...Bookfanatic

 

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

Unfortunately this one didn’t exactly have me holding my breath…

Like Breathing - Tia Fielding

Devin Rice may not have gotten off to a great start in this world but sometimes Karma can be kind for him it was. He’s got a set of awesome adoptive parents and a brother who he loves and who loves him…enough that they live as roommates. He works for his dad’s video company as a coder and all in all things are pretty good. But Devin also has some issues he’s got a bit of social anxiety going on and his romance life is pretty much non-existent, at the moment, but that’s all about to change when Devin agrees to deliver an assignment for his brother to his mentor and professor…Seth Kent.

 

Seth is older but he’s also brilliant and gorgeous and pushes more buttons than even Seth knew he had and he’s also in a relationship with…an older man…enter Leaf, yep, that’s his name ‘Leaf’ like the things you find on trees. So awkward moment, right? Nope, because Leaf’s all good with Seth’s attraction and when he meets Dev…well he not only understands the attraction, he quickly comes to realize that he shares his partner’s attraction to Devin. Thanks to his work with rescue dogs Leaf’s frequently gone from their home and while Dev had the good fortune to be adopted by a loving couple who gave him a wonderful childhood and home…Leaf, not so much and while he survived his childhood and all things considered turned out to be pretty awesome, it left him with a bit of a different outlook no life where some things are concerned.

 

I have to admit I was more than a little intrigued by the blurb and willing to venture into the story and things started out not to badly. I liked the first part of the book things between Dev and Seth started out fairly well and held a lot of promise and then we met Leaf…and that’s where the story fell apart for me. Don’t get me wrong I liked the characters all 7 of them…wait, what? 7 you say? Where did we get the number 7 from? Oh that’s easy…sit back and I’ll explain…

 

Ok, so you know who 3 of the characters are right? Devin, Seth and Leaf but somewhere early on…as in right around the time we meet Leaf we also meet…Husky, Grace and Missy and later on we meet Weasley (and any good Harry Potter fan will get this name and why he has it) and that makes lucky number 7…do you see where I’m going here? Because if you don’t than let me spell this out for you…I love dogs, hell I have one. He’s my fur-baby and I love cats I don’t have any right now but that’s not a reflection of how I feel…trust me on that one. Anyways back to the story and how things went sideways for me. Shortly after Leaf came into the picture I announced to my hubby… “It’s a little weird that I’m starting to feel like I know more about the animals in this story than a dog that I’ve lived with for 6 years.” so yeah, that was my first clue that we were heading sideways and unfortunately it became an ongoing problem for the remainder of the story. Pretty much without fail whatever was happening events consistently drifted back around to the dogs and one unfortunate little ginger kitten.

 

Ultimately there was a lot about this story that I like or could have potentially liked if I could have had more people time and less rescue dog story. It’s not that I didn’t like the dogs not even close I just needed them not to be in the foreground of the story so much and more a part of the background that helped to flesh out the main story which should have been about the relationship development between Dev and Seth and Dev and Leaf and ultimately between Dev, Seth and Leaf and for me when something else in a story keeps pulling my focus away from what’s suppose to be the core of the story than well…it’s a distraction and not an enhancement of what I thought I was going to be reading about and honestly, it eventually becomes a bit annoying.

 

At the end of it all what should have been a story about two men in a relationship (Seth & Leaf) meeting and taking a third man (Dev) into their lives and their hearts got overshadowed by 3 dogs and a cat and at times started to feel like a PSA for rescue dogs. So, if you like dogs…I mean really, really, really like dogs you’ll probably like that, but for me, while I do like dogs, it just became distracting and a little bit annoying.

 

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An ARC of “Like Breathing” was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Family...can't live with them...can't live without them...but sometimes...

Family Man - Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton, Colin Darcy

the choice isn't always ours.I think we can all agree that in general stereo-types suck and while some are worse than others in terms of their implications, some can also have a basis in reality...like the fact that some cultures place a great deal of importance on things like family, which isn't to say that they're the only cultures that value family and honestly, try as I might I can't see this as a bad thing. But as much as a person can love their family sometimes, that same family can have expectations that aren't fair or may even have just been misinterpreted...hey, it could happen.

 

For Vincent Fierro family means everything and as an Italian man, he's sure that being gay isn't an expectation his family would have and certainly not something that they would accept from him but after 40 years and 3 divorces Vincent is starting to realize that he needs to find a way to live his life for himself and hopefully...maybe if the stars aligned he'll still get to keep his family. 

 

Trey on the other hand doesn't have a lot of family and maybe that's a good thing because all he's got is his gran and his mom...and mom...to say the least is sucking the life from him. Mom's got an addiction issue and we'll talk more about that later.

 

'Family Man' isn't a new story by any means it was released in e-book format back in 2013 and it's been on and off of my radar on a somewhat consistent basis every since but when I saw that it was out on audio I decided that this was a sign that it was time for me to check this one out.

 

Colin Darcy is the narrator and this was my first time listening to a book narrated by him and not my last. Mr. Darcy impressed the hell out of me. Overall I enjoyed his narration but I have to admit I quickly became a fan of Vince's voice. It was so perfectly the voice that I imagined Vince would have and I was simply delighted with Vince and while I hadn't really given as much consideration to Trey's voice once again things worked and in general the same can be said for the secondary character voices as well. It all just worked.

 

Ok, so without spoiling this for those of you who haven't read or listened to the audio on this one...overall I liked this story. I liked the way that Vince grew and developed as the story progressed seeing him come to terms with his sexuality and while it was a struggle for him at times and he didn't always do the right thing at first he still kept trying and it never felt like he was giving up on himself or on being with Trey in spite of what he thought he was risking and I loved that when Trey needed him the most he was there for him and while their relationship was definitely a work in progress neither of these men were afraid of a little hard work if it meant having what they wanted.

 

Now I can't say this was the part of the story that I liked the best because that's not the case but I had a definite appreciation for how the author's dealt with Trey's mom's addiction issue. It wasn't glorified in that she magically got better and everyone thought she was wonderful for it and all of the damage that she caused with her addiction suddenly disappeared or was forgotten and without giving away specifics of the story I'm not going to go into this any deeper except to say that as someone who has had the experience of being involved with a person who had addiction issues as with most things in this world each person, each disease, every issue is unique and while there may be commonalities there are also things unique to that person and their situation and while I saw the commonalities in Trey's mom to the situation that I was in I also saw the things that were different and unique to this characters story and for me that was a a touch of realism that came naturally to the story. 

 

Ironically as much as I enjoyed this story I can't say that I"m sorry it took me so long to get around to this one because I thoroughly enjoyed Colin Darcy's narration and again...the voice of Vincent...it was so worth waiting for, but even if you're not a fan of audio...hey, it can happen the story is a worthwhile reading experience.

 

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

Forget the magic...this one will consume you...mind, body and soul...

The Consumption of Magic - T.J. Klune, Michael Lesley

Holy hell!!! TJ Klune has knocked it out of the ball park with this series and then when you turn it into an audio book with a narrator as talented and just innately tuned into the story as Michael Lesley is...well, you've created a monster of the best kind.

 

I thought the first two books were incredible and they were...are but with each successive story this just gets better and better...I gave the first two books 5 stars and I'm doing the same again here because for me it's not really a matter of each book gets better it's more a case of each part of this story remains equally as amazing as the one before it was. 

 

So yes, to begin with if you haven't read or listened to 'The Lightening Struck-Heart' or 'A Destiny of Dragons' stop now and go fix that because this is truly one big epic fantasy story and you need all of it in order to truly appreciate and understand what's happening. 

 

To be quite honest I've read and listened to the audio book for the first to parts of this series and still I would happily go back and listen to them all over again and I will as soon as time permits because without a doubt this is going to be one of my favorite series EVAH!!!

 

This part of the series essentially picks up where 'A Destiny of Dragons' left off and we get to spend more time with Sam of Wilds and his entourage of interesting and unusual friends. I've pondered on more than one occasion who's my favorite and  while I have to admit I am so totally a fan of dragons...when it comes to this bunch I just love them all. As a collective they work and somehow one without the others just wouldn't be a good...so I feel no need to choose and I simply adore each and every one of them.

 

As the adventure progresses in this story so does the danger to all involved. Sam is reunited with his mentor, Morgan of Shadows and Randolph only to discover that there are secrets so any secrets and not only do they threaten the faith and trust that he has always had with Morgan and begrudgingly with Randolph as well but the very well being of Sam, his friends and the whole of Verania as well. Also just a bit of a heads up the story doesn't end here and this one's definitely left us sitting on the edge of a cliff...a seriously freakin' scary cliff but fear not the next book is already out so if you can't wait for the audio book to be released there is the e-book currently available and if you're like me you may have hopes of reading the book before the audio comes out because this one's worth experiencing once or twice or maybe a few times more.

 

Like the previous books 'The Consumption of Magic' is filled with adventure, action, laughter tears...so freakin' many tears...TJ, Kleenex called to thank you for the boost to their sales...ffs!!! you need to stop this...no, no actually you don't because as much as you're books tend to shatter me into a millions itsy bitsy pieces each time the adventure is done you've put me back together so I'm going to trust that you'll do the same with this one as well. Just keep writing stories that are unputdownable. Yeah, it's a word...hey, google said so and google would never lie to me (just FYI I typed this with a straight face). 

 

So if  you're still not convinced about this book...this series, well all I can say is you need to go to GoodReads or Amazon and read some more reviews because they're out there a whole lot of really, really awesome reviews for a really, really awesome book...seriously check it out.

 

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

and now more of Nash & Joshua's story...

The Edge - S.J.D. Peterson

'The Edge' is the third book in SJD Peterson's series 'The Underground Club' and it's the the second part of Joshua and Nash's story. 'Limitless' was the second book in this series and it was where Joshua and Nash's story really began, although they were introduced to us in 'Override' which was the first book in this series and about Donovan and Seth.

 

Briefly 'Limitless' gave us the beginning of Joshua and Nash's story and how they came to be together and while I really enjoyed it, I was more than a little happy to get more about them because with all of Joshua's issues I just didn't see these two have an uncomplicated 'happily ever after' and...well, I was right. Nash has got his work cut out for him if he's going to be the Dom that Josh needs and Josh has his work cut out for  him as well if he's going to be the sub that he feels Nash deserves...now if we could just get Josh to open up and talk about what's bothering him...enter Dr. Cedric Hobson, Nash's friend and fellow Dom and Denny, current sub of Malcolm's and hopefully soon to be friend for Joshua...a peer who's not a Dom...something that Nash is hoping will help Joshua to relax and open up. 

 

Overall this was an enjoyable addition to Joshua and Nash's story and there was a lot about it that I enjoyed but overall it came down to a case of I liked this and while it was a solid read for me, it just didn't put me over the moon and quite honestly that's ok not every book has to be a 5 star read because if they were than really what would be so special about any of them? Just like everything else in this world it's the variety that keeps things interesting. 

 

We're given a much closer look at Joshua and Nash's relationship on an emotional level in this part of the story as Nash begins to realize that while his intentions were good his actions weren't what 'his boy' needed and Nash is just man enough to acknowledge when what's best for 'his boy' may not be something that he can provide by himself or directly.  As Nash begins to see the depth of Josh's problems he also begins to see that he's not equipped to deal with it all no his own or alone and he does what any good Dom would do...he gets the help that Joshua needs.

 

This for so many reasons was one of my favorite parts of the story. I loved that Nash was the one who acknowledged that he wasn't what Joshua needed...well, not the totality of what he needed and then he took action to ensure that that need was met and he continued to self-monitor the relationship realizing after a time that things still weren't quite what Josh needed and again he took action to ensure that Joshua's needs were met...for me Nash's behavior 'screamed Alpha male' and honestly if I was looking for a DOM I'd want someone like Nash. Someone who was more worried about the mental and physical well being of their sub than their macho image. 

 

The other aspect of this book that I really liked was Joshua's journaling that his therapist had  him do. It was an awesome way to show us 1. Joshua's perspective on things and 2. the progress that he made throughout the story. It allowed for these things to happen in what felt like a more natural and organic manner. 

 

And then there was the ending of the story...in a way it was probably my favorite part of the story because it worked...yes, Nash and Joshua got their happily ever after but it was well earned and much deserved and if felt right it wasn't an over the top hearts and rainbows the world is perfect sort of ending. To me it felt more like a well earned, we deserve this because we worked damned hard to get it sort of ending. 

 

I'm hoping that we get a chance to see what's going to happen between Malcolm and Denny because these two so need to be a thing and not a temporary thing as Malcolm keeps implying, but I'm also hoping that I get a chance to go back and read 'The Guards of Folsom' as well...it's still on my TBR list. I've read a few books but this author and I've enjoyed them all to varying degrees and I'm looking forward to continuing with this series.

 

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

This dish was sweet and served with a side of cute...

A Full Plate - Kim Fielding, Kenneth Grahame

Sometimes it's just really nice to read a book that has a nice romance that while it may not be totally uncomplicated, it's not loaded with a ton of drama and angst and has MCs who are both just adorable and cute.

 

'A Full Plate' fills the order on this. Bradford 'Tully' Tolliver pretty much has everything that money can buy. He's got a gorgeous home, drives a Tesla, works as a junior lawyer at a prestigious law firm and a non-existent social life, but when you work the hours that he does what else can you expect and Tully's convinced himself that this isn't a problem and quite honestly until his friend and colleague ask  him to take in her brother, Sage for a year and give him a place to live while he works at a nearby diner to earn the money he needs for his obligations back home.

 

But all that changes when Tully agrees to help Sage Filling...seriously, that's his name I'm not making this stuff up I couldn't if I tried, so Tully agrees to help out and gives Sage a place to live. As Sage and Tully get to know each other they discover that 'opposites attract' is more than an over used turn of phrase. 

 

Problem is Sage doesn't have time for romance because he's got responsibilities and they have to come first even if he enjoys Tully's company and how they are together...which is abso-freakin-lutely adorable.

 

I loved these two men together they were cute and sexy and they worked as a couple they fit together so nicely. Sage wanted to make food for Tully and feed him while Tully wanted nothing more than to do whatever he could to make Sage's life better...easier, after all he had the money and what good is it if you can use it to help those you love? Except Sage has his pride and he's not looking for someone to take care of his responsibilities and it's this impasse that makes Tully realize that what he really wants is to be with Sage and love him...to be his partner and honestly I loved the ending for this one. It was sweet and just so perfect for both of these men.

 

Add in some interesting, likable and maybe a not so likable character and you've got a romance story that's not only sweet with a side of cute but it's also got that little bit of extra to keep it interesting as well.

 

This is my third audio book narrated by Kenneth Obi and with each book this narrator is earning a spot on my 'narrators I like' list. His voices are consistent, expressive, emotional and overall the voices that he gives the characters just work and listening to an audio book narrated by Mr. Obi has consistently been a true listening pleasure.

 

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

Well if it's not broken than don't fix it...

Familiar Angel - Gomez Pugh, Amy Lane

I really enjoyed this one when it was first released and listening to the audio book narrated by Gomez Pugh has done nothing to change how I felt than, so honestly I'm not about re-inventing the wheel so my current review for this story still stands... 

It's been a hundred and forty years since Harry, Edward and Francis found themselves in the wrong place at what turned out to be the right time for them.

Life in a brothel was neither safe nor good for the three boys and Harry and Edward were determined to keep Francis safe from the darker side of brothel life.

 

When things became too dangerous Harry and Edward knew that the only way to keep Francis safe was to flee. Trapped in a grove and hiding among some bushes the boys are witness to a meeting of supernatural beings...an angel, a witch and a demon and his protege. As events unfold what the boys come to think might be their undoing turns out to be their salvation and they are swept away to begin a life that none of them had ever dared to hope they would be a part of.

 

This was also the first time that Harry would meet the angel, Suriel. Over the next 140 years as the boys learn magic and what it's like to truly have a family and they come to find what they believe to be their purpose in the world...to save those who have been enslaved. 

 

Throughout the intervening years Suriel remains a part of their lives and slowly he and Harry develop their own special bond and for the most part 'Familiar Angel' is their story, but it's also a lot more than that because there's so much more to this story than just a love story between Suriel and Harry. There's a lot of background in this story for all of the characters  this story covers the beginnings as a family for Harry, Edward, Francis, Emma (the witch), Leonard (the demon & Emma's lover) and  Bel (Emma & Leonard's son). As well we are given Suriel's background and a glimpse of Mullins (Leonard's protege).

 

My only real reservation with this one was that I truly would have liked more and not just because I was enjoying the story and...well, I am greedy that way...no this time I actually have a valid reason and it's because as well as being Harry and Suriel's story 'Familiar Angel' is also giving the background for this story and laying the groundwork for future stories and this is a story that feels like it's big and it just needs a little more than some other stories might need. I'm not talking about hundreds of pages here I just feel like a little more background and groundwork for future stories would have been nice and I acknowledge it could be that I'll get it in future stories and maybe, I'm just being a bit impatient since I have to admit that while I wanted more I also wasn't left feeling like I was missing anything...so maybe, I was just being greedy but you know angels, witches, demons...can you blame me?

 

'Familiar Angel' delivers a story that while based on a concept that we're all familiar with (no pun intended) that of witches and their familiars, it delivers the relationship from a fresh perspective and in a new way. 

 

I loved the sense of family that grounds this story and while Suriel and Harry are the MCs in this story there's also a stronger sense of an ensemble cast contained within. While the story jumps back and forth between the past and the present it's well done and I didn't have a problem with following events and where they belonged on the timeline and as always Ms Lane has created more than one or two characters who caught my attention and left me wanting more.

The only thing that was going to make this one better for me was having it on audio and narrated by someone who could give voice and live to the characters that the author has created and Gomez Pugh has solidly accomplished this task bringing to life a collection of characters that for me are definitely among Ms Lane's most interesting and unusual. I'm looking forward to enjoying this one again...soon.

 

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

and the story continues...

Crescendo - Rachel Haimowitz

You might remember that I reviewed the audio book for 'Counterpoint' the first book in this duology about a month ago and I loved it...well, some things haven't changed because I loved this one as well.

 

'Crescendo' picks up right where we left off at the end of 'Counterpoint'.  Freyrik and Ayden are heading for the High Court where their presence has been demanded by the Aegis Exalted.

 

As the tensions between elves and humans grows, so does the love between Freyrik and Ayden. Things go from bad to worse when the Aegis binds Aydin's magic and Aydin discovers that he's not the only elf being held prisoner by the high court. Between the intrigues of the high court, the threat posed to mankind's existence by the dark beast and the machinations of Freyrik's brother as he plots the down fall of the Aegis. Freyrik and Aydin are fighting not just for their survival but the survival of both of their races.

 

This book...Wow! Just wow! It's been quite a while since I've read a fantasy novel that contained a plot that captured me as strongly as this one did. The plot for this story was a little more complex than the usual and things often weren't quite as they seemed especially where the Aegis and the high court were concerned and I loved it but I have to admit keeping track of all the subtle twist, turns and nuances of events as they transpired and the impact that they would have on events and individuals was a bit challenging. 

 

I loved the pacing and the ongoing world building that occurred in this book always being given enough of both to keep my imagination fully engaged and the story moving at what for me was a steady pace and while not to fast it also didn't drag. 

 

I was on the edge of my seat pretty much from start to finish as Freyrik and Ayden struggled to find a solution that would save both of their races and allow them to be together. Their's is not an easy relationship and sadly more often than not it's Ayden who pays the price in blood, pain and ultimately with the binding of his magic. While his faith in Freyrik may falter at times it never fails and in the end when they need each other it holds strong. 

 

My one and only niggle was the ending and even this by no means spoiled things for me. I have to admit that after all that they went through to save their races and each other I would have liked a little more happy times with Rik and Ayden but still all things considered knowing that they got to be together was a big plus. 

 

While Craig Beck was the narrator for the first book, Giles Barron took on the challenge of narrating 'Crescendo' and I was really pleased with his narration. While I had a month between the first and second book it was by no means enough time to forget the wonderful narration that I enjoyed in 'Counterpoint' and fortunately Mr. Barron was equal to the task drawing me back into the story effortlessly and giving me voices that held all of the expression and consistency that was present in the first book.

 

'Song of the Fallen' is my first time reading this author aside from a short story and a book co-written with another author and I have to admit maybe that's not such a good thing because for me this one has set the standard pretty high for future books by Ms. Haimowitz and needless to say I'll be adding Giles Barron to my list of narrators that I like.

 

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

I was honestly enjoying the hell outta' this one...and then...

The Veranda - Rosalind Abel, Kirt Graves

...well then came the ending but we'll get to that for now let's talk about what I liked...which quite honestly was most of this book.

 

'The Veranda' is the third book in Rosalind Abel's 'Lavender Shores' series and the third one that I've listened to on audio. Once again Kirt Graves is the narrator for this series and once again he's done a rock solid job of narrating this book. This is my 6th book narrated by Kirt Graves and I've absolutely enjoyed them all. From the Lavender Shores books  to Wolfsong and everything in between the narration of each one of these books has without fail done justice to the story and with this most recent installment to the Lavender Shores series I've been reminded of the fact that I have yet another narrator whose backlist I need to investigate further. So from an audio perspective this one's definitely recommended.

 

Now on to the story. We've met Donovan in previous stories and I really liked him so when I saw that he was one of the MCs in this book I was more than happy to check it out. I have to admit though if Spencer has shown up previously he's not as solid of a memory in my mind but maybe that's because he was probably over shadowed by his less than likable sister...seriously can that woman just die without a fuss.

 

She was without a doubt a manipulative, conniving, self-serving b!tch! Couldn't stand her and from start to finish but given that we got to see her in action in previous stories this did not surprise me and quite honestly my less than warm fuzzy feelings towards here made it a whole like easier to get past that fact that Donovan's love interest is her ex-husband...yeah, that may have made me a bit squimish...but, hey, it's just a siblings thing. You date my brother or sister and for me that just automatically takes you off of my 'things I'd like to do' list.

 

While Donovan and Spencer may have seemed like 'insta-love' they weren't this was more a case of unrequited love come to fruition and there was just so much about these two was was sweet and adorable. For the most part I loved their story, how things progressed and how these two were together. While everyone may not be on board with Donovan and Spencer's relationship I love that they are. They each know what they want and what they want is each other and when push comes to shove both men are willing to speak up for what they want and yet in spit of that they're smart enough to not push things.

 

Along with Donovan and Spencer it was to say the least delightful to catch up with the MCs from previous books as well as some other secondary characters...such as Robert Kelly...that man is cray, cray in the most adorable way, Lamont...who can we please have his story

 

Ok so overall as you can see I enjoyed this story and now without benefit of specific details I'm going to explain how 'The Veranda' went from 4 stars to 3 for me and I really, really want you to keep in mind this is a 100% subjective opinion here. Yes, i have some friends who share my thoughts on this but I also have friends who either didn't care or really liked what happened...and yes, I'm talking about the ending now. I'm not going to go into the details here because if you've read the book whether you liked it or not I'm sure you know what I'm talking about and if you haven't but you plan on it than I'm not going to be the one to spoil it for you but for me it was just too much.

 

I can do OTT, I really can...there are more than a couple of authors that I read who have done their share of over the top and I've loved it, but, in the case of this story for me it was just too much and it just didn't work...it really did spoil things for me.

 

So at the end of it all I was frustrated and I'm taking a star back because of that, but as I said it's a very subjective rating that we're dealing with here because honestly if that ending had been just a tiny bit different there'd be 4 stars or 3.5 at the very least on this one and I'm still waiting for Lamont's story which I know from the e-books is the next one on the list...so while I'm waiting I'ma just gonna' wander of and read a few books to pass the time while I patiently wait

 

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

 

The series continues with a little sidestep for some sweet romance....

Snow in Montana - RJ Scott

‘Snow in Montana’ brings back to not just the ‘Crooked Tree Ranch’ but we get more about someone who’s been floating around on the fringes if previous stories…Sheriff Ryan Carter. I have to admit I haven’t really been overly intrigued by Ryan but ‘Surprise, surprise!!!’ that’s what happened here. Ryan went from a secondary character who’s a friend to the families at ‘Crooked Tree Ranch’ to a fully fleshed out person for me and damned if I don’t really, really like him and I loved the story that he got.

 

We were introduced to Ryan’s brothers…the oldest owns the local bar, ones a firefighter and another one’s an accountant…I think…yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s a number cruncher. I really enjoyed Ryan’s interactions with his brothers and when he does some security advising for a file that’s being shot at Crooked Tree Ranch his world gets thrown into chaos pretty much from the minute that he meets the films star one Jordan Darby and for whatever worked or didn’t with this one I just really, really enjoyed the whole relationship between Jordan and Ryan. It was fun and sweet…generally just adorable.

 

Interspersed with Ryan and Jordan’s story we also given more about Adam and Justin as Adam begins to recover what he thinks are lost memories amidst the turmoil and confusion of trying to figure out just how real some of his memories are relationships are tested…Adam & Justin’s friendship, Justin & Sam’s love…which I’m happy to say is rock solid, but as Adam tries to figure things out Ethan and Justin begin to feel the strain as brothers and Ethan’s torn Justin’s his brother but Adam’s the man he wants to share his forever with. I loved the ending for this one it’s not hearts and rainbows all tied up with a bow but it’s a group of men who have been through hell and back and while they may not know all the answers what they do know is they’ve got each other’s backs…no matter what they’re family.

 

I’ve really been loving this series so far and I know there’s at least one more book to come and I for one am so looking forward to it. I don’t know who’s story comes next but I have little doubt that like the previous books we’ll at least get a peek at how everyone’s doing and maybe if we’re lucky at least one of the MC’s will be Ryan’s oldest brother…I admit he intrigued me and I’d love his story if not the next book something soon…I’ll just cross my fingers and hope in the meantime.

There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today...

Auctioned - Cara Colter

that's a fact and while this story isn't fact it stems from reality a hard, cold cruel reality that this happens in the world that we exist in...it's a thing people a serious, scary, horrible, violent thing and if violence isn't your thing and by that I mean if it's a trigger for you than as much as this book dug into my heart and soul I'm going to suggest you think long and hard before reading it...actually I'm going to suggest that you may want to take a pass on this one.  While I don't seem to have any 'triggers' that doesn't mean that there aren't things that will keep me up at night and I'm pretty sure that this will be one of them.

 

This is "NOT" a romance. But it is Gray's story or the beginnings of it. We first met Gray in previous books that were from or connected to the Camassia Cove series. Gray is Abel's best friend and had a pretty significant role in Abel and Madigan's story...'Power Play' which is where I came to really like him. I'm not saying there won't be caring and feelings but this is so not a typical or even an atypical love story.

 

This is a story about strength, courage and survival. It's about the evil that's out there in the world and while the story itself is fiction the reality of what it's about isn't...so this one's definitely not for the feint of heart. It's dark and disturbing and left me feeling a little sick because the fact that this kind of thing happens in the world we live in is more than a little disturbing.

 

While the violence wasn't downplayed by any means I appreciated that it also wasn't portrayed with an excess of description. It's a fine line to walk between what's not enough, what's enough and when things have gone to far and I have to say for me the author did a pretty impressive job of walking that line.  While we're not give excessive descriptions of the violence what we are given is enough to engage the imagination and sometimes it's what the mind imagines that can be so much scarier than words on a page.

 

So  you've been warned this is not a light and fluffy story and it can be disturbing and having said all that I have zero regrets that I read this book. It's an incredibly well told story about a subject that shouldn't be ignored. 

 

Once again Cara Dee has dared to go where many wouldn't and she's done it without glossy, rose colored glasses. There were victims, survivors and heroes and yes, Darius was among the heroes in this story  but I have the feeling that wasn't always the case. I have a sneaky suspicion that Darius has in the past been a victim as well. Gray and Cole were also victims but in the end we saw that they rose to the occasion and were heroes as well. But hero or victim...these men were all survivors and while someone can become a hero in an instant being a survivor comes from enduring getting back up no matter how many times you've been knocked down...never giving up.

 

This is also a story that makes a person want to take a look at their own moral compass just to be sure that it's pointing in the right direction to where you want to go. While the subject of this story might make many a person squirm in their chair there was also a relationship starting...a relationship that is trying to establish itself under less than ideal circumstances so needless to say it's gotten off to a very slow start and for those of us who didn't get enough of these two men...there will be more and I honestly can't wait to see what's next for Gray and Darius.

 

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

 

Oh those Russians...

Edge of Forever - Barbara Elsborg

Ok so here we go again because if you recognize the song that this line is from you are once dating yourself...it was released in 1978...more than a few years ago.

 

Sorry for some reason this song always pops into my brain when Russia enters into a conversation or as is the case here becomes the setting for a book. I'm pretty sure there's more than one song about Russia out there. Anyways, about the book...

 

Like a lot of my friends I'm pretty much a sucker for a good cowboy story but this one's a cowboy story with at twist...you see our cowboys are in Texas or Wyoming or even Alberta...that's right folks we have cowboys up here in Canada...Calgary Stampede it's a thing and if you want to see cowboys well Calgary has them in abundance during...well never mind I'm digressing again.

 

The cowboy's in question aren't in any of those places they're in Russia...we're talking freakin' cold Russia. Seems they've decided to raise beef there problem is no one really knows how so they've done the obvious and that's to contract cowboys from the States to go over and train them and that's how Levi...wait, wasn't there a Levi in the last book that I read...yes, there was but he was an event planner and not a cowboy...so back to our cowboy Levi who's teaching a bunch of Russian men how to heard cattle because it's a dream of his that he's always had...NOT!!! More like because he needs to get away from his jerkwad, homophobic brother and a father who doesn't seems to care about him other than as someone to work the ranch and go earn enough money to build that new barn that they need...but that's another discussion for later.

 

So Levi heads off to Russia it's a cakewalk right? Six months there some breathing space between Levi and his family, go home resume life as normal and everything's find or at least it will be if Levi can survive the latest recruit who seems to want to be on the ranch even less than Levi and who's got Levi feeling more than a little hot and bothered but Pasha's not Levi's type after all, so it's not a problem and Levi doesn't do relationships so everything's good, right? Well than why does Levi want to hit something...or more like someone when he realizes that Pasha's being harassed and bullied?

 

That's right...bullied, it's not just a school thing it's out there in the world and Pasha's spent most of  his life trying to avoid the bullies and now his father has landed him smack dab in the middle of a hornets nest of them. But Pasha's strong and he's a survivor. He's already lived through so much, he can make it through this. He just needs to keep his head down and avoid them.

 

I don't even know where to begin to explain how much and why I loved this book. First off let's start with the plot because Wow!!! Simply WOW! There's a hella' good story here. It simply blew me away. The more I read, the more I wanted.  Neither Levi nor Pasha have had an easy life and both men are still struggling to make their way in the world and find their place. I loved them both...a lot. Sure I didn't always like that Levi was keeping his sexuality a secret and so sometimes his actions frustrated me but I could see why and he needed to be able to deal with things on his own terms and come to grips with it all. Still in spite of this he tried to be there for Pasha as much as he comfortably could and in the end he was all in, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. 

 

Back to Pasha...I don't think I have the words to explain what an incredible character Barbara Elsborg has created with Pasha...truthfully the only thing I can say that even comes close to doing Pasha service is 'read the book' and get to know him and love him for his strength, courage and his sense of humor...Pasha kept me smiling and laughing even during some of the bad times...I love Pasha...plain and simple. I would be his mom in a heartbeat...hey, I could do it, he's 7 years younger than my own son. 

 

I had a tiny little niggle with the ending hence the 4.5 stars instead of 5 and yet in spite of that I also loved the ending. it was a bit on the fairy-tale side...and they all lived happily ever after...so to speak but when I thought about it I also felt like if ever any book couple deserved this it's Levi and Pasha. They've faced down the big bad wolf...no literally there were wolves...see you need to read the book, they've survived more than one villain...bigoted homophobes and an obsessive stalker only to find out at the end of it all there's more and so much of what's happened isn't how it seems.

 

I'm pretty sure this one's going to be on my favorites list for this year...if not top 10 it's definitely going to be in my top 20, I guess we'll just have to see what the rest of the year brings.

 

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A copy of 'Edge of Forever' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Love me tomorrow, won't you please. Promise me...

Love Me Tomorrow - Ethan Day, Jason M Frazier

Love me tomorrow like today...

 

Ok if you recognize the song that these words are from...stop it your age is showing...lol!!! I'm so glad I'm not alone on that by the way.

 

I loved this one from start to finish this story worked for me. I loved the humor. I loved that Jake was a fan of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons...*waves hand* me too. Sorry I've been known to geek out over the silliest things and this just made me smile.

 

I loved most of the secondary characters Levi's mom was awesome, as were Antonio (I think that was his name) he was one of Levi's employee's who had a thing for Levi and while he was a bit of a serial flirter he didn't cross lines...much, Jake's sister, Julia, his parents were idiots mind you. but that's ok they were suppose to be, Jake's friends sorry I can't remember their names and there were a few others that graced the pages of this story and I enjoyed them but Levi's friend/business associate Valerie was one piece of work that I just couldn't get my mind around...seriously if she'd been my friend I would have dropped her like a hot potato. The woman was missing filters...you know like the one that says 'shut your mouth because you've gone from funny to just plain rude and borderline vulgar' 'class she had none', sorry but she really grated on my nerves. 

 

Levi and Jake first meet by accident when paramedics are summoned to his mother's place to care for her. The attraction is definitely instant but the relationship is definitely more complicated and takes some time and more than a few rough patches to get going. Levi's busy building his career as an event planner and trying to take care of his mother. Jake's a paramedic but more importantly he's in a relationship and he doesn't cheat...but he's drawn to Levi and he can't deny it. 

 

Jake finally settles on the idea that he and Levi can be friends because that's a far more palatable idea than not having Levi in his life at all. They try seriously hard. Neither of these men are into the idea of cheating. Jake wants to be there for Levi to make his life easier and tries to help Levi out whenever he can but the more time these two men spend together the stronger their feelings get and the harder they get to deny. I was really torn with this because I wanted Levi and Jake to be together. i liked them together and surprisingly I didn't dislike Jake's boyfriend...I wasn't over the moon about him but he really wasn't a bad person either...just not the right person for Jake.

 

I really enjoyed the banter between Jake and Levi and between Levi's mom and pretty well anyone else as well Jake's sister was also an  interesting character.

 

Jason Frazier was the narrator for this audio book and while he's not new to me...more like nearly new to me. I've listened to one other book by this narrator and coincidentally it was also an Ethan Day novel and I enjoyed that first listening experience but I have to say for me this one was just that little bit better...whether it was actually the narrator's skill improved or that I liked the story a bit more than the other story...I neither know nor care but I do know that I enjoyed this one enough to want to listen to it again one day. 

 

One good story and one good narrator made for several hours of pure listening pleasure. This one was truly delightful.

 

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

Oh those college boys...

The Quarterback - Mackenzie Blair, Greg Boudreaux

Ok so here's the elephant in the room this book is full of stereotyping and cliches are running rampant here, but let's also recognize that this book is set in the south at a 'christian' college with definite homophobic leanings. Nowhere are we given that impression that this is a progressive college with an accepting or even tolerant administration...so, I'm pretty much thinking stereotyping and cliches are a part of the norm and honestly an 'Oh your gay, that's nice' isn't really going to provide the setting needed to make a story with this background believable so as much as I like many others didn't like the stereotypes and cliches in this case...like them or not...they actually facilitated the story.

 

Ironically one of the things that I liked about this is the fact that if you look at the reviews on GR, you'll see that a considerable number of them are less than happy with this part of the story and when I to see things like this I view it as a reminder that, while it's often not as fast as many of us would like...the world is changing and people are starting to ask questions and voice dissent when the answers don't feel right. Acceptance is becoming a part of the norm and not the exception and sometimes we need stories like this to make us step back and take a look at how things are now. Ok, I'm going to step down off of my pulpit now.

 

On to the rest of the things. Overall I enjoyed this story I like both of the MCs...Matt's a deep in the closet gay quarterback and between the fact that he attends a Christian college and his homophobic, douchebag of a father. This man is such a piece of work. I mean I can't even begin to explain how much I disliked this a**hat. He's a con-artist, grifter use whatever word you want and as a father he's both abusive and manipulative using Matt's twin sisters to keep him in line...to keep him locked securely in the closet.

 

Matt's drawn to Trevor with his Korean/American heritage that give him an exotic look that Matt can't quite seem to resist so when their paths cross Matt may have been torn at first it doesn't take him long to decide that he wants whatever he can get from Matt and if it means being his dirty little secret he can live with that or at least he's willing to try.

 

I enjoyed the interaction between these two as the for to know each other during their 'study dates' code talk for 'Trevor teaches Matt about sex'. Trevor's family may have rejected him but he's not a weak man by any means. He's working 3 jobs to put  himself through college and while he's initially willing to keep their relationship a secret that doesn't mean that he just roles over if he's unhappy with Matt's behavior. So there's more than just sexual tension between these two men and trust me they're college boys so there's always sexual tension and sexy time.

 

I have to admit I found a lot of the secondary characters to be more than a little entertaining...in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.  In a nutshell...inappropriate comments were the order of the day with this group. From Matt's twin sister's to Danielle his friend's girlfriend to a coach looking for fashion advice. I can't lie more than once I found myself laughing out loud partially because they were saying things at times that were beyond inappropriate and while the story without the addition of the secondary characters really wasn't over the top. For me it made this all seem so much more tongue-in-cheek adding a touch of OTT humor to the story.

 

Lastly what made this a story that I was able to get behind and enjoy was the fact that I listened to it on audio and the narrator was Greg Boudreaux (or Greg Tremblay).  I'm not sure what words I can use to express my appreciation for the narrative talents of Mr. Boudreaux but the man is good...I mean seriously GOOD!!! He's not only in my top 5 he's at the top of that list. Without fail he delivers a story that is start to finish a listening pleasure.

 

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

Location, location, location...

Banded Together - K.C. Burn, Darcy Stark

While 'Banded Together' isn't part of K.C. Burns 'Toronto Tales' happily it's set in and around this city...Oakville!!! With a lot of events actually taking place in the city of Oakville which is one of several cities that share boundaries with the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and admittedly one of the most desirable ones to live in.Related imageOk, so much for geography class...sorry about this but Toronto is just under 2 hours from where I grew up and  just 2 hours from where I live now. While I love reading books that are set in places I've never been sometimes it's nice to read stories set in places that I know. So there's reason 1 why I liked this story and yes, it's very subjective. 

 

Now as for the story...if the location was something I like and part of what got me interested in this story...the story itself was what kept me reading. I liked the pacing in this one. It's a bit of slow burn but for so many reasons...slow burn was the perfect pace for this one. 

 

After a 20 year run as the lead singer for a rock band that ended with the unexpected death of Devlin's bandmate and best friend, it's time for Devlin to find a way to move on and returning to school and beginning again as a student studying archaeology now that he's lost the music in his life is the path that Devlin plants his feet on. Needless to say Devlin finds himself surrounded by a group of students who for the most part are young enough to be his kids but what truly surprises him is the hotter than hell Dr. Jack Johnson who catches his eye gives him more than an interest in archaeology that brings him to class.

 

When Jack realizes who Devlin is, he's determined to keep his distance but being in constant contact with the man who has fueled Jack's fantasies as well as inspiring him to be the lead singer in a cover band does nothing for his ability to resist the temptation that is Devlin Waters. 

 

There's a definite age gap between the MCs but because of where they each were in their lives, I didn't feel the power imbalance that can occur with age gap stories and I really liked the interaction between these two. 

 

While Devlin was at times a bit self absorbed it wasn't unrealistic to me as he was dealing with his grief over the loss of his friend and let's face it we all deal with grief in our own way and our own time so that Devlin struggled with it to the point of it being debilitating emotionally for him for me this only added a touch of realism to the story. 

 

I've been finding lately that I have a bit of a newfound appreciation for a 'slow burn' story, not that I want them all to be slow burns but once in a while it's nice to feel like there's a little more or at least as much development given to the emotional development of a story as the physical aspect.

 

'Banded Together' was a really enjoyable chance to revisit the writings of K. C. Burn and on audio it was also an opportunity to once again listen to the narration of Darcy Stark. This is only my second time listening to this narrator and like the first time I was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed the quality of the audio...my 'basic list' for audio books was easily ticked of and I'm going to try and explain this but one of my peeves about audio books is when voices don't sound appropriate to who the  person is. Thinks like younger children don't really sound like small children or they have a perpetually annoying, obnoxious or whiny sound to their voice or women's voices sound more like a man trying to do a woman's voice than simply a woman talking or sometimes when the voice doesn't match the physical image of a man...don't get me wrong I know these things can happen in real life but when it's an audio book the character representation is based strictly on the image created by the words in the story and the voice. 

 

Truthfully in real life I don't care how a person's voice sounds because in general I also get the physical representation of the person to create the image but in an audio book those voices need to work overtime to create a physical image as well as the vocal one so yeah, sorry to say but when it comes to an audio books sometimes a little stereo typing needs to occur unless a story tells me that the character looks one way and sounds another than I need my macho men to have macho voices, my children to have children's voices and my women to sound like women and while I'm not sure about the children (because there weren't any in either book that I've listened to)...Darcy Stark definitely nailed it for me with the voices in this one and I thoroughly enjoyed his narrations. I'm actually hoping to listen to a book narrated by him that has at least one child in it just to see how he does because so far I have not been disappointed by this narrator.

 

I'm not a big fan of 'rock star' MCs but the author's definitely created a character that I enjoyed in the form of Devlin Waters and while archaeology isn't really my thing I think I could enjoy watching Dr. Jack Johnson teach a class or two.

 

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

This really was more about the Mary Calmes than the Christmas, or at least...

What Can Be - Robert Nieman, Mary Calmes

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

 

I gave this one 5 stars when I originally read it and I'm sticking with that. I loved this story when I read it back in 2011...seriously that's how long ago I read this so...sorry there's no review by me for this one. I wasn't writing them back then...sorry. 

 

Anyways, it's Mary Calmes so does my love for this surprise anyone? I think not. This ones another short, sweet, holiday story narrated by Robert Nieman and start to finish I adored it so much so that if I didn't need to move on to other stories I'd probably have listened to this one more time...seriously it's only June...what the hell is wrong with me? Ok, I'm done with Christmas stories...for now and on to other things. Enjoy your summer days and don't forget to hydrate!

I'm pretty sure when I read this story I only gave it 3 stars...

The Holiday Hoax - Skylar M. Cates, C.K. Kelly Martin

I don't know maybe I was having a bit of a Scrooge complex at the time but apparently when I listened to this one the other day it worked a whole hella' lot better on audio. So, I'm just going to tip my hat to K.C. Kelly and credit the fine job he did with the audio and my obviously improved disposition and call it a day...and really, I'm thinking maybe I've taken leave of my senses because..."What the hell folks? Christmas stories in June? FFS...I can't even...I have no excuses but it's a thing I did...yeah, there's one more Christmas story to come. Happy Summer!

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