Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Coming Up for Air by Amanda Meuwissen

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/coming-up-for-air-by-amanda-meuwissen-10421-b

Blurb

It’s not easy being someone’s fairy tale.

Leigh Hurley is making a name for himself among thieves and criminals, even if it isn’t the life he would’ve chosen. He shouldn’t have screwed over the Moretti brothers, though. It landed him in the river with weights on his feet. But somehow he’s escaped certain death. The last thing he remembers before waking on the riverbank is a beautiful face and a soft kiss.

Then, Tolomeo turns up naked at Leigh’s apartment.

Tolly comes from a race of killers—merfolk who drown humans for fun. But Tolly is different, and when he sees a human in trouble, he offers a kiss, granting the man the ability to breathe underwater… and himself the ability to walk on land, at least until the next full moon. The ancient laws state that if he is given a vow of love by the one he kissed, he will be able to keep his legs. If not, he will be put to death when he returns to the water.

But love is not something Leigh offers easily… and Tolly has a secret of his own.

Review

This was a wonderful fairytale retelling! There were some unique twists on the original that gave added depth to the story as well as a really delicious dose of angst.

Instead of a prince we get a low-level criminal trying to survive a conflict between two gangs, while also attempting to stay on the right side of the law, or rather, out of sight of the law. This gives the story a grittiness and complexity it otherwise wouldn’t have had and really ratchets up the tension level. Leigh is so kind and obviously meant for better things than thieving or worse, but he doesn’t see a way out of that kind of life.

Tolly saves Leigh from drowning and firmly believes Leigh is the one for him, risking his life on the strength of that conviction. I loved Tolly’s quaint way of interpreting certain words or expressions. He’s super endearing, sweet, protective, self-effacing… and he has a secret.

True love never did run smooth, and it doesn’t for Tolly and Leigh either. At one very low, low point, the emotional anguish and despair of the MC’s actually brought tears to my eyes and I started to panic about their chances of getting to their HEA. Cruel author!

This was an amazing, well-written story. The secondary characters were great and really helped build a world around the MC’s, especially Alvin and Cary, but also all of Leigh’s friends from his apartment building.

I hope Amanda Meuwissen will try her hand at other fairytale retellings, because this one was incredible!

 

Number of stars out of 5: 5

5 stars

 


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Recent Release: Midnight Flit (The Carstairs Affairs #2) by Elin Gregory

Good Reads

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43714501-midnight-flit

Blurb: Miles Siward and Briers Allerdale return for another thrilling Jazz Age adventure.
“Silk stockings on expenses.”
Miles’s aristocratic mother has information of importance to the British Government and he must escort her home from Bucharest immediately, but their plans go violently awry and Miles and Lady Siward find themselves on a train to Belgrade – where Miles’s lover is posted. Since their pursuers are looking for a man and a woman, might two women slip past them unnoticed?

“Is anyone on this train who they say they are?”
Briers doesn’t know whether to kiss Miles or punch him but is delighted to accompany him and his mother on their journey. All he has to do is keep an eye open for their enemies – but who exactly are they; the enormous Russian, the sinister priest, the handsome jazz pianist, or maybe the winsome young movie star? And his mother-in-law might just be the most terrifying of all!
All aboard for the ride of a lifetime, with a cast of characters you’ll never forget!

Review:
Briers, Miles and Millie back with a bang! This time they’re in Eastern Europe. It all starts with Lady Siward (Miles mother) getting some sensitive information that endangers her life. Miles is sent from London to accompany her home, ostensibly for a visit to the doctor. As they prepare for their journey home, they’re attacked and end up seeking refuge with Briers.
Briers has been on assignment in Budapest and is relieved to have his lover safe. But the adventure doesn’t stop there – all 3 (4 if you count Millie☺ ) have to make it back to London – alive.
This is such a good story, the historical and social settings well researched, down to the way people spoke and addressed others. I really loved it and as a history buff, I learnt a few more things about that era.
The relationship between Briers and Miles is still strong, although Briers does have a tendency to underestimate Miles (but only because he cares!). And let’s not forget Pritchard, he’s definitely a good egg!
Looking forward to reading about their next adventure.

5 stars out of 5


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Recent Release: Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory

Good Reads

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30820566-eleventh-hour?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Borrowed from the Secret Intelligence Service cipher department to assist Briers Allerdale – a field agent returning to 1920s London with news of a dangerous anarchist plot – Miles Siward moves into a ‘couples only’ boarding house, posing as Allerdale’s ‘wife’. Miles relishes the opportunity to allow his alter ego, Millie, to spread her wings but if Miles wants the other agent’s respect he can never betray how much he enjoys being Millie nor how attractive he finds Allerdale.

Pursuing a ruthless enemy who wants to throw Europe back into the horrors of the Great War, Briers and Miles are helped and hindered by nosy landladies, water board officials, suave gentlemen representing foreign powers and their own increasing attraction to each other.

Will they catch their quarry? Will they find love? Could they hope for both?
The clock is ticking.

Review: This is a really good book! I enjoyed it immensely. It is a historical (1920’s), romantic thriller – set mostly in London. It has many of my favourite themes – wit, banter, authentic period references and situations, a bit of cloak and dagger spy situations and a straightforward romance.
Briers and Miles work for British Intelligence (pre-MI6). While Briers is more of a field agent, Miles is the desk jockey, a linguistics expert. Miles has an additional talent – he can convincingly impersonate a woman. Unfortunately, this talent has not always earned him the respect of his peers. When both men are paired together to foil an anarchist plot, both men soon find themselves falling for each other.
There are a few bumps along the way – Briers tendency to treat Miles like a delicate flower, for one – but Briers soon learns that Miles/Millie are both made of sterner stuff. There is a lot of subtle humour throughout the story, even during some desperate times.
This is a well written, fun story and I am looking forward to reading the sequel.
I loved this book!

5 stars out of 5

 


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: A Body in the Bathhouse by Brad Shreve

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43719899-a-body-in-a-bathhouse?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: On the verge of bankruptcy, private investigator, Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way, while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall. After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to operating his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break. A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.
As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, charismatic bathhouse operator, Trent Nakos, enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.

Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.

Review: This is more of a mystery with a dash of romance thrown in – I liked it! The story was entertaining, with bits of humour (sometimes dark ☺), a good mystery with interesting, and good, but flawed characters (Mitch especially).
Mitch is trying to keep his business from going bankrupt when he lands a job that could get him more clients. During his investigation of the murder, he meets Trent, the man whose innocence he needs to prove. Their interactions were definitely not romantic; Mitch was sometimes abrupt, bordering on rude, while Trent seemed a bit of a nitwit. What I really enjoyed was the mystery – the misdirection, the possible choices for the murderer and the way I had to follow the whodunit story through Trent’s POV.
As for the romance, or lack thereof, I do hope that in future books both MC’s interact more.

3.75 stars out of 5


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Recent Release: A Dance Too Far by H. L. Day

Good Reads

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44027062-a-dance-too-far?from_search=true

Blurb: Valentin Bychkov, rising star of contemporary Russian ballet, appears to have everything: wealth, talent, success, and a face and body to match. Not that anyone can get close. Bypass the entourage and there’s still Valentin’s sharp tongue and acerbic wit to deal with. He may give his body freely, but his emotions are kept tightly locked away.
Max Farley’s life is a simple one. All he’s interested in is work, drinking, and picking up the latest in a long line of one-night stands. The way he chooses to live may not be to everyone’s taste but it suits him down to the ground. He’s never met anyone who’s made him want to confront the demons from his past. Until now.

A show in London brings the two together. Lust brings them closer still. But if rumors of Bratva connections turn out to be true, then dangerous men wait in the wings. One dangerous man in particular, who’s used to people following his orders without question.
Difficult choices need to be made on both sides. Valentin and Max need to stop playing with fire and let each other go, or face the consequences. But letting go isn’t that easy where love is concerned.

And some things are worth the risk.

Warning: This book contains a snarky ballet dancer with an aversion to clothes, a little too much wall sex and an overabundance of Russian heavies.

Review: Overall, a good romantic suspense story, but for some reason I didn’t really warm to either Max or Valentin. Max was a bit of a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ type, but without the charm; Valentin was a cold, haughty type, also a bit charmless. I think I may have (unfairly) compared this book to previous H.L. Day books where the MC’s are a bit more fun.
Anyway, back to this book. It’s well written with glimpses into the ballet world and a bit of mafia mayhem (Russian) thrown in. The prose is engaging, and I did enjoy the wit and banter between the characters. Max’s backstory was a little disturbing, and frankly I wasn’t sure about the whole affair with the teacher when he was underage. But it did explain he was wired to not do relationships.
I think I was expecting a lighter, more humourous story – that is on me. It’s a good story and anyone looking for complex characters a hard fought HEA will love this book.

3.75 stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Borrowed Heart By Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/borrowed-heart-by-andrew-grey-10304-b

Blurb

Robin, the recipient of a brand-new heart, knows he can’t give it to just anyone….

Robin’s been through his share of upsets recently, from heart transplant surgery to a brutal breakup. But his experiences have taught him life is short, and he’s ready to seize the day and start anew. A job at Euro Pride Tours is just the kind of adventure he’s looking for. He gets to see the world and live a little, but love isn’t on his radar screen. He isn’t sure his heart can endure that again.

Johan might’ve disappointed his family by striking out on his own, but when he meets Robin, he has no intention of letting him down. Each man is just what the other needs to feel whole again, and while Johan might not be the man Robin originally thought he was, he’s exactly what the doctor ordered to make Robin’s borrowed heart beat faster. As the tour through Germany progresses, they grow closer, but when Robin’s ex joins the tour, he could bring their blossoming love to a dramatic halt.

Review

I am a huge fan of Andrew Grey. His books have always been such a comfort for me and Borrowed Heart didn’t fail me. The blurb is a little misleading. Yes, Robin did receive a heart transplant however it was quite a few years ago. He states in the book that average life expectancy for a heart transplant recipient isn’t very long, like 10 to 12 years. His ex, Mason broke off their relationship because of this fact (supposedly). Robin moves to Germany for the summer to lick his wounds and to live his “borrowed” life to the fullest. His latest tour is being driven by Johan and the sparks fly. Like a lot of Andrew’s books, the dreaded ex shows up on the tour and is up to no go. I liked how a few of the tour members also got little side stories. While the tour travels through Germany and the surrounding area, we get to learn more about Robin and his fears. Johan spends most of the time, reassuring Robin that he’s worth being with, no matter how long they will have. My only criticism about the book is that I wanted to know more about what happened with the ex. Otherwise it was a good, sweet story!

4 stars



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Recent Release: Unfamiliar Waters By Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/unfamiliar-waters-by-andrew-grey-10081-b

Blurb

With the pressures of the job bearing down on him, police officer Garrett Wreckley needs a vacation—in fact, he isn’t given a choice in the matter. Since the water has always soothed Garrett’s soul, he heads to the Caribbean, hoping some time alone sailing on the open water will help him pull himself together.
But even though he’s taking a break from law enforcement, Garrett can’t get rid of his cop’s instinct so easily.

He meets Nigel, a young man as innocent as he is beautiful, who grew up sheltered from the world, exploring the beaches and tropical forests with only the company of his aunt, his brother, and the wildlife and sea creatures he befriended.

As sweet, passionate love blooms, their time in paradise feels too good to be true… and Garrett’s gut and training tell him that might be the case. As he investigates, he quickly realizes everything is not as it seems. Will his snooping destroy not only their romance, but everything Nigel believes about his life?

Review

Once again Andrew Grey has knocked it out of the park with this one. Garrett is dealing with the grief of losing his long-term partner and this is causing him trouble with his work as a cop. After nearly shooting an unarmed man, Garrett is forced to take a vacation. He heads out to sail around the Caribbean. After setting anchor on a small island he meets Nigel.

Nigel has spent the last decade living on the island with his younger brother Jules, aunt Phyllis and caretaker Fairfield. Garrett is attracted to Nigel’s innocent view of the world. Garrett knows that there is something not quite right with Nigel’s situation and he is determined to protect Nigel and Jules at all costs.

One of the things I love best about all of Andrew’s books is the feelings his characters emote. You can practically feel Garrett’s pain throughout the first part of the story. The descriptions of the tropics made me want to go book a trip immediately. The relationship between Nigel and Garrett was so sweet and tender. I highly recommend this one!

5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Audiobook: Wanted – Bad Boyfriend by TA Moore narrated by Michael Mola

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/wanted-bad-boyfriend-by-ta-moore-9824-b

Blurb: Island Classifieds: Book One

His mother. His best friend. The barmaid at the local pub. Everyone is determined to find Nathan Moffatt a boyfriend. It’s the last thing Nathan wants. After spending every day making sure his clients experience nothing but romantic magic, the Granshire Hotel’s wedding organizer just wants to go home, binge watch crime dramas, and eat pizza in his underwear.
Unfortunately, no one believes him, and he’s stuck with lectures about dying alone. Then inspiration strikes. He needs the people in his life to want him to stay single as much as he does. He needs a bad boyfriend.

There’s only one man for the job.

Flynn Delaney is used to people on the island of Ceremony thinking the worst of him. But he isn’t sure he wants the dubious honor of worst boyfriend on the entire island. On the other hand, if he plays along, he gets to hang out with the gorgeous Nathan and piss off the owners of the Granshire Hotel. It’s a win-win.

There’s only one problem—Flynn’s actually quite a good boyfriend, and now Nathan’s wondering if getting off the sofa occasionally is really the worst thing in the world.

Review:
Book reviewed earlier. https://openskyebookreviews.com/release-day-review-wanted-bad-boyfriend-by-ta-moore/
This is a story set in the UK, so I was surprised (and disappointed) that the narration was done in an American accent. Once I got over that, I settled into listening.
Michael Mola did a good job with the character voices, capturing the sarcasm, humour and much of emotions of both MCs. Unfortunately, I had imagined the characters with English accents, so that took away from my enjoyment.
Otherwise, it’s not a bad way to experience the book.

Story: 4 stars out of 5
Narration: 3.5 stars out of 5
Reviewer Name: Dee



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Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Upside Down by N.R. Walker

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44292759-upside-down?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb
Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But he when he realises adding the label ‘asexual’ might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.

Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.

A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.

Review
I enjoyed this book immensely!! It was engaging and funny and surprisingly sweet. I loved Jordan’s personality and the way his mind worked. I must admit that I enjoyed the chapter’s that were in his point of view versus the chapters in Hennessy’s. Not that his chapters were boring or anything, but Jordan is just hilarious, and Hennessy is a bit more sedate, although he has his moments.
This is an amazingly sweet and fluffy love story that I cannot recommend enough!
5 stars


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Review
This book was incredibly sweet, with the humor I liked so much in Walker’s ‘The Weight of it All’ and dealing with the subject of Asexuality in a wonderful eye opening way. I think the thing that makes this story so good it how much you don’t really need sex to feel the romance, longing and passion Jordan and Hennessy feel for each other. Jordan is one of the funniest characters I’ve read in a long time, and he had me laughing more times than I can count. Their relationship is so sweet, and gently brings some of the lesser known sexual identities in the romance genre. Walker showed the struggle Asexuals face in our overly sexualized world. Angus and Merry were some of the most amazing side characters I have ever seen and I wish we could get their story someday.
This book makes you feel so good, while still having emotional depth and dealing with serious themes. Leaves you smiling and a gooey happy pile of emotions. Just a wonderful read through and through.

Number of stars out of 5
5


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Audiobook: Handle with Care By: Cari Z. Narrated by: John Solo

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/handle-with-care-by-cari-z-10360-b

Blurb
A fragile heart needs extra care.

Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years—boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas—and a difficult homecoming.

Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.

Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?

Review

Handle with Care was a sweet, friends to lover’s romance. I found the characters of Aaron and Tyler to be engaging. This is very much a slow burn romance. Aaron has a lot of hang ups due childhood neglect. He allows his work as a social worker to consume him, which is causing him to burn out. Tyler is the opposite. He is full of cheer and his spirits always seem high. Aaron’s reunion with his brother is rocky and the emotions are high. I loved when Aaron finally let go of all his resentment of the past and started to look ahead.
John Solo did a good job with the narration. He has a great range of voices and each character is easy discernable.

4 stars


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