Category Archives: Military

Take Your Best Shot By Starlight by Yolande Kleinn
Halden

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6551

From the Daily Dose Series

TakeYourBestShotByStarlightBlurb

Halden Blake was a good soldier and a good man. He never intended to be a hero, and he definitely never intended the events that landed him in intergalactic politics. Now, three presidential terms later, Halden must decide if running for office again is worth five more years of putting his own life on hold.
Isaac Knox has been President Blake’s public liaison from the start, an ally and friend through difficult times. Halden has always carefully resisted thoughts of more, and Isaac has never given any hint of returning his guarded attraction. But when Halden finds himself struggling with questions about his own future, Isaac makes a surprising offer that could change everything.

Review

So – first thing I missed when I read the blurb – this is about a Space President. So be warned. ☺
It was actually great and had very few aliens or other spacey type weirdness – which I usually avoid like the plague.

Halden is the current Intragalactic President – big, big important role in the universe. He’s been there 15 years, which to a human is a long time but to other species is a drop in the bucket.
He has an assistant who has been with him the entire time, Isaac. Isaac is about 20 years younger than him and his best friend.
We meet up with Hal when he is deciding to re-run for office or get out and take care of his own sad personal life – he’s lonely.
We end with him still deciding.
**
This is a short story and thus has its limitations. However, this isn’t really even a complete story as the main conflict presented: does Hal re-up? is never resolved.
The side conflict: his loneliness is sort of resolved, but barely.

I loved the writing. The world building was amazing, but overwhelmed this short story and took page time away from the actual action or conflict resolution.
This would be better as the intro to a longer novella rather than calling itself a complete short story.

So – I have conflicting emotions regarding the rating – I give it a three because there was much to like, but far from perfect.

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Only Love Audiobook by Garrett Leigh Narrated by Michael Stellman

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6400

OnlyLoveAUDMedBlurb

The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves 32-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.
Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.
But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.

Review

Jed and Max are two very broken men who must look to one another to help find the healing they so desperately need.

As you can tell from the blurb they have health problems, family problems and emotional baggage that keeps this angst ridden story flowing. It feels like there is rarely a quiet moment except when the two men find solace in the other.

Their romance is a slow burn with a few moments of steam, but their relationship is the center of the story, not the sex.

The audiobook is narrated by Michael Stellman and he does an AMAZING job with this. He handles the different characters so well, each with a distinct voice and accent. The emotions are superb and his non-dialog, reading voice is so easy to listen to and let yourself become immersed in the story.

This is one of those books where the audiobook absolutely sold me on it. I am not one to sign up for the super angsty books very often, and had put off reading this for that reason alone. When the chance came along to LISTEN to it, I jumped, especially once I knew the narrator was Mr. Stellman.

The writing of Garrett Leigh is superb, her characters are rich and well developed, her storylines are complex but flow well and the overall effect a strong novel of deep emotion. Combine this with an excellent narration like Michael Stellman and you have a winner!

If you’re in the mood for a dark, emotional and angsty read/listen this is for you.

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

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Keeping Promise Rock Audiobook (Book one) by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

Dreampsinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1809

KeepingPromisRockAudBlurb

Carrick Francis has spent most of his life jumping into trouble with both feet. The only thing saving him from prison or worse is his absolute devotion to Deacon Winters. Deacon was Crick’s sanity and salvation during a miserable, abusive childhood, and Crick would do anything to stay with him forever. So when Deacon’s father dies, Crick puts his college plans on hold to help Deacon as Deacon has helped him.

Deacon’s greatest wish is to see Crick escape his memories and the town they grew up in so Crick can enjoy a shining future. But after two years of growing feelings and temptation, the painfully shy Deacon finally succumbs to Crick’s determined advances and admits he sees himself as part of Crick’s life.

It nearly destroys Deacon when he discovers Crick has been waiting for him to push him away, just like Crick’s family did in the past. When Crick’s knack for volatile decisions lands him far away from home, Deacon is left, shell-shocked and alone, struggling to reforge his heart in a world where love with Crick is a promise, but by no means a certainty.

Review

Oh lordy. This is Amy at her angstiest. I think this had to be one of my first Amy Lane books ever and it was my first m/m audiobook. It is an absolutely amazing book and series by the very gifted Amy Lane “Queen of Angst”. And it’s long – but so worth it.

There are lots of people to keep track of, but they show up over and over, so it’s worth keeping track of them.

Carrick James “Crick” is the abused stepson of “Step-Bob” who escapes his house to find solace with the horses and men of “The Pulpit” – a horse ranch run by Parish Winters and his son, Deacon. Crick goes there starting as a young boy on the weekends and moves there as a teen when his family kicks him out for being gay.

Deacon is a shy, shy boy who has an interest in both boys and girls. He dates the pixie-like Amy for most of high school, making Crick (who has a massive crush on him) very jealous. Luckily Deacon sees the error in his ways and let’s Amy go so that she can find her own true love with Deacon’s very best friend in the world, John.

The first third of the book is this growth period of youth to young man, from crush to love. It ends with the culmination of that emotion and starts us on the second part of the book – where Crick loses his mind and signs up for the Army.

The second part of the book is Deacon and Crick separated by thousands of miles and in tons of emotional pain. There are several lessons learned during this period of separation and new life given and taken, new friendships forged and love being tested. Bernice “Bennie” – Crick’s sister – comes into Deacon’s life pregnant – the result of being roofied – and helps Deacon to resurface from his depression and helps him to find a reason to keep fighting.

Crick finally comes back to the pulpit but he’s been severely injured and the Pulpit is in dire financial straights ever since it came out that Deacon was “driving while gay” (something the conservative little town doesn’t tolerate).

The third part is Crick and Deacon reconnecting, figuring out how to keep the Pulpit financially solvent and the introduction of several of the characters we will see in future books.

**
Amy doesn’t pull her punches. It was absolutely brutal some of the things these boys endured while separated. You wanted to (no NEEDED to) punch Crick for being such an idiot at times and you wanted to wrap Deacon up in a hug and tell him it’d be all right.

I love, love, love these characters. Each and every one of them is fully developed and richly portrayed. The emotions are so authentic and the situations, though sometimes ugly and harsh, are deep and real and life-shaping.

For such a long book there is only a minimum of smexy times, but those times are very erotic and well done.

If you haven’t read this series you really should, but have some Kleenex handy and be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster.

Audio:

Sean Crisden narrates only this first of the series and he does an amazing job. I don’t know how they go about selecting narrators – if anyone does I’d love to know! – but he wasn’t selected for the rest. I thought his Crick and Deacon were excellent, though I didn’t care for his Jeff.

Sean is always good at giving us well differentiated character voices and he really understands and does the emotions so well.

I highly recommend this book and the series.

6 of 5 hearts

amazing

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Crossroads in Blood (Partnership in Blood book 5) by Ariel Tachna

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2324

CrossroadsinBloodBlurb

Part of the First Time For Everything Daily Dose 2011 collection

Facing the Germans outside Amiens, Denis was prepared for the possibility he wouldn’t survive the battle. Shot and left for dead, he didn’t expect to open his eyes to a vampire offering him a chance at a different existence. Now newly turned, the hunger for blood grows insistent, but an instinct Denis doesn’t understand presses him to make the right choice for feeding, not the most expedient one. Which will Noël prove to be: a temporary succor or the companion of a lifetime?

Review

This is a very short – almost prequel – to the series, introducing the concept and characters we will see in other books.

Denis is “killed” in the battle then offered life after death. Since he’s only 19 he takes the offer and Noel must show him the ropes and more?

As always Tachna is a wonderful writer, if the story is a bit too short to really delve into.

(The cover has nothing to do with the story.)

3 of 5 hearts

3

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The Happily Ever After Mating Agency: The Dragon Prince by Jane Wallace-Knight

Siren-Bookstrand Presents http://www.bookstrand.com/the-happily-ever-after-mating-agency-presents-the-dragon-prince

jwk-happilyeverafterdragonprince3150326_0336Blurb

Kai Hayashi, heir to the earth dragon clan, already lost his mother to the rebels threatening to overthrow the council. When his grandfather suggests an arranged mating with not one, but two men, each with certain skills to help protect Kai, the young dragon prince doesn’t exactly need persuading.
Retrieval expert and leopard shifter Jace Dashwood has worked for the Hayashi family for a year now, helplessly in love with his employer’s grandson. Kai is all the things that Jace could never be, innocent and gentle. He had thought to keep his feelings to himself until the dragon king made him an offer too good to be true.
Having worked as a mercenary for too long, bear shifter Ted Graves finally decided to put down roots. He thought that joining a mating agency meant he was going to get the normal life he thought he had been craving but instead he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Review

The Happily Ever After Mating agency is designed for shifters who haven’t found their mates and want to settle down. In this case Kai’s uncle uses it to help find Kai the right mate to protect Kai as well as mate him.

Jace has already been working with Kai’s family and his uncle identifies Jace as a mate/protector right away.

Ted is tired of being footloose so he signs up to the mating agency and is pleased to hear from Kai’s family. He’s a bit surprised to find out it’s to be a three way mating and that his alternate duty will be protection but after meeting both men he’s very willing to continue with the plan.

Jace and Kai have been mutually crushing on one another for the last year, but not acting on it. When their third joins them they all acknowledge a mutual attraction that sets them on fire.

In addition to the immediate bonding that takes place, there is danger. Someone wants to take Kai out of the picture and replace him as the future dragon king. There is also the pesky little thing about Kai maybe being more than “just” a dragon shifter…

**
This is one of those surprise reads that you stumble upon every now and then. (I have to admit a weakness for cheesy shifter romances – the ones where the plot is thin but the sex is hot and the storyline light and usually full of fun. Nothing too angsty and nothing too stressful.) I thought this was one of those, but it is surprisingly more. There is a rich story line and compelling drama but also some real emotion and depth to the love story as well.

I thought the ménage was very believable and though I could feel bad for Ted at first- he seems odd man out to the couple of Jace and Kai – it was quickly made clear that he was integral and equal and definitely well loved.

I really enjoyed this and the others in this series and highly recommend them!

5 of 5 hearts

5

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Job Hunt by Jackie Keswick

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6372

JobHuntBlurb

You don’t greet your new boss dressed like an underage rent boy. But when Jack Horwood—ace hacker and ex-MI6 operative—opens the door to Gareth Flynn, he’s too busy to worry over details like that. And anyway, his potential new boss is his former Commanding Officer – the same guy Jack has had a crush on since he was seventeen. So he should understand, right?

When he applied for the job in Nancarrow Mining’s corporate security division, Jack had hoped for peaceful days repelling cyber attacks. Maybe a bit of corporate espionage on the side. His plans didn’t include rescuing abused children, hunting pimps, or dealing with his overly protective and hot-as-hell boss, Gareth Flynn.

Walking away is not an option. Jack never takes the easy way out. More than that, meeting Gareth raises old ghosts that Jack needs to put to rest. Rescuing kids. Taking risks. Saving the day. Jack can do all that – but deciding what to do about his attraction to Gareth isn’t the sort of cloak-and-dagger game Jack plays well. Yet Gareth, strong and smart and always on hand when needed, might be Jack’s salvation.

Review

Jack used to be under Gareth when they both served in the military. Jack got out of the military because he couldn’t hide his attraction to his officer any more. Now Gareth is out as well and went searching for and found Jack on the outside. Gareth wants Jack both as his work partner and hopefully more.

The couple quickly moves from heated attraction to attempts at consummation that get interrupted time and again.

The rest of the story is the spy/mystery stuff and I will tell you that I honestly skimmed it and wasn’t that interested in it.

I like romance and read romances. There is nothing wrong with this book – per se. But it is mostly a suspense/spy/thriller with some romantic elements thrown in. Not my cup of tea.

I thought having their sex interrupted time and again was frustrating and unnecessary – the sexual tension had been eased early on in the story and it was only “penetrative sex” that they lacked at this point. There wasn’t a lot of emotional attachment gained when they do finally get around to “doing it” and I was disappointed.

Jack tells Gareth he loves him early on in the story and then emotions and feelings are never really discussed again.

Again, this is great if you are in the mood for a spy novel – it’s like a gay James Bond! – but that wasn’t what I was looking for when I read the blurb.

The writing was excellent and the characters interesting. If you are looking for a spy novel – pick this one! If you are looking for romance – keep looking.

Overall 2.75 of 5 hearts

3

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Rack and Ruin Audiobook by Charlie Cochet Narrated by Mark Westfield

Dreamspinner Presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6303

Rack&RuinAUDMedBlurb

New York City’s streets are more dangerous than ever with the leaderless Order of Adrasteia and the Ikelos Coalition, a newly immerged Therian group, at war. Innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire and although the THIRDS round up more and more members of the Order in the hopes of keeping the volatile group from reorganizing, the members of the Coalition continue to escape and wreak havoc in the name of vigilante justice.

Worse yet, someone inside the THIRDS has been feeding the Coalition information. It’s up to Destructive Delta to draw out the mole and put an end to the war before anyone else gets hurt. But to get the job done, the team will have to work through the aftereffects of the Therian Youth Center bombing. A skirmish with Coalition members leads Agent Dexter J. Daley to a shocking discovery and suddenly it becomes clear that the random violence isn’t so random. There’s more going on than Dex and Sloane originally believed, and their fiery partnership is put to the test. As the case takes an explosive turn, Dex and Sloane are in danger of losing more than their relationship.

Review

Chaos in THIRDS land.

The Coalition has a mole from inside THIRDS and some Therian is killing humans. And if that isn’t enough, things inside THIRDS are in chaos as well.

Dex and Sloane are navigating their budding relationship. Sloane is trying to get the rest of his team to pull it together and leave personal business at home. Dex is trying to help Cael with his feelings for Ash. Letty and Rosa are … okay, they’re fine. Taylor is sexually harassing EVERYONE. The new guy Levi might be hooking up with Lou, and Dex has to plan for his pre-birthday-party-party. It’s a lot to deal with.

In this installment we get to see a lot of Sloane and Dex and most of it is really, deliciously, ooey and gooey. Sloane even purrs! (Wait til you read that part – so fantastic!) They seem solidly on the forward track until… well… Sloane runs … again. Dex inadvertently moves the relationship forward and Sloane isn’t prepared for it, so Sloane takes off for a bit, but eventually, with the help of Ash (of all Therians) figures out what a good thing he has in Dex.

The sex is super hot and Dex and Sloane as a couple are hilarious. (My favorite is the closet scene: “This isn’t what it looks like. I dropped some change, it rolled under the closet door, and when I went to pick it up, my clothes fell off. True story.”)

Ash has something going on in his life that is making him distance himself from Cael and Cael is heartbroken and making potentially fatal mistakes as a result.

When the dust settles and the bad guy (for the moment) is disposed of, we’re left with a cliff hanger. We’re going to have to wait til next YEAR to see what happens – that Charlie Cochet, she’s naughty!

Now, we can all probably guess the outcome, but in addition to the main worry, we also have to worry about Cael and Ash – will Ash ever figure things out and get it together enough to be with Cael?

And, really, what is going on with Calvin and Hobbs? Inquiring minds want to know.

Overall, this was a wonderful third installment to the THIRDS series and I really enjoyed it. There was lots of Therian shifting which I like, Sloane acting like a happy kitty, which I liked and some tricky spy stuff, which I like.

Audio

Mark Westfield narrates this entire series and I love his work.  I think it’s great how he augments the sound for microphone or telephone etc and his delivery is great.

5 of 5 hearts

5

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Silence of the Stars Audiobook by Kate McMurray Narrated by Michael Ferraluolo

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6236

SilenceoftheStars[The]AUDMEDBlurb
A Spin-off of The Stars that Tremble

Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.

Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.

Review

To start – I did not read The Stars That Tremble, but I’m told that’s okay.

Sandy is suffering from PTSD, now working with a buddy as a decorator, mostly outgoing and loving life, but having a hard time dealing with the demons he saw in the war.

Everett is coming off a broken heart, his famous ex has moved on and he’s now focusing on his new career and a new residence.

The two are immediately attracted and begin an affair, but it isn’t an easy road.

Sandy doesn’t want to deal with the PTSD he denies and doesn’t want to burden anyone else with his nightmares, so he avoids sleepovers and commitment.

Everett is still a bit gun-shy, what with being a recent ex of a long relationship and he’s dubious about his own abilities to handle Sandy’s PTSD.

In the end Sandy agrees to get some help and Everett and he get a solid HEA.

**

There were parts of this book that I really liked. I loved the MCs and their POTENTIAL. The PTSD, the socialite and the working class man, the musician and the carpenter… all good mixes and rife with potential.

What I didn’t like was the lack of emotion. Even the sex seemed kind of mechanical and blah. Though they said words to the effect of “you are so hot” “I want you so much” I didn’t FEEL it.

Kate McMurray has an easy and flowing writing style, lots of attention to detail and well developed characters.

I liked this book and I would read more by this author, but I wasn’t wowed by this particular story.

3.5 of 5 hearts

I love the cover!

Audio
I mostly liked the narration by Michael Ferraluolo. He has a very nice voice that is easy to listen to. However, I thought that Everett should have the lighter voice and Sandy the deeper – so that kept throwing me out of the story. But I don’t really think that there is a basis for my interpretation other than Sandy was the Army guy… stereotypes and all that. It didn’t really diminish the overall enjoyment for me – just gave me pause now and then. He differentiated the voices nicely and dealt with the emotion that was in the story well.

4 of 5 hearts for the audiobook

4

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Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane (All Seven Parts)

Dreamspinner Presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5541

(From previous site)

BeneaththeStainPart One

Blurb

In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers– and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams–made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.

Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help–but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.

Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.

Review

Mackey lives with his three brothers in small-town California. He forms a band with them, and some friends, including Grant, his older brother’s friend. The band turns out to be amazing and they go from playing at the prom to getting a record deal. Meanwhile, Grant and Mackey are at once getting closer and closer and yet farther and farther away from one another.

Mackey is gay. So is Grant, but Grant can’t admit it, so neither can Mackey. Grant continues to break Mackey’s heart by dating Samantha because it’s expected of him by the community and his dad. When Grant graduates high school, he tells Mackey he stayed behind for his dad, but we also know the band and Mackey played a role in the decision.

In this episode we really start to see the beginning of the problems that follow in subsequent episodes (i.e. drug addiction, depression). I both loathe and love Grant’s character. He is so understandable, yet you just want to punch him in the face for the way he hurts Mackey. It’s so disarming to see young Mackey shouldering all these heavy burdens and couple that with this shameful hiding of what appears to be true love.

Since the blurb in the story talks about another MC – Trav – it is reasonable to believe that Grant is not our main love interest, even here in Episode one with no mention of Trav. Therefore I feel completely vindicated in hoping Mackey can leave Grant behind, and soon.

Talk about prolonging the drama! This is such a unique (and shall I say painful? – I am an impatient, impatient soul) way to deliver a story. The pain will only exist for those of us who are reading this as a serial, and after October 2014 anyone else will simply have to read the full novel – but WOW – this packs a punch, delivered in segments, keeping us readers on tenterhooks while we await the next installment.

I love Mackey, I can tell he will rival some of Amy’s other MCs in my heart for favorite. So far, this story most closely resembles The Locker Room in the way we are introduced to the MCs as young kids and move through adulthood with them. And in how painful it seems to be. I am keeping Kleenex close at hand.

P.S. The Bonus scenes are great, and I think you only get them in the Deluxe or Serialized Versions.

Part two

Blurb

Trav Ford doesn’t like strings and he doesn’t like messes. Coming off a messy breakup, Trav is grimly determined to keep his life absolutely pristine. When Trav is asked to take over the management of Outbreak Monkey, his first order of business is to clean up their act—and that includes shipping the youngest, most troubled member off to detox and rehab before Mackey Sanders’s life choices kill him.

But Mackey didn’t become an addict overnight, and it’s going to take more than one trip to rehab to fix him up. When an act of violence destroys Mackey’s struggling equilibrium, Trav is going to find that messy isn’t so hard to escape—not when it’s wrapping its mess around Trav’s heart.

Review

We start off with a bang – Grant has left, Mackey is on a downward spiral – though the band is selling millions, Mackey is a wreck.  Along comes Trav to save the day and we get a glimpse for what -we hope-  a future where Mackey can be himself and be happy.

In Part two we start to see deeper into some of the other boys’ lives and realize there is more to them as well.  Uh Sheila?  WTF?

I am glad – so glad – Trav got introduced right away, my heart was breaking after Episode one.  And he seems hot, sweet and tough – my favorite – just right for Mackey.

I love Mackey’s one liners:  “I’m only bi when I’m high” and “Don’t bullshit me Babysitter!”  He is going to be one of Amy Lane’s MCs that rivals for favorite in my heart, I just know it.

If I get to make a comparison this early, I’d say this reminds me most closely of The Locker Room.  Young guys, growing with them through a painful, painful early adulthood and hopefully the kind of happy ending that legends are made of. (Don’t hate the dangling participle!)

Part three

Blurb

Mackey Sanders doesn’t do anything easy—rehab is no exception. Never one to follow orders for the sake of being orderly, Mackey needs a reason, something real, to make him agree to Trav’s terms of getting clean. Trav knows he can’t be Mackey’s only reason to rehabilitate, but before he can convince Mackey of that, he needs to get to the heart of what’s been eating Mackey alive from the moment the band left Tyson.

Can Mackey’s family—can Mackey’s band—survive the fallout of Mackey telling the truth? More importantly, can Mackey?

Review

Mackey and Blake end up doing rehab together after Mackey gets roofied and attacked at a bar and almost dies.

Travis is struck by his feelings for Mackey and Mackey begins to realize the depth of his feelings for Travis.

The most important part of this segment is rehab itself.  Dr. Cambridge (with the help of Travis as motivation) finally breaks through to Mackey and forces him to admit that he’s gay.  Forces him to discuss Grant.  Forces him to admit his fears.  And finally forces him to talk about it with his family.

What we’re left with is a raw open wound.  Mackey is bare and tender like new skin after a bad sunburn.  The band and Mackey’s mom are left ripped wide open, forced to face their individual roles in Mackey’s collapse.

Travis will have his hands full in managing this bunch now that the truth is out, and everyone’s on pins and needles wondering what’s going to happen when Mackey returns.

**

WOW.  This segment was gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and another reason to be grateful for a Family-sized box of Kleenex.  Damn.

Mackey can’t get any deeper under your skin.  He’s so, so broken.  He has such a simple set of expectations for life (love and music) and yet he cannot get those met.  The only thing that works for him is his music and it’s his music that tears him from his love, which makes him self-medicate to the point of self-destruction.  Fortunately, Travis frickin’ gets it and gets him and finally, with his help, Mackey can have love and music at the same time.  I hope.  Amy Lane – you hear me?  He better get both!

I am nervous about Grant and what role he’s going to play in the upcoming segments… I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of him, and I have a feeling he isn’t going to be “a good thing” when he does return.

Of course this segment is as wonderful as parts one and two – maybe even the best so far, simply because I just love seeing the love between Travis and Mackey in its infant stages here.  I also love seeing the personalities of the brothers blossom and become full, rich, and complex characters.

 

Part Four

Blurb

Mackey’s fragile recovery from his bout with self-destruction is complicated even further by his feelings for Trav—and Trav’s feelings back. Trav is older, and he should know better, but now that Mackey is drug-free and conquering his demons, all he can see is the stunning, brilliant man who existed under the stain of pain and excess.

Trav and Mackey struggle to find a balance between Mackey’s recovery and their growing attraction. Trav decides to make a rare leap of faith—but can Mackey find enough faith in himself to make it through life in the spotlight and a visit to the past that almost destroyed him?

Review

Mackey comes back from rehab and he and Trav agree that though it isn’t exactly by the “12 step” book, they need each other.  Trav doesn’t want to just jump in bed – ok he does – but he wants this thing between him and Mackey to be REAL not just a way to make this part of Mackey’s recovery “feel better”.

Mackey just wants Trav.  He just WANTS him.

So they agree to date and it’s f*ckin’ hilarious and sweet and gut wrenching… pure romance.

There is some more confrontation with Mackey’s past – really painful stuff but some healing, too.

Finally there’s the hot, sweaty, skin on skin… well, you’ll see J

**

What I really appreciate about this section is that, yet again, Amy has given us this perfectly imperfect set of heroes and anti-heroes.  Trav isn’t perfect.  He craves, desires, wants, needs – even though it’s probably in no way the right thing for either of them right now.

Mackey is so much more than the right-brained, needy, creative, messed-up musician – he also loves, and loves deeply, and sees things in people others can’t or won’t – and he’s not afraid to say what he thinks.  Time and again he just cuts you off at the knees then gives you a hand up.

Each section keeps getting better and this is (of course) my favorite so far – but I’ll tell you – after I read this my first thought was “Oh no – what’s going to happen next? When is the next shoe gonna fall?” followed by “How is Grant gonna screw this up?”  and finally “Oh, poor Blake. **pets** I hope someone loves him soon!”

Part Five

Blurb

Mackey is great at taking a leap of faith into a crowd—but taking one into a relationship and a future is a totally different animal. When he and Trav decide to take a risk that Mackey’s healing can hold up to them together, they know it’s going to be a long, difficult road. Mackey proves he can handle the stress of performing on his own, but when it comes to the demons that broke him in the first place, that’s a whole other song.

The first time Mackey tries to go home, it sends him into a palm-sweating, stomach-heaving anxiety attack, and Trav has to concede that Mackey is still on loan from the things that almost wrecked him when he was still a kid. When news arrives that affects the entire band, Mackey can either go home and face his demons or let them haunt them forever.

Review

Mackey and Trav are together and it is hot. H.O.T.  Mackey is still a train wreck.  He barely makes it when Trav has to go to England for 4 days, but manages to stay sober by getting a sexy stomach tattoo and hanging on by a wing and a prayer.

The band is forced to get its own act together for a show in Oakland and they get a new member to the tribe: Briony.  Briony kicks ass and takes names as the bands new tech guru.

Trav and Mackey have the hottest rock star sex ever when Trav makes it back in time to see the show, and the first post-rehab show is a huge success.

Trouble is on the horizon though.  Mackey doesn’t want to see Trav’s parents for Christmas when he sees himself as still such a work in progress.  Trav feels he has to go so the boys are set to head up to Tyson on their own and Mackey freaks out in the airport – the idea of going home too much for his recently sober state to withstand.

Luckily Trav is there to catch him before he falls and the band ends up staying in LA together for Christmas where they get the terrible news about Grant.

Really terrible news.  Now Mackey has to face not only going home, but going home to say good-bye for good.

Amy knows how to kill us so very sweetly…

 

Part Six

Blurb

For as long as Trav Ford has known the Sanders boys, one name has haunted the entire band.  Their first lead guitarist and Mackey’s first lover has left a stamp on the kids he’s known as family, an now Grant has one last chance to hurt the people Trav cares for the most.

Except Grant isn’t the monster Trav made him out to be and coming home is harder on the band – and Trav – than he ever could have anticipated.  When Trav is confronted with the reality of what Mackey and his brothers left behind – and with what they’re about to lose – he has to seriously reconsider if he’s strong enough to deal with everything that Mackey and Outbreak Monkey have come to represent.  Fortunately for Trav, Mackey’s learned a lot in the past year, and one of his best lessons is how to hold on to the people he loves.

Review

Oooo, this one’s a tough one.  First off, let me yell CLIFF HANGER!!! Here we sit on the precipice of the end and we are left absolutely biting our fingernails!

The band makes it up to Tyson where Grant meets them looking beat to sh*t and barely hanging on.  If that wasn’t enough, when they play in their old bar, the locals FINALLY catch on that Mackey is gay and that one of their own might be too.  This, of course, causes a bar fight in which the entire band ends up in jail.

This freaks Trav, Mr. Control, right the hell out and he bails, leaving Mackey to deal with his feelings and his family by HIMSELF…  for one night… we hope.

Meanwhile Cheever acts like a total ass-hat and sets Mackey off on another rant about how Cheever can’t bite the hand that feeds him all the time.

On a happy side note, our good friend and techie Briony seems to be finding some warmth with dear sweet Kell and things are looking pretty favorable in that direction.  “You are …. Radius!”  One of the best lines!

**

While I was really expecting this segment to kick my ass, I think the shoe is really gonna drop in the last.  Grant is just too dang likable.  That’s Trav’s problem too.  He WANTS to hate him, but how can you hate a guy who was just young and dumb and trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons?

I was so glad Cheever got his head bit off – I was really getting tired of hearing him bad mouth the brothers, even if it is understandable in a backward teen-agery sort of way.

Of course I’ve been rooting for Briony and Kell since she was introduced so I am ever so pleased they seem to be hooking up – man do they seem well matched.  And wow! – who would have thunk it – Kell has some pretty deep feelings after all!

I really like how Amy managed to demonstrate in a few short pages just how far Mackey has come, emotionally, and how ready he is to settle in to an “adult” relationship with Trav, at last.

I also really appreciated that Mackey was real with his mom in this part too.  Forcing them both to look at her “mothering skills” with a critical eye and acknowledge that no matter what she did she had a rough road to travel with Cheever, maybe even more than with the others.

 

Part Seven

Blurb

The one lesson that Trav’s learned with the band’s return to Tyson is that it should be hard to say good-bye.

Mackey, Kell, Jefferson, and Stevie have to say good-bye to the person who helped make them and break them. They have to say good-bye to their bitterness and anger, and they have to say good-bye to lingering hope that one of the best parts of their childhood can be with them always.

But in the last two years they’ve grown a lot—and maybe they’ve grown enough to say good-bye to the past without forgetting it, and to embrace a future that they won’t regret.

Review

So we left off with Trav in a hotel leaving Mackey BY HIMSELF to face the house full of craziness…

When we return, Mackey and Trav “make up”… yeah, that’s a description for it (aka have super hot monkey sex) and admit how important they are to each other.

Then the real hard part begins – saying Goodbye to Grant.  He is providing closure, taking care of his daughter, telling anyone and everyone the truth – and it hurts.  But it is also so beautiful.

Grant has made plans for his funeral and though they are tough, the boys agree and when the time comes, it can be said that no one will ever, EVER forget that funeral.  Things get said that should have been said years ago and all of it is “shocking”, and the song that gets sung (“It’s my life” by the Animals) is ever so appropriate.

Finally, it’s time to go home.  Their goodbyes have been said publicly, now they have to be said privately, and though not necessarily easier, certainly there is the acknowledgement of the happy part of Grant that only Mackey and the boys got to see.  Here the boys sing their version of Wish You Were Here, the Pink Floyd song written for their own lost band member Syd Barrett, and it too is ever, ever so appropriate.

Trav and Mackey are together and happy and willing to keep falling in love with each other every single day.

Hopefully you have bought the series and get to see the bonus material because part 7 is absolutely the BEST bonus material – in it we see Mackey on his way to see Trav’s family as he gets some of the most amazing news from Briony and Kell.

**

This was a very hard segment to read.  We went through times where we just wanted to strangle Grant, but it’s hard to forget how much love he had for Mackey and in this segment we see there was so much more there that we didn’t see … and such a potential for more that could never be …

Of course his dying was amazingly sad and the funeral scene is so touching and gutting but Amy finds a way to make us laugh through our tears.  To me however, the hardest part to read was the barn scene (you’ll know it when you read it) because it was so symbolically full circle.  Here are Grant and Mackey, together, the tables are turned though and it’s Mackey giving to Grant and it’s so beautiful, tender, loving but absent that passion from before because Mackey is Trav’s now, and that is undisputed.

I can’t recommend this series/book enough, it is funny, heartbreaking, enlightening, sweet, tender, passionate, sexy, loving… well… just amazing.

I give it 6 of 5 stars and you’re missing out if you don’t read this book!

amazing

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**

 

Lyrics to It’s my Life by the Animals

It’s a hard world to get a break in
All the good things long gone been taken
But girl there are ways to make certain things pay
Dressed in these rags I’ll wear sable some day

Hear what I say, I’m gonna ride that serpent
No more time spent sweatin’ rent
Hear my command, I’m breakin’ loose, ’cause I ain’t no use
Holdin’ me down, girl stick around

And baby, remember
It’s my life and I’ll do what I want
It’s my mind and I’ll think like I want
Show me I’m wrong, hurt me sometime
But some day I’ll treat you real fine
I’ll treat you so fine, dear, you’re so real

There’ll be women and their fortunes
Who just want to mother little orphans
Are you gonna cry while I’m squeezin’ them dry?
Takin’ all I can get, no regrets, when I openly lie

And live on their money, believe me honey
You can have so much fun with that money
Can you believe, I ain’t no saint?
I ain’t got no complaints, so girl throw out, yeah any doubt

And baby, remember
It’s my life and I’ll do what I want
It’s my mind and I’ll think like I want
You show me I’m wrong, it’ll hurt me sometime
But some day I’ll treat you real fine

It’s my life and I’ll do what I want
It’s my mind and I’ll think like I want
Show me I’m wrong, hurt me sometime
But some day I’ll treat you real fine
I’ll treat you so fine, babe
I’ll give you everything, everything you want

 

Lyrics to Wish you Were Here

 

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

 

 

All Kinds of Tied Down Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Tristan James

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5618

AllKindsofTiedDownMedBlurb

Ian has always resisted being tied down. His partner, Miro, just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t so bad.

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.

Review

(From previous site)

Mary Calmes is my hero because she could write a book about anything and make it work. However, I love her for her “A Matter of Time” series, which is probably one of her most popular, and this book brings many of those characters out to play!

This is a book about US Marshals Miro and Ian who are best friends and partners. Miro has been pining for Ian for years, but since Ian is “straight”, Miro has put his feelings on ice, for the sake of the friendship. In a nutshell it’s a GFY (gay for you) romance where Ian and Miro have to overcome their fear of losing their friendship and partnership to get together as lovers. But it’s so much more than that, because Ian has some issues he needs to resolve that not even his best friend knows about, and we also have other obstacles on the path like wayward prisoners, gunfire, broken bones, and Ian’s mysterious “second job”.

In the meantime there is a lot of sexual tension. Mary knows how to do sexual tension well and it runs hot between these two boys. We are kept on needles and pins waiting and wanting for Miro to get his chance with the hot, if somewhat awkward Ian. When the two do get together (not a spoiler right?) it is hot! Smokin’ really. But oh so sweet, and tender. Just as we have come to expect from Mary.

I loved how Mary brought in characters from Acrobat, A Matter of Time, Where You Lead and Parting Shot into this story because there are bits and pieces of those characters in Ian and Miro. It’s always fun to see these old characters re-surface, but they do not overwhelm the book and if you have never read even one of her books (shame on you!) you won’t be confused about a thing.

Mary writes amazing secondary characters, too, and she has given us a gaggle of amazing women who are Miro’s friends as well as some men who should perhaps (hopefully!) get their own books, i.e. Drake, Cabot and Holley.

The story moves along swiftly and I really enjoyed that there was not one single “crime” that we followed but a series of events, it felt more like the real work of the Marshals. The common theme for each event – OUCH – poor Miro somehow ends up injured in each one!

I think Mary Calmes excels in her contemporary fiction, and this book does not disappoint. I give it a 5 out of 5 hearts for a sweet, sexy, scintillating, superb and sentimentally wonderful read.

Audio

Tristan James. Le sigh. I just love his narrations. He does another really great job with this story. I really enjoyed his version of Ian’s voice – just perfect. Tristan’s pacing is wonderful. He has a great vision of how to keep the tension up and how to play the flat perfection of Miro and the vaguely bewildered Ian. His secondary characters were wonderful and I was so sad he didn’t narrate the Matter of Time series – his Sam Kage was amazing!

I highly recommend this narration of All Kinds of Tied Down and give it 6 of 5 hearts

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