories you either enjoy or don’t. It’s an insta love kind of story. James was born with a genetic condition which affects his joints. James’s past relationships have been a disaster, with his last partner abusing him. It has taken him a long time to consider another relationship. Then along comes Seth. Not a person to take no for an answer. He is determined to show James BDSM is not abuse.
Whilst I liked the story James does seem to suffer or attract bad luck more than the average person. His fortunes turn when he meets Seth. The right man makes it all better! maybe it’s more the case that Seth builds James’s self belief and confidence back up so that he can show the world what a fantastic artist he is. This is the first book in a series, each one focuses on a different pair of characters, and can be read alone.
I’ve read this story and when you have a good narrator it can bring different aspects to the story and make it almost feel like the first time. Unfortunately not in this case. I couldn’t quite match the voices to either Seth or James, there isn’t any distinction between characters. Although not unpleasant to listen to. The story just felt like I was being read to by someone who wasn’t that interested. It was the story itself that kept me tuned in otherwise I might’ve zoned out. The narrator changes for the rest of the series series, not necessarily for the better.

3 of stars out of 5 for the story
2 of stars out of 5 for the narrator
overall 2.5 of 5 stars

Purchased for Review

 

 

 

 

Release Day Review: Seeking Solace by Ari McKay

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/seeking-solace-by-ari-mckay-9938-b

Blurb

Like his cousins, Devin Walker aspires to be a chef, but he wants to indulge his wanderlust while feeding his customers, and working a cruise ship seems like the solution. Since he can’t find an opening in the kitchen, he’s happy to start out in a position behind the bar.

While onboard Poseidon’s Pearl, Devin is assigned to shepherd a visiting executive. Paul Bailey is quiet and unassuming, and the car accident that cost him his leg also shattered his confidence. He doesn’t think he’s attractive to other men anymore, and Devin is eager to show him just how wrong he is. Paul has a surprising secret that might sink their passionate affair before it even leaves port.

Review

This was a really sweet love story, not to mention a very romantic one with “love boat” vibes of the very best kind. Very much a feel good romance with a little dash of hurt/comfort, but low on angst and conflict.

Devin is working as a bartender on a Triton cruise ship when he meets Paul, who is an executive for Triton Cruises. Devin is put in charge of showing Paul around and explaining the day-to-day workings onboard ship. They both instantly like each other and go from a tentative friendship to something more almost seamlessly.

Paul has been in an accident and is understandably self-conscious about his scars and prosthetic leg after being dumped by his boyfriend because of them. He’s well rid of that guy, of course. I adored Devin for being so sensitive, supportive and full of wise advice. Paul slowly learns to trust him, and to trust in the attraction and feelings that they have for one another, but he’s been keeping a secret from Devin… One that might very well ruin everything.

I loved the dynamic of the Walker family and how they stick up for each other. There’s teasing, but also a united front when one is needed, very heartwarming and uplifting to read.

This can be read perfectly as a standalone, although I have to admit I’m super curious about the other books in this series now! But that’s okay, I’m in total control of my TBR-pile…not.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Release Day Review: Fire and Agate by Andrew Grey

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fire-and-agate-by-andrew-grey-9959-

Blurb
When Chris Anducci is moved off jail duty and into the sheriff’s office, he doesn’t expect his first assignment to be protecting a witness against a human trafficking ring. Knowing the new sheriff doesn’t abide screwups, Chris reluctantly agrees to work the case.

Pavle Kasun has spent the last four years of his life at the mercy of others. When an opportunity presented itself, he took it, resulting in his rescue. Now the safe houses he’s placed in are being threatened and he needs protection if he is to have any sort of chance at a life.

Chris opens his home to Pavle, but he doesn’t expect Pavle and his story to get under his skin… and stay there. Soon they discover they have more in common than either of them thought. Slowly Pavle comes out of his shell and Chris finds someone who touches his heart. But as the men looking for Pavle close in, they will stop at nothing to get him out of the way. Even if Chris can keep him safe, he might not be able to protect his heart if Pavle moves back home.

Review
There are some very heavy topics included in this story, human trafficking, PTSD, organised crime, police corruption, but none of it has much weight. The story focuses on Chris and Pavel and is told from Chris’s point of view. I found it a little hard to accept that as Pavel had been held prisoner for four years and subjected to who knows what kind of treatment would be so quick and seemingly comfortable with entering In to a physical relationship with someone so soon. Putting that aside the story focuses on Chris and Pavel’s relationship and the criminal investigation part is in the background. There is very little realism in this story but I was quite glad of that. I enjoyed the positivity that Pavel was strong enough to fight the trauma of what he had been through not only to testify against his captors but to find love.

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Time to Comfort: Love’s Tethered Heart by CL Etta


Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/loves-tethered-heart-by-cl-etta-7960-b

Blurb

Two years ago Mico and his partner suffered a savage gay bashing that left Mico a quadriplegic—and ended his dreams of traveling the world as an archeologist. Abandoned by the man he loved, he lives in isolation, tethered to his bed by the machines keeping him alive, with only his caretakers and immediate family as companions.

Assigned to interview Mico and uncover the story behind his assault and his refusal to identify his attackers, journalist Danny is unprepared for his reaction to the fragile, yet enigmatic man. Mico is afraid to let Danny into his life, and Danny is unsure how to change his mind. Mico is also keeping secrets, and he isn’t the only one. Danny is determined to protect Mico, and he’s determined to show Mico that their feelings for each other can thrive amidst the mechanics of Mico’s existence.

If you enjoy romantic tales of heartbreak turned to hope, the life-affirming story of Danny and Mico will make you believe in the possibility of love for everyone—no matter what obstacles they face.

Review
I’m in awe….This is how you write a story from different perspectives. Really amazingly done.
The buildup is stunning and the story beyond my expectations
At 30% I really broke down when Mico broke down my God it was heartbreaking.

As you can read in the blurb Mico was bashed two years earlier and left with quadriplegic, I’m not familiar with such circumstances as described in this story. But it’s all convincing and I’m very content when there is love, compassion, honesty and forgiveness involved.
And when this is done in a amazingly honest and caring way I’m sold.

Danny is interviewing Mico about what happened to him two years ago. Through these interviews we get to know the whole story. We will meet all his caretakers and we see the growing affection between Danny and Mico. I love them both <3

There are some hilarious parts (you must read them yourself)
The story was in balance and felt real and honest, despite the dark clouds you could feel the warmth of the sunshine.
There are some hideous parts where I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Some stupidities which were understandable.

It was a journey and a hard one. It touched me deep. I felt it in my burning chest.
When I have that feeling I know it’s real. Through reading every time i try to assure myself if this was holding Mico high because no way I want to read something that degenerate someone, that would bring someone down because of someones disability. In this case Mico who depends on others. Mico is not his disability he is a man with a big heart, humor, intelligent and caring….so exceptional, all his reflections felt real.

And Danny my God he is amazing, he sees a soul just how we all should. We see this story from his pov. We can see him grow and his love has no boundaries he is very dedicated.
Then there are Randy, Adrian their story will stun you. And there is Santi, Dad and other Dad and Mom
It was a circle of unconditional love.

All felt real and convincing.

You know….some sentences are so right….so straight to the heartstrings…you can only love them.
This book will make you laugh and cry and will amaze you about the strength of men kind.
It was beautiful solid written with unexpected turns.
An absolute mustread!!

5 stars out of 5


 

 

 

 

 

Copy provided for review

Release Day Review: Knowing Me, Knowing You by Renae Kaye

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/knowing-me-knowing-you-by-renae-kaye-9931-b

Blurb

Loving You: Book Four

Can friends turned occasional lovers move beyond past mistakes and wrong assumptions to build something that can last?

Quiet bookworm Shane has a big secret—one he’s kept for fifteen years. AFL superstar Ambrose Jakoby grew up next door to Shane. They were close friends, and Shane supported Ambrose through school.

One night, everything changed.

Before Ambrose left Perth as a scared eighteen-year-old to head to Melbourne and take up his new footy career, Ambrose and Shane slept together.

For the next nine years, they continued a secret friends-with-benefits situation whenever Ambrose was in town. Shane never knew exactly where he stood or how to define Ambrose’s sexuality—and Ambrose didn’t know either. Then last Christmas, everything changed again, and a disagreement strained their friendship. Shane vowed to get over his unrequited love.

But Ambrose is back, recovering from an injury and hoping to make amends. He claims he’s ready for a real relationship. But Shane has to decide whether Ambrose means it and whether his Hufflepuff soul can take the chance.

Review by Aerielle

When I saw that Renae Kaye was writing another installment in the Loving You series I was very excited. While this book is a very good “friends-to-lovers” story it was lacking the pure joy and light heartedness that the first three books had.

Shane has always been in the background in the other stories, so coming into this book he was a complete blank page. He seems to have very little self-esteem and self-worth. He tends to calls himself “wallpaper Shane”.

Every few chapters there is an “Interview”, which is Shane asking his friends how long it took them to know they were in love. I really enjoyed getting these little insights.
By the end of the book I still felt like I didn’t really know much about Ambrose and only slightly more about Shane which is a real departure from all of Renae’s other books. This can be read as a stand-alone since there is a lot of explanation about the previous couples and their stories.

Overall this is a fairly decent story about two long-time friends who occasionally slept together coming to realize that they each mean the world to each other.

4 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review:  Jay and the gang are back! This time they make their appearances in Shane and Ambrose’s story.

I loved this addition to the series, especially 1 page ‘interviews’ with many of the cast from the previous stories.

Shane and Ambrose have been friends for years – Shane knows he in love, Ambrose appears to be straight. Until he’s about to leave for a professional football career in Melbourne (they live in Perth).

When Ambrose returns home to recover from an injury, the truth of his feelings for Shane comes out.

This ‘in the closet’ story could have been angsty and fraught with unnecessary misunderstandings; instead it is delightful, funny and warm.

As always, Renae Kaye writes warm personalities for her characters – Shane is the caring, self-deprecating (to a fault), snarky best friend. Ambrose is a bigger, but kind guy, looks out for his friends and still goes home to his mum.

This is a standalone story, but honestly, not reading the prior books would be a shame since they’re so good. There are references to 2 other characters from another author’s (Sean Kennedy) books which had me smiling, (I have the books).

 

Loved this story and I hope Hiram gets his own story.

 

4.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review

I really enjoyed the first three books of the series but I have some reservations about this one. Mainly, I could not get over how much I disliked the way their relationship was manipulated by Ambrose. I felt like he put too many terms, and did not give enough back to Shane. Shane is a character that is sometimes hard to like, and he treats himself so poorly, despite Ambrose’s claims of his worth, that Ambrose’s treatment of him just grated on me more.

It was mainly the undefined friends-with-benefits situation going on, were it seemed like Ambrose was the only one really gaining anything out of it, and believing that Shane should be with him because he has undefined, but strong feeling towards him he never spoke about. And in the end Shane did what Ambrose needed, because it was good for Ambrose’s career at the time, and I could just not get over how much I felt it was not equal between them, and Ambrose taking what he needed when it was right for him. And Shane’s job is constantly treated as something he dislikes. Like it’s not worth anything, and so he can leave it and just be a kept man/do something else in Melbourne because he was not attached to it anyway. It was hard to care about a character that seemed to be designed to be rootless and motiveless, aside from pining after Ambrose and getting some action when he was around. I also felt like the author did not deal with the issue of Ambrose’s sexuality (him being Demi, perhaps) and the issue with is native roots. It felt like a side note when it should have been a bigger part of the story to me.

Their relationship felt off, more so when you realize the amount of time they hid this undefined thing between them. It hurt to read and was unsatisfying when Ambrose turned out to be the one who’s feelings and needs needed to be considered and not the other way around and heir HEA did not satisfy me at all.

The things I liked were mainly the other couples from previous books showing up and the friendship they share in their group.

Number of stars out of 5
2.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker

release day review

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42271990-nova-praetorian?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome. When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best. He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.

Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him. Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realises the gods have favoured him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.

Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso’s neck, and together they discover the senator’s move for promotion has an ulterior motive. Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.

And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian—the new guard—rise.

Review

Wow!!! What a read!!! I have always been drawn to ancient times, add in romance and its absolutely perfect. The language is the most difficult part of this book but luckily N.R. has a glossary at the beginning of the story that really helps.

Quintus is a kind yet stern man who ends up getting sort of blackmailed by Senator Severius into becoming his personal guard against an unnamed threat. Kaeso is a newly captured slave who has trouble accepting his new circumstances. The Senator gives Kaeso to Quintus to train and keep under control. Quintus is a man who prides himself on his control yet with Kaeso he struggles to reign in that control. Kaeso can tell that while a hard task master, Quintus is also a kind man who treats the slaves like people.

The attraction between the two men grow strong but Quintus refuses to make any unwanted advances toward Kaeso, due to his circumstances of being a slave. Eventually the two men figure out that the attraction they feel towards each other is mutual.

This book really kept me wondering what the Senator was up to. Is he up to no good?? Or is he really just that much of a jerk. I loved how the story all came together in the end. I believe that Nova Praetorian is one of those books that each time you reread it you will pick up on something you missed the first time. This isn’t an easy read by any means, the language is pretty confusing but stick with it because it is an amazing story!!!

5 Stars

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Neta

 
I really enjoyed this epic action packed new book by N.R Walker, if you liked watching Gladiator and Spartacus you will LOVE Nova Praetorian. This book has everything a history romance lover will enjoy, with well researched and well-rounded world building, writing style fitting the time period and a thrilling story of lovers facing impossible odds. Kaeso is owned by the slippery senator Servius, a man that Quintus despises and knows better than trust. Placing him temporarily in Quintuse’s care as his slave while he guards the senator is a move meant to weaken him, and he must stay alert if he wants a future with Kaeso by his side.

Kaeso and Quintus banter and quip at each other, they are a great couple and fun to read even if danger lurks at every turn. Quintus also has a group of 20 men and women trained at his Ludus, and they are almost like family. Their connection is lovely to read and some of them are so well rounded as they take center roles in the story I enjoyed reading about them immensely. As the plot twists in unexpected ways, it is both thrilling and intriguing, and keeps you at the edge of your seat as it SLOWLY unfolds and reveals its depths.

If I have to say anything I would change in this story is a slight dragging in the halfway mark, the days seem endless and similar, and considering the amount of times Quintus and Kaeso have sex (nothing wrong with that on its own) I felt like maybe that part of the story could have moved faster. Yes, there is A LOT of sex in this book as passion burns and scorch these men to the bone! Again, no issue with it on its own, but at some point it was slightly repetitive, and I applaud their stamina and ability to train a full day after each night, but maybe we could have gotten to the excitement at the end a bit sooner.

Once you get to the ending though, you are not going to put it down! The odds are against Quintus and his men (and women) yet they manage to save the day with honor and skill. The ending was very satisfying, providing the epicness you crave and a HEA that will leave you smiling.

Number of stars out of 5
4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Laugh: Stay with Me (The PI Guys, #1) by S.E. Harmon

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stay-with-me-by-se-harmon-2808-b

Blurb:

The PI Guys: Book One
Private investigator Mackenzie Williams’s newest client is everything he’s looking for in a guy—charming, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. There’s only one itty bitty problem—the guy’s not exactly gay. In fact, Jordan Channing is looking for a PI to follow his fiancée. The smart thing would be to thank Jordan for his time, turn Mr. Perfect away (don’t let the door hit you on the rump, thank you very much), and forget he exists.
Of course, Mackenzie has never been accused of doing the smart thing. Being a smart aleck is more his MO. Relationships aren’t up his alley, never have been. So why’s he so inexplicably drawn to his new client?

Jordan has always been the high achiever, a man who lives in a focused, controlled, and carefully constructed manner. But for the first time in his life, he has to admit the impossible—another man is getting his engine running on all cylinders. Despite Jordan’s denial, it’s not long before he can no longer resist the strong undercurrents pulling them together. Now Jordan must decide if he can go against everything he’s ever known to have the only love he’s ever wanted.

Review:

I loved the overall story – GFY done right, but I didn’t like Mac much until half way in. He just seemed a bit childish … but I did like his snark. Mac eventually grew on me, (I ended up really liking him when he popped up in ‘So into You’).
Mac is a PI who is still hurting from being dumped from a long-term relationship. To make matters worse, his ex decided to be with a woman AND the he took the dog. (This creates a funny secondary storyline as Mac schemes to get the dog back.)
Jordan hires Mac to watch his girlfriend for signs of cheating. Mac is immediately attracted to the straight man but knows nothing can come of it. Yet, as they spend time together, Jordan becomes attracted to Mac (and conflicted about his feelings for another man). Mac doesn’t make it easy either and is not without faults – he tends to push people away, he doesn’t believe love is for him and he hides behind his sarcasm. However, they manage to start a relationship but it’s not plain sailing. They have a big fight (both men are to blame), but in the end, they get it together and work it out.
It’s a really good story, once it gets going and by the end, I had a good sized smile on my face ☺

4 stars out of 5

Copy purchased for Review