...Bookfanatic

 

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

Well that was fun!

Just Like Cats and Dogs - B.A. Tortuga, Joe Formichella

I've read more than a book or two by B.A. Tortuga but 'Just Like Cats and Dogs' is my first shifter book by this author and 'damn, what was I thinking?' I loved this book. It was fun and entertaining and there was a story here...a serious kept me interested story.

 

Sam's a feline shifter who grew up in a family of wolves...right? If you're thinking poor Sam never stood a chance at fitting in you're pretty much right, but in spite of that Sam's got family. His momma loves him, his brother Grey (who happens to be a wolf and by the way Grey's blind) loves him, his sister Helena (and I apologize if I got this name wrong, I suck with names) anyways, Helena's got the heart and spirit of a wolf...she just can't shift and then there's Gus...Gus who is Sam's best friend's brother and the bane of Sam's existence or at least he was when they were younger  but things have changed. Sam's all grown up and somehow Gus just can't stop noticing.

 

I just loved, loved, loved these two their snark and banter was simply adorable and at times hilariously funny. I was totally take with these two from the word go. I loved how Gus wanted to take care of Sam and once he was willing to accept that Sam was his mate he was willing to do whatever it took to get his mate back and then to make a life where Sam could belong...where Sam was truly part of the pack.

 

One of my favorite things about this story was the fact that whether they were in their animal or human form these shifters retained a lot of their characteristics. Sam likes tun it doesn't matter whether he's a human or a cat...he likes his tuna. Gus likes his steak and he's got a sweet tooth, but not Sam. Sam doesn't do sweet can't really taste it but give him salty and he's all in. Sam likes to groom his mate...he's a cat right and we all know how fastidious cats are when it comes to grooming. There are all these little quirky things that are a part of their character and I just loved that they were a part of the person no matter what their form was. It worked and at times just added to the humor of the story.

 

I think of all the shifter books I've read this one is definitely one of my favorites and more fun than a litter of pups...kittens?  

 

Joe Formichella was the narrator for this story and while B.A. Tortuga isn't a new to me author this is a new to me narrator and for this story overall I really liked the narrator's voice. He used this laid back easy drawl that overall just really worked and while there were a few instances when I felt the narration getting a bit stilted, overall it didn't last and never really distracted me from the story and really seemed suited to the characters in this book.

 

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An audio book of  'Just Like Cats and Dogs' was graciously provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes we just can't like everyone...

All In (Dreamspun Desires Book 38) - Ava Drake

'All In' is the third book in Ava Drake's 'Wild Card's' series and the 38th book in Dreamspinner's 'Dreamspun Desires' and I have to admit I wasn't exactly 'all in' on this one.

 

I liked the story line well enough. Zane Stryker is a fashion model who's career is on the downslide now that he's fast approaching 30 and with his return to New York he's hoping to score some runway jobs that will fund his retirement. What he's not hoping for is what happens and that's getting detained at customs with a suitcase devoid of his clothes and containing contraband of unknown origins and  a handsome but strange man demanding that he trust him if Zane wants to get out of the mess he's suddenly found himself in.

 

Sebastian Gigoni is retired British Special Forces and when he's asked to retrieve Zane and the contraband suitcase from the airport what he doesn't count on is the complications that are involved...things like trying to figure out where Zane's loyalties lie and what to do with the attraction that seems to be developing between the two men. 

 

At just over 6 hours of listening time this story moved right along and as I said I liked the story. I actually really liked Sebastian too. He was a bit of a mystery man and much to Zane's disappointment not the gullible fool that Zane needed him to be and for some reason that I couldn't fathom he seemed to be attracted to Zane and there you have it...the fly in my ointment...Zane. 

 

In a nutshell I did not like Zane. I found him to be shallow, self absorbed and just generally full of himself. I honestly had no clue what Sebastian saw in him and try as I might I never really felt the connection between these two men. So while the story worked for me and I enjoyed  it the relationship between these two pretty much tanked.

 

While 'All In' was my first book by this author when it comes to the narrator this is not our first dance at the rodeo...John Solo was the narrator for this one and from the audio side of things it was solid. I liked his voices for the characters, they were solid and I got the clarity and emotional expression that I enjoy in an audio book. But still even this just did not help me to like Zane. 

 

I admit it maybe I was just being a cranky pants when I listened to this one and another time I might like Zane, but in all honestly I doubt it. Zane's just not my cuppa' and I don't honestly see that changing any time soon.

 

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

So yeah, if you're looking for me or Josy...

Axios: A Spartan Tale - Jaclyn Osborn

We'll be right here...

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/despicableme/images/a/ab/Penny.png/revision/latest?cb=20131027083926

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We tried guys we really, really tried and at the end of it all I don't think either one of us is really sure why this one went sideways on us, but it did. So here we are back in the box of shame.

 

Ok, I can't really talk about what didn't work for Josy...mostly because Josy's all growed up and likes to speak for herself as it should be. So I'm going to try and explain why I'm sitting in this box again...

 

First off let's start with what I liked because obviously 3 stars meant I liked something...I just for the most part didn't love things or at least didn't feel that connection to the story that makes me want to love things and as I've already said "I'm just not sure why." so I'm probably not going to really dwell on what I didn't like because it's pretty much an abject and subjective thing. 

 

In the interest of being honest I will freely admit historical books aren't at the top of my reading list. It's not that they never work for me it's just that they're more often than not a challenge for me to really get into, which is rather ironic given that when I was in school history was one of my absolute favorite subjects. But be that as it may if you're still here I'm assuming it's because you're wondering what my thoughts were on this book so let's move along...

 

First off I want to say that this books is well written and while I'm by no means an expert on the history of Sparta or even ancient Greece for that matter, I'm also not so obtuse that I can't see that Jaclyn Osborn has committed a considerable effort to making this book feel authentic to the time in which it was set. There's a lot of background for this one and that's ok because it's integral to the story and it's also part of the story and it was by no means given in the form of an info dump. 

 

The characters in this story were beautifully presented they had depth and I liked seeing Axios and Eryx go from young children to grown men and not just Axios and Eryx...there were so many other characters that were a part of their lives Haden, Theon, Quill, Leanna, Felix and on and on and they were all so integral to who Axios and Eryx ultimately became. 

 

Ironically one of the things that this author did that I'm not usually a fan of was the time jumps but in this story they worked. The author handled them perfectly and I was never left feeling like I'd missed something because of them. If anything they actually helped to keep the story flowing at a consistent pace.

 

And yet, somehow I was bored, I essentially remained detached from all of it. I wish I could say it was overly detailed or that it was too long...but, it wasn't either of these things. I've read books that were every bit if not more detailed than this one, I've read books that were in the range of 800 pages, more or less, and savored every page. I've read books that absolutely were not as well written as this one and been far more enthusiastic about them...so guys, I'm totally saying this ones on me...at least 99% anyways. But before I wrap this up I also want to say...

 

HOLY HELL!!! That ending...it's magnificent! It was...I don't really want to say expected but for me it was pretty well the only plausible ending and then there was the epilogue which was the absolute best part of the book for me. It was beautiful and unfortunately in spite of all the punch the last chapter and the epilogue held for me, I  can't in all fairness say that this makes up for the rest of the book. However what I can say is that while I'm only giving the book itself 3 stars, if you ask me about the last part about that final chapter and the epilogue well I'm not going to split hairs here I will tell you that it deserves *5 Beautiful Spartan stars*

 

Seriously if you haven't read this book and especially if you love historical stories you need to at least give it the courtesy of checking out all those other reviews the ones written by the people who read this book and connected to it from start to finish because you may be one of them. If history maybe isn't your thing than check out those reviews anyways but proceed with caution you may be another me or Josy....my awesome buddy read partner who's sitting here with me in the box of shame wondering what we missed?

 

It's time to revisit an old favorite...

Texas Family - R.J. Scott

It’s been four years since I read this book and I have to admit in my reading experience I’ve found that sometimes when there’s a large gap of time between originally reading a book and when I re-read it or in this case listen to the audio book it doesn’t always go well, but I’m happy to say that was not the case with this book…If anything, I enjoyed the audio book just a little bit more than I enjoyed this story the first time around.

 

I’ve really enjoyed reading all of R. J. Scott’s Texas series and having the opportunity to revisit these characters in audio book format has been a treat, so much so that I’m looking forward to treating my self to the rest of this series in the near future.

 

Sean Crisden is the narrator for this title as well as previous titles and I have to admit when it comes to books involving cowboys he’s one of my favorites. I love his deep, gravelly, easy drawl along with the fact that he consistently ticks all my basic audio narrator boxes with his consistent, unique and expressive voices.

 

For anyone who isn’t familiar with this series I strongly recommend starting at the first book and reading them in order. Jack and Riley are the main characters in this series and their story starts back in the first book…The Heart of Texas.

 

Jack and Riley started as an enemies to lovers story in book one and each successive story follows them as their relationship grows and here in the fourth book Riley and Jack have decided it’s time for their family to grow and have decided that surrogacy is how they want this to happen and Jack will be the father. But as can often be the case plans go astray and things may not end up the way they intended but both men are quick to realize that while they didn’t get what they’d signed up for…they were getting the family they wanted.

 

In spite of all their advantages, this isn’t a story that’s so perfect it makes me feel like I’m going to sink into a diabetic coma. Jack and Riley still have the stress of day to day life and the problems it brings to deal with…running a horse ranch, managing an ethical oil exploration company, dealing with relationship struggles both theirs and their families, making compromises and finding solutions.

 

‘Texas Family’ is a nice slice of life look at what’s happening in the world of Jack, Riley and their family. It was also a chance to see them building the life together that they’d started in ‘Texas Family’ and continued to work towards in ‘Texas Winter’ and then in ‘Texas Heat’. I love this series, these characters the lack of angst and extreme drama, no great mystery to solve…just the day to day life of two people in love building a life together that would see their dream of family become reality.

 

There are a few authors whose books are comfort food for me…for my brain, my heart and my soul. I know the kind of story I’m going to get and it’s one that I can lose myself in and enjoy. They’re my go to authors when I’ve been left with too many jagged edges by life and/or by emotionally draining books. R. J. Scott is one of those authors and her Texas series are among those books.

 

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

First there was Cole McGinnis...then it was the men of Sinner's Gin and now...

Tramps and Thieves - Rhys Ford

Now we have Rook Stevens retired Cat Burglar extraordinaire and Dante Montoya the man who stole his heart and spends his days fighting to keep that same heart alive because Rook seems to have a penchant for trouble...the kind of trouble that can get a person dead.

 

When I first started reading this author's works I actually started with her 'Sinner's' series and by the time I was part way through that one I was wondering what was wrong with me that I'd been ignoring 'Cole McGinnis' for so long? I mean seriously, how could I have been so obtuse? Well never mind, that deficiency has long since been remedied. 

 

So here we are several Rhys Ford books later and we have what has quickly become an absolute favorite couple for me with Rook and Dante...please understand I love Cole and Jai, I adore the men of 'Sinners' like seriously adore them...they are some of the hottest men going, but something about Rook and Dante just speaks directly to my heart. When these two men are together they just melt my heart. I want them to be together.

 

I'm not even sure how to explain these men. They're like to parts of the same puzzle. For me these men just click. I loved the first book and absolutely delighted in the story as I listened to the voice of Greg Tremblay...the man really is an audio narrator marvel and I have to say that for the first time ever when I started reading 'Tramps and Thieves' the voice in my head reading this story to me sounded suspiciously like his.

 

There was definitely a mystery here and I did enjoy it but more than that I love the relationship developing between Rook and Dante. Dante's definitely an alpha male and while it goes against his instincts at times and he struggles with it being what Rook needs and loving him is all Dante wants to do...well that and keep Rook alive. 

 

Rook's not an easy man to love. He's not had anyone in his life like Dante and more than the thrill he gets from pulling off a job. He want's what having Dante in his life offers him and he's willing to give up his old ways to keep him but it seems like his old life isn't so willing to give him up.

 

Add in the mystery that was full of twist and turns and a surprise or two. Along with a whole lot of interesting characters like Dante's Uncle Manny and his partner Hank, Rooks Grandfather Archie and his cousin Alex and for me this was pure reading bliss.

 

I'm still more than happy to revisit the world of Cole McGinnis, the men of 'Sinners', 'Hellsinger', 'Half Moon Bay or anywhere else that Ms Ford would like to take me but please oh please let there be more 'Murder and Mayhem'!

 

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

And this folks is why I've missed Josh Lanyon...

Stranger on the Shore - Josh Lanyon

I've had this one for awhile now and when I saw that it was on audio I decided that audio was totally the way to experience this story and damn! was I right.

 

Josh Lanyon has created one hella' awesome story with this one. 'Stranger on the Shore' is far more mystery than romance, now that doesn't mean there's no romance because there is one. But overall this story focused more on the mystery that was going on and while I like me some romance it doesn't have to be there all the time and given how well crafted the rest of this story was I'm good with it all.

 

Once again I'm a little late to the party with this one so rather than try and re-invent the wheel or in this case the 'rave review' I'm going to take the lazy way out and simply say "There are some awesome reviews out there for both sides of the argument...love it or leave it, but you can add me to the list of I loved this from start to finish". Jeremy York was the narrator for this thriller/mystery/romance and while this was my first time listening to this narrator, I'm hoping it won't be my last. I really enjoyed the listening experience. Mr. York nailed the voices for me. They were consistent, expressive, unique and very suited to how I imagined the characters would sound.

 

Listening to this audio book felt very much like how I imagine it would feel to listen to an old time radio program as my parents and grandparents did back in the day.

 

While I'm sure this was due in part to the strong influence that the book 'The Great Gatsby' and the 1961 song 'Stranger on the Shore' had on one of the MCs. I think it was more strongly influenced by the wonderfully crafted noir story stylings of Josh Lanyon and the superb narration of Jeremy York...you can be sure that this is another audio book that will be on my repeat list.

Well this is a bit of a quandry...

Played! - J.L. Merrow

I was more than willing to give this one a go. It had a lot going for it...I like J.L. Merrow's writing, Mark Steadman is the narrator and I like him, I enjoyed 'Caught' the first book in this series. The blurb sounded cute and Shamwell seems like a quaint little place to visit...so I was all in and while I gave this one 3 stars, I have to admit it probably fell a little bit short of that mark. But between the quality of the writing and the audio narration in good conscience I wasn't really comfortable giving this one less than 3 stars and there were several things that I liked about this one.

 

I liked Con. While he was a bit sensitive about his dyslexia, I can't in all honesty say that he was 'bitter' or 'excessive' about it. It struck me that his attitude was more a case of it was what it was and he just seemed to want to get on with his life. He's had his heart broken before and he's not looking for any one night stands or quick hook-ups. 

 

Tristan on the other hand is just in town for the summer and he's more than happy to do no-strings-attached, commitment free fun as he sorts out the house he's inherited and gets it ready for sale before going to New York to join the family business, give up his desires to perform live theater and fulfill his obligation to the family as per daddy's instructions. 

 

Tristan's also more than a bit full of himself which leads to him being more than a little surprised when Con turns him down and doesn't return his interest. When circumstances conspire to throw Con and Tristan together in an amateur production for the local theater company.  Con and Tristan begin to form a tentative friendship and feelings begin to grow on both sides. 

 

At first glance this had all the makings of a fun, sweet, friends to lovers romance. Unfortunately as the story progressed Tristan went from self-absorbed and bit arrogant to a total, absolute jerk, I started to like him less and less. Now in his defense I will say he had help being such a huge jerk and that was his bbf  Amanda...his Best Biotch Forever...because trust me folks this piece of work was no one's friend but her own. More often than not I found Tristan to be demeaning and condescending in how he treated Con. 

 

As well as just not feeling the love for Tristan, I never really felt the love between Tristan and Con. It just didn't work for me and by the time they got together it was just a bit too rushed for me.

 

While the story overall was promising in the end it just wasn't enough to save it from what wasn't working for me so it ended up just being ok and with the addition of another solid job on the narration by Mark Steadman I'm comfortable leaving this one with 3 stars.

 

In spite of it all I'm hoping to give the next book in this series a try it's Patrick's story and we met him in this book and he had a bit of bad luck happening so with any luck things will go better for him on my next trip to the wee village of Shamwell.

 

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

As always all good things must come to an end...for now...

The Art of Breathing - Sean Crisden, T.J. Klune

'The Art of Breathing' is the final audio book available in this series...for now and while I have absolutely and unapologetically loved revisiting this collection of some of the most incredibly interesting and entertaining characters that I have encountered. Sadly for now I need to say good-bye to Bear, Otter, the Kid, Dom, Anna, Creed, their friends and the family they've made. But I have little doubt that I will drawn back to these wonderful stories and the characters they contain again at some future date because unlike the good dishes, books aren't something to be pulled out only on special occasions, they are something we can pull out to make the occasion special. 

And I'm still indulging myself...

Who We Are - Charlie David, T.J. Klune

'Who We Are' is the second book in T.J. Klune's 'Bear, Otter and the Kid' series and this one found me enjoying the narrations of Charlie David and while I did enjoy this book, I have to admit for I enjoyed Sean Crisden's narration in the first book just a teensy, tiny bit more but this is probably as much a subjective opinion as it is anything else. 

 

I Ioved this series when I read it the first time and listening to it again on audio has only reaffirmed that opinion so I'm off to enjoy the third and final book available on audio as I anticipate the release of 'The Long and Winding Road' on audio...one day...soon...hopefully!

Just because I could...

Bear, Otter, and the Kid - Sean Crisden, T.J. Klune

A while ago I decided to treat myself to one of my favorite series on audio book and that's how I came to listen to 'Bear, Otter and the Kid' I just needed to listen to something that I could enjoy and I liked and this series pushed all the right buttons. 

 

"Bear, Otter and the Kid" is narrated by Sean Crisden and once again Mr. Crisden did not disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed his narration of this wonderful story.

 

And here is where I leave you because there's already a plethora of reviews out there to tell you how wonderful this series is so I won't keep you and you can go enjoy those awesome reviews or you can just jump right into the book or audio...just a thought ;)

Still as good as the first time...

Olive Juice - T.J. Klune

When I first read TJ Klune's book 'Olive Juice' this was my review...

 

How TJ Klune broke me in less than 100 pages...

So this is going to be a short review because I am definitely keeping it spoiler free. 'Olive Juice' starts off on a heartbreaking but definitely an elusive note. It's only as the reader continues to read that the reason for the heartache becomes revealed.

As my friend and fellow reviewer, Todd said:

"Mostly, this story was about when "THE MOST TERRIBLE THING IMAGINABLE" happens."

"Olive Juice" is a story filled with the heartache and despair of two men as they struggle to survive and get past having their world torn apart...to find a way past it, living with the aftermath and reshaping their lives to find a way back to each other.

There really is no happiness and light with this one but I can't imagine not reading it. The writing, in true TJ fashion, is both gripping and compelling and while I definitely felt emotionally wrung out at the end I was also left with the tiniest spark of hope that said 'It's ok, they'll be ok." and maybe that's not the HEA that we all love so much but sometimes the HEA that life gives us isn't tied up with a bow or covered in rainbows and sprinkles... sometimes the HEA that we get is having gone through the storm and having the strength to put ourselves back together...to keep trying.

Be brave read this, it's less than 100 pages (on my Kobo), it's heartbreaking and amazing. It'll leave you saying 'thank god it's not me' only don't let yourself be fooled because sadly it could be you, it could be any of us and that's why you need to read this story.

 

Nothings really changed for me on this one except maybe that I would say...

"Be brave, listen to this audio book, it's only 5 hrs and 12 minutes long and Derrick McClain has done a very commendable job of capturing the sea of emotion that it contains and once again I found myself experiencing David and Phillips pain and anguish as I relived it through David's memories and ultimately through his bittersweet reunion with Phillip as I was reminded once again that life can't always give us the ending that we want...just the one that is possible.

 

I'm usually more prepared when experiencing a story the second time around and it's more often than not harder to get as much of an emotional response from me but it happens occasionally and in the case of 'Olive Juice' there was just no holding it back. This story was as beautiful and heartbreaking and emotionally poignant the second time around on audio as it was the first time when I read the story with tears in my eyes and my heart breaking. 


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

This may have gotten off to a bit of a shaky start but...

Manic Pixie Dream Boy (gay rockstar romance) (The Underdogs Book 1) - K.A. Merikan

at the end of it all things worked out quite nicely.

 

When I first started reading this book I also started to worry...I like K. A. Merikan and am a total fan of their series 'Guns & Boys', I found 'Hipster Brothel' to be an adorable story and their 'Sex & Mayhem' series isn't on my TBR list it's on  my 'why haven't I read this yet' list, so I admit when I first started this I also started to worry because a small voice in my brain quickly began to whisper..."Stop, right now...stop reading and step away from the e-reader...even you cannot handle this much fluff." but there was another voice whispering and it was saying "No, you need to keep reading...have faith, things aren't always as they seem." so after a bit of internal debate during which no other voices decided to take part...thankfully, because it definitely would have been therapy time at that point, I came to the conclusion that I needed to keep reading.

 

Sometimes it pays not to follow your first instinct because if I had I would have missed out on a story that it turns out I really, really enjoyed. The first part of this book on it's own just didn't work for me and had things continued in that vein I probably would have either done a dnf or this would be a '2 what the hell did I just read' stars review, but that's not what happened and things clicked and connections got made for me and at the end of it all it's 4 'WOW' I really liked that stars. I'm quite comfortable saying that if the first part of the book had worked for me as well as the last this would easily have been a 5 star review.

 

I'm not often a fan of rock star stories and this one started out as 'rock star meets boy, rock star screws boy' fluff, fluff, fluff...until somewhere along the way boy started to challenge rock star, display a bit of himself and rock star started to realize the world didn't revolve around him...that maybe he head to do more than just be, if he really wanted this person to stay a part of his life. 

 

For me this wasn't a case of miscommunication it felt more like 'finally communicating' and when that happened I started to become invested and I became a fan. I absolutely loved the ending of this one it made me happy and was well done and I'm very much a fan of the fact that this is the first book in a series because there's more we need from this group...I want to know what's up with Mage and Dawn? Where will things end up with Sid and Stan? Also could we please see a bit more of the fanboy 'Baby Blue' I thought he was sweet and I'd love to see him get a story...see more! We definitely need more and I'm sure that I'm not the only one who wouldn't be opposed to more Dusk and Lolly/Abe.

 

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An ARC of 'Manic Pixie Dream Boy' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Do you remember when you were young...

The Dragon's Devotion - Antonia Aquilante

and you'd get ready for bed and there you'd be curled up under the covers all snuggly warm with your favorite toy waiting for a bedtime story...maybe, it's a story about kings and queens, fairies, dwarves, elves, a circus filled with lions, tigers and elephants or maybe it's a story with mystical creatures unicorns, griffins, a phoenix...dragons?

 

Whatever, the story as children it was a special time...a time filled with the magic of going to a far away land...a different place and time, filled with magic and adventure shared with just one other person...that person reading the story to us...maybe, it was mom, or dad, a brother or sister or even a grandparent.

 

Whoever it was. It was in those moments that many of us first discovered the magic of books and the wondrous things they have to share with us...the people, places, adventure, mysteries and magic...all of it is magic. Magic that transports us to places and on adventures all without ever having to leave the safety of our cozy, comfortable beds. It's a magic that we get to keep with us our entire lives every time we open a book it's there waiting for us. 

 

Ok...so now you're probably kind of wondering what this actually has to do with a specific book...one called 'The Dragon's Devotion'...well, you see this story took me back to my childhood to the magic of fairytales and happily ever after...there was a dragon and yes, we all know I'm a total pushover for dragons but this one...well, I have to say I think Corentin is going to be one of my favorite dragon's ever. He's large and majestic and his scales are such a deep purple that they're almost black, he has beautiful violet eyes. He's fierce and brave and at the heart of him is a man...a man who is intelligent, kind, loyal, handsome and knows how to love. Yeah...I sorta...kinda have a crush on Corentin.

 

But as wonderful as dragon's are they weren't the only thing in this story to hold my interest. There was also Bastian or more accurately there was the mystery that Bastian brought with him...you see for me Bastian was ok, I didn't dislike him. I just wasn't enamored of him. To be honest at times he annoyed me, but I also felt badly for him he lost his parents at an early age and being the oldest child of an Earl, he suddenly had a huge amount of responsibility thrust upon him. Not only was he suddenly the Earl but he has 3 younger siblings that he is also responsible for...two brothers and a sister and it's responsibility that he takes very seriously...read...micro-manage and too serious. But it's done out of a sense of love, responsibility and family obligation...so maybe his course of action wasn't always the best but his intentions were and that definitely counts for a lot.

 

And on a sidebar...can I just say that I was far more interested in Bastian's brothers, Griffen and Mathis...especially Griffen, I think there's definitely a story to be told about that young man and I for one would be so willing to read it...just sayin'.

 

Now about that mystery that Bastian brings...you see years earlier Bastian's parents and Prince Philip's parents were killed in an accident...or was it? This is the question that plagues Bastian when he receives a mysterious note telling him that what they had assumed was an accident wasn't. Leaving Bastian wondering 'what to do?' and 'who to trust?' *no spoiler here folks, it's in the blurb.*

 

'The Dragon's Devotion' was a wonderful blend of romance and mystery with a subtle touch of fairy tale for some added magic. The romance was a sweet slow burn...but there was definitely a romance, one involving sweet kisses in the rain, dinner's out with a side of attempted murder...opps, maybe not such a romantic thing...but did I mention...dragon to the rescue? See...what i did there, how romantic is that?

 

Now, just one more thing before I leave on another adventure. 'The Dragon's Devotion' is the fifth book in Antonia Aquilante's 'Chronicles of Tournai' series and as it says in the blurb this one can be read as a stand alone. I haven't read the first 4 books and while I very much enjoyed this one I have to admit I do wonder if I had read the previous books if this might not have turned out to be a 5 star read for me? I honestly can't say for sure, but what I can say is that at no point did I feel lost or confused about this story.  I think readers who have read the previous books will probably enjoy it all the more for having the background of some of the secondary characters and while I loved that there were characters from the previous stories in this one, I truly didn't feel like I was missing anything that was relevant to this story so much as that I think when I have a chance I'd like to go back to Tournai and catch up on what I missed by not having read the first 4 books.

 

'The Dragon's Devotion' is a wonderful story reminiscent of childhood but  wrapped in magic for adults. 

 

 

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An ARC of 'The Dragon's Devotion' was graciously provided by IndiGo Marketing & Design in exchange for an honest review. 

This has all the makings of a country song...

Best New Artist - B.A. Tortuga, Brian Hutchison

There was a time when JT and Jonah loved each other, but JT wanted fame and fortune. Jonah just wants to make music. Both men are heartbroken when Jonah decides he needs to walk away from their relationship leaving JT to pursue the life he thinks he wants. 

 

Years later JT has a very public melt down and heads back to Texas knowing that what he thought he wanted was neither what he wanted or needed. He finally reconnects with Jonah and as JT starts to realize how much Jonah meant to him and to put himself back together he begins to realize just how much Jonah truly means to him and that what he wants is the man who walked away from him. But things have changed for Jonah and it's going to take all of JT's patience and love if he wants to get back what they lost.

 

Nobody does cowboys and rednecks like B. A. Tortuga. I love the men she shares with us. Their willingness to fight for what they want to give the person they want all that they've got and JT and Jonah are perfect examples of this. It's been 10 years since these men have parted ways and when JT reaches out to Jonah in need of a place to safely rebuild his life, Jonah in spite of what he's been through knows that helping JT is something he needs to do no matter how much it might hurt his heart because he also knows that JT would never knowingly hurt him and this is a chance that they both need to take if they're going to truly heal themselves.

 

For me this was an enjoyable and angst free read. I loved that JT and Jonah were both willing to talk to share with each other there were no miscommunications and in spite of the fact that JT didn't initially know the details of what had happened to Jonah he knew that Jonah needed love, patience and understanding and he was willing to give it, but he was also willing to take the risk of gently prodding Jonah to give them another chance and I loved all the dogs!!! So many dogs and can I just say Nana beats Kujo for dog names any day of the week. 

 

'Best New Artist' also gave me the chance to listen to a new narrator...or more accurately I should say a new to me narrator. Brian Hutchinson was the narrator for this story and I definitely enjoyed listening to him add color, depth and emotion to this story with the voices he gave to these characters.

 

I have to admit I'm not a big fan of country & western music but when it comes to stories I'd rather read about a couple of singing cowboys than rock stars 9 times out of 10 and this one was definitely one of those nine. I loved the characters and the story was a slow and sweet reunion of two men who both wanted and deserved a second chance...this one was purely delightful.

 

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An audio book of 'Best New Artist' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There's no place like home...there's no place like...

Trapped in Oz (Tales from Kansas Book 3) - Andrew  Grey

'Trapped In Oz' is the third book in Andrew Grey's 'Kansas' series and at the heart of the story is 'home'. Martin Long has a good job and a good home. At least he did until his dad got offered a promotion that's a huge career opportunity for him...to bad it means moving. Suddenly Martin needs to find a new place to live. 

 

Gary Hunter has a house that was left to him by his grandmother and he has a roommate who's less than ideal and needless to say Gary's more than a little relived when said roommate has to move back home. 

 

When Martin calls in response to Gary's ad both men feel like maybe prayers do get answered. It's not love at first sight for these two but they like each other. Martin needs a home someplace where he's comfortable. He's not looking for a palace just someplace nice to call home and when he sees Gary's house he sees potential and offers to help Gary fix things up turning the house the Gary loves into a home where both men can find love and be safe. 

 

Gary knows what it's like to be rejected his family essentially disowned him when he came out as gay and it turned out that the man he thought he was in a relationship with, only  thought of Gary as a booty call. While Martin's never had a boyfriend he lives in fear of his parents learning he's gay. 

 

As Martin begins to move his things into Gary's house and both men begin working together to fix things up, with more than a little help from Martin's awesome mom, feelings begin to grow, get explored and tested.

 

Along with Martin, Gary, their friends and family we get a chance to see a bit of Lyle and Roger the MCs from 'Dumped in Oz' as they befriend Martin and Gary helping Martin come to terms with his sexuality and sharing stories with Gary about his grandmother. 

 

Once again Rusty Topsfield is the narrator for this audio book and his performance was solid, consistent, expressive and added life to the story creating an enjoyable listening experience for what is probably my favorite story in this series.

 

'Trapped in Oz' is a fairly short but sweet story about finding love, coming to terms with your sexuality, coming out and learning that home really is where the heart is.

 

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An audio book of 'Trapped In Oz' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest return.

This was cute...

Caught! (The Shamwell Tales) - J.L. Merrow

'Caught' was the first book in J. L. Merrow's 'Shamwell Tales' and I enjoyed listening to this on audio.

 

Robert's teaching at the village primary school trying to rebuild his life after losing his last teaching position and the man he thought was the love of his life. He's happy with teaching and not looking to replace the man who left him. 

 

On the surface Sean doesn't seem to be anyone that would interest Robert and the only thing these two have in common is the fact that Sean's nephew's are in Robert's class. But looks are deceiving and Sean effortlessly charms his way into Robert's life but not without more than a few mishaps and misunderstandings, due largely to Robert's stubborn desire to keep his past a secret and his rather quirky and naive personality. 

 

I was more than a little amused by Robert's inclination to be overly precise and often times take things far more literal than necessary. I like Robert and found him to be quirky, kind and sensitive, no to mention a bit of a worrier as well. While Sean was more laid back, spontaneous and just generally more outgoing about life.

 

There were also some excellent secondary characters in this story...Robert's friends Rose and Fordy, his family and Sean's. But I think my favorite secondary characters this time around was Charlie and his dad. Charlie was a sweet little boy in Robert's class who liked to dress up at home and wanted fairy wings for Christmas and while Charlie's mom wasn't around he had an awesome dad because dad didn't want him not to dress up or have fairy wings he just didn't want his boy to get hurt for wanting these things and he wanted to try and understand his son not change him...I bet there are a lot of kids out there who'd love a dad like this and as a parent I have to say all we can do is love our kids and try our best to give them a home where they're always loved for who they are and know that they shelter from the storm called life...yep, Charlie and his dad made this one good all on their own.

 

Mark Steadman was the narrator and needless to say he's definitely got the Brit accent nailed. I'm guessing possibly because he's British. But it's also more than that, he also gives the character voices the individuality, consistency and expressiveness that I enjoy in an audio book. 

 

Unfortunately in spite of the good stuff I just didn't really feel the connection between the MCs with this one...not like I did with 'Muscling Through' the only other book I've read by this author. So while 'Muscling Through' was a 5 star read and this one was only 3 stars, I still had more than a couple of LOL moments and look forward to enjoying more by this author...whether it's e-book or audio book, I'm always on board for a good story and few laughs...although maybe no rats next time.

 

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

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