Daily Archives: December 1, 2014

Bowl of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5799

bowl

Blurb

Porker, Fatty, Tons-of-Fun: Crowley Fredericks has heard it all. He’s dropped a lot of weight since his high school days, but he’s still a big guy, and the painful words and bullying follow him. Rejected—again—because of his size, Crowley is starting to think that maybe love just isn’t meant for huskier men.

Averell Lang and his twin are so different they might as well not even be related. So when Rell’s brother brings his roommate home to snowy Susset for the holidays, Rell expects the worst—another uptight, pretentious hipster. What he discovers instead is Crowley. Nerdy, fascinating, attractive, Crowley. Rell never expected to look at a man this way, and what he sees in Crowley Fredericks is something he didn’t even know he was looking for. If both men can overcome their hang-ups, they might unwrap more than presents this holiday season.

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Review

Crowley just wants to have a nice Christmas with his family. But, after recently coming out to them, he’s told not to come home – no one will be there to pick him up from the airport.

He’s crushed, but he’s got a great friend in the form of his roommate, Tyler Lang. Tyler invites him to share Christmas with his big family upstate and even buys him the train ticket. The problem is the only available seat will actually put Crowley there one entire day before Tyler. No worries, Tyler tells him, just hang with his dumb twin Avrell and try not to be too bored.

Though he’s a little shell-shocked, he makes it to the train station and to Tyler’s hometown of Sutten. He’s a bit dismayed when someone vaguely resembling Tyler comes crashing over the curb – late – ready to pick him up, and sparking his romantic interest.

Crowley “knows” that there’s no way someone as good looking as Averell could be interested in a “fatty” like him, and Tyler never said he was gay so… he just quietly crushes on him… but is amazed by how easy they get along. Crowley’s pretty shy, especially in the face of someone he’s attracted to, but the conversation flows and the two end up having a ball!

Averell (Rell) is “in between jobs”. More or less permanently. He’s never found that “perfect” job and stumbles aimlessly looking for it. He’s currently living at home again and doing chores for room and board. He can’t believe his hipster-snob of a brother actually has a cool friend and he’s psyched to be actually “forced” to room with him while he’s here.

As the story progresses we see Crowley (nicknamed Owl by Rell) falling for Rell and surpisingly, Rell (who identifies as straight) falling too. Tyler tries to keep them separated – knowing how Crowley has been deeply hurt in the past and unwilling to see his “loser” brother “use” Crowley for either experimentation or worse.

But — the attraction can’t be denied and on Christmas, Owl and Rell exchange a mind-blowing kiss that shakes them both up a bit. When it looks like they might want to do more than kiss, Owl freaks out at being naked and we begin to learn just how deep his body issues go. (Both boys are “virgins” in this case – making things doubly difficult.)

Fortunately, Sondra, the boys’ cousin, is there and she has an absolutely amazing idea for helping Owl to love his body – and it works!

Now the only obstacle left to overcome is Rell and his feeling of unworthiness due to his lack of direction. Again – the best ideas come from loving family members and we leave Owl and Rell with a decidedly HFN that will completely have you sobbing tears of joy.

**
There are those of us who will so closely identify with this story, it’s not even funny. The horrible, horrible things society can do to young people – making them hate themselves – is not just for girls anymore.

This story handles the issue with loving care. It’s realistic, touching, sentimental, heart-breaking, tender, sweet… just amazing.
Even if you never had body “issues” you can clearly identify with childhood trauma and the feelings of isolation caused at the hands of a bully. When Crowley shares his experience and how it not only happened to him but was then broadcast on Facebook – I couldn’t help but think – Thank God I was a kid before Facebook! What an evil tool that little social program can be in the wrong hands!

My heart absolutely broke when Owl confessed that his guidance counselor was of no help and he didn’t dare tell his family about the incident because it would “out” him as well as show him as a weakling. So there he was, 15, feeling all alone, and having to face his bullies every day with no sense of power or any ability to feel good about himself. (It makes me tear up just thinking about it!)

I wanted to hug Rell and Sondra. God – what amazing healers these two people were. They were able to reach in a see what needed to be done and were brave enough to do it. (Sure the time frame was a little quick, but I don’t think it was out of the realm of possibility. Let’s face it – the chance for sex is a great motivating factor!)

The other thing that I appreciated from this story was that Owl went through a probably fairly normal “slimming” down as he went through puberty and grew up some. Sure, he did have some crazy diet ideas (and those were handled so very well in the story) but at no point did anyone suggest they’d help him “look better” or be his “work out buddy” in order for him to feel good about himself. The message was – you are beautiful As. You. Are.

Isn’t that a freeing thought?! (I fear corporate America will never let us (as a society) truly accept this as a concept – but one can hope!)

There are not enough hearts available to me to tell you how wonderful this book is.
Everyone who has ever thought “I am worthy not enough unless I …” should read this. The message is universal.

My applause to Raine O’Tierney and my appreication for tackling this issue so well.

amazing

Blue Days by Mary Calmes

Optimized-Blue daysFalling for a coworker is rarely a good idea, especially for a man getting a last chance at salvaging his career. But from the moment Dwyer Knolls sees the beautiful but socially awkward Takeo Hiroyuki, he seems destined to make bad decisions.

Takeo’s life is a string of failed attempts to please his traditional Japanese father. Unfortunately, succeeding in business turns out to be just as difficult for Takeo as changing from gay to straight. In fact, the only thing Takeo seems to truly excel at is taking notice of Dwyer Knolls.

When Dwyer and Takeo head to Mangrove, Florida on a real estate buying trip, their tentative friendship combusts and becomes much more. Is their sudden connection real enough to bank their futures on, or should they chalk the whole thing up to the daze inspired by the blue ocean breeze?

Marieke’s Review:

Dwyer thinks he’s about to lose his job, but then is give a new partner. Mak is hilarious and they are a perfect team. But Mak is not the only new colleague Dwyer gets. Takeo Hiroyuki is Dwyer’s dream man, but he has no idea is the man is gay. He starts to talk and ‘play’ with Takeo.

Takeo is Japanese, and doesn’t get the whole social conversation thing. He takes everything too literal and is a perfectionist to the littlest detail. He’s all business and no pleasure to everyone but Dwyer. His colleagues start calling him the Ice Prince.

Then one day Dwyer has to go to Florida for business, but instead of Mak, Takeo comes along. The trip changes everything, their relationship, their jobs and their ideals for the future.

**

Mary Calmes is not my favorite author… Yes I know, people will be shocked and all that, but that’s just my taste. I did, however, liked this book a whole lot. The only thing I would’ve changed was the length. If it was longer, the part from friends to lovers could’ve been worked out better.

I love Takeo. Dwyer is sweet and funny, but in this story Takeo stole my heart. He’s so clueless and socially awkward, I just had to love him. His father is––predictably–– the asshole here, and I was very happy that the two men move on without remorse.

But this bit could have been more angty too. More confrontation, and maybe even a bit of a rough spot with the new B&B, because dad was making it hard for them. But, as it is a novella, this was not annoying or anything.

It was a heart-warming story with lots of humor. It’s definitely something the Mary fans will adore, as did I.

Rating: 4

 

His Omega by AC Katt

MLR Presents:http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=ACKOMEGA

his omega

Blurb

On his way home from a meeting of the North American werewolf council, Armand La Marche is stopped in his limousine by a boy who is hurt by an unknown assailant who murdered his friend. After decades of searching, Armand has found his mate. There is one problem, someone is trying to kill Sean.

Sean Quinn’s friend Leroy was gutted trying to protect him. He runs for help and stops the first car he sees.

Armand LaMarche is head Alpha of the North American werewolf council and was in his limousine on his way home to his Manhattan brownstone. When the wounded boy stops his car, Armand recognizes two things:the boy is part wolf, an Omega with a great gift, and he’s Armand’s mate. Now all Armand has to do is claim his mate and keep him safe from the murderer.

Morgan’s Review

Sean is an art student who comes out to his dad and is thrown out into the streets. He has no money, no job and is about to become a rent boy when he is attacked. He’s “rescued” by Leonard, but his would-be friend/pimp gets killed trying to protect him and Sean gets injured, but is rescued again by Armand.

Both the attacker and Armand are werewolves. It turns out Sean is a werewolf too, only he doesn’t know it. But that isn’t all.  Sean is no ordinary werewolf, he has special powers. Armand wants Sean because he is his mate. The attacker wants Sean’s special powers.

Armand nurses Sean back to health, tells him about the supernatural and they “fall in love”.

The rest of the story is preparing Sean to be a special Omega wolf and working on capturing the other werewolf after Sean.  Sean comes into his powers at 25, Armand wants to be married before mating him, if Sean is taken before he’s mated his powers can be easily stripped from him, so there is some time pressure, as well.

**

Overall, this was an okay shifter story. Insta-love. Medium-hot sex. Semi-believable conflict. Lots of “I love yous”, “babys” and “honeys”.

If you’re a sucker for a sentimental, traditional “mates” type shifter story (like me) this is a book for you. There is next to nothing about being a wolf in this story other than as a plot device to explain the insta-love.

If you want a story with a more meaty storyline, more “shifting”, more “realism”…you might want to skip this.

I enjoyed it for what it is and give it 3.5 of 5 hearts

3.5

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Abercrombie Zombie by KZ Snow

Dreamspinner Presents:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2456

abercrombie

Blurb

A tale of life, love, death, and other mysteries of the universe . . . including the importance of a good wardrobe.

Dead folks are the best friends of Quinn McConnell and Hunter Janz. Dead folks pay the bills for this team of psychic mediums . . . but just barely. To make it into the financial comfort zone, they need to outshine their competition.

Quinn needs even more than that. He’s been infatuated with his partner for the nearly three years they’ve been together, and if he can’t either get over his crush or make something happen with Hunter, they’ll have to split up. Sexual tension and unrequited love can wreak havoc with a psychic’s reception.

Salvation comes hobbling along in the form of a well-dressed but ravaged-looking man who can clearly see and converse with the dearly departed. Why? Because, he claims, he has something in common with them: He’s also been dead. The zombie who calls himself Dustin DeWind needs the psychics’ help in finding the man who made him what he is. In return, he promises to steer them toward the often elusive spirits that are their stock in trade.

But something more goes on when Quinn and Hunter forge an uneasy alliance with Dustin DeWind. It seems he’s also nudging them toward each other .

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Review

Quinn and Hunter are psychics who can sense the emotions of people from places and things they’ve touched. They help the cops, do private investigating, and some talk shows. Though they met in an odd way (a one time hook-up at a wedding) they are business partners and friends now, and have been for years.

Quinn is out and proud and secretly pining for Hunter. Hunter is a “straight man” who occasionally finds men attractive. He’s been engaged up until recently and though he seems pretty touchy feely with Quinn, he has never approached Quinn again sexually or even spoken of their first meeting years ago.

The psychic duo are approached after one of their talk-show gigs by a dapper but somehow dilapidated man seeking their expertise on a personal matter. He claims he can speak with the dead, but won’t say how and won’t tell them any more until he feels he can trust them.

To prove himself, the man who calls himself (pun intended) Dustin DeWind, agrees to meet with them at an old asylum Quinn, Hunter and their paranormal group are investigating. Dustin claims he’ll prove he can speak with the dead and help them with their cases in return for their psychic help with his own, personal problem.

At the asylum Dustin communicates with a homophobic ghost and afterward asks the pair to help find Dustin’s ex-lover – the man who turned Dustin into a zombie.

Though they are still not so sure what to make of the guy (zombie and all) they agree Dustin has talent and his sob story is very compelling. So they go on a search for the ex. Meanwhile, Dustin keeps pointing out how the couple seems to be more than just friends and this spurs some interesting and revealing conversations between Quinn and Hunter. Neither man wants to lose their partnership but these feelings between them have to be addressed and it looks like things will need to change – one way or another.

**

What a surprise this book was! I was expecting it to be one thing (kinda spooky, kinda goofy, maybe even a little silly) but instead found it to be a really well written, thought provoking and sweetly sentimental story.

The magic and psychic stuff was fun! (I love it when paranormal authors actually capitalize on that unique feature of their books and do something with their characters’ powers/skills/etc.) Dustin’s part of the story was bitter-sweet but also interesting and moving and added quite a bit to the story.

I really liked how Hunter and Quinn’s romance subtly moved forward along with the “mystery” and that it wasn’t a big or over the top transition from friends to lovers. The pair had known each other for years and I was pleasantly surprised by the “reveal” in its simplicity.

There are only a few smexy times, but it’s pleny hot and felt like just the right amount for the story.

I really enjoyed this book, thought the writing and world-building was excellent, and will gladly look for more from this author.

I give it 4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

Here Comes Trouble-A.E. Via

Publisher: Via Star Wings Publishing

Detectives Mark Ruxsberg and Chris Green are very good at their jobs. Being the enforcers for God and Day’s notorious Atlanta PD Narcotics Task Force causes the crazy duo to get into more trouble than they can often get out of. The pair never misses out on an opportunity to drive their Lieutenants crazy with their dangerous, reckless, and costly stunts, landing them in the hot seat in front God… often.

Ruxs and Green love their jobs and they don’t mind the very demanding schedule that leaves them little time for socializing or dating. It was fine with them, they enjoyed hanging out with each other anyway.

However, most of the men in their close circle of friends and colleagues are pairing off and settling down. God has Day, Ro has Johnson, and their Sergeant Syn has Furious.

For the past several years, Ruxs has only sought out the advice and company of one person, his partner and best friend Green, and vice versa. Both of these alpha males are presumed straight, but neither can deny the heat that’s building in their once ‘just friends’ relationship.

2014-10-27 23.10.07Trouble comes in the form of two of ATL’s sexy vice cops Ruxs and Green.  Crazy, sexy, dangerous, reckless…all of these would describe these two and just about every cop in God and Day’s task force.  I am really glad that their story is finally being told.  First, get a look at that cover.  I damn near licked the screen of my IPad when it was revealed.  Props go out to Princess So.  There were a few minor editing/spelling mishaps, but it didn’t take away my enjoyment of the story.  What’s great about this book is that it’s fast out the gate. There is quite a bit of over the top macho posturing with these characters but it’s this posturing that makes this story so damn fun to read.  There is a LOT of testosterone driven antics on behalf of the cops in their task force, but it’s tempered when it comes to the people they love.  I especially liked the way the Via shifted the focus between her characters. Even though Rux and Green were the story’s main characters, she was able to give attention to the story’s surrounding characters while simultaneously keeping the focus on these two. I loved how she let us know that Curtis (the teenager God and Day saved in Nothing Special) turns out great, that the cops have taken him under his wing.  Ruxs and Green are best friends and extremely close so the progression of their relationship to lovers was natural.  There were more than a few parts in the book that made me laugh until I damn near flat lined (the one sex scene between the two…the dialog was hilarious) one minute and reaching for ice water the next.  And there were some very touching moments in the book as well, it wasn’t all about them kicking through doors to take down the bad guys, having sex and talking crap.  You definitely see the characters that you love from the previous two books (Syn, Ro, Johnson, and of course, God and Day).  Ruxs’s mother….now that is one mother I would gladly throw from a moving train. These characters and their dialog are awesome.  The men on the task force are fearless, reckless and tough as nails but underneath it all they have hearts as big as Texas. God and Day’s task force members love, respect and look out for each other like family.  Even though I enjoyed this book,  Syn and Furi from Embracing His Syn ( book #2 in this series) is still my favorite.  A.E. Via has become my go to author when I want to read about hot, sexy, bad boy cops.  I rate this book:

 

amazing

Author’s website and buy links below.

A.E. Via

Amazon

 

The Candy Man by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5780

candymanBlurb

Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

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Review

Adam is having a rough life. His mother and grandmother treated him like pond scum growing up, so he joined the military to prove he was “worthy”. He fell in love with one of his fellow soldiers, only to be left high and dry when his lover didn’t want to come out of the closet. He returned to the states to go back to school, but lost his grant when his car died and he could no longer attend classes. With his last gasp, he heads up to his cousin’s apartment for 6 months of free rent to try to get his life in order.

With what feels like divine intervention, Adam stumbles into Candy Heaven following the Help Wanted sign and is immediately set to work. His boss also plays the role of his fairy godfather and matchmaker by hooking him up with Finn, the sandwich delivery guy.

Finn is young, idealistic, freshly single, and unstoppable. He sees the darkness in Adam and knows he can bring in the light. By pairing his cheery disposition with offerings of free food, he slowly breaks through the walls surrounding Adam’s heart.

Adam, who fully believes he isn’t worthy of someone like Finn, does what he can to stave off the romance, but when he really needs help, Finn is there and it’s Finn who helps him see that he does have value and most importantly – hope.

**
This is one of Amy’s relatively “low angst” stories. Of course she will make you cry (for me it was at least twice because I had a white Boxer and a cat named Jake!) but most of the story is full of “awwww”. I was reminded of her story Christmas Kitsch in that Oliver – little Oliver – was the force of nature – blowing in and taking charge. In The Candy Man – that’s Finn. He won’t take no for an answer and he’s fearless.

I also really enjoyed the secondary characters and I really hope Joni gets her girl one day and that we get to read more about Rico’s romance. (Fingers crossed!). The vaguely paranormal part of the story left me with a new respect for Pixie Stix, as well!

Amy can describe a scene so thoroughly that I could picture Adam’s drawings, Finn’s hair, Gonzo’s fight against the medicine – everything. Adam’s sketch book journal was a particularly wonderful vehicle for showing both us and Finn the inside workings of his brain and past and I thought it was a tremendously clever tool.

I am thankful for this sweet story with little angst she has given us to brighten up our holiday season.

I give it 5 of 5 hearts

5