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

When I first read this story back in 2016...

Rented Heart - Dan Calley, Garrett Leigh

I felt like the story got off to a bit of a slow start and while I very much enjoyed the story back then upon re-reading my review I feel like the me of 4 years ago thought that maybe this slow start wasn't such a good thing. Interestingly enough 4 years later I'm feeling like that slow start was just what this story needed. 


While the sex came fast in this story...lonely, rich man meets rent boy...I don't think one can realistically expect differently. It's the other part...the emotion, the connections and deeper feelings that are slow to follow and in the scheme of things it all works and makes sense to the me of now.


Liam's still reeling from the loss of the man he thought he'd spend his life with. A loss that's affected him in so many ways both personal and professional. When Zac sees him and decides that he's going to hit on him, it's only with a moments hesitation before he agrees and follows Zac to his flat for night of no strings attached sex. It's a win/win all the way around...Liam gets what he needs and Zac...well, Zac's got to eat and pay the rent so Zac gets what Zac needs as well.


What was suppose to be a one night stand slowly turns into two and then three and then more. Neither Liam or Zac truly realize when it happened but both men slowly realize that things have changed or maybe it's just that they've come to see that things were never what they thought they were. After all Liam never really thought that Zac was a rent boy and Zac never truly felt like Liam was just another John. Unfortunately realizing this isn't enough to make things right for either man.


It's going to take a drug addicts intervention, a huge misunderstanding and nearly loosing Zac to make Liam see the second chance that he's being given and make him see that if you want something bad enough than fighting for it isn't an option it's simply what you do.


Zac's never believed that he deserved anything good in this life. He's worked on the streets as a hooker since he was 15 and kicked out of his home by his parents for being gay. He's already been saved once by his best mate Jamie the only person who's ever had his back. 


I really needed to see Zac get some happy in his life and there really wasn't anyone better suited to give him that happiness than someone who'd had it once and lost it through no fault of their own. Sweet, kind, lonely, sexy Liam. A man who'd had love, lost it and still had so much to give. 


While I've only listened to a few books narrated by Dan Calley, I'd have to say this one is probably my favorite so far. I've enjoyed them all but for me, Dan Calley really nailed the voices and brought Zac and Liam to life just a bit more than previous stories that I've enjoyed...which is not to say that they were bad by any means but just that this one was even better.


'Rented Heart' may have had a bit of predictability to it but sometimes knowing there's something good coming and knowing that you can count on it to happen in a story really can be a good thing. I loved knowing that in the end Liam would have Zac to love and that Zac was willing to love him back and letting Garret Leigh put the icing on the cake with the details of how they got there was all I needed to make my soul sigh with contentment.



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

The first time I listened to an audio book written by Gregory Ashe...

Police Brutality - Gregory Ashe, Tristan James Mabry


was back in December of 2018...so not really that long ago and I admit I did it for two reasons...#1 some of my friends were reading or listening to his stories and saying some good things and #2 I discovered that Tristan James was the narrator and I've been a fan of his from the first audio book narrated by him that I ever listened to. I've enjoyed around 50 audio books narrated by Tristan James...that is if you only count each title once and not how many times I've listened to a particular audio book...which would mean that I've listened to a whole lot more.


But the subject here is Gregory Ashe's 'Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords' series or to be more precise 'A Union of Swords' book #2 'Police Brutality'. Fans of this pairing will know that while this is only the second book in this series this is in fact the eighth novel featuring this couple...give or take a novella and/or story here and there.


The important thing to take away here is that if you want to enjoy the full Hazard and Somerset experience you need to go back to the beginning...back to the original series and yes, it might seem daunting but it's so worth it. I was actually late to the party in discovering what a hidden gem these stories are but once I found out, I was all in. I gathered up the audio books and I marathoned my way through book after book loving every minute of them to the exclusion of all else.


As a rule I'm a big fan of series that present a different set of MCs every book or even two...mostly because in the past I've found that my interest tends to lag as things begin to feel repetitive and so far that has not been the case at all with these stories. Not only has the criminal/investigative aspect of these stories varied in terms of the who, what, where, why and when but the relationship dynamics between Ellery and John-Henry has held a realism to it that's been to say the least kept my need to know 'where things are going for these two men?' 


Back in 'Pretty, Pretty Boys' we watched as Emery Hazard returned to his hometown to find himself partnered with John-Henry Somerset the bane of his existence when he was younger and as they go from antagonistic partners to cautious allies to friends and more in each successive story the reader gets to share in the emotional roller coaster ride as well as the dangers they face along the way.


Even after all this time things are not perfect between Ellery and John-Henry and just like couples in the read world their relationship is a work in progress. It's not all sunshine and light with these two...sometimes it's hard and it's just not pretty.  It was at the end of the first series that we saw Emery Hazard leave the police force and with the encouragement of his John-Henry, he set out to become a private investigator. 


So now here in their follow up series 'A Union of Swords' we get to see the effect of Emery's decision on their relationship. In book #1 "The Rational Faculty" we saw the beginnings of how things are changing for the former work partnership and it's impact on their personal relationship but here in book #2 "Police Brutality" the changes continue and with John-Henry talking about marriage and the addition of Dulac, Somerset's  recently acquired work partner, who seems to be there at Hazard's every turn and add in Hazard's newest client...Walter Hoffmeister, a rather unpopular police officer that we've encountered in previous stories, along with the fact that 'The Keeper of Bees' is very probably still around and a  threat to all that Ellery holds dear and this series is shaping up to be even more intense and mind gripping than the first one.


As much as I enjoy all aspects of the story, I have to admit for me it's the dynamics between Hazard and Somerset that keep me coming back for more. I love how these two men are together. I love that they see the flaws and imperfections in each other, that they fight...sorry, but in the real world people fight and argue and they make up. They say I'm sorry...not always with words but in ways that only someone who truly loves them can see and understand. Theirs is not a perfect relationship but one that's built on love and determination with a bit of sarcasm and snark thrown in for good measure.


Hazard and Somerset is about second chances, it's about flawed men, broken men who are to stubborn to stay down no matter how hard the world tries to keep them there. It's about men who do the right thing even when it's often not the easy thing to do and it's a series that grabbed my attention and has won my heart. I love this couple and having been there for the beginning I absolutely want to be there for whatever comes next.



An audio book of "Police Brutality" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.




A Way With Words and A Way With You - Lane Hayes, Alexander Cendese

A Way with Words and A Way with You by Lane Hayes consist of two separate stories both of with make reference to characters and/or element from Felice Stevens series ‘The Breakfast Club’ and truthfully the only reason that I was aware of this was the disclosure at the beginning of the audio book and while I can safely say I didn’t feel that I was missing out on anything in these stories for not having read that series. I am left wondering how if I’d read or listened to the Breakfast Club series…would I maybe have enjoyed ‘A Way with Words and A Way with You’ a bit more than I did, but it is what it is and I guess I’ll never know.


While I’ve given the audiobook an overall rating of 3.5 for the most part I found that I enjoyed ‘A Way with Words’ a bit more than ‘A Way with You’ and in fairness to both stories rather than do one big mashed up review of the audio book I’ve chosen to give each book their own mini review here so first of all lets start with what both stories have in common besides the author…


The narrator…Alexander Cendese. This audio book  is only my third time listening to this particular narrator (or more accurately my 3rd & 4th) so he’s a relatively new to me narrator and as with my previous experiences overall I found this to be a good listening experience. The character voices were distinct and unique giving uniqueness and emotion to the characters and their situations. Mr. Cendese is a narrator that I would not hesitate to listen to in future and look forward to enjoying more audio books narrated by him.


Now about the books…


Garnering a solid 4 stars from me ‘A Way with Words’ was the first story in this duology and it in fact turned out to be my favorite. Tony De Luca is a down to earth guy, with a big Italian family to meddle in his life he flies under the radar as often as he can especially when it comes to his sexuality or at least that’s how he rolled until he met a sexy guitar player on a street corner when he was going for lunch one day.


Remy came from a small town looking for a new life in the big city. He plays guitar on a Manhattan street corner during the day and tends bar at night. He’s out and right now more concerned with a steady job than a steady man until he meets a certain sexy Italian construction worker whose kind heart, soulful eyes and uniquely interesting way with words starts him thinking about other things.


For me, Tony and Remy worked as a couple. They were both down to earth and I could so easily imagine them as real people. Their relationship developed as a friendship before becoming something more. Things between them felt genuine.


I especially liked that in his heart Tony knew his family…especially his mother would still be loving and supportive when he came out to them and that Remy’s family was also a loving and supportive family. So often stories have family members that are the total opposite of this and while more often than it should be this is a sad part of the real world. It is sometimes nice to read a story that reminds us that there are also good, loving and supportive families out there.


I think I maybe would have liked a tiny bit more story for Tony and Remy but all in all it was a sweet romance with a nice happy ending and made for an enjoyable summer vacation listen.


‘A Way with You’ is the second book in this audio excursion and I have to admit if I was rating just this story, then my rating would probably be 3 stars at best. Thankfully, Mr. Cendese was present to bolster the characters with his expressive and solid narration.

Reeve Nelson is struggling to be successful in the Manhattan real estate market. He’s willing to give it his all. After leaving his small town and an ex-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-his-ex, he’s determined not to go back. He’s also Remy’s brother (yes, this was one of the best things about him for me). Reeve’s boss is making this all particularly challenging for him. Reeve’s not afraid of a challenge but he’s also not afraid of walking away from things when they’re not right for him.


Leo Rodriguez has a reputation as a ruthless businessman and he’s proud of it. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and he’s done it on his own terms.


These two men should have worked for me but for some reason they fell a little short of the mark and the highlight of this story for the most part were the moments when Reeve interacted with his family… especially Remy and Tony.


At the end of it all though I was left with one story that I quite enjoyed and another that was ok both narrated by a narrated with the ability to enhance a story with is vocal skills.




An audio book of ‘A Way with Words and A Way with You’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes it's the little things that fuel our imagination...

Just Like That (Albin Academy #1) - Cole McCade

I admit this is purely conjecture on my part, but I'm going to run with it. Cole McCade is by no means a new to me author...what is new to me is reading a story by this author that is set in the world of Malcolm Khalaji and Soeng-Jae Yoon. Ironically it is also the place where I first crossed paths with the name Summer Hemlock and having said that rest assured those who have not read the Criminal Intentions series will have no problem with reading this story. The connection between that series and this story is minuscule at best...the mention of a name that's it...just a name Summer Hemlock. But I'd like to think that this name grabbed the author's attention and wouldn't let go until he agreed to write a story where Summer Hemlock got to be a real boy and have his own happily ever after.


"Just Like That" is a story of going home, second chances, finding love, starting over and learning to forgive yourself.


Summer Hemlock is returning to his hometown of Omen, Massachusetts to begin a new job at Albin Academy and be closer to his aging mother. The fact that Fox Iseya, his teenage crush is still teaching there is merely a happy bonus of this. 


Fox has spent years hiding behind a wall of grief after losing his wife. He's held everyone at a distance and now with the arrival of Summer, he'll begin to make his break from his responsibilities at Albin so he can move on. 


As Summer's teaching residency begins in preparation for him to take over Fox's position after he retires. Summer finds himself growing bolder as he gives in to his feelings for Fox and begins a relationship that forces Summer to find the confidence that he's going to need if he hopes to get past the walls that Fox has built around himself during his years of grief. 


While the relationship between Fox and Summer is rife with attraction between the age difference and the precariousness of Fox being Summer's mentor it's going to take some maneuvering on both of their parts to find the middle ground that they can be comfortable on. 


My one and only niggle with this story was the ending. For me it felt just a bit abrupt and I honestly felt that it there'd been just a bit more story post HEA this one would have been 5 stars and then some, so instead I'm going with 4.5 stars and I can't wait for the next installment in this series.


I became a fan of this author nearly two years ago when I first read episode one of his series 'Criminal Intentions' and I have to say in spite of the fact that it's the same author comparing this story to that series is like comparing apples to oranges and just shouldn't happen beyond that in either case the writing is compelling and the stories are intriguing. I was both surprised and delighted with just how different 'Just Like That' is from the author's previous works that I've read.


'Just Like That' is a sweet story that drew me in with ease and gave me characters that I won a place in my heart. The heart of this story is love...not just for someone else but it's about two men learning that in order to love each other they need to love and forgive themselves as well.



A copy of "Just Like That" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Rainbow Place" where happily ever after comes with dinner and a drink...

Happy Place - Hamish Long, Jay Northcote

I took a little longer than usual to get to this one because after listening to the first book in the series I squirreled off to other things so when this story became available on audio I of course had to squirrel off to the audible story and get the other audio books so that i could catch up and now having enjoyed those stories here we are at the fifth installment of Jay Northcote's "Rainbow Place" series.


George is gay, in his 40's and has never been kissed much less anything else. George's upbringing has taught him that being homosexual is wrong and he's tried to deny this part of himself but after 40 plus years of hiding in a closet he's starting to find it harder and harder to ignore what he knows to be true.


Quentin's had his fill of bad relationships and he's not interested in anything serious and George is sweet and sexy and just looking to sample what it's like to be with another man...it's clearly a win/win for both men when they decide to hook up.


What starts as some no strings attached behind closed doors fun and sex for both men starts to develop strings faster than either man has anticipated and they find themselves navigating rougher waters than either could have anticipated.


We first met Quentin in book #1 of the "Rainbow Place" series Seb and Jason's story and the story of how Rainbow Place came to be.  Quentin's a reporter and he's fresh out a relationship that was bad...so needless to say 'cautious' is his middle name.


George was raised to believe that 'gay is bad' seriously 'going to hell bad' but he's also finding that what he was taught isn't what is or what he wants to believe...he just needs to get past what's been ingrained in his psyche.


The age gap between Quentin and George definitely went into the range that still makes me a bit squeamish, but the dynamics between them, with Quentin actually being the one to have the experience and confidence of being an out and proud gay man really helped to offset the actually chronological difference in their years. 


Hamish Long is once again the narrator for this installment of "Rainbow Place" providing characters with voices that were rich with character and depth. Having the same narrator for each story whether the main characters change or not helps a story to have a continuity and flow that resonates in the narrators voice with a familiarity with the authors world that can only be achieved by knowing a series start to finish the way one would if they had been a part of the adventure from the beginning.


I don't know if this is the last installment in this series but I have to admit I'm hoping not since there's been more than one engagement among these couples so I'm hoping there's a wedding story or two at least.



An audio book of "Happy Place" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not sure about 'Surviving the Merge' but...

Surviving the Merge - C.P. Harris

I was pretty damned happy when I realized that 'I survived this book'. It's been a while since I've read a book that had the emotional impact on me that this one did.


I'm just going to take a minute to give a little bit of personal background here because I honestly feel that it's relevant to the story as it relates to my response to it. I spent nearly 20 years working in healthcare in one form or another and while I don't profess to be an expert on any level about any specific condition, I am, however, familiar with a number of physical and mental health issues well enough to know that most medical conditions have general guidelines as to conditions, symptoms, etc. each case is unique to the individual. But for me the most important thing about this story was that the author treated the issues with the consideration and regard that they deserved. 


When this book first crossed my path I read the blurb was intrigued but decided that time didn't permit...that lasted maybe a day or two I re-read the blurb and decided that I needed to read this book. Sometimes first decisions aren't the best decisions.


While the blurb for this book intrigued me, it didn't prepare me for the emotional journey traveled by the characters. I adored Justin, loving someone...anyone can be a challenge at the best of times but loving Damon/Blake was a commitment that not every one would be able or willing to make and Justin not only loved them, he was able to see and appreciate what each of them brought to the relationship and held the strength of commitment and desire to work things out no matter how challenging they got. 


Damon was definitely the character who intrigued me the most for so many reasons that I'd love to go into but won't. However, it was Blake who broke me and in the end it was Blake's sacrifice that saved them all (that's right you'll need to read the book if you want to know more). 


There were times that the writing in this story held an intangible quality that left me feeling like I'd maybe missed something...I wasn't confused by things, it was more this slight niggle in my brain that I'd read the words, I understood the words but still missed something in the meaning and normally this would at the very least be frustrating for me but in the case of this particular story it fit and all I can say in regard to this is that if you choose to read this story and find yourself having that feeling...have faith and keep reading because sometimes what we think we see is only an illusion hiding a reality that  we can't see and truthfully no matter how you look at it in the end each of these men were unwavering in their commitment to their relationship. 


"Surviving the Merge" was not only Ms Harris's first novel in the "Chadwick" series, it was her first novel and of course it was also my first time reading anything by this author. What it thankfully isn't is the last novel in the "Chadwick" series or by this author or the last novel that I'll be reading by this author and I am very much anticipating finding out how things continue to go for Justin, Damon/Blake and what if anything will happen between Max and Ash, the kids at the community center and even Sam (Samantha) and while I would have liked a bit more development between her and Justin before they became BFFs, the focus of this story for me was entirely Justin, Damon/Blake and anything else I'm willing to wait for.



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

Love According to Liam...isn't quite how the it works in the real world...

Love According to Liam - V.L. Locey

Liam's an adorable and precocious child and if memory serves me at all he's somewhere in the 5 year old range at best. I remember my son at that age and the filters were essentially non-existent. So for me...Liam's a fairly typical reflection of his age group. It's an age when children can be adorable and loving and fiercely loyal while also being a bit self-centered it's not in a mean or nasty way. It's just that they're children and their world view has a much more limited scope than that of an adult with considerably more life experience.


So for the most part I honestly have no issue with Liam's behavior throughout this story. For me, he was just a kid being a kid. I didn't have a problem with Bryn's behavior he love's Mike and more than anything wants to be a loving and supportive husband but as any good spouse knows it's a balancing act and sometimes being a good spouse means not being the one to make the decisions but the one who supports the decision their partner needs to make and while it was hard for  Bryn, he did it to the best of his ability.


I also had no problem with Mike. I totally got where he was coming from and to be honest I was 100% on his side...surprisingly it was Kelly who made me blow a gasket. I really liked her in the first book and while I can't say that I don't like her in this one, what I can say is that I don't like much of her behavior. I apologize for being a bit circumspect here but trying to explain this and not give away the story is a bit of a daunting task. Bottom line for me was that while I understood a lot of Kelly's actions and rational there were a couple of things that no matter how she cut it, in my eyes her actions were a betrayal of Mike and also undermined him. So without getting really wordy and saying a whole lot of nothing here to avoid spoiling the story. I'll just summarize by saying that this for me because of some similar life experience with certain events hit a bit too close to home for me and the result was a whole lot of anger and frustration with certain characters and events in the story resulting in a less than stellar read for me. 


'Love According to Liam' definitely wasn't a 'bad' read in that the story was well written  but as I said parts of it just hit a bit to close to home, so if you're a fan of this series carry on, I know I will. I'm still looking forward to reading more about Bryn and Mike and the changes that are coming into their lives and maybe something in that will leave me feeling less disgruntled with this story. But rest assured this one's definitely me and I'm willing to own it.



An ARC of 'Life According to Liam' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Second time around for "Second Chance"...turned out to be even better...

Second Chance - Jay Northcote, Hamish Long

Second time around for "Second Chance"...turned out to be even better...


"Second Chance" is another of those stories that I read earlier this year and loved. So when I got a second chance to enjoy this one on audio...what else could I do but say yes.


If I loved this one the first time around, I'm not even sure what word to use for this second chance with a story that holds a special place in my heart. I have to admit I really wanted to come up with a whole lot of new and creative ways to express my appreciation for this story, but truth be told I listened to the audio book, I re-read my original review and my brain stuttered to a screeching halt as realized two things... 1 that I enjoyed the audio book just a tiny bit more than I had the e-book and that adds up to a whole lot of 'loved this story' right there and 2, I still love this story for all the reasons that I originally loved this story. So, yes I'm going to borrow some things from that review to help me create this one.


This book had me not just from the beginning but from the first word of the title..."Second Chance"...we all want them, need them and mostly we deserve them and that's what this story is about...second chances for so many people but mostly for Nate and Jack.


At 45 years of age and after a plethora life events, childhood friends, Nate and Jack are reunited. (Ok, let's hear it for mature MCs who can have a relationship with someone their own age) It's not that I'm opposed to age gaps or daddy kink more like sometimes I just need a break from it...anyways, these are mature men who have been through a lot...good and bad and now they've each come home for their own reasons and dealing with the problems of the present brings them both face to face with memories of the past...both the good and the bad.


Jack's dealing with a break-up that led to a downward spiral into depression and addiction but with the help of his parents and a lot of determination he wants to change that and regain control of his life.


Nate's come home to get his daughter away from life in a big city and the temptations that she was finding around every corner and to help his mom following the death of his father. For Nate there's also the added challenge of the fact that when he lived here before everyone knew him as Natalie...not Nate unlike in the city where everyone knew him as Nate.


As Nate and Jack become reacquainted against the backdrop of everyday life the reader gets to know these two men not just through their efforts to reclaim their lives but through the people they love as Nate's daughter Cass deals with her own efforts to put her life back on track, Nate's mom who not only has a second chance with her granddaughter but her son and Jack's parents who as they try in their own way to repair their fragile relationship with Jack.


While these are some of the second chances that happen in this story not everything is perfect and each chance has it's own solution and degree of positive outcome which went a long way towards making this story work for me. 


Of all these second chances for me the most important one was Nate's...this is Nate's chance not just with Jack, but to live his life as Nate the man, he was meant to be.


'Second Chance' is a story that's told from a realistic perspective. It's doesn't come with over the top magical solutions. It's two men dealing with what life has thrown at them...one gay, one gay and transgender...both seeming very real.  The story feels real...there's passion and humor, awkward moments, interruptions and even moments of frustration...yes, folks it's just like real life.


Hamish Long's is once again the narrator for this Jay Northcote story and for me, his narration has only helped to enhance the depth of reality that this story contained and when it comes to stories set in the UK, he's fast becoming a favorite narrator of mine.


In spite of the fact that each story is unique, we can often see bits and pieces of ourselves or someone we know in a story and it's that commonality that frequently draws us in and lets us relate to what we read. For me, "Second Chance" held small pieces of a story that while it's not mine, it is that of someone so very precious to me. Whose story I know nearly as well as my own and it was these pieces that connected me to this story and kept me listening and wanting to hear it all. 



An audio book of "Second Chance' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

There are some stories best read, some that are amazing on audio and then...

Falling For My Roommate - Garrett Leigh, Dan Calley

There are those that work incredibly well in either format and Garret Leigh seems to consistently achieve this with her stories.


I read Micah's story back in April of this year when it was first released and I knew back then that if there was an audio release that I wouldn't hesitate to revisit it in audio format. 

"Falling For My Roommate" is a story of starting over, second chances, finding love, comfort and healing.


Of course it goes without saying that I've already reviewed this story and I admit I'm not above borrowing from that review in my efforts to once again explain why and how much I've enjoyed this audio book. 


As I said in my original review "Falling For My Roommate" may not be my favorite Garrett Leigh book but given that I happily gave it 4 stars, I'd hardly call it anything less than enjoyable.


Micah's story is one that we've all seen to one degree or another in today's headlines...a well known athlete who looses his focus on his sport to the glitter and gloss of fame and all that it brings...sex, drugs, booze, parties, faceless and meaningless sex all combining in career ending tragedy. 


Ready to restart his life as just another regular guy Micah finds himself sharing an apartment with Sam...a well packaged, gay, book-nerdish, bartending, English Lit student who doesn't see Micah the sports star. He sees Micah the man and he falls and falls hard. But Sam also recognizes that Micah's still fragile so he's determined to be the friend that Micah needs. While Micah sees himself as unworthy of someone as wonderful as Sam and is determined to keep his feelings to himself and just be Sam's roommate and hopefully a good friend.


Dan Calley was the narrator for this story and while he's not entirely a new to me narrator. I've also listened to 3 previous books of Ms Leigh's that he's narrated and I've found everyone of them to be well done and extremely enjoyable. Mr. Calley gives these characters depth and personality adding yet another layer to an already rich and evocative story.


"Falling For My Roommate" was neither a sweet nor fluffy story but it was a story with the best kind of HEA...one that could happen. Micah had to slay his own dragons and for as much as I appreciated Sam it wasn't because he was someone's white knight charging to the rescue. It was because he was strong enough to be there for someone he cared about, not just the man he loved but the man he considered to be his friend and he knew that he couldn't be Micah's salvation but rather a loving and supportive friend. 


For me this story felt real...it's out there and one has only to look for it and some have already lived it.



An audiobook of "Falling For My Roommate" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes you have to walk through hell to get a little heaven...

Forgotten - Colette Davison, Piers Ryman

Review has temporarily been taken down and will be back soon!

So here's the thing...

To See the Sun - Kelly Jensen, TJ Clark

I absolutely loved this book and while I have to admit there are a lot of books that I can say this about for many reasons. I mean let's face it, I'm probably not the hardest sell around when it comes to books. So chances are...if you give me characters that I can truly love or even hate with a passion, good dialogue, settings that are richly described, a story that holds my interest...well, chances are your books are going to be in the 'I loved it' category and if it's an audio book add in a well delivered narration and that makes you golden in my world. 


Before I begin I'd also just like to ask that you please forgive any spelling mistakes I may make as this is the one downside of audio books you can't check your spelling on words specific to a story.


Much to my surprise and delight "To See the Sun" has fallen very solidly into the 'I love it' category for me. Kelly Jensen has given us a complex and interesting world first in the planet Zimosen, a planet where much of the population lives below the surface never able to see the sun, just to dream of it as they struggle to survive. We first meet Gael as he in caught in a situation that no matter how it ends...won't end well for him and could possibly be even more disastrous than he's able to anticipate and when things go sideways Gael does what any reasonably intelligent person would do...he runs and he runs for his life.


It's as these events transpire and we are following Gael on his flight through the lower levels of Zimosen that the author also creates the world Gael survives in. Things are frantic and terrifying for Gael as he struggles to stay ahead of the law and find a way out. It's during this struggle to survive that Gael is offered the chance to escape to another planet via what is essentially a mail-order-bride program and with little to no hesitation he takes the opportunity and this is how he meets Abraham (Bram) Bauer and finds himself on an journey to an outer colony on the planet Alkirak to become Bram's companion.


I loved Gael and Bram together. They so easily filled the spaces in each other that had been empty, although this was not done without some hesitation, effort and a bit of miscommunication on the part of both men and I honestly would have been surprised if there'd been none considering they started out literally thousands and then some miles apart. These men weren't different worlds, they were from worlds that were vastly different. 


While there were a number of secondary characters that we saw glimpses of. There were really only 4 other characters who played prominent roles in this story and they were Price who turned out to be a better friend than Gael had realized, Aavi a sweet and precocious young girl with secrets that could be dangerous for everyone, Maia who a close friend of Bram's and ultimately Gael's as well and Maia's brother Orfeo, mayor of Alkirak and Bram's use to be friend with benefits. While I really enjoyed the depth and extra that other characters added to this story it was these four who helped to support the foundation of events that transpired and to keep things flowing at an enjoyable pace.


As for the steam and sex in this one it was  slow burn that felt right and worked well with both the character of these two men and the circumstances of their meeting and coming together. 


TJ Clark was the narrator for this story and while he's not quite a new to me author this was only my second audio book narrated by him and so far TJ's a definite win for me. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him as he took me on this amazing adventure with Gael, Bram and their friends. 


Putting this one off like I did was definitely not one of my better ideas but finally getting down to it has proven to be a decision that I'm really glad I made. I'm planning a return trip to Zimosen and Alkirak in the near future because as with any good story...this one's worth enjoying again and possibly again.  Definitely recommended.



An audio book of "To See the Sun" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Jag's running, he's not planning on stopping but...

Broken - Colette Davison, Piers Ryman

He's getting tired and when the sexy owner of the club he's working at shows an interest in him...one that Jag returns, he may not be willing to stop but maybe...just maybe, he could slow down for a while.


Michael's been on his own since loosing Edward the love of his life. Not that he hasn't tried but the right person just doesn't seem to be there for him...not until Jag. Jag may be young but he's had to endure his own heartaches and pain making him a lot wiser than someone of his years should be. Jag's not looking for a relationship but a bit of no strings attached sex with the attractive older club owner would suit him just fine as long as none of the rules get broken because Jag's rules are what keep him safe.


Overall, I liked Jag and Michael together. Given Jag's past he needed someone who had the maturity to be patient and understand that while Jag wasn't totally broken, it's still going to take him some time to get regain a healthy out look about the world and himself. But in spite of what he'd been through Jag was also able to help Michael find a better out look when it came to the loss of Edward. Not only did he help Michael see that it was ok to grieve but that it was ok for him to still love Edward even though he was moving on and had found room in his heart to love Jag too.


In some ways 'Broken' was a bit out of the ordinary in terms of a book with this type of setting. I was expecting some background to be laid with other characters such as some of the dancers and even the punters (Brit speak for 'customers) but for the most part things were confined to Jag, Michael, Michael's best friend Matt and his partner and even their on page inclusion was very limited. While this worked in some ways in others I felt like the characters were a bit flat. I like it when I get to see interaction between not just the MCs but with other secondary characters and I found it strange that there really wasn't any. I mean really Michael's a bar owner and there was never really a conversation between him and any of his employees other than Matt or Jag or any of the customers. The same with Jag we got to see him talking to Michael and Matt that's it. We were told that he talked to other dancers but we never got the conversations. I'm not saying that there needed to be a lot of talk between Michael and/or Jag and other people just that some would have seemed a bit more natural. 


And before I forget just one itsy, bitsy note about Jag's parents...these are the poster parents for how not to parent...basic rule of thumb people if your kid's first instinct is to run from you. You're definitely doing things wrong...I'mma just sayin'.


Minor niggle aside I enjoyed listening to the audio book for this story. Piers Ryman was the narrator and while he is a new to me narrator, I do have a couple more books narrated by him on my audio book shelf that I'm looking forward to enjoying soon and one of them might just happen to be the second book in 'The Heaven and Hell Club' so who know's with any luck we'll get to see more Michael and Jag giving their characters a chance to develop more depth. I'd like top see how things progress between these two now that Jag's decided to stop hiding from his parents and stay in one place to make a life for himself.


Maybe not a Canada Day fireworks start for this series but definitely solid enough that I'm curious enough to stick around to see what's coming next and then as with every new series I'll see where things go from there.




It’s been a year since I first read this story and...

How to Run With the Wolves - Matthew Shaw, Eli Easton

I have to admit at that time my review basically said that I had enjoyed this fifth and final story in the “How at the Moon” series that it hadn’t ended up being my favorite and I have to admit that still holds true, however, having the opportunity to once again enjoy a visit to Mad Creek and Alaska as narrated by Matthew Shaw, my enjoyment was definitely stronger this time around.


While this is the first time I’ve listened to one of the books in this series on audio this isn’t my first time listening to an audio book narrated by Matthew Shaw and while this is only the third book of his that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing and the first one from the “How at the Moon” series, I’m looking forward to enjoying the remainder of the series at some time in the future…so many audio books so little time but I plan on making the most of it.


When Zeus goes to Alaska as part of Mad Creeks new Search & Rescue team the last thing he expects to find is the wolf of his dreams but find him he does…or maybe it’s more a case of said wolf finds Zeus and tracks him down and brings him home. Timo’s the brother of the Quimmiq pack’s alpha and while he’s a bit of a jokester when it comes to his pack he knows that there’s nothing funny about their situation and he’s sure that somehow Zeus just might be the key to their salvation. Zeus may be in love but when it comes to a wolf on a mission what remains to be seen is if love really does conquer all.

When I first read this story, my biggest issue had been that I just wasn’t feeling the connection between Timo and Zeus and while I didn’t feel the disconnect as strongly this time. The pairing still wasn’t as solid for me as the ones in previous stories. I also found myself liking Zeus a lot more than I had and Timo’s behavior didn’t feel quite as off for me as it originally had.


So, all in all this was a case of the second time around working better. I enjoyed the audio due in no small part to the excellent narration provided by Matthew Shaw. I especially liked his voice for Zeus, he simply sounded as I imagined that Zeus’s voice would sound which I’m sure strongly contributed to the fact that I liked Zeus more this time around.  Timo’s voice also fit the character for me as well again helping me to connect with this pair on a better level.


A visit to Mad Creek is like going to have coffee with friends and as always I loved that characters from previous stories were a part of this story and it was fun to have Milo & Jason along with Lance, Tim and so many other secondary characters who we’ve met in previous stories play a role here in Zeus and Timo’s story.


I know I stated in my original review that I wasn’t sure if I’d be continuing with the spin-off series that the author has planned for this but I have to admit after having enjoyed the audio book for ‘How to Run with the Wolves’ I’m curious to find out what happens next in Alaska…so I think I’m at least going to need to check out the first book or two and there’s always the previous 4 books on the ‘Howl at the Moon’ series that I need to listen to on audio in the meantime.




An audio book of “How to Run with the Wolves” was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After spending 5 years in jail for a crime he didn’t really commit...

Bishop: A True Lover's Story - A.E. Via, Tor Thom

Bishop’s determined not to mess up his second chance. He’s living with his dad and working at his landscape company. Bishop may not know how to read or write but if you want a landscape that’ll make you the envy of all the neighbours…Bishop’s your man.


Bishop knows that he’s got two things going for him for sure first there’s Mike. They don’t have the perfect parent/child relationship, but they’ve got a solid foundation on which to build one. It’s very clear early on that Mike genuinely cares about Bishop and want’s to be there for him and be supportive. He’s determined to get the dad thing right this time around. He’s also got  Trent…Trent’s that friend that we all want the one who’s there for you in good and bad. It doesn’t matter because you know that friend has your back.


Edison’s not really looking for a second chance he’s trying to use his first one…he just wants someone that he can love and care for and maybe have feel the same way about him. Edison was raised with old fashioned values by a father who taught him how to shine his shoes, shave with a straight razor, be a gentleman, not to swear or judge and most of all to just be himself. Add in that Edison’s cooking skills are amazing and it’s hard to imagine why this man hasn’t been off the market for years. But luckily for Bishop he’s not.


One of the things that Edison and Bishop have in common is that their perception of themselves doesn’t reflect how others see them. Bisop also has a strong tendency to internal things ultimately making issues bigger than they truly were or needed to be.


I loved that Bishop was very upfront with Edison about his prison record but was disappointed about how things were dealt with when it came to Bishop’s reading and writing skills. I get that this was a strong source of insecurity, embarrassment and worry for Bishop. I know I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to be 36 years old and have to tell someone who’s opinion meant everything to me that I couldn’t read…honestly my brain boggles at the mere idea of it.


Rounding out this ensemble we have Skylar…dear, dear die in a freakin’ fire Skylar…let me count the ways that I despise you. I’m not even sure where to begin with this character for he was just to much…he was the little boy who thinks that you tell a girl you like them by pulling their hair and making fun of them only he never grew-up and while I’m not going go get into the details of it, the part he played in the books ending was just so far over the top that to be honest I just couldn’t buy into it because he went from being an annoying jerk to someone who was not just out of touch with reality but violently so.


Bishop is definitely a slow burn especially when compared to previous books that I’ve read/listened to by this author and for me that’s ok since these men are each dealing with their own bundles of insecurities and it’s abundantly clear that neither Bishop nor Edison was looking for a quick fling, but both were looking for a relationship to last so having them spend time together where clothes were kept on and conversations were had felt very in line with the overall theme of the story.


Tor Thom was the narrator for this story and while he’s not quite a new to me narrator…it’s a close call on that as I’ve only had the opportunity to enjoy two other books that he shared in the narration of. I love that his voices are clearly distinctive, and I never had to wonder who was speaking. With his narration of ‘Bishop’ Tor Thom has definitely shown me that whether he’s narrating a book on his own or with someone else he gets the job done and done well. I truly look forward to enjoying future audio books by this narrator…and…

Hopefully, Ms Via has more in store for us from Bishop and his friends.




An audio book of “Bishop” was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

More Colin and Joshua…what more could a girl want…not much…unless it means having a bit of Nate and David as well.

Love's Lawyer - Janice Jarrell

I am such a fan of this series, but I have to admit even the best of fans can have off days. I jumped at the chance to read this book and part way into it I found myself saying “When did they get married? I don’t remember Colin and Josh getting married, what the hell?” and today my mystery got solved when I realized that I’d somehow managed to miss a book…seriously I missed reading a whole book here and it was the one wherein Colin and Josh got married…have no fear it’s on my e-reader and I will be remedying this unfortunate event at my earliest opportunity.


Now you’re probably thinking what the hell, Karen? Seriously who cares if you missed a book. That’s your problem and has nothing to do with me or this book. Well you’re right but it does concern the accuracy of what I’m about to say which is that while you can read “Love’s Lawyer” without having read the previous books and probably without an over abundance of confusion…I strongly recommend at least reading books 2 & 3 in the authors series ‘Revolutionary Heart’ although to be honest reading all of the stories in this series is no hardship. I realize I’m biased because as I said earlier…I am such a fan of this series.


I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that while “Love’s Lawyer” is listed as the first book in what is a spin-off series to ‘Revolutionary Heart’ it could also easily be considered the next book in the series ‘Revolutionary Heart’ because I’m fairly sure that things pick-up for Colin and Josh if not where they leave off in ‘Love’s Glory’ very shortly after that point, since there doesn’t seem to be a huge time gap between where one story ends and the next one begins.


Events that started in ‘Love’s Trials’ and carried through ‘Love’s Glory’ as well as the fallout from them continue here in ‘Love’s Lawyer’. Colin and Josh have survived everything that’s happened so far and Colin’s strong and determined and pretty damned fearless…but neither of them are truly prepared for the demands of law school and the Colin’s unrealistic expectations that he places upon himself and in spite of all of his own training, knowledge and experience as a psychologist Josh’s belief in Colin’s strength blinds him to what’s happening right in front of his eyes.


I’m honestly not even sure where to begin with this story. Colin and Josh are a relationship that we don’t get to see in a lot of stories. They have their ups and downs, they fight, they make up sometimes…even though we all know it’s one of the worst things a couple can do…they even go to bed angry with each other in other words they feel real, their relationship feels real.  


These things happen, I can personally attest to this as someone who’s been married for 31 years to the same person. Sometimes, pride and frustration and just the heat of the moment keeps people from thinking clearly and seeing what’s truly important but at the end of the day they also remember how important their marriage and their love for each other is and that nothing really matters more.


It’s not just their relationship that gives me such a strong feeling of connection to these two men.  The situation that they’re in with Colin returning to schools for me is also a very relatable situation, since I found myself similar circumstances when I returned to school following an accident that like what happened to Colin, forced me to re-evaluate my career goals. Thankfully unlike Colin law school was not a career goal for me, so my foray into the world of academia while demanding was no where near as intense as Colin’s.


Sometimes it’s nice to read books that aren’t all sunshine and lollipops and sometimes being able to read a book with characters that I could so easily imagine being neighbors or even friends with makes the connection that I’m looking for.


Without fail no matter what my mood these Ms Jarrell’s characters and their stories find their way into my heart to share their story with me and leave me feeling like I’ve just spent time with some dear friends and I’m left looking forward to their next visit.




An ARC of “Love’s Lawyer” was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

What's more exciting than one steampunk dragon? Well several steampunk dragons of course...

Weapons & Wonders - Devin Harnois

or at least it is as far as Jak and Leander are concerned...except when those dragons are being created to use as weapons in a war.


When Jak and Leander formed their partnership to create enchanted pets for people neither of them ever envisioned a dragon being among their creations but that's exactly what happened in "Mages & Mechanisms" book one of Devin Harnois's series "Jak & Leander" and now here in "Weapons & Wonders" Jak and Leander find themselves tied to a military contract to create not one but six enchanted, mechanical dragons and they also soon discover that not only do others want their plans for the dragons but the limits that they'll go to in order to stop Jak and Leander from creating them are not only dangerous but could be down right deadly.


I definitely enjoyed this second book in the 'Jak & Leander' series more than the previous book and I think for me it was due mostly to the fact that at times the story seemed to be a bit more focused on the mystery and intrigue surrounding the dragons that Jak and Leander have been contracted to create for the military and at this point in Jak & Leander's relationship having the focus off of their personal relationship for a bit just seemed right. I honestly felt like it would have been like watching a lot of gears spinning if this hadn't been the case...however, there were still times when the focus of the story clearly shifted to bring Jake and Leander back into the spotlight for a bit and I very much enjoyed those times as well, especially towards the end when the changes and growth that they were each making individually and as a couple was more evident.


Along with the intrigue of stolen dragon plans and sabotage to their workshop where they were creating the new dragons there were some minor plot lines that created a bit of additional interest in the story without taking the story over or making things unnecessarily confusing.


The dragons are definitely one of my favorite things in these stories. I admit it I'm quite enchanted with the idea of a magically enchanted, mechanical dragon and I really, really like how Jak goes about finding a spirit to enchant the dragon. This along with the glimpses of each dragon's unique personality...which I think would readily lend itself to a story or two that was maybe a bit more dragon focused...just a suggestion from a dragon loving reader.


So, while I may not be quite as enthusiastic about this series as I had expected to be. Neither am I anywhere close to wanting to give up. The writing is good and there are still so many things that could be explored in this steampunk world that I've got my fingers crossed that the author has at least one or two more stories planned for Jak & Leander.


After all I did like the first story and I've enjoyed this one even more so I'm thinking that things are getting better and it's too soon to give up on Jak and Leander or their  enchanted mechanical dragons...especially if there're more dragons to come.




An ARC of " Weapons & Wonder" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Currently reading

Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey