Monthly Archives: July 2013

Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Undertow by Andrea SpeedInfected: Undertow by Andrea Speed
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  344 Pages
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Now Roan is locked in a coma as the struggle between his human and werecat sides reaches a new extreme. All Dylan can do is sit, wait, and think.

Meanwhile, Roan’s assistant, Holden, wants to shed his old street life and his relationship with Scott, but he can’t seem to do either. Holden doesn’t want a relationship with Scott but finds himself drawn to him all the same, even if he can never fully reveal his past.

With Roan out of commission, Holden looks into the murder of an old friend. At the same time, Fiona takes on a case about underground death matches between infecteds —one with connections to the Church of the Divine Transformation.

Finally Roan wakes only to discover that his shifts have new consequences. His lion’s strength is growing, and he can’t hide from it any longer….

Excerpt

This is the seventh book in the “Infected” series.  This series was actually started as a blog story and grew and grew.  These aren’t really romances either.  The series is focused on Roan McKichan and his life.  Roan is a virus child, born with the Werecat virus.  Most virus children do not survive and NONE as long as Roan.  Roan is unique in the world, hated and feared by many.  Roan has a rocky road in life that never sees Roan get much peace.  Dylan is Roan’s husband and Roan’s happiness.  The two are very different but somehow they need each other.  But again this isn’t a romance, Roan and Dylan’s relationship aside.

Andrea Speed writes a story that is fascinating.  The characters are so different and they suck you into the story.  Roan’s troubles grip you and leave you wondering what kind of situation he will find himself in next.  You root for him and mourn for him.  In this book Roan is so troubled by how he is changing, he worries constantly if he can “control” his lion.  Roan’s life is also going through some changes.  Two of his hockey friends are leaving with his secretary and friend, Fiona, considering going with one of them.  Holden/Fox is also changing and getting more involved in Roan’s business.  Holden is also involved with Scott, another hockey player, but doesn’t want to be.

There is always a bit of mystery in the storyline.  It isn’t always hard to figure it all out but it is interesting to follow what happens.  Just like in the rest of the series there are lots of times Roan has to “lion out” to deal with runaway cats.  Roan shows how tough his is not just physically but mentally in the book.

Overall I have always loved Roan in this series.  Andrea Speed keeps bringing him to life in my mind as I read through this series.  The books in the whole of the series are character driven.  This particular book didn’t hold the power of some of the previous books in the series but it was a solid read.  I feel like there is a lot still going on with Roan and that the series is going to be one that I will continue to enjoy.  (5 roses for the series!)

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Felixitations by Roger Kean

Felixitations by Roger KeanFelixitations by Roger Kean
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Reckless Books
Novel:  108,076 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  5
 

Facilitator and felicitator, to have winsome young Felix step into a man’s life is a transforming event: the course of destiny is altered. Over a span of thousands of years this enigmatic being’s random odyssey affects the lives of men attracted to his mesmerizing persona… yet Felix has no hidden agenda, does not choose when or where he materializes – all happens by felicitous chance… or does it?

Ok, wow!  This book may have been a bit beyond me but it was good.  This isn’t a romance.  I want to say it is a collection of shorts, which is how it comes across, but they are all interconnected.  Really it is a very difficult book to describe.  Not all the stories are happy and honestly none have a true monogamous relationship.  Felix isn’t always this uninvolved individual either nor does he always help those in the story but he does bring about change in the other characters lives.  The author takes readers through different times and different countries.  He even uses different writing styles.  It is quite the impressive show of the author’s talents.  I will not say this was an easy read for me nor always “fun”.  I struggled to understand parts of it and hated the relationships at times but by the end I really loved the read.

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Pup by S.J.D. Peterson

Pup by S.J.D. PetersonPup by S.J.D. Peterson
Reviewer: Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  61,898 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Micah “Pup” Slayde knows he wants Tackett Austin the moment he lays eyes on him in the Guards of Folsom. Micah wants to have purpose, to be taken care of, and to take care of his Dom—wants to trust him completely, live for him, belong to him. To become his everything. Micah is sure Tackett is the one. The problem is, in order to be the perfect sub, he needs to stay focused, and that’s not easy for Micah, who suffers from what he refers to as a “broken brain.” Focus and adult attention deficit disorder rarely coexist.

Ever since Ty Callahan and Blake Henderson’s collaring ceremony, Tackett’s been thinking too much about his own loneliness. Even though Ty introduces Micah and urges Tackett to give him a try, Tackett isn’t so easily convinced. He’s spent his life pursuing a successful business career, and the subs he dominates almost never enjoy the kiss of his leather twice. Twenty years Micah’s senior, Tackett has no interest in taking on and taming such a young and naughty sub—but it’s difficult to resist such an adorable pup when he begs.

Excerpt

Warning this is a BDSM book so if you don’t like that kind of book don’t bother reading.  Warning number two has to do with mental health issues, if you struggle with mental health this may not be a book for you.

I struggled a lot with the rating for this.  The writing was good and the characters were engaging.  I enjoy reading BDSM so that never bothered me.  As I read this book though something did bother me.  I’ve never usually been squeamish even with harder core BDSM writing even straight out non-consent but this one bothered me and I could not put my finger on why.  Finally after seeking out others who had read the book I figured it out.  I really had a hard time with the control of Micah’s condition.  There were never any questions asked about health care and mental care when it was introduced into the discussion between Dom and Sub.  (These are two major questions to be asked in these relationships.)  I really didn’t like how Tackett controlled Micah when it came to this issue.  It was very disturbing to me.  If this had been a non-con it would have been different but it wasn’t.

Separating all of that out of the context of the review, the story was good.  I really wanted to see these two make it.  Part of making a good story to me is how much the author manages to engage the reader into the story.  Are you having some sort of emotional reaction to the story?  Is the reader invested?  To me if you make me care about the characters and what happens half the battle to making the book good is won.  The author did manage to do that with me.  I cared about the characters.  Is Tackett going to cave and finally keep a Sub?  Will Micah be able to control his “broken brain”?  Will Tackett be the one to help Micah with that?

I do wish I could have had more of a positive look at the story.  I would have been more positive if there had been a different look at how a mental illness or condition can work in a BDSM relationship.  Still if you aren’t bothered by this aspect of the book it is an entertaining story.

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Magic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price

Magic Mansion by PriceMagic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Novel:  117,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

Professor Topaz is tired of fending off advice that he should retire in Vegas where magicians his age have an easier time finding work.

Ricardo Hart’s career has sunk so low, he’s resorted to shaking his moneymaker at bachelorette parties.

But there’s a casting call for a new reality show called Magic Mansion that could change everything for these two gay stage magicians, one recovering from the loss of his partner, the other awe-struck by the presence of his idol. Each is poised for a critical second chance: at fame, and at love.

Who will win? Step into the Mansion, and find out….

Excerpt

This story was originally written as a serial for the author’s newsletter.  It reads a little that way but overall it’s like most books in the change of chapters.  I am always amazed by some author’s ability to take prompts and turn out a story week by week with little or no solid structure for the story.  These authors that amaze me manage to turn out a story that makes sense, isn’t all choppy and is really an entertaining/interesting read.  Jordan Castillo Price managed that with this story.

John “Professor” Topaz is a fascinating character.  He is an older man in his 60’s.  He has been through quite a bit in his life starting with his mother telling the world she was his aunt.  He has had tragedy with losing his life partner to a horrible traffic accident.  You feel for the man fairly quickly.  John is a bit of a straight-laced man but very passionate about his craft.

Ricardo “the Magnificent” Hart is a more colorful character.  He is out and proud.  Ricardo is almost the total opposite of John in outward appearances.   Both men are both True Magic welders.  They have a heart for their magic.

The concept of the story is wonderful.  It really fits with today’s world of reality shows.  The set up of the story fits perfectly with the story being serialized.  It also makes the book version of the story feel more like it is being told in the context of a reality show.  The setting made sense to me.  A sense of magic even added to how the show was filmed.

The story was really good in the set up and the telling.  The romance didn’t strike me as being as good.  It felt a little shallow.  I just didn’t see how the two could start saying I love you with very little knowledge of each other.

In the overall I loved the writing and the concept of the story.  The characters were entertaining and engaging.  I was engaged by the characters and story.  I read until late and was anticipating what would happen in the next chapter.  I was a little disappointed walking away from the story.  There seemed like there was a “wow” factor missing to make this amazing.  Still all in all it was a story I couldn’t put down until I finished.

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Kiss the Bride by Jody Wallace

Kiss the Bride
Kiss the Bride by Jody Wallace
Reviewer: LisaG
Entangled Ever After
Novella: 115 pages
Purchase on Amazon
Roses: 4

Herman Edward Heckley knows all about drywall, concrete, and nail guns. So what’s he doing fighting off taffeta in a bridal salon? He’s maid of honor for his best friend, Caroline Oakenfeld, in her wedding to a pencil-necked geek. But the closer he gets to the ceremony, the more he wonders if he’s been missing out all this time.

Caroline has been missing out, and she knows it. She’s been in love with Heck forever, but frittering her life away until Heck wises up isn’t part of her life plan. She’s agreed to marry her boyfriend so she can move on with her life. But the closer she gets to the ceremony, the more she realizes she has to resolve her feelings for Heck.

For better or for worse.

Herman “Heck” Heckley and Caroline Oakenfeld have been best friends for 34 years, which explains how he finds himself swamped in taffeta in a bridal shop and planning a bachelorette party as Maid of Honor in Caroline’s wedding to a pencil-necked geek.  So why isn’t Caroline happier and what are these odd feelings he’s having for his best friend?  Caroline after loving Heck for years and finally giving up on having him return her feelings, finds a nice man to marry and move on with her life.

____________

This was not your typical friends to lovers story.  There were times I wanted to reach out and slap both Heck and Caro on their heads for being so dense.  Both of them are scared to admit to their feelings for the other.  Add in a conniving, delightfully evil bridesmaid and you have a hilarious read.  Heck is a man’s man and is so out of his element dealing with various wedding chores.  His confusion over his changing feelings for Caro is believable. Caro’s fear of losing Heck’s friendship kept her from declaring her love and leads her to accept Dan’s proposal.  The highlight of this book is a riotous bachelorette party which will leave you laughing, just don’t eat the icing.

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A Marrying Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

marryingmanA Marrying Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion
Reviewer: LisaG
Wilde City Press
Novella: 40,000 words approximate
Purchase at Wilde City Press
Roses: 4

It’s been almost a year since a disastrous bet dropped Blaine McKlintock and his best friend, Kent Samson in hot water. Now, Kent is getting ready to propose to Terry Barron. Blaine couldn’t be happier for his best friend, but when Kent asks Blaine to plan the wedding, Blaine is thrown for a loop, especially when Kent drops another bomb. Spencer Cassidy will be helping. Blaine remembers Spencer very well, but the former Wall Street force doesn’t seem to remember him. Blaine’s changed a lot since the bet, but will Spencer see it too?

____________

A Marrying Man is the sequel to A Betting Man, however, the author does a great job of filling the background so that reading the first book isn’t a requirement to enjoy and follow along.

Blaine has worked quite hard to make up for suggesting the bet that nearly ruined his best friend’s relationship with Terry.  He is even willing to help plan their wedding on short notice.  The only fly in the ointment is that he has to work with Spencer Cassidy, his childhood crush.  He believes that Spencer dislikes him because of his part in the infamous bet and is defensive whenever Spence is around.  Not to mention the fact that Spencer is straight.

Spencer on the other hand finds Blaine quite attractive and interesting and wants to get to know him better.  Their interactions while planning the wedding are funny and creative.  The incident at the cake tasting was particularly humorous.  I loved Blaine’s reactions to Spencer’s daughter Valerie and the way she brought out the child in him at times.

The only problem I had with this book was the way the evil ex-wife suddenly had a change of heart at the end.  It seemed far too abrupt after the way she’d behaved all through the book.

This was a new to me author and I will be picking up more of her books, including the first book in this series.

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Angel’s Redemption by Azalea Moone

Angels Redemption by MooneAngel’s Redemption by Azalea Moone
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  31,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Twenty-four-year-old Blaine Schneider is seasoned to hardship. Since the age of eight, he’s experienced nothing but a swarm of bad luck: from the funny electrical fire in shop class to failing grades and relationships gone sour. He believes he’ll never get past it; only his band, ‘Til Dark, and their dream, keeps him going through it all.

Shortly after he mysteriously inherits a beautifully carved angel statue, Blaine also finds an apartment big enough to display the lifelike sculpture, and he thinks his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But when he discovers the spell inscribed on the statue’s base, he frees Lynsael from his stone prison, a handsome fallen angel who claims to be Blaine’s former guardian angel, and then his luck really improves.

But while Blaine is falling hard for the angel’s blue eyes and lively personality, in the shadows, dark forces are working to keep Blaine and Lynsael apart. It will take more than luck for the pair to come through unscathed—it’ll take a miracle.

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Right off I will say the cover is what caught my interest.  Yes, it was a shallow reason for wanting to read a book but it’s a beautiful cover.

So a true review of what I thought of the book.  I loved the premise.  There have been variations of this theme before.  Who wouldn’t want an angel, right?   You combine that with musicians and it sounds like a really interesting and good read.  I’ll be honest though it missed the mark a bit for me.  The characters weren’t well written.  I felt they lacked depth and vividness.  They felt flat.  Also the writing, while good, didn’t give me any true connection to the characters.  I had no emotional investment into these men so really didn’t have a true “oh, no!” feeling when the main conflict of the story happens.

The plot has many holes as well.  We never hear much about Blaine’s past other than his bad luck.  Lynsael’s fall is never explained.  That seems to me to be very vital in the story but it is only glanced over never explained.

I enjoyed the story but will admit to have had higher hopes for the story.  The actual plot line still interests me and the story itself could be interesting if improved upon.  As it is it just misses the mark.

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A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland

A Reason to Believe by CoplandA Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Carina Press
Novel:  81,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4

Detective Matthew Bennett doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he’s shaken to the core–and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan’s claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.

Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan’s been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he’s willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees–but love offers a reason to believe…

Excerpt

This is a story about one man’s making his way back from a horrible abyss after his partner and lover die.  Matt is a man who has lived every person’s worst nightmare, his partner and lover was coming home and stopped at a convenience store for beer for a bar-b-que and was shot and killed.  Now he is finally dealing with his first case since then and he ends up having a little girl’s spirit lead him to her body.  Needless to say the department doesn’t not only not believe him but they tell him to “take a vacation”.

Matt is a man mired in his grief.  He can’t let go and live again.  It’s in this state and now on a forced vacation that Matt is dragged by his sister-in-law, it was wonderful to have such strong female characters in this book, to a reading by renowned psychic Kiernan Fitzpatrick.  He is very surprised by what he finds there.

Since Matt is the “voice” of the story there isn’t that personal insight, but what we do see is a man who is full of energy and animation.  He has a wicked sense of humor, which is shown by his enormous t-shirt collection, and has a big sense of responsibility.  Kiernan didn’t have an easy childhood but hasn’t let it stop him.  He seems like just the fresh air to wake up Matt and make him want to live again.

These two men are in for a fast, hard courtship.  I know many would say everything between them happens too fast but I know it can go that way sometimes from personal experience so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

The storyline captured me more than the romance portion of the story.  The mystery was good and the way the author set it up made me keep turning the pages.  I think the character descriptions and the setting were perfect for the story.  I was a little disappointed that Matt seemed to cave so fast after he had fought off any response in a year and a half.  I would have thought there would have been a little more internal turmoil.  It may have been a little more believable for me if he had had some sexually contact between his ex’s death and Keirnan.  Since there wasn’t and this was supposedly the first time he had felt real desire for another man since his loss I thought it seemed a little quick.

Overall I think the writing was excellent.  I think the character development was good but would have like to see a little more of about Keirnan.  I also think that they could have been a little more integrated to the story.  I really didn’t feel as into the romance part of the story as I thought a read should if it is labeled as a romance.  Still I think it was an excellent read.  I almost hope the author will revisit these two since I would love to see more of them.

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The Westerfields of Chatham County By Carol Lynne

The Westerfields of Chatham County  by Carol Lynne  The Westerfields of Chatham County by Carol Lynne
  Reviewer:  Leenie
  Publisher:  Stiff Rain Press
  Short Story: 48 pages,  15,426 words
Purchase: Stiff Rain Press , Amazon, and Barnes & Noble 
Roses: 4
 

Ian and Bull Westerfield have spent years loving each other in all the ways the law said they shouldn’t. When they come across a drifter looking for work, the brothers invite the stranger into their home, and eventually, to their bed.

Axel Bennett was looking for work, not a home. When an accident leaves him in the hands of the Westerfield brothers, they offer him both. Envious of the bond the brothers’ share, Axel agrees to stay the winter.

Their love will be put to the test—a piece of land or the safety of each other?

Excerpt

Review

This is a story of a unique brand of love,  the love of a brother for a brother , add in a drifter looking for a safe place to work for the winter, a small town set to run the brothers out. We can’t forget the explosive chemistry between Ian and Bull, then when Axel enters. WOW. I will admit this is a topic they may not be for everyone, but this is a great story. The story is short and doesn’t fully explain some of the topics it brings up. It tells of  Ian and Bull and what a  hard life they have had, the love they have for each other. Then Axel comes into the picture. Ian want’s Axel, Bull wants Axel and Axel he wants the brothers. Carol Lynne does a excellent job of bring tenderness and passion to the story. Their chemistry is explosive.

They are cowboys who live in a small town.A town that has found out about the brothers and want to run them out. The problem, Westerfields have lived on the land since Chatham County was founded and Bull doesn’t want to leave.  But  Ian hates having to hide his love of Bull. He hates what his love for his brothers cost them. He has an unsatisfiable sexual appetite.  When Ian and Bull head home from town they run into Axel.  Axel has a unfortunate accident that leaves him in the hands of the Westerfields. Axel, He wants to be in their relationship but doesn’t want to hurt the brothers. As Axel feels frustrated at his lack of involvement with the brothers relationship and tension grows.  Will they realize how much they can offer each other , before everything is taken away. That they fit together, all three and can fit so perfectly if they will just give each other a chance.

I think this is a excellent story of love, forgiveness and what can happen if you open yourself to love.  Ian, Bull and Axel all need healing and though it starts as a sexual relationship to satisfy Ian, it quickly becomes much more. As they fight against prejudice of a small town and have to see if their love is strong enough to keep them together.

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Plan B by S.J.D. Peterson

Plan B by S.J.D. PetersonPlan B by S.J.D. Peterson
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  67,377 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Danny Marshal has always lived his life out loud, but his androgynous appearance is only a small part of who he is. One night at a frat party, Danny meets Lance Lenard, football jock and apparent straight guy. Lance is shocked when he’s immediately attracted to Danny’s feminine side. Danny is happy to be the subject of Lance’s first man-on-man experiment—until Lance begins to struggle with the fact that despite his appearance, Danny is indeed a man.

Lance’s whole life has been focused on his goal of playing in the NFL, and he knows those dreams will be smashed if anyone finds out about his little secret. Although Lance has come to hunger for Danny’s touch, he’s not willing to give Danny what he’s grown to crave: a boyfriend who’s proud to love him for every flamboyant and snarky cell in his body.

Life sends Danny and Lance in different directions, each of them focused on his respective Plan A. But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Excerpt

Danny is a very flamboyant gay man.  He is in college and studying theater.  He believes in living life “out loud”.  He dresses how he feels, wears makeup, is constantly styling his hair, and sleeps with many men.  The point of view of the book is all told through him.  One night at a party he doesn’t want to be at he meets Lance.  Lance is a football player whose only goal is to make it to the NFL.  Danny doesn’t like Lance at first but when Lance goes out of his way to met up with Danny later and try to get to know him, Danny becomes intrigued.  Lance is in the closet.  He knows that football is not something he can have if he comes out as being gay.  He has never been tempted to get involved with a guy until Danny.

Plan B was quite the read.  When I started the book I honestly didn’t really care for it.  I didn’t hate it but it was “Blah” for me.  Slowly I was pulled into the book wondering what was going to happen to these men.  Could these two make a relationship like this one last?  Danny just seemed too full of life to settle for a relationship where he couldn’t be himself with the one he loved and Lance would accept nothing but making it in football.  They broke my heart:(

The characters were so vivid and fully developed.  The writing was outstanding.  I can honestly say I was totally convinced by the end of the book that the ride was totally worth losing sleep over reading, which I did indeed do:)

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