Review: Femme by Marshall Thornton

Queeny cocktail waiter, Lionel, wakes up to find himself in bed with Dog, a straight-acting softball player and the two embark on a rocky road to romance. A journey that requires coming out of the closet, going into the closet, a pair of red high heels, many pairs of red high heels, a failed intervention, a couple of aborted dates, and homemade pom-poms. Mostly, Lionel and Dog learn what it means to be a man.

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

So much fun!

This author is new to me but I'd heard great things about this story and all those things turned out to be true. Lionel is a vivacious character who is funny and sarcastic-two traits I admire. I'm not sure what I expected from this book, but I can tell you some of the one-liners here were so unexpected that I did that bark/shout/cackle thing. That's always a win for me. I appreciate authors who can inject valid social messages into their comedy and Marshall Thornton does.

Dog (yes, Dog) and Lionel are opposites. Very opposite. Dog is a dude. He has a truck, is a cub, likes softball and beer and wears t-shirts and jeans. Which means he can, and sometimes does, pass for straight. He's also introverted to Lionel's flamboyant extrovertedness. Lionel is femme. He likes heels, pink, gin martinis, is animated, can genderfuck like a champ and passing for straight is never something that's appealed to him.

But they like each other A-N-Y-W-A-Y! 

Bridging that divide is what makes Femme such an engaging and heartwarming tale. You hardly realize there's important subtext which is the hallmark of a talented comedian, in my opinion. We all have to come to some level of acceptance with who we are and how we interact with the world, but sometimes that's easier said than done, particularly when you stir in sexuality and gender dymanics. Nevertheless these characters find acceptance in each other, often in comedic ways, that still manage to be affecting. The secondary characters especially Dog's family and Carlotta! added to the hilarity.

Oh my gawd! I heart Carlotta and Frida her broke down Fiesta so muuuuucccchhhh. She needs her own book! ...and maybe a sugar daddy...

The relationship between Dog and Lionel, at times, seemed like it'd never get off the ground due to one obstacle or another. I wouldn't characterize it as miscommunication per se, but there are an inordinate amount of obstacles in their way. However, through it all these two keep finding themselves coming back together despite obstinate fathers, whackadoodle conversion therapists and boorish asshats.

"It doesn't matter if he gets over it. What matters is that you do. You need to forgive yourself." 
"For what? For being gay?" 
"For not being who your dad wants you to be."
All of these characters are well developed, unique and likeable. We get both Lionel and Dog's perspectives and the differences between them are subtly highlighted as are their similarities. The dialogue between them was organic, often scathingly witty and relateable. I never once thought "real people" wouldn't talk like that.

Femme is a slice of life tale about an unlikely pair that have to face and overcome stereotypes for both themselves as individuals and as a couple. That's funny! I mentioned that, right?

There is very little sex content but there is a big guy bottom! WOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #winning That alone was worth the wait for me.

Lastly, I'm not one for nitpicking on grammar etc., but this really could've used a final proof or edit. I found myself rereading sentences to piece together what was meant due to missing words and there were several other little things that could've been caught in a final run through that were varying degrees of distracting.

Recommended for people who enjoy a lighthearted and comedic romance with flamboyant characters.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Julio's Wolf (Werewolves of Manhattan #6) by A.C. Katt

Werewolves of Manhattan Book 6

Author Name: A.C. Katt

Book Name: Julio’s Wolf

Can be read as a stand alone

Release Date: September 30, 2016

Publisher: MLR Press

Cover Artist: Lex Valentine

Pages or Words: 203 pages

Categories: Paranormal, Contemporary, Urban Wolf Shifter, Gay

Can an independent, stubborn human beta make room in his life and heart for a hard-headed Alpha?

Julio Reyes has had a hard life. Orphaned at fourteen, he ran away from a group home to avoid rape but wound up being an independent prostitute in NYC.  He has a life plan—go to school, become a stylist and open his own salon.

Etienne Daurensbourg is one-hundred and thirty-nine years old and fears he’ll never find his Mate until his friend Alexei introduces him to Julio. Julio is Etienne’s Mate but before he has a chance to court Julio, who is a human high beta and therefore stubborn and independent, Julio gets knifed and is forced to let Etienne provide him with a home and help to recover.

Pack problems arise that may force Etienne into the pit. Will Julio be able to love Etienne despite the fact he is a loup garou?

Amazon UK

MLR Press

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A.C. Katt

AC Katt: AC didn’t discover her muse until she was older. She loves to write and now writes constantly. She just moved from New Mexico back to New Jersey with her husband and her naughty cat Bandit, who lives up to his name.

Where to find the author:

Twitter: @ackatt

Review: From the Get Go by Sean Michael

When easygoing Texas artist Dakin McBride makes his way to Ottawa, Canada, for a showing, he meets Jeff Tamrin, the fastidious manager of the Sussex Gallery. Despite coming from different worlds and being opposites in almost every way, the attraction is immediate, and soon Dakin and Jeff negotiate their own brand of diplomatic relations, forgetting all about art or seeing the sights the city has to offer. They get wrapped up in the moment, each of them intrigued by what he feels for the other. 

The more they get to know each other, the more they like what they see. Dakin has a life to go back to in Texas, though, and Jeff has his own in Canada. Is there any way for their budding romance to survive the thousands of miles separating them? The relationship seems doomed, but at the same time, it feels too right to give up without a fight.

From the Get Go is a sweet short that covers the meeting, flirting, fucking and falling in love between Jeff (from Ottawa) and Dakin (from Texas). There is an immediate attraction between the two of them when Dakin comes to town to be part of the exhibit at the gallery where Jeff works. Jeff’s pretty sure he shouldn’t be boning the resident artists, but the two really hit it off hard and there’s no keeping their hands to themselves once they crossed the line.

The best part of the story is the flirting between the two of them. It was nice to read a story with no angst and just two hotties getting to know one another with some sweet and sexy banter. Followed, of course, by a lot of consummating. A. Lot. Of. Consummating. Which Sean Michael always does well. There was an inconsistency that jumped out at me, in one scene Jeff is giving Dakin a quality blowie complete with condom. Good for you, safety first. Next boning scene he’s licking the come from Dakin’s chest. And dudes, your choices are yours it just seems if your characters are going to change things up it should be acknowledged, especially with something so important.

The two can’t imagine life without one another and the love comes along quickly. They were both down with it and while it was fast, it was still sweet. Geography is a problem though and they solve it temporarily by Jeff taking some well deserved vacation time in Texas. Here the sweet talk and epic boning continues Texas style. Dakin got to meet Jeff’s family in Ottawa and now Jeff gets to meet Dakin’s family. It’s obvious these two are taking their relationship seriously with being introduced to family and all. Of course the families love the men’s new squeezes because that’s how this sweet story rolls.

As their time together draws to a close, the two are already feeling the upcoming heartbreak. They talk it all out and agree that anything is possible and they love one another enough to make their lives work. Sure, it’s easy and way too simple to be realistic, but this story isn’t about troubles and long BS bureaucracy, it’s a feel good Hallmark flavored fairytale that leaves you feeling all warm and gooshy inside with all the love.

For more information on From the Get Go by Sean Michael, head over to Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

Review: Lavender in Bloom by Lily Velez

A heartbreaking tale about love and loss...

It’s the year 1802 in Avignon, France.

Noah Capet has spent most of his young life living simple and unvaried days in the hushed countryside of southern France. Quiet, reserved, and diffident, his preference for existing is to do so in solitude, keeping to himself both in town and on his family’s farm—a predilection that’s altogether disrupted when a newcomer to town by the name of Jeremie Perreault begins an unremitting quest to befriend him. 

Jeremie is everything Noah is not. Charismatic and gregarious, he leaves a trail of charmed admirers in his wake wherever he goes. Expressive and idealistic, he talks without end about his deep love for old books and his spirited dream to one day travel the world on a literary pilgrimage. 

Over the course of a single summer, the two form an unlikely friendship, but just as quickly as it develops, it soon entirely dissolves as they’re forced to face the truth of what has unexpectedly emerged between them. 

Lavender in Bloom is a tender and tragic coming-of-age story about first love and self-discovery, and a poignant reminder that time is fleeting and always takes with it the choices we’re too afraid to make.

"Over time, lavender spread throughout all the lands, and it was said that wherever it bloomed, love was present."

Sometimes I feel like being sad. Not often, but I occasionally like to read books or movies that break with tradition. And usually break my heart and this book fit the bill. But there is beauty in this tragedy and a lesson. 

Unfortunately Noah grasps the depth and breadth of that lesson too late. Noah is a young man with a tragic past that has shaped him. He strives to maintain his inner peace through solitude, preferring the company of animals over people and he speaks infrequently. His youngest sister Camilla who's determined to marry before her next birthday puts him directly in the path of Jeremie who will constantly beat upon the walls of Noah's personal fortress.

Jeremie and Noah's romance is a slow burn between two men in a time period so full of repression that merely holding hands was considered risqué. Lily Velez captured all the things about this era that make for a great romance. While Noah clings to propriety, duty and all the trappings thereof, Jeremie clings to his revolutionary ideals and longs to forge new paths eschewing the privilege into which he was born. How dissimilar they are was illustrated exceptionally well given the fact that the entire story is told through Noah, who isn't all that perceptive.

The writing style is apropos of the era and brimming with lush French imagery; it skirts the purple line but I tend to be drawn to a more flowery style. It's not hard to envision Ms. Velez having a bright future as an author. Lavender in Bloom is reminiscent of Sense and Sensibility, if that tells you anything. She builds Noah and Jeremie's chemistry through yearning looks, stolen moments and furtive touches. And one earth shattering kiss. The addition of Provincial folklore enriched my experience and made it a more enjoyable one.

My only quibble is that I didn't feel Noah's love for Jeremie. They spend so much time apart or misunderstanding one another coupled with Noah's naiveté and his tendency towards of forbearance which by extension involved Jeremie thereby making it difficult to believe he shared the profundity of Jeremie's feelings.

Until it was too late.

And by that time it was too late for me to invest anything more than sympathy.

Recommended for those who enjoy a bittersweet historical romance.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Audiobook Review: Lay It Down by Mary Calmes

Paradise can be hell.

Most people would say being stranded in the villa of Spanish shipping magnate Miguel García Arquero on the beautiful isle of Ibiza wasn’t such a bad deal. But Hudson Barber isn’t one of them. To him, being stuck without a passport in a foreign country far from home is a nightmare, made worse by the fact that the person who did the stranding was his flighty twin brother.

Unwilling to turn Dalvon in for identity theft, Hudson is forced to wait, but meanwhile he discovers the chance to rehabilitate Miguel’s failing local businesses—enterprises left to Dalvon’s inexperienced care. The flagging ventures are a badly wrapped gift from heaven, and if Hudson can turn them around, he might be able to leverage the experience to finish his MBA.

Then Miguel returns to Ibiza, and instead of finding a boy toy, he discovers Hudson has turned his cold villa into a warm, welcoming home. Miguel’s path is clear: convince Hudson to lay down his defenses and let love in.

Listening Length: 4 hours and 38 minutes
Narrator: Alexander Collins

Ahh yeah. I am a Mary Calmes audiobook virgin no more! It's a moment to be written about in my diary, give me a second to document this.

Okay, so I have read this story but that doesn’t mean that listening to it was not a whole new experience, because oh baby was it ever.

I felt the joining—the oneness—in a heart-swelling, chest-gripping rush.

I admit it took me a bit to get used to being read to, it always does. But when the narrator busts out Hudson's speaking voice I melted into a puddle and just wanted to crawl into his narration and snuggle or maybe squirm once we got to the intimate parts but really… Alexander Collins and the word “Fuck” go hand in hand in *ahem*… hand.  You feel me? The narrator brings the story to life. I know I loved it when I read it but Alexander Collins breathes life, love and passion into these characters with his reading and it's a wonderful pairing to the type of romance Mary Calmes writes. 

So once I settled into being read to everything came together, me as the listener and Mr. Collins delivering a short but fun and oh so sexy story I'd read before. Sure, I’d read it but he was giving me another glimpse into the story of Hudson, his spineless wienie of a brother Dalvon and Miguel... the tiger of a man who wants nothing more than Hudson's trust, love, loyalty and to stay with him forever and ever and ever.

Substance is far more attractive than mere beauty.

The story it total crack with an over the top storyline but it's what I love. I giggled and grinned my way through the phone calls with Hudson and Dalvon and kinda swooned at Will being all possessive over Hudson's brother when we was never that way with Hudson. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear Miguel with the first face to face with him and Hudson and *ahem* oh yeah. That in my ear while I sat at my desk working on report files was all sorts of squirmy listening. 

As a newbie to the world of audiobooks, I find that I do better with them if I have read the book before as I can keep up with the story better knowing what and who was going on. But I have also found that listening almost gives me a whole new experience. I mean, I was getting bits from the story I did not remember like Hudson comparing his decisions about the staff to Beauty and the Beast when I read it and yet here, it was a fact that made me smile and take notice. A sign of a good narrator or an absent minded reader? I’m not sure but it’s cataloged in my brain now.
“How do you know?”
“Because I feel it…”

Reviewing audiobooks is odd for me because I never know what to exactly review. I loved the story, it’s Mary Calmes and I’m a huge fan but even the best story can suck when its delivery is lackluster. Thank goodness that is not the case here at all.

I loved experiencing Hudson waking up in the villa on Ibiza, stranded because his twin brother Dalvon stole his passport while pretending to be Hudson and ran back to the states and Hudson’s ex-boyfriend to play house indefinitely. I adored listening as Hudson makes the choice to either pretend to be his brother or just be himself and do what he does best, take care of business and those who matter. I cherished when Hudson gets a good look at his brother’s “fiancé” Miguel, and knows all bets are off as well as clothes, because the romance was getting down to business in best way the author can deliver it.

This was so good. The romance, the insta love, insta lust, alpha man to submissive man and all the I WANT YOU NOW AND TO HELL WITH REASON feelings were amazing. The story is full of shenanigans and characters you fall hard and fast for. The narration was in Technicolor with its translation of bright, wonderful and colorful characters flying off the page. Simply a great delivery of a great story. Oh boy. Hudson and Miguel are so stupidly sexy in my ears… mmm hmm. Sex-ay. For me, Mary Calmes and Alexander Collins are a delicious match in gay romance and narration and I need more.

Review: What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger

Eli Bell is the only son of a police chief inspector and a forensic scientist. He's grown up wonky in a world that only deals with the straight and narrow -- and his new boyfriend isn't helping.

Rob Hawkes is six feet of muscle, tattoos, and arrest warrants. A career criminal and a former guest of Her Majesty's Prison Service, he'd rather hit Eli's parents than sit down to dinner with them. One wrong move, and Rob could destroy Eli -- and his family -- without a second thought.

But this isn't what it looks like.

Rob's not in control here -- and Eli's the one to blame.

One of my favorite reads of this year. This book is awesome. Period.

My first reaction when reading the first pages of this book was feeling the irresistible temptation of hitting myself in the head with a rock.


Yes, I’ve always been a little extreme.

See, Metzger is not a new author for me. I read one of his books a long time ago, Vivaldi in the Dark, and fell in love with his style. But, for some stupid reason, I didn’t stay true to my promise, and I kept letting him pass.

Again and again.

When I finally decided to give him a chance, it was because of the cover and the blurb, which sounded kind of fun and sarcastic and the prospect of lots of sexy scenes seemed to be quaranteed.

Those were stupid motives, I do know that now.

This book is of the special kind.

Not of the shallow laugh-and-forget kind.

I can’t begin to describe how perfect this is. It reminds me of my dear Stockholm Syndrome, by Richard Rider, and that sounds the opposite of reassuring, I know. Only this is a much more balanced (and healthier) relationship. Shocking as it is, the characters really do play the part, they are really good for each other, make each other feel safe and cherished and loved and valued.

It was painfully obvious, this constant ache and yearning.

And still it was so funny and it only complied me to keep reading and reading.

I think that’s the best thing you can say about a book. That you are so into the characters’ skin, into the narrator’s voice, that your life stops existing for those hours in which everything is just… perfect.

No, it’s not yoga.

Something funny happened to me here. I’d never read a transgender story before. It’s not that I have a tendency to avoid them (but I do), but I never dared to make the big step. I supposed it wasn’t my cuppa, for the same reason mystery or cross-dressing are not my cuppa. Here I didn’t expect the topic to arise (yes, I know, I should read the blurbs more closely, but in the end I focus on what the story makes me feel rather than what it’s really about, once the doubts are silenced) so when Eli speaks the truth I was as stupefied as the next man. But everything began to make sense. The author subtly led me to the idea that something was not entirely “average” about Eli, but no explanation was provided until very far into the story. When that “little” fact was uncovered, it was a surprise, but it was not a shock.

So my cherry popped in the sweetest of ways, without me looking for it, and without forcing the situation in the least.

A few months ago I met a little boy with gender dysphoria. It was one of the most precious and profound interviews I have ever seen, I could barely breathe with what I was hearing and seeing, and it made me aware how amazing being a child psychiatrist is. It’s an art, you have to avoid all kind of explicit questions, you apparently go around in circles “guiding” the kid so to make him speak his mind by his own accord. That is the way it’s done with abuse cases, too. Inserting ideas in a child can lead to the creation of untrue facts and that can be proof enough to dismiss the whole denunciation.

Anyway, in this occasion it was the other way around. She felt like a girl. She wanted to be a Frozen princess, like half the girls her age. She wanted to have long hair in order to get it braided. All her friends in pre-school were girls. Her bedroom was pink. She said her boyish name was ok, but she would prefer a Disney girl name. She was too young to really gasp the reality of what she was experiencing but she already knew something was not entirely alright with herself.

I do know the conflict is much more meaningful than that, but the signals were there already, at such an early age. There was little doubt about it, after a whole year of appointments. Her mother was very understanding and wanted to make all the process of growing up the most natural and the least traumatic possible for the kid. She was scared but determined. The father was not that accepting. They were in divorce proceedings.

She was beautiful, and I only wanted to hug her. Not just because of some sort of maternal instinct or whatever (although I must admit there are very cute kids out there), but because immediately afterwards, I was sad. I just remembered the news of a 17-year-old trans who commited suicide a few months before because she couldn’t bear all the bullying at school. She had had the complete support of her mother and had already gone through the breast surgery, but she never managed to complete her transition.

So I felt hope that this time, this time everything would be alright. That the 17 teenager died, but that Frozen princess would come to the other side safe and sound.

Maybe I’m an over-sentimental fool, but that’s how I felt.

So this little gem was a gift in other senses of the word, too.

Harsh reality indeed, and this book doesn’t beat around the bush, which I appreciate. Eli suffered isolation if not rejection at school, and the situation at home is not ideal, either, as Eli’s parents still struggle with the fact their daughter is in fact a son. All of this takes a toll on Eli.

Rob is just the total opposite. Rob is freedom and exhilaration and acceptance.

This book is also challenging in another aspect. Eli and Rob have been together for 6 months already. I don’t usually like books with relationships that are already stable. It’s not something I hate per se, it’s just that I usually don’t feel the connection, the “je ne sais quoi” that makes it believable and vital for me. This time I didn’t need any push nor explanation, I just let myself being carried by the words, by the dynamics of this unusual pair.

I was struck by Eli’s authencity. His serenity and his self-possession, his loyalty and his fierceness, his naughtier side and his sweet words. But also his wild façace and his claws when they need to be shown, to protect what is his, and to fight everything that comes between himself and Rob, even Rob himself. He's a voice to behold. His perspective was insightful and enlightening. I particulary loved his way of being kind towards Rob but with the necessary steel beneath to dominate the situation when it goes emotionally out of hand.

Because Rob is more vulnerable than it seems. It was one of the reasons why I loved him so much.

If I adored Eli, I was even more dumbfounded by this tattooed ex-con with a cause, rough around the edges, who has not led an easy life. Bad attitude, bad education, and bad vibes rolling off him, he’s not exactly the best choice to introduce to your parents, above all when they are both on the most righteous side of the law, chief policeman and forensic specialist, to be precise. Rob won my heart with his real self, the one hidden from the world. The one Eli sees and fell in love with.

Still, that was nothing to compare with Rob’s endless devotion and surrender when I finally got to know what Eli’s ‘weirdness’ is about. Even when the mystery is unfolded, there was still so much more space and time for surprise.

Nothing is what it looks like.

These two characters are joined together with super-glue and I couldn't see the extent of that, the botton of that. Because it floods and soakes everything they touch. They loved and lived for each other and there were no limits for that.

The BDSM aspect blowed my mind. It’s pretty hot the idea of the bad guy being the submissive, whereas the skinny trans guy mandhandles him when the mood strikes. But it was even better seeing how Rob worshippes Eli with all his might. He doesn’t understand the first thing about dysphoria, why Eli is so sick of his own body beyond not liking wearing high-heeled shoes. He just knows Eli feels like that, and, as he loves Eli, that’s just reason enough to believe in him, to comply and make his dreams come true, to support him no matter what, and to bend and protect him from whoever hurts him. To cherish him even though Eli doesn’t consider himself ‘himself’ yet.

Do not expect a sappy reading here, although there are loads of gentle moments and cuddling, and I’m a sweet-cuddling junkie. I was surprised by the amount of “fucks” and “fuck you” and “fuckings” I found. If you can’t stand word repetitions, this may fed you up. It seemed a Tarantino movie or a Guy Ritchie comedy. Rob is a bad-ass from a bad-ass background, and he is not shy in demonstrating this fact, he doesn’t precisely have a mouth filter or a non-impulsive mind. The same goes to his brother Danny, an interesting character I would have liked to know more about. I didn’t mind the “fucks” as much as the mobile phone messages, which sometimes gave me headaches trying to decipher them. I’m not trained enough to read hieroglyphs, mind you.

All in all, Rob prefers rubbing his bad-guy vibes in Eli’s parents’ faces rather than behaving as a polite boyfriend would in a family dinner. But Eli doesn’t let him cross certain limits. Not exactly a tight leash to make him act as someone he’s not, but he’s not scared of keeping him in line and deal with the consequences if Rob doesn’t obey.

And sometimes Rob doesn’t behave very well.

But he always has Eli’s interests at heart.

IDK if I was clear with my little speech but I do recommend this book.

(PS: paella packets are a sacrilege. I have never crossed myself but here I felt like doing so at the mention of such.)

Find on Goodreads!

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Kinky Sprinkles by L.A. Witt

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Kinky Sprinkles!

About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt). 

Kinky Sprinkles Blurb:

Joel has finally walked away from his abusive ex and is ready to meet new people. But that isn’t easy for a guy who’s shy, self-conscious, and struggling with his body image.

Andre has wanted Joel since the first time he laid eyes on him, and finally Joel is single. But Andre is a Dom and a sadist, and Joel is unapologetically vanilla. There’s no happy medium—either Andre reins in the kinky side that took him years to accept, or Joel grits his teeth and subjects himself to kinks that aren’t his thing. No matter who bends, someone’s going to be unhappy.

They agree to walk away, but they keep circling back to each other. Though their kinks might not line up, the chemistry between them sizzles and the emotional connection keeps getting deeper. But none of that will get them anywhere if they can’t find some kind of middle ground in the bedroom.

Kinky Sprinkles is available September 26th from Riptide Publishing. 

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Kinky Sprinklesand a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 1st.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to leave your contact info, and thanks for following the tour!

Review: Raven's Rest by Stephen Osborne

Michael Cook has left his abusive lover and settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Having nowhere else to go, he checks into the Raven’s Rest Inn and soon learns that the haunted reputation of the hotel is well deserved. Michael gets a job at a local café, where he meets Trey Ramsey. Though Michael has misgivings about starting up a new relationship, Trey seems to be the complete opposite of Michael’s controlling ex, so he decides to give Trey a chance.

Life at the Raven’s Rest becomes increasingly frightening when the ghost of Coleman Hollis appears in Michael’s room. Coleman seems to want something from Michael, and the mystery deepens when Michael discovers he’s the spitting image of Coleman’s lover from years ago. Together, Michael and Trey must discover why Coleman’s spirit is drawn to the Raven’s Rest—and to Michael.

I so love a good ghost story and Stephen Osborne delivered in Raven’s Rest. The MC’s were charming and unique, the supporting characters added a lot to the story and the ghosties were perfectly heartbreaking.

Michael has broken away from his emotionally abusive boyfriend and has settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Michael has no real plan, he’s not sure how long he’s going to be in town and ends up staying at a beautiful and allegedly haunted B&B temporarily, The Raven’s Rest. Don’t let the title mislead you, the story is not Poe focused as one might assume, but the Inn’s names’ connotation does add to the creep factor very well.

Michael becomes friends with the townsfolk as he settles in and manages to find himself some work at the little towns’ diner. He also develops himself a bit of a crush on one of the other employees, Trey Ramsey. I loved Trey. He’s cocky with a self-deprecating sense of humor that makes him utterly charming. I loved the conviction Trey showed with his interest in Michael. It was the perfect level of flirty sincerity and as they got to know one another it lent Michael strength. Trey had respect for Michael and his damaged self-confidence and Michael knew it. Michael was able to begin to get his feet back under him with support from Trey and I really enjoyed reading about Michael evolving into his own man again.

Now, on to the ghost story . . . .

If you’re easily oogie boogied out, you’ll still be able to handle Raven’s Rest. The ghost is more heartbreaking than scary and the fact that Michael isn’t freaked out keeps the creep factor to a minimum. Honestly, there are a few earthly corporeal bodies that are way scarier than Coleman Hollis. I LOVE to be scared and that’s the only thing I wanted a little more of from Raven’s Rest, but at the same time, the balance of ghost to story worked to the overall arc and tone of the story really well so that’s really on me.

Coleman disappeared in the 80’s and according to his father, he’s allegedly married with kids somewhere far away. The story is just vaguely truthful enough to fly. It was a little odd that no one tried to find Coleman it was as if he was a friendless island in the town and I didn’t get that impression, so that seemed slightly unfinished to me. The big clue is however, Coleman is the ghost who becomes attached to Michael.

As the story progresses we learn why and that brings on the heartbreaking tale of Coleman’s disappearance. Coleman was not the only victim and Michael and Trey are on a mission to right some very old wrongs. This is where the completely awesome secondary characters come in and Stephen Osborne does a supporting cast like few can. If you’ve read his Duncan Andrews books (and if you haven’t you definitely should) you know what I’m saying.

Also note, the cover dudes are spot on to the descriptions of the characters. That happens so rarely, I had to give props where they were due. This is a fun read that’s heavy on the characters and their sincerity and light on the scares. It’s the perfect book to get you in the mood for Halloween and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.

For more info on Raven's Rest head over to Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

Blog Tour: From the Get Go by Sean Michael

City Mouse/Country Mouse

Thank you very much to Boy Meets Boy for hosting me today!

The whole city mouse and country mouse trope is one that I enjoy. And in the case of From the Get Go, there is the added bonus that Jeff and Dakin are from two different counties, not just two different ways of life.

One might think that Canadians and Americans are going to be as alike as two peas in a pod given that our border is an imaginary line along the 49th parallel. While we certainly have plenty of border-crossings, there’s tons of land where you could walk from one country to the other without even noticing (some farms actually straddle both countries,) we are more different than you might think. Despite the proximity, though, there are a lot of differences. All you have to do is look at our stereotypes to see that. American’s are brash and bold versus Canadians apologize all the time as an example.

So yes, in From the Get Go, along with the city/country aspect, there’s the strangers in a strange land aspect as well. I do love the men not only having to get to know each other, but having to learn each other’s ways of life as well. There’s always things that one takes for granted that the other does completely differently or not at all! And those mores and assumptions are a lot of fun when the characters bump up against them.

Plus who doesn’t want to see true love triumph over every obstacle, including living thousands of miles apart in different countries?

I hope you enjoy how Jeff and Dakin manage to work around their diverse ways of life.


smut fixes everything

Marketing Blurb:

When easygoing Texas artist Dakin McBride makes his way to Ottawa, Canada, for a showing, he meets Jeff Tamrin, the fastidious manager of the Sussex Gallery. Despite coming from different worlds and being opposites in almost every way, the attraction is immediate, and soon Dakin and Jeff negotiate their own brand of diplomatic relations, forgetting all about art or seeing the sights the city has to offer. They get wrapped up in the moment, each of them intrigued by what he feels for the other.

The more they get to know each other, the more they like what they see. Dakin has a life to go back to in Texas, though, and Jeff has his own in Canada. Is there any way for their budding romance to survive the thousands of miles separating them? The relationship seems doomed, but at the same time, it feels too right to give up without a fight.

Buy links:

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:
TWITTER: seanmichael09