Shadow’s Dagger (The Princes of Nilan’dane 2): Violet Joicey-Cowan


Blurb:  How can an assassin be Prince Belden’s safest choice? When Prince Belden of Nilan’dane picked his husband at the traditional gathering of men, known as The Choosing, he thought he had made a safe decision.

Sent by a mage who plotted the downfall of the royal family of Nilan’dane, Barli was supposed to get close to Bel’s family and then kill them all. However, when Barli looks into the eyes of the vulnerable Prince Belden for the first time, something changes, and he knows he will never be able to do anything that would hurt this man. But how is he ever to confess the truth of why he was at The Choosing when Bel now carries his child?

Barli has to teach Bel that, though he is a prince, submitting to Barli is what he really needs, and what Barli needs, is to believe in Bel’s love.

Review: This is the second book in the Hari series and in it, VCJ tells us Bel’s story. We got a glimpse of the two in the first book but now the story is being told from Barli and Bel’s perspective. 

An assassin by trade, Barli is hired to kill the Princes. He infiltrates the Choosing ceremony and ends up falling for and being chosen by one of the Princes. They’re married, have a child and travel to a neighboring kingdom to sign a peace treaty. The characters and events in this book tend to drag just a tiny bit in this book but it was so short that it didn’t at all deflect from my overall enjoyment of the story. 

Barli’s character kind of surprised me. Here you have this man who dresses and acts a bit feminine but you realize he does it for survival. Underneath all of those fine frilly women’s clothes is a cold and calculating assassin. 

I’m enjoying the series so far and this is surprising since this is so not my category; this medieval fantasy type category. But as I’ve stated in my review of the first in the series, I was pleasantly surprised. The only time flaw is the misunderstanding between Barli and Bel dragged out a little too long but other than that, this story will hold your attention. I really like how everything wasn’t given away in the stories; you’re left wondering what’s going to happen next. As always, her characters are fully formed, the plot is really quite good and her writing style is neat and organized. 

I am really looking forward to read Glare’s story.

Rating: ❤️❤️❤️❤️



Shifter Tales by Anya Byrne

Anya Byrne Publishing Presents


mate cursedBlurb

Phelan is a wolf shifter and a prince of his kin. All of his life, he’s been taught to believe in the superiority of his people. But when the shifters’ dismissive cruelty toward humans draws the eye of a mysterious witch, it is Phelan who becomes the target.

Now cursed, Phelan is forever bound to his animal form, while being the only one of his people to maintain his sense of self. The only way to break the enchantment is to find a human to love him. But who could have that kind of affection for a wretched, broken beast?

It seems like a lost cause, until one terrible winter, he meets beautiful and kind Elian. Elian brings warmth once more in Phelan’s heart. His gentle fingers tend to Phelan’s wounds, and his soft voice soothes Phelan’s soul. Phelan soon realizes Elian is his mate. But can this love surpass all the obstacles in its path, or will it be cursed like the rest of Phelan’s kin?


Shay has an uneventful existence. He delivers his mother’s baked goods to shifter families and tells stories to his brother in his free time. Everything changes one day when, taken by surprise by a mysterious storm, Shay finds refuge in the home of a peculiar shifter lord. He does not expect for the shifter in question—Conor—to make unprecedented emotions swell inside him.

Spurned by his own family, Conor knows he should keep his distance from his beautiful, red-hooded guest. But from the moment Shay steps onto the grounds of his mansion, Conor is drawn to him like a moth to the flame. He tells himself it is all only temporary and tries to stay away, even if Shay’s smile and his trust make him feel for the first time more than the beast he knows himself to be.

What happens when the two men are unexpectedly trapped together? Will the help of an unlikely ally be enough to give this particular tale a happily ever after?


In Mate of The Cursed Wolf Prince (sort of a version of Beauty and the Beast) Phelan and his family scorn humanity and are cursed. Phelan must live out his days only in wolf form and watch the world he knows crumble to dust. He manages to meet and fall in love with Elian even in wolf form and they manage to somehow reverse the curse and find their own happy ending.

In Storyteller for a Sorrowful Beast (sort of Little Red Riding Hood) Shay stumbles upon a mansion in a storm and is rescued by Conor. Shay is summarily cursed to stay with Conor and tell 1001 stories before the storm will let up and he can return to his family. There is some other drama and deceit but both Shay and Conor prove their love and their willingness to sacrifice and reverse the curse and find their happy endings.


In both these an old fairy tale is changed and given a different, gay, paranormal slant (they link to each other but are stand alones). The writing is excellent and though the romance moves along quickly (like every great shifter story has a tendency to do) it is still sentimental and sweet. The unique look at these fair tales is very entertaining and I recommend this series to fans of shifters and the paranormal.

4.5 of 5 hearts



Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea 1) Audiobook by Shira Anthony Narrated by Michael Stellman

Dreamspinner Presents


Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.


We start this with Taren being sold to a pirate captain (Rider) by the man who essentially raised him in return for gambling debts.
Taren then falls into a triad relationship with Rider and his current “cabin boy”, Bastien. Rider offers Taren his freedom if he agrees to stay on board for three years. To say Taren is grateful is putting it mildly. The relationship is consensual if you disregard that Taren is Redier’s property and can’t really say no, but Taren does enjoy it and he eventually develops feelings for the other two.

There is a skirmish and Taren is tossed out to sea (after two years with the triad) where he is rescued by Ian, another sea captain, Ian, of a rival ship.

Ian is a merman and it turns out so is Taren. Ian develops feelings for Taren and the two begin a relationship. Taren has to embrace his origins or else he might die so Ian helps him to transform into his alternate form.

When Taren and Ian return to Ian’s homeland, Taren is accused of being a spy and thrown in jail. Ian has to decide if his affection and strange connection to Taren is more important than his trust in the rulers of his land. There is a bit of a twist thrown in as well and we are left with the two essentially in a HFN scenario that leads to book 2.

This is an amazingly rich and dense book. I’m assuming that all the wonderful world building will carry us through the next books in the series and we will see more of the relationship and the mysterious tie between the two of them develop more fully.

I had a hard time seeing Taren with others in an on-page relationship and this keeps me from giving this book 5 of 5 hearts. I can appreciate that it’s part of creating his back story and giving us the full impression of his life up until he meets Ian, but I can’t say that I liked it.

We don’t get to see much of Taren and Ian together and happy in this book so I look forward to seeing where the two will go from here.

Shira Anthony writes beautifully and has a gorgeous imagination and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes us in book 2.

4 of 5 hearts


I really like Michael Stellman. He is a very easy narrator to listen to. He doesn’t go over the top in differentiating the voices of all the many characters in this complex story, but you can always tell who is talking. He does a nice job with the new names and definitely adds to the overall experience.

4.5 of 5 hearts



The Choosing (Princes of Nilan’dane 1) Violet Joicey-Cowen 

Publisher: Siren BookStrand 

BLURB: Thinking his duty and heart lead in different directions, what will Prince Korin of Nilan’dane decide to do? A letter arrives from Korin’s father, summoning him home for the Choosing after a year’s freedom in the desert, and Korin must face the fact that he is deeply in love with his best friend, the captain of his guard, Ansen. Ansen has known for years that he loves Korin but never spoke of his feelings because he knew the duty Korin must perform, marrying and producing an heir for the kingdom. He never dared hope Korin would not only return those feelings, but actually be able to choose him. Their brief happiness is ripped apart through the machinations of the twisted brother of one of Korin’s other suitors, and they must fight to hold on to the hope that they will see each other, and the baby Korin was carrying, again. 

REVIEW: I will admit that I was not a fan of the medieval type fantasy world and didn’t give this book a second glance when it was first published. It was suggested by a friend that I give it a try. I decided that I would take the time to read this because this particular author has written other books that I’ve enjoyed. That combined with an Mpreg in the storyline really helped pique my interest. I am so glad that I made the decision to read it because I truly enjoyed this book.

Prince Korin is summoned by his father , the King return home to Nilan’dane after spending the year in the desert. It was time for him and his brothers to choose makes that they can live with so that they can produce heirs. It was in the desert that Korin and his guard and childhood best friend Ansen realize their feelings for each other went beyond friendship but They felt they couldn’t be together because of the prince’s obligation to the kingdom. Korin realizes at the last minute that he and Ansen could in fact be together and Korin chooses his best friend and the man he loves, Ansen to be his consort. 
Korin becomes pregnant and just when he and Ansen are about to become a family and live their lives, the prince is kidnapped and held captive by the brother of a rejected suitor. I must say that this story was a delightful surprise. As usual this author puts her clean writing style on display for us. She is able to, and quite successfully I might add, to write multiple characters with multiple points of views and do it as such a way as to not confuse the reader. She transitions perfectly from one character to the next. This is made easier by alerting the reader at the beginning of each chapter exactly which character we are reading about. The author brilliantly created a cast of characters that held my attention from the first word on the first page to the last. I would definitely recommend this book and I am excited to see how these wonderful characters play out.


: ❤️❤️❤️❤️



Siren BookStrand

Jack Wolf by Kay Walker

Daily Dose Short Story
Dreamspinner Presents


Henry Dalton is sent across the country by train to the western town of Woolridge in order to investigate the werewolf problem they’re having during the monthly moon cycle. The townsfolk are not forthcoming with information, making it difficult for Henry to solve the case.
Even more distracting is Jack, a handsome older lycanthrope. Known for his rebellious youth, Jack has settled down into life and routine in Woolridge, working as the local blacksmith. He assures Henry he’s no longer trying to stir up trouble, that those days are long gone. Henry must attempt to ignore the spark between them, the indication of their potential to become mates, which is rare because Henry is human. Henry remains professional and focuses on his job, but each meeting with Jack adds to the draw, and Henry isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be able to resist.


This is a unique short story of an investigator who travels to find out about a situation with a local werewolf pack. It’s a combo steampunk/shifter novella set in vaguely old west times.
Henry has previously had a werewolf mate who died years ago, Jack has had two potential mates previously who have also died many years ago.

Though there are some potential hurdles in their way: the investigation, their distance and time; they realize that being given a “second” chance is not something to disregard and that despite their “mate” status, they truly care for the other as well.


Steampunk is not my favorite genre, but I really appreciated the unique blend with the shifter lore. I loved the idea of “sparking” and the fact that these men got multiple shots, but that it was still a monumental event.

The writing was crisp and clear and the story very unique with clever world-building. I don’t know if it’s the genre or the author, but it was just a bit too dry to be amazing, but it was very good.

3.5 of 5 hearts



Yes Audiobook by Brad Boney Narrated by Dan McGowan

Dreamspinner Presents


What if youth wasn’t wasted on the young?

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Ian Parker is looking for a reboot. He may be the proud owner of a trendy coffee shop in Austin called La Tazza Magica, but his love life has been MIA for years. During a trip to Denver with his best friend, Mark, Ian buys an enchanted chocolate from a mysterious candy store—then wakes up from a nap two decades younger. After the initial shock, Ian realizes a quirk of the universe has given him a second chance and, with Mark’s help, he devises a plan to start over.

With a new lease on life, Ian sets his sights on handsome architect Bartley James, a regular customer at La Tazza. He pursues Bartley as Ian’s twenty-one-year-old alter ego, Ryan, with decidedly unexpected results. Joining Ryan on his adventures are Matthew, the dreamy new barista, Jeremy, the geeky high-school math teacher, and Sam, the pizza delivery boy. Even as misunderstandings and expectations collide, Ian remains determined to right his past mistakes and find his off-ramp to happiness.

Book Review (Previously posted on this site.)

I would strongly recommend that you read these books in order to fully appreciate the nuances. Brad does an amazing job of creating this “alternate” world with the Walsh brothers and laying out that time is very non-linear and to ignore all that history is silly.

Sure, technically this is a stand alone – but why? Just read the others – they’re great!

In this story we see – again – people making small decisions that have huge implications which can affect their lives (and other’s lives) and lots and lots of trivia.

I think that you are either a fan of the trivia – in this case old porn – or not – and the rapid-fire game-playing will either charm or repel you.

I find Brad Boney’s writing to be fascinating and I love his alternate world view and though I wish he’d had a different game plan – one where our MCs spend some actual time together – I always enjoy the time I spend on his books.

This was not my favorite in the series – but still an excellent book.

Audio Review

Dan McGowan is new to me as a narrator, and has not done any of the other narrations for this “almost”-series. I appreciated that he tried to make the different voices distinct and he had a lot of enthusiasm for the story, but I didn’t really care for his style, especially in comparison to the others by this author.

Overall 3.5 of 5 hearts



The Eskimo Slugger Audiobook by Brad Boney Narrated by Michael Ferraluolo

Dreamspinner Presents


It’s the summer of 1983, and Trent Days is Major League Baseball’s rookie sensation. Since he was born in Alaska to an Inupiat mother, the press have dubbed him the Eskimo Slugger, but a midseason collision at home plate temporarily halts his meteoric rise to the top.
Sent back to Austin to recuperate, Trent visits his favorite record store, Inner Sanctum, where he meets amiable law student Brendan Baxter. A skip in the vinyl of New Order’s “Blue Monday” drives Trent back to Brendan, and their romance takes them into uncharted territory. As Trent’s feelings move from casual to serious, he’s faced with an impossible dilemma. Does he abandon any hope of a future with Brendan and return to the shadows and secrets of professional sports? Or does he embrace the possibility of real love and leave baseball behind him forever? As he struggles with his decision, Trent embarks on a journey of self-discovery to figure out who he really is and what matters most.

Book review (Previously posted on this site.)

Trent is a baseball player from Alaska, thus the name Eskimo Slugger. He’s at the top of his game when he gets injured and ends up spending two weeks in Austin, TX. There he meets Brendan, a law student/record store clerk. They start as friends but once Brendan tentatively asks Trent “Is this a date?” the two acknowledge the deeper aspect of their blossoming relationship. The two immediately set sparks off one another, though neither has ever had a gay relationship before.

With some pretty funny forays into gay sex, the two explore each other and a relatively unexplored aspect to their personalities. For Brendan, being gay is something he’s pondered but been afraid of, but with the right incentive he embraces the idea and eventually decides to incorporate into his life fully and without secrecy.

For Trent, being gay means possibly (probably) the end of his career, certainly the end of his life as it stands currently, and though he’s always known he was gay, he has never let himself entertain the idea that he could actually live as a gay man.

Brendan enlists the help of Stanton and Hutch (from The Return) as “gay mentors” and together, with Bill Walsh (from The Nothingness of Ben) the group bonds, smoke a lot of weed and begin to form relationships that even death won’t end.

Ultimately, Trent has to make the biggest decision of his life: Choose baseball or choose Brendan. Perhaps the two can be together, but probably it’s one or the other.


By now you should have read the first two books (The Nothingness of Ben and The Return). If you haven’t – go! What are you waiting for? Technically this could be a standalone, I guess, but it won’t make a heck of a lot of sense and will leave you very unsatisfied.

If you have read the other books you know that the end of this book is really the beginning of TNOB. That, Brad Boney, is an amazing feat! Mr. Boney has managed to create this beautiful circular set of books that literally bleeds one into the other so that (as a reader) you want to just keep going round and round the merry-go-round.

I found myself referencing both of the earlier books time and again with the “treasures” that were revealed throughout this book. Without completely giving away all the secrets just know that the MCs of all three books are inter-related in various ways and little bits of their stories, past and present are slipped in throughout the story.

In The Return it was all about music – fast paced facts and quips, with Slugger it’s baseball. For me, the music was more interesting, but if you are a baseball fan this will really hit home. (See what I did there?)

I didn’t like the love story as much in Slugger as in The Return or TNOB, probably because it happens so quickly. I just never felt the emotion – especially from Brendan. Trent was invested, you get that feeling so strongly. Brendan was too standoffish for me and it made me a little sad. But… since I know what I know about how things end… he’s forgiven ☺.

I really, really enjoyed these books and was sad to see it end. I can’t say for sure, but I think that if I were to recommend a reading order I would say start with The Return, then Slugger then finish with TNOB. There may be something “missing” with that order, but I think, ultimately, it will be so much more satisfying. Or… do as the author may have intended and read it : TNOB, Return, Slugger, TNOB… and so on and so on…

Just a fantastic book all around, 5 of 5 hearts and for the series 6 of 5!

Michael Ferraluolo did an excellent job with this! I adored Charlie David and was disappointed he didn’t narrate this, the third of the series. I think the continuity would have been great. But… Michael didn’t disappoint with his performance. He has a great voice that is easy to listen to, did a nice job differentiating the characters, really got into the emotion of the story and even managed to do a nice job with the female voices.

All in all I am sticking with 6 of 5 hearts for this in either book or audio form!



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

Dreamspinner Presents


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?


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



The Serpent and the Angel (Shifters #8) by MD Grimm

Dreamspinner Presents


In the year 1866, Sheriff Tobias Goldstein guards a small mining town in the Colorado territory with a cold and merciless hand. A rare rattlesnake shifter, he lives by a code and expecting others to do the same has kept the peace—until a nameless stranger wanders into town. Intrigued by the lone man, Tobias names him Angel Smith, and sensing he’s trustworthy, he deputizes Angel.

A guardian at heart, golden eagle shifter Angel protects the townspeople, but his dedication is to an ancient scroll capable of great destruction. For generations, Angel’s family protected the artifact with their lives. Now something has returned to hunt down the scroll. Forced to leave his tribe, Angel enjoys the quiet he’s found with Tobias, who hides a warm heart under his aloof exterior. Angel knows the quiet will not last and fears the battle on the horizon. But with Tobias at his back, Angel might stand a chance against his enemies.



This is another historical tale, this time in the 1800s Colorado territory.  As with the previous book we get more history of the scrolls and a new pair of lovers who are entrusted with their care.

I really like how MD Grimm incorporates the flashes of history with the bits of scroll history and intermingles it with a new (if not completely unique) love story.

In this case we have two men, one very stoic and one very kind, gentle character.  Together they make a united whole and a great pair for protecting the scrolls.

I highly recommend this book and the series.

4 of 5 hearts



Claw (Gothika Volume Three) by Kim Fielding, Eli Easton and Jamie Fessenden

Dreamspinner Presents


Gothika: Volume Three 
Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.

Isolation by Jamie Fessenden
When Sean’s marriage breaks up, he returns to his hometown, hoping to find the childhood friend who meant everything to him in his teens. He finds Jack living in a cabin, surrounded by the forest he always loved, and the two begin to tentatively repair their damaged relationship. But a large animal has been seen prowling around the edge of town, and soon Sean comes face-to-face with the beast. Jack insists the creature isn’t dangerous—it’s been coming around the cabin for years. It isn’t long, however, before Sean discovers a far more disturbing connection between his friend and the beast.

Transformation by Kim Fielding
After being caught in bed with another male student in 1886, Orris Spencer is declared an abomination by his wealthy father. Orris is promptly banished from their Fifth Avenue mansion and sent across the continent to Oregon. Now Orris must try to find a place for himself on his brother’s farm and figure out how to deal with life as a pioneer. When he’s called on to help protect the livestock from a predator, he’s not at all certain he’s up to the task. Then he meets Henry Bonn, a strange and intriguing man who lives in a cabin in the hills. Orris’s attraction to Henry may not be an abomination—but it may prove a greater danger than banishment.

The Black Dog by Eli Easton
Constable Hayden MacLairty is used to life being dull around the tiny hamlet of Laide on the north Scottish coast. They get occasional tourists, “monster hunters” interested in the local legend of the Black Dog, but Hayden thinks that’s only a myth. A rash of sheep killings, a murdered hiker, huge footprints, and sightings of the Black Dog force Hayden to rethink the matter. With the help of Simon Corto, a writer from New York doing research for a book about the Black Dog, Hayden tries to figure out why the enormous hound is reappearing. Hayden finds himself strongly attracted to another person for the first time in his life. But between the danger stalking the hills, Simon’s inevitable return to New York, and Hayden’s mother’s illness, true love may be more of a phantom than the Black Dog.


All three of these stories are very dark but strive to leave us with a happy ending.

In Isoloation two former lovers are reunited but things have changed and the question remains as to what secrets can be told and how will they be handled.

I didn’t care for this story as much as the others – I wanted a more concrete ending to satisfy the romantic in  me.

2 of 5 hearts

Transformation is an historical tale in Oregon (yay!) of farmers and hunters living in the wildneress.  I loved the historical aspect of being gay in the 1800s and though I was sad by the decisions that separated the brothers (both sets) I loved the overall joy that Orris and Henry found together.

4 of 5 hearts

Black Dog was my favorite in this series.  It was a fully fleshed out short story about a man who doesn’t know his own families secrets and when he finds out he has to make some tough decisions.

Eli is one of my all time favorite authors and this story is just as amazing as her longer stories.

5 of 5 hearts

Overall 3.5  of 5 hearts