...Bookfanatic

 

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

Sometimes all you need is a little love...

A Single Bright Candle's Flame (Criminal Intentions, Season One #9) - Cole McCade

'A Single Bright Candle's Flame' is the 9th episode in season 1 of Cole McCade's series Criminal Intentions and so far this series has not failed to deliver. As Malcolm Khalaji and Soeng-Jae Yoon have gone from new police partners to friends and ultimately lovers solving crimes and fitting themselves into each other's lives it's been one hella' good roller coaster ride of emotions. Along with the self contained crime drama that each story delivers there have been hints and clues to an overlying story line that has kept up a steady pace and so far promises to be explosive in it's conclusion...whenever that might be because so far I'm not seeing an end in sight.

 

Thankfully here in the 9th story we get a bit of a break allowing the reader to catch their breath a bit and I have to confess that while I thought the last book was the most relationship focused book to date...well, all I can say now is "Oops, my bad...because this one puts it to shame." however, don't think that just because there's not a crime to be solved you're entirely off the hook here because you're not. There's still so much to be learned from this one and enjoyed...holy hell so much to be enjoyed and savored. 

 

As Soeng-Jae works his way through the events from the last story, Mal is right there determined to be and give Yoon what he needs...he's not going to screw up this time...it's not going to be a repeat of Gabrielle not if he can help it. But Mal's also unsure what to do other than just being there which he'll happily do but he's missing the Soeng-Jae that he fell in love with and isn't sure what it'll take to get him back. Turns out that Mal's problem is going to be solved by a panicked phone call from his parents when his younger sister has runaway or more accurately she's running to something...her brother.

 

While this once again wasn't a long story it was still an awesome read. I loved all of it. Seeing the gentle and loving side of Mal as he cares for his lover and the new bit of vulnerability that Soeng-Jae showed to Mal, was just so...so...I don't even really think I have words for it to be honest...it was just so sweet and touching, yep, Karen melted a little right up there on that rooftop.

 

Plus we have Soeng-Jae being reunited with his sister which was just beyond delightful.  I really hope we get to see more of her...she's feisty and the joy of her brother's life and I'm pretty sure she had Mal totally charmed by the time she returned home as well.

 

But there were also glimpses of things that will connect events of the past to events that have yet to happen and all indications are that we are still in for one hella' wild and interesting ride...so, while this one left me in a happy 'I love Mal & Soeng-Jae' puddle of glue I have the feeling that the next story is going to be filled with a lot of what-the-f*ck-moments! while the strength of Mal and Soeng-Jae's relationship will once again be tested, but I have faith in these two and am looking forward to whatever comes next. 

 

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An ARC of 'A Single Bright Candle's Flame' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

If I'm going to keep reviewing this series...

Collateral Damage (Criminal Intentions, Season One #8) - Cole McCade

than I think I need to invest in a Thesaurus...because really how many ways can one say "I f*ing love these men, these stories...I can't get enough of them." I mean come on I admit it I'm even starting to sound like a broken record to me...but, facts is facts and fact is I'm a fan of 'Criminal Intentions' 100% bona fide fan.

 

'Collateral Damage' is Episode 8 of Season 1 and  more than any thing that's come before this story it has a much more relationship driven plot...one that shows Mal and Seong-Jae's relationship becoming more solid...

"So," Malcolm drawled, "you're admitting you actually like me, instead of just tolerate me because I cook for you."

"You are beginning to grow on me."

"Yeah?" Malcolm's grin widened--and he nosed past Seong-Jae's hand, nudging it out of the way as he leaned in closer. "I'll call that progress. Just last week you hated me."

Must be love, right? right? Well at least it is on my part because I love the banter (insert pillow talk) between these two men. It's affectionately snarky as only Mal and Seong-Jae can do.

 

And to top it all off they work well as a team when they're outside of the bedroom too. This episode may have been a bit more relationship driven but there was still a solid crime to be solved as well. As well as some smaller threads that are carrying forward from previous episodes...things like how's Gabi doing with her new job and roommate? What's up with that guy who's still working at the DAs office? Are Mal and Sade ever going to get their friendship back on track? And what's up with Sade and Huang...ok, this one wasn't touched upon in this episode...but inquiring minds really do want to know? and there are things more things...but you have to read the episodes to find out.

 

Once again the criminal case involved a parent and child and while I don't want to spoil this for anyone who hasn't read it yet, I will say that the ending had a bit of a surprise to it and thankfully I had episode 9 ready to go on my e-reader.

 

So what didn't I like about this story...it was too short...sorry, but that's really my only problem and thanks to episode 9 being available it quickly became a problem solved.

 

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An ARC of Criminal Intentions: S1, E8: Collateral Damage was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Well that was...different...interesting and...

Far From Home (Belladonna Ink #1) - Jill Eileen Smith, Lorelie Brown

a big step outside of my comfort zone, which is something that I think does a mind, body and soul good from time to time. 

 

So what was so different about this story for me, you might ask yourself...well there are two things...

1. It's narrated by a woman.

2. It's a f/f story of which I've only ever read one other. 

 

f/f stories as a rule just aren't my thing which is the biggest reason why I haven't listened to many...ok, any female narrators. I tend to listen to audiobooks from the m/m genre and for me listening to a woman do the voices for an audio book that's predominantly m/m doesn't work any more than listening to a man do a f/f story would...so this is totally on me...personal preference and nothing else...no good or bad involved here.

 

And now here I sit having listened to an audio book that for a few reasons caught my attention...

The first one being the narrator...seriously this was the FIRST TIME EVER!!! that I listened to the full audio sample on the first try with a female narrator...so good on you, Jill Smith... I was impressed and my attention was captured.

 

The next reason being the story...it sounded sweet and pretend girlfriend/boyfriend is  one of those tropes that I like and in this case it was more like pretend spouses giving it the potential for some really cute and humorous moments to balance out the more serious issue which was Rachel's struggles with anorexia.

 

As with any story there were things I liked and things I didn't...I liked Pari and I especially liked the relationship between her mother and her. It wasn't perfect but there was a definite sense of a strong and positive mother/daughter bond between them even when they were not of like minds.

 

I liked that while Pari might have been living in America we were given a successful and strong female character who wasn't 'simply an American' but an immigrant who came to the the United States to follow her dreams...novel concept there...I'm sure it's never happened in the real world, right? ;)

 

Ok, so as much as I like Pari and her mom and I also enjoyed some of the interactions between Pari and Rachel...what I struggled with was Rachel. I really wanted to love this character. I know I felt bad for her...she struggled with her anorexia and she was trying so damned hard to beat it and maybe if the story hadn't come strictly from her perspective I would have seen her as a really courageous young lady rather than having her turn into someone who for me started to sound a bit whiny and seemed to be experiencing a bit of 'poor me' syndrome. I really, really didn't want that image of her but that's what I ended up with.

 

Even more than the overkill on the anorexia, sorry but really sometimes less is more and if Rachel had a bit more diversity to her thoughts than 'musings on her anorexia' and all the reasons that she was attracted to Pari...because yes we have a case of insta-lust with a good dose of GFY going on here. Rachel was straight...not bi...straight as can be attested to but the considerable number of men she's slept with...hey, those are basically her words not mine.

 

I actually finished this book a couple of days ago and was left with a ratings quandary because if I rated this with total honesty and accuracy it would probably go something like this...

Story concept...4 stars

Story execution...2.5 stars

Narration...5 stars (ok, a little biased here because first time ever female narrator that I liked enough to listen not only to the sample but the whole damned book!!!)

 

So at the end of it all I'm calling it a day with an overall average of 3 stars which still when you think about it for someone who rarely and I do mean rarely ventures into the world of f/f and who was listening to an audio book narrated by a woman for the first time EVER!!! I think this ended fairly well...will I suddenly start listening to this genre on a regular basis...I doubt it...will I venture out of my snugly little m/m box to try something else in future...why not? One never knows what they'll find if they just step out side of the box.

 

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An audio book of 'Far From Home' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Desperate times, call for desperate measures...

Wanted - Bad Boyfriend - TA Moore, Michael Mola

at least that's what Nathan Moffatt decides when he gets fed up with everyone and I do mean everyone because Nathan lives in a small town on an island...Ladies and Gentlemen...let the gossip begin...

 

So when wedding planner Nathan Moffatt decides he's had enough of people trying to marry him off, logically his solution is that he needs to change their thinking and make everyone want him to stay single and the solution for this problem is to get himself a bad boyfriend...you know the type...that person who takes advantage of you, treats you like a doormat and is constantly reminding you of how lucky you are that they're willing to date you...I think we've all either dated or know someone who's dated this person. 

 

Needless to say for Nathan it's a case of good in theory doesn't always work well in practice and when he approaches the one person that he thinks can help him meet his objective he fails to consider the fact that Flynn Delaney who seems to be the least liked person in town is also his childhood crush and it just may turn out that while Flynn's considered a bad boy this doesn't necessarily make him a bad boyfriend. So what started out as a simple plan to solve Nathan's meddlesome matchmaker problems turns out to be a bit more complicated than a simple pretend boyfriend solution when feelings become involved.

 

T.A. Moore has given us a delightful story of small town life with all of it's meddlesome and well meaning characters. While we didn't get a lot of bad boyfriend opportunities for me it came down to the fact that Flynn was genuinely attracted to Nathan so his heart just wasn't into the whole 'bad boyfriend plan' and when they were alone both Nathan and Flynn were giving the whole 'bad' boyfriend idea a totally different spin.

 

For the most part the residents of 'Ceremony' struck me as a bunch of uniformed, bored, petty, gossip mongers. They loved to gossip about Flynn's so called past but in fact they collectively had no clue if there even was a past. Flynn left the island for a number of years and those years were what the locals were speculating (read gossiping) about they were clueless and as will frequently happen in small towns they simply made up stuff to entertain themselves...small towns sadly as often as not are comprised of small minds. But that's a conversation for another day. 

 

Now as for the secondary characters in this story like so many others who read this one...I also felt that Nathan's mother was delightful and when it comes to best friends...well can I just say I'm more than happy to let Nathan find his own boyfriend but holy hell can we hold auditions for a new best friend for him? Because seriously Max was definitely a horrible warning and not a good example but then lets take a look at who his father was...yep, the biggest waste of oxygen in the whole damned town...the owner of the Granshire Hotel and Nathan's boss...Teddy.

 

I'm not sure that I would have found this story as entertaining as I did if I had read the book but listening to it on audio narrated by Michael Mola was for me an entertaining experience...between Nathan trying to stave of meddlesome matchmakers by putting his 'bad boyfriend plan' into action as he tries to plan a wedding that's rapidly turning into a comedy of errors, while Flynn's sometimes unusual search and rescue missions keep disrupting his and Nathan's efforts to 'date' as a town full of small minded gossip mongering, well intentioned citizen's watch on......geez, now where does that road that's paved with good intentions go to, I just can't seem to remember now. I'm sure it'll come to me eventually... 

 

I have to admit while I haven't read a lot of books by this author...ok, I haven't read any, but I have listened to a few on audio and I've enjoyed them all and look forward to enjoying more in the future.

 

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An audio book of 'Wanted Bad Boyfriend' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Look out James Bond...Jaxon Powers is on the case...

The Spy's Love Song - Kim Fielding, Drew Bacca

Jaxon Powers is famous the world over and has fans even in small unheard of Vasnytsia wjith its tyrannical dictator and its this fame that the state department wants to use to get one of their agents into Vasnytsia on a covert op. There are just a couple of obstacles that could prove problematic to the mission the first one being that Jaxon can only take one person with him and that person needs to be Reid Stanfill and the second one is that being 'gay' in Vasnytsia can get you thrown into jail.

 

To say that Reid and Jaxon don't start off well is more than a bit of an understatement, but as they travel through Vasnytsia and come to depend on each other for their very survival they also begin to realize that there's more to each of them than the other realizes. Reid quickly realizes that Jaxon isn't an overindulged, success story who never really outgrew the life of privilege that Reid believes him to have grown up surrounded by. Just as Jaxon also comes to realize that there's more to Reid than his near military precision hair cut and stuffy suits.

 

Jaxon and Reid's story was a case of opposites attract...with just one catch Jaxon is on the cusp of what basically amounts to a mid-life crisis when he wakes up in a hotel room that looks like the Armageddon has happened and Jaxon slept through it. 

 

These men definitely locked horns on more than one occasion leaving both men angry, frustrated and maybe knowing the other just a little bit better.

 

When a failed attempt at murder quickly makes Reid realize that he was the intended victim and someone is definitely on to who he truly is and why he's in Vasnytsia with Jaxon. Reid's first priority becomes to convince Jaxon to get out of Vasnytsia as quickly as possible, but Jaxon's determined not to abandon the man who he's beginning to feel a very strong attraction for so leaving is not on his agenda. 

 

As Jaxon and Reid work together gaining the help of some of Vasnytsia's citizens who want to see their government over thrown they devise a plan that will hopefully see Reid's mission goal accomplished, but it's going to take the determination of both men to see it through if they have any hope of getting out of Vesnytsia alive.

 

'The Spy's Love Song' was one of those stories that is best enjoyed with a moderate suspension of belief and the desire to read an entertaining story that leaves reality behind at times...but not too far  behind...and weaves in a touch of  romance.

 

While this is by no means my first time reading/listening to a Kim Fielding story, it was my first time listening to an audio book narrated by Drew Bacca and thankfully I'm pleased to say that Mr. Bacca has one of those voices that add character, depth and emotion to a story making for an enjoyable listening experience and I'm looking forward to hearing more from this narrator in the near future.

 

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An audio book of 'The Spy's Love Song' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You are the sunshine of my life...that's why I'll always be around...

Touch Of A Yellow Sun (Colors of Love #2) - V.L. Locey

A while ago I was given the opportunity to read a book entitled ‘Lost in Indigo’ by V.L. Locey and I really loved it so when the opportunity came to read and review the second book in this series ‘Touch Of A Yellow Sun’ saying anything other than ‘oh hell yeah!’ wasn’t even an option and once again I loved the story that I was presented with.

 

While I really loved this story I have to admit at times I struggled with the character of Marek Hafer, but in the end I was won over by Marek and then there was Shey…I cannot lie I loved Shey just for his name…ok, maybe not just for his name but honestly I just love the name Shey, so he had brownie points before I even started reading the story.

 

Now the story…Marek Hafer has anger issues and while one might think this could be a bonus for a hockey player...it’s not since often times decisions made in anger are not made with good judgement and Marek frequently displays poor judgement both on the ice and off, but he’s also got issues…issues that cloud his judgement and contribute to his ongoing anger. Marek’s got a past that’s filled with pain and hurt and unanswered questions.

 

Shey Pierson is Marek’s new neighbor and Marek quickly comes to realize that Shey is also a source of a peace and calm that Marek has rarely if ever known in his life and while his initial attraction is more about lust than love as the two men get to know each other those feelings begin to change.

 

Shey teaches yoga classes for a living and he’s as drawn to Marek as Marek is to him, but he also sees the internal turmoil that Marek’s fighting with and he wants to help him find peace.

 

Shey definitely made Marek want to be a better person, while Marek helped Shey to lighten up a little and then there was the tea…so much tea!!! Shey reminded me of a dear friend whose solution to all things like Shey was to make tea. I loved it. The lesson here…when in doubt make tea! And one of my absolute favorite parts of the story was a sweet little meesie named Chula. I’ve got a huge soft spot for Siamese cats so Shey having one and the fact that Marek loved Shey’s cat as much as I did pretty much guaranteed that at the end of it all I was going to adore these two men. But if that wasn’t enough there was the fact that I really enjoyed their interactions…well this one started out good and for me just kept getting better and better.

 

Marek and Shey were two very different men and yet they both had a common problem that took a different form for each of them…both men had things in their past to deal with and I loved that they did this together…giving each other the love and support they needed to deal with the challenging things and move on.

 

If you didn’t read ‘Lost In Indigo’ and for whatever reason it’s not your thing but this one appeals to you, reading it without benefit of that story is a total non-issue there is zero overlap in terms of story lines and the only character from that book that appears here is Marek’s agent…so like I said it’s definitely a non-issue to read book two even if you skipped the first one.

 

‘Touch Of A Yellow Sun’ was a feel good story that just needs a cozy chair and a cup of tea to round out the reading experience and maybe a cookie or two would be nice while you’re at it.

 

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A copy of ‘Touch Of A Yellow Sun’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I'm blaming it on the Pinkertons...

The Fall Guy - Chris Quinton

I have to admit I'm not really sure what possessed me to want o reviwe this sotry because it's honestly two of my least favorite things historical and short, but in spite of that it grabbed my attention and I decided that I wanted to give this one a soht and I'm really glad that I did.

 

As I’ve said on several other occasions, I’m not a big fan of historical stories however, that doesn’t mean that I never read or enjoy them and this one happens to be set during a time in history that has always held more interest for me than most. It’s the roaring 20s in New York, there’s John Brady, who  is not only one of the MCs he’s a Pinkerton agent and I know I’m not alone when I say that the Pinkerton Agency has always held a bit of fascination for me so reading a story that has a main character who’s also a Pinkerton Agent was just too tempting to resist.

 

When Pinkerton Agent John Brady gets assigned to solve a robbery/kidnapping…a case that should have been open and shut quickly becomes complicated for him when he meets a small time crook Cesare Donati who is attempting to smuggle Alice a person of interest in Agent Brady’s case but what really complicates things as well as what Agent Brady learns from Cesare and Alice about his case is the attraction that John and Cesare share for each other.

 

I have to admit when I saw that there were less than 40 pages in this story, I sincerely questioned how the author was going to make this one work…I mean let’s be honest 32 pages means that every word has to count and overall I was impressed by the job that the author did of making each and every word work for the story. While I did get a good sense of the characters, the setting in terms of time and place I would have really loved more. Again, while the story was complete as it was, I can’t help but believe that more would have been even better, and all this is not to say that what was there wasn’t good no more to the contrary…it was good enough that it had me wanting even more.

 

At 3.5 stars this was a good story…actually a bit above average and given that there are fewer than 40 pages that’s not to shabby, but I can easily see that with a bit more filling out of the plot, the characters and the relationship this could have easily been a 4 or even 5 star read. I must admit I’ve only read a couple other stories by this author and each time I’ve been left both suitably impressed and wanting more…all in all not a bad thing for an author to do.

 

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A copy of ‘The Fall Guy’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes the best moves are the ones that aren't made on the dance floor...

A Dance For You - Colette Davison, Neil Macfarlane

‘A Dance for You’ is the second audio book by Colette Davison that I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy and I admit I definitely enjoyed this one a bit more than ‘A Dance for Two’. Even though these books share a very similar title reading ‘A Dance for Two’ is not required in order for the reader/listener to enjoy ‘A Dance For You’. While we do meet Mason in the previous book and Luc, whom we met in ‘A Dance For Two’ is his best friend there’s really no over lap between that story and this so regardless of the fact that I’m glad, I listened to the audio book for ‘A Dance For Two’ I feel fairly safe in saying  that it really had no impact one way or another on how much I enjoyed this one.

 

For me the fact that I enjoyed ‘A Dance for You’ more was directly attributable to other things…those things being in part…the subject matter. For Mason and David, the relationship issues were essentially twofold being their age difference and their work dynamics.

 

David is the guest choreographer for the production that Mason will be performing in at his new ballet company, BalletEast. So while their dynamic at present is one of employee/supervisor it’s not a permanent situation what is permanent is the age difference and since neither of these men are a minor and at no time did I feel like David was using his position to pressure Mason…I actually liked how the author dealt with both of these issues and as the story progressed they became non-issues for me.

 

The other issue addressed in this story that I found to be an interesting touch was the issue of bullying. We often times forget that this happens not just to children in the schoolyard but to adults in the workplace and while we don’t associate it with places that tend to present a more liberal minded attitudes it can and does still happen everywhere. I definitely appreciated how the author dealt with this because so often in the real world it’s the easy solution that’s taken and not necessarily the right one, as was the case here when it was the bully who was made to suffer the consequences of his actions as opposed to making the victim go away since it’s often times easier to make the victim go away than to make the bully accountable for their actions.

 

While I really enjoyed David and Mason as a couple and how they negotiated their relationship the only real niggle that it held for me was the issue of the BDSM. When they were dealing with this aspect of things, I found that at times it felt more like a public service announcement than two people negotiating a new aspect to their relationship and I willingly admit this is very much a subjective viewpoint. I’m sure that for others it won’t seem this way, but unfortunately this was how it came across to me and I think that was due in part to how it was written but also to the narration. However, well it did or didn’t work for me, I did appreciate the fact that the author dealt with this aspect of the story in what I felt to be a respectful manner and we were given two different viewpoints that of someone who has never participated in a BDSM lifestyle and that of someone who as an experienced DOM understands their responsibility to both nurture their potential subs interest and to respect their boundaries.

 

Neil Macfarlane was once again the narrator for this story and I just didn’t feel like his voice held the same emotional level that was there during ‘A Dance for You’. Don’t misunderstand I’m not saying his voice was monotone because I didn’t feel it was that by any means either. So, this could once again very much be a case of it’s not you, it’s me and I may well find that listening to this another time and being in a different frame of mind it won’t seem this way but for now it is what it is.

 

While somethings worked and somethings didn’t work as well, at the end of things I’m left with a story that I enjoyed far more than I didn’t and an author and narrator who have both gotten a spot on my radar as someone that I’d like to read and/or listen to again.

 

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An audio book of ‘A Dance For You’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Back in the saddle again...

Two Of A Kind - B.A. Tortuga, John Solo

I've been a fan of B.A. Tortuga's for a while now but more recently I just haven't connected with her stories the way that I did with her 'Stormy Weather' or her 'Road Trip' series and a few others, but those two series are my absolute favorites by this author and truthfully the benchmark by which I judge her other books and maybe that's not fair but it is what it is and it's been a while since I've enjoyed a cowboy story as much as I did this one. 

 

'Two of a Kind' for me was a fun, enjoyable, touching and just incredibly sweet story of two cowboys who suddenly find themselves with 5 children to raise following a family tragedy that leaves one man without a sister and his parents and the other without his brother and parents and now six years later things are about to take yet another drastic change.

 

Trey Williamson and Ap McIntosh each manned up in their own way 6 years ago and Trey set aside his dreams of college travel to be the one that stayed with the his nieces and nephews and made a home for them...while Ap went out on the rodeo circuit and did his best to with the one skill he knew he had to be the breadwinner for this cobbled together family. But Ap comes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year and so far it's worked but Trey's finding himself  at this wits end and he knows that their kids need him but he desperately needs a break.

 

When Ap get the call telling him he needs to come home he does. He gets it truly he does...being the only parent to 5 kids is a job that he knows he's not up to doing, but he's determined to step up and give Trey a much needed break. 

 

There really was a lot about this story that I enjoyed Trey and Ap have a history together but they were young and when tragedy struck it was put aside. This one is friends to lovers, second chances with a touch of starting over and a pinch of the grass is always greener...because Trey's missing the life he didn't get to have and he's a little jealous of Ap being able to travel, see a bit of the world and spend times with adults and yeah, there's also the sex...it's bee a while for Trey but if you ask Ap, he'll tell you it'd be nice to sleep in a real bed at night, spend time with his nieces and nephews...watch them grow up a bit...or at least that's what he thinks most of the time...until he's left in charge of those same nieces and nephews for a few days, then he finds himself wondering 'how the hell Trey does it day in and day out. His admiration for Trey grows right alongside of his attraction for Trey.

 

I enjoyed the interaction between Trey and Ap as well as their interactions with the children and as a family. it wasn't always perfect and oftentimes there weren't enough hours in the day to do what needed to be done much less anything that they wanted to do...in other words it resembled real life much more than it didn't. There were budgets and saving for college, working more than one job to make ends meet and so many other little things that found me thinking 'oh man can I relate to that'.

 

Now I have to admit there was only one thing that gave me serious reservations and that was the thought of this story on audio and the narrator was John Solo...I've had a bit of a hit and miss relationship with this narrator and even more so I have a hit and miss relationship with pretty much any narrator when children's voices are involved so I won't lie...reservations...I had them.

 

I ran off to audible.com and clicked play so I  could listen to the sample and fortunately I actually got to hear some of the children's voices which isn't always the case and thankfully there was enough of a sample for me to decide that I could do this and happily I was right. My past experience with audio book children has more often than not detracted from my overall enjoyment of more than one audio book but this one was not one of those books. This for me was one of the narrator's more solid narrations and given that he was doing the voices for not one or even two children but five, I think that says a lot especially coming from someone who tends to shy away from audio books with children in them no matter who the narrator is.

 

'Two of a Kind' is a fun, sweet, heartwarming story about love and hope and the promise of a future that may not be what either of these men thought they wanted but in the end proved to be everything they needed.

 

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An audio book for 'Two of a Kind' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Just a little FYI here...

Magic Runs Deep - Adam Watson, Alex Whitehall

This is not a romance story but there is a romance in it and even more importantly there is one seriously good story to be had.

 

Aside from this book the one thing that i know Alex Whitehall and Adam R. Watson  have in common is that they're both new to me, which is kind of a scary combination because....'ohmygod!!! I said I'd review this and what if I hate it because I can't say I love something if I didn't that's just not something that I like most people would be comfortable doing...so in a nutshell...I was a little nervous going into this. Enough that I actually listened to the first few minutes and went off to listen to something else but that's only a good deflection for so long and then I had to make myself come back to this and thankfully that turned out to be a much better life choice than I had anticipated..

 

In the interest of being fair I started back at the beginning and the one thing I realized right away was that the lack of success on my first listen was just me not in a good frame of mind so I'm not sure that much of anything would have worked for me that day but on my second try I was barely past where I'd stopped the first time and I was all in and more than happy just to sit back and enjoy the story.

 

If I had to classify this one I'd probably call it historical fantasy with a touch of romance but regardless of that I'd definitely call it good. 

 

Veier has spent the past 5 years of his life trapped in his bear form and held by a magic spell as the pet of a king. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the king, Veier becomes their prisoner and while most are of the opinion that Veier has lost his humanity and shouldn't be allowed to live...not all share these feelings and the new king's brother, Elrid believes that while Veier's humanity maybe be a little misplaced it's still there. 

 

As much as Veier tries to fight it he comes to respect Elrid and appreciate that Elrid is both honest and trustworthy and that his choice to try and help Veier find his humanity and ultimately return home to his family is sincere. 

 

Most of this story focuses on Elrid and Veier's efforts to gain his freedom but in doing this the men spend time together getting to know each other and helping each other to learn about their people. It takes an actual threat to Elrid's life to make his brother the king see that Veier's humanity is very much intact and working and sadly it's the realization that Veier's humanity has been restored and is firmly in place that also brings about their separation when Veier is allowed to go home to his people. 

 

From start to finish this book had such a soft and gentle feel to it. In spite of the battles and attempted assassinations it was the chemistry between Eldrid the strong, powerful yet gentle and soft spoken magician with Veier, the kind and compassionate ursine shifter whose pure physical size and strength was intimidating enough without the knowledge of the power he wielded in his ursine form that shaped this story. 

 

I loved the overall feel of this story and listening to Adam R. Watson's narration of this story was every bit as delightful as the story and definitely reinforced the the overall feeling of the story itself for me. As much as I enjoyed the entire story for me the icing on the cake was definitely the ending and the epilogue...both were added the perfect touch to make this a 5 star story for me. 

 

Maybe the first time around was a case of right story wrong day but the second time around was definitely a case of right story, right day for me.

 

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An audio book of 'Magic Runs Deep' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goalies aren't suppose to score much less get a 'hat trick'...

Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) - V.L. Locey, R.J. Scott

right? Well no one told this to Stan and he's about to score the 'Hat Trick' to end all 'Hat Tricks' but honestly it's not on the ice.

 

I adore Stan and Erik, along with Erik's son Noah and Stan's mom and sister the family they're creating is so much fun to spend time with but now with the ringing of a phone things are about to change in ways that neither Stan or Erik had anticipated...wanted but hadn't quite anticipated yet.

 

Stan's heading back to Russia to collect his cousin's orphaned children and bring them back to America to become a part of the 'someday' family that he and Erik want to have...only, someday maybe wasn't suppose to be quite so soon.

 

I loved how Stan and Erik just did this...there was no should we? shouldn't we? this is family and they need a home so yes, there were logistics to deal with but doing it, giving these two children a home was never a decision to be made but that's not to say that there weren't concerns...Stan's gay and he's in a relationship with a man...it's not a secret and Stan's heading back to Russia...not a great place to go if you're gay...but he knows people.

 

So while it's stressful for Stan having to go back to Russia and for Erik having the man he loves travel to a place that's maybe not the safest place for him to be on his own no matter how big of a bear he is. What there isn't is a lot of unnecessary drama...me likey! 

 

The focus of this story was Stan and Erik and while each man had their own pressure to deal with to make this happen they did it and they did it as a couple...no added drama or 'miscommunications' just a couple working together to make something that needed to happen...happen. Actually it wasn't even just a couple because Stan's mom was right there to do her part and Stan's sister totally stepped in to help as well because hey, this is what family does.

 

I adore this series it's just so easy to get into and as much as I love Stan and Erik or Ten and Mads, I'd love more about the other characters we've met as well...like...Layton and Adler, Trent and Dieter, Max and Ben or one of my other personal favorites Bryan and his tattoo artist Gatlin...more about any or all of these men would not be amiss in my world.

 

Sometimes it comes down to screw the angst and conflict and extra drama I just want something with characters who make me smile and stories that keep making me smile and leave me feeling like my world's a little bit of a better place and the 'Harrisburg Railers' do that for me.

 

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

Running on, running on empty Running on, running blind...

Running Blind (Havoc, #2) - S.E. Jakes, Mark Larchmont

When I saw the title of this book I have to admit one of my first thoughts was I wonder if the author was a tiny bit motivated by the 1977 Jackson Brown song...'Running on Empty' when she picked the title for this book. I don't know about the rest of you but I graduated from high school that year? Anyways, it was just a random thought that floated through my brain when I saw the book title. The story not to confuse anyone is set in the present.

 

When Bram tries to leave 'The Heathens' Motorcycle Clue he learns the hard way that if getting in was painful getting out will damned near kill him. Bram's not really a biker but if 'The Heathens' find out that he's actually an undecover ATF agent what he will be is a dead man. So after a somewhat failed attempt to leave that nearly cost him his life and finding out that his brother Linc is missing he does the only logical thing he can...he heads to Shades Run the last place where his brother was known to be and in less than a day he captures the attention of 'Sweet', who's not just any Havoc member...nope, turns out he's the president of the Havoc MC and as much as he wants to stay off of any Motorcycle Club's radar finding himself on Havoc's also offers him a level of protection that like it or not he's going to need if he hopes to survive much less make progress in his search for his brother.

 

As Bram and Sweet work together to try and find Linc while each man tries to keep his secrets hidden both men find that they may be able to hide their secrets but they're not so good at guarding their heart.

 

Bram and Sweet's relationship is often times a case of come here, come here, get away, get away as both men keep trying to throw  up obstacles to why they shouldn't be together...to be fair Bram does this more often than Sweet, but Sweet manages to throw his obstacles in there as well all the time never letting them got in the way when he thinks Bram needs saving or protection.

 

And I have to admit that once again I found the Havoc MC to be an oxymoron all on it's own. They're bad-assed bikers who will mess you up in a heartbeat if you mess with them or break their code and all while helping you if you're in trouble and they feel your cause is just...in a sentence 'they are unlike any biker club I've ever heard of' but again it's fiction and the fun thing about that is the story can go pretty much where ever the author wants to take it. In spite of the fact that this may seem a little unlikely for me it's also reflective of the fact that in the real world things are often not always how they appear to be. 

 

Overall I found that I enjoyed this story a bit more than 'Running Wild' however, I don't think I would have if I hadn't listened to that audio book first since a lot of the characters from 'Running Wild' play a role in this book some more so than others...such as sweet who was secondary character in 'Running Wild' but who's a main character here and while Bram is essentially new to the story Linc is a good friend to Noah and Sean (who is also known as 'Rush') and there are a some others but I'll leave them for readers to discover when they are enjoying the story.

 

Now about the narrator...I'm one of those people who usually like the consistency of the same narrator from story to story in a series...unless...that's right unless the MCs are different from story to story...of course having said that should a future story have Ryker and Sean as the MCs than I admit it I would be happiest having their voices reprised by Dorian Bane rather than another narrator...that's just how I roll. 

 

Now back to this book and this narrator...Mark Larchmont is not only a new to me narrator but it would appear that he's new to the world of audio book narrating in general. 'Running Blind' is currently the only audio book he has to his credit on audible, however, when I had a peek at his site it tells me that he's currently working on another audio book for S.E. Jakes and there was a sound clip for a m/f book...that I was unable to find a title for. I found all this because I was honestly hoping that there were other books of his that I could check out. I really enjoyed this one and while I liked Dorian Bane's performance during 'Running Wild' I have to admit I think for me I enjoyed the audio on this one just a tiny bit more...hence the 3.5 stars and I'm definitely going to be looking out for more bu this narrator.

 

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An audio  book of 'Running Blind' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Running Wild held just a bit to much chaos for me...

Running Wild (Havoc, #1) - S.E. Jakes, Dorian Bane

'Running Wild' is the first book in the series Havoc by S.E. Jakes.  Sean Rush is a bad boy adrenaline junkie who steals and races cars...preferably classic muscle cars and is drawn to Ryker a lieutenant in the Havoc Motorcycle Club who coincidentally enough can't seem to stay away from Sean. 

 

I have to admit this is a bit of a bizarre MC they make they money producing legit porn and aren't involved in drugs, arms running or prostitution. They help get vets re-integrated to civilian life after they've served and keep the town they live in as drug and crime free as possible...but don't cross them because they know how to get rid of the bodies. 

 

I have to say I definitely found this to be a bit of a fantasy world. But what the hell it's fiction and if vampires can sparkle than bikers can be good bad boys...right? It could happen. I have to admit I found it damned lucky for Sean that Ryker was so into him because seriously he saved Sean's backside on more than one occasion.

 

When all was said and done I definitely liked Ryker more than Sean and even Sean didn't frustrate me as much as his friend Noah...seriously with friends like Noah one would do well to skip the enemies.

 

Sean's actually trying to stay on the right side of the law but eventually thanks to a friend he gets dragged back into his past and thankfully Ryker's on hand to guard his six because things aren't adding up in Sean's favor and if not for Ryker there's a good chance that Sean wouldn't survive events long enough to find out who and why someone wants him dead.

 

All this made for enough action and interest to keep me listening...well this and Dorian Bane's narration giving the MCs each their own unique and voice that...and forgive me if I'm stereo-typing here but I liked that each of these men had voices that I as easily able to attach to someone of their character and image. Their voices were gravelly and husky at times giving a hint of danger and other times they held the promise of sex. For me Mr. Bane definitely nailed it with his vocals for these men.

 

In spite of all this there were times that it just felt like these wild boys were just a bit too tame. While I enjoyed listening to this on audio I can't honestly say that it would have been as enjoyable to sit and read the story. For me this one definitely benefited from the narration.

 

And if you want to read a really epic review for this one just follow the link to my friend Dani's review...Dani's Review of 'Running Wild'

Oh this was just adorable wrapped up in more adorable...

Love You So Special (Love You So Stories #3) - Christopher Forest, Tara Lain

'Love You So Special' was simply beyond cute. 

 

Artie's a blue collar worker and he knows there's so much more out there in the world, but it's not for 'average hard working people like him' but when circumstances conspire to present him with the opportunity to hear just a little of the music that makes his heart soar and brings him to life...Artie's no fool either he doesn't pass up the chance to . I really liked Artie with his fish tank full of pet fish and how he looks out for his landlord who is a retired professor of existentialism. If I could pick a little brother I think it'd be someone like Artie. He's just a really awesome guy...he's kind, hardworking and a son that would make any parent proud, he's pretty damned selfless. 

 

When Artie gets a chance to do some renovation work at the home of Madame Desmarais and more importantly her talented son Francois, who also happens to be a world renowned composer and pianist whose fear of crowds makes performing live an absolute nightmare for him the two become friends and Francois very quickly realizes that not only does he enjoy Artie's company but Artie soothes his soul in a way that no one else ever has and for Artie, Francois sees so much about him that is good and noble. Francois knows that Artie is someone who he would be proud to have not just as a friend, but maybe even as a boyfriend.

 

One of the things that I noticed with this story was that I felt a bit more engaged with the secondary characters such as Francois' mother, Artie's landlord...I think he was totally adorable and Artie's family in general ended up to be a pleasant surprise.

 

'Love You So Special' was a nearly perfect blend of romance, drama and comedy that kept me engaged from start to finish and it seems that for this listener it was the perfect entertainment for a Valentine's Day afternoon. At 5 hrs. and 18 mins. it was long enough to provide an engaging and well filled out story but not so long that it became boring at any time. 

 

Admittedly there's a bit of a plot twist towards the ending of this story that was really a bit of take it or leave it for me, I can honestly say that I'm torn on how much I really thought this helped the story but in the end it was there and I guess more than anything I viewed it as a bit of a speed bump something that was on the path and while it may have slowed the journey down a bit, it wasn't enough to stop things completely and once your past it you carry on and the rest of the trip is a smooth ride.

 

As with the previous books in this series the narrator was once again Rys Forest who once again has given substance to the characters of this story and created a very enjoyable listening experience that I look forward to revisiting in the future along with the previous stories in Ms Lain's 'Love You So' series.

 

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An audio book of 'Love You So Special' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Harry got an angel but it seems that...

Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) - Amy Lane

Edward has lost his heart to a demon. I loved 'Familiar Angel' it contained just that little bit of different to it that makes a story interesting for me. While I'm not a huge fan of paranormal if it's done right I can totally get on board and enjoy it and with her 'Familiar Love' series Ms. Lane has given me a series that offers me that little touch of the different. In 'Familiar Angel' we watched as Harry...no not Harry Potter or even Harry Dresden...who know apparently there is more than one Harry...but what they all have in common is magic and this Harry along with his brothers uses his magic to do good things in the world and they have done those good things for 140 years...so if you want the full story on how this happened definitely read 'Familiar Angel'. 

 

In 'Familiar Demon' we get to learn more about Edward...no not Cullen...there are no sparkly vampires here...there are vampires, thankfully they don't sparkle though and Edward he's not one of them. No Edward is Harry and Francis's brother of the heart and he's also one of Emma's familiars plus like Harry and Francis, Edward's has his own magic and Edward's sweet on Mullins. We met both of these characters in the first book but briefly...Mullins is Leonard's friend (Emma's husband) and like Leonard or at least like Leonard until he was rescued from hell by Emma, Mullins is a demon. But Edward sees Mullins...not the demon but the man that the demon hides and over the years Edward has fallen in love with Mullins and he's decided that just as Emma rescued Leonard, the man she loved from the clutches of hell. It's time that he did the same for the man that he loves. 

 

While I really loved 'Familiar Angel' this second installment of Ms Lane's ' Familiar Love' series really stepped up the game for me. The first part of the story was very much on a par with 'Familiar Angel' but when it came to the second half of the story, I can honestly say I'm not sure what I was expecting, but, I'm pretty sure this wasn't it, although what I was expecting was definitely surpassed by what I got. I just loved the last part of 'Familiar Demon'. While the pace stepped up a bit I had no problem keeping up with happenings and the characters that were introduced.

 

It's here in the last part of 'Familiar Demon' that we are given a very strong connection to one of Ms Lane's early series 'Little Goddess' as well as the indications of a link to Francis's past and while I don't think that it's necessary to read Little Goddess before reading this book...like seriously not required, I can't say that I haven't added the 'Little Goddess' series to my list of books I'd like to read some day.

 

Whether it's 'Familiar Angel' or 'Familiar Demon' both stories contain a very strong theme of second chances. The Youngbloods are to say the least an interesting and unique family forged from time, fate and circumstances.

 

So far these men have battled the forces of heaven and hell to be able to claim the men they love and they've done it with the love and support of the family that they've created with Emma and Leonard as their parents and Beltane, Emma and Leonard's biological son.

 

Not to sound like a stuck record but when it comes to paranormal/fantasy I really love it when I find something that give me just a little bit of the unusual...I know it's urban fantasy/paranormal and by virtue of that it should be unusual, but for a long time it really wasn't. All the vampires, werewolves and witches, etc seemed to have the same rules/characteristics/restrictions/whatever. So, it's awesome to see authors taking a second look at this genre and saying 'hey, my vampires don't have to be confined during the daylight hours, my werewolves/shifters can have different rules...these things aren't real and the only rules are the ones that I make...even if it means that they sparkle...please no, but even it if does at least it's something different and lately I've found myself more willing to take another look at what's going on in the world of paranormal and/or urban fantasy. 

 

I'm really looking forward to the next book which I'm hoping and which logic tells me will be about Francis and there was just enough about Francis in this story to tell the reader that there's more to Francis than meets the eye but not enough to make the reader feel like they got anything close to the whole story.

 

In 'Familiar Angel' we saw Harry get his angel and here in 'Familiar Demon' we watched Edward get his demon...so this begs the question...'What will Francis get?'

 

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

So this is how it all starts...

A Few Good Fish - Amy Lane, Greg Tremblay

 "A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love..."

 

and along they way they maybe blow sh*t up!!! Battle some bad guys, get injured protecting the people they love...again and go on a ROAD TRIP!!! Where they visit some old acquaintances who become friends and make some new friends along the way.

 

Now I'm going to borrow a bit from my review of the -ebook here...

 

First off while this one had all the action, adventure danger and ohmygod!!! They blew sh*t up...Karen was drooling...what can I say, I'm just a blow sh*t up kinda' girl and there was more LUCY SATAN!!!!!!!!!!! When I grow up I wanna' be just like her, she's my hero.

 

We got more of Jackson's family Jade and her brother are still around and oh joy, oh bliss!!! we may have gotten to spend a little time with Ace and Sonny from 'Racing for the Sun' and along with Ellery's mom the incomparable Lucy Satan (or Tyler Cramer to the rest of the world) we finally got to spend time with Ellery's father...and sweet baby jebus that mans an adorable teddy bear.

 

As well as trying to track down and stop an unseen enemy Jackson and Ellery are trying to nurture their fledgling relationship at every opportunity and one of the things that I appreciated the most was the growth shown by Jackson ...so much growth and it's here in 'A Few Good Fish' that we are really shown the the extent of that growth as Jackson struggles to open up and share his emotional burden with Ellery.  It's not easy letting someone in...truly letting them in and sharing all of the dark and scary thoughts that haunt your dreams but if Jackson wants to have a life with Ellery...if he truly wants to share himself with this man who has come to mean so much to him...he knows he's got to find a way to do this and he tries...oh he tries so heartbreakingly hard and sometimes with such naked sincerity that there is nothing to do for it but cry and I did...yep, I don't remember crying when I read the book but this time around as I listened to Jackson pour his heart in tender moments to Ellery, in emotion filled rage to god...I cried...

 

I'm totally blaming Greg Tremblay for all those tears. I think we can pretty well all agree that Mr. Tremblay without fail does a superb job when it comes to narrating but it was during an incredibly emotional time for Jackson that he brought Jackson to life so poignantly and vividly that I could do nothing but cry for Jackson Rivers.

 

Everything got amped up with this story...the action was fast paced, the heat between Ellery and Jackson was off the charts and yet there's so much more that remains to be seen... there are events that have yet to unfold and how things will end still remains to be discovered...but I'm definitely all in on this one.

 

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An audio book of 'A Few Good Fish' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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