Rainbow Connection by Alexa Milne

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

rainbow connectionBlurb

Two men, one with a past, and one determined to give them a future, together.

Mick Flanagan has kept himself hidden since his only lover died three years ago. He works at night, keeps to his routine, has impressive facial hair, and avoids contact with other people. Enter Ceri Llewellyn, with his constantly changing rainbow-coloured hair, who seems determined to talk to him. Gradually, Mick tells his story and begins to trust Ceri, but Mick has a past that contains more than just a dead lover. Can Ceri show him that he deserves to be loved and, above all else, help him find his true self?



This was a surprisingly different book than I expected. I was thinking it would be a fairly fluffy geek/nerd love story with a twinky/goofball and instead I got a fairly rich, and deep story about a deeply controlled man who has never been on his own and doesn’t know what to do when he is.

Mick’s mom is a piece of work. She never let Mick stray far from her grasp all throughout his childhood, threatening home schooling and demanding almost complete isolation from him while instilling fear of the outside world into his head. It is only dumb luck that Mick finds love at the hands of a paramedic, Alfie, who both saves his life and rescues him from his mom.

But Alfie has his own imperfections and he, too never let Mick be his own man. He loved Mick, to be sure, but he controlled him and never let him flourish. Neither his mom nor Alfie encouraged his creativity or self-reliance and when Alfie suddenly dies, Mick is on his own. (His mom kicked him out for being gay, of course.)

Now, three years later, Mick is coping – just – but still not thriving. He meets Ceri (pronounced Sherry – it’s a Welsh name) at work and is immediately captivated by the outgoing man who literally changes his hair color each week.

Ceri is a big kid – not quite but almost ready to settle down and admit he will never be a pro-skateboarder at the age of 27. He meets Mick and thinks he sees a diamond in the rough hiding behind the awkwardness and the bushy beard.

The two start to get to know one another and Mick slowly comes out of his shell. Here things move along rapidly (maybe a bit too rapidly) and they become lovers. But Mick is still holding tight to his dead-lover’s memory and can’t let Ceri in.

Only when an old friend interferes can he really let Ceri in and get past Alfie. At the same time he finds out his mother is dying from cancer and may only have a limited time left around for building bridges.

What really surprised me about this story was how much growth we got to witness in Mick. He really was so controlled, but in both cases lovingly, if not dangerously. Ceri has to dance around helping him without taking over and becoming the next leader Mick follows blindly.

All in all I really enjoyed this and will definitely look for more from this author.

4.25 of 5 hearts



Living Promises Audiobook (Keeping Promise Rock book 3) by Amy Lane Narrated by Paul Morey

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3370


Six years ago, Jeff Beachum comforted a frightened teenager outside an HIV treatment clinic, and Collin Waters has remembered his kindness ever since. Now, after six years of crushing on the kind, brown-eyed sweetheart of his dreams, Collin is feeling adult and together enough to make his move. Too bad fate, which has never been kind to Jeff, has something else in mind.
Jeff’s life had fallen completely apart before that long-ago day, and it isn’t much better now. Jeff has toughened up, become self-reliant, been the funny guy his friends turn to, the one who gives advice and comfort when needed. But every phantom from Jeff’s past is about to come out to haunt him, and the family Jeff has staked his future on isn’t in such great shape either. Collin is more than a starry-eyed kid, and it’s a good thing, because Jeff’s going to need all the help he can get. No one knows better than Jeff that life can be too short to turn your back on honest love, and that living happily is the best promise of all.


This is book three in Amy’s Promise series and it is one of the roughest (IMHO) to read. Right from the start she pulls our heartstrings with the tale of Jeff’s ex, the man who gave Jeff HIV then essentially kills himself rather than deal with the consequences of the disease and his homophobic family.

Then there’s Collin. Young, dumb and full of … exuberance… and not wearing a condom while doing it. He, too contracts HIV and is touched by the caring he receives at the hands of Jeff at the crisis center.

Years later the two meet again and Collin is determined to have Jeff as his own.

Jeff, however, hasn’t really put himself out there and certainly not for a “boy” several years his junior.

The push/pull of attraction goes on for quite awhile but Collin is perseverant and eventually he gets his man.

Meanwhile – lots of things are happening at the Pulpit… Crick is Crick and Deacon is Deacon and Mickey and Shane are adorable and snarky and at their best…

Martin, Jeff’s ex Kevin’s brother comes to town looking for answers and meets Shane and Mickey and learns to love something he was taught to hate.


First let me say that I loved all the books in this series. LOVED. THEM. But, this was the weakest in my opinion. (Still awesome, amazing, wonderful, brilliant…) I loved seeing the folks at the Pulpit but sometimes wanted to see more of Jeff and Collin. I never connected with them as a couple as strongly as I did the others and I think one reason why is the lack of page time for them developing their relationship as compared to Crick, Deacon, Mickey, Shane or even Benny and Drew!

I loved the Martin/Kevin storyline though it tore me up… so much.

This was an amazing (and difficult) book and I highly recommend it. It is NOT a standalone.


Paul Morey did a great, great, great job of giving Jeff a swishy but not over the top voice. I wish he’d made Collin’s voice a little bit more differentiated, but I appreciate the challenge of giving so many “main characters” unique voices. I loved his Kevin/Martin voices and really enjoyed this narration.

5 of 5 hearts



Bindings and Books by CM Corett

Daily Dose Short story from Dreamspinner http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6550

James Connell is adamant—he’s not getting involved. The forty-two- year-old bookstore owner’s life is governed by respectability, order, and a dash of OCD—just the way he likes it. There is absolutely no place in his life for a way-too-young, sexy, carefree guy like Ash. What would people think?
Ash Bradley-Mills is determined—he wants James. Traveling the world testing snowboards and sports equipment has been great fun for Ash, but he’s ready for something more. He wants an adrenaline rush of a different kind, and tall, dark, handsome, and older James fits the criteria perfectly. Now all Ash needs to do is break through James’s defenses and lifelong fear of judgment. Easy! He’s got the perfect plan to push James out of his comfort zone and into his arms.


James is 42, trying to learn to ski for the first time ever, when he is rescued by the very hot, very young adventure-enthusiast, Ash.

Ash is immediately attracted to James, who has reasons for avoiding younger guys.
Ash ends up running into James over and over at his bookstore and eventually James gives in and dates Ash.

Things look like they might be working out ok, though James is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, when Ash is in a terrible accident and it looks like James may just lose Ash for good.


This is a novella, a bit longer than some of the other shorts in the Daily Dose series. It tries to do A LOT. We have older guy/younger guy, past issues of shame and hurt, a jealous ex, a serious injury, vastly different lifestyles… the list just goes on and on.

I was seriously compelled by the blurb and really enjoying this story – right up until the point where James and Ash begin their relationship. Suddenly things are feeling a little too much like a soap opera and outlandish. I’m not sure why there needed to be SO MANY obstacles for our poor couple, it almost feels like the author wanted to try out all these different story-lines and they all just got jammed together in this one novella.

I thought the writing was nice and the editing good. In fact, I really enjoyed James as a character, as well as his sister. However, I didn’t feel like I understood Ash very well, nor did I appreciate his rather obvious ex/friend. I could have given these issues a pass, and was inclined to give a rating well above a 3, but the injury Ash receives at the end and the way it’s handled, including the conclusion, just didn’t work for me.

Without spoiling the ending, I want to say that I appreciated the unique take on a common story-line the author attempted and I appreciated that Ash “fell in love again” with James as proof of their “rightness”, but it was too much for this short story to handle with sufficient grace.

2.5 of 5 hearts



Despite the Odds by Chris T Kat

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6459


Never judge a book by its cover.

Michael Campbell can’t hold a job for more than a few days. He’s lucky his foreman is giving him another chance with the solar panel project at an elementary school in Atlantic City. When he spies a man walking strangely in front of the school, Michael laughs, assuming he’s drunk or high. Little does he realize that Joshua Stone, a teaching assistant, has cerebral palsy, and he’s having a bad muscle control day. Taking a tumble right in front of the handsome construction worker is just his luck.

When Michael learns the truth, he feels bad for his cruel behavior. He offers to give Joshua—and his tricycle, the Racing Rhonda—a lift. Joshua accepts the help, and suddenly there’s a gorgeous man breezing into his life, turning his world upside down. But Michael has more issues than his inability to hold down a job, and neither man is sure if they’ll be able to overcome their fears in order to be together.


In a nutshell, Michael makes fun of (sort-of) Josh, but then finds out he has has cerebral palsy, makes up and they begin dating.

Michael is a sweet guy but has trouble keeping a job (for reasons we find out) and has a fairly low self-esteem but is generally laid back.

Josh really wants to trust Michael but he’s been burned before.

This is a book that could have been a touching and profound story to two men overcoming huge obstacles to be together, but instead was merely a sweet, fairly light-hearted romance.

The issues of Joshua’s disability as well as Michaels are mostly glossed over. The couple become a kind of non-sexual boyfriend then suddenly they move in together and HEA.

I still enjoyed reading this, it was short and sweet, but it felt very superficial and I was disappointed that we didn’t get to delve more deeply into these complex MCs. I was also rather disconcerted by how the sex was handled in that it went from zero to sixty and I think that taking some time to really move the couple through their emotions would have made their coming together more poignant.

I give it a 3 of 5 hearts because the writing was nice, the editing was good and I loved the MCs.



Only Love Audiobook by Garrett Leigh Narrated by Michael Stellman

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


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.


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



The Shared Harvest by DW Marchwell

Dreampsinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6392


Doug Johnston is his brother Paul’s primary caregiver. Though Paul’s disease dictates he shouldn’t live past the age of twenty-five, Paul’s thirtieth birthday is a few months away. The brothers have only had each other since their mother passed away years earlier and their father left shortly after Paul’s diagnosis with Becker’s muscular dystrophy. Though mostly happy with his life, Doug would love to be in a relationship, but he won’t settle for anyone but the perfect man.

Carson Oliver used to be the man everyone recognized and wanted, But when the top-rated DIY program he hosted was canceled in the late 90s, he sought comfort in food… lots of food. While he owns a landscaping business and family farm, he doesn’t think life has much more to offer than working and taking care of his ailing mother. When he meets Doug, the attraction is immediate. It is aided by an important role Carson once played in Doug and Paul’s lives—one Carson doesn’t remember but they’ve never forgotten.

When Carson doesn’t believe anyone can possibly want him the way he is, Doug sets out to prove him wrong. With the assistance of his enthusiastic brother, Carson’s unrestrained mother, and her crazy cat, Doug just might get the job done.


Doug takes care of his brother and works as a waiter. One day he sees Carson who helped his mom years ago, and “saves him” from some mean comments. Doug doesn’t see an overweight guy, just a beautiful man with a lot of talent.

Carson used to be on TV, he lost his job and ended up drowning his sorrow in food. Now he feels ugly and unlovable. He can’t accept a good looking guy like Doug is actually interested in him, but can’t help but want to be around him and his brother.

The two begin a friendship that slowly evolves to more as Carson begins to trust in himself and Doug.

There are hurdles, Paul’s health, Carson’s self image, Carson’s mother, careers… but they handle each together.

First let me warn you to have Kleenex ready when you read this. Paul is very sick and has been for a while. It is really hard to read about Doug’s pain on the prospect of losing his dear brother.

Doug is not perfect, but nearly so and he is the perfect man for Carson.

Carson’s heart is always in the right place even when he blunders, he does so with his eyes on the right path.

The smexy times were very steamy and I really loved how Doug and Carson resolved Carson’s body image concerns.

I loved this book right up until the end. It was moving, captivating, tender and lovely. My only problem was the epilogue. The couple gets a strong HFN probably HEA, but I really, really wanted it to be cemented in firmly. I was also really uncomfortable with how Doug left things with Carson’s mother. I needed them to get past their issues.

But – I wouldn’t let any of those concerns dissuade me from recommending this book wholeheartedly.  I stayed up til 3 AM to finish this book, it held me so captive.

DW Marchwell is an excellent writer. He really knows how to demonstrate tenderness and generosity of spirit. He combines humor with the underlying sadness in this book so that though the reader might tearing up one moment she is laughing the next. This is a lovely book that anyone with a functioning heart should read.

4.5 of 5 hearts



Speak No Evil by Alexa Snow

Loose Id Presents http://www.loose-id.com/speak-no-evil.html


Jamie Kincade’s world is turned upside down when Sebastian, a young man who doesn’t speak and who shares the ability to see ghosts that Jamie’s had since childhood, enters his life. Jamie finds Sebastian fascinating on multiple levels, and is determined to help him learn to speak again. But he can barely keep his thoughts – or hands – off Sebastian, who wants him and makes no attempt to hide it.

The age difference between them – Sebastian is almost 15 years Jamie’s junior – is a problem for Jamie, but Jamie’s reluctance isn’t the only thing keeping them from focusing on the potential they might have as a couple. The collection of ghosts Jamie has been living with in relative harmony for more than a decade has no intention of leaving Sebastian alone now that he’s here. Their desperate attempts to get Sebastian’s attention are a distraction Jamie would be grateful for if they didn’t upset Sebastian so much. Jamie is torn between wanting to send Sebastian away for his own good and wanting to drag him off to bed, and with Sebastian tempting him both deliberately and subconsciously, it can’t be long before Jamie’s self-control snaps…


Jamie has a house full of ghosts he can see but nothing else. One night he finds a real human, a man, Sebastian, out huddled from the rain in his garden shed. Turns out Sebastian can not only see the ghosts but he can hear and speak to them, too. When he can speak, that is.

Sebastian has been mute since his parents died in a fire years ago and has also been on the run since then, having no other family that he knows of. He wanders into Jamie’s shed one night and finds more than just shelter.

Together they learn more about ghosts and their “abilities” than they’d ever want to know and also find love.


From page one this story gripped me and kept me turning pages. It is very well written, captivating and interesting.

Though the romance is a fairly easy going May/December story, the addition of the ghost story and the mystery hiding in Sebastian’s life make this an interesting and fast-paced story.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

5 of 5 hearts




Quiet Nights (Mangrove Stories #2) Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Dreamspinner presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6431


It’s a lovely little life Kelly Seaton leads. He’s got his own landscaping business, a nice little house, and his best friend, Cosimo Renaldi, and Coz’s goofball family who have adopted Kelly as their own. Sure, it’s a little lonely at night, but it’s a sweet deal, and Kelly can’t chance ruining it by letting on that he wants more—has always wanted more—with Coz.

Then Kelly’s past comes to town, bringing bad memories and hurt feelings that start to break Kelly down, and Coz just doesn’t understand why Kelly won’t let him be the support and strength that Kelly’s always been for him. They’ve already been through war, Coz’s devastating injury, and starting new careers in Mangrove, Florida. Why shouldn’t they face their chaotic pasts and build their future of quiet nights… together?


(Reviewed previously)

Oh Mary, how I love thee, let me count the ways!

This is the second book in her new Mangrove Stories series. So… yep we get to see Dwyer and Takeo again. (Yay!)

Kelly and Coz are best friends and have been since their days in the military. Kelly is Coz’s de-facto brother, his family disowned him for being gay. Kelly saved Coz’s life but Coz still lost an arm, and as a result still feels inadequate in the realm of romance.

Takeo actually is to be credited with pushing Kelly and Coz together, because it is his matchmaking endeavors that sort of push Coz into dating which makes Kelly so jealous he can’t see straight!

This is a short story, so we get a little build up and a little steamy smexy times and lots and lots of warm feels.

One of my favorite quotes from the book illustrates this exactly. Coz is talking to Kelly. “You’re who I think of telling shit to, who I miss even when I’m busy doing something and you’re who I want to roll over on top of in the morning.” See? Build up, smexy times, and lots of great feels!

4 of 5 hearts


Greg Tremblay did an amazing job with this. I just love diving into his stories – he is so compelling – adding a layer to Mary’s work that just makes everything exponentially wonderful.

5 of 5 hearts

Overall 4.5 hearts



Just Desserts by Mary Calmes

Dreamspinner Presents


Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.


Boone’s heart was broken years ago and he hasn’t let anyone in since. His buddy, Scott, captures his interest, but he’s a player and Boone can’t risk that kind of hurt again.

When it finally looks like the player might settle down, Boone realizes he can’t let Scott go to someone else and together they embark on the relationship both had been pining for, for years.

This is another wonderful Mary Calmes love story, full of clueless MCs, tough guys, friendship, laughter, well structured secondary characters and hot sex. Add to it the Yakuza, NOLA and some amazing chocolate mousse and you have Just Desserts!

4.5 of 5 hearts



The Blinding Light Audiobook by Renae Kaye narrated by Jonathan Young

Dreamspinner Presents  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6315


Jake Manning’s smart mouth frequently gets him into trouble. Because of it, he can’t hold a job. Combined with some bad luck, it’s prevented him from keeping steady employment. A huge debt looms over him, and alone he shoulders the care of his alcoholic mother and three younger sisters. When a housekeeping position opens, Jake’s so desperate he leaps at the opportunity. On landing, he finds his new boss, Patrick Stanford, a fussy, arrogant, rude… and blind man.

Born without sight, Patrick is used to being accommodated, but he’s met his match with Jake, who doesn’t take any of his crap and threatens to swap all the braille labels on his groceries and run off with his guide dog unless he behaves.

Jake gets a kick out of Patrick. Things are looking up: the girls are starting their own lives and his mum’s sobriety might stick this time. He’s sacrificed everything for his family; maybe it’s time for him to live his life and start a relationship with Patrick. When his mother needs him, guilt makes his choice between family and Patrick difficult, and Jake must realize he’s not alone anymore.


This is the second book I have read by this author and I will definitely be looking for more. The setting is Australia, so you get a few funny words, but for the most part, the setting could be anywhere. Jake is a young man who is a little bit too perfect but in a way that is so funny and sweet, you can’t help but forgive him for that.

Patrick is fantastic. Curmudgeonly and surly at first, only to be completely turned around when his sh*t is thrown back in his face by the mouthy Jake.

It’s almost a Cinderella story in that Patrick has so much money and Jake is dirt poor, but since Patrick is blind – the inequality isn’t quite so profound. You really get the idea that the two do have something to offer one another and that makes the disparity more tolerable.

Jake’s friends and family are funny and well rounded as characters who add to the story without really detracting from the main thread.

There was an appropriate amount of smexy scenes, not overwhelming and those that were there were definitely hot.

The ending kind of came from left field, but in a way I really liked it. Sometimes life does throw you a curve ball and you have to take what you get when you get it.

I also liked how the two resolved the issue of money between the two of them. It might not be the most romantic way to do it, but it’s a realistic approach to a sensitive, relationship-breaking subject.

Overall I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone in search of a sweet, light read.


Jonathan Young did another wonderful job with this narration.  I loved the emotion he uses and the way his accent doesn’t overwhelm the story.

Overall 5 of 5 hearts