...Bookfanatic

 

Happiness is a cup of coffee and a really good book.

I can't say that this is the best story in the series...but...

Fish on a Bicycle - Amy Lane

I can say without reservation that for me, this is the best story to date and believe me when I say that's not an easy statement to make because I absolutely love this series. I have loved every word of every book.

 

Is this the best series ever written...I don't know and I really think that's a very subjective decision to be made but for me this series is absolutely delightful and I have read and/or listened to the audio books several times and I admit it, I wasn't even finished with this book before I started wondering how soon the audio book will be available.

 

If you read the last book than you know Jackson and Ellery were both left pretty battered and bruised at the end of things and to top it all off. The law firm that Ellery was with has cut him loose and without hesitation Jackson and Jade let them know how they felt about it when they resigned with a touch of class that only Jackson and Jade could manage.

 

There's a lot going on in this story with the new office and proving Henry's innocence and keeping their relationship on track and keeping Jackson in one piece because this man needs a village just to do that.

 

So here we are at the start of a new book and there's a new law office in town or there will be soon...but needless to say their first case isn't going to wait until they've officially opened their doors...so enter...Henry...some of you may recognize this name from one of Ms Lane's other series namely 'The Johnnies' and I have to admit I'm not part of that group but I plan on remedying that oversight one day soon. However, it does put me in the position of being able to say that you can easily read this story without benefit of having read 'The Johnnies' so carry on reading my friends you'll be fine.

 

As Ellery and Jackson race to prove that Henry didn't commit a murder that someone seems to really, really want Henry to take the fall for Jackson is also forced to take a closer look at who he is and what he wants but more importantly he has to come to come to grips with what he needs to do to get it because more than anything Jackson wants his dream the one that gives him his happily ever after with Ellery. 

 

I really can't say that I have a favorite when it comes to Ellery and Jackson...just that I adore them both for different reasons but one of the things that I really love about Ellery is how determined he is to be the man that Jackson needs. On paper I'm not sure that Jackson and Ellery would work but in their world they work and they work well.

 

As I mentioned before I haven't read Ms Lane's 'Johnnies' series, not that hit hasn't been on my radar because it has and the glimpse that I got of some of the characters from that series in this story has convinced me that I need to remedy this situation and I'm sure that once I do, I'll be revisiting this story and enjoying it even more than I did the first time.

 

For as much as I enjoyed the mystery in this story and I did really enjoy it, I loved the growth that happened with and between Jackson and Ellery and for as much as I enjoyed this story and I totally loved this one...I also loved what came after the story...you see there's a bonus in this book after it's all said and done Ms Lane has given us more...LUCY SATAN!!! Otherwise known as Ellery's mom. Without fail she is my favorite book mother. This woman is simply the best. She's my role model and if my son ever says that I'm just like Lucy Satan than I'll know I did good.

 

Of all the m/m stories that I've read and there have been a few, if I had to list my top ten favorite couples Jackson and Ellery would absolutely be on that list and very probably in the top 5.

 

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An ARC of "Fish on a Bicycle" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There's work, there's vacations, there are working vacations and then there's...

Flame and Ash - Morgan Brice

Before I get into anything in terms of specifics let me just say if you haven't read the previous stories in this series and by read I mean read or listened to the audio, I strongly recommend doing this to get the full background on Seth and Evan. Also this series connects to the authors "Badlands" series and to some of her stories that are written under the authors name of Gail Z. Martin. However, when it comes to reading these stories or even the 'Badlands' stories it's definitely an individual choice. While I've read the 'Badlands' series, I haven't read any of the other stories that are connected to this series and so far I haven't found it to be a problem.

 

Seth and Evan met back in the first book when Seth rescued Evan from one of the dark witch Rhyfel Gremory's disciples (for more on this just read the blurb). Since then these two have discovered that they have a few things in common the most important being that they're attracted to each other and they both want to see Gremory's disciples defeated to ensure not just their safety but that of the descendants of the deputies who originally destroyed Gremory. 

 

I've been enjoying this series on audio but when the opportunity for this story was presented I decided that I didn't want to wait for the audio...not that I won't get it when it's available because rest assured...I will. But I was just to curious to see what was in store for Seth and Evan as they travel to North Carolina seeking to once again do battle with one of Gremory's disciples and save yet another descendant of the orginal posse and this time they've got help...not just the intended victim and his boyfriend but the boys are meeting up with Milo and Toby, Seth's mentors in the demon hunting world.

 

Things have definitely stepped up in this one because if fighting these otherworldly bad guys wasn't challenging before this time around it seems that the bad guy knows they're coming and he seems to be more powerful than the disciples that Seth and Evan have encountered so far and he seems to have a whole lot more help.

 

I love a good mystery/adventure type story I have to admit I don't usually go for stories that delve into the supernatural quite as much as this series seems to but as with all things 'never say never' because I am all in on this one. These stories work for me, while the details are enough to give me a solid sense of the paranormal it's done without any real horror, which totally works for me.

 

I've also enjoyed seeing Seth and Evan's relationship grow to the point where both men are starting to feel like they could have a future together as long as they survive fighting Gremory's disciples and the other things that go bump in the night that they seem to encounter along the way.  

 

And not to surprisingly I also lost a little bit of sleep with this one, but it wasn't due to the spooky stuff...nope, it was a case of 'I just need to read one more page...' and we all know how things go when you fall down that rabbit hole...just one more...no really just one more...and then before I knew it, I was out of pages. Well done dear author, well done.

 

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An ARC of 'Flame and Ash' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I think I failed this class...

Hard Lessons - Samuel   King

This one just didn't work for me. So please just sail on by me when you're reading reviews because I don't know maybe I was having a bad day or a day with unrealistic expectations but whatever it was things went south on this one really fast and stayed there...the one saving grace for me was it was short.

This whole series would make for some awesome Halloween listening...

The Rising - Morgan Brice

‘The Rising’ is the second full length novel in Morgan Brice’s ‘Badlands’ series and I can honestly say without reservation I should not like this series…I mean seriously it’s paranormal, there are ghost and demons and all kinds of things that go bump in the night and yet here I am firmly entrenched in it.

 

If you’re someone who likes all of that stuff with a solid dose of romance added as well than I definitely encourage you to check out this series and honestly you could probably pick up this book and not be lost but my suggestion is to start at the beginning so that you can get all of the background for Simon and Vic and their relationship as well as having a chance to meet the secondary characters who appear throughout ‘The Badlands’ stories, before diving into this latest book but then I’d also say if you like audio books this series is absolutely delightful to listen to on audio with Kale Williams doing an absolutely fan-freakin-tastic job as the narrator for this series, I think for me this is a very solid part of the reason that I’ve been enjoying the series so much.…so I just used the word ‘delightful’ when talking about stories with ghost and demons and who knows what else in them…yeah, my world just tilted on it’s axis a little.

 

Every bit as unusual as the genre for me is the setting. I have to admit when I think of settings for ghost stories…Myrtle Beach is not at the top of my list but that’s where these stories takes place and as unusual as that might seem to some…like me, the author’s made it work…I guess when you think about it you can probably find ghost anywhere if you know how and where to look, but I have to admit when I think of ghost I think of places that resound with age and history…places like New Orleans, Savannah or even older places that you’d find an ocean away in Europe. So even though it’s a little thing taking a location that’s normally associated with sun and fun and using it as the setting for stories about ‘things that go bump in the night’ adds that touch of different that can sometimes make a story stand out a little bit more than it otherwise might have.

 

‘The Rising’ takes place as Myrtle Beach is preparing to face one of the worst storms it’s seen in years...it’s a storm that’s not just promising to cause possible death and destruction in the present but it’s churning up things from the past…things that should have stayed buried in the depth of the oceans waters, things that could prove to be far more lethal to some than a mere tropical storm.

 

It’s going to take Simon, Vic and Simon’s network of friends as well as some help from beyond the grave to put the past to rest this time. I’m very much a fan of Vic and Simon and they’re fast becoming a favorite pairing of mine and while I love the parts of the story that deal with their growing relationship, I have to admit there was more than one occasion when we were getting some Simon and Vic time that this reader was all about getting back to the rest of the story. I was very solidly hooked into what was happening with the storm and all of the ghost…pirates, villains and others. I loved the rich and colorful history that the author created for this part of the story with it’s tale of pirates, intrigue and betrayal and if that’s not enough to make you curious there’s always the curse of the Gallow’s Nine and yes, you’ll need to read the book to find out what that’s all about.

 

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An audio book of ‘The Rising’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Just color me happy when it comes to this series...

The Good Green Earth (Colors of Love #3) - V.L. Locey

‘The Good Green Earth’ is the third book in V.L. Locey’s ‘Colors of Love’ series and when I started reading this one, I expected that I’d enjoy the story. What I didn’t expect was that this would become my favorite story in the series so far, as a matter of fact in all honesty once I actually started reading the story I began to think that this one might not be for me at all. This was mostly due to the fact that Nathan Zinkan and I just didn’t get off to a good start…as in I was really not a fan of his attitude, his behavior…of him in general but I was determined to stick with it on this one. I’ve enjoyed the previous books and a lot of other stories written by Ms Locey, so I decided to go on faith and stick with it for a bit longer on this one…turned out to be a good decision on my part.

 

I loved how the relationship progressed in this story. Specifically, how the age difference was dealt with. There was a time when an age gap as considerable as this one and with the potential power imbalance that could result because of the individual ages of the MCs would have garnered a big ole ‘no thanks’ from me and while I’ve gotten better about this over the past year or two, I have to admit, this one still pushed my limits but sometimes you’ve just ‘gotta have faith’.

 

While Nathan was a bit of a hard sell for me at the beginning because what we were given was a young man who appeared to have it all including the sense of entitlement that sometimes comes with it. Fortunately as the story progresses, we get a deeper look at Nathan’s past and a lot of what has led him to become the person that he is…some of which is good and some not so good. Most importantly in regard to Nathan though is we see how he changes, and this is a big part of why this ended up being a 5 star read for me. In spite of his faults Nathan is someone who tends more often than not to see the half full part of his glass and he’s definitely not afraid to live life to the fullest and while this maybe needs to be tempered a bit that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad trait…just one that would benefit from some better life choices and a bit more maturity. Both are things that Nate starts to gain as he begins to pursue a relationship with Bran and reflect on the events that have led to his current circumstances taking him from being a character that I didn’t like very much to someone that I was rooting for…a character that I genuinely cared about and wanted to see succeed…in the end Nathan became someone who I’d be proud to have as my kid.

 

Bran is considerably older than Nathan and when they first meet, he sees in Nathan everything he loves and everything he hates. It’s in spite of his reservations that Bran takes Nate on as part of a community service program and on a more personal level this is Bran’s way of keeping a promise to someone who meant everything to him.

 

While Bran’s a bit broken in his own way, he’s also had more time and a better support system to help him deal with things and he’s got a whole lot more life experience to fall back on when it comes to decision making in general. Most importantly Bran’s nature seems to lean towards being compassionate and supportive something Nate’s had little of in his life and here at his personal crossroads it’s what he now needs the most.

 

On the surface Nathan and Bran really don’t seem to have a lot in common, but as the story progresses the reader discovers that each man has a story to tell and each story is heartbreakingly unique and integral to the person that each of them has become and to what they bring to the relationship and each other.

 

There were a few interesting secondary characters in this story such as Bran’s niece, Dixie and the seniors who tended the community gardens at Bran’s garden center. They added an awesome touch of humor, color and insight as many seniors often do in real life, especially Maggie who maybe makes some pretty yummy brownies. As for family Bran as well as his niece Dixie he also has an aunt and uncle who pretty much raised him. While Nate has an ailing father, a major jerk of a brother and a mother…who’s somewhere doing someone…so essentially Nate is on his own. While these characters definitely help to flesh out the story adding to the overall interest from start to finish it’s Nathan and Bran and their relationship that unfailingly remain the focus of things.

 

I loved some of the details that were woven into this story and while they may not have been integral to the story they also added depth and texture to the story and simply put, for me this all added to my overall enjoyment of the story…yeah, I confess I’m totally a Neil Diamond fan…my recommendation put on the Neil Diamond and check out this book it’s a beautiful second chance story even if you haven’t read the first two books in the series you’ll be fine with this one and who knows you may find yourself wanting to go back to the beginning. I know I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

 

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An ARC of ‘The Good Green Earth’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Back in March this was the first of my summertime stories...

Family Camp - Eli Easton, Matthew Shaw

and now as summer comes to a close it seems that I’m going to wrap up the warm weather season with this story on audio.

 

So here I sit at what is nearly the end of summer and the end of this book once again feeling all warm and mushy and a puddle of summer lovin’ goo! I’ve I loved sweet, nerdy, sexy, school teacher, Geo and hot, successful baseball star Travis before I adore them all the more now for the depth that Matthew Shaw has given to them with his narration. These two men are every bit as hot on audio as they were on page or e-reader screen as the case may be.

 

‘Family Camp’ is a story of a summer love that became something more. Geo and Travis meet for the first time when Geo runs out of gas and Travis comes to his rescue. While these men come from very different backgrounds…Travis is adopted and stays firmly in his closet despite having a large and loving family, while may not be leading any Pride Parades he’s also not in the closet and is an only child with loving parents.

 

I loved how instinctively supportive Geo and Travis were of each other…neither of them had to ask for this, it was instinctive for them…if you love someone, then you’ve got their back. It’s not a ‘lover’s thing or a married couples thing…it’s a sibling thing, a parent thing…ultimately it’s a friend thing and for as fast as the romance happened it was grounded in friendship, one of the best foundations for any relationship that I can think of.

 

‘Family Camp’ is a sweet, low angst story and while there was a little bit of miscommunication between our MCs it didn’t  become over the top, blown out of proportion drama because the MCs were adult enough to talk it out, rather than ass-u-me they knew everything. So, in the end it all came down to a case of miscommunication without lack of communication to blowing it out of proportion and for me this felt like a real-life thing.

 

As well as the romance between Geo and Travis the story focuses on Geo’s efforts to solidify his relationship with Jayden and Lucy. Geo’s whole being resonated with not just how much he wanted a family but how much he wanted that family to begin with Jayden and Lucy.  He’s someone that any child would be blessed to have in their lives.

The fact that I frequently found myself sitting back, closing my eyes and picturing the whole summer camp scene and letting much of the book playout like a movie in my mind’s eye speaks to the fact that the narrator did a solid job narrating this audio book, since one of my favorite things about audio books is that I can listen to them while I’m working on one of my craft projects whether it’s needlework or quilting.

 

Even though I missed out on the camp experience as a child Matt Shaw’s narration of Ms Easton’s ‘Family Camp’ has made my experience at ‘Camp Evermore’ with it’s s’mores, campfires, scary stories and campy camp songs one of the highlights of my summer reading experiences.

 

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An audio book of ‘Family Camp’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes it's the things we want the most...

Stand In Place - Mary Calmes, Greg Boudreaux

That are the hardest things to keep...

 

There's a romance in this story and it's sweet and I enjoyed it a lot but what really captured my attention and my heart in this story was the other part of this story...the one about family.

 

'Family' is really such an abstract word. It holds different meanings for all of us. For me it's that group of people who are there for you no matter what, it's your shelter from the storm that can be the rest of the world...family it's unconditional love and acceptance...it's something that we all want but don't always get. So yeah, I could go on and on about how important...how special I think family is but I think I've made my point...family when it's the way it should be is magical.

 

Kaenon thought he had that special family until they threw him out but that was also when he learned that sometimes the family we have isn't the one we need and just like so many other things in life...families shift and change. 

 

When Kaenon's family threw him out it was his grandparents and his aunt who were there to create an new family for him...to be the family that he needed to take him into adulthood and give him the love that he needed to go out into the world and make a life for himself...to leave Braxton, Texas and not return...until over a decade later when his grandmother...the last member of the family that saved him calls him home, to spend her final summer with her.

 

'Stand in Place' is set at the beginning of that summer and Kaenon's determined to spend that summer with his grandmother and then return to his home and the life he's made away from Braxton. What Kaenon doesn't realize is that his grandmother's plans for the summer don't include just sitting around waiting to die. Nope, grandma's determined to make sure that Kaenon's family once again shifts to make sure that the grandchild she helped raise isn't alone that he has a family to love him...to give him back the family that years ago failed him.

 

I have to admit I don't think I would have been as quick to forgive as Kaenon was especially towards his father and having brothers and sisters of my own I get why he might have been more willing to forgiving his brother and sister, I get how much he missed having them in his life.

 

There's a fine line being walked when someone is seeking/giving forgiveness...how soon is too soon? and at what point has it gone from giving forgiveness to handing out retribution? and those are questions that have to be determined by each person on an individual basis. 

 

This story held a plethora of secondary characters that were all intriguing in their own right but most of all I was enchanted with Keanon's grandmother (Jo as she preferred to be called) this woman is the grandmother we all would love to have and she was delightful and not to forget Kaenon's love interest 'Brody'.

 

Brody was the high school football star, best friend to Kaenon's brother and Kaenon's had a crush on Brody that goes all the way back to high school...it's a crush that Kaenon doesn't realize has been reciprocated for years. But now that he's got a second chance Brody's not going to let Kaenon slip away without putting up a fight.

 

Last but not least there's Jo's garden...over the years it's gone to ruin and now Jo want's Brody to restore it to help bring it back to its former glory. There's so much symbolism to this garden. The connection that Kaenon's family holds to the land...the connection they hold to the community and so many other things. I enjoyed the potential sybolisms that are loosely woven into the is part of the story allowing the reader to put their own interpretation on them.

 

Ok, so by now it's pretty obvious that for me this story just worked and I really enjoyed it, but I need to add that this was also due in no small part to the wonderful narration provided by Greg Boudreaux. I have no doubt in my mind that when I do my annual... semi-annual...quarterly...re-listen of my Mary Calmes audio collection, this one will be on my list...I don't have them all if her books on audio but I'm working on it!

I may have been late to the party for this series...but...

One-Eyed Royals - Cordelia Kingsbridge, Wyatt Baker

I'm so glad I came. 'One-Eyed Royals' is the fourth book in Cordelia Kingsbridge's 'Seven of Spades' series and once again I've enjoyed listening to Wyatt Baker provide the voices and narration for the fourth book in this series.

 

One of the things that I always hope for when I'm listening to a series on audio is that I'll have the same narrator from start to finish...well, provided I like the narrator that is and suffice it to say that here I am with just one more book to go and after very happily having the same narrator for the first four books, I definitely have my fingers crossed that this doesn't change. I've not only enjoyed Wyatt Baker's narration for these stories so far but for me his voices have become the voices of Levi and Dominic and I'm really hoping that this won't change.

 

This one started just a few weeks after the ending of 'Cash Plays' where we were left with Levi and Dom's each struggling with their personal demons and a relationship that was in shreds. While some time may have passed between then and now, it's not been enough to change anything for Levi and Dom or the Seven of Spades, who's still terrorizing the city of Los Vegas. Only this time the SoS is taking things to an even more personal level, where Levi's concerned, when it comes to their victims.

 

Originally my plan as to read this series but as is sometimes the case time got away from me and the next thing I knew the audio books were available, so with all the awesome reviews out there the one thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted to enjoy this series and the other thing that I knew for sure was that I'd get there quicker with the audio books so here I am all caught up...hush now, book 5 isn't on audio...yet, so yes I'm technically all caught up. But rest assured when that 5th book is released on audio, I will be all over that one.

 

While I ended up enjoying this story just as much as the previous books, I do admit that 'One-Eyed Royals' got off to a bit of a shaky start for me. While I had thought I was prepared for the relationship angst that would come in this one and for the most part I was I found both Levi and Dom's behavior a bit frustrating at the beginning of the story. Don't get me wrong neither of them really behaved any differently than I'd thought they might but it seems that didn't stop me from being frustrated with their behavior. Fortunately this didn't last and before I knew it I was back on board with things and totally enjoying the story.

 

'Seven of Spades' is one of those series that the reader needs to read in order and start from the beginning to really grasp all the details and intricacies of the story and for me that was made vividly clear with the change that occurred in the SoS's choice of victims. The killer's always had a special affinity for Levi but this time around things become even more personal for Levi, making him even more determined to bring the Seven of Spades killer to justice but there's another case that keeps Levi and Dom crossing paths and ultimately has an equally strong personal connection for Levi. 

 

This one was action packed and busy...at times I needed a score card to keep track of who was killing whom but in the end once the dust settled it was the 'Seven of Spades' who stepped into the spotlight and set everyone straight. 

 

There's just one more book to go in this series to find out how things end for Levi, Dom and the Seven of Spades killer and as disappointed as I am to have this end because it's been a hella' good ride. I'm equally as curious to know the things...all the things.

 

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An audio book of 'One-Eyed Royals' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A solid start to a new series by a new to me author...

Couldn't Cheat Death - Armand Eisen

I really enjoyed this audio book. 'Couldn't Cheat Death' is a new to me author's book, narrated by Kale Williams a familiar to me narrator and one that I've recently enjoyed while listening to Morgan Brice's 'Badlands' & 'Witchbane' series and now I'll be adding A.P. Eisen's 'Paul Monroe Mystery' series to that list of series that I enjoy on audio.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing where things go for the formerly closeted Detective Paul Monroe and the man who's made him want more in his life than just his job. This is going to be an interesting pairing and I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship will change as they work together to solve whatever life throws at them.

I have a soft spot for mature MCs...

Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings - Nell Iris

and yes, it might be, at least in part, because I fall into the mature category when talking about age...so let's take a minute and talk age...

 

I know for some when it comes to their MCs...age is the least of their concerns and for others...it's a big deal and then there's that in between group where it matters but it's not a deal breaker. I think for the most part that's the group that I fall into and while my reading experiences have covered a fairly wide age range, I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for mature MCs and 'Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings' has definitely touched that soft spot with a sweet story of not one but two men who are approaching the big '50' and while each man may have had his share of relationships they also find themselves at a point in their lives where neither of them is in or looking to be in a relationship...it's not that they're opposed to it...they're just not looking for it.

 

Oren's a bachelor with a successful career that unfortunately involves some travel but he's still very much involved in his mother's life. 

 

While Pete works from home, is divorced from his wife, but still friend with whom he's raised 2 kids and spent the past twenty years sharing a life with.

 

Oren just wants to thank his mom's neighbor for helping her out when she broke her leg and when he knocks on Pete's door both men quickly realize that they just might be open to something happening between them after all.

 

This is a sweet and little to no angst story about two mature men, who while comfortable with their lives and not actively looking for anything more...when opportunity knocks, each is willing to take a chance and open the door to see what's waiting for them.

 

I'm not usually a fan of short stories and at only 60ish pages "Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings" definitely falls into that category but I think in this case the author has made the right choice in giving a sweet but short story that moves at a steady pace holding the readers interest rather than trying for something that's long and drawn out and possibly fails to hold the readers attention. 

 

Sometimes it's good to take a short break from reading longer stories that are action packed but emotionally draining and give something a chance that may be shorter but at the end has you smiling and feeling like your batteries have recharged and leaves you thinking "Wow! That was really nice".

 

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An ARC of 'Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Like many others I was more than a little sad when...

Coast to Coast - F. Scott Fitzgerald, V.L. Locey

'The Harrisburg Railers' came to an end...but all that changed with 'Coast to Coast' the first book in the 'Arizona Raptors', RJ Scott and V.L. Locey's latest series and the much awaited  spin off to 'The Harrisburg Railers'.

 

Before Mark Westman-Reid's father died, he did two things that at first notice most would consider to be more than a little foolish...first... he signed Rowan Carmichael to leave his job coaching university level hockey and move to Arizona to try and save what most would consider one of, if not the worst team in professional hockey...The Arizona Raptors. It would take less time to explain what was good about this team than what isn't. The Raptors are a disaster of epic proportions and the second thing that father Westman-Reid did was in his will because if his brothers can't convince Mark to come home for one year and help them try to save the Raptors...the family will loose everything...well, everyone except Mark that is because when his father rejected him for being gay, Mark made his own way in the world and has managed to create a very successful modelling agency that doesn't depend on the wealth of the Westman-Reid family or the success of a failing hockey team.

 

I've been anxiously awaiting this newest venture into the world of hockey by this writing duo and I can happily say that I have not been disappointed. 'Coast to Coast' has laid the groundwork for a series that promises to deliver stories and characters that are every bit as enjoyable as we were treated to with 'The Harrisburg Railers' stories. 

 

In 'Coast to Coast' as well as meeting Mark and Rowan we are introduced to the rest of the Westman-Reid family and several members of the Raptors including some that we have met before in both 'The Harrisburg Railers' and 'Owatonna U Hockey' series. 

 

I really liked Mark and Rowan...their personalities, the banter and interaction between them, the way they challenged each other...this pairing worked for me and I'm really hoping that the trend of having characters recur in subsequent stories continues and we get to see more of these two. 

 

Mark may not know hockey, but when it comes to running a successful business he's no slouch and if the Raptors want to have a hope in hades of getting back on their feet they're going to need all the help they can get. It's going to take Mark, his brothers and the sister that is not only determined to see the Raptors turn around as a team but to see her family reunited as well.

 

The Raptors are a mess and as well as proving to the upper management (code talk for the Westman-Reid family) that he is the man they need to get their team back on track but it's going to take a lot of changes the least of which is getting some fresh blood among the players, losing some of the more toxic veterans on the team...members that those who have read the Railers series will be more than happy to see go the way of the dodo bird and then there's the coaching staff that needs to be sorted out as well...it's going to be a challenging job and then some.

 

It's not always a given that enjoying a series will mean you like anything that spins off from it, so I'm definitely calling it a win that for me 'Coast to Coast' has gotten this series off to as good of a start as I had with 'The Harrisburg Railers' and I'm already anticipating reading whatever comes next for this team.

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An ARC of 'Coast to Coast' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

I was a little nervous going into this one...

The Mystery of the Bones - C.S. Poe

...because it's been said that all good things must come to an end and while I know that this is the end of the road for this series I was also a bit nervous that...given how my luck works sometimes, this might also be the end of my good-book-reading-streak. I've been on a bit of a roll with the last few books that I've read and I've really, really enjoyed them so I admit I was worried that might end with this one...not for any particular reason other than that's just how my luck rolls sometimes and because this is the final book in the series I really wanted things to end on a positive note and since I've happily given this one 5 stars I think it's safe to say that things wrapped up on a very positive note.

 

I've read each of these books and I've absolutely loved them but this one is without a doubt my favorite.  While Snow & Winter might not be everyone's cup of tea for me each story has brought hours of reading enjoyment as well as listening pleasure with the release of the audio books and seeing Calvin and Seb go from what at best could be called frenemies to a committed couple as they stumble through Seb's amateur sleuthing adventures has often been an emotional roller coaster ranging from the hilarious to breathtakingly scary but here in 'The Mystery of the Bones' Sebastian is faced with his most important case yet because not only does his future happiness depend on him solving the case, but for Calvin it could literally be a matter of life or death. 

 

Sebastian's got to rely on his own wit and cunning to figure this one out but Quinn's determined to see her partner rescued and of course Max will do whatever his boss and friend needs him to but these aren't the only people determined to help Sebastian figure things out...Neil's still around and even more surprising than the growth and change that's happened with and between Calvin and Sebastian, is the change in Neil. He's gone from someone who had me muttering 'should die in a fire' every time he was on page' to someone that I want some happy for. I think more than any other character in the story Neil has changed the most and this time he's determined to have Sebastian's back even if it cost him what means the most to him...his job. 

 

Of all the mysteries that Sebastian's had to solve this was definitely the one that had me baffled almost right until the very end. Not that I didn't have guesses as to who his adversary was, it was more a case of they were wrong and I had to keep going back to the drawing board and I love it when a mystery keeps me guessing.

 

As much as I've enjoyed this series I'm always glad when an author wraps a series up on a high note and I'm left feeling like 'wow, I really love these stories and I'm going to miss these characters' rather than 'wow, thank heavens that's over with and this could have finished 5 books ago why did I keep reading it?' and I think we've all got at least one series that we've read that fits under that last statement...I know I do because I'm one of those people who once I start reading a series I feel compelled to stick with it...I blame it on my book OCD, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

 

I'm definitely looking forward to enjoying the last two books in this series on audio when they're released and if Ms Poe shares the concessional Winter & Snow short story or coda with us...well, who am I to complain. 

 

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An ARC of The Mystery of the Bones was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ok, I'm going to go out on a limb here...

Hellion (415 Ink #3) - Rhys Ford

and say that while I'm pretty sure there will be at least 2 more books in this series because we've still got to get Luke and Bear's stories to discover and while I know I'm very much looking forward to them for me I think Ivo's story was it and by it I mean this was the story that I was truly waiting for...this was the one that was going to get 5 stars from me not because it was a five star read but because there were only 5 stars for me to give. I loved Gus's story and Mace's story got 5 stars from me because I loved it even more than Gus's but even if there'd been more than 5 stars that's what it would have gotten but Ivo...well I'd happily give it 5 stars and then some.

 

Ivo's the brother who's captured my attention and intrigued me the most from the very beginning. While his life's been easier than his brothers in some ways in other ways he's faced his own demons and still is. Ivo's spent his whole life trying to fit into boxes to make people like and accept him...to be enough but the one thing he's learned from it all is that when you try to fit into other people's boxes you end up leaving behind pieces of yourself in your efforts to conform until you feel like there's nothing left anymore.  Thankfully Ivo had his brothers to show him that not only is he enough he's more...so much more than enough. He's finally at a place in his life where he's comfortable with who he is and with the fact that the only person whose approval he truly needs is his own.

 

Ruan Nicholls grew up in a different time and lives in a different world...he grew up in a time when admitting you were gay could garner you anything from rejection by those you love to a beating or worse and as a by the book cop his world is still fairly conservative but it's changing and Ruan knows that if he doesn't want to spend his life alone than he needs to change to but somethings are easier said than done and sometimes with the right motivation a person can find the strength to do what's needed.

 

Ivo and Ruan's paths have crossed before...ten years ago when Ruan was still wearing a uniform and not a detective's badge, but Ivo was too young back then and Ruan's career was just getting started and while they found each other attractive it was a case of time and circumstance not being what it needed to be.

 

I found it so easy to relate to Ivo's family dynamics with the over bearing, well meaning but meddlesome brothers because he's the youngest and having held that position in my own family for the past 60 years. I get it...I know what it's like to be the youngest in the family, that person who no matter how old you are, what your accomplishments are or what's happened in your life to the rest of your family you're always going to be 'the baby' of the family.  it's all done out of love and good intentions but let's face it we all know what road is paved with those good intentions. 

 

Between Ivo's brothers and Ruan's internal struggle to be the man that he wanted to be and that he knew Ivo needed him to be , I enjoyed the way Ivo and Ruan's relationship developed and that they came together first as friends and then as lovers. It wasn't that the physical attraction wasn't there but once again for them it was a case of time and circumstance but I loved that they didn't let this stop the relationship from developing on a different level first before they became lovers. 

 

'Hellion' was for me one of those stories that just fell into place and worked even more so than 'Rebel' or 'Savior' and I really loved both of those books so who knows when we get to Luke and Bear's stories I may be changing my mind about which book is my favorite in this series but to be honest I'd be really surprised it that happened which is not to say that I'm not looking forward to the next one in this series. 

 

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An ARC of 'Hellion' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ok so I know I’ve said this before but it bears repeating…

Gentleman Wolf - Joanna Chambers

I’m not a big fan of historical books but when I read Ms Chamber’s ‘Enlightenment’ series I was totally enchanted I loved that series her writing was superb and each story just enchanted me…and when I saw the blurb for ‘Gentleman Wolf’…in spite of this I still had reservations because…shifters again not a big favorite for me but surprise! I was good with this part of the story as well.

 

This has all led me to the conclusion that Ms Chambers is magic. She took two of what is quite honestly my least favorite story genres and mixed them together and created something that I really, really enjoyed…magic I tell you, her writing is sheer magic!

Lindsay Somerville has been hiding in Paris and I say hiding because that’s where Francis and Marguerite have been hiding him from Duncan MacCormaic after freeing Lindsay from the dungeon, he’s been held prisoner in for years.

 

When news reaches them that Duncan is heading for Paris, Lindsay is sent to Edinburgh on business in an effort to keep him out of Duncan’s hands. His task is to acquire the Naismith Papers, the writings of a long-dead witchfinder. It’s during the commission of this task that Lindsay meets the very staid architect, Drew Nicol. The man who turns out to be Lindsay’s bond-mate.

 

Lindsay in some ways is a man who’s ahead of his times…he’s comfortable with his sexuality and while he’s not marching around advertising that he’s gay. If you pay attention the subtle signs are there for anyone who wants to see them. He’s colorful and a bit of a chameleon when it comes to both his appearance and his behavior. Lindsay’s one of the more interesting characters that I’ve encountered in a story for a while now and I really enjoyed him.

 

Drew’s drawn to Lindsay but at the same time he’s determined to fight the attraction. He’s not comfortable with Lindsay’s flamboyance and peacock attire. In some ways Drew is Lindsay’s polar opposite in terms of appearance and behavior.

 

While Drew is fighting his attraction to Lindsay…Lindsay is conflicted in his own right. He’s struggling to try and not force himself on Drew but he just can’t quite bring himself to stay away.

 

Things started out a bit on the slow side for me.  But it was when the events of Lindsay’s business and his personal life begin to get interwoven that things also begin to get really interesting. Even though Lindsay’s business isn’t directly connected to his relationship with Drew, things become increasingly intertwined and before he realizes what’s truly happening Lindsay finds himself face to face with his past and his bond-mate has been drawn into its path. A path that’s going to alter both of their futures. 

 

The dynamics between Francis, Marguerite and Lindsay seemed to be that of family and then there was Wynne who seems to be Lindsay’s Butler/manservant/companion/ friend.

 

‘Gentleman Wolf’ is the first book in Ms Chambers ‘Capital Wolves’ series and unlike some series the stories are not self contained so readers need to be prepared for the fact that the ending of this book is not the ending of Lindsay and Drew’s story and while it’s not what I would call a cliffhanger but more of a natural break in the story, I’m already looking forward to what comes next.

 

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An ARC of ‘Werewolf Gentleman’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I think I'm a little off my game on this one...

Dirty Mind - Roe Horvat, Vance Bastian

First let me just say a lot of my friends really, really liked this one...I mean 4 and 5 stars worth and while I wouldn't call 3.5 stars bad by any means, I have to admit I was sure this was going to work better for me than what it did. 

 

But let's start with some good stuff...Roe Horvat's writing...it draws me in. Whether I'm listening to an audio book or reading an e-book. There's a flow to things that just makes me want to keep going...keep reading or listening...find out what happens next...while this is by no means an excessively long story at 5 hours and 10 minutes listening to a story in one sitting can present challenges, but what can I say...challenge accepted because listen to this in one sitting is exactly what I did. 

 

Like so many others the beginning of the story worked for me. It wasn't until Alex got on the 'I'm to old, you're to young' merry-go-round that I started to get a little antsy. I got where he was coming from truly I did and especially when you throw in the fact that he's a university lecturer as well...let's face it like it or not sometimes it is about how things appear...how they're perceived and if a person is in a position of authority when it comes to young people it's something that they need to be especially cognizant of, but with Alex it became a case of 'Seriously? Who are you really trying to convince here because I don't think it's me.' and truthfully I think if truth be told Alex would agree with me on that point as well. The only person Alex was trying to convince when it came to the age gap was Alex.

 

I was also a fan of Christian. He very much seemed to be an old soul in a young man's body. Christian was sweet and he had an innocence about him but he never struck me as being naive or gullible and he often seemed to know what he wanted much to the chagrin of those around him who felt that he was too young and innocent to know his own mind...yes, I'm looking at Alex and Christian's momma right now.

 

While Alex may be the older one in this pairing, it's Christian who has the confidence and maturity to know what he wants and go after it. I liked that in the end it was Alex who had to examine his actions and take the first step towards reconciliation. That he had to figure out how to fix things between himself and Christian and how to make things work going forward. While it's often the younger person in an age gap story who has to grow the most in terms of maturing that's not always the case in the real world, so once in awhile it's a nice change to get a story where the old dog has to learn a few new tricks.

 

Vance Bastian is once again the narrator for this Roe Horvat story and once again for me, he has captured the voices of these characters perfectly. Christian's voice while that of a young man still conveys the calm and steady demeanor that we are told he has and Alex, while a bit older is the more emotional of the pairing but not to excess...in other words there are no drama queens here.

 

In hindsight I have to admit I'm already wondering if this isn't going to be one of those audio books that will sneak up on me and I'll find that after listening to it a couple more times and picked up some of the nuances of the story that I've maybe missed the first time around...well, I have to wonder if I won't also find that I like it a whole lot more than I did on this first time...I guess time will tell.

 

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An audio book of 'Dirty Mind' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Things started out well enough...

Wrecked -  B.A. Tortuga, Jodi Payne

and then it just seemed to go sideways for me.

 

To me this was a story about second chances seeking forgiveness and at the start of things that's what it felt like and than it just turned into this story about a guy recovering from a serious injury and it was all very sweet but somehow...it seemed like things were just going nowhere and while the second chances and forgiveness were obviously given and received...it all started to feel kind of pointless and things just didn't feel right.

 

So at the end of the day this one didn't work for me and maybe it was a case of the wrong time, wrong story...so lets go with that. This just wasn't the story I was wanting to read and who knows maybe if I'd read it last month or next month I would have loved it but I didn't, I read it when I read it and my mindset wasn't in the right place to fully appreciate it...so it was what it was and things didn't work out for me as well as I'd hoped this time but...there's always next time, right?

 

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A copy of 'Wrecked' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey