Categories
adult - 18+

Half a Cowboy by Andrew Grey

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/half-a-cowboy-by-andrew-grey-11801-b

Blurb

Ever since his discharge from the military, injured veteran Ashton Covert has been running his family ranch—and running himself into the ground to prove he still can. Ben Malton knows about running too. When he takes refuge in Ashton’s barn after an accident in a Wyoming blizzard, he’s thinking only of survival and escaping his abusive criminal ex, Dallas. Ashton has never met a responsibility he wouldn’t try to shoulder. When he finds Ben half-frozen, he takes it upon himself to help. But deadly trouble follows Ben wherever he goes. He needs to continue on, except it may already be too late. Something about Ben makes Ashton feel whole again. But before they can ride into the sunset together, they need to put an end to Dallas’s threats. Ben can make a stand, with Ashton’s help—only it turns out the real danger could be much closer to home.

Review

The story starts out promising with the strong cowboy with a protective streak who is immediately touched by the misfortune of a mysterious city boy on the run from his dangerous ex. Ashton is there to help Ben and is willing to keep him safe from the first, even when that means bringing danger upon himself and his friends. This felt a bit rushed for me. I’d have liked them to have had more time to form a connection to justify Ashton jumping in so quickly as Ben’s selfless hero. As they prepare to face Dallas, Ben’s crime boss ex, they grow closer and start to fall for each other. Ben’s background story was left too vague, and I never felt truly convinced of his dire situation over the years nor his supposed gullibility. And so I couldn’t really get behind the romantic plot between Ben and Ashton. They both also could have been drawn with a little more nuance and depth. These MC’s that have known pain and disappointment, which affords the author plenty of opportunity for character growth, but Ben and Ashton still seem too much like formulaic stereotypes, and their struggles sometimes veered dangerously close to self-absorbed ‘whiny’ territory. There are several secondary characters in the story to help create a world around our two MC’s, both to give that sense of finding family and to increase the suspense and dangerous vibes through Dallas and his goons. The first worked out well, but the latter fell a little flat, mostly because Dallas is a bit of a letdown as a villain. The author did have some surprises up his sleeve as the criminal aspect of the plot thickened, which was a nice plus.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 3



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Categories
adult - 18+

A Boyfriend for Christmas by Jay Northcote; narrated by Hamish Long

audiobookreview

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48915871-a-boyfriend-for-christmas?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=ENtLZcj25b&rank=1

Blurb:
Archie’s posh parents want him to meet a nice girl – how can he tell them he’s fallen for a bad boy instead?

Closeted, innocent, and lonely, Archie Arandale longs for someone special in his life. A Christmas party organized by his wealth management company is the last place he expects to meet the man of his dreams.
With his leather jacket, tattoos, and piercings, Cal Turner turns heads the moment he walks through the door. He definitely isn’t looking for a boyfriend, but Archie’s hesitant charm captures his attention, and sneaking off during the party to have a little fun can only make a dull evening more interesting.

After their reckless and thrilling encounter, Archie is keen for more experience and Cal is happy to oblige. The need for secrecy means this can only be a casual fling, yet as they spend time together in the run up to Christmas, their feelings become more intense than either of them had bargained for. How can Archie find the courage to tell his family about Cal, when Cal’s the exact opposite of the “nice girl” they’ve been hoping for?
Contains: a closeted virgin, a tattooed biker, class differences, a dramatic coming out, a very inappropriate Christmas gift, and a happy ending (of course).

Review:
Story: I love Jay Northcotes’s stories – he takes regular characters, immerses one in their lives and keeps the reader wholly invested in what happens with the MCs, even when the story ends 
Archie comes from a well to do family. He longs to break out from under his parents influence and be more true to himself, including coming out of the closet, but hasn’t found the courage …. yet. He meets Cal, a biker, who is quite far out of Archie’s realm of experience – older, working class, tattooed. Despite their differences, they strike up a conversation, develop a mutual attraction and fool themselves into thinking theirs is going to be a casual relationship, lol!
The story is sweet, funny, steamy with so many memorable moments. Loved it!
Story: 4.5 stars

Narration: Hamish Long did a fantastic job with the narration! He switched from posh lad, to posh parents (and other posh types) to working class accents so seamlessly it was a joy to listen to. He did an equally awesome job of conveying the characters emotions. His performance was so good that I was genuinely pained that the story didn’t go on for several hours more!
Highly recommend the audio as a great way to enjoy the story!
Narration: 5 stars


 

Categories
adult - 18+

The Captain and the Baker (The Captivating Captains #7) by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54451031-the-captain-and-the-baker?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=3fYNEGJETN&rank=1

Blurb
When a hot-tempered TV chef and a mild-mannered baker meet on the rugged Cornish coast, they’ve got the perfect ingredients for a red-hot snack.

Sweary and stressed celebrity chef Jake Brantham is the captain of several floating restaurants. When he’s sent to the idyllic village of Porthavel to turn a pirate ship into the next gastronomic sensation, it’s the last place on earth he wants to be.

Locryn Trevorrow is the bakery king of Cornwall. From the humble pasty to a wedding cake fit for a mermaid queen, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the art of baking. He lives in a cosy world of gingham and ganache, but at night he goes home to his smugglers’ cottage alone.

When he’s adopted by a lost kitten, Jake soon discovers that there’s more to Portavel than cream teas, lobster pots, and the annoyingly fastidious Locryn. As the village prepares for the wedding of its favourite young couple, Jake and Locryn find themselves as unlikely matchmakers for two locals who’d given up on love.

Torn between the call of Hollywood and the kisses of Locryn, will Jake choose a mansion in Beverly Hills or a cottage on the Cornish coast?

Review
The Captain and the Baker was another delightful read in the Captivating Captains series. I am obsessed with cooking shows and competitions, add in British humour and this book had everything I like.
The main characters, Loc and Jake are complete opposites. I loved all the banter between these two. My only negative about this book was that it was told from only one point of view, I really would have loved to get some scenes from Loc’s view. Otherwise this is a fun, quick read.
I highly recommend this book!!
4 stars



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Categories
adult - 18+

Shortbread and Shadows Author: Amy Lane

 Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/shortbread-and-shadows-by-amy-lane-11686-b

Blurb
Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club: Book One

When a coven of hedge witches casts a spell for their hearts’ desires, the world turns upside down.

Bartholomew Baker is afraid to hope for his heart’s true desire—the gregarious woodworker who sells his wares next to Bartholomew at the local craft fairs—so he writes the spell for his baking business to thrive and allow him to quit his office job. He’d rather pour his energy into emotionally gratifying pastry! But the magic won’t allow him to lie, even to himself, and the spellcasting has unexpected consequences.

For two years Lachlan has been flirting with Bartholomew, but the shy baker with the beautiful gray eyes runs away whenever their conversation turns personal. He’s about to give up hope… and then Bartholomew rushes into a convention in the midst of a spellcasting disaster of epic proportions.

Suddenly everybody wants a taste of Bartholomew’s baked goods—and Bartholomew himself. Lachlan gladly jumps on for the ride, enduring rioting crowds and supernatural birds for a chance with Bartholomew. Can Bartholomew overcome the shyness that has kept him from giving his heart to Lachlan?

Review
I don’t always know what I’m going to get with a book written by Amy
Lane but I know I am going to enjoy it. With this book Amy has given us love and magic, what a potent combination. I fell in love with timid, shy, naive Bartholomew who turns out to be a hero in this story. Lachlan is determined that Bartholomew will pay attention to him and realise how much he is attracted to Bartholomew. Here’s where love and magic get sticky because you can’t fool magic. Magic knows Bartholomew’s true hearts desire is Lachlan. Now the fun begins in the book. Such a wonderful comedy of errors occurs as
Bartholomew, his coven and Lachlan try to appease magic and put things right. True love blossoms in amongst the mayhem and Bartholomew realises he can rely on Lachlan to back him up and support him.
Whilst Bartholomew and Lachlan’s story comes to a wonderful happy for now ending there was a tiny cliffhanger. I do hope the next story is out soon this coven grabbed my heart with their spell and I don’t want to break free from them just yet.
Number of stars out 5 of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Soul to Keep Author: Garrett Leigh Narrator: Dan Calley

audiobookreview

Publisher and link to book (i.e. Goodreads)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36291180-soul-to-keep

 

Blurb
Stand-alone second book in the LAMBDA nominated Rented Heart series.

Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place – he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.

Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at the local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie – so wild and beautiful – bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.

Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.

Review
This book worked as a stand-alone for me. I have never read of listened to Rented Heart and whilst characters do cross over a little I did not feel like I was missing something. This story is all about Jamie and Marc. I absolutely loved their meeting, it was like fate was giving them a push knowing they would be just what each other needed. As Jamie fights to control his addiction his OCD comes more to the front as a way to take control of his life. Such a powerful battle he is going through. Marc is there for him, really they are there for each other. There’s a lot in this story without it feeling overwhelming. I love the realism in Garrett Leigh’s writing. There’s aren’t any cinderfella moments. Everyone has to work hard to get what they want or to be with, without a too heavy load of angst.
Dan Cally’s narration adds a perfect amount of grit with his gravelly voice. He is able to convey Marc’s tired determination of an NHS Doctor and the frenetic worry that drives Jamie. Perfect for me.

Number of stars 4 out of 5 for story
Number of stars 5 out of 5 for narration


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Deadman’s Hand By: Cindy Dees

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dead-mans-hand-by-cindy-dees-11680-

Blurb
Temptation, peril, and dirty poker.

Love is a high-stakes game.

When Collin Callahan, British secret agent, goes up against math genius turned surfer bum Oliver Elliot, the battle is epic—and so is the attraction. They’re pitted against each other in an exclusive, ultra-secret—and ultra-illegal—poker match in Gibraltar, but when players start dying and they could be next, they find a common goal: catch the killer before it’s too late.

Evenly matched at poker and romance, they each wrestle personal demons that threaten to consume them as the stakes climb. It’s an all-or-nothing gamble with both life and love on the line as they fight to be the last seven-card studs standing.

Previously published by Dreamspinner Press as Seven-Card Stud by Ava Drake, November 2016

Review
I pondered how to write a 3 * review for a book I really liked. In book 1 Wild Cards Inc provides personal security. In this story their operative Colin Callahan is an inexperienced undercover agent. The story is a mix of suspense, who done it, and thriller. Colin is pretending to be an expert card player in very high stake game. It did keep my at I really wanted to know what happened next. Colin meets Gun (Oliver) and falls for him but can he trust him. I enjoyed the way the story played out up until the end. This is where my review drops. I want to know what happens next. I don’t have the imagination of an author to create the rest of the story myself. I had hoping that since this is a republished series the ending was fleshed out or if not another book is added that gives Colin and Gun’s next adventure bringing down the Consortium. Fingers crossed that happens.


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Poker Face by Cindy Dees

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/poker-face-by-cindy-dees-11661-

Blurb
Surveillance, seduction, and extra-dirty politics.

Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis has a problem. A huge one. The US senator he works for has run away with his latest mistress on the eve of a make-or-break fund-raising event, and it’s up to him to cover his boss’s irresponsible tracks.

Stone Jackson, the senator’s new bodyguard, looks enough like the senator that, with some extensive grooming, he might pass for Senator Lacey. Christian and Stone hatch a plan to fool everyone by substituting Stone for the senator, but Miami madness and the incendiary heat between them are throwing obstacles in their way. It’s a race to find the senator and pull off the con of the century before the attraction between them spins completely out of control

Second Edition
First Edition previously published by Dreamspinner Press as Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake, July 2016

Review
I found Poker Face to be a delightful story. I loved the way the hard disciplined body guard caves in to Christian to take on the persona of Senator Lacey. This story could easily have become slapstick comedy but the author controlled the events brilliantly. It was easy to see the events unfolding, wondering where it was going. I was hoping the Senator gets his just deserts after skipping of with his current mistress. I didn’t see the ending coming, wonderful.
The characters are well crafted and totally lovable, even Jack Lacey is the kind of character I love to hate. Throughly enjoyable story.

4 of stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Spotless: a box set by Bailey Bradford

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/series/125914

 

Blurbs

1 – Hide When you think you’ll never fit it, never be whole, love can show you a truth you’ve never seen.
2 – Hunt Steven was on a mission he knew could cost him his life, but instead he might find himself truly living for the first time.
3 – Home Solomon wanted nothing more than to stay at home and raise his siblings, until he’s kidnapped and everything in his world changes.
4 – Heart Rolly has waited ten years to claim his mate. Now the wait is over, and he’s coming home.
What happens when shifters are born of two different breeds? Nothing good as far as the pumapards can see. With a parent who is a leopard, and another who is a puma, they have a hard life and are scorned by either of the full-blooded breeds.
But there’s more to their existence than they know. Why were they even allowed to be born? Why did their parents breed in the first place, when no one wanted the offspring?
And how do they survive when one man in particular—their father—wants them to suffer as much as possible?

Review

This is a box set of 4 stories that continue events set in motion in the Leopard’s Spots series. I love shifter romances and I think the author did a great job with the world-building and fated mates trope in this series. There’s enough crossing over of the characters from other books to keep everything linked, while never upstaging the main couple.

Hide is the story of Adal, a character we first got to meet in Isaiah, book 4 in the Leopard’s Spots series. Adal and his brother Steven are “aberrations”, mixed breed shifters that were never supposed to exist and have been abused and poisoned by their psychopath father. Adal never thought he could have a mate, and his world is turned upside down when he finds Dorso. Dorso is a bit rough around the edges, and more than a little surprised by the reality of shifters and fated mates, but his rapidly growing devotion to Adal, and vice versa, makes for a captivating read.

In Hunt we finally get to discover what happened to Steven, Adal’s protective brother, who is on a suicide mission to rid the world of their horrible father. Steven is a tough cookie, he’s had to be in order to survive, and it takes two very special men to help and love him. Two mates? It is unheard of apparently but it works beautifully. Cole and Shaun have grown up loving each other, but were never able to be honest about the true depth of their feelings, waiting for a mating bond that didn’t materialize…until they find Steven. The three men are explosive together, so much angst and passion. I like that it’s not that instantly easy, there’s tension and disbelief amidst the butterflies, an edge that makes it all the sweeter once they are finally together, the three of them.

Home takes place a couple of years after Hunt, aligning with events in the third box set in the Leopard Spots series. Solomon, one of the newly-discovered siblings of Steven and Adal, has been a father for his younger brothers and sisters, raising them within Bobby’s wolf pack, though not truly daring to become a part of it. Solomon is kidnapped and finds love with one of his kidnappers, though this is not a forced proximity story. Azil, the mate in question, has been put down his entire life and treated like he’s worthless. In a way, he is as much a prisoner as Solomon. Azil has trouble standing up for himself and shaking of years of indoctrination, but is a genuine sweetheart. Azil’s pack brings a new threat to Solomon’s doorstep, scarier and more powerful than anything he and the other shifters have ever faced before.

Heart is perhaps the most heartwarming of the four stories, as the MC’s face a different type of challenge when learning about themselves and their mate bond. Edie, formerly Erdwin, is one of Solomon’s sisters, and transgender, which is not easy under the best of circumstances, but even less so when you are shifter and have the self-healing powers that come with that. Rolly, a powerful shaman, is completely in love with his mate and accepts her for who she is. The only thing that I thought a little strange is that he appears to be adamant about being gay while his one true mate is a woman, though stuck in a male body. Certainly their story shows the importance of love and acceptance. There’s no room for stereotypes or toxic masculinity when it comes to Rolly and Edie. We get to see more of Edie’s younger siblings too, most especially Rhea, and I can’t wait to see how her path will go, as it doesn’t promise to be very easy either.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5

Reviewer Name: Karen M.

Provided by publisher.

4.5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Sticky Fingers by Davidson King

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50665726-sticky-fingers?from_search=true&qid=w97pllIB6p&rank=1

Blurb
When the desperate needs of his family must come before his dream of finishing his degree, Kyle, feeling both guilt ridden and heartbroken, knows what he needs to do. But when his help isn’t enough, a shady idea offered by his even shadier friend proves the only saving grace.
Mergers, acquisitions, and philanthropy consume Maddox’s days and nights prompting an overdue visit to his best friend’s luxury resort. Finally enjoying some R&R, he meets an adorable botanist working there for the summer. But a surprise visit from his ex and a shocking theft from his suite turn Maddox’s trip into chaos.
Trusting his gut, Maddox strikes a deal to help Kyle make up for his sticky fingers. But when his heart gets involved and his ex refuses to let go, Maddox’s plan starts to unravel. A summer of romance, deceit, and greed have both men navigating emotional waters, leaving them to wonder if true love and their happy ever after will come to pass.

Review

I felt like this book was really rushed, much of it was just too silly and the plot evolved fast with not enough believability to me. The beginning especially, felt to me like there was a need to get characters into a certain position in the plot and there was little care into how they got there. Kyle was too gullible in an annoying way, and the issue with his parents needing money felt like just a thing thrown in there. The story has a bit of Beauty and the Beast vibe, Kyle is indebted to Maddox who manipulates everything on a gut feeling to set Kyle up in his mansion to pay off his attempted theft. Maddox was very immature, at one point Kyle tells him “your acting like a 5 year old” and I couldn’t help but think how true that was, and not just that part of the story. There is also a bit of a thrilling twist, but it was very obvious to me what was going on and was a bit too cliché in my opinion.
I don’t know what it was about it, but towards the last 30% I was skimming most of the pages to just get it over with. Some parts where funny, but I am sad to say I was disappointed with this book.

Number of stars out of 5
2.5



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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47795450-tough-guy

Blurb

They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

Review

This took me FOREVER to get into. I just wasn’t as compelled as I had been with books 1 and 2. I’m not sure exactly why – but I didn’t gel with the couple as much as I had with the others. The chemistry was just off for me I guess.

I do enjoy a good hockey player book and Rachel Reid is a great author – so if you enjoyed books 1 and 2 I’d take a look at this – but it wasn’t my favorite.

3 of 5 stars


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