...Bookfanatic

 

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

I think this one's cast a spell on me...

Witchbane (Witchbane #1) - Kale Williams, Morgan Brice

Not to long ago I was given the opportunity to listen to a book called ‘Badlands’ by Morgan Brice a new to me author…or so I thought. So I checked it out and it sounded intriguing and of course I said ‘yes please’ and I enjoyed it a lot, so much that as soon as I was done I scrambled back to audible.com to get ‘Lucky Town’ the next book in the ‘Badlands’ series. Needless to say, when I was asked if I’d like to review the audio book for ‘Witchbane’ I was so all over that one and when I saw that I could treat myself to ‘Burn’ the next book in the series well I was all over that one as well and when ‘Dark Rivers’ the next book in the ‘Witchbane’ series is released…well, damn straight I’ll be all over that one too.

 

When Seth Tanner and his brother Jesse decide to debunk a local urban legend the last thing that either man expects is that one of them would be dead by morning. But when morning comes Seth finds himself alone. Seth’s struggle to find justice for his brother leads him to a world that he never knew existed as he discovers that the ‘person’ who murdered his brother has been dead for a hundred years and that every 12 years his disciples have committed ritual murder to feed their need and their masters needs for power. When Seth discovers that the 12 year cycle has once again come around and Jackson Malone is to be the next victim, he becomes determined not only to break the cycle but to keep Jackson alive.

 

When Seth stops at a bar in Richmond where a tip has led him in his search for Jackson Malone, he meets a very sexy and interesting bartender named ‘Sonny’ and since he’s going to be in town for a few days what could be the harm in spending a bit of time with such an attractive and interesting man. Luckily for Seth it put him right where he needed to be as he learns that Jackson and Sonny are one and the same person.

 

As Seth fights to keep Jackson/Sonny alive both men are torn between fighting the attraction they feel towards each other and giving in to it. Seth is confident about his fighting skills and solid in his determination to protect Sonny, he’s also very insecure when it comes to his personal relationships and as much as he wants to see where things could go with Sonny, he is his own worst enemy, frequently letting his actions sabotage things between them. Since he’s sure that Sonny’s going to come to his senses and leave at any time.

 

Meanwhile even though Sonny wants to trust Seth, he’s got a lot of reasons not to and those reasons are as much about his lack of faith in his own judgement as they are about Seth. Sonny’s taste in men is to say the least questionable at times. He’s had a stalker and maybe a couple of overly possessive, possibly abusive boyfriends…so in Sonny’s mind it’s very possible that Seth is just another mistake waiting to happen. Even though his heart is telling him to trust him, his history with men is saying…maybe not.

The one thing that these men both agree on is the sex…they’re totally combustible together and I honestly have to admit that at times for me the sex was close to being too much…hence the 4.5 star rating and not 5 stars, but this was saved for me by the fact that at times even Seth and Sonny knew that they needed to put their libidos on the back burner it they were going to survive and one or both of them would put the breaks on things so that they focused on what was truly important…staying alive.

 

While Seth and Sonny may have won the battle, they still have a war to fight as they continue to battle paranormal creatures and fight to destroy the disciples of the dark warlock who killed Seth’s brother.

 

It was actually in the author’s series ‘Badlands’ that we first meet Seth…sort of…kind of…well almost…Seth has a phone conversation with Simon Kincade, one of the MCs from the ‘Badlands’ series, however, while these series are connected at this point they are not dependent on each other and reading one of them doesn’t require reading them both. The fact that these stories were written by one of my long time absolute favorite fantasy authors totally cemented my decision to be all over these books and being able to enjoy the stories in audio format made the experience even more enjoyable.

 

Kale Williams is the narrator and while I’m not as familiar with his audio books as I am with a few other narrators, this is still by no means my first audio book narrated by Mr. Williams and as with previous experiences this narrator has made an enjoyable story even better bringing the characters to life by adding depth, emotion and personality to them through their voices.

 

So if you’re a fan of shows such as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or ‘Supernatural’ I strongly recommend checking out ‘Witchbane’ it’s got more than a few demons and a couple of hot demon hunters…not to mention that not everything that goes bump in the night is of the supernatural variety.

 

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

and even more awesome...

KAGE Unmasked - Maris Black, J. F. Harding

So we're just going to call it a day at 5 stars for the series because I basically tore through this like the world didn't exist and I'm on to the spin off series...'Santori'...so overall an awesome series and definitely recommended on audio J.F. Harding has done a superb job with this one.

More awesome...

KAGE Unleashed - Maris Black, J. F. Harding

Well that was fun and interesting and hot...did I mention HOT!!! Like holy hell!!! HOT!!! and then it kind of ended on a bit of a cliffy so thankfully I can just jump into the next audiobook...and then I might have the first two books of the Santori series to listen too...

Awesome story with an awesome narrator...

KAGE - Maris Black, J. F. Harding

A couple of my friends suggested that I listen to this on on audio...*side-eyes Josy & Simone* and ladies you were right!!! Holy hell this one is good seriously good and JF Harding is fan-freakin'-tastic as the narrator!!! I'm already on to the second book...yeah, it was pretty much a sleepless night! I blame you both!

"The harsh reality of life is...

If We Could Go Back - Cara Dee

that our happiness is rarely free. Someone always suffers for it."

 

Cara Dee is one of those authors who can take even the most challenging issue and create a story that's both interesting and thought provoking and she's more than done that with 'If We Could Go Back'.

 

'If We Could Go Back' is essentially told from Bennett's point of view covering a period of about 5 years beginning with that first day on the commuter train going to Seattle when Kieran boarded and sat down opposite a rather frazzled and worn out Bennett. It's a slow burn as the men get to know each through brief conversations and shared commiserations about life during their shared commute.

 

Bennett and Kieran are both married to other people...both have children with those other people, both are in what has essentially become a loveless marriage. Neither of them were looking for a romantic entanglement. They just needed a connection something...someone that was theirs...a friend. Someone to have an occasional drink with, hang out with, blow off steam. Neither man intended for things to go where they did.

 

I was honestly surprised by how much empathy I had for these two men. I think a big reason for that goes to motivation neither of them ever wanted or intended to hurt their wives and in fact they went to considerable lengths to try not to do this but and maybe this was the catch for me the thing that made the difference for both of these men their marriages were little more than a charade and had been for a while it was just a matter of people admitting it...don't misunderstand I'm not saying that this makes the cheating ok, I'm just saying that the reality is the cheating may have hastened the end of things but it didn't cause it. Sadly, there was so much more going wrong in both Kieran and Bennett's marriages.

 

Cheating's a hard line for most people in real life and I know I'm one of those people but as with so many things in life circumstances can often mitigate events and for me this was the case for Bennett and Kieran.  

 

At the end of everything I was left really liking both Kieran and Bennett and of course their kids, Bennett's father...yeah, I had a few tears for him but also he was simply awesome as was Bennett's sister, then there was Kieran's family some of them were pretty awesome some of them...well not so much and I really need to have words with his momma. That woman pft! not worth the time of day.

 

I love a nice fun, fluffy love story as much as anyone but sometimes it's good to read a story that holds such a connection to what happens in the real world like this one does. It's good to read a story where the characters are human and fallible, where mistakes are made and we as readers get to watch them not only make those mistakes but pick themselves up, dust themselves off and figure out how to fix things and carry on. Cara Dee writes such stories and I'm not ashamed to say she left me in tears more than once on this one. She also had me filled with anger, frustration and grief all interspersed with moments of happiness, tenderness and love. 

 

I know cheating's a hard line for many but truthfully if you can have faith and hang in there this is one of the best stories I've read this year and I would definitely recommend it and if you're worried about not having read some or any of the Camassia Cove series don't be this one definitely stands on it's own.

 

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An ARC of "If We Could Go Back" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Just another 5 star episode...

Criminal Intentions: Backdraft (Criminal Intentions: Season One #10) - Cole McCade

truthfully this one could have easily gotten more than 5 stars from me it I had that option. I honestly can't remember the last time I was as so enchanted with a book series and don't get me wrong there are so really good series out there and I've read a few of them but for me 'Criminal Intentions' is by far among the cream of the crop.

 

After 10 books I had honestly expected my interest and enjoyment of this series to have at least leveled off, if not maybe even waned just a little, but so far not only is that not the case I'd have to say that if anything it's holding strong and growing. 

 

While I've loved every book so far and if you look at my ratings you'll see they've pretty well all gotten 5 stars from me so it would be hard to tell but without a doubt this one has proven to be my favorite story to date. I loved the balance in the story between crime drama and personal events and while there are some things that hopefully will never change...(read snarky banter)...

 

Snark about each other...

"Why are you so hot when you're so bossy?"

"Not even I have enough psychological training to unpack that statement."

Snark about people they work with...

"I think we're getting under his skin."

Seong-Jae pressed his lips together. "Remind me again why I like you?"

"Because I'm insufferable, and you're a masochist."

"I..." He scowled. "I do not have an argument for that."

Even friends are fair game...

"...that is Cara's ringtone. I do not want to look. She sends me internal organs."

"You two have the most morbid fuckng friendship, I swear to God." 

I admit it, I'm a total fan of this kind of snarky banter and with Mal and Seong-Jae it's as much a part of who these two men are as the fact that they are detectives and on more than one occasion has added a touch of levity to help defray what would otherwise be an incredibly tense moment.

 

The relationship between Mal and Seong-Jai isn't the only thing moving forward, so are a lot of other things some of which I'm sure the full ramifications from them won't be known for a while yet. While i was absolutely enthralled with this particular episode it's a hard one to review because so much of what happened in this one could be considered a spoiler to previous stories and potentially to future stories as well.

 

One of my personal favorite scenes in this episode was when Mal took Seong-Jai home to meet his parents...I'm just going to say I loved it for me it was so spot on in terms of how I had imagined this would go. I pretty much felt like I was the proverbial fly on the wall during this meal.

 

As always we were given a complete story in terms of the crime that Mal and Seong-Jai solved but there were other things...things about Sade, Sila, Gabrielle and ultimately Mal and Seong-Jai that are very, very much unresolved and the question of where it's all heading and how it'll play out...well to borrow a quote from the book that I know you'll see on more than one other review...

"This is just the start of the storm...

and it's going to get worse before it gets better."

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An ARC of Criminal Intentions: Backdraft was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

More Kai and Ryder....sorry no dragons this time...

Jacked Cat Jive (Kai Gracen #3) - Rhys Ford

I think I forgot just how much I loved this series. I know a lot of my friends will tell you that I am unashamedly a Rhys Ford fan.  If she writes it, I'll read it and so far I can say without reservation I've loved every word and 'Jacked Cat Jive' is no exception.

 

As Kai embarks on his latest run to rescue some children at the request of Duffy, one of his dearest friends it seems things aren't complicated and dangerous enough with his personal pain-in-the-backside Sidhe Lord Ryder insisting that he accompany Kai. Ryder has a cousin who's come to town to contest his claim to the Southern Rise Court. A claim that Ryder says is every bit as  legitimate as his own and one that even if he can't refute it's legitimacy Kai is pretty sure that Kerrick's motivations for making it are more than a little suspect, but when Kerrick announces that he to will accompany Kai on his run to rescue the children his friend has charged him with protecting Kai realizes that there's not a lot he can do to stop it since Ryder's already extracted a promise from him that he won't kill Kerrick no matter how appealing the thought may be.

 

 

What I loved...like seriously and really loved in this book was the interactions between Ryder and Kai. We're still working with a slow burn here and I admit at the start of this I wasn't sure I'd be a fan of this but given Kai's history with the both the Sidhe and the Unsidhe it really makes sense that he'd be beyond cautious in his dealings with them but here in 'Jacked Cat Jive' we see Kai admit to his feelings for Ryder in his own snark filled way. 

 

There was definitely a more emotional side to Kai in this book but have no fear he's still got a long way to go before he gets sappy on us. I love that on an emotional level Kai is being slowly revealed to the reader. He's not an open book and true to his character in many ways what you see is what you get but that doesn't mean you get it all from the word go. Wining Kai Gracen's trust is truly a task worthy of the gods and one that I'm sure Ryder would tell you is not easily accomplished by any means and once you have it the true challenge is never to lose it. 

 

I found the plot in this book to be a bit busier than that of previous stories...sure there were children to be rescued, but there were several other elements involved as well and while some of them were dealt with here other things were only touched on and felt like small teases of things that are yet to come. So while this didn't quite feel like a cliff hanger, for me, it definitely ended on one hella' big tease,

 

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

More things that go bump in the night...

Burn (Witchbane #1.5) - Kale Williams, Morgan Brice

'Burn' is the second story or more accurately it's story #1.5 in Morgan Brice's 'Witchbane' series and essentially picks up where 'Witchbane' leaves off. Sonny and Seth have survived the events of Halloween and defeated the dark forces that had been determined to see Sonny sacrificed to the dark wizard and his disciples in their quest for power and eternal life. 

 

As Seth and Sonny begin to work at settling into a life together both men find that they are continuing to repeat their mistakes...mistakes based on experiences from their past. This combined with fighting a paranormal creature or two or maybe even twelve leads to a breakdown in communication between them and it's only through sheer determination on Sonny's part that things finally get resolved when he confronts Seth. It's not a perfect fix but more like the beginning of one and I'm sure there are going to be some rough times ahead but Sonny's persistent efforts are beginning to pay off and it feels like Seth is beginning to accept that Sonny is right where he wants to be.

 

While this story wasn't quite as enjoyable for me as the first one there were definite elements that I not only liked but hope to see more of in future stories...things like Seth and Sonny's interaction with some of the other hunters' in their network and I admit I'm hoping for even more relationship development between these two...maybe a bit more banter. I liked hearing Sonny step up and be a bit more assertive when Seth was hurt, not that he's by any means a shrinking violet but it was sweet to hear him get a bit protective about his man when one of the hunters asked them to go out on a mission before Seth had fully healed from the last one he'd been on.

 

Kale Williams is once again the narrator for the audio book, he continues to make the story all the more enjoyable with his rich narrative and character voices and I'm looking forward to joining Seth and Sonny for 'Dark Rivers' where they journey to Pittsburgh in a battle against an ancient evil that will cost them more than their lives if they lose.

Apparently, I missed out on the first part of this story when...

Tales of Bryant - V.L. Locey

it was published in the charity anthology ‘Love For All Seasons’ last year..my bad.  The story was titled ‘Brioche for Two’ but not to fear Ms Locey in her wisdom has included that story here in ‘Tales of Bryant’.

 

Along with the characters and how the author presented this story I loved how entangled ‘Bryant Park’ was with Isamu and Brian’s relationship. It was there and yet it felt like such a subtle. but strong thing connecting so much of what happens in these stories.

 

It’s in ‘Brioche for Two’ that we first meet Isamu Taylor the struggling film student and hard-working barista who’s had more than one fantasy about sexy, successful playboy and businessman Brian Gilles who calls to order coffee and brioche delivered to his table across the street in Bryant Park on a regular basis. For as confident and successful as he is when it comes to approaching Isamu that confidence seems to go into hiding.

 

I have to admit when it comes to age difference and an imbalance of power in the relationship dynamics I’m not as fast to leave the room as I use to be but I can still slip out the door with the best of them but sometimes for whatever reason a pairing or something about them will catch my eye and when I slip out of the room it’s with a copy of the book in my hands or more accurately loaded on to my e-reader and that’s what happened here.

 

There was something about Isamu and Brian that caught my eye and tugged at me to read…’Just read a bit more,’ my inner voice whispered ‘you know you want to.’ and what can I say I did want to, so I held out my grabby little hands and said ‘Yes, please. I would like to read this.’ and here we are…in Bryant Park watching as two men…one a film student and the other a successful ‘CTO’ do that dance that happens when two people first notice each other and while they may not be sure how…one or usually both of them know somewhere in their heart that if they’re patient and they take the time to work on it things will work, they will fit with each other in  a way that others didn’t. It will be a thing of beauty.

 

Each of these stories covers a season in their lives as ‘Brioche for Two’ takes us from late winter into spring where we see those first few awkward steps as Isamu and Brian begin their dance. I however realized that I was hooked before those first steps were ever taken. My heart was engaged, I wanted to see this relationship…to peek at these snapshots of their life together.

 

‘Towers of Moonglow’ follows these two from spring into summer as they get to know each other better, spend more time together

 

‘Pastels of Autumn’ gives a glimpse of Isamu and Brian’s relationship as life demands more and more making their time together more challenging to have and more precious

when they get it.

 

This is life…how many of us can honestly say that we haven’t had a time when we felt that the world was conspiring to keep us apart from the person, we love and want to be with the most. Haven’t wondered if they loved us enough to stay around? When we’ve questioned whether or not the price of our goals and ambitions wasn’t more than we were truly willing to pay…

 

Finally, in ‘Dusting of Love’ we get the answer and so much more.

 

Telling a story through snapshots of time like this can be a really challenging task and one that if not handled well can leave the reader feeling like maybe they didn’t get to

see all of the pictures they needed in order to get the whole story but when all was said and done I felt like I not only got to see all the right pictures, but I was left holding the photo album…all except for that one last picture…the one that’s not fully developed yet but if I’m lucky and patient it’ll be ready soon and I’ll get to see it added to the album.

 

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

Even with Ryker gone the game must go on...

Scott (Owatonna U Hockey #2) - V.L. Locey, R.J. Scott

‘Scott’ is book #2 in RJ Scott and V.L. Locey’s ‘Harrisburg Railers’ spin off series ‘Owatonna U Hockey’ which started with ‘Ryker’ whom any Railers fan worth their ice time will tell you is Jared Madsen’s son. So we’ve seen Ryker show up from time to time in more than one Railers story so it wasn’t really surprising that when the authors decided to give us a new adult spin-off to the Railers’ series ‘Ryker’s story was the perfect place to start…but then when Ryker returns home to be with his father and Ten when his family needs him…where do we go?

 

Well logically of course we need to find out more about the player who’s supposed to fill the gap while Ryker’s away…Scott Caldwell. We met Scott briefly in ‘Ryker’. So I have to admit while I remember the character, I can’t honestly say that my curiosity was tremendously aroused but when I read the blurb for what was next in the ‘Owatonna U Hockey’ series…well, mission accomplished I was curious so much so that I thought maybe I was hyping this one up to much in my mind and I was going to be disappointed…nope, not even a little bit.

 

I loved this one…the blurb totally hooked me…apparently, I’m a totally sucker for jocks and nerds/geeks especially if said nerd/geek is of an artistic nature. There was just so much about this story that I adored. I loved Scott…was he perfect no…not even close but he was trying, damn this kid was trying so hard and he was by no means a bad kid. Nope, Scott was what I would call a good kid who made some bad choices…the least of which was to use steroids and while the choice was entirely Scott’s like it or not his parents were the biggest contributors to his poor decision making in this regard. But, I loved that when Scott found himself looking at the bottom of the barrel, he didn’t give up. He looked at what he was doing and where his life was going and he kept trying. Thankfully his trying brought Hayne Ritter onto his radar.

 

I’m not sure I have all the right words to explain how much I loved Hayne and how abso-freakin-lutey adorable I thought Hayne was but ironically Hayne suffered a bit from one of Scott’s problems as well…poor life choices but thankfully not involving drugs…no, in Hayne’s case his poor choice was in roommates, however, when Hayne meets Scott his life choices are good as he decides that he’s going to help Scott.

 

I adored these two. I love how much Scott saw and appreciate all the things that made Hayne special and unique he never tried to chance him or get him to be different…nope, nope, nope if anything Scott took extra care to ensure that Hayne would be comfortable with him and continue to be Hayne.

 

With Scott being suspended from the team very early in the game the relationship between him and Hayne was very much front and centre in the story, but what really rounded things out for me was not just the relationship between the two young men but all of the other events and people that connected their lives Hayne’s art, his family…both his mother and grandmother were simply wonderful, Hayne’s struggles with the loss of his best friend to cancer, Scott’s struggles steroid use and with losing his brother whom he adored and the rift it created between him and his family, the rift that Scott tried to place between himself and his friends on the Owatonna U Eagles Hockey team when he gets suspended and yes two of those friends were Ryker and Jacob.

 

While there was a lot about this story that I truly loved, I think what really stands out in

my mind and what I enjoyed the most how the authors dealt with the loss of Scott’s brother and the impact that it had on had on Scott’s self-esteem and especially his relationship with his parents. So often stories dealing with this topic show us the best or the worst of human nature but there is an in between that we don’t often see…both Scott and his parents were dealing with a very tragic loss and while I have to admit I was disappointed in Scott’s parents for much of the story the resolution that Scott and his parents found was for me so well down. There was not quick easy fix, no hearts and roses but a mending of a relationship that felt real and possible. Hopefully we’ll get a peek at things from time to time to see how Scott and his parents are doing at some point in a future story.

 

While I admit that initially I had my reservations about this series, I absolutely loved every ‘Harrisburg Railers’ book that I’ve read, for me reading the ‘Owatonna U Hockey’ series started more as an act of faith than anything else. Here with ‘Scott’ I can truly say that my faith has been justified and I can’t wait for ‘Benoit’ the next book in this series.

 

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An ARC of ‘Scott’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest

review.

This one intrigued me when I read the blurb...

On Hands and Knees (The Valentino Family) - Sai Fox

It struck me as being on the darker side. Growing up as the heir to the Valentino family a powerful family in the Italian Mafia/Mob/Mafioso doesn’t exactly leave a man living in a gay friendly environment, much less allow for being in a relationship with a strong D/s influence.  But for Nicolai and Gabriel this is the world they have always lived in.

 

Raised in the same house as Nicolai after the death of his family Gabriel and Nicolai grew up as friends and over the years their friendship became more and now Gabriel is Nicolai’s right-hand man during the day and his partner and lover at night when they are behind closed doors.

 

Nicolai and Gabriel are doing a fairly, good balancing act when it comes to their lives or they were until someone comes along who has an agenda that doesn’t include a happily ever after for these two men.

 

So yes, if you’re going to read this one you need to be prepared for the ending…it’s going to leave you peeking over the edge of a rather high cliff which I have no problem with, I’ve read more than a couple of series have had me sitting at the cliff’s edge between books and if I’m enjoying the story I’ll sit at the edge of that cliff and wait…not a problem.

 

There’s a lot going on here and I’m good with that I like a story that’s got things happening and we’ve got a romance with a touch of kink, we’ve got men who live life on the wrong side of the law and the beginnings of a mystery so on the plus side there’s no time for boredom to set in. For the most part we get to see things from Gabriel’s perspective and in the case of this story I think that’s probably a good thing because jumping back and forth between character perspectives can get confusing if it’s not well done so I’m good with having the chance to get a solid feel for the character of Gabriel and hopefully we’ll get the same chance to see things from Nicolai’s perspective in a future book. I have to admit my feelings about Gabriel went back and forth…at times I liked him and at other times I just wasn’t quite sure so for me when it comes to Gabriel I have to say ‘the jury’s still out’ and as for Nicolai at this point I can’t say that I like him but I’m also not writing him off yet either. So, if the jury’s out for Gabriel when it comes to Nicolai, I’m still working on jury selection but who knows that could change it’s happened before with other characters…so, never say never.

 

Overall I was definitely ok with the author’s writing style and found it fairly easy to settle in to the story making for an essentially pleasant reading experience…however, I did have one niggle and it was a bit of a biggie for me and probably the biggest contributor to why this was only a 3 star read for me. I knew this one ended with a cliff-hanger and as I said earlier it’s not really an issue if I’m enjoying the story no what bothered me and kept me from really getting involved in the story was the fact that this is a story with an established couple and while we did get enough information to give us a general idea of how these two men came to be involved with each other it was meted out in bits and pieces throughout the story leaving me feeling like I got dropped into the middle of a conversation and spent most of the rest of my time playing catch up when a bit of a prologue could have given me enough detail to draw me into the story and give me a bit of a connection to Nicolai and Gabriel as a couple so that when I encountered that first scene early on in the story between them that was not only intense but very intimate I would have been more solidly drawn into the story.

 

I’ve pondered this one for a few days and I think in fairness to the story, new to me author, Sai Fox and myself, I’m going to stick with the series for at least one or two more books. I’ve been left with a few questions that I’d really like the answers too and this wouldn’t be the first series that while I wasn’t 100% sure of at the start by the end, I was 100% hooked so for me opportunity’s still knocking and I’m willing to answer the door.

 

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An ARC of ‘On Hand and Knees’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

It's not always the demons we run from that catch us...

Unbroken (Port Lewis Witches) - Brooklyn Ray

Before I get into my thoughts on the story let's just take a moment to admire that cover.  I've loved the covers for these books each one is unique in image but the style both conveys the over all feeling of the stories and connects them to each other. Also before reading any of these books I would strongly advise reading the warnings at the beginning of each book. 

 

Even though the characters in the first two books were more connected my original viewpoint that these books should be read in order has not changed, however, with this story it's more of an enhancement than a requirement. There's no denying that I've found each story to be on the darker side but 'Unbroken' for me felt like the darkest of them so far.

 

When Michael's demons chase him to Port Lewis the last thing that he expects to happen is for the demon that haunts his new home to not only help him do battle against them...but to help him win his battle with the past. So far Michael's life choices have been less than stellar and more than one of them has ended badly for him. I found Michael to be a character whose outward confidence concealed an insecure person with definite self esteem issues. There was also a very likable aspect to this character. 

 

I think for me the part of this story that was both the hardest and the best was Michael's history of abuse and how it was addressed. Michael's struggles with his past weren't swept under the rug when Victor came into his life...in fact Victor's arrival into his life was more like the  catalyst that pushed Michael to begin examining what happened in his past and how it was affecting his behavior in the present as well as finding closure for himself. There was no defined beginning or ending of this for Michael just like real life this was an ongoing process for him and something that added realism and depth to his character.

 

While Michael ran from his demons...Victor Lewellyn was making deals with his. As a witch and a member of one of Port Lewis's founding families Victor is no stranger to witchcraft or the strange things that can happen in Port Lewis. But for the last year he's been tied to the Lewellyn house that he made his deal with a demon in and so far he's managed to scare off every one who's tried to live in it. I think in a lot of ways Michael and Victor are my favorite pairing in this series so far. I love what each brings to the relationship and to each other. Michael sees beyond Victor's exterior image to the man beneath and believes in him. At first he was intrigued by Victor and ultimately he loved him but fearing  him was never something that Michael did. While Victor sees the good in Michael and together they learn to trust and believe in themselves and each other. 

 

At the forefront of this story is the relationship between Michael and Victor but as things progress a secondary story line becomes evident and that's the one connected to the drug 'Essence' a drug that is very potent, a drug that the magical community of Port Lewis wants end the distribution of and the thread that seems to be what will connect this story to what comes next.

 

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

Good times in the Badlands!!!

Badlands (Badlands #1) - Unabridged - Morgan Brice, Gail Z. Martin, Kale Williams

It's been years since an encounter of the supernatural kind sent police officer Vic D'Amato away from Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach looking for a fresh start. So the last thing he's looking for is an attraction to someone like Simon Kincaide...someone who runs a shop that caters to the those interested in the paranormal with ghost tours, seances and private psychic readings...someone with psychic powers of their own.

 

But that's exactly what happens when the search for a serial killer pushes Vic to take desperate measures when every lead that the police have in the case comes up as dead as the killer's victims. 

 

Vic's more than a little resistant to both the idea of accepting help from Simon and being attracted to him...after all magics not real...is it? and Simon's been burned before by someone he should have been able to depend on...someone who was suppose to love him, but when the going got tough...that person got going and Simone found himself alone during one of the worst times of his life.

 

Vic and Simon have a love to hate you/hate to love you relationship but the one thing that they can both agree upon is that there's a killer that needs to be stopped.  These two were a prime example of we don't always get to pick the people we love. Despite all the reasons that they wouldn't work as a couple neither man is immune to the attraction that they share.

 

The relationship between these two was not only a slow start, it also held a definite one step forward, two steps back dance to it and I felt like that was very much due to the past relationship history that each of these men had...both of them were coming out of a relationship that for their own reasons ended badly and left them both a bit gun shy. So the shaky start they they got on their romance for me felt kind of natural if not inevitable.

 

However, on the professional side of things the main thing that bothered me was the fact that Simon was very adamant that if he called the police they wouldn't help...so why call them? And for me it seemed like Simon was in a damned if I do and damned if I don't situation which I think if we'd been given a stronger sense of any failed efforts in Simon's past to obtain police assistance would have helped to validate his reluctance to contact the police in the current situation giving Simon's point of view validity.

 

This is the 4th book narrated by Kale Williams that I've listened to and he's definitely a narrator that I've come to enjoy listening to and I'm looking forward to enjoying 'Lucky Town' which is the next story in this series also narrated by Kale Williams and I'm looking forward to enjoying it soon.

 

Overall I enjoyed this first story in Morgan Brice's 'Badland's' series and I'm looking forward to seeing what paranormal hijinx these two get up to next in Myrtle Beach and I'm looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for these two men now that they're together as partners both personally and professionally...sort of.

 

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An audio book of 'Badlands' was graciously provided by 'Gay Book Promotions' in exchange for an honest review.

What would you do for the people you love?

Fracture (Unbreakable Bonds #6) - Jocelynn Drake, Rinda Elliott

That's the question at the heart of this story...it's what Jude has to ask himself when his family needs him. It's what Snow has to ask himself when the man he loves makes a choice that most would not have expected him to. It's what Lucas and Rowe have to ask themselves when Snow, a man that they call brother is put in danger and again when Ian is willing to put himself in harms way to help get him back. They thought they were settled into their domestic lives with weddings and babies to plan and care for but when one of them is suddenly at risk, all of them will come to his aide.

 

My buddy read friends will tell you I was salivating when we heard this was coming... more Snow and Jude!!! could things possibly, conceivably be better? No, not really...Snow and Jude are the icing on my cake...the cherry on my Sunday...the peaches in my cream...you've get it right? And just like the men of 'Unbreakable Bonds' when I said 'Please, we need to do this thing?' they all said ok and we did it and it was awesome.

 

So here we are back with two of the hottest men to grace the pages of a book, what else do we need. Maybe not much but what do we have? Of course we have all there hot friends...Lucas, Rowe and Ian as well as their partners and there's more but I need to leave something for the book, right?

 

Jude and Snow have been together for 3 years and they're finally going to get a vacation just the two of them...home...alone...for a week. Hell they don't even have to go out for groceries...they're in heaven...or at least they were until the phone rings. It's Jude's mom and she needs them her baby, Jude's youngest brother is in the hospital fighting for his life. There's not a moments hesitation both men get dressed and head for the hospital.

 

Jude doesn't understand what's happened...Jordan's a good boy why would anyone do this to him? Jude's also angry, whoever did this needs to answer for it and he's determined to find out who and why and see that they pay and Snow...well, he's got Jude's back of course and when the going gets tough you can bet the rest of their family is there for them.

 

There was so much that I loved about this story and really only one thing that niggled at me and that was the fact that while it was understandable there was a point at which it felt like Snow and Jude were doing a bit of a personality switch...think borg collective.

 

Jude's always been the level one the steady compassionate one and Snow...well Snow's the one who wants to kick ass and take names later and maybe it was me or maybe it wasn't but for whatever reason. Eventually I saw why Jude and Snow's behavior went the way it did...Jude was acting out of an emotional response to what happened to his brother, while Snow was reacting to Jude's behavior by stepping back and taking a calmer more logical approach. Jude's motivation was finding out who hurt his brother and getting revenge...Snow's motivation was keeping Jude safe. 

 

Ok, so that was my little niggle and in a lot of ways I do think it was mine because really, who doesn't change to some degree when faced with an extremely stressful and emotional event?  For whatever reason I didn't feel like the characters flowed into this as organically as I would have like but eventually I caught up with them and it worked better for me after that not perfect but definitely better.

 

As for the rest of this story...there was so much that made me happy. We got a bit of Lucas and Andrei, a touch of Rowe and Noah, a bit of Ian and Hollis and many of the members of Ward Security. I loved this part I'm a huge fan of ensemble cast like this. With all the peeks into their lives and where they're at now. As always Lucas and his direct but very witty commentary were a perfect balance in this story to lighten the darker moments with his humor and there were some darker moments...please pay heed to the the 'trigger warnings'.

 

For me even though the ending was a bit more condensed...yeah, let's go with condensed because in hindsight it didn't really feel so much like it was rushed as it was condensed. There was still so much about the ending and the epilogue that I loved. Jude and Snow are in a good place...really, I couldn't be more over the moon with where these two men are at in their relationship if the authors had let me write the ending. There were decisions that Snow hadn't been ready or willing to make and as events in this story transpired Snow found himself examining the life he has against the life he's beginning to realize he wants...I maybe had a happy tear for Snow and Jude at the end of the day.

 

Snow and Jude are still my favorite pairing in this series, Noah and Rowe's story 'Torch' is still my favorite book but then it's not a surprise given that if there was no Jude and Snow I would totally be #teamRowe&Noah all the way, but even for me no one can make me laugh quicker or more than Lucas, Ian brings out the momma bear in me and I want to hurt those who hurt him. But, we all know that Lucas, Snow and Rowe took care of that.

 

So, at the end of it all what it comes down to is even though Snow and Jude are my favorite couple each of these men fill a place in my heart and I couldn't imagine loving this series as much as I do without each and every one of them and I can't wait to see what comes next.

 

Last but not least, what was possibly the absolute best part of all this was sharing the experience with my amazing buddy read group and we were all on board for this one...Anne, Christelle, Josy, Shile and Simone. it was amazing and keeping up with all of you while reading this book was a challenge to say the least, but one that was totally worth doing and one that I will happily and willingly repeat when the next book in  this series is released. This was without a doubt one of the best buddy reads ever! Thank you all so much!

 

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

 

I've wandered into the world of non-fiction...

Rick Mercer Final Report - Rick  Mercer

For 15 years Canadians have been entertained by Rick Mercer as he's brought all that is good and not so great about our country into our homes with his own unique style and a very solid dose of humor.

 

I'm normally a fan of read it or listen to the audio whichever makes you happy but I have to admit int this instance if you want the full experience of a Rick Mercer rant you need to listen to the audio book. It's narrated by the one and only Rick Mercer and if you've ever watched his show than you'll know that listening to this audio book is like listening to his show or at least his Graffiti Alley Rants.

 

Sometimes his rants were brutally honest and while politics garnered a fair amount of their focus no subject was off limits and all of them were subject to Mr. Mercer's unique brand of humor. From the beauty that is this country and it's people to the troubles that we face as a nation his Graffiti Alley Rants have given us all something to think about and brought issues to our attention that we otherwise may not have stopped to think about engendering at best a sense of national pride and at other times as a nation and at other times as a nation we were humbled by our failings but frequently it was laced with humor.

 

I'm not a big fan of shows that are politically focused but I was absolutely a fan of 'The Mercer Report' because for me it wasn't just about politics but about awareness and accountability for the our politicians and for all of us who call this country home and often times he did it all while making us laugh.

 

Nearly every chapter in 'The Final Report' contains a rant from the past 15 years some we've heard, some we've never heard and surrounding these are glimpses behind the scenes sharing the challenges and experiences faced by a team of 4 men as they traveled this country creating a show that few others would have persevered long enough to produce for 5 years much less 15.

 

If you've wondered about Canada and what it's like as a country, what our people are like get your hands on this audio book or watch 'The Mercer Report' I'm sure it's available in reruns or on DVD but what you'll find is a country that's beautiful, proud and no we're not perfect not even close but we're trying and we know how to laugh at our imperfections and hopefully you'll come away with a better understanding of this country and its people as a nation, but at the very least you'll have a laugh or two...who knows maybe even more.

 

As I listened to the last part of 'The Final Report' on audio hearing as Rick Mercer spoke about some of Canada's most iconic people I was struck by the thought that while some of those icons are no longer with us there is a new icon in our country and his name is Rick Mercer.

 

For 15 years he came into our homes and made us look at ourselves and question who we are and where we're heading as a nation using unvarnished truth and humor all while leaving us with something to think about and a smile on our faces.

It's a little early to start the summer reading but...

Family Camp - Eli Easton

Some things should just not be left to the last minute and a new Eli Easton story is definitely on that list.

 

I enjoy this authors books anytime, but I think I was just really in the mood for a story like this when I read it because this one just left me feeling all warm and mushy and pretty much like a melted puddle of summer lovin' goo. 

 

I'm not even sure where to begin with what I loved, so I'm just going to have a ramble and hope that I nail most, if not all of it. That would be good, right?

 

I absolutely loved the MCs both Geo the sweet , nerdy but sexy school teacher and Travis the very sexy and successful and did I mention just he's sweet and nice...like really nice and a successful baseball player? Yeah, they're both simply adorable and together they are scorching hot...like who needs a campfire hot.

 

I loved that both men came from nice homes with loving parents and in Travis's case...siblings...so many siblings!!! I can relate...youngest of 7 here.

 

Geo's determination to adopt his foster children, Jayden and Lucy is beyond heart melting. His whole being just resonated with how badly he wanted to create a family for them to be their parent...giving not just them a family but ultimately helping to create the family that he knows he wants for himself. Any child would be blessed to have a parent who cared so much.

 

I loved how supportive and protective of each other they instinctively were. Neither of them had to ask for this they just each knew that if you truly cared about someone you'd have their back if things got tough. That's not just something that lovers or even married couples do it's a sibling thing, a parent thing and yes, it's a friend thing two and these two for a fast as their attraction grew so did their friendship and yes, that's another thing that I liked.

 

I liked that there was no big misunderstanding or miscommunication between them. Don't get me wrong I've read stories with this and it doesn't bother having this in a story...just not every story and sometimes as was the case here not any story. There were a couple of misunderstandings here and one in particular but it was easily resolved when the two men talked it didn't  become a big part of the story and in fact it was at the beginning a time when any relationship can easily go through this...so, really a pretty normal thing in the course of events.

 

And possibly last but not least and maybe not even last, but for now I'm at the end of my rambling list...I loved the setting. It was summer camp or more specifically a family summer camp. I never got to do the camp thing as a kid so stories like this give me a chance to experience vicariously something that may have been a typical summer thing for a lot of kids but for me and I'm sure many others it wasn't and sometimes it's fun to read a story that gives the reader a chance to see whether they feel like they missed out or not.

 

Whether I missed out or not when I was a kid...I'm still not sure but I do know that I didn't miss out on my camp experience at Camp Evermore in all it's campy camp song glory topped off with a ghost story or two and some s'mores...how could I do anything but have a good time there?

 

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

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