Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (Sci-Regency #4) by J.L. Langley

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/diplomatic-relations-by-jl-langley-10234-b

Blurb

Opposites don’t just attract… they sizzle.

A lusty special forces soldier who lives by his own set of rules, Dalton Fairfax decided long ago to stop wishing for his father’s love, and he found his calling. Now that he’s back home and between assignments, he finds himself at loose ends. When the opportunity arises to play bodyguard and help out his country, Dalton jumps at the chance. Not only does it keep him busy, but it just so happens that his charge is the man he saw on leave last month and hasn’t been able to get out of his head.

Heir to a dukedom and a conservative politician, Blaise Thompson strives to prove himself worthy of carrying on the family legacy as the next IN Councilman. However, his closest competitor keeps getting in the way and taking credit for Blaise’s ideas. Maintaining his stellar reputation isn’t easy to do while keeping his outrageous younger brother in line and foiling his rival’s personal attacks. He has no time for a guard and even less time for romance.

When a priceless antique goes missing, Blaise and Dalton discover that Regelence has larger problems than just IN plots. Now the only way to stop a scandal that threatens both of them is to compromise, and they are forced to confront the risk of losing everything… even each other.

Review

This was a light and fun read. I really like how this series brings such an original sci-fi take to the regency genre. It was a bit surprising, though in a good way, to see a man worry about his “reputation” in society for once, quite the role-reversal.

Blaise is very sheltered, almost too innocent even, which is why I found it a bit incongruous to see him shed his principles and risk his precious reputation so easily afterwards. Although I suppose he was overcome by the power of his love for Dalton. Blaise’s parents are supposedly very loving, but strangely aren’t in the picture much and not overly warm when they are.
I liked the storyline on Dalton and his parents far better, troubled though their relationship was. That brought some intense emotional moments in the story, on top of the developing romance, and gave Dalton’s character extra depth and a nice chance to grow. Dalton’s definitely my favorite.

The banter between Blaise and Dalton was very entertaining and sweet depending on the moment and really enjoyed the “galactic” swear words and expressions. Most of their relationship plays out behind closed doors and with a lot of sneaking around. That did annoy me at times, especially near the end. I feel that Blaise could have been a bit more assertive and forthcoming by then, standing up for his man and all that. Though all’s well that ends well and things wrap up great with an only slightly predictable grand gesture.
The stage is also teasingly set for the next stories in the series and I’m definitely intrigued enough to want to see how they’ll play out.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Recent Release: Escape to Paradise By Cailtin Ricci

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/escape-to-paradise-by-caitlin-ricci-10136-b

Blurb

His attraction to men means Kalean is the black sheep of his wealthy and powerful family—but it won’t get him out of attending his brother’s pretentious wedding ceremony. Kalean doesn’t want to go, but if his parents insist, he has a stipulation: he’ll be there with a man on his arm.
On the pleasure planet, Wish, Kalean goes to a brothel to meet some potential escorts. But the man who captures his attention isn’t one of those on offer….
Descani is as surprised as anyone at Kalean’s attraction to him—and at his own interest in the young man. He’s even more perplexed as a bond begins forming between them.
But a murder rips apart Kalean’s family and redefines his role. He’ll be isolated on his cold and barren home world, far from the warm and colorful planet of Wish—and the arms of the man who’s coming to mean so much to him—unless he can find a way to escape the forces separating them.

Review

This book is the newest in this series. It has shy and inexperienced Kalean. His family owns the mining rights to the icy planet they live on. If there was royalty, they would be the monarch. His cold and distant family grated on my nerves. Hard to be out, but not accepted. Pretty well swept under the rug. Then as stipulation to go to his brother’s wedding, he meets Descani. A character that by description is almost feline like…but no mention of tail. They are very hot together. Kalean started shy, but as the book progresses he became comfortable in his new freedom. Descani’s character is amusingly brash and very forward. Great contrast to Kaleaan who is shy and just accepts thing as is while brooding in silence. A few sad parts, but not bad. I enjoyed the added character of Lethe, his sister in law. She has spunk. The descriptions of the locations are great and you feel transported to the planets in this story. Great book., it was hard to put down.

Number of stars out of 5

5


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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


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Release Day Review: Eye of the Beholder by M.D. Grimm

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/eye-of-the-beholder-by-md-grimm-10154-

Blurb
Is it better to risk it all… or never know what could have been?

After surviving an abusive childhood, Vulcan remade himself upon arriving in Los Angeles, California. He became a blacksmith for the paranormal community and strives to earn the respect of the vampire covens and werewolf packs that call LA home. He also prevents the pain of loss by keeping everyone at arm’s length.

But he never planned on meeting a former Roman soldier by the name of Marcus Cassius Vespillo. Something sparks between them and turns into a friendship he never considered possible. He can’t deny his intense attraction to the intelligent, courteous, ancient vampire. And it scares him.

Though Vulcan is wary of seeking more with Cassius, an attack leaves him at death’s door and forces him to reexamine his priorities. But Cassius has his own secret, one that promises tragedy and loss. And if that wasn’t enough, a slayer arrives in the States, one with a bloody connection to Cassius… and Vulcan himself

Review
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The world building is great. Only a few humans know that vampires, werewolves and gouls exist. Those who do work for them in someway. The story started by setting the scene for Vulcan then jumped forward. Cassius is a wonderful character. A very ancient vampire who falls madly in love with Vulcan. Theirs is a slow paced love story and it needs to be slow to get the most from the building romance. Due to his past Vulcan is hesitant to get involved with anyone let alone an ancient vampire. Running alongside the romance is a mystery one that climaxes just as Vulcan let’s Cassius past his defences. All in all I loved the new take on this trope. The epilogue is a wonderful ending.

4 of stars out of 5


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Audiobook: A Fool and his Manny by Amy Lane Narrated by Kenneth Obi

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-fool-and-his-manny-by-amy-lane-9714-b

Blurb

Seeing the truth and falling in love.
Dustin Robbins-Grayson was a surly adolescent when Quinlan Gregory started the nanny gig. After a rocky start, he grew into Quinlan’s friend and confidant—and a damned sexy man.
At twenty-one, Dusty sees how Quinlan sacrificed his own life and desires to care for Dusty’s family. He’s ready to claim Quinlan—he’s never met a kinder, more capable, more lovable man. Or a lonelier one. Quinlan has spent his life as the stranger on the edge of the photograph, but Dusty wants Quinlan to be the center of his world. First he has to convince Quinlan he’s an adult, their love is real, and Quinlan can be more than a friend and caregiver. Can he show Quin that he deserves to be both a man and a lover, and that in Dusty’s eyes, he’s never been “just the manny?”

Review

I adored this couple! I loved the idea of the younger guy who falls for his “nanny” but ends up getting him! He was just the right amount of contrite and then bossy to really flip all my switches and he felt authentic to me.

The romance moved at a very low angst, steady pace and I loved seeing all the familiar faces. While this is definitely a good standalone, it’s better if you’ve read the others before it.

Watching Dusty move from kid through to adult was just right, too. Enough of the kid stuff for him to feel “real” but not so much that it was weird seeing him as an adult.

If you’re a fan of the author, the series or “mannies” this is for you! If you’re in the mood for a sweet “coming of age” book – I think this is wonderful for that purpose, too.

As for the upcoming audio: I don’t want this to sound like John Solo isn’t good – he is! – but I sure do wish we could have Nick Russo or Gomez for this series as well – I’d love that so much!

5 of 5 stars

Audio

I guess Dreamspinner must have a contract for this series because Amy’s usual taste in audiobook narrators doesn’t seem to be able to continue here.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Kenneth Obi does a perfectly fine job – I just love her choices for her other books a lot more.

In the end, he was easy to listen to and does a nice job with timing, characters and emphasis.

3.5 of 5 for the audio

Overall 4 of 5 stars

 


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Recent Release: Escaping Mortality (The Escape Trilogy Book 3) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43206768-escaping-mortality?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Their ocean journey was successful, and Andrew and Edmund found an Elder just in time. As they wished, Edmund is now a vampire like Andrew. They have eternity together, but first, they must visit Edmund’s ailing mother in the English countryside with their flock of immortals, including the Elder, who has taken an ominous liking to his new creation.
When they arrive at Edmund’s family estate, his sick mother and her loathsome best friend await them. While ducking religious curses, Edmund struggles to harness an unexpected power gifted him by the Elder. Andrew fears for his beloved as Edmund becomes more and more monstrous—but vampires have always been monsters, haven’t they?
A battle is coming, for Edmund’s heart and his soul, and Andrew will lose neither. He escaped island exile and a near tragedy at sea to be with Edmund, the beautiful young sailor he loves. Andrew will do anything to keep Edmund by his side, but his most dangerous adversary may be Edmund himself.

Review:
This is the final book of the trilogy, and it is a fitting end to the story.
Andrew and Edmund have left New Orleans to find an Elder (Brien) who will make him immortal. They find and Elder (Brian) who turns Edmund, but not without some hidden consequences.
As the group (Felipe, Michelle and others), continue on their voyage to England (to see Edmund’s dying mother), they realise that Brien has given Edmund some extra powers. This includes the ability to control things and eventually, people; making Edmund more powerful – (a fact that will have dire consequences later).
When they get to England, we learn more about Edmund’s background, inheritance and his past relationships. Eventually, he finds out that he is indirectly responsible for his mum’s illness.
Again, the one thing constant throughout the stories is the love Edmund and Andrew have for each other. Ultimately, this is what sees them through trials they encounter with Brien and others.
In the end, both men get their eternal get their HEA. I loved the epilogue; definitely a treat to see he vamps well into the future ☺
This was a really good story. Loved it from the first to the last book.

4.5 stars out of 5


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Audiobook Bad Attitude by KA Mitchell, narrated by Chet Daniel

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bad-attitude-by-ka-mitchell-9505-b

Blurb

Saving lives never used to be this complicated.

Gavin Montgomery does what’s expected of him by his wealthy and powerful family—look good in a tuxedo and don’t make waves. When a friend takes a leap off a bridge, Gavin tries to save him, only to fall in with him. At least at the bottom of the river he won’t feel like such a disappointment to his family. But he’s pulled from the water by a man with an iron grip, a sexy mouth, and a chip on his shoulder the size of the national deficit.
Jamie Donnigan likes his life the way it is—though he could have done without losing his father and giving up smoking. But at least he’s managed to avoid his own ball and chain as he’s watched all his friends pair off. When Montgomery fame turns a simple rescue into a media circus, Jamie decides if he’s being punished for his good deed, he might as well treat himself to a hot and sweaty good time. It’s not like the elegant and charming Gavin is going to lure Jamie away from his bachelor lifestyle. Nobody’s that charming. Not even a Montgomery….

Review: Story previously reviewed.
https://openskyebookreviews.com/release-day-review-bad-attitude-by-ka-mitchell/

Chet Daniels is new to me. He did a good job with overall narration – the entitled tone for Gavin and a more down to earth tone for Jamie, (although not a ‘Balmer’ accent as my Baltimore-born spouse will tell you). Mr. Daniels did have a curious way of transitioning between dialogue and non-dialogue parts. It wasn’t bad, just something I noticed.
I enjoyed the narration and I think it’s a good way to experience the story.

4 stars out of 5


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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: Oil and Water (The Wildcatters Book 1) by B.A. Tortuga

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/oil-and-water-by-ba-tortuga-10084-b

Blurb

Oilman Max inherits a passel of trouble when his boss passes away, leaving him a house in England and a heck of a lot of money. He’s thinking London is the worst place on earth… until he meets Morgan.

Colorful, carefree, and a little crazy, Morgan is just what Max needs, and the two set out on the adventure of a lifetime, chasing pleasure wherever it takes them, learning that together they can make anything fun… and sexy.

Too bad reality has to set in, and Morgan’s multimillionaire father has a lot to say about what reality looks like. Will their different worlds conspire to separate them like oil and water?

Review

This was different from what I’m used to reading. The writing style is very distinct, bringing to mind stream of consciousness a bit. It’s a well-written story, but the pace was a tad too slow and meandering for me.

Our main characters, Max and Morgan, hit it off almost instantly and spend the biggest part of the book happily making out on what seems like one long extended vacation, going to various exotic locations. Money is no object for either man, so no pesky roadblocks from something like reality or work. It was a bit difficult for me to believe in the strength of their connection, because they were so constantly removed from anything real. When it’s all fun and games, how do you go from infatuation to a deeper emotion like love?

They do have one big threat to overcome, Morgan’s dad. Who seems to come straight out of the 19th century with his Bedlam antics and makes Mr. Rochester seem like a benevolent angel for only keeping his mad wife locked up in the attic. This part felt a bit contrived to me, but what was good about it, is that it tested both men’s feelings and their determination to be together.
This is Max’s moment to shine and he takes it.

I found myself losing interest a bit in the middle of the story, but the final chapters caught my attention again and I liked how the author wrapped things up. With a perfect stand-in for the proverbial bow.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


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Coming Soon! Prince of Air and Darkness (The Darkest Court #1) by M.A. Grant

February 25!

 

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41550787-prince-of-air-and-darkness?ac=1&from_search=true

 

Blurb

Phineas Smith has been cursed with a power no one could control.

Roark Lyne is his worst enemy and his only hope.

The only human student at Mather’s School of Magick, Phineas Smith has a target on his back. Born with the rare ability to tap into unlimited magick, he finds both Faerie Courts want his allegiance—and will do anything to get it.

They don’t realize he can’t levitate a feather, much less defend the Faerie Realm as it slips into civil war.

Unseelie Prince Roark Lyne, Phineas’s roommate—and self-proclaimed arch nemesis—is beautiful and brave and a pain in the ass. Phineas can’t begin to sort through their six years of sexual tension masquerading as mutual dislike. But Roark is also the only one able to help Finn tame his magick.

Trusting Roark’s mysterious motives may be foolish; not accepting his temporary protection would be deadly.

Caught in the middle of the impending war, Phineas and Roark forge a dangerous alliance. And as the walls between them crumble, Phineas realizes that Roark isn’t the monster he’d imagined. But their growing intimacy threatens to expose a secret that could either turn the tide of the war…or destroy them both.

Review

Many people have liked this – I’m not one of them.

It just didn’t hit me right and I found myself only half-heartedly reading along. I’m not super big on fantasy to begin with and maybe this is too much for a “light” fantasy reader.

I didn’t feel the connection between Roark and Phineas like I wanted and the opposites attract/enemies to lovers thing was the only thing I liked about this.

3 stars


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