Single Malt by Leyla Rayne

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Single Malt: by Layla Reyne
Series: Agent Irish & Whiskey #1
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 194 • Format: eARC
Published By: Carina Press
Purchase Links:
AmazonKobo

The heart’s a resilient beast

Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.

Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.

Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

three-stars

 

11 days to finish this book.

Yep, I just needed that to be known.

This had major potential for me. I love feds-spooks-spies stories. I like age-gap stories. Two guys with different backgrounds get together to a case that’s interesting enough. I’m still not sure on how much of it can be real for actual FED’s, I mean driving a new benz, stating in the rich digs, and the amount of facetious was a bit much. I did like book characters and some of the side characters.

I like when the case is involved with the story line as well. What I don’t like is the case taking up most of the atmosphere. The case overpowered the potential relationship between these two. I mean, I wasn’t sold on them from the beginning. It seemed forced. I don’t think Aidan should have been pushed so much into Jameson because he is still grieving, and its not fair to the other person if you aren’t going to give them your all. On Jameson’s part, I didn’t really think it was an attraction. They never seemed to meet before being partners so I guess throwing them together created some semblance of him being attracted to Aidan. Can I just say the nickname thing was cute for the first few times, it just got on my nerves by the end of the book. Hopefully book two will tone it down. It was a ton of information about each guy separately, the case, and little things here and there that distracted the shit out of me. I don’t even know who is who’s brother/sister/cousin at this point. It was too much. Add the writing really not working for me, but I was able to push through. I will say I liked it enough to give book 2 a try.

Once I got over the various actions involved in the plot it was pretty good. It of course was connected to Aidan’s husband and brothers’ death. A little far fetch but this author is able to keep me interested the rest of the story. It ends on a cliffhanger, but the possibilities of book 2 are greater for me by the end of the book. I think this was an okay book for the author’s first published book.

About Layla Reyne

2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina but now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Married for a Month by Cate Ashwood

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Married for a Month: by Cate Ashwood
Release Date: February 10th, 2017
Pages: 171 • Format: eARC
Published By: Cate Ashwood
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Best friends since high school, Chase Bradley and Alec Montero are opposites in almost every way. The one thing they can agree on, though, is that marriage is for suckers.

Everything is going their way until a drunken bet leads Alec and Chase to the altar. Their temporary “I Do’s” aren’t as amusing in the sober light of day when they find themselves thrown into married life and everything that goes with it.

The question they have to ask themselves now is, can their friendship survive being married for a month?

 

three-half-stars

It’s my second Cate Ashwood story, and I liked it. I wasn’t always sold on the characters, for them to be best friends you’d think they would know each other a little bit better then they acted. I tell my best friend everything. It’s no holds barred with us, from sex, to work, school, kids, family, gossip. It’s nothing she doesn’t know about me except my social security number, and we’ve been friends for 16 years. So for me, when they have the history as such, I’d expect them to show it a little more then they did to one another.

I liked the friends to lovers trope. It’s one of my favorite. Chase and Alec are best friends, who seem to be the yin to each others yang. I did like the pace the author took for the characters to progress from friends to lovers. They had to come to terms with lusting after one another for so long. That lust station was amazing. It felt so real in the moment. Their reactions to one another was great as well. In the bedroom they were super compatible.

For me, outside of the bedroom the guys just didn’t seem real at time. Chase from the beginning to the end seemed to change as well. At times he seemed so submissive and its just not how I would picture him at all. His personality seemed so loud, fearless, and fun. I felt like when he was realizing his feelings for Alec that became first, and more important. I guess, I’m saying it seems like he lost himself during portions of the story. Alec gave me whiplash. He was someone that I didn’t think he would be like. I guess he seemed so aloof during the beginning of the story, and as it progressed his character was kind of an asshole. Not bad necessarily, but it didn’t feel as loving as Chase felt. Maybe it’s because Chase thought of him that way so long ago. Who knows? I don’t, I do know betting of this sort doesn’t end up well ever.

It did have that pesky MISCOMMUNICATION TROPE that I despise. I didn’t feel like it was needed. I mean, again if they know each other so well then it shouldn’t been a problem. I do know when feelings get involved that things change so it’s understandable. It wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed it.

About Cate Ashwood

Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.

Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, son, and two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.

Permanent Ink by Jaime Samms

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Permanent Ink by by Jaime Samms
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 18th 2017 (2nd edition)
Pages: 71 pages
Purchase Links: Dreamspinner PressAmazon US

Beauty is only skin deep, but some marks—and what they represent—are impossible to escape.

Eric resents his comfortable college life and the restrictions his family’s expectations put on him. Dwayne, his best friend Angel’s cousin, is a pierced and tattooed ex-con trying to rebuild his life. Eric sees only the tattoos and the way Dwayne’s upbringing have dictated his future. It takes a surprising revelation from Angel to force Eric to see past Dwayne’s defenses to the generous heart beneath and to realize it’s time for him to break free of his own instilled beliefs. The men can’t keep apart, and they gradually learn that everything they thought they knew about each other might be wrong.

Opposites attract as two men from very different backgrounds move from enemies to lovers in a story of understanding, compassion, and redemption.
ONE STAR REVIEW

This book pushed some buttons for me. The blurb made it sound like an intriguing interracial romance, but it ended up being a story with cliché characters overcoming their prejudice to find love.

It starts off with Eric, judgmental basketball player who assumes his best friend Angel’s tattooed roommate and cousin is a thug. Eric is a white college student from a middle-class family whereas Angel and his cousin Dwayne are from the projects and come with all the baggage that often come with hood life. They have criminal pasts and in Eric’s mind, Dwayne is a criminal not to be trusted. Dwayne was described as a cornrow and baggy pants wearing tattooed guy who seem to enjoy uninhibited sex encounters as Dwayne was constantly coming onto Eric. Eric assumed Dwayne was a man-ho and told his best friend Angel of his analysis of Dwayne’s character. Of course, the black predatory thug would want the stable college white boy, right?
Aside from this galling racial set up, the plot and story wasn’t smooth nor did it flow well. It was uneven and didn’t draw me in emotionally at all. I see the author was trying to set up an opposite attract, enemies to lover trope, but this story smacks of lazy plot set up and character development and research. It is a novella, so there isn’t a lot time to construct but I do not believe extra pages would save this one. I found it is unrealistic that Eric doesn’t know more about his best friends’ cousin and roommate considering Eric spends the night on Angel’s couch sometimes. Second, it was so contrived that once Eric was told of Dwayne’s sacrifice, Dwayne is all of a suddenly so attractive. I didn’t connect with their chemistry and I didn’t enjoy their sex scenes at all. It was short, but I disliked this story and I am unsure if I will read something else by this author.

Ezi

Watching and Wanting by Jay Northcote

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Watching and Wanting: by Jay Northcote
Series: Housemates #4
Release Date: January 20, 2017
Pages: 162 • Format: eARC
Published By: JayBird Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Watching Jude’s cam show stirs desires Shawn’s always denied…

Shawn is adrift. Recently graduated, he’s stuck in a dead-end job that barely pays the bills. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends have moved on, and he’s still in Plymouth—going nowhere.

Jude is a student living in the same shared house. Out and proud, he’s everything Shawn’s been running from since he hit puberty. When Shawn discovers Jude works as a cam boy, he can’t resist the urge to watch one of his shows. It makes Shawn want things that scare him, yet his fascination forces him to confront his attraction.

Keen to explore his bicurious side, Shawn suggests they do a show together. Jude agrees, and things get complicated—and kinky—fast. But Jude isn’t looking to get involved with someone so deep in the closet. If Shawn’s going to get what he wants, he needs to find the courage to stop hiding from himself and be honest about who he is.

five-stars

Good Lord. This book was so freaking steamy, sensual, exhilarating and a winner from beginning to end.

Jay Northcote has hit this book out of the park, baby. I mean from beginning to end I was enthralled, and damn turned on. Okay that was TMI, but yeah your loins get a working out on for sure. Really smutty goodness, and loved the chemistry between Shawn & Jude. It was almost electric, and I literally finished it at work, but needed a c:old water bottle on my forehead for a while. This was definitely my favorite out the series so far, and that’s hard for me seeing as I loved Dev & Ewan’s book. It was something so passionate about these two. When I say the chemistry was meant to be it was meant to be. I cannot think of any other way to explain it.

Shawn, Shawn, Shawn. I don’t know if I was waiting for your book, or wanting to destroy your homophobic arse. Well, not really homophobic, and more like in utter denial about his sexuality. Look how much lighter, and pleasant he is once he got the D. Haha. No that wasn’t it. I honestly think from the very beginning of the series Shawn was struggling with his sexuality, and his repressed emotions & feelings. He couldn’t fathom being attracted to a guy, but I think after screwing most of England and his latest breakup put things into perspective. He was left feeling like it was a hole inside him, and no matter what he did to try to feel it nothing worked. Well almost nothing, until walking in on Jude. 

Jude, Jude!!! Good Lord Man. You know how to leave a bish FLUSTERED!!!! That should have been my word of the day. I loved Jude. He was so amazingly hawt, and easy going. He was super understanding to everything Shawn was going through. I love how he kinda handled Shawn with kids gloves because he knew he was dealing with someone who could jump ship at any moment. I liked how he was able to set a boundary and even though it hurt for a while, it was much needed. Northcote really showed character growth in this one. Since when in love or the cusp of being in love means, you have to sacrifice your moral code for someone. I hate those books that force one character to forget about themselves for the greater good. Like do we forget that love is a two way street, and it’s okay to be a little selfish and have self preservation. 

I’m going to try to talk about these steamy scenes without prematurely combustion. **Wink Wink** The whole cam sex event is a brilliant idea. I’m telling you guys it leaves you flustered, and immediately turned the eff on. It took me a while to finish since I had to practice what I read. LOL. I’m having fun with this book, and I don’t know how to say it nicely that this book leaves you horny. There!!! It’s out there damnit. You made me say it. This is one of my favorite books by Jay. He did such a good job with these two. Loved the flow of the stories, and got to see some favorites of the series. I don’t know if we’ll get more, but I was positively happy with these two. I recommend this ish out of this book!

Mika Out.

About Jay Northcote

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with his husband, two children, and two cats. He comes from a family of writers, but he always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, he decided to try and write a short story—just to see if she could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary gay romance about men who fall in love with other men, usually set in or near her home town of Bristol. He enjoys the challenge of bringing the men in his head to life through his words. Jay has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and he also publishes his own titles under the imprint Jaybird Press. Some of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is a transgender man and was formerly known as she/her.

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Hipster Brothel by K.A. Merikan

 

Release Day Blitz for Hipster Brothel
 
Buy Links: Amazon | Amazon UK
 
Length: 50,000 words
 
 
Blurb


The lumberjack of his dreams is now available for rent.

Mr. B has always been a safe guy for Jo to crush on. He’s the cutest bearded lumber-god to salivate over. Add to that his friendly, outgoing personality, and Mr. B might just be the first guy Jo would be willing to kiss. Fortunately, Mr. B has been in a relationship for years, and Jo is no home-wrecker.

But when Mr. B breaks up with his partner and all of a sudden is single, available, and talks about his plans to be sexually adventurous, Jo isn’t so sure anymore if he has the guts to come out as bisexual.

After a sour breakup, Mr. B wants to show his ex that he’s independent, exciting, and can do very well without him. His best friend Jo is there to the rescue, and they come up with a great new business venture. One thing they lack to start their own line of artisanal boozy jams – money for the investment.

After a drunken brainstorming session, Mr. B finds a way to both gather the cash and show the middle finger to his ex. He will create a one of a kind Hipster Brothel – The Lumbersexual Experience – offering wood chopping lessons, pipe smoking, and a reclaimed wood bed where the magic happens. It’s bound to be a success… if only Mr. B can go through with it, because the mixed signals from Jo are making him wonder if his best friend is as straight as he always seemed.

 

Author Bio

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

 
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Hipster Brothel by K.A. Merikan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hipster Brothel: by K.A. Merikan
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 162 • Format: eARC
Published By: Acerbi & Villani ltd
Purchase Links:
AmazonAmazon UK

— The lumberjack of his dreams is now available for rent. —

Mr. B has always been a safe guy for Jo to crush on. He’s the cutest bearded lumber-god to salivate over. Add to that his friendly, outgoing personality, and Mr. B might just be the first guy Jo would be willing to kiss. Fortunately, Mr. B has been in a relationship for years, and Jo is no home-wrecker.

But when Mr. B breaks up with his partner and all of a sudden is single, available, and talks about his plans to be sexually adventurous, Jo isn’t so sure anymore if he has the guts to come out as bisexual.

After a sour breakup, Mr. B wants to show his ex that he’s independent, exciting, and can do very well without him. His best friend Jo is there to the rescue, and they come up with a great new business venture. One thing they lack to start their own line of artisanal boozy jams – money for the investment.

After a drunken brainstorming session, Mr. B finds a way to both gather the cash and show the middle finger to his ex. He will create a one of a kind Hipster Brothel – The Lumbersexual Experience – offering wood chopping lessons, pipe smoking, and a reclaimed wood bed where the magic happens. It’s bound to be a success… if only Mr. B can go through with it, because the mixed signals from Jo are making him wonder if his best friend is as straight as he always seemed.

four-stars

Am I the only one who got an chessy evil villain vibe from the names in this story? I literally was waiting on one of them to give a speech on how good will always prevail evil! LOL. It is a Merikan book after all. Nonetheless, I really did enjoy this story. It was a steamy hot friends to lovers story with some hipsters. I adore the hipsters and beards!

**Groans**, here goes with the names.

Mr. B is recently broken up with his partner of a subsequent amount of years. He moves to his brother’s land and resides in a train car, and now think of ways to reinvents himself. He is told that’s he to clingy in a relationship and mostly bored. I refuse to call them by initial any longer in this review. Bernard is broken-hearted, and calls his best friend Jo. Not knowing that Jo has been crushing on him for the last 2 years. Unbeknownst to Bernard, Jo is accepting his bi-curious and really wanting Bernard. He doesn’t want to over step his boundaries because it is his friend, and he is not in the right frame of mind. Well a night of artisanal food, and homemade moonshine opens up to new possibilities between the two.

From there on out feelings get put on blast, and steamy sex scenes ensue. The exes show up in the picture, and I did enjoy seeing each ex. I think that part of the story was able to bring more realism to the story. Its a friends to lover story, which I also found myself laughing. Really entertaining. I did find myself wanting to slap Arnold a bunch of times. He was kinda rude, but I think him breaking up with Bernard was the best thing for both of them.

I enjoyed that it was dual pov, and really liked seeing Jo not only come to terms with his sexuality, but figure out his ish and what he was going to do about it now. I liked Jo’s mom, and wish we could have gotten that Sunday brunch meeting. I think it would have been lovely. Whatever you say about the Merikan ladies, you can’t say they don’t know how to write a steamy sex scene. They know how to produce some heat in your loins for sure. LOL. I really liked it, and definitely one of the lighter books they’ve ever written. Really recommend this book, and look forward to more.

About K.A. Merikan

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Impossible Boy: by Anna Martin
Release Date: January 16, 2017
Pages: 204 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Pres
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonKobo

This is not your average love story.

Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, wannabe rock star, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.

Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.

Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band. With the band on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful boyfriend.

four-stars

This book was on its way to becoming a 5 star book for me. What stopped it was an incident in the story. I don’t feel like it was authentic enough and it happened out of nowhere. That pissed me off more. I guess I was looking for signs to point out this, and then thought signs weren’t needed. It’s something one of the MC’s has dealt with most of his life. Even after knowing this, I’m not happy. The joy I was feeling throughout reading this was dwindled down to nothing. I worried, and angst over these two. Didn’t see how they were going to come out on the other side, but no worries I think Anna Martin prevailed. The Impossible Boy is a lovely story. Told through dual pov’s from the mc’s. They both come from different walks of life and fall in love.

I truly adored Ben. Ben is super amazing. I think I feel in love with Ben from the very start. He was kind, and its a word I would describe most people in life. He was kind to a person whom he didn’t know. He should Stan a kindness that he wasn’t sure he would get. Ben is automatically intrigued upon seeing Stan for the first time. Stan walks in looking like a million buck and Ben sees his prey in sight. Ben is working two jobs and being in a ban. He loves his life, doesn’t see reason to change it, and sees Stan and immediately taken by him. Ben is who he is. He doesn’t change, apologize for being who he is or liking what he likes.

Stan is fabulous. Left home at 15 to explore the world and never looked back. For being so young, and independent Stan has it together better then most people. I love Stan’s definition of who he is. He isn’t trying to conform to anyone’s society and love what he represents. He has some past issues and is learning to cope with them each day. I do love how he stays his ground and is firm on what he knows his body, soul, and mind needs.

Ben & Stan together is pure magic. I truly think the love at first sight thing works here. Both guys are drawn into one another very easily. They just fit into one another life like a missing puzzle piece. Ben with his nurturing personality, and Stan with his kindness work well. It’s not wonder that things moved fast for these two. I can see them falling in love on page, and I was so happy.

While I’m not happy with a certain part of the story, I still loved this. I can definitely see myself re-reading this. Anna Martin did a really great job with this gender-fluid story. I think she handled it with care. This is a definite recommend for me, and the cover is amazing!!!

About Anna Martin

Anna Martin is from a picturesque seaside village in the south- west of England and now lives in the slightly arty, slightly quirky city of Bristol. After spending most of her childhood making up stories, she studied English Literature at university before attempting to turn her hand as a professional writer.

Apart from being physically dependent on her laptop, Anna is enthusiastic about writing and producing local grassroots theater (especially at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she can be found every summer), going to visit friends in other countries, baking weird and wonderful sweets, learning to play the ukulele, and Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.

Anna claims her entire career is due to the love, support, pre-reading, and creative ass kicking provided by her best friend Jennifer. Jennifer refuses to accept responsibility for anything Anna has written.

Ezi & Mika Dual Review: Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Block and Strike: by Kelly Jensen
Release Date: January 6, 2017
Pages: 266 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.

four-stars

It’s rare for Ezi and I to want to read the same book. We have completely different taste on books. She wants the angst, and I want to kick it for a punt return. Hell we wanted this book for different reasons. Ezi immediately stated that the blurb was angsty, I wanted it for the child mentioned and the hurt comfort it seemed to be throwing out there. He’s our first dual review ever on Oh My Shelves. Hope you guys enjoys it.

Ezi’s Review

I liked this story because this is a love story that the author took time to develop. This story was well written and the main characters were constructed methodically.

Jacob “Jake” Kendricks was a man who let his temper get the best of him at times, which resulted in a stint in prison. When he was released, Jake resolved to lay low and piece his life back together starting with rebuilding his relationship with his nine-year-old daughter Caroline.

Jake finds his neighbor Gareth Maxwell “Max” Wilson on the steps of their apartment building, beaten to a pulp. After Jake takes Max to the hospital, Jake’s kind heart makes him take pity on a young bullied guy. A sweet friendship developed ensued and later blossomed into love for Jake and Max.

This story was not a fast insta-love type of romance. It was a layered story where the author took her time to build up the characters. I felt invested in both Jake and Max as individual struggling with their various issues as well as their budding romance which was wrought with trust issues. Both characters had to learn to depend on the other as well as heal their own hearts from past hurts.

I haven’t read this author before, but I enjoyed the story-telling. I empathized with all the characters and couldn’t help but root for them. My only issue was the slow pace of the story. I understand it was necessary to really focus on individual struggles of both Jake and Max, but I was hoping for the romance to get underway a lot faster. It also took a while for the author to reveal why Jake spent in prison and I got impatient. Still, at the end I was left very satisfied with the ending. Jake and Max healing each other made everything worth it.

Mika’s Review

Talk about a slow burner! Goodness, my add wasn’t going to allow me to participate any longer if things didn’t happen at the correct time. It’s my third book by Kelly Jensen, and I really love how relatable and realistic her stories make me feel. This book was no different. Jake & Max are two individuals who needed a Win in life. They both have struggled with various issues that has happened to them.

I really adored Jake’s character. I loved how he wanted to protective Max, teach Max, and love Max in a way that he hasn’t been yet. Jake struggles seems minuscule compared to everything Max goes through in this story, but Jake has a way to go. He has to deal with his actions that lead him to prison. In the blink of an eye his life change, and the person who suffered the most was Caroline his daughter. I think Max is good for Jake because being with him teaches Jake patience, and makes Jake want to keep his temper in check.

Max, oh max. Goodness, he pulled at my heart strings continuously. I am so surprised that I didn’t cry. I didn’t shed not one tear, but I really empathized with his character. Max didn’t have any hope for his future. He seems so despondent about life, and yeah life has completed effed him over. No parents to love him, no family to cherish him, and he’s only 22 but seems so much older. I am uber grateful for Jake. Yeah, Jake’s issues is what caused Max pain unbeknownst to both guys, but it also allowed Max to see what real love is. Jake’s love, teaches, friendship and family allowed Max to open up and be confident. It allowed Max a glimpse of a future that is obtainable if he wanted it.

This redemption story on both parts was equally good. It’s a slow burner for sure. The romance is in the background and while it plays a major role, I’d like to think both guys have healing and growing to do separately and together was more important. I will tell you from the books I’ve read by Jensen, that I’ve come to really appreciate her take on the realistic fiction trope in Gay Romance. I love how relatable and normal they are. These are everyday people in her stories, they could be your spouses, brothers, fathers, uncles, and cousins. This is a definite recommend for me. I really liked it!

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Born in Australia and raised everywhere else, Kelly now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter and herd of four cats. After disproving the theory that water only spins counter-clockwise around drains north of the equator, she turned her attention to more productive pursuits such as reading, writing, writing about reading and writing stories of her own. She also enjoys volunteering at her local library, playing video games and holds a brown belt in Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido and Tang Soo Do. Her family is not intimidated by her.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, short stories, and this bio. She does not consider this bio a seminal work. Her books are much more interesting (and definitely sexier). You can view a list of them here. She has been writing reviews of books and video games for web and print magazines for nearly fifteen years. Her book reviews can be found at SFCrowsnest, Goodreads and here, on her blog.

Currently, she is working on several projects, including a science fiction romance series co-authored with her best friend and writing partner, Jenn Burke. The first three books of the Chaos Station series are available now, with the fourth due in January 2016 from Carina Press.

Wake of Vultures (The Shadow, #1) by Lila Bowen

Series:
Source: Netgalley
Wake of Vultures Book Cover Wake of Vultures
The Shadow, #1
Lila Bowen
Paranormal Romance; Urban Fantasy; Fantasy
Orbit
October 27th 2015
audibook; e-book
342
Netgalley

This story started off really promising with the introduction of the heroine Sixteen-year old Nettie Lonesome. She was a biracial girl living on a ranch with a couple she called Pap and Mam. According to Pap and Mam, no one including her biological family wanted this half black, half native American girl, so they took her in and tolerated her.
One day, a visiting man attacked Nettie at the ranch and when Nettie stabbed him, the man turned into ash. This opened her eyes to a whole other world of lurking monsters such as vampires, chupacabras, skinwalkers (shapeshifters) etc and altered Nettie’s understanding of her world.
Nettie runs away from the ranch and joins a new Ranch, the Double TK, but lives there as a man named Rhett. After a series of events sends her running away, Nettie begins her true destiny hunting monsters, most specifically the Pia Mupitsi (the Big Cannibal Owl) rumored to steal babies and turn them into monsters too.
I am not sure how I feel about this book. In the beginning, I thought I would be taking a journey with a girl who lived as a man because she didn’t like what women had to do to survive if you were poor like her. Those women worked in saloons, or were basically subservient to mean drunken men like Pap. Nettie knew she never wanted to be treated with so little regard, so she chose to live as a man. But soon after she arrived at the Double TK, the story shifted to a paranormal story with Nettie as the chosen hunter or the special one. So, it became less about Nettie, the teenage girl trying to figure herself out in her community, to Nettie the one prophesied to destroy an evil monster, the Pia Mupitsi.
The subplot that I was most interested in pertaining to Nettie’s gender identity issues as well as her establishing her own way as a rancher breaking horses. That plot took a backseat to the search for the supernatural monsters. The story just veered off for me and I didn’t have the same enthusiasm as with the first part of the story.
I was never able to decide if Nettie was truly transgendered or was she living as a man because in that time period, women were at the mercy of men. The audiobook was enjoyable and the reader was treated to the history of Nettie which made her current mindset more understandable.
I wish the author had split these into two books, letting us know Nettie as a girl first. She was smart, resourceful and suspicious of everyone.  Definitely an interesting western and how far someone women went to protect their virtue or even. There were many themes in this book so perhaps it’s a situation of treating the reader on too much.
I just don’t know how I feel about the paranormal aspect about this book. It’s definitely not the traditional PNR. I thought there was excellent writing and the author put forth a lot of research. It was clever, creative and imaginative. The second half just didn’t click with me right now .

<i>*Special Thanks to Orbit Books via Netgalley for the ebook given in exchange for an honest review

Holiday House Swap by Sarah Madison

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Holiday House Swap: by Sarah Madison
Release Date: December 21st, 2016
Pages: 200 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAReAmazon

Reclusive writer Noah Kinley is facing a dilemma: how to confess to the world he’s really the author of a best-selling romance series. For years, his friend Julie has been the face of his brand, but she wants her life back now. Fast running out of ideas for his popular series, Noah wants to break out into other genres. Not that he’s writing much of anything at the moment anyway, thanks to paralyzing writer’s block. With his publisher breathing down his neck for the next installment, he hopes a change of scene will get his writer’s juices flowing again. Desperate enough to try anything, during the holidays Noah swaps his isolated cabin in the woods for a gentrified horse farm.

USAF Major Connor Harrison has chosen forced retirement over facing charges for an unauthorized mission to rescue a buddy from behind enemy lines. No one expects him home for the holidays, and he certainly didn’t anticipate finding a stranger in his house, much less Noah Kinley with his acid tongue and a wry sense of humor that pierces all of Connor’s defenses.

Both men need to figure out what the next chapter in their lives will be—and whether it will include each other.

three-stars

This was my first read by Sarah Madison. I didn’t dislike it. I’m always hesitant to try new authors, but I like Holiday reads so I was at an impasse of sorts. Holiday House Swap is exactly what it sounds like but have two people falling in love. Noah seems to be a reclusive author who lives in Maine to write his New York Times Best Selling Series. I say recluse, because he’s anything but timid and shy. If anything, he’s vocal, adamant and has no problem voicing his opinions on things, or trying to come up with a conclusion of sorts. Connor Harrison is fresh off the plane that is, a retired Air Force Pilot coming home to a stranger in his Jacuzzi.

It had plenty of funny moments to me, and both guys initially got to know one another better. The relationship did take a while to progress we can see them sizing each other up. I didn’t expect this Noah. I think I’m blown away by the confident Noah that we seen. In my head the confidence was going to come all from Connor. Not to say it wasn’t welcomed. It wasn’t the case, it was more of Connor being unsure of himself based on previous experiences. I did like that the plot focused on them apart and different aspects of their life then the passion level. I would have liked to see what became of Connor’s land and such. It was such a focal point of the story and we never got closure. I didn’t really like that.

All in all it was an okay book, but it wasn’t anything spectacular to me. It was very low steam, and it’s fine when we have something else to invest in. The problem was that as soon as we get invested it’s an epilogue and then over. Umm no ma’am. I want to see some progress together. Where do they live? We know, but I want to see some things happen. We’ve had all this buildup and then an instant later a proposal??? I think not folks.If you like low steam, nicely told stories, with okay guys then this is right up your alley folks!!!

About Sarah Madison

Sarah Madison has a large dog, and an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She enjoys photography, hiking with her German Shepherd, and competing her horse in the sport of combined training and eventing. Writing has become a passion that sometimes take precedence over everything else. As a matter of fact, when she is in the middle of a chapter, she usually relies on the smoke detector to tell her when dinner is ready.

You can contact Sarah at akasarahmadison@gmail.com.