...Bookfanatic

 

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

If fantasy's your thing...you won't want to miss this one...

Counterpoint - Rachel Haimowitz, Craig Beck

I've had this story on my radar for a while now and when the opportunity arose to review the audio book I was just all over that one. Craig Beck is the narrator for this story and he's definitely one of my favs when it comes to narrators...so, this all felt more than a little promising.

 

Usually I try to give a brief synopsis of the story in my review but to be honest I really couldn't figure out how to do that without 1. including any spoilers. 2. ending up with a really long winded review and 3. there's this thing called 'a blurb' so my brief explanation comes down to 'please read the blurb for this book' it'll make your life and mine simpler...thank you.

 

I know I've said this on more than one occasion but I'm going to be a bit redundant when I say that the fantasy genre was where my love or reading truly got it's roots. From authors such as Terry Brooks and Jacqueline Carey to Sharon Shinn and Brent Weeks, I've dedicated many hours to enjoying their writings. I have to admit though I am really, really picky about what I read when it comes to fantasy. I'm not saying that what I read is 'the best' or that I'm any kind of expert on anything other than what appeals to me and what I know I'll enjoy...

 

Sure I might think that some of the fantasy books that I've read are among the best that are out there but I'm pretty sure that's something that we all feel about some of the books we've read and if we don't than really, why did we bother to read those books?...just a thought and it was that desire to read some more awesomely good fantasy that brought this book onto my radar and I'm glad that it did because I really do believe that this one is among some of the best fantasy that I'm had the good fortune of encountering.

 

It has so much of what I enjoy in a good fantasy novel. Of course there are elves in this one...hey, sue me I like elves. It has a huge and epic adventure with smaller subplots that are part of the overall story arc. The characters are interesting and have depth and the world building is incorporated as a part of the story and not an info dump so the reader gets to absorb the history and geography of the world in digestible pieces and if it's done right it's at times when the information is relevant to the events occurring at the moment.

 

There's a war brewing between the humans and elfkind and it stems back to events that transpired before so long ago the humans now weren't around so for them the events that are leading up to this are more legend and lore than actual history...but Ayden remembers...after all 300 years really is less than half a lifetime ago to an 800 year old elf. But it's also a long to time for hatred to burn in a heart...even the heart of an 800 year old elf. But even a heart filled with hate has room for love and Ayden loves his sister above all else and when the only way to save her is to indenture himself to  the very race he hates he's willing to do it, if it means saving his sister from the humans. 

 

Ok, so that's all the babbles I'm going to have about this story. Now, let's talk about what I liked, well honestly...pretty much everything except for the fact that as a race...the humans were pretty much a big ole' bag a dicks...seriously the only one I had any use for was Prince Freyrik and even he had his moments and as much as I might have occasionally wanted Ayden to kick some human butt and escape...I got it really I did. His sister was there as well being held hostage and if he was going to just cut and run without a care for what might happen to her...well, really why bother? Ayden's actions were very much driven by his concern for his sister's safety and well being. So frustrating but also as I said 'I got it'. 

 

I think for me one of the best parts of this story was the relationship between Ayden and Freyrik. This was not a case of insta-love or lust at first sight or any of that...nope this one was enemies to tentative friends to maybe a bit more than friends and finally lovers...seriously SLOW burn here folks these guys were not rushing into anything and quite honestly had thi sbeen handled any other way and I would have been calling b*llsh#t! really fast because we're talking about a war between races that's centuries old and bone deep. Ayden hates humans and for him to go from 300 years of hatred to caring about much less loving even one human is not going to be an overnight event especially given the fact that for his sister and especially for Ayden there's a lot of bad sh*t happening in their present. 

 

Ok so here's the deal because I can already see that this is turning into a very long  review and I haven't even begun my spiel about how much I loved Craig Beck's narration of this story and I did. The man does not disappoint. I loved his voice for Ayden and Freyrik sounded so much how I would imagine him to sound a bit of an snooty English lord sounding  voice...it worked for me it just freakin' worked.

 

I'm pretty sure that I could go on for at least a few more paragraphs about how much I enjoyed this first book in Rachel Haimowitz's 'Song of the Fallen' series, but you see I did and I think that's become abundantly clear by the 4.5 stars and the somewhat lengthy review that's happening here and the more time I spend rambling on about 'Counterpoint' the longer it's going to take me to get to 'Crescendo' and a few other awesome stories that I've got lined up so I'm simply going to summarize here and say 'If you love fantasy and you're looking for a new author to check out seriously give this one a shot. It's available on audio but you can also get the e-book if audio's not your thing but really...Craig Beck...just sayin' either way it's a story worth reading.

 

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

Finding the right person is hard at the best of times, but when you've got a kid...

The Little Things - Jay Northcote

it's a whole other level of challenging. 

 

Joel's life isn't quite what he imagined but still he wouldn't change a thing especially the part that gave him an adorable daughter named Evie.  He's got a boyfriend named Dan that Evie seems to really like. So while life's not quite what he'd imagined Joel's got a job he enjoys, a boyfriend he thinks might be the one, he shares custody of his daughter with her mom and while it wasn't what he thought it would be, life was turning out to be ok for 23 year old Joel.

 

But it only takes a moment for things to change and when that moment comes Joel finds that he's suddenly the sole guardian of his beautiful little daughter and that maybe Dan's not the one, as the pressure of full time parenthood begins to shine a bright light on the cracks in their relationship and an accidental encounter with a stranger named Liam gives him more comfort than all the time with Dan possibly could. After yet again encountering Liam, Joel comes to the realization that he and Dan really weren't meant to be and ends things. After encountering Liam yet again Joel gives in to his attraction and he and Liam begin to get to know each other.

 

'The Little Things' isn't a love story or even a romance in the typical sense of the word but what it is, is a story about finding love and not the magical romantic stuff of fairy tales no this is the love that exist in the everyday world and sometimes it's scary and it doesn't always fit into our lives but if we want it than we find a place to squeeze it in and we work at keeping it.

 

Joel's got his hands full and truthfully while he may have wanted a relationship between his job, shared parenting duties and the other demands that life makes on us actually having a relationship is more than a bit challenging but if it's worth having it's worth the effort and he's certainly willing to try but when things change and he's suddenly a full time working parent, Joel begins to think that maybe he's not relationship material...but then there's Liam...Liam's a temptation that Joel just can't ignore and really does he want to? Hell no.

 

I loved this story. Joel's a real person with real problems. I've known more than one single parent trying to do the juggling act with life where they give everything they've got to their kids, to being good parents and then they're left trying to squeeze just a little something out for themselves from the time that's left and it's hard, seriously freakin' hard.

 

Partially because of the whole time issue and partially because most single parents have a story to tell and more often than not that story isn't a sunshine and roses story with a cutesy happily ever after. It's a story that has some level of pain, struggle and heartache in it. Sure some people choose to have kids without a partner but more often than not the  reason that a single parent is a single parent is one that's not entirely of their own making as was the case for Joel. So by the time Liam came into Joel's life...well, Joel was well into having issues about people leaving his life, so I have to admit I found Joel's treatment of Liam frustrating at times to say the least but as frustrated as I was I could see where Joel was coming from and basically I sat on my hands and growled at Joel to man up.

 

One of the things that I liked the most about this story was surprisingly...Dan. I admit when I read the blurb I was anticipating not liking Dan...yep, Dan was going to be my bad guy...well, surprise, he wasn't. Dan was 19 to Joel's 23 and he and Joel had very different backgrounds so realistically Dan was an average 19 year old. He wanted to go out and have fun. But he did man up a couple of times when Joel really needed his help and support and he did it of his own accord but I have to admit I honestly can't find fault with a 19 year old who isn't ready for the kind of responsibility that a relationship with Joel would entail so I liked the way Dan and Joel's relationship went. I liked that there was no over the top drama between the Joel and Dan even when things were ending between them.

 

'The Little Things' was a warm and heart melting story about someone that felt like they could have been your neighbor or mine, an average person that we might all know. It's an everyday story about an everyday person...that any of us could know and sometimes those are the best kind of stories to read.

 

This is a re-edited, re-released copy of 'The Little Things' and aside from the new cover the book blurb tells us that there are no real changes made to this story.

 

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A re-edited copy of 'The Little Things' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Whether somethings a good surprise or surprisingly good...

The Werewolf's Fae Mate - Liv Rider

it's still full of goodness. When I read the blurb for this it just sounded like too good of a story to pass up on, so I didn't. 

 

Oscar's never known anything about his past and when he suddenly becomes the focus of attention for more than a few members of the paranormal community...vampires, elves, werewolves. His life becomes a whole lot more adventurous and luckily it's one of those members who turns out to be his salvation. 

 

When Mahon investigates mysterious happenings at a dance club and follows the magical trail that's been left expecting to find an arrogant and powerful paranormal he's more than a little surprised to find an unknowing, innocent and utterly adorable elf named Oscar along with his small, furry and fearless cat.

 

I loved Oscar. He was this adorable guy who while totally clueless about his heritage, totally knew what he wanted to do with the big, hunky alpha male who came knocking on his door.  He also had the best cat ever...seriously that little furball had no sense of self-preservation...zero, zip, zilch, nada! But his protective instincts were awesome...Oscar was his people and he was going to protect him no matter what.

 

Next we have Mahon...the big, tough, alpha male who while he was initially clueless as to why his instincts about Oscar were so strong it didn't stop him from acting on them...sort of because heaven forbid he let Oscar know how much he cared. 

 

These two guys were so worried about scaring each other off that...well, that's what they did. Luckily for Mahon, he has a twin, Aidan who's more than happy to talk some sense into his head...and there's another story that I want to find out more about but hopefully Aidan will be another story and who knows maybe we'll find out more about Zeke as well...I mean what's a paranormal story without a Succubus, right? 

 

Liv Rider is a new to me author and I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this story my only regret like some of my friends is that there wasn't more. This is a short read at somewhere around the 100 page mark and it has the potential to be longer...with a lot more character and world building before it even begins to wear thin. There are more than a few interesting secondary characters whom I would love to see the author give stories to and just to see the world that's begun in this book expanded would definitely be an enjoyable adventure, but in the meantime if you like paranormal and you're looking for a fairly fast paced and enjoyable story I definitely recommend 'The Werewolf's Fae Mate'.

 

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An ARC of 'The Werewolf's Fae Mate' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wolves on audio...it's a thing...who knew...

Once Upon a Wolf - Rhys Ford

Well actually I'm pretty sure we all did but for me this one was a must...it's by Rhys Ford and she's totally a favorite of mine. So needless to say there were no real surprises here because...I've read the book already and as far as the story goes as far as the story goes my original review still holds true so, I'm going to borrow from it in regards to the story...here goes...

 

First off let's chat a bit about the main characters and their relationship...I liked the way Gibson and Zach's relationship developed as a slow burn against the backdrop of event's that while not connected to Zach and Gibson held a loose tie to Gibson and Ellis's family history on the mountain . Ellis grabbed my curiosity fairly quickly and I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed that there's a story coming for him soon.I really enjoyed the banter between Zach and Gibson and with Ellis as well...

“You’re really going to attempt to make pancakes?” The mock horror in Zach’s grimace was a clear indication he’d picked up more than his share of sardonic expressions from the brothers. “Aren’t you happy with trying to kill me just at dinnertime? Now you’ve moved on to breakfast?”

With less than 100 pages to this story there's a lot happening and lot of groundwork is being laid out for not just this story but I suspect some of it will become more relevant as the series unfolds. As well as Ellis who I'm hoping that we'll see more of some of the secondary characters like Ruth and Martha, the two women who are looking after Zach's B&B, then there's Pat Brown the son of the former sheriff and currently working for the sheriff's department himself and there's some interesting history between the Kellers and the Browns to be sure.

 

I'm hoping that as things progress in this series we'll learn a little more a bout Zach's life before he came to own the B&B. We've gotten some glimpses of his life, enough to know that Zach was in a accident, that his family relations are strained to say the least.

 

While this one got off to a bit of a slow start for me. I have faith in Ms Ford's ability to draw me into her stories and make me not only glad I'm reading them but want more and more...and yes, more and so far I definitely want some more of Gibson and Zach but I'd also like to find out more about Ellis and while he really didn't seem to be a nice guy much less a good one. I have the feeling that there's possibly more to Pat Brown than we know and I'm sure that it could make for an interesting story as well. I think at the end of it all for me I'm on board with this series not because of where Ms Ford has taken us but because I'm curious to see where we have yet to go.

 

Now on to the audio portion of this audio book...

Derrick McClain was the narrator for this audio book and overall I enjoyed things except for the minor glitch that Zach's voice wasn't quite what I had imagined it would be. 

 

My previous experiences with this narrator have varied and while a couple of the audio books that I've listened to haven't worked really well for me the opposite is also true and I've really enjoyed others.

 

Regardless of whether I've enjoyed it or not I do find that in general this narrator ticks the basics on my list of 'must have's for an audio book'. His voices are varied, expressive and words are pronounced clearly and concisely but not to the point of being monotone or stilted.

 

So overall Derrick McClain produces an audio book that can readily be enjoyed and beyond that when it comes to things like how a voice sounds we're talking about a purely subjective issue that's a matter of personal taste which to me means that it's not an issue of right or wrong, good or bad just what works for one individual and not for another. This time around things didn't work as well as they have other times, but that doesn't mean that the next time won't be an entirely different experience. While he's not on my 'must listen' list neither is he on my list of 'not in this life time' more like 'let's take this one audio book at a time'. 

 

Still at the end of it all I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to read/listen to what comes next from Ms. Ford's band of 'Wayward Wolves'. 

 

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An audio book of 'Once Upon A Wolf' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Have you ever wondered...what happens when worlds collide?

Rogue in the Making - T.J. Nichols

'Rogue in the Making' is the follow up to 'Warlock in Training' and the second book in TJ Nichol's series 'Studies in Demonology' and the first thing I want to say is 'If you haven't read 'Warlock in Training' you probably should. I honestly can't say that you can't read this one without having read the first book but having read it and having read this one...I think I can safely say you'll probably find it a whole lot less confusing if you do.  Both the characters and the overall story ARC carry through each book so these are not standalone stories.

 

I absolutely loved the first book in this series as in I devoured it like a demon (tee, hee did you see what I did there?) anyways, I loved it and the second book couldn't come out fast enough and yet, when it did and I was there with my greedy, grubby little hands I jumped in and part way into the story I just came to a screeching halt...like squealing brakes on a rain slick road screeching and honestly I'm not exactly sure why because I kept going back to the story and finally after stopping and reading a couple other books I dove back in and finished it and truthfully I loved it, this one was easily as good as the first book. I think for me it just came down to a case of right book, wrong time because I am so on board for the third and final installment in this series...hell, I was ready for the next  book before the final chapter in this one. Now don't tell me that doesn't speak to a good book when it can take me from "I'm not sure I can do this." to "Sweet  baby jebus can someone give me more."

 

We're back in the worlds of Angus and Saka. The college is still hoarding magic and creating an imbalance in both worlds. The rebels are still fighting it...or are they? Angus is becoming very unsure as to who the bad guys are and who are the good guys? or are there any? Who should he trust? 

 

Saka is faced with acknowledging his feelings for Angus...at least to himself. Things are becoming precarious on demonside and friends are becoming foes. Nothing seems to be what it is and everything is becoming suspect to both Angus and Saka. 

 

As Angus goes back and forth between his world and Saka's he gets answer to questions that don't quite add up and more questions arise while amidst all of this he realizes that he's also developing feelings for Terrence a friend from his days at the college.  As Angus's feelings for Terrence grow people notice and the relationship becomes his weakness...a tool for those who would control Angus to wield against him. 

 

While the relationship growth between Saka and Angus was slow it was also loaded with obstacles not the least of which was human? demon? Need I say more? I've liked the interaction between these two from the first book and while it occasionally felt slow to me there was still lots of interest to keep me reading add in the dynamics of Angus's growing feelings for Terrence and the prospect of his worlds colliding should Terrence and Saka meet, how's it even possible to not be interested? and for those who are wondering...Saka...well, he's got a tail and if you want to know more well then you'll just have to read the books, lol!

 

Ok, back to the books...the plot in this series is hella', hella' good. We're talking about two different worlds here but worlds that are connected and while they are in a way dependent on each other they also require a balance to be maintained but what happens when it's not? Well that's what we're finding out, it's not pretty and the possibilities are frightening because if somebody doesn't find the right solution the only question that will remain to be answered isn't who will survive? it's will anyone survive?

 

Whatever the reason that I struggled with this one I do know it wasn't the book and I am all in for this series...maybe, this one wasn't 5 stars for me, but 4 stars for a book that I had a bit of a struggle says a lot to me and mostly what it says is that I need to read the next book and find out what happens to Saka, Angus, Terrence, Lizzie and Wek. They've already lost some of their band of renegades...friends have died, lives have been sacrificed now what remains to be seen is 'was it worth it? or was it all in vain?' I for one want to know.

 

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

Series Review...

Shoes & Ties - Jena Wade

Shoes & Ties is the first book in a short series of the same title by the author Jena Wade. For my review of this and the other two stories in this series just follow the link to book #3...

Series Review: Shoes & Ties by Jena Wade

Series Review...

Lumber & Law - Jena Wade

For my review of this and the other 2 books in this series just follow the link to book #3...

Series Review: Shoes & Ties by Jena Wade

Series Review...

Forever & Always - Jena Wade

and here it is...my review for all three stories in the Shoes & Ties series...

 

Karen’s rating for the series:  3 stars

 

Series overview…

 

‘Shoes & Ties’ in general is a short light read about Ashten Brody and his twin brother Jesse Brody. The series consist of 3 novellas. ‘Shoes & Ties’ is the also the title of the first story and it’s about Ashten Brody and Trent Cole. While book #2 Lumber & Law is about Jesse Brody (Ashten’s twin) and Troy Evans. Then in ‘Forever & Always’ the third and final story in this series we find out what happens when twins Ashten and Jesse get their happily ever after and as fate would have it the twins choose the same date for their nuptials. Surprisingly neither twin is happy about this turn of events.

 

Review Book #1: Shoes & Ties

Karen’s rating:  3.5 stars

 

In ‘Shoes & Ties’ we meet Ashten Brody aspiring personal chef as he’s about to interview for his dream job as personal chef to Trent Cole owner of a local luxury hotel and as Ashten is about to discover a man who pushes every one of his hot buttons…but it also turns out that Ashten pushes a few buttons of his own for Trent.  Both men are determined to keep things professional…strictly employer/employee …*snort* good luck with that one boys.

 

I have to admit I’ll at least give these two an ‘A’ for…ok, maybe it’s more like a ‘B-‘ for their efforts…they tried truly they did. But as we all know ‘the heart wants what the heart wants and often times propriety be damned the heart will have its way.

 

I liked Ashten a lot. He’s definitely one of my favorite characters to come out of this series. He’s caring and sweet, loyal, dependable and while he’s confident in his abilities especially as a chef for me he never came off as being overly confident thus entering into that area where confidence becomes arrogance.

 

I also liked Trent as well but for some reason I found myself just a little more charmed with Ashten but this certainly never kept me from thinking that Trent and Ashten weren’t a good match. In fact I enjoyed watching their relationship go from professional to very up close and personal.

 

While the attraction between Ashten and Trent is a case of lust-at-first-sight that doesn’t mean that their relationship happens over night and I really liked that they took a bit of times to get to know each other…mind you it was only a bit at just over a hundred pages there’s only so much time to be taken especially when there’s a bit of drama set to happen when someone from Trent’s past decides to put in an appearance.

 

So overall a sweet and relatively uncomplicated little love story that introduces us to some secondary characters that helped to add interest to the story and also lays a bit of ground work for ‘Lumber & Law’ the next book in the series.

 

Review Book #2: Lumber & Law

Karen’s rating: 3.5 stars

 

‘Lumber & Law’ is the second book in Jena Wade’s series ‘Shoes & Ties’ and this one is about Jesse Brody, Ashten’s twin brother and police officer Troy Evans, whom we were introduced to in ‘Shoes & Ties’, but you’ll need to read the book to find out why and really these are fairly short books so why miss out…I definitely recommend reading them from the beginning and getting all the background.

 

Jesse is almost the polar opposite to his brother, Ashten. Where Ashten is responsible and maybe a bit to serious at times. Jesse is more light hearted and fun loving but that doesn’t keep him from wanting what he sees that Ashten and Trent have. Jesse wants someone to love and share his life with, someone to hold hands with when they’re walking down the street. Jesse has had Troy on his mind for a while now and despite how disastrous their first meeting was Jesse is sure that he’s got a shot at dating the man.

 

Troy’s a cop and he’s got himself very securely tucked away in the closet…probably somewhere in the back corner near the entrance to Narnia and that’s where he’s planning on staying or at least he was until Jesse came along and suddenly Troy finds himself wanting and wondering about things…things that he told himself he could never have. Things like a partner and a life outside of the closet that doesn’t involve hiding his love for the person who matters most to him.

 

Jesse and Troy’s relationship began back in the first book, but we don’t really get any details until Lumber & Law, which is good since the stories are on the shorter side. I like that the author has kept the focus on the MCs in each of these stories. Creating a fully fleshed out story in a shorter format is quite honestly a challenge that can often be hard for an author to meet but Jena Wade has done that and while I have to admit, had there been more in either of these stories I would have happily read it that doesn’t mean that I felt like there was anything missing in what there was. Just that I liked it and would have happily enjoyed more…so, that’s a good thing in my world.

 

Now, on to Book #3 Forever & Always

Karen’s rating:  2.5 stars

 

So, while I enjoyed the first two stories, this last installment was a bit disappointing for me. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here as I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet and may very well like how this plays out. Over all I was ok with much of what happened in this short story and at less than 50 pages, my friend google tells me this one in fact falls into the area of a long, short story and that to be honest is not an issue at all for me. ‘Forever & Always’ really doesn’t seem like it was intended to be anything other than what it was and for me that was the chance to see Ashten and Trent, Jesse and Troy get their happily ever after in their own way, making each couple happy.

 

However, there was an added surprise in regards to one of the secondary characters that as I said just didn’t quite work for me…so very much a matter of personal preference but all in all I really enjoyed this series and while it wasn’t my favorite story, ‘Forever & Always’ was definitely the icing on the wedding cake.

 

You could read either of the first two books as a standalone I’d definitely recommend reading this one only if you’ve at least read ‘Lumber & Law’. This series makes for a nice, light summer read…love, romance, steamy times and hot men…sounds like summer reading to me.

 

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A copy of the series ‘Shoes & Ties’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

An artist and a model...met at the library one day...

Refraction - B.A. Tortuga, Jodi Payne

and the rest as they say is history...

 

Tucker Williams is in New York for a showing of his work one find winters day and as he  stands on the steps of the midtown library who should appear but one Calvin McIntire. Tucker and Calvin are drawn to each other and their attraction is strong...yes, that's right this one's a case of love at first sight even though neither man is ready to admit it for a while.

 

Tucker's held prisoner by the demons who haunt his mind...seeing them when others don't, Tucker brings them to life and excises them from his soul with his artwork.

 

Calvin spends his days regimenting his life so that he can maintain the physical beauty that the world so desperately wants to see from him.

 

Tucker's from Texas, Calvin's from New York...long distance romances never end well but when two hearts are determined and each man is willing to work for it and compromise...one never knows what can be done.

 

Tucker's inspirations come from anywhere and everywhere...a color, a sound, the setting sun, the glow of the moon...whatever catches his artistic bent gives life to his imagination and ignites his creativity.  Calvin never knows where his career will take him and he loves that all the different locations the novelty of seeing so much of the world. But when love calls to them both Tucker and Calvin find their priorities changing. 

 

I loved Tucker and Calvin for me they were both simply delightful...I just have no other words for them. Their interactions as they got to know each other, the respect that each man had for the other's talents, their desire to truly know each other not just in the bed but out of it as well all this and a few interesting secondary characters like Calvin's roommate and his agent, Michael, Tucker's agent and even his parents simply added to the depth of the story.  These two men admired and respected each other and their talents in equal measure.

 

I loved the respect that Tucker held for Calvin as a model and qualities that he felt Calvin had to have to not only be a model but to be a good model and Calvin in equal measure saw and understood the creative bent that drove Tucker and enabled him to share his creativity with the world.

 

Each man was a unique individual in their own right and even as a pair they remained so while at the same time they created a a couple who fit together as readily as any two puzzle pieces.  The friendship, love and respect between Tucker and Calvin while dark at times because of the demons that each man struggled with often gave way to a fun and lightness that was reflected in the playful way that Tucker and Calvin came together. 

 

I have to admit I'm not sure that I see where things are going with this series whether the next book will see a new pairing or more Tucker and Calvin but I'm definitely looking forward to finding out and maybe I'm hoping in a small part of my heart that if the next story gives us a new pairing that one of the MCs will be Calvin's adorable roommate. I'm just going t to have to wait see, aren't I?

 

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

Are you looking for a good mystery/thriller with a strong touch of romance? Hang around this may be just what you're looking for...

Kill Game  - Cordelia Kingsbridge, Wyatt Baker

I've been seeing so many good...I mean really good reviews and wanting to read this one for quite a while now. Cordelia Kingsbridge is a relatively new author to me. My only previous experience with this author was 'Can't Hide From Me' narrated by Nick J. Russo and I loved that book so when the opportunity to enjoy another book by this author presented itself...well, what else could I say but 'yes please'. 

 

'Kill Game' is the first book in this author's 'Seven of Spades' series and I'm hooked, all in, basically spending my time trying to figure out what I can put off, how little sleep do I need, anything to find a way to add more reading time to my day so I can get to it.

 

Levi Abrams is a homicide detective who's life is reeling he's dealing from the fallout of a fatal shooting, the end of a 3 year long relationship, perpetually crossing paths with the enigmatic and annoyingly charming bounty hunter Dominic Russo add in a serial killer who seems to be taking a keen interest in playing a cat and mouse game with him and Levi's got more on his plate than most men would even begin to be able to deal with.

 

Dominic likes his life free and easy...he'll happily skirt around complications like prickly, uptight detectives or at least he'll try until he stumbles onto a crime scene  created by the same killer, a killer who as things progress seems to be developing a vested interest in the well being of a certain homicide detective. Dominic's  a former Army Ranger dealing with his own issues...working as both a bounty hunter and bartender, Dominic's a recovering compulsive gambler living in Las Vegas.As the police continue their hunt for a serial killer it's the events surrounding this very situation that continue to bring the two men together enabling their relationship to develop on a slower but more natural basis...or as naturally as things can get when one is looking for a serial killer anyways. 

 

Along with the beginnings of a series that promises to be exceptional I was fortunate enough to also discover a talented 'new to me' narrator in the person of 'Wyatt Baker'. Needless to say I'm delighted to have the name of yet another narrator whose audio books I can not only enjoy but look forward to.

 

'Kill Game' is only the beginning of things so there's not a lot of sexy times between these two men but there's definitely indications that when Levi and Dominic do get together it's going to be purely combustible...we got one glimpse of how it's going to be between these two men and I for one am willing to wait for more. Especially when there's a story like this one's got to fill the time with.

 

So far this one's got me totally guessing as in 'I have no clue' who the 'Seven of Spades' could be and I'm loving that.  I'm looking forward to not only seeing how the characters in this series will develop but how their relationship will progress as they work together to catch a killer and fit into each other's lives.  Overall 'Seven of Spades' is shaping up to be one of the most promising romance/mystery/thriller series that I've encountered in quite a while.  I don't mind being able to figure out a mystery early in a book or series if it's not as prominent a part of the story as this seems to be but when the story is so strongly entrenched in the events of the mystery I want to be kept guessing and sitting on the edge of my seat which is pretty much where I've been from the beginning of this one and to be honest I'm still sitting there waiting and hoping to get to the next book ASAP!

 

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

Nothing new here...I loved the book and loved the audio...

Rebel - Tristan James Mabry, Rhys Ford

Honestly I'm not really sure what to say here. I loved this book and will honestly admit for me it was pretty much a given that I would...Rhys Ford writes in a way that just calls to me heart and soul. I love the characters that she give us each and every time. From Cole McGinnis to this latest addition of 415 Ink. Ms. Ford has not failed to give me stories and characters that I willingly and wholeheartedly embraced.

 

So much of what I said in my original review of the book still holds true for me, so I'm going to borrow from that review in regards to the story...

'Rebel' is the beginning of a series that this author has once again filled with characters that I want more of...Gus and Rey are just the tip of the iceberg on this one. Gus has two families the one that he was given and no longer has but still a family that has marked his soul and left him broken and then there's the family that he's created, the family of brothers who have loved him and held him together over the years...there's Bear the oldest and father figure, Luke the peace keeper, Mace who grates on Gus but believes in him the most and will fight for him without hesitation and Ivo the only one who is Gus's brother both by birth and by choice. Along with these characters we've been given glimpses of others who may or may not play a role in future stories and I'm sure will add interest to other stories as the series progresses.

 

As well as a cast of awesome new characters to discover one of my favorite things about Rhys Ford books is that if you're paying attention you get surprise visits and this story was no exception I mean it's partially set in a tattoo parlor so of course Ichi showed up and I'm pretty sure there was someone there from the Sinners series getting a bit of ink as well...but you'll have to read the story to find out who.

'Rebel' is so much more than a second chance story. Of course it's about finding love but it's also about learning to forgive yourself and accept that wanting something good in your life and reaching for it can be worth the risk to your heart. It's about starting over and building the life you deserve which maybe isn't the life you thought you wanted. I loved how Rey and Gus worked together there was just something about them as couple that worked and made me a fan of these men and this series. I'm so looking forward to reading the next book in this series whatever comes next I know we'll at least get a peek at how Gus and Rey are doing and yet another awesome story.

 Ok so here's the new part of this audio review or at least I'll try and make it new...you see the narrator for this one is Tristan James and I'm not sure I really have any new vocabulary for this but here goes...

 

As always Mr. James has given me a story that from start to finish has been a total pleasure to listen to and one that I have no doubt I will be listening to again and probably again after that. 

 

When it comes to authors and narrators we all have our favorites and they are so much a matter of personal preference but for me the combination of a Rhys Ford story, narrated by Tristan James is basically a guaranteed success for hours of listening pleasure...it's my jam, my crack...call it what you will I just know that at the end of it all I'll be left sighing with contentment and wondering how soon can I get some more.

 

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

I am seriously loving this series...

The Foxling Soldati - Charlie Cochet

'The Foxling Soldati' is the second book in Charlie Cochet's 'Soldati Hearts' and while I did give both of these books 4 stars I have to say I in actual fact did like this one just a tiny bit more. So if I could I probably would have given this one 4.25 stars but somehow that just seems like splitting hairs. So I'm going to call it even at 4 stars and a little more love for this one.

 

Toka is a Foxling and he's served the Soldati King for centuries and now serves the King's Soldati Prince Riley and as he helps Riley become accustomed to the world of the Soldati, he's also becoming bolder in his dealings with Rayner.

 

Rayner is a Soldati Warrior and while he takes his pleasure with Toka and he realizes he cares for Toka more than he has any of his other dalliances...a Soldati Warrior falling in love with a servant is unheard if...it's not allowed. But with each encounter his feelings for Toka become clearer and his heart wants what his heart wants and as a Warrior, Rayner doesn't know the meaning of giving up or giving in and he's dertmined to find a way to have Toka for his mate.

 

As this story progressed I become more and more enchanted not just with Toka, whom we met in the first book and whom I liked from the start but with Rayner. I loved how he was willing to examine his feelings and acknowledge them...even if it was only to himself at times.

 

The more I saw of Toka the more adored him. His strength of character and willingness to sacrifice everything for those that he cared about and what he believed in proved him to be every bit the equal and warrior that Rayner was known to be.

 

Added to Toka and Rayner's story was the conflict that it caused between Riley and Khalon the Soldati King as Riley went toe to toe with him in his efforts to make Khalon see that the old ways aren't always the best ways. But the true problem comes in when events from the past conspire to tear Toka and Rayner apart and the efforts of Rayner, Riley and Toka's love for him may not be enough to save Rayner from losing his love and his status as Soldati Warrior. 

 

The world of the Soldati is pure fantasy and this is a genre that I love and with this series Ms Cochet has breathed new life into my love for this genre. I can't wait for whatever comes next in the 'Soldati Hearts' series and I'll certainly be watching for it. So far I've enjoyed this series on audio and the narration of Manuel Pombo. I've loved his voices for the Soldati Characters he's added such a rich and unique tone to them giving them an accent that's not definable as to it's origins and making it purely 'Soldati' in my mind.

 

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

The romance begins when the semester ends...

Teaching Ben  - Shae Connor,  Kenneth Obi

Ben Miller and David Powell may be the same age but they've lead very different lives... ironically, Ben's spent the past few years in the military as a way to escape his overbearing father and earn his freedom to discover and be the person he wants to be.

 

David comes from a life of privilege and ultimately excess leading to his ultimate downfall. But thankfully David's grandfather refused to turn him back on him and after some tough love David's turned himself around and now he's back in school with a plan for his life.

 

Though they've led very different lives Ben and David quickly discover that they share a mutual attraction and respect for each other and a friendship quickly begins. David is the TA in one of Ben’s college classes and while they’re attracted to each other neither man wants to complicate their life with a relationship while they’re student and TA so they’re determined to keep things strictly platonic until the semester is done even though there is no actual rule against them dating or having a more personal relationship. David’s got things in his past that have him wanting to ere on the side of caution and Ben’s just stepping out of the closet, so he simply wants to proceed with caution and he’s not looking to complicate the life of someone that he’s pretty sure he wants to have a life with.

 

I really enjoyed this one it was sweet and at just under 6 hours of listening time things were kept moving at a good pace without becoming boring or repetitious. There were some interesting secondary characters David’s sister and Ben’s laundry friend who took him underwear shopping…yeah, that was a fun time and if you want to know more you’ll need to check out the story.

 

The focus of this one is on the relationship and not the sex…sorry, but facts is facts. Now be that as it may I still found David and Ben to be an adorably sexy pair and their interactions were delightful and it was nice to have both David and Ben’s perspective on things as the story alternated between them. As with any interesting and entertaining story we are given at least one obstacle for our MCs to overcome and I liked how Ben and David came together to resolve their obstacle and I loved David’s family they were truly delightful…especially his mother. I got more than one chuckle from her.

 

‘Teaching Ben’ is only the second book that I’ve listened to that was narrated by Kenneth Obi but I have to say I’ve enjoyed them both and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to listen to more of this narrators works. I liked the voices that each of the characters were given and they definitely meshed with any ideas that I might have had regarding how a character sounded and I also enjoyed that the voices were expressive and conveyed emotion and feelings within what felt like an appropriate range…in other words things never felt so extreme that I wanted to roll my eyes in exasperation. The conversations had a natural feel and sound to them and for me that’s a good thing. 

 

So for me Shae Connor and Kenneth Obi are each 2 for 2 and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from this author and/or this narrator.

 

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

I know I said that ‘Poke Check’ was my favorite book in this series and...

Last Defense - F. Scott Fitzgerald, V.L. Locey

I stand by that I loved that book a lot but I think it’s got a bit of company on my favorites shelf when it comes to this series. I honestly didn’t think it was possible for me to love another book in this series as much as ‘Poke Check’ but I’m happy to say that I was wrong because ‘Last Defense’ won me over practically from the first page.

 

First off let me just say we get a peek at all the usual suspects (meaning MCs from previous books) so that’s always a plus with me. We’ve met both of the MCs from this book in previous stories but only very briefly and while I remembered them I have to admit that neither of them seemed like real attention grabbers to me…which just goes to show you how much I know because as I said this one had me practically from the first page…I guess it’s a case of you’ve gotta’ watch out for the quiet ones.

 

Max Van Hellren is a defenseman and I have to admit when it comes to hockey my all time favorite player is #4 Bobby Orr. Former defenseman for the Boston Bruins so I think Max won me over by virtue of his position on the Railers but truthfully, I just came to really like him and then there was Ben Worthington…now, Ben doesn’t play hockey, nope, he runs CrossRoads Shelter it’s a no kill animal shelter…right? Tell me you don’t already like Ben. Not to mention how can you not like someone who names their dog ‘Bucky’ as in ‘The Winter Soldier’…sorry, that gets him so many coolness points in my books.

 

Needless to say, both of these men come with a full set of their own baggage…Max is 32, which is not young in the world of professional hockey and each game that he plays could very well be his last game ever. Max has a life threatening medical condition and no this isn’t a spoiler because this is all in the blurb. But for Max there’s only every been hockey and while this is his last season in the NHL, it’s the season he’s worked his whole professional career for…in fact probably his whole life he’s never wanted to be anything other than a hockey player and this is the season that could see him on a Stanley Cup winning team. The ultimate goal of every boy who’s ever laced on a pair of skates.

 

Ben has had it all. A job that he loved, living next door to his two adorably nosy aunts with his loving husband. A husband who died so suddenly and unexpectedly that Ben never got to say good-bye.

 

Things between Max and Ben start out simply as two men sharing a mutual physical attraction. But with each encounter they get to know each other a bit more and both men slowly begin to realize that they like each other and that the attraction has gone well beyond the purely physical.

 

Between the hockey and Ben’s work at the shelter which keeps him more than a little busy finding time to be together is another job altogether that these men both find that they are willing to put forth the effort for.

 

Sometimes books just grab us and we fall into them and that’s what happened for me with this one. Everything just came together for me in the best way possible and this book was a total pleasure to read. Sure there was a little bit of angst and drama but damn take out that and chances are what you’ve got is a hella’ boring story and this story just had the right amount to keep this reader interested. My attention was grabbed from the very beginning of this story and it never wavered.

 

While ‘Last Defense’ could easily be read as a standalone story I have to say my recommendation is to start at the beginning and enjoy all of  it. I love reading a series where the MCs continue to recur in subsequent stories and while it’s not always necessary to know everyone’s background and who’s connected to who…it does make the story more interesting and in general just more enjoyable. This one is most definitely recommended.

 

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

And this time the journey is being made on the ocean...

All the Way to Shore - C. Jane Elliott, Tim McKiernan

That's right I'm still traveling and so are the MCs in my audiobooks...

 

This time I'm going on a cruise with Jonathan Vallen and Marco Pellegrini as each man attempts to get a break from the life they lead and maybe find a little romance along the way only to discover that the love and romance they were looking for was right there in their life all along if they were brave enough to reach out and grab it...sometime you don't need to look any further than your own back yard to find what you want.

 

Jonathan gave up what he truly wanted from life when he thought that it would earn him the approval of the one person who he was certain he could never please...his father. When Jonathan's father told him it was time to step up and learn how to run the family business...Jonathan did it without hesitation...his father needed him of course he wouldn't let him down. Unfortunately life just isn't that simple and when Jonathan's father brings in Marco Pellegrini to 'train' Jonathan...well, that's when Jonathan decides to exit, stage right. Clearing the way for Marco to turn things around at Vallen Industries. While Jonathan does the same with his personal life. 

 

It's one year later and neither man is fully satisfied with where his life has gone so Jonathan grabs his good friend and cousin Anthony and heads out for the Caribbean on an LGBTQ cruise not knowing that one Marco Pellegrini and his sister are about to do the same. Jonathan's changed so much in the past year that Marco literally doesn't recognize him, but that doesn't stop him from liking and wanting the man he sees either and a shipboard romance begins. 

 

I really enjoyed how Jonathan and Marco's relationship developed. They spent time together actually doing things...that didn't involve begin naked...not that this didn't happen, but the relationship between these two was built slowly with time and while Jonathan was the driving voice behind events as they happened we got to know Marco through his journal entries making for a slightly unusual reading/listening experience but definitely one that I enjoyed. 

 

Jonathan and Marco made for a really adorable couple and while the disagreement that saw them separated for part of the book was inevitable I liked the resolute that brought them back together it was sweet...the kind of sweet that leaves you smiling and sighing in happiness. So overall this was  fun story to listen to and surprisingly this was my first CJane Elliott story and my first time listening to a book narrated by Tim McKiernan but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be my last time for this author or this narrator. Together they gave me a really enjoyable listening experience and I'm looking forward to finding out what more they have to offer both separately and as an author/narrator pairing in the future.

 

The icing on the cake for this one aside from a pair of well matched MCs were the supporting characters...Jonathan's cousin, Anthony was adorable and I really liked him. He was a good and loyal friend to Jonathan and honestly, I'd be more than happy to read a book or even a story about him getting how own HEA and then there was Marco's sister Sophia...I don't read much outside of the m/m realm these days but i think for Sophia, I could be persuaded to make an exception and Jonathan's father...well, every story needs a villain, right? The guy as a total and absolute douche and he just didn't deserve to have Jonathan for a son...that's all.

 

'All the Way to Shore' is the first book in this authors series 'Stories from the Shore' and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next..so sign me up for the cruise...anyone care to join me?

 

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

Some journeys are made in a plane, on train or even in a car...while others...

Watching and Wanting  - Jay Northcote, Lewis Carter

 don't require you to even leave the comfort of your home.

 

For the past month I've been on a journey that was made mostly in a vehicle towing our home on wheels but while I've been doing this I've made so many other trips and some of them like this one have been journeys of discovery...

 

Shawn's a recent grad, who's fallen into a bit of a rut. His job's a dead end and it barely pays the bills, his girlfriends called it quits between them and his friends have all moved on but here he is still in Plymouth and at a loss as to which way to go and to make things worse Shawn's roommate Jude is out and proud  and for Shawn he's everything that Shawn's tried to run from for most of his life. But try as he might Shawn can't help but look back over his shoulder as he runs from Jude because he may be pretending that he's not interested in Jude but his hearts telling him a totally different story and when he finds out that Jude works as a cam boy, he also sees an opportunity to explore what he's tried to deny for so long.

 

Most of my friends read this one back when it came out as an e-book but I have to admit I've been holding out for the audio book. I'm not sure why I really like Jay Northcote's stories and I've read several but for some reason I seem to enjoy them even more on audio especially his 'Housemates' series. We've met Shawn in previous books so I was happy to seem him get a story of his own this time around. I can't honestly say that he's a favorite character for me but I really enjoyed seeing him discover more about himself and his sexuality and I liked that while Jude was patient and gave him the time and space that he needed to figure things out he didn't do it at the expense of his own self-respect and dignity. It was close a time or two but when push came to shove so to speak Jude know he had to put himself first...that he deserved to be more than someone's dirty little secret and maybe at times it felt like he was pushing Shawn but in truth there were times that Jude and Shawn's objectives were in conflict so in a way it was probably inevitable that one or both of them would become a bit defensive and while the other would seem to be overly assertive about what they wanted. 

 

Woven throughout Shawn and Jude's story are brief glimpses of characters from previous books in this series, which anyone who knows me will tell you that having characters from previous books or even other series that I'm familiar with is like giving me catnip. It's inevitable that I will end up rolling on the floor and purring like a kitten, figuratively speaking...mostly. So even though this story can easily be read as a standalone...really, why would you want to miss out on all those hot, fun stories that come before this...just puttin' that out there for the universe ;)

 

I'm fairly comfortable saying that the one thing that anyone who's read this would be more than likely to agree on is that these two men are off the charts when it comes to the sexy times. Jude and Shawn are smokin' hot together especially when they discover that they each have a bit of a kink for D/s that's very compatible. Jude likes to be the boss and Shawn he's more than willing to let Jude boss him around...and tie him up...and who knows what else they'll discover they enjoy these two are really just getting started.

 

But the real surprise for me this time around was the fact that Mark Steadman wasn't the narrator. I've gotten use to hearing this narrator when I'm listening to one of Jay's books but this time around I was treated to a new voice...that of Lewis Carter and I'm happy to say I enjoyed the narration as much as I always do. The list was checked and things went a long swimmingly well. While I've enjoyed Mr. Steadman's narrations in the past and I do hope that I'll get to enjoy them again in future I won't be disappointed to hear more from Lewis Carter as well. When a series as multiple MCs I actually find that having more than one narrator helps to keep the variety of the voices fresh and can avoid having the MCs sound too much alike. When the MC's are the same from story to story I admit it's a very different thing and I like the continuity of the same narrator from book to book but in the case of Jay Northcote's 'Housemates' where the MCs are changing from story to story the voices need to do the same as well and so far Mark Steadman and Lewis Carter are keeping things fresh and different in the voice department and I'm looking forward to what comes next from this author and these narrators.

 

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An audiobook of 'Watching and Wanting' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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