...Bookfanatic

 

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

Dear RJ Scott...

Second Chance Ranch - RJ Scott

Could you please, kindly stop making me cry first thing in the morning...yep, once again I started my day in tears because of you.

 

But while we're at it thanks for making some of them happy tears that helped a lot...

 

full review to follow soonish!

 

‘Second Chance Ranch’ is the 5th book in R.J. Scott’s Montana series and for me it was also the ultimate in 2nd  chance stories. While I’ve enjoyed all of the stories in this series and this may have been the 5th book in the series it’s absolutely #1 as my favorite book of the series so far.

 

We’ve seen glimpses of Rob in some of the previous books he was a part of the Justin’s life during his missing years…a part that Justin never wanted to see again, but things have changed for Rob and he’s in desperate need of help and with Justin being the closest thing he has to a friend…where else can he go?

 

And we’ve seen glimpses of Aaron in previous stories as well…Aaron is one of the Carter brothers, there are 5 in total…there’s Sheriff Ryan Carter, we met him as one of the MCs in ‘Snow in Montana’, along with Jason the fire fighter, Karl the owner of Carters (the local bar/pub) and Eddie the accountant. I know after 3 adrenalin junkies and the owner of the local night life hotspot…an accountant seems a bit bizarre, but it is what it is. You’re probably thinking so why does this matter but trust me on this one it matters because all of these people matter to some degree, at some point in one or more of these stories and as well as being Aaron and Rob’s story there’s another story playing out in the background for another one of the Carter brothers.

 

Overall in this series we actually have 4 families who are central to this series the Todds, the Allens and the Strachans, the 3 families that founded/own/manage ‘Crooked Tree Ranch’ and the Carters whose family may not be a part of the ranch but are very much a part of the Crooked Tree family all the same.

 

In each of the books in this series we’ve been given the answers to a bigger mystery one that began when the men in these stories were very young and now with this 5th installment in the Montana series we get a story that’s come full circle…what started on The Crooked Tree Ranch has come back as Rob comes to the ranch looking for help for himself and his nephews.

 

Rob’s plan is to make sure his nephews have a home, a place where they’ll be safe and then his list is finished, and he’ll be disappearing for the last time, except by the time he’s ready to go it’s to late and all Aaron wants is for him to stay…ok, that pretty much sets the scene now for the important stuff…

 

This book…I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I was neither expecting nor was I prepared for how many feelz were in this story. I’m not even going to go into the how’s or whys of it but this one kind of crept up on me with how much it made my heartache. I really liked both Rob and Aaron from the minute they first met. Their interactions felt good, right…natural.  There was snark so much awesome snark…sorry, I’m a fan of this and with these two if it had been any different I think I would have been disappointed.

 

While I’ve enjoyed all of the stories in this series with ‘Second Chance Ranch’ R.J. Scott has brought this one to life for me in a way that hadn’t happened yet and she made me cry…seriously there was me lying in bed early in the morning thinking I don’t feel like getting up yet, I’ll just quietly lie here and read. I can be nice and let the hubby sleep and that’s what I did…until…that’s right until the tears started the big ugly, gulping sobbing tears that I had to try and stifle so that I wouldn’t wake people up and then when I’d almost got them under control the other tears started…you know the ones I mean, the ones that are streaming down your face while you’re sitting there holding your breath whispering ‘yes, yes, thank you so much.’ because the author…that person who could have left you broken with your sadness has fixed you…so, thank you R.J. not for making me cry those ugly tears but for remembering to fix me.

 

‘Second Chance Ranch’ is for me the best one yet but only if you read it last.

 

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An ARC of Second Chance Ranch was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest

Stand by your manny, Give him two arms to cling to...

Stand By Your Manny - Peter B. Brooke, Christopher Lane

Sorry about that but this title just begs for a bit of Loretta Lynn...

 

'Stand by your Manny' is the third book in Amy Lanes 'Mannies' series and while I listened to the first book on audio, I unfortunately took a pass on the second book and I honestly wish I hadn't. I was ok with this one because having listened to the first book on audio I was familiar with Sammy, one of the MCs, Sammy's Uncle Channing and Channing's partner, Tino. Since Channing and Tino are the MCs from 'The Virgin Manny' the first book in this series and Sammy is or was the seven year old in that story.

 

Now, where things fall short for me is that some of the other secondary characters are from 'Manny Get Your Guy', the second book in this series. So needless to say I was a little bit 'who? what? where?' when it came to this part of the story and while it didn't make it hard for me to follow the story it was a bit distracting and I actually found myself going back and reading the blurb for the second book to try and give myself a better perspective of how these characters connected to the others and it did help a little bit. But while I wouldn't say that reading the first 2 books is necessary, I would definitely say that it would have made the reading experience better. So all things considered while 3.5 stars isn't quite my usual rating for an Amy Lane book it's still pretty good and first chance I get I'm going after book 2 on audio and redoing the whole experience...because re-dos on Amy Lane books are such a hardship...NOT!

 

So, as I mentioned before we first met Sammy 14 fictional years ago on the pages of 'The Virgin Manny' when he was a sweet little 7 year old and now he's 21 and basically the light of everyone's life. His family adores him and he's an incredibly gifted young man with so many hopes, dreams and plans...full of ambition and an illness that could keep those dreams from coming true.

 

Cooper's had a very different life from Sammy and his dreams have consisted of having the basics in life...a place to life, food to eat, health insurance all the things that so many people take for granted and eventually to being able to provide those things to a sweet, young girl who like Cooper has fallen through the cracks of the foster care system and has come to be the beginnings of the family that Cooper's going to make for himself.

 

Together Sammy and Cooper begin to make each other whole again...filling in the holes and missing pieces. Creating new hopes and dreams for themselves and for each other.

 

It's not very often that I get to read a book where one of the MCs was a child from a previous story so this was actually a bit of a reading treat for me and it was nice to get a peek at the MCs from the first book so many years later. Plus there were some delightfully humorous moments in this one. 

 

Peter B. Brooke was the narrator for 'Stand By Your Manny' and in spite of the fact that he has 54 audio books to his credit this was in fact my first time listening to a book narrated by him and for me the jury's still out on this one. At times when I was listening to the book I found that things just weren't working for me but there were other times that the narration was going really well so, in all fairness to this narrator I went and checked out the audio samples on a few of those books. What I found was that for the most part his voices in the samples I listened to showed a varied range and there may have been more than a couple of them that are now on my audio TBL list (To Be Listened-to) so at the end of it all for me on this one the narration was ok but I definitely think there's strong potential and I'll be checking out a few books by this narrator...you know purely for research purposes, right?

 

My recommendation on this one...best when read/listened to in order, after enjoying 'The Manny Virgin' and 'Manny Get You Guy'...not required but strongly encouraged.

 

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An audio book of 'Stand By Your Manny' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This one gets 5 stars, 5 teary tissues and all the feelz from me...

Goal Line - F. Scott Fitzgerald, V.L. Locey

I’ve been crazy about this series from the word go and have loved each book more than the last one. I was honestly at the point where I thought my love for this series was maxed out but nope, I was wrong. This one…this one blew my mind and blindsided me with what has happened…I seriously did not see any of this coming…especially not the tears. My poor hubby came in from taking the dog for his morning walk to find me clutching my e-reader with soggy tissue in hand mumbling “dammit they made me cry!” He patted me on the shoulder and simply said “It’s been known to happen honey.” and went to make his morning tea…with my response of “Not when it’s a freakin’ hockey story. It doesn’t.” well, I was wrong apparently it does.

 

And that’s all the tear talk that we’ll be having today except to say that there were happy tears and sad tears and frustrated tears and some really pissed, angry tears and that’s the end of the tear talk.

 

‘Goal Line’ is puts us back inside the crease as we meet and spend time with fellow Canadian Bryan Delaney. The latest addition to the Railers and back-up for Sven the Railers totally adorable bigger than life Russian goalie. Bryan’s life hasn’t been the greatest, but he’s worked hard to get where he, is in spite of the obstacles he’s faced. Leaving his home in nowhere Canada at the age of 15 he found the beginnings of the family he should have had with his billet family before being drafter to the Raptors and can I just say that it’s a good thing he lived in Nowhere, Canada because I seriously want to get my hands on his parents…they do not deserve to be Canadian and we need to deport them to…the bottom of the ocean sounds good so let’s go with that, ok? I really came to love Bryan and at times his sense of insecurity and lack of self-worth more than anything were what brought me to tears, so the love and positive support that he received from Gatlin were like a balm to my soul. Bryan brought out my mother instincts practically from the word go and I have my milk and cookies ready for him.

 

For Bryan the Railers are a whole new creature when it comes to hockey teams as far as Bryan can see and he’s more than a little lost as to how to fit into this new and different team and when Sven takes him to get some new artwork for his helmet Bryan’s in for one more surprise when he meets Gatlin. Gatlin takes one look at Bryan and sees the history of sadness, heartache and insecurity that Bryan’s tried so hard to hide from the world and all he wants to do is to bring something good into Bryan’s life.

 

When Bryan gets drafted to the Railers he’s leaving behind more than a hockey team…he’s also leaving behind his first love affair…thank heavens because this one’s toxic city.

There’s a bit of an age gap between Gatlin and Bryan and while I’m ok with age gaps but still not a big fan of them. This one worked really well because of his age, Gatlin had the calm and maturity to be the supportive person that Bryan needed…these two men fit together effortlessly in my opinion and I so enjoyed their relationship…it worked really well for me. That’s not to say that they didn’t have some challenges to get there just that I had no problem believing that they would.

 

I think one of my favorite things about this book…actually about the series in general is how much we get to see of the characters from the previous books. It’s like getting a bag of my favorite candy when this happens in a series. I have such a weakness for this and because this story is based around a sports team it would honestly be bizarre to have it any differently.

 

‘Goal Line’ turns out to be a huge game changer for this series and one that I think will be as surprising for other fans of the series as it was for me, but I’m so on board to find out what happens next.

 

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An ARC of ‘Goal Line’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

There be dragons here...right...maybe yes, maybe no...

Axel's Pup - Kim Dare, Chris Clog

4.5 dragon stars rounded down to 4 because there's still no 1/2 stars here on GR and this one really was just that little bit better on audio.

 

Chris Clog was the narrator this time around and he did an awesome job with all of the voices but especially Axel and Bayden. This one was definitely worth revising and revisiting it on audio definitely added that little bit extra to the story for me.

 

It's been a really long time since I read first read Axel's Pup and thanks to Audible's Romance Package I decided it was time to review Axel and Bayden on audio and I still love this book and have my fingers crossed that there's a book 2 coming...sooner rather than later but honestly I'll take it when I can get it. This one was definitely worth revisiting whether it's on e-book or audio this story had me from start to finish. Definitely recommended.

There was more than just images moving in this one...

The Mystery of the Moving Image - C. S. Poe

Ok before I get into this one, I'm just going to say if you haven't read the first two books you may want to stop here because some of the stuff that I'm going to mention happened in previous books and I admit I'm not up for spoiler tags, however, I don't plan on mentioning any major plot points and will keep it to smaller things.

 

It's Sebastian and Calvin!!!! I'm really, really loving these two and this book has cemented them with me. I was more than a little impressed with the first book and book two also went fairly well but this one...Sweetbabyjebus!!!! I loved it. From start to finish this story had my full attention.

 

After having his apartment destroyed in the last book, Seb's needing a new home and so he and Calvin are taking the next step and they've found a place of their own. Calvin's got a dog and he's seeing a counselor (this is a previous story thing).

 

Once again Sebastian is faced with a mystery with origins in the past and this time it goes back to the beginnings of the golden age of film...or more accurately the beginnings of film. When Sebastian receives a mysterious package at his shop. Inside he finds a Thomas Edison Kinetoscope a 19th century movie viewer but there's so much more to this than it appears. 

 

As Sebastian gets drawn further into the mystery things begin to become complicated and not everything or everyone is as it seems. But add in to these events the appearance of someone from Calvin's past and Neil, Seb's ex and you've got a story that's teeming with twist and turns. From start to finish I was kept guessing and wonderfully entertained with this one.

 

Calvin and Sebastian are definitely evolving as a couple and I loved seeing them grown and their interactions had some very definite humorous moments. Along with Calvin and Seb's relationship growth, we're treated to some personal growth on the part of Seb and Neil, as they both evolve from bitterness over their failed relationship to a friendship that just might still be tinged with a bit of sarcasm on both their parts. Sarcasm that also held a touch of affection as Seb and Neil both realize that the biggest problem they'd ever faced was that they were really only ever meant to be friends.

 

Back when the first book was released in this series there were mentions of another well loved cop & shop owner pairing and the resemblance that Calvin and Sebastian held to them, which is something that I'm not trying to dispute because I truly feel this is a matter of personal perspective so I'm not looking for a right or wrong here because I don't think there is one, but I would just like to say that for a number of reasons with this book I think Sebastian and Calvin have firmly moved themselves out of that shadow and are standing in a spotlight that is all their own.

 

Now there's just one other thing that I'd like to mention and that's the ending...which, I'm simply going to say I loved it. The ending of this book for me was totally perfect...I loved it and yes, I'm so on board for more of these two men and I can't wait for what's coming next or at least I hopefully I won't have to wait too long, maybe...please?

 

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

Some times you have to walk away from what you don't want, in order to walk towards what you do want...

Running to You - Andrew  Grey, Jack Richmond

 

After witnessing Billy Joe an act of cruelty and prejudice that has Billy fearing for his life, he realizes that home is not the place where he and his young son would be safe...no, he needed to run...to run far and fast if he was going to keep himself and his little boy safe. So that's what he does. In the middle of the night Billy Joe packs up their lives, takes his boy and quietly gets the hell out of Dodge or in this case Mississippi.

 

Billy Joe gets as far as Pennsylvania when his luck seems to run out...or in fact his car dies during a snowstorm, but maybe his luck is just beginning when a passer-by stops to offer help...a passer by in the form of Carlos.  Carlos shows Billy that there is kindness and good in the world when he goes out of his way to help him without any ulterior motives...just the honest desire of a good and decent person to help someone in need.

 

There was a lot that I liked about this story first off I liked both of the MCs and I really loved them together as friends and as a couple, I loved how their relationship progressed and seriously we're not talking about insta-love here...did their attraction to each other happen fairly quickly...yes, but it was attraction not love and I think we can all think of at least once in our life that we felt attraction to someone as soon as we saw them...whether, or not that attraction deepens and becomes more and how long it takes is what determines  whether it's insta-love or just lust at first sight and whats fast or too fast or slow can be such a subjective issue.

 

For me the relationship between Billy Joe and Carlos didn't feel like it was developing at an overly fast pace but I think a lot of that was due to their circumstances. Billy Joe didn't know anyone else and Carlos initially seemed like he was just trying to be a genuinely good person and help them out, which brought these two into close proximity a lot faster and more often than probably would have been the case under other conditions...so given the circumstances for me it worked and while the relationship may not have progressed at a slower pace at times the overall flow of the story was honestly a little slower than I would have liked but in the end I liked it, I guess sometimes it is slow and steady that wins the race or in this case it was the slow and steady that allowed me to truly enjoy the story.

 

Ok, this is where I'm going to share the biggy the one thing that took away from this being a 5 star read for me and that one little thing was...Tyler...yep, the kid. I love kids truly I do but this one just didn't work for me and I'm going to try and explain without going into excessive amounts of detail why...and yes this is my third try at this, so sorry to say or maybe not so sorry, you got spared the first two rants because I'm trying to keep this somewhat reasonable...so here goes again...in quick summary...

 

I just wasn't able to buy into Tyler his behavior and development was too erratic. Honestly I had initially thought he was a baby and then it seemed like 'oh, I guess he's maybe 4 or 5 years old and then I just kind of threw my arms in the air and said 'what the hell ever, he's Billy Joe's kid and I care not how old he is.' I know his age was clearly defined as 2 going on 3 at one point but I just wasn't feeling it and by this point I no longer cared, so I basically sidelined Tyler and focused on everything else in the story. I cannot lie Tyler is essentially the full reason that this story got 4 stars and not 4.5 or even 5 from me...sorry, Tyler but as a 2 year old...you were fail for me.

 

Ok, let's move on from poor little Tyler because now I'm feeling like a bully and maybe I need to send Tyler a teddy bear to say sorry...I'll ponder this.

 

As for our MCs...there was so much about Carlos that I really liked. How he was basically able to keep such a positive outlook on things in spite of his family and yes, it was very much a case of 'in spite of' and not 'because of', I loved how supportive both he and Billy Joe were of each other which I think was due, at least in part, to the fact that they understood each other in a very basic way...both men had crap families. Sure maybe the circumstances and dynamics weren't identical but at the heart of it both men were failed by their families and they recognized this in each other...reasons and events may be different but at the core it's the same kind of hurt.

 

While it may have taken Billy Joe time to get there...this guy had strength. From taking Tyler and leaving behind everything that he knew to his determined efforts to make sure that Tyler had a better life, to acknowledging who he was and finally doing what he knew was the only thing he could do to ensure his and his son's safety...Billy Joe had strength. If it took him time to get where he was going I can totally deal with that he had to make the hard choices just as Carlos did in dealing with his family and these two both met the challenge. Sure it wasn't without pain, heartache and a few mistakes but who among us can say differently. We may make different choices and our mistakes aren't always the same but at the end of the day we're all human and we all follow our own path. 

 

Last but not least I want to talk about the narrator...Jack Richmond. I liked his character voices especially for the MCs they were both distinct making it easy to distinguish who was speaking and while I had an issue with Tyler's character in terms of age development unfortunately Tyler's voice didn't really help with this because for me, Tyler's voice was more reflective of that 4 or 5 year old that I thought he was a one point than that of a two year old, but on the upside it was a child's voice that didn't feel like nails on a chalk board which many of my friends will tell you with me that's a definite win.

 

I loved the ending of this one, especially when it came to Carlos and Billy Joe's families and how things worked out with them and while I'm not sure I'd call this an HEA it's definitely a strong HFN that's heading towards HEA and I'm good with that.

 

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

Get ready for more of the sweet and adorable...

Love You So Hard - Tara Lain

When Craig Elson gets passed over for a much deserved promotion it's the straw that breaks the camel's back and Craig takes it as a sign that he maybe should take a little vacation after all he hasn't done so in years so he's got the time and then some. 

 

One of the first things that Craig does is he goes to his favorite coffee house so he can get a look at the 'hottie' with the tee shirt that says "I would bottom you so hard." something that no one's ever let Craig do and something that Craig spends a lot of times wanting to do with said hottie (otherwise known as Jesse). When Jesse approaches Craig the last thing that Craig figured would happen is that he'd ask Jesse to tutor him, but that's what he does...he pulls on his big boy pants and ask Jesse to tutor him on how to be a top and what follows is a warm, sweet, sometimes funny adventure of Jesse and Craig as Jesse helps Craig to become the top that he knows he can be.

 

First off I loved Jesse...he was just too freakin' cute for words...like this guy was seriously adorable and perky...I don't think I could handle him first thing in the morning...just sayin'.  Also on a random thought here, that I'm hoping someone who's more familiar with this authors works than I am can clarify for me. I'm somehow feeling like maybe we've met Jesse before...say, in one of the Laguna Beach stories? If you have a definite answer for me on this feel free to let me know in the comments, thanks.

 

And then there was Craig, I liked him...a lot! He was just so lacking in self esteem but he was also such a sweet guy. I loved how he was with his mom and really with everyone. What I didn't love was how some people took advantage of his sweet and unassuming nature but hey, what goes around comes around and I think in the end everyone got what they deserved especially Craig and Jesse...because they got each other.

 

Sadly what took this from 'I love it' to 'it was ok' for me was the sex...I just felt like Jesse and Craig's relationship was too dependent on it and I know all things considered this probably seems a bit weird since their relationship started out with Craig asking Jesse to teach him how to be a top...but, I guess I was hoping that the sex would ease back and there would be a bit more focus on an actual relationship developing...I don't maybe, I'm just being to picky or quirky here but still at the end of the day it's how I felt. 

 

I fully realize that while 'Love You So Hard' isn't a complicated or profound story, it is a sweet, fun and totally feel good story about discovering how to be the best person you can be and finding love along the way and in reality that rarely happens between the sheets so as fun and sweet as it was this left me feeling a little disappointed.

 

From a purely audio perspective though this was my second chance to enjoy the narrations of Ry Forest and I have to say his narration was absolutely delightful. I truly can't wait to see what's next with this narrator and will definitely be keeping an eye out for his name on future audio books.

 

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

Go west young man...like seriously go west now...right NOW!!!

Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride - Eli Easton

Not only is Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride an historical novel, it's a western...probably one of my least favorite eras when it comes to books I read, but it's Eli Easton and I have to admit that was a big, big part of the draw for me.

 

I also have to admit I tried reading the book and for me it was a bit of a struggle...this is totally a me thing.  I was actually intrigued by the blurb on this one and I think that at another time it might have gone better but when the opportunity came up to listen to the audio book I was curious enough about the story to want to give the audio a sincere try so I decided to put on my big girl pants and get 'er done! and as you can tell by the fact that I'm doing a review...things went much better.

 

Briefly Robby Robertson is  an aspiring actor and things are going great until Robby witnesses a murder late one evening as he's leaving the theater putting him on the wrong side of Bowery Boys and making him a wanted man and not in a good way. So Robby does what any sensible young man would do...he runs!!! The only real question is has he run straight from the frying pan and into the fire. 

 

I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying this story. It had drama, humor, action, more than one plot twist and I quickly realized that things quite often weren't what they seemed with much of what was happening in this story which I have to admit kept things intriguing. 

 

As always Eli Easton has given us a cast of interesting and diversified characters to follow in this story. I really liked Robby, he was smart, considerate, kind and outspoken but yet he remained respectful of those who were helping him...unknowingly but still helping him all the same and I think at the end of it all Robby really did make the lives of those he met along the way a little bit better for having known him.

 

Then there was Trace and for as awesome as he was Robby was someone that he needed in his life to make him see that not only could he be more than he was but that he both wanted and needed to be more. 

 

While reading this story seemed to be beyond my abilities and this is so much a me thing. Just to try and explain when I was younger and I loved to read, westerns just weren't my thing but if you ask me how may movies and shows I watched that were westerns...well, let me tell you, we're going to be here a really, really long time because even just listing television shows the list will be considerable...one of my absolute favorite shows was 'The Virginian' and there was also 'Gunsmoke', 'The High Chaparral', 'Bonanza', 'Dr. Quinn', 'Little House on the Priarie', 'Wagon Train', 'F Troop', 'Danial Boone', 'The Big Valley' and on and on that's right I watched them all and honestly I'm not even going to start on the movies...but as for my reading list I can safely say it really doesn't include any westerns. So I think I'm safe to say that for me it's more about the format than the genre and while I love a good western movie or even a television show for whatever reason books just don't work for me and this one right here it proof positive of that. I actually took a break from reading the book mostly because I just couldn't get into it. It's not that it's badly written or uninteresting because truthfully it's neither of those things and the fact that I was able to enjoy the audio book as much as I did I think speaks to that issue.  

 

So it turns out that when it comes to the e-book I sincerely believe this is a 100% me issue because I honestly enjoyed the hell outta' this one. It was funny, action filled, dramatic, had wonderful characters and the story was definitely unique and interesting...I'm just not a read them person when it comes to westerns and I have to wonder if I'd just listened to the audio book and not tried reading this one if my rating wouldn't have been even higher...I'm guessing it very probably would have.

 

My recommendation is definitely give this one a try especially if you're an Eli Easton fan. I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book and I had the opportunity to check out a new to me narrator in the person of Matthew Shaw. I really enjoyed the voices that I got to hear for the different characters and look forward to checking out some of the other audio books narrated by Mr. Shaw...or at least the non-horror ones...I really and truly do not do horror stories but I am looking forward to enjoying this narrators interpretations of some of Eli Easton's other books...such as the 'Howl at the Moon' series. 

 

Ironically I'm pretty sure that 'Robby Riverton' is one audio book that I'll be enjoying again in the future...so while Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride and I may have gotten off to a rough start I'm glad that I stuck with it to the end.

 

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An audio book of 'Robby Riverton:  Mail Order Bride' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Well this was one short but sweet story...

Last Chance - RJ Scott

'Last Chance' was originally released in the 'Love for All Seasons' charity anthology...which I have to admit I missed out on and if this story is any indication of what it contained I definitely missed out on something good.

 

It's Luke and Justin's last year of college and granted they're not besties or anything of the sort but they shared a scorching hot kiss during their freshman year that Luke's never forgotten and if you ask Luke...Justin can't seem to remember, however, that's where Luke is about to find out that he's wrong.

 

'Last Chance' is just that as we quickly discover it's the story of the lengths that Justin is willing to go to in an effort not to loose what he feels is his last chance to have something with Luke...the boy who's never left his mind or his heart.

 

First off I'm just going to get this off of my chest right from the start...my only real problem here is that this story has the potential to be so freakin' much more. I loved Luke...he's an adorable geekie, ginger and Justin's equally adorable but even more than that I just kept wondering how on earth the captain of the hockey team...the head jock and yes this would be Justin, ended up with a group of the dorkiest, most incredibly goofy and sweet hockey player jocks for his friends. These guys were hilarious and I loved them and seriously dear author...there's a series here. Every one of them needs a story all their own...opportunity's knocking....please answer the door!!! and while your there maybe Luke and Justin's story could be expanded to start with that first kiss rather than just have it be a memory...just a thought :)

 

Ok, in spite of my greedy little grabby hands need for more overall even though this one has little to no actual on page sex and moderate steam...come on it's only 20ish pages it's still a lot of fun to read... it's a short, sweet, fun, essentially angst free story with a lovely HEA that'll leave you smiling and like me probably wanting more...but in the best possible way.

 

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A copy of 'Last Chance' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Turns out that things went a little better this time around...

Sun and Shadow - Dirk Greyson, Andrew McFerrin

Ok, here we are at the end of book #2 and somethings worked better for me so let's take a look at them...

 

First off there's the overall story...the mystery/thriller/action all that stuff and this time around this part of the story was on the plus side of things for me. I liked the story premise...a lot! I'm a bit of an art geek so when story is based artworks like this one was it gets brownie points with me from the get go and then there was the whole issue of the race between Knight and Day vs the Russians which definitely had some good moments even...dare I say humorous ones...

like when Day told Knight they couldn't go around messing with the cars of every Russian they meet...ok, if you say so Day but personally I'm cool with it, especially when it seems like every Russian you meet is trying to kill you. I say go for it.

 

and then we have Knight. I'm still not sure that I can say I like him but I was happy to see a bit of growth with him and I liked the whole side story of him and the kid that he caught robbing his garage...it was sweet, but not overly and that's all I'm saying on that subject. Well that and the fact that this was a nice little side step from everything else that was happening and I liked getting to see Knight interact with someone other than Day or the 'bad guys'. While he still maintained his gruff demeanor, we also got to see a kinder more caring Knight than I had believed was there...I have hope!

 

As for Knight and Day's relationship well there was a bit of growth there as well. While Knight's still got a long way to go at least this time around we got to see a bit of introspection on his part...although the visit from the dead wife was something I so could have done without...but maybe that's just me.

 

Day has thankfully stood up for himself form the word go with Knight and I like that this continued in spite of the fact that he's willing to take care of Knight when he's needed, it didn't mean that he wouldn't stand up for himself whenever Knight decided to be a jerk! Day would call him on his douchy behavior, something that Knight desperately needed. But on the other side of this coin I have to admit that I found it hard to buy the attraction between these two because of how often they were at odds with each other...maybe, if this aspect of things could shift a bit so that the conflict between these two eases up a bit I'll find them to be more believable as a couple and maybe that's just me and I'm cool with that too. We all have our own personal preferences as to what does or doesn't work in a relationship and I can honestly think of more than one couple that have had pretty high levels of antagonism going on between them and still as a couple it's worked for me. This is such a subjective aspect and while Knight and Day aren't quite there for me as a couple at least this time around I started to feel like I could see the possibility.

 

Once again I was treated to the opportunity to enjoy the narrations of Andrew McFerrin and he did not disappoint in any way especially since having the same narrator in the second story as there was in the first one made it that much easier to become invested in the story.

 

Even more important than whether or not a narrator sounds how I think a character should sound is having the consistency of that character sounding the same from story to story. Something that adds believability and realism to the story for me as a listener.

 

So far there's one more book listed for this series, 'Dawn and Dusk' and I have to admit while I doubt I'll read the e-book if it gets released on audio and  Andrew McFerrin's the narrator I may just give it a try. 

 

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

 

It's a thin line between hating to love something and just loving to hate things...

Day and Knight - Dirk Greyson, Andrew McFerrin

Day and Knight was ok for me but sadly on the list of what worked and what didn't there was too much that sat in the middle and was more a case of so-so at best. So lets start with what for me really just didn't work and that was...

 

Knight, I'm sorry, but this guy just irritated me so much most of the time. I just never warmed up to him even a little bit and without fail as fast as I thought he was getting better and that maybe I could like him...well...have no fear because without fail he did or said something to ensure my feelings towards him didn't change...so nope, Knight and I are never going to have coffee together or go for drinks because if we did he'd probably steal mine when I wasn't looking...just sayin'

 

For me Knight was someone who liked being angry with the world...it almost seemed like it was his mission in life to be angry with the world. Don't get me wrong he does have a reason to be angry...honestly if I came home to find my spouse and child had been killed I'd be a little angry too but could we maybe direct that anger towards the people who killed them and not towards anyone he happens to meet...just saying. Some things we hate to love but in Knights case it's a case of 'he loves to hate'. 

 

Day was definitely a nicer person in spite of the fact that he hasn't had the greatest life either. His parents were killed when he was young and he was raised by his brother, who rather than become bitter at having to raise his brother...chose to do the best he could for him and make a home for Dayton and himself.

 

Whether it's losing your parents when your young or your spouse and child, either situation is painful and so incredibly hard to deal with but I don't think I would necessarily say that one was worse than the other because honestly neither is a situation that I would wish on anyone. So while I can understand Knight's anger, I just couldn't relate to his anger and bitterness...this more than anything spoiled this character for me.

 

As for the story while the overall premise had potential in the end for me it was a little on the dry side and I have to admit if I'd been reading this rather than listening to the audio book I don't think that you'd be seeing 3 stars at the top of this review probably something closer to 2.5 rounded down to 2 or just 2.5 stars where I can actually use 1/2 stars. So much potential and sadly a lot of it fell flat for me and what should have been an interesting and compelling story was ok at best.

 

'Day and Knight' is the fourth book narrated by Andrew McFerrin that I've listened to and I have to admit this time around it was his skills as a narrator that got me through this story and solidly contributed to the 3 stars that this audio book got from me. I'm hoping that the second books goes better and maybe I'll find Knight to be a more likable character...one can always hope, right?

It's Austen's story and I couldn't be happier!!!

Love and Payne - Charlie Cochet

I've been wanting and waiting for Austen's story since he first graced the pages of the  THIRDS series. 

 

Austen was that dark mysterious character who shows up when you least expect him and is enigmatic and somewhere along the line you discover that they play a much bigger role in things than it seems and yet somehow they seem to be a bit of an underdog...and you want them to get some of the happiness.

 

Austen's been keeping an eye on THIRDS Defense agent Osmond Zachary ('Zach') and his family for a while now.  He doesn't feel like he deserves to be happy but that's not how he feels about Zach. In Austen's opinion Zach is everything he wants but doesn't deserve but if nothing else he can keep Zach safe and if that allows him to be near the man well who is he to complain.

 

Zach doesn't share Austen's feelings. He's sure that he could make Austen happy and they could be good together if only Austen would give them a chance.

 

As the youngest in large....I mean large as in 10 children, Therian bear shifters, so we're talking large in more ways than one, Zach has never had to question whether or not he's loved because if anything he's more than likely to end up being loved to death by his overly protective family.  Austen's totally the opposite. He's an only child and his parents were...well, let's not waste a lot of time on what's really a waste of oxygen and space to begin with. Austen unfortunately wasn't blessed with either decent parents or any siblings to be loving and supportive. 

 

As much as Austen's determined to keep his distance from the man he wants more than anything when he gets a call telling him that Zach was hurt when foiling an assassination attempt, Austen doesn't hesitate to go to him determined to make sure that the man who owns his heart is ok. It doesn't take long for it to become obvious that somehow events have put Zach on the assassin's radar and the threat to both Zach and his family is both real and growing. 

 

I loved that the action part of this story took a very definite backseat to the relationship development between Zach and Austen. Getting to see Zach as he patiently showed Austen the patience and love that he had for him. Never pushing and always putting his care and concern for Austen out there for him to see and feel. I think one of my favorite parts in this story was when Zach and Austen were playing in the snow in their shifted forms it was so sweet and such a nice fun moment for them as a couple. 

 

I loved Zach's family and how they were with both Zach and Austen. This is a family that's filled with love and they have so much to share, that it overflowed to Austen so easily and naturally just seemed inevitable.

 

The closest thing that Austen has to family other than Sloane and Dex is his fellow SSA agent/TIN agent Brayden who happens to be a Snow Leopard...ok, folks I have a soft spot for Snow Leopards so you can assume right from the start that I like Brayden already and yes, oh please yes can we have a story for Brayden because he just sounds adorable!!! And if it involves more Austen and Zach...well, who am I to complain or maybe well get a story about Sloane and Dex and their new handler...oh, I bet that'd be an entertaining adventure.

 

THIRDS is a series that for me is a must have and sure I've enjoyed some stories more than others but still I've happily read them all and I have every intention of continuing this practice. So for all of you THIRDS nerds out there waiting for this one, it's coming soon and I hope it's as worth the wait for you as it was for me. Enjoy!

 

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

All I need to make this truly perfect is the next episode...

Junk Shop Blues - Cole McCade

There was a lot about this story that set it apart from the first story but what didn't change was how much I enjoyed the interactions between Malcolm Khalaji and Seong-Jae Yoon.  Both their personal and professional interactions. While there's a definitely relationship developing between these two men it's slow...I mean seriously slow. Two books in and there's only been one kiss between them and that happened in the first book and according to both men...they felt nothing...that and a quarter will almost get them a phone call...just sayin'.  I have to admit I'd usually be a bit impatient with this but somehow with these two men it's working and I'm not having a problem with how things are progressing on a personal level.

 

Neither of these men are simple or uncomplicated...not in their personality or in their personal history and as we follow the story and Malcolm and Seong-Jae work together to solve their latest case we see things from both perspectives and are shown the frustration each man feels as they are subjected to actions that they don't always understand and that they often don't get an explanation for.

 

I'm just going to mention that while the relationship between these two men is a slow...seriously...ultra-slow burn that doesn't mean that there's not sexy times in this story...just that it's not necessarily between the MCs. So be warned if this is a deal breaker for you, it's here and each person needs to make their own decision  as to how they feel about it.  I know for some people sex other than between the MCs isn't something that they want in their stories so without going into details be warned it happens and it's in this story and that's all the detail that I'm giving about this.

 

So far this series dark and there are so many questions surrounding both Malcolm but Seong-Jae's past things that seem to be a part of a bigger overlying story line that is being revealed slowly and seems to be tied to Seong-Jae's past for sure and time will tell if there's a connection to Malcolm or not.

 

As much as I've been enjoying Malcolm and Seong-Jae there's so much more to this series and in this installment we were given more about Sade who offers cyber support to the team among other skills. I was curious about them in the first book when we saw enough of Sade to have our interest piqued along with Malcolm and Seong-Jae's Captain Anjulie Zarate y Salazar, whom we got a bit of an interesting peek at on a personal level as well this time around.

 

Cole McCade has a writing style that for me is unique to that of so many other authors that I read and the ease with which this author draws me into the story and weaves events together has kept me reading late into the night with both of these stories and I have to admit even though it's only been a couple of days since I finished the second story I am so looking forward to the next episode.  I've always loved crime dramas both as television shows and in my reading selections so I guess it's really kind of inevitable that I would be drawn to as series like this one. 

 

Anyone who's a fan of crime dramas, police procedurals or mysteries and doesn't mind a touch of sexual tension between their MCs should check this one out. I can't imagine that you'll be disappointed.

 

According to the Q & A at the end of this book the author has rough plans for 5, 13 episode seasons for this series...think of it as a television series in book format and just sign me up because if 'The Cardigans' and 'Junk Shop Blues' are any indication of what's to come this one's an Emmy winner and I am so there for each and every episode.

 

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A copy of 'Junk Shop Blues' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Full disclosure here ladies and gents...this is not really a review...

A Few Good Fish - Amy Lane

This is me gushing and squeeing about one of my absolute favorite series...'Fish Out of Water' by Amy Lane.

 

Ok, I'll start with a bit of restraint here...I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!!!!!!! I mean seriously LOVE. THIS. SERIES. For me it's the BOMB!!!!!!!!!!!! I adore Jackson and Ellery especially 'Jackson AND Ellery'...together these two men are total perfection for me. They work so well...like like Adrian & Jake, Lucky & Bo, Ty & Zane...am I saying they're "like" these other awesome couples...no, just that for me they are every bit as awesome.

 

First off while this one had all the action, adventure danger and ohmygod!!! They blew sh*t up...Karen was drooling...what can I say, I'm just a blow sh*t up kinda' girl and there was more LUCY SATAN!!!!!!!!!!! When I grow up I wanna' be just like her, she's my hero. Actually it's possible that Jackson and Ellery may have even broke her...but you'll have to read the story to find out...because I'm not gonna' tell.

 

We also got more of Jackson's family Jade and her brother are still around and oh joy, oh bliss!!! we may have gotten to spend a little time with Ace and Sonny from 'Racing for the Sun'  and maybe there was a new couple that I totally want to know more about, although we did meet one half of this couple previously in...'Racing for the Sun' and according to the blurb for the next book my wish will be answered.

 

Along with Ellery's mom the incomparable Lucy Satan (or Tyler Cramer to the rest of the world) we finally got to spend time with Ellery's father...and sweet baby jebus that mans an adorable teddy bear.

 

Now on top of all this Jackson and Ellery once again have landed in  harms way but with a little help from their friends they'll manage to save a few lives and keep themselves alive all while taking down the bad guys, but none of this happens without repercussions for them and as a result choices need to be made that neither man had anticipated and ones that will have a huge impact on their future.

 

One of the things about this story that I really loved was the relationship interactions between Ellery and Jackson and how much Jackson is growing...his life has sucked...I mean seriously with a mother like his...yeah, she was a piece of work but he's trying I mean damn Jackson is seriously trying to open up to Ellery and just be honest with himself about his feelings and at times it was dark and heartbreaking to be in Jackson's mind and so many times I just wanted to hug him and tell him that he just needs to trust Ellery and let him love him because together they'll be ok...I admit it I'm a sap and #teamJackson&Ellery4evah!

 

The ending of this book was by no means the end of things for Jackson and Ellery.  I know that the blurb for the next book tells us there will be a different pair of MCs, but I have faith that we haven't seen the last of Jackson and Ellery or my hero, Lucy Satan and I'm looking forward to finding out what the future holds for them all, but I'm also more than a little curious to find out where Ms Lane is going to take us in book #4 'Hiding the Moon'...detours can bring some of the best adventures on any journey.

 

Needless to say no story is perfect so while there may have been some quirks and quibbles in this one. None of them were enough to spoil things for me...well other than the fact that I want more and I want it now, but in the meantime there's always the audio book to look forward to, right?

 

So this is how it all starts...

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

and to say the least things really amped up in this story...the action was fast paced, the heat between Ellery & Jackson was scorching hot, but what remains to be seen is...how will it all end?

 

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

Let's talk about the audio...

Crash & Burn - Abigail Roux, J. F. Harding

So recently I found myself having to spend some times...ok, a lot of time off of my feet as the result of a fall that left me with an injured knee...so what better use of times was there than books and so I indulged both in e-books and audio books but for now we're going to focus on the audio books and specifically the Abigail Roux's 'Cut & Run' series...so here's what I'm going to do because this series consist of 9 books narrated by 3 different narrators...so first things first...this is truthfully one of my least favorite things. This series consist of the same MCs from start to finish and I won't lie my preference in a situation like this it to have the same narrator from start to finish. Which makes this a case of 'I really loved the stories'. So I'm going to break things down by narrator and talk more about that than the stories because this series has been around for quite a while and between the reviews that are out there and the book blurbs I can cheat and save myself the time and typing...so here we go...

 

Books 1 & 2 (Cut & Run, Sticks & Stones) are both narrated by Sawyer Allerde. Ok, let's start here at the beginning...first thing none of these people are bad narrators as far as I'm concerned. I've listened to one other book narrated by Sawyer Allerde aside from  these two books and that was the first book in Josh Lanyon's 'All's Fair' series and I really enjoyed that one. However, this time around things didn't go quite as well and there were times when I felt like the narrator was racing to get through the book which tends to spoil things for me.

 

When I'm listening to an audio book I like to feel that the narrator enjoys reading the story as much as I enjoy listening to it. So from a listening stand point books 1 & 2 were not my favorites, however, things were not so bad that my enjoyment of the story was spoiled by any means...what can I say it takes a lot to spoil Ty & Zane for me...A LOT!!! And this was not it. So for the narration on these two books I would probably say things sat in the 3.5 to 4 star range.

 

Books  3, 4 & 5 (Fish & Chips, Divide & Conquer, Armed & Dangerous) are all narrated by Sean Crisden. Now I have to admit I am no stranger to the narrations of Sean Crisden, I've listened to approximately 20 books narrated by this particular person and some of them more than once...so in case you're still wondering yes, I really like Sean Crisden and I very much enjoyed these next 3 books but and I have to admit this still strikes me as being a bit unusual things just weren't quite right for me. I have no distinct issues here and can only say that for whatever reason while I enjoyed listening to Mr. Crisden's narrations he just wasn't Ty and Zane for me...so, good performance but not the connection I'd thought I'm make with things.

 

and books 6, 7, 8 & 9 are all narrated by J. F. Harding. Again this is not a new to me narrator as J.F. Harding was the narrator for the 2nd & 3rd books in Josh Lanyon's series 'All's Fair' another series that I very much enjoyed but that for me would have been so, so much better had there only been one narrator for all 3 books. But on the upside these last 4 books were definitely the most enjoyable of the bunch as I found that J. F. Harding's narrations for the C&R books was the one that I related to the best.

 

Also, I think what made this all more palatable was the fact that the switches in narrator didn't jump all over the place and it was done with clean breaks. Book 1 & 2 were narrated by the same person and then it switches to someone else for 3 consecutive books and the final 4 were also the same narrator. Had the narrators been allover the map and by this I mean Narrator 'A' did books 1 & 6, while Narrator 'B' did books 2, 5 & 9 leaving narrator 'C' to pick up 3, 4, 7 & 8 I probably wouldn't have been able to stand things no matter how good any of these narrators are. 

 

Ok that's my ramble on the importance of consistency in narrators and while I probably should have reflected this in my rating rather than just give all of the books 5 stars. I just didn't have the heart. I ploughed through these books in barely a week so as much as I would have been over the moon to have the same narrator for all of the stories...I can't say that I was deterred by not having that or that it even slowed me down...sometimes as much as we would like something to be a certain way it doesn't mean it has to be...just that this is how we'd like it to be in an ideal world.

 

I will also freely admit that there is a mainstream series that I would give just about anything to listen to on audio if it wasn't for the fact that there are 7 books/novellas in this series and no fewer than 5 narrators and yes, they are all over the board...limits, I has 'em and this series definitely hits them...so, I'll just carry on reading this one the old fashioned way and making sad faces over the lack of consistency that went into this series and how sad that makes me...

 

Whether you like audio books, e-books or both like me...keep reading and keep enjoying.

Check out the final book...Crash & Burn for my full review....coming soonish!!!

Ball & Chain - Abigail Roux, Richard Harding Davis

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