Recent Release: The Case of the Voracious Vintner (The Middlemark Mysteries #2) by Tara Lain

Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-case-of-the-voracious-vintner-by-tara-lain-10132-b

Blurb
Where Bo Marchand comes from, gay men are just confirmed bachelors who never found the right girl. But now Bo’s a successful winemaker on the central coast of California, supporting his whole damned Georgia family, and all he really wants is the beautiful, slightly mysterious Jeremy Aames.

Jeremy’s vineyard is under threat from Ernest Ottersen, the voracious winemaker who seems to know all Jeremy’s blending secrets and manages to grab all his customers. Bo tries to help Jeremy and even provides a phony alibi for Jeremy when Ottersen turns up dead in Jeremy’s tasting room. But it’s clear Jeremy isn’t who he claims, and Bo must decide if it’s worth tossing over his established life for a man who doesn’t seem to trust anyone. When Jeremy gets kidnapped, some of the conservative winemakers turn out to be kinky sex fiends, and the list of murderers keeps dwindling down to Jeremy. Bo has to choose between hopping on his white horse or climbing back in his peach-pie-lined closet.

Review
The first book in the series was very nice and I was looking forward to reading this one, but I have to say I had a hard time reading it. A big part of the book, around 25-60% dragged out too much for me, I kept losing interest and deviating to other books because I was just bored. I think the most annoying thing was that I could tell what was behind the mystery, and the clues were very obvious. The characters, including Llewellyn and Blaise from book #1 were frustratingly clueless and it was too hard for me not want the plot to just get on with it. The last 35% or so are much more interesting, but most of the book could not hold me in suspense.

The couple is funny, their romance, while a bit cliché, was amusing and I liked how well wine making was incorporated into the book. Yet I can only give it 2.5 stars because it was so hard to finish and could not keep my interest for long.

Number of stars out of 5
2.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

The Other Book by Roe Horvat

 

Good Reads

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43380012-the-other-book?from_search=true

 

Blurb
It was supposed to be just sex… Famous last words.

Tyler doesn’t overthink pleasure and avoids complications. He knows it might be stupid to get involved with his closeted boss, but the temptation is too great. At first, the cold and beautiful Joel Sandstrom seems to loathe Tyler’s guts.

Except one late night at the office, his reasons become clear…and his control breaks.

Every time they touch, Joel’s stony face comes alive, harsh lines smooth out, and for a minute, he looks serene. Happy, even. Just sex – dirty, intense, spectacular sex.

During their covert encounters, Tyler discovers the power he has over the lonesome man, and it’s a heady feeling. What if he could set Joel free and give him peace of mind? When Tyler realizes how much Joel needs him, he doesn’t regret breaking his own rules.

Gay erotic romance. Contains explicit scenes and sexual interactions between more than two partners. For adult readers only.

Review
Joel and Tyler are very interesting characters, their relationship hits you in the face unexpectedly and the Enemies-to-Lovers vibe is very strong in this book. It’s hard to wrap your head around what is going on at first but I did like that the story didn’t drag it out too long and they did come clean to each other in a relatively healthy way.

This book was very intense and erotic sexually, and in that sense I liked it even though I usually do not like when couples add a third (or fourth) in a relationship. Despite that I felt it was written well and didn’t affect my delicate monogamist sensibilities too much. It was also important for Joel to find freedom, in the confining darkness of the closet imposed upon him, so that scene was a pinnacle moment for him in a way.
I liked that despite the awful situation between Joel and his father the darkness was not too overpowering and it ended with a good HEA.
I know Roe Horvat wished this book to be read without reference to his previous work (according to his author’s not in the beginning) but I could not make that distinction and I feel like his other books (such as Vanilla Clouds) were better. That being said, this is a good length story with enough heat to singe off your eyebrows and good emotional development in the characters.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


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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 The Night Sky Festival by S.A. Stovall

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

 

Blurb

Photographer Zach is happy to pack up his gear and head to the Mojave Desert over the holidays. Ever since his ex-husband filed for divorce a day before Christmas, it’s safe to say this isn’t Zach’s favorite time of year.

Fortunately, he stumbles upon a town where the residents seem to agree. The good people of Baker would much rather celebrate the possibility of extraterrestrials as they dance under the stars in their unique “Night Sky Festival.” The locals are interesting, to say the least, and they want Zach to join them.

But is Zach ready to let go of his holiday bitterness? And if so, whose invitation should he accept: the cute cashier, the burly single dad, or the sexy fun-loving cop?

Review

I really could not get into this story, it felt unfinished and ended abruptly. The writing was fine and there were a few funny moments, I liked the characters but the story just progressed oddly. Zach is a very grumpy man but as soon as he meets the first man in the little town of Baker he starts feeling different. After a painful divorce two years prior he could not think about men as attractive, but the men of Baker seem to have other ideas. That in itself was a fun concept, but then he meets two more men and is oddly attracted to all of them and they all hit on him strangely too. I thought it had something to do with the theme of aliens in the town and maybe have a bit of a paranormal theme going on, but it never really got clear. I was just confused because in the end I never understood why he chose one men out of the three, as he shows the same kind of attraction to all of them. It was too unfinished and confusing to me.

Number of stars out of 5
2

 

 

 

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Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Once in a Lifetime by Cassie Decker

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

Blurb
All his life, astrophysicist Peter has dreamed of seeing the comet that last appeared on his birthday—and won’t be seen for another thirty-eight years. Since it could be his only chance, he travels to New Zealand. But his dream might be quashed after all when his rental car breaks down on the way to the observatory. He doesn’t even have a place to stay.

Fortunately a New Zealand native with a heart of gold offers assistance. But is kindness the only thing drawing the two men together?

Rangi can’t leave Peter stranded so close to Christmas, and his family has plenty of room—and love—to share. While Rangi is attracted to Peter, he’s seen too many of his friends get their hearts broken by tourists. Will they manage to see the comet on its decades-long journey across the sky… and take advantage of a rare opportunity that might never come again?

 

Review

 

This short was super sweet and I really enjoyed the addition of Maori culture with Rangi and his family. It was very interesting, me not being very familiar with New-Zealand and Maori culture. Peter was a very quiet kind of character and I found him very refreshing. He had the promise he made to his father to see the Comet, and his back story was sad but in a way gave him so much character depth, which was great in such a sort story where it’s often hard to achieve.
I enjoyed the chain of mishaps that brought Rangi and Peter together, and Peter was such a warm loving man it was very easy to fall in love with him, Peter and me both!

I also loved how well rounded the story felt, how there was almost a feeling of a full circle, a destiny that brought them to this place in time, together.
It was a very romantic, soft story full of character and love.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5

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Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Exit Through the Gift Shop by Kim Fielding

 

 

Dreamspinner Presents

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

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb

Alex’s traditional family Christmas Compromise means spending the holiday at a second-rate theme park, Poseidon’s Planet, but Alex doesn’t mind. He enjoys the rides and the company of his family, and it’s a good break from his going-nowhere existence back in Indiana. Then he meets a certain sexy employee in a pirate costume, and Alex’s vacation gets even better. But thrill rides last only a short time, and sooner or later everyone has to return to real life. Alex long ago gave up on marrying a handsome prince—will he have to give up on his pirate as well?

Review

I loved this story, the characters are fantastic and have a very tight familial bond. I enjoyed Alex’s family and their Christmas compromise vacation. Each character had a very distinct voice in the story, quirks and in such a short story I admire Fielding’s ability to write such well-rounded characters in a short.
Alex meets Rory in Poseidon’s Planet theme park and they have an instant attraction. With time against them (Alex’s family is only there for a few days) Rory reaches out to Alex and they have a very sweet, short date the next day. There is just something so captivating and charming about both of them, and the banter they share is both sexy and incredibly funny. I loved the sense of family found in the story, and how Alex’s family really embraced Rory from the first moment.
This is a super sweet, smile inducing short you do not want to miss out on!

Number of stars out of 5
4

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Santa Daddy by Keira Andrews

Goodreads link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42904546-santa-daddy?from_search=true

Blurb

Mall Santas aren’t supposed to be hot.

Hunter Adams is hopelessly adrift after college. He’s still a virgin, can’t find a real job, and has no clue what to do with his life. In desperation, he returns to his humiliating old job as an elf at the Santa’s Village in his hometown’s dying mall. The Santa on the job is an unexpectedly sexy lumberjack, twice Hunter’s size and age. He makes Hunter feel very naughty—too bad he’s grumpy and intimidating.

Years after the tragic death of his partner, Nick Spini has his beagle and long, hard days on his Christmas tree farm. That’s plenty. But he can’t refuse a loyal friend’s plea for help and finds himself filling in as Santa at the local mall. Despite Nick’s attempt to stay aloof, the beautiful, anxious young man playing elf brings out his long-dormant daddy instincts.

When a surprise blizzard traps them alone in Nick’s isolated forest home, their attraction burns even brighter. Will they surrender to the sizzling connection between them and find the release and comfort they crave?

Santa Daddy is a holiday gay romance from Keira Andrews featuring an age gap, steamy m/m first times, daddy role-playing and light spanking, Christmas romance feels, and of course a happy ending.

Review

This is just the right kind of book to get snowed in with! Nick is just the right kind of grumpy lumberjack you want to cuddle with and hunter is so awkwardly sweet and insecure- the work perfectly together.
I loved the emotional depth Keira put into Nick’s past, and it really emphasized his reclusiveness and unwillingness to be around people. That made him being roped into playing Santa in the mall so very funny and charming. He and Hunter have instant attraction that is off the charts, you can definitely save up on your heating bills with this books.
I usually do like light kink in books, but I shy away from the more structured BDSM club themes and plotlines. Full time alternative lifestyle is not my preferred reading material. What I liked about this book is the balance, the kink is there but it is much more about the dynamic between the two then the props and rules and contracts like in other BDSM/heavy kink books (not that there is anything wrong about them, just my personal preference). It made the sex between them smoldering hot without being the main focus of the relationship. It is the perfect balance in my opinion and I was kind of sad it didn’t go on longer so I could have more of their hotness (there is plenty there, I’m just greedy).

I also loved Hunter’s relationship with his mother, and his own struggle with fitting into the “adult role” he thinks society expects his to uphold as a collage graduate. It is something I think many people can identify with, and showed that not everyone have to walk the same pre-designed path.

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories this season, and you should definitely check it out (Keira’s Christmas story last year, In Case of Emergency, was also fantastic) if you are looking for some holiday cheer with a heaping dose of “Yes daddy”.

Number of stars out of 5
4.5


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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


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Recent (re) Release: Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote

Goodreads link

Blurb

Leaving home for university has it’s struggles: meeting new people, classes, taking care of yourself and dealing with roommates how might not have the same views as you about dishes (that is, actually cleaning them) just to name a few. But what Lewis really isn’t prepared for the powerful crush he develops on his gay roommate Max. Because Lewis had always thought he was straight.

Lewis cannot keep his jealousy over Max’s new relationship hidden and forces him to confront his newfound sexuality. When Max’s relationship falls apart painfully, Lewis is there for him as a friend, one thing leads to another and even though Lewis is ready to take the next step, Max prefers them to stay as friends only.

Lewis tries to move on, keeping their friendship despite his feeling for Max. When the tables turn and Lewis is the one who needs Max’s support he learns maybe there is a future for them after all, if only he can risk his heart a second time.

Review

This is a re-release with no new content, and I enjoyed reading it the second time as much as the first one, which was on audio a while back. Jay’s stories always have that touch of realness to them, especially in the collage age stories, like his Housemates series for example. Relationships are not usually perfect from the start, sexuality isn’t either, and he manages to capture the small bumps in the roads and the physical exploration of sexuality so well. He also creates a true sense of group of friends, with all he small day to day issues of living together, collage lifestyle and all the side characters really shine in his books, here included.

This is a pretty typical coming out story, when Lewis suddenly comes face to face with an out and proud man, Max, he finds he is instantly attracted to, in close quarters no less. What follows are the very real struggles of a confused young man trying to figure out his sexuality, when he assumed he was straight and had a long term girlfriend before. All this while he is navigating collage life, new friends and awkward social situations, his roommate’s baking and attempts at matchmaking.

Max has no place for a relationship in his life, and after their tumble between the sheets he prefers to stay friends, but the friendship they share is so strong they cannot ignore their feelings anymore, and they both need the other for support. I like how they don’t have a clear path, Lewis figures out his sexuality it’s not the only thing in his way to a relationship with Max and they keep hitting walls and having to find ways to overcome them. They form a true friendship and bond that is so much stronger than having them fall into bed, and love, and face the difficulty of Lewis coming out like other romances of this troupe tend to do. This is a great romance that shows the not so perfect sides of romance and how, despite many odds against them, when two people are meant to be they can find a way to make it work if they are willing to take a risk.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


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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


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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


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