Guest Review: Love Struck by Alex Pietsch

Chase is used to fighting to survive. Dante is used to fighting in the ring. When a chance meeting brings them together can these two fight their attraction?

Chase is homeless, hungry, and just about broke. While trying to think of a way off the streets he’s attacked by a mugger and things turn ugly fast.

Dante is rich, fit, and dead set on boxing his way to being the next champion. While out for a run he happens to see Chase and can’t help but step in to protect him.

Sparks immediately fly between these two and over time they can’t help but admit their attraction to each other.

But Chase never wanted to fall in love, just wanted some fun while he made enough money to get out of town.

And Dante swore he'd never let himself get distracted from his goal of being champ.

Things only get more complicated - and more steamy - the longer they’re together.

If you like steamy gay romances with lots of emotion and a hint of sports, you’ll love the sweet and sexy journey these two characters go through!

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Chase is a homeless man in his twenties that is desperate to not only survive on the streets but save enough money for a bus ticket to a bigger city. As he’s resting in an alley, an old man seemingly strung out on drugs or alcohol tries to mug him at knife point. A passing runner (our other main character Dante) comes to Chase’s aid but is unable to avoid Chase being cut by the mugger.

Dante scares off the attacker and then persuades Chase to come back to his boxing gym with him so the cut can be cleaned and doctored. Even at this stage, there seems to an attraction between the two men, but it remains unspoken. For reasons known only to himself, Dante allows Chase to sleep in the dusty attic and even offers him a job cleaning up around the gym.

The story develops quickly, introducing a bad guy in the form of champion boxer Ollie, who eventually accepts Dante’s challenge for his title. Fearing the media attention will cause the outing of his ‘relationship’ with Chase, Dante asks Chase to leave, and Chase does.

Much of the story is given in dual point of view, and the reader gets a decent, if disjointed look into the two guy’s thought process, but there seemed to be a distinct lack of conversation or communication between them. I get that the premise there was their mutual awkwardness, but there seemed to be a few leaps and bounds in the relationship that had nothing to back it up. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but as the reader, I felt that there was a bunch of stuff missed out. We never really learned why Chase had finished up on the streets, or why Dante himself had been in the same situation at one time, but had managed to reach ‘billionaire’ status.

The upset due to the separation was tangible, especially for Chase, but the circumstances that brought them back together was a little contrived. I liked that Dante was a boxer, and I’m no expert on the sport but it seemed very curious to me that Dante arrived for his title fight in the huge arena in Vegas with no trainer, assistant or entourage at all.

Still, the ending was happy, and I enjoyed that. This was a nice rolling story that could have been more grounded and deeper, but was still enjoyable on the whole.

Find on Goodreads!

Review: Love is Heartless (Love Can't Series, #2) by Kim Fielding

Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he responds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s bow-tied, wealthy landlord.

Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terrible crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.

Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that sparks fly when they’re together. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.

Detective Nevin Ng worked hard to become a well-respected member of the Portland Police Bureau. Once an angry kid in the foster care system, he now divides his days between criminal investigations and a long string of one-night stands. This routine is upset when Nevin gets called to a crime scene, and meets preppy property developer Colin Westwood.

Colin grew up with money and a loving family - things that Nevin never had. When the pull between them becomes undeniable, Colin sets out to convince relationship-shy Nevin that giving them a chance would be worth it.

Colin and Nevin are complete opposites. The two have very different ideas on love and life. Luckily, I’m a sucker for an opposites-attract romance.

Nevin only does one-night stands - two nights if the sex was particularly good. Colin’s been dreaming of his wedding since he was a kid.

Nevin can’t get Colin out of his mind after they first meet. Colin’s different, and intriguing in a way that Nevin doesn’t want to look at too closely.

For his part, Colin’s willing to take a chance, even if Nevin makes it clear that he won’t give his heart. Colin, who has dealt with a heart condition since birth, wants to stop playing it safe and see where life takes him.

Both MCs have scars from their pasts, but are more than willing to take what’s offered - sex, and nothing else. I loved the beginning of their relationship- the banter and flirting with an undercurrent of something more.


Also, the sex? Hawt. Colin, quiet and unassuming, turns out to have a toppy streak. And Nevin, the always-in-control cop, had no trouble letting go in the bedroom.

The relationship builds slowly. It takes a while for Nevin to admit to himself that what he feels for Colin isn’t just a physical attraction. And even once he does accept that he’s falling for Colin, Nevin has trouble putting his feelings into words. On his end, Colin was patient and understanding, willing to take things at Nevin’s pace.

While trying to navigate their fledgling relationship, Nevin and Colin also become entangled in a crime spree. The mystery/crime helps drive the plot, and the relationship, along, but doesn’t overwhelm the book. However, it does play a part in Nevin realizing that he and Colin could really build a forever-after.

The ending was so sweet and fluffy, with everything tied up nicely. It was a long road, but Colin and Nevin end up with a solid HEA.

If you’re looking for a not-too-angsty contemporary romance with complex MCs who slowly build something permanent, give ‘Love is Heartless’ a try!

Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Did you see today's Love is Heartless Blog Tour stop here?

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Love is Heartless (A Love Can't Novel) by Kim Fielding

Clubhouse fave is here today talking cars and characters. And there's a chance at an ebook of Running Blind AND a $10 DSP gift certificate! Plus promote Love is Heartless (see our review here)


My first car was a 1972 Dodge Dart with an odometer reading of 192,000 miles. It was a gift from my then-boyfriend’s stepfather, who felt sorry for us because we lived in rainy Portland and our only other form of transportation was my boyfriend’s motorcycle. He paid $300 for it, plus another $100 to have it painted at Earl Scheib. It wasn’t fancy. We had to put in a quart of oil every time we filled the gas tank. But it kept us dry and got us where we needed to go.

For those of us who are lucky enough to own a car, what we drive often says a lot about us. That Dart said we were poor college students. As our income increased, so did the value of our vehicles, but those cars always revealed something about our family and personalities. For instance, for a few years I drove a ’55 Ford pickup named Fred, a reflection of the facts that we live in a rural area and that I like some whimsy in my garage. After the second kid was born, we ended up with something boring but more practical—a midsize SUV. The kind with three rows of seats, so that on long road trips we could seat the girls far away from each other.

Now the kids are older. The 17-year-old has inherited that SUV, complete with a collection of bumper bashes and door dings. That vehicle says she’s 17 and grateful to be driving anything at all. My husband drives a comfortable newer SUV that’s suited to his longish commute to work—except when the weather is perfect, in which case he takes his convertible MR2, which I call his midlife crisis car. I usually drive a Mini with a giant skull and crossbones on the roof, a perfect blend of practical and fun.

The characters in my books drive cars that reflect who they are. Ery Phillips from Bone Dry has a Mini too, but his is yellow with black bonnet stripes and is named Bea. Jimmy Dorsett from Rattlesnake had a crappy old Ford until it died, stranding him in a small town. Jeremy Cox from Love Can’t Conquer has a big, black SUV. His boyfriend, Qay, likens it to the vehicles favored by third-world dictators.

In my newest book, Love Is Heartless, Nevin Ng is a police detective. But you’d never catch him in a boring old Crown Vic. Nope, Nevin has a ’67 GTO in Plum Mist. He has a tendency to park it in loading zones and near fire hydrants. He’s not impressed with Colin Westwood’s drive—a BMW sedan Nevin thinks is soulless. The Beemer is a company car, and Colin doesn’t pay much attention to cars. Well, until he meets Nevin.

Does your car say something about you? If you could pick any car to reflect your personality, what would it be?


Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he responds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s wealthy, bow-tied landlord.
Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terrible crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.
Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that the sparks fly when they’re together. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.

Buy links:

Find Kim!
Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

Author bio:
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Be sure to enter to win an ecopy of Running Blind & a $10 DSP gift certificate! Maybe leave a comment on Kim's car question too!

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Review: You Are Not Me ('90s Coming of Age #2) by Leta Blake

Follow Peter into the summer following his senior year to face new beginnings, new friends, and old baggage.

After a tumultuous final year of high school, Peter Mandel needs a break. It's the summer of 1991, and his secret relationship with his ‘best friend’ Adam Algedi is put on hold as Adam goes away to Italy for the summer. On the cusp of adulthood, Peter has a couple of months to explore who he is without Adam at his side.

Enter Daniel McPeak, a slightly older, out, responsible college guy with a posse of gay friends and an attraction for Peter. Drawn into the brave new world of the local gay club, Peter embarks on a whirlwind of experiences—good and bad—which culminate in a hotel room where he has to make the ultimate choice.

But Adam will come back eventually, and there are promises that have to be kept. As autumn draws near and college awaits, can Peter break free of the binds of twisted first love? And what exactly is Daniel's role in his life - a brief temptation, or something more?

Join Peter in the second book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

I have to admit to some reluctance to starting this book, mainly because I remembered how complicated the relationships were from the first book in the series. It's not a simple read. The characters are complex, not all good, not all bad. I know that this is something I love in my reading but sometimes I just want an easy read. That said, when I actually started reading I was once again hooked.

Peter is facing a summer without Adam, and we see how he starts to deal with life without Adam. We see him grow into himself and his confidence. Anyone who read the first book can't help but have some dislike for Adam and want to see Peter without the blinding light of his best friend/lover by his side. It's interesting to watch. It's interesting to see him venture out on his own, to learn his own self beyond Adam. He still looks t life through the lens of his camera, though he is starting look at it without that barrier at times too. I truly liked the Peter we saw emerge in this book. Not all his decisions were great - in fact, some were downright stupid - but they were his decisions, made for his reasons, good or bad. 

I like that this is set in the 90's, this was my era, I must be of a similar age to Peter and I am finding revisiting this time particularly interesting. Especially with regards to attitudes towards homosexuality. For personal reasons it has made me reflect back on that time, a time which feels all too recent to me,  yet in many ways also seems a lifetime ago. For this reason I feel I understand Peter and Adam better. It helps me know where Adam is coming from, even if I don't always particularly like him.

This is a great second part to this series and I am looking forward to reading the next part. I'm enjoying seeing how these characters develop and grow - and I can't wait for the HEA promised at the end of the series!!

For more information see Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Hearts Alight by Elliot Cooper

Dave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.

In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem. But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.

I went into this pretty naïve about what a golem was and admit to googling it. Once I did a bit of light research, getting the gist of a golem being probably made of clay and unfinished in the eyes of God, I was more than curious how this would all work out.

Dave, I get him. Though our religions are different, the way he feels about the present-palooza that is taking over Hanukah is how I feel with the commercialization of Christmas. Through all we think we have to do, have to buy and to keep up with the Joneses, it lessens the true meaning of the holiday. I mean, I do get trying to blend the modern traditions with the old but still… ugh.


But Dave, he is willing to put it aside to hang out with his friend Jake and get a chance to see his crush, Jake’s uncle Amit. Goodness, that first glimpse of Amit at the bar all stoic and silent just pulled at my heart. Seeing him through Dave’s eyes really gives you the chance to see Amit for the beautiful man that he is. He is also the man Dave is trying to make a gift for, the perfect gift and one that isn’t bought. When a jerk wad makes fun of Amit and Amit takes off, Dave goes after him and we get to learn a secret.

Your secret sort of challenged everything I thought I understood about the world. And just...everything. So I kept thinking about it and what it meant and what it could mean.

Knowing the small amount of information regarding golems, I found it so very endearing that Dave takes Amit to his father’s shop and shows him the dreidels he has made. The way he takes care of them and who he makes them for makes a lot of sense and when Amit tells his secret about being a golem and Dave touches him… the connection and chemistry was amazing to witness.

I like that Jake tells Dave Amit can “recharge” his batteries when touched by someone who cares. Obviously, Jake and Shoshanna care about him but the difference between familial love and that of a romantic love could be what keeps Amit Earth bound, even after he’s fulfilled his spiritual obligation.

The date playing D&D and Amit setting up his character was adorable. I loved his character’s name and all that he put in as traits. The uncertainty of the new relationship with Amit and Dave was bittersweet as Dave accepts Amit but there are the facts of his being non –human that could make things difficult.
The first night of Hanukah with Dave’s family was just adorable and the exchange of gifts between Amit and Dave were sigh worthy. This story, was so hopeful and heartfelt that I wasn’t ready for it to end. I just hope whatever Dave learns from Joe is magical enough to let this new relationship continue for a very long time.

Find on Goodreads!

Blog Tour + Opportunity: The Haunting of Timber Manor by F.E. Feeley Jr.

F.E. Feeley is here today to promote his new paranormal mystery with a touching message on remaining steadfast even when facing a monolith.

Be sure to check out the writing opportunity too!

Regaining hope

During these moments of uncertainty, I look back into humanity’s shared history. People who survived during incredible moments. From 9/11, through the Holocaust, The French Revolution, to The Civil War and Slavery. There – always constant – maybe not always visible – hope cast its spindly threads and kept people alive.

And it’s during these great and terrible moments in humanity’s existence that a great leap forward happens either in technology or social awareness.

It’s sort of a like a mother giving birth. Through the pain, through the stretch marks, and the flirtation with death to deliver the child – the pain gives way to her hope that is placed in the squalling baby who now rests against her breast.

Sometimes those that are burdened with the pain of reality become the strongest defenders of their own hope, tried by fire, and rise to the occasion.

And then sometimes we fall.

We human beings tend to be myopic. We’re nearsighted. We only see things in relation to what and who surrounds us.

It’s hard to take a step back and see a broader picture unraveling around us.

When 15 terrorists turned airplanes into rockets and plunged them into the heart of our democracy – it was upward toward two burning towers we looked and kept our eyes. And underneath our gaze, firefighters and police officers – our hope- rushed toward their end. But now, when you see a fire truck I imagine somewhere in your brain you think back and understand who and what they are.

Hope. Constant. Strong. Hope.

Today is no different. Darkness seems to have won. But darkness itself is not a thing. It’s a lack of a thing – sort of like a hole in a shirt.

And when the light comes on, darkness is dissolved.

When you hear the worst things that can be said about humanity – remember the speaker isn’t speaking something containing a thing. Their words are harsh because they LACK a thing. Education, compassion, empathy….and a void is easily filled and often filled with fear.

Think of the fundamentalist be they an evangelical, Islamic, Judaic, or atheistic. Crazy isn’t relegated to the religious. Absolutism is a human characteristic.

They don’t have the most faith or the most truth, though they claim they do, they – in fact, they have the least. They’re loud, frantic, sometimes dangerous.

Because they’re empty and they have no hope.

The words, “I don’t know” are dangerous to them.

So, they try and take your hope away in myriad ways.

But hope slips passed and right through them. And should they even take a life – or several – hope solidifies around those left behind and all they’ve done is transfer that hope that existed once in someone to them.

And hope becomes stronger.

So, I can’t tell you how to regain hope. I can’t give you something you already have.

I can only point out to you that it still resides in you and those around you if you step back and look at the broader work being constructed around you.

In these days of uncertainty there seems to be so much anger in the air that one can cut it with a knife.

My hope has slipped like a transmission searching to cling onto its next gear in the past several months.

Things feel rough.

So, I crawl back into my mind.

I turn on the radio and sing.

I find a moment to take a breath.

I go and visit those I love whether in real life or in cyberspace.

And its then that I remember what hope, is. That slipped gear finds it’s spot and pushes me forward. Ever onward.

To me, hope is the first to come to the party and last to leave.

It’s a constant in our universe, and when times are good, hope is bountiful.

And when things are bad, hope is pulled taut and becomes steel hard and the one thing that holds us onto life.

Hang tight, baby. Hope is here. It always has been.

2nd Edition

Memoirs of the Human Wraiths

While recovering from the recent loss of his parents, Daniel Donnelly receives a phone call from his estranged aunt, who turns over control of the family fortune and estate, Timber Manor. Though his father had seemed guarded about the past, Daniel’s curiosity and need for family compel him to visit.

Located in a secluded area of the Northwest, Timber Manor has grown silent over the years. Her halls sit empty and a thin layer of dust adorns the sheet-covered furniture. When Daniel arrives to begin repairs, strange things happen. Nightmares haunt his dreams. Memories not his own disturb his waking hours. Alive with the tragedies of the past, Timber Manor threatens to tear Daniel apart.

Sheriff Hale Davis grew up working on the manor grounds. Seeing Daniel struggle, he vows to protect the young man who has captured his heart, and help him solve the mystery behind the haunting and confront the past—not only to save Daniel’s life, but to save his family, whose very souls hang in the balance.

First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2012.

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Series Memoirs of the Human Wraiths

Buy Links:

About the Author:
Hello there, I am F.E. Feeley Jr, author of The Haunting of Timber Manor and Objects in the Rearview Mirror. Thank you for coming to view my page. I was born and raised in the city of Detroit where I graduated from high school. Afterward, I joined the military and now am a published author here at Dreamspinner Press. Married to the love of my life (John) who lets me write horror novels. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Well, the other things that go bump in the night. So, if you're not too scared of the dark, check out my books, I'm sure you'll like 'em.


Review: The Road To Frosty Hollow by R.J. Scott & Meredith Russell

Former Marine Nick Sheridan is at a crossroads. With his entire life ahead of him he struggles to find direction and his place in the world. Car sharing to get home for his sister’s Christmas wedding seems like a good idea at first. Spending the time with the man he kissed and left years before, maybe not so much.

Cameron Bennett lost most of his teenage years to cancer and he now lives every day to the fullest. He decides to drive from Seattle to Vermont for his best friend’s wedding and capture moments of it on film. He hadn't planned on car sharing with the man who kissed him ten years ago, but somehow he ends up with a brooding Nick by his side.

Along the way, the men learn that sometimes life plans mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Love can be found in the most unexpected of ways, and facing your demons head on is sometimes the only way to live.

RJ Scott and Meredith Russell make a fine writing team and I really enjoyed this winter story in the run up to Christmas. Even the cover makes me warm and snuggly - but snow does that for me, makes me want to reach for the hot chocolate, a blanket and a book.

Nick and Cameron are basically set up by Nick's sister (Cam's BFF) but it's so perfectly done. A brief fumble years ago has affected both of these gents more than they realise. Both felt the other had read nothing more into it and both were wrong. Sounds like a naff set up really, doesn't it? But it's not - it just works making this a warm and comforting read.

The dynamics between our two MC's is great, it works really well. The journey is physical, emotional and metaphorical - all things that sound a little like roll your eyes territory, but it really isn't because these writers work together to make a fabulous read. It's a Sunday afternoon read, in my opinion. You know the kind when you're curled up with a beverage of choice listening to the rest of the family go about their Sundays as you fall into a story.

I'd recommend this read - and not just for Christmas either!

For more information see Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: From the Ashes (Fires of Redemption #1) by Xen Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant.

Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called this and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father's inhuman empire. Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford--antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

But one kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. When his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias's hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile higher, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean--or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?


That's the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. The writing style is both emotive and evocative qualities that I found very satisfying. Sanders puts sentences together in clever and beautiful ways that put you in this world immediately.  

I give him pieces of myself, as if only his hands can arrange the puzzle of them into something human.

Tobias tells this story from his perspective. He's an aberrant (think X-Men) and he's lonely. The loneliness he feels is pervasive and visceral. His father is a despotic megalomaniac who has taken over Thailand and turned it into his headquarters, Xinth, and filled it with aberrants to do his bidding. His father believes all humans are the enemy and are meant to be ruled by intimidation and fear. And violence. 

He's trained Tobias to be his executioner.  

Tobias feels trapped in a life not of his choosing, one foisted on him by his father's and society's expectations, but somehow the embers of the person he wants to be haven't flamed out. Sean is the spark that ignites those embers and forces him to consider the possibility of his ideal self. 

It comes down to choice for Tobias. Will he choose to break free of his father? Will he fan the flames of fear that humans have towards aberrants by becoming what they fear most? The idea of choosing to stray from everything he's ever known and accepted as truth about himself doesn't come easily to him. More often than not he thinks himself incapable of making the adjustment even when faced with an alternate reality. 

Tobias is something of an anti-hero. He has a bloody past as his father's enforcer and he talks often of enjoying the pain and suffering of others but not much of his sociopathy translated to the page which I found disappointing.  

The vast majority of the book centers around Tobias and Sean's burgeoning relationship which is very erotic in an ethereal way. I wouldn't label this erotica nor would I say it's explicit. What it is, first and foremost, is romantic. I bought into them and their coupletry lock, stock and barrel.

I want him to see me-really see me, the monster, the aberrant. I want him to know how beautiful he is...and how much more beautiful he would be if I could leave marks of pain and blood all over his body, see the strain and torment rippling through him. I want to possess him. I want to destroy him.

I liked the dark ones, what can I say? I was pleasantly surprised to see Tobias has a touch of the masochist in him a.k.a. my achilles' heel.

It seems their relationship is doomed from the start which makes the tone somewhat melancholic but doesn't tip over the line into bleak. What helped temper it was that I could see what Tobias was too close to which fueled my optimism for Tobias and Sean. 

I couldn't help but like Tobias. He pulls on the heartstrings. Sean is still a big on an enigma and I can't shake the feeling that he's withholding something. 

There is great exposition with regard to scientific aspects of this book much of which went over my head, but I still found interesting nonetheless. Ir you're worried that it negatively affects the pacing, don't; it remains steady throughout with the last quarter or so being action packed. 

From the Ashes is definitely a first book in this series. It doesn't end on a cliff, though. There is an HEA/HFN but there are loose ends. 

Why not 5 Hearts then?

Primarily, there is a loose end regarding Langdon that had plenty of time to get resolved and never did. The other thing is as much as revelled in the writing style as the narrative evolved there were times when I thought it became repetitive. Lastly, I find the worldbuilding lacking.

I'm looking forward to where this series is going and I would recommend it to MM romance, sci-fi and superhero fans. 

I may be an aberrant- but he makes me human, and that's something I never want to lose.

"You defeat the devil when you hold on to hope."


A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Guest Review: The Power of Peppermint by L.D. Blakeley

The most wonderful time of the year?

When Jamison Pritchett is roped into replacing the mall photographer at Santa’s Village a week before Christmas, he’s certain he’ll be spending the holidays recovering from a nervous breakdown. A throng of sugar-frenzied kids might be enough to send this uptight photographer back into the darkroom permanently. Inappropriate thoughts about his far-too-attractive—and far-too-young—assistant aren’t helping fight that urge to hide, either.

For Noah Hawkins, adulting is a snap. Too bad relationships aren’t. With his business temporarily closed for repairs, he’s happy to help his sister out of a jam, even if the costume he’s given to wear borders on obscene. Constantly being mistaken for a teenager is no treat either, especially when he discovers his temporary new co-worker is sexy as hell and 15 years his senior.

Can Noah convince Jamison that age is just a number? Or will Jamison resist the gift Santa seems to be handing him on a platter?

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Before I begin, I need a small squee and a bit of a gush because, oh my word, I LOVED this book! It was a perfect festive read.

Ok, so our story opens with a stressed out photographer, Jamison, who has picked up the dreaded ‘take photos of kids with Santa at the mall the week before Christmas’ as a favour to his business partner Abi. As some recompense, Abi had promised the attendance of her brother Noah who was available as his own business was closed for remodelling after an old lady crashed into his storefront.

Jamison is ready for a breakdown where he sees what he assumes to be a high-school kid in an elf costume corralling the over excited kids with ease.

Of course, the sexy little elf is not jailbait, but is, in fact Noah!

The tale unfolds beautifully with great characterisation, believable emotion and well written funny dialogue that scans so easily it was like a movie unfolding in my head. It was a quick but thoroughly enjoyable read.

The story is sexy, sassy, sweet and festive. Really what more could you need? I absolutely loved it, and will definitely be going for a re-read whenever I need a boost!

a free copy of the book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find on Goodreads for more info!

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The wiggle he gave as his cell phone rang, elicited a flurry of giggles from the children who were patiently awaiting their turn. He’d tucked it into the waistband of his tunic because, well, honestly there was nowhere else to stash it.
“Speak of the devil,” he answered, seeing his sister’s face on the phone’s display. “Woah, woah, cool your jets.” Noah held the phone an inch or so from his ear. His sister’s voice was anything but dulcet, especially when she was blasting him with an earful of — wait, what did she say?
“Where are you?” Abi demanded.
“At the mall in all my elfin glory.”
“Well, how come Jamison just told me you bailed?”
Her voice had zero chill and Noah knew better than to mess with her too much. “What are you talking about? I’m looking at him right now. Have been for hours.” As though to punctuate Noah’s sentence, Jamison looked up at that exact moment. Noah couldn’t help himself and flashed what he hoped was a dazzling smile.
Dropping his voice just in case it carried, he continued. “P.S., how come you never mentioned how hot he was? I mean, he’s wound tighter than a two-dollar watch, but he’s damn pretty. You did say he’s gay, right?”
“He is. And leave him alone.”
“Hang on a second, you’re talking to me like I’m a delinquent teenager instead of someone helping you out of a jam. Remind me again how you roped me into this gig?”
“You’re good with kids, know your way around a camera, and could use the distraction. And you love me.”
Noah laughed at her bullet-pointed accuracy. “I don’t love you that much. Try again.”
“Because I’m letting you live under my roof, smartass. And as long as you’re under my roof—”
“I know, I know,” he cut her off with a chuckle. “But I might have to amuse myself by flirting with the J in A & J Photography.” He could almost hear the impending warning, so he didn’t give her a chance. “Sorry, gotta go. Santa’s almost done for the day and requires my assistance. Bye-bye.”
She hated it when he did that. Which made it all that more fun when he did. Just to be on the safe side, however, he turned the ringer off before tucking his phone back into his patent leather belt.
There were only a few kids left in line when Mac gave him the wrap-it-up signal, so he latched the velvet rope behind the last of them to keep out stragglers. As much fun as the munchkins were, Noah was looking forward to getting home, getting showered and putting on real pants.
When the last print of the day had been handed over to a beaming young couple and their chirpy toddler, he locked up the till and started packing things away for the night. Within the first few days on the job, he’d gotten the routine down to a science and was finished in no time.
Jamison was still crouched by a tripod busily loading lenses into his camera bags so he wandered over to help. He didn’t seem the type to let anyone touch his gear but Noah figured he’d at least ask. It was as good an excuse as any to talk to the guy.
“Need a hand?”
“I’m just about finished. Thanks.” Jamison zipped up the bag and stood to his full height.
With absolutely no shame, Noah gave him a head-to-toe once-over. Damn.
“I’m Noah by the way.” He grinned, knowing full well by the slight blush on Jamison’s face that he’d been caught. He hadn’t been going for subtle. “Abi’s brother.”
“Oh. Oh.” Jamison’s eyes widened, no doubt in recognition of the name. “Jamison. Hi.” He cleared his throat and held his out his hand.
“Nice working with you today.” He held onto Jamison’s hand a beat or two longer than necessary and gave him a puckish smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he added with a wink.
For good measure, he added a bit of sway to his hips as he walked away. He’d be willing to bet good money Jamison was watching his ass.
About the Author:
L.D. Blakeley is a pragmatist with a romantic soul & a dirty mind. She loves horror movies, hot sex, and happily ever afters. She’s easily distracted by shiny things, and is a slightly neurotic, highly ambitious dreamer who enjoys dabbling in photography & pretending she can carry a tune.
In another life, L.D. was a newspaper reporter, an entertainment & music writer, travel writer, website content editor, and a marketing shill. Now she prefers to spend her time writing hot, steamy fiction (with a healthy dose of romance) about intriguing, sexy men.  Although she dreams of living some place isolated with an endless supply of wine and an infinite number of titles on her eReader, she currently lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and their rock star cat.
Find L.D. online:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Stone and Shell by Lloyd A. Meeker

Eight-year-old Howie Evinger is convinced that his dad would be happier if he found a new husband. Howie would be happier, too. And somewhere out there in the city of Vancouver, there's the right man for his dad to love. But how to find him? That’s a problem, especially if you’re just a kid and your dad says he doesn’t want another husband.

With the help of his quirky aunt, Shanna, who calls herself a Buddhist Wiccan, Howie builds his very own solstice altar with cool symbols to support his search. It has a candle, a feather, and a twisty stick, plus an agate for his dad, and a scallop shell for his new husband. Share Howie’s solstice adventure as he learns how real magic requires courage and patience as well as symbols.

Heartwarming and precious.

All Howie wanted was for his dad, David, to find a new husband. He knew that this would make his dad happier. Howie took matters into his own hands and (with the help of his Buddhist Wiccan aunt) built a solstice altar solely dedicated to his dad finding someone to love. He put all of his intention into this altar.
"His intention was stronger than the wind. It made him feel like a superhero."
And a superhero he was! My goodness, I loved this kid. I loved the precision and focus he had with his altar and intention. I really felt his love for his dad. It showed through his actions and the dedication he had for his dad's happiness.

When they first met Mike, Howie knew right away that Mike was meant to be his dad's new husband. With just the right amount of patience and pushiness, Howie helped make his dad happy again.

Although the entire story was told from Howie's POV, I loved the romance. There were only glimpses of Mike and David together, but it still left me with a smile on my face. And seeing it all through a child's eyes made the story absolutely precious. The author did a really nice job portraying Howie realistically. He had a good balance of naïvety and maturity. He's a likeable kid and I loved seeing this love story through his eyes.

For such a short book, Stone and Shell is emotional, heartwarming, and sweet. It's full of likeable and relateable characters that will pull on your heartstrings.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.  

Tag Team Review: Chosen Pride (L'Ange #3) by Mary Calmes

Jon Slade finally met his mate, but instead of it being the happiest day of his life, it became the saddest when wolf shifter Kelvin MacCurdy chose his obligations over their fated bond, leaving Jon to pick up the pieces of his shattered dreams. Lucky for him, Roman Howell, his boss and the owner of L’Ange, saw promise in the forlorn lion and put him to work so he wouldn’t have time to sit around and lick his wounds while he waited for his wounded spirit to heal.
Then the wolves make an official visit to L’Ange, and Jon finds out Kelvin’s pining for him is taking its toll on his position as the king’s champion. Though Kelvin’s training and the expectations of others steer him toward an intended mate, Jon has an unbreakable hold on his heart, and it’s no longer possible for Kelvin to keep himself from where he truly belongs.
But the conclave brings more than Kelvin to the château. It also brings a challenge to jackal alpha Quade Danas, a threat that Quade and Roman, Arman and Linus, and Jon and Kelvin may have to fight in order to keep L’Ange’s family intact. Jon never wanted to lead a pride, but the loyalty and devotion to one is ingrained in him. Kelvin was raised to punish anyone who questioned his king, but the calling to protect others runs through his veins just as deeply. To come out on the other side of the battle together, Jon and Kelvin will have to hold the darkness of solitary pride and broken hearts at bay—and find strength in belonging to something bigger than themselves.

We're back with another Best Buddy Read Ever!  In this episode, we explore the world of the shifters of L'ange.  So much growly action we could barely contain ourselves!

JL:  Are you ready for some more Calmes Crack????????

Red:  I'M READY!! Do you realize with this series and Warders we will technically read 9 Calmes books in less than a month?!?!  Ack!

JL:  That's not nearly enough.  I think we can fit in a few more. whatcha think?

Red:  Well I still need to read the last Miro and Ian book and I really wanna read Mine...
Red’s Review:

Gah! The title of this, Chosen Pride. I get giddy when I GET the title of a book and this seems simple on the surface but it oh so much more and it makes me smile so big thinking of it.

So…*whistles and twiddles thumbs*

Where to begin, where to begin.

Hey, I’ll start from the beginning, how about that?

From the beginning, I mean Old Loyalty New Love when we first meet Jon Slade as the guy who was hired to seduce Roman and failed because we know Roman is the mate of Quade. But Jon, he was interesting but not really a likeable character in that book but then again, he couldn’t compete with Quade but he was someone to remember. In Fighting Instinct, we get more of Jon as he now works at L’Ange and we get to know him and what kind of shifter he is. Jon begins to form into this tangible and loyal man to both Quade and Roman as well as Arman. But it’s the end of this book that makes you take notice to this king of the jungle and it’s what breaks your heart. I fell hard for Jon at the end of Fighting Instinct and knowing he would indeed get his story told made me happy.

BUT… this is Mary Calmes and while she kicks ass with fated mates, she still implements TMCSS in this but thankfully it’s 99.5% off page. Don’t misunderstand that it doesn’t gut you just because it’s off page because it totally hurts but as per the norm, the reunion is worth it.

Now, this was different for me in the beginning and I have to be honest, if it weren’t for my girl Jenni Lea buddy reading it with me I might have stopped. You see, I am used to the separation and the longing but Mary, she did this different thing and had me caring about someone else deep and fast and I didn’t want to see them hurt. I should have known better and know that Mary would never hurt someone she made me care about but the way she goes about it? Pure brilliance I tell you.

Red:  I'm so confused and really sad.  I don't know what to do.  I want Jon to be happy but I want [SPOILER] to be happy too and they are sweet together.  Ugh.

Linus and Sheridan ribbing Jon for not noticing the other shifters is adorable. The king of the jungle kinda has his head up his ass. 

Okay, I'm stopping where [SPOILER].  I have to clean up dinner and get ready for bed so I can read. 

But my heart... I am so lost and the angst hurts.  I'm wondering what she put in this to give the no spoiler directions????

Red:  Okay.  I'm crying just thinking about [ANOTHER SPOILER].  I don't know if I can take this JL.  This book... What is going on?

JL:  I dunno, but I'm really excited to find out!  Trust in the Calmes.  You know she won't lead us astray.
This book is really hard to review without spoiling. I mean, you know from the blurb and if you have read the series – which I highly recommend you do – that Jon has met his mate in Kelvin MacCurdy but Kelvin turns him away and breaks Jon’s heart. When Jon learns that Kelvin is coming to L’Ange it gets interesting and then it gets exciting, a bit violent and bloody but the whole book is really this cinematic story telling that gives this series an amazing story line.

JL:  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  All is right in the world again!  You can breathe easy.  I knew Mary would make this right. Keep reading, good things are about to happen!

Red:  I hope you're right because I kinda don't wanna read anymore tonight...I don't want [BIG, FAT SPOILERY SPOILER]. Ugh.

JL:  just keep reading…
Jon, you were this bit of a slimy character when we first meet you but seeing you change, shift for the first time *swoon*, mourn the chance to be with your mate and then just step up in every way imaginable was beautiful. The way you want to stand up for Kelvin and smother him with love, affection and family was adorable and the way you fold into your pack was just stunning.

Red:  My heart!

"I carried the kernel of hope with me, my mother’s promise, my father’s, that my mate was out there and he would find me. It was too bad that when he did, he didn’t want me."

JL:  I know!  That was when I teared up

Red:  Linus is so mean right now! Jon is heart broken and he keeps drilling in the fact that Kelvin doesn't want him.  Ugh.

JL:  I know, right?  What happened to my sweet, loveable Linus?
Kelvin, my Scottish ginger brother how can I not fall at your feet and roll over for a belly rub? Seriously! When we learn of your life, of what it means to be the Fenrir I wanted to stuff you in my pocket because you need a mother’s care but I know I would have a fight on my hands with Jon if I touched you so I will just pretend. But really, seeing you again as you make it known who and what you want, all your declarations to Jon and what you give to him made me fall so much in love with you it was a bit painful. 

JL:  Don't mind me, I'm just over here about to die from all the swooning...

Can you imagine what this will sound like on audio???

Red:  Just hit the break in Chapter 5, Gah  I love  this. The Gaelic and my heart business . .swoon
I said it in my review for Fighting Instinct that Mary Calmes does not get enough credit for these worlds she creates with her shifter characters and I am saying it again. We don’t just get one breed of shifter here, we have so many and each one has their own set of laws that don’t get confusing or run the risk of being carbon copies of the others. This new world with fated/true mates of different shifters is stunning in its complexity but Ms. Calmes makes it so easy to follow and just be amazed by all of it. The new twists to the story, things we learn about those who champion L’Ange for what it was meant to be sat me down hard. I wasn’t quite ready for it but I loved it and that end, the whole deal with… yeah. It was beautifully brutal and again, truly cinematic in the way I saw it all happening as I read.

JL:  you know,  Mary has a brilliant gift for tactics and strategy.  oh, how the tables have turned!

Red:  “I understand now, Ard-Righ. You didn’t come just to hold your ceremonies on my land.” “No, alpha, I did not,” Cahill answered, his voice thick with meaning. “What is it you hoped to find?”  [THE SPOILERIEST OF ALL SPOILERS TO HAVE EVER SPOILED]

Wait . .what  and Ack!!!

JL:  Just wait! There's so much more! And then Quade's idea is awesome.

Red:  [YEAH, NO]...all this coming out right now and I am floored!

JL:  I know, right??? I didn't even have an inkling of this!  Gah, Mary is so good with the plot twists.


JL:  I loved this part so much.  Just wait until you read Quade's response and his idea.  It's epic!
We get more of everyone in this book, Quade/Roman, Linus/Arman as well as family and new shifters that show up and even learn more about who really works at L’Ange. It was a pure joy to read and to feel the romance between Jon and Kelvin as they learn to give in to being mates and move forward to bigger and better things. 

While the story ends nicely and wrapped up, I am not ready to be done with it yet. But that’s pretty much me after finishing every book by the author.

JL’s Review:

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved this book.  The romance, the intrigue, the dialogue, it was everything I could have ever wanted out of a Mary Calmes book.  I had a fellow reader ask me about this book on GR which led to me basically writing my review in the comments section.  I would like to now share it with you:

Fellow Reader:  For some reason I'm skeptical about this series. How does it compare to Change of Heart?"

Well, that's hard to say. Change of Heart was the very first book of hers I read so it will always hold a special place for me in my heart. Objectively, it is a bit different from the CoH series, the main difference in that each book is about a different couple rather than following the same one throughout. They are classic Mary Calmes though. She doesn't veer too far off her normal path. I'd say that in this series she eases you into the world, the world building a bit more organic than CoH. For instance, you don't get nearly as much rules and regulations as CoH and you won't need a glossary for it. The world building gradually increases with each book so you're not thrown in all at once.

The main underlying theme seems (to me) to be about differences, about opposites attracting and not judging a book by its cover so to speak. Also about overcoming obstacles in the sheer face of adversity. One of the things I loved most about them is that each MC actually has a unique voice. They're not all the same, recycled character. This book in particular, the main protagonist Jon is laugh out loud funny. He is the epitome of what kind of animal he shifts into. It was very refreshing to read.

JL:  OK, I think Jon will most likely be moving into my pocket.  He's such a little shit!  He's goading Linus to make him mad because he thinks he looks pretty when he's angry.  And what a smartass!  I've already fallen in love with him.

Red:  I can't wait to start.  I loved him at the end when he walked straight up to Arman and touched him but when you find out [SPOILER FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOK] I knew I needed him to be loved and mated.

JL:  He is so very heartbroken right now.  It made tears come to my eyes already

JL:  Oh. My. God.  She did NOT just go there!  TELL ME WHEN YOU GET TO 8%.  I MUST DISCUSS THIS WITH YOU!!!!!  She just added gasoline to the fire.  HOLY CRAP I'M PISSED!!!  Not at Mary, of course, she's a goddess who can do no wrong.

Red:  I'm just in the prologue... I have about 9 or so pages to go.

JL:  Lemme know when you get to the part where it's October
She also does something in this book that she has never done before in any of her previous books but I can't say what it is without spoiling.

JL:  Wow, Mary has never done THIS in her books before.  Never has she had [KINDA, MAYBE A BIG SPOILER?], it was only mentioned in past tense, we never saw it.
She also revealed to me what a mastermind she is. If you read these back to back you can actually see the progression in her writing skills. This book really blew me away.

JL:  Damn, this story is giving me whiplash with all the twists and turns.  I just got to where [POSSIBLY ANOTHER SPOILER].  It's making my head spin...

Red:  This is cinematic right here! [HOLY CRAP, WHAT A HUGE SPOILER!] OMG! She is amazing. How are we going to review this???

JL:  I have no freaking idea. there's so many spoilers.
I highly recommend this series. I know a lot of people gave lower ratings to the first book and I think that, even though they might not have said so in their reviews, the reason for this IS because it was slightly different from her norm. People expect her books to be a certain way and this series veers off that path a little. This is just my (biased) opinion, of course . I'd say give it a chance.

Another Fellow Reader:  "I haven't read the second book. Do I need to read that one before this?"

Yes, these are not standalones. The characters from the first book are still part of the second one and both couples from the first two are an integral part of this book. They all three have an overall story arc.

Yet Another Fellow Reader:  "You hit the nail on the head with your explanation. I struggled with CoH because of the initial world building and strange words... I never had that problem with this series."

You see a bit more of it in this book because the wolves have a detailed, rich hierarchy but it is easier to follow along with since you've already got an idea of how this world works from the first two books.

I loved this book so much I honestly didn’t want it to end.  I was legitimately sad when I got to the last page.  I could feel a sense of finality to the series as I read the ending. 

Red:  You think there is more in the series???? That was so good and I loved Kelvin's accent! Swoon.

JL:  I dunno.  it kind of had a sense of finality to it, don't you think?  I hope she's not done with this world yet.

Red:  it did but I want more. I loved this. It was so good and it was not just the romance/fated mates between Kelvin and Jon, it was the whole FAMILY that they have become.
I had such a HUGE hangover after reading this that the only thing I could do was to read another Mary Calmes book.  Thankfully, Mary has plenty more gems out there like this one.  Mary, what would I have to do to get you to write more in this series?  I don’t want to let them go yet!