Blog Archives

Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk

HaintedHainted by Jordan L. Hawk
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  94,378 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  3
 

The Good Guy: Haint-working runs in Dan Miller’s blood. Not everyone can help the restless dead cross over, especially when the haunting threatens the Living. But the death of his parents six years ago forced Dan to give it up in exchange for raising his brother and sister, all the while struggling to keep their rural NC farm afloat.

So when the flamboyantly goth Leif Helsvin shows up on Dan’s doorstep looking for help with an evil necromancer named Rúnar, Dan’s first instinct is to turn him down. With two teenagers to look after, he’s already got all the trouble he can handle. Besides, the sexy Leif is too much of a temptation, and Dan is firmly in the closet.

The Bad Boy: Pierced, tattooed Leif never has sex with the same guy twice. It keeps things simple, especially since his oath to stop Rúnar has him constantly drifting from one town to the next.

But this time, it looks like Leif is going to need help, in the form of the very down-to-earth Dan. Since Nice Guys are off the menu, Leif just has to keep his hands to himself for as long as it will take to stop Rúnar’s latest scheme. But as Leif finds himself drawn deeper into Dan’s life, he quickly realizes he’s not just in danger of breaking the rules, but breaking his heart as well.

Excerpt

This was an interesting book.  I thought that the use of the word “hainted” was different.  I’ve never heard it used.  The author seems to lump a lot of supernatural phenomena into “hainted”.  I thought it was just ghosts but it is also anything to do with the dead except the living that deal with the dead.

Dan is stuck in time in my mind.  Because of his parents death he takes over the family farm and raising his two young siblings.  He knows he is gay and did have a little experience when he went to college for the short time he did.  Coming back he is forced back in the closet and so REALLY shuts himself in there.  He doesn’t seem to me to mature past that point.  Not that he is immature in raising his siblings but in dealing with a relationship he is still a newbie.  He is almost innocent.  Leif is anything but innocent.  His childhood was destroyed and he ran away to the streets when he was 14.  He hooked and did drugs.  When he left that life he traveled the world but did horrible things that he is trying to atone for.  Leif was a child still when he was taken in by Runar.  Runar was evil but all Leif saw was salvation.  Due to all of this Leif is not innocent.  Yet when it comes to good people and a healthy relationship Leif is lost as well.

I loved these two together.  They make sense.  Together they are a great team.  Now the action involved in the storyline was interesting if a little…flat.  I just didn’t get into the fight scenes.  I had a hard time with the whole antler and it hitting the right spot.  Just didn’t feel right.

The author makes an easy setting for the story, modern in the country, and uses the world building for the paranormal aspect.  This was a good story overall but felt a bit sappy toward the end.  I was expecting it to me more hard edged and instead the characters become a bit too gushy.  The bad guy was all bad.  (Yeah, he liked Leif but just wanted to have him.)  Yet I didn’t get that icy feel from him.  With this being the story it is you would expect a cold, icy edge to the bad guy but I just didn’t get that.

Overall an enjoyable read.  I wish the last half had been a little harder then I think I would have enjoyed it more.  Still a good story with all the stuff people love.

rose-3

Captive Prince: Volume One by C.S. Pacat

Captive PrinceCaptive Prince: Volume One by C.S. Pacat
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  343 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  5
 

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else . . .

This is the first in a trilogy.  I believe the writer did a wonderful job of setting up the plot lines and relationships in the story.  This is a complex bit of work.  I will also admit I really didn’t like the first half or so.  Laurent was just unlikeable and yet the story seems to be set up to push him and Damen together.  O_o  Yeah….I couldn’t see that.  I’m starting to glimpse that there is more going on with Laurent than appears.  I really don’t believe that Laurent is that cold and cruel.  I will have to read the next book to find out if I’m right about that.  Damen seems convinced by everyone’s surface appearance yet that is what got him in trouble before!

The characters are well crafted.  I could see the slow development of Laurent as a person in the story.  Damen, as the story’s point of view, was a bit easier.  He did fill out more and grow as the story continues.  I am beginning to glimpse how these two men could fit together.  This shows a true talent for storytelling in the author.

So as our story goes along we get filled in on some of the two countries and their histories.  I have to admit I would have preferred to learn more of the conflict between the two countries.  I get that they warred over disputed land but never why it was in dispute.  I understand hating someone for killing a beloved figure but it seems the hatred is more and that there is something within the battle that we aren’t hearing about.  I am hoping some of this will be reveled in the second book.

The book can be really detailed with parts of the story and not so much in others.  Most of the sex/rape scenes are skimmed over which is good.  I must admit the author did a good job in detailing this world and its people, bringing this world to life.

Overall it was a bit of a heavy book.  I will say in parts I was just glad to get through.  Yet I did enjoy the book and believe that these parts I had trouble with also set up for everything else in the story to come.  The book is the foundation for the rest of the series.  I just think some readers will be turned off by the detail and length in which not much seems to happen.  It can get a bit dry but if the reader pushes through I believe they will enjoy the last half of the book more.  The action starts to pick up and we start seeing little cracks in how the world is perceived by Damen.  How, Damen, may be wrong about a lot of what he believes.  Excellent writing and overall solid read.

rose-5

Shane and Trey by Anyta Sunday

Shane and TreyShane and Trey by Anyta Sunday
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  268 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  2
 

Shane is a little bit screwed, he’s just started college and stuck rooming with that bastard Trey. His sister’s boyfriend. His sister’s damn fine boyfriend. Uh-oh. This so wasn’t going to happen. But try as he might, there’s just a little too much to ignore between the two of them…

This was a nice read.  I think there is the need of some editing but it isn’t HORRIBLE.  Shane and his twin June are getting ready for college.  They along with June’s boyfriend Trey are all going to the same school which is close by.  Shane and Trey aren’t friendly.  Trey gave Shane a “wedgey” after a game of field hockey that Shane’s team won.  Shane avoided Trey when he could.  Unfortunately for Shane Trey ends up being his roommate at college.  Things begin happening between the two that starts to make Shane wonder if Trey likes him.  Worst of all Shane finds himself returning the feelings.

This was a mostly sweet romance.  I thought there would be more trouble with June in the whole mixture.  I don’t really feel there was cheating though it did come close a time or two.  The unfortunate thing is there were a lot of things that threw me out of the story.  I could tell the author wasn’t American and I had a really hard time figuring out where the story was set.  There were a lot of slang words used overseas but not in America yet it seemed that the author set it in America.  I’m still confused over that.

I also think the whole thing with Trey’s family was a bit overdone.  I don’t think parents would be that remote to their child over an incident like that.  I just didn’t see that.  There were also a few threads left hanging.  I don’t think it really detracted from the story but the story itself didn’t feel as complete because of that.

Overall it was a good read but just didn’t hit the mark for me.  I really wanted to like it and the overall underlying story line is good but the writing just made it too difficult to stay with the story.

rose-2

Yes, Sir by Ellis Carrington

Interestingly lit male body against a blue wallYes, Sir by Ellis Carrington
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Short Story:  10,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Smashwords
Roses:  2
 

A New Orleans vacation takes an interesting turn when Grayson Harper lets a friend drag him along to see a voodoo priestess for a love spell. Suddenly he’s having very vivid dreams about a mystery man that seem all too real, and doing things in them he never thought possible. But what will become of the man of his dreams once he leaves the magic of the French quarter?

This is a short free story.  Grayson is a workaholic.  He hasn’t taken a vacation in six years because of his need to make sure his company is growing and succeeding.  While on vacation with his oldest friends he sees a voodoo priestess and begins dreaming of a man.  This man gives him everything he didn’t think he wanted in his sex life but it is only a dream.

Grayson is disowned by his family after coming out to them.  It is implied that that is why he is so focused and determined with his company.  He is a bit of a control freak and has promised his friends to try and relax for this vacation.  Grayson dreams after seeing a voodoo priestess of a man that takes control that ties him up and gives him pain something Grayson would have never believed would turn him on so much.  Grayson finds himself obsessed with his dream man.

This story is good but a little light.  I think this is due to the length.  There is only so much that can be fit into a story this long.  I felt like the beginning just drops you into the middle of this man’s life and gives the bare bones to catch you up.  As far as Grayson’s dream man we know little about him either.  I would have hard time believing this story if the two characters started acting like they were in love but that isn’t how the story ends.  Really this story didn’t end in a way that was unexpected or different.  I actually enjoyed the story but in a way I already knew most of what was coming the only real thing that was different to this story than others I have read in the same vein was the BDSM.

rose-2

Triangle: The Complete Series by Susann Julieva and Romelle Engel

Triangle The Complete SeriesTriangle: The Complete Series by Susann Julieva and Romelle Engel
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  124,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  3
 

When James falls in love with Casey, he knows he is in for trouble. Not only is Casey his best friend, he is also straight – or so James thinks, until notorious heartbreaker Danny Rizzo completely shakes things up. With troubled Nick adding his very own demons to the mix, nothing is set, and no-one is safe from surprises. Soon James finds himself faced with the question: Who does he really want to be with? For only one of them will stand by him as he struggles to face a chilling secret buried in his past…

Unique and unconventional, Triangle was first published chapter by chapter on the internet, growing novel-length without being a novel in the classical sense. It is a love story told in fragments, granting glimpses into the complex relationships between James, Danny, Casey, and Nick while always leaving room for imagination.

 Excerpt

To listen to the description of this book becomes very confusing.  There is James, who is THE central character, Casey, James’s best friend and crush, Danny, who likes James and who Casey likes, and last is Nick who comes in about halfway through and is REALLY into Danny.  Yes, this sounds really confusing.  But the first part deals with the triangle of James, Casey, and Danny.  James is a loner who really doesn’t like people.  Casey is way sweet.  He really has no clue when it comes to life.  James has been into Casey for a long time but thinks Casey is too good for him and straight.  Danny is the popular boy that everyone wants and wants to be.  Danny is a thorn in James’s side.  James has seen Danny go through sex companions like tissue.  When he realizes that Casey wants Danny James tries all he can to get Danny to leave.  James really hates Danny.  Suddenly though Danny turns James’s world upside down and shows that he is after James!  Casey wins though when he finds out that James loves him.

The story continues on from there and without giving away everything I will go on to says Nick comes in about halfway through.  Nick is a druggie and alcoholic.  He is in theater with Danny.  Danny sleeps with Nick in order to make James jealous, because James even with Casey finds himself wanting Danny.

Danny is terrible.  He uses people to get what he wants.  He has no idea what it is like to not get something.  He is a spoiled brat that even though he changes with the story I still can’t like.  James isn’t much better but at least I can understand him.  He is cold but is damaged.  He honestly is at heart a good guy just a bit broken.  Casey and Nick aren’t delved into as much.  Casey seems way too…nice.  He is a goody, goody times two.  He is a hard character to believe.  Nick is a totally broken character.  I really felt for Nick.  He is used by Danny and just when he tries to reach out he is rebuffed.  Yes, Nick was an unlikable character for quite a while but he knows it and when given the chance changes.

The authors did a good job of getting the readers into the characters.  The read itself is choppy and jumpy.  This was originally written in chapters online as described.  Still I think the back and forth in time frames was at times difficult to follow and made the reading not flow well.  The changing POV’s were nice in giving us a bit more insight into the other characters.  James being the main force in the story didn’t change but our thoughts of the other characters were influenced by the changes.  They were a good strategy for the reader to sympathize or at least understand the characters and situations from each character’s viewpoint.

Overall, I liked the story.  I thought the concept of the story was a different one and that drew me into reading.  The style of writing could have been smoother even given how it was originally written.  I think also the ultimate turnaround in James, Casey, and Danny wasn’t very believable.  I just couldn’t grasp their changes.  Nick’s was the most realistic.  Though James is the character of focus I didn’t really connect with him like I did Nick.  I think in the end the story pales for me after reading about Nick.  His story just hit me more and seemed to contain a better “feel”.  The three other characters just seemed a bit immature in their relationships.  I do believe by the end the others had made quite the turnaround but they lost something coming to that point.

rose-3

An Intrepid Trip to Love by Charlie Cochet

An Intrepid Trip to LoveAn Intrepid Trip to Love by Charlie Cochet
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novella:  34,445 Words
Purchase at All Romance eBooks, LLC
Roses:  4
 

Tristan ‘Trip’ Hagan is a Husky shifter who was born to be the Hagan Clan’s next Alpha, a position of honor and nobility, a position he never wanted and was all too happy to pass onto his younger brother. But when they discovered his brother couldn’t have pups, the responsibility of continuing the Hagan Alpha line fell back to Trip. At the tender age of eighteen, Trip gave in under the weight of the Hagan Council’s demand for him to fulfill his duty, but after years of struggling to uphold his family’s traditions, Trip found the courage to do what no other Hagan Alpha had done in the history of the clan: he came out.

With his Enforcers—the Devil Dogs, at his side, Trip won the battle against the Council, who attempted to banish him and take his young son away. His victory allowed him to remain within the clan and raise Robbie. Now five years later, the dust has settled, and Trip is living a happy life with his cheeky pup and their own little makeshift family. Brook—Robbie’s mother, her true mate Deacon, and the Devil Dogs are the only ones who support Trip and know of his heartache.

True mates within canine shifter clans are very rare, but Trip has had one since he can remember. Despite losing his heart to Boone twenty years ago, Trip holds little hope of ever getting to bond with the sexy Enforcer, as it’s against clan laws for pure-bloods to bond with half-breeds. How much longer can Trip and Boone resist the longing in their hearts? With the call from their feral halves to seal the bond growing stronger by the day, can Trip and Boone find a way to be together without losing everything?

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

For a short story it is very well written.  I loved the idea of a husky shifter.  Trip is so funny and sarcastic.  He loves Boone so much, you could see the two of them just wanted to be together so bad.  I was very surprised that they stayed apart as long as they did.  This part seemed a little ill defined to me.  It was very vague about why they didn’t fight harder for their right to be together.  I could understand it until Trip came out but it didn’t make much sense after that.  Still I loved the mystery of what was happening to Trip and what the two became.  Fun story that wasn’t a complex read.  It is really wonderful that the author did this as a free story due to a prompt in the M/M Goodreads Group.

rose-4

After Midnight by Santino Hassell

After MidnightAfter Midnight by Santino Hassell
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  85,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  5
 

Gordon Frost is a survivor. He survived a war that ravaged the nation, and he made it through the orphanages and crime-ridden slums that followed. With few prospects for the future, Gordon carved out a niche for himself in the expanding drug trade of Lexington, PA. It’s not pretty, but it’s his, and it beats what he was doing before. But a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a brush with death, going by the name of Adam. Afterward, the life that seemed good enough before, isn’t quite the same.

Adam Blake is an assassin on the brink of being terminated by the very organization that controls him. He completed his mission, but not without being seen. With his secrets in danger of being exposed by Gordon, Adam knows he should kill the smart-mouthed redhead, but finds himself intrigued by the troublesome civilian instead.

When Gordon’s knack for finding trouble combines with the dangerous consequences of Adam’s indecision, their worlds intertwine in an explosive way.

Excerpt

This is a standalone book that is a spinoff of “In the Company of Shadows”.  Gordon is a drug dealer.  He has been mostly alone all his life.  Orphaned and a sole survivor of a bombed elementary school during the war, he made his own way.  He has one friend, Carla, who is fierce in her protection of him.  Gordon and Carla are family to each other.  Adam is an assassin whose mission has gone wrong.  Looking to hide out until things cool off, he runs into Gordon.  Unfortunately for Gordon Adam can’t leave a witness, The Agency does not allow that.  Adam though goes against policy and lets Gordon live but keeps a close eye on him.  The two are forced into close proximity again when Adam’s next mission is to infiltrate Gordon’s drug group.  The two men are like magnets.  On the one hand they really repulse each other, but when close the sparks just fly and they can’t stay away from each other.

The author has created a wonderful book.  The writing is excellent.  The descriptions of the world and people are vivid and telling.  The characters are gritty and dark.  They aren’t “nice” guys but have some softness in them that sneaks out every once in a while.  The characters are perfectly flawed people.  I love that the use of the secondary characters wasn’t shadowy.  The author gives you authentic characters that have depth to them.  You don’t get to know how they really think or react all the time but they are solid and make you notice them.

This is a dark and gritty book.  As such it isn’t always pretty what occurs.  There are times you get angry with the characters and/or situations, there is violence, and there is unpredictability.  That is what makes this an excellent read.  The ending is very much in line with the book.  I have hopes there will be a follow up book since I would love to see more of these characters but if the author leaves it as it is it is still a compelling story.

rose-5