Audio Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

Series:
Narrator: Angela Goethals, Zachary Webber
  • The Royals Series by Erin Watts

Title: Paper Princess (Book 1); Broken Prince (Book 2); Twisted Palace (Book 3) by Erin Watt
Series: The Royals
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Format: Audiobook (about 9 hours each)
Published By: Everafter Romance; Audible
Purchase Links:
• •

four-half-stars

What a page turner. These books were so engaging, full of angst so be prepared to read the entire series without coming up for air. I must say that Erin Watt impressed me with their versatility as authors. This book featured a solid character building, plot development and completely absorbing story. What I liked best about this series written by Erin Watt (the duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick) was the fact that this new adult romance was uncomfortable, disconcerting but yet incredibly addicting. The characters were developed in such a way that you both liked and disliked them but you were secretly hoping for them to be redeemed. It was a wild ride.


In Book 1 can best be described as a sort of rags to riches, but with a touch of Pretty woman, Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast. the reader is introduced to Ella’s past and shown how she came to be a fighter and street smart. The heroine Ella Harper has been through a lot but when it seems like she can’t be in a worse situation, an angel named Callum Royal appears. Ella is rescued from her life of poverty and transported to castle where Royals reign supreme.
Then Ella is rescued by her father’s best friend Callum Royal where she comes to live with his family, including five sons. Book 1 illustrates the transition of the Royal brothers hating Ella and treat her abominably to Ella eventually gaining their acceptance and esteem as a sister. Ella’s transition from public school into a highly prestigious prep school called Park Prep was full of teenage drama. In fact, that school was mean girls meets the old Eastside High from the movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman. Their school theme song should have been “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns-n-Roses. I’m not sure what would be harder, Park Prep or prison. Both institutions had bullies, hardened criminals and administrators that look the other way. It was a good thing Ella had experience from her days working at the strip club or she would have been destroyed by those rich kids. I could see the “good guys” lurking behind every mean word and action aimed at extinguishing Ella’s esteem, well from the Royals, not so much the school kids. Eventually, Ella and Reed Royal make a love connection, which puts them in a precarious position.
By the end of the book, Battle lines and alliances were revealed between the major players, Callum, Reed, Ella, Easton versus Brooke (Callum’s ex), Dinah (Ella’s stepmother), the Delacorte family from Park Prep school. It was intense to say the least. This book ends in a wicked cliffhanger so make sure to have book two ready to go.


Book 2 presented a change in narration, where the story was primarily told from Reed’s perspective as opposed to the first book where Ella was the primary story teller. It gives Reed the opportunity to introduce himself to the readers and attempt to explain his behavior.
The bulk of the story focused on the rebuilding of the broken trust between Ella Harper and Reed Royal as well as the unveiling of more family secrets. Ella’s father Steve who had been presumed dead returned so that shifts the battle lines a bit.
I didn’t feel like the authors really fleshed out Brooke and Dinah’s relationship as well as motivations at all. Plus, I can’t help but wonder if the real love relationship is between Callum and Steve. Again, this book ends in a cliffhanger as a major character is murdered.


In the third and final book in this angst-filled trilogy, I expected many of my long-standing questions to be address. I was somewhat disappointed because now I felt strung along for a long time.
In this book 3, The Royals are the town pariah right now, with the murder charge still shining a negative light on the Royals and more specifically Reed. I never doubted that Reed and Ella would figure out how to keep their relationship afloat. I knew the Royals would end up on top but I wanted to know who was getting the best of them and why. I also like the ceasefire with Jordan, but I would have liked to know that Jordan was turning over a new leaf in general. Most importantly, I wanted to know how the murderer got away for so long and who aided the murderer. I was right about the murderer but correct on the why and how. I was still confused as the nature of everyone’s relationships. These unanswered questions have left me dangling on but I still enjoyed this screwed up Royal Family.

With all that said, I need these questions answered.
Did Brooke not share with Dinah what she learned, or did Dinah know it before?
Did Steve erase the videos because Reed wasn’t the only one there?
Did Dinah know what really happened to her bestfriend?
What really happened with Steve?
How was Callum so oblivious about Steve?
What was the real deal with Gideon and Dinah? How could an intelligent guy like Gideon not seek easily available legal advice regarding Dinah?
How could Callum know about Reed & Brooke and not Gideon & Dinah, especially with all the cameras in the house?
So is Easton an addict and what’s the family going to do about it?
And Steve…I don’t understand Steve’s motivations at all.

Ezi

The Angels’ Share (The Bourbon Kings, #2) by J.R. Ward

The Angels’ Share (The Bourbon Kings, #2) by J.R. WardSeries:
two-half-stars
The Angels' Share
The Bourbon Kings #2
J.R. Ward
Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance
NAL ~ Penguin Group (USA) LLC
July 26, 2016
paperback
426

In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…

No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.

Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior...or the worst of all the sinners?

Like with book 1, I was bored and hoped the action would develop faster. I was waiting for something huge to occur.

This book started right where book 1 ended. Lane and Lizzie were enjoying their reunion while Lane was stressing out about the financial disaster his father left them. According to their accounting , the Baldwine Family were in the red about $68million.
Older Brother Edward was still struggling physically and emotionally from his kidnapping which was setup by his father. When he’s sober, he still pines for Shelby, the daughter of their family rival.
Little sister Gin doesn’t seem to comprehend their family’s financial dilemma and continues with the marriage to the wealthy Richard. Her relationship with her daughter was another source of strain.
The Baldwine Matriarch was clearly suffering from Alzheimer’s because she had no clue whom anyone was, or what’s going on. This Baldwine family was just a big dramatic mess.

I was most curious to know if the father committed suicide or was murdered. That mystery was intriguing. The answer left me feeling a bit disappointed. The rest of the story about protecting their family legacy and reviving their financial situation was of no interest to me.

I was not entertained nor engaged. There isn’t a single character that I enjoyed. I was a tad hopeful that Edward would rise like a Phoenix but he was still depressing to the end. This series isn’t for me.

*Special Thanks to First Reads by Goodreads for the paperback which I won as a giveaway.

DEADLY SILENCE BLITZ Q&A – Rebecca Zanetti

Series:
Narrator: Karen White
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Deadly Silence Book Cover Deadly Silence
Blood Brothers #1
Rebecca Zanetti
Romantic Suspense
Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
October 4, 2016
e-arc
400

 

DON'T LOOK BACK

Under siege. That's how Ryker Jones feels. The Lost Bastards Investigative Agency he opened up with his blood brothers has lost a client in a brutal way. The past he can't outrun is resurfacing, threatening to drag him down in the undertow. And the beautiful woman he's been trying to keep at arm's length is in danger...and he'll destroy anything and anyone to keep her safe.

Paralegal Zara Remington is in over her head. She's making risky moves at work by day and indulging in an affair with a darkly dangerous PI by night. There's a lot Ryker isn't telling her and the more she uncovers, the less she wants to know. But when all hell breaks loose, Ryker may be the only one to save her. If his past doesn't catch up to them first...

DEADLY SILENCE  Q&A ~ Rebecca Zanetti

1) What was the most challenging part of writing Deadly Silence?

Even though Deadly Silence is the first book in a spinoff series from the Sin Brother series, it needed to stand on its own for accounts as well as new readers. So the challenge was creating a whole new world while still incorporating the Sin Brother world and some of the characters without overwhelming a brand new reader with what came before. It took several drafts and tweaking, but I think we accomplished it in a way that will appeal to fans of the earlier series as well as new fans.

2) Can you tell us more about The Lost Bastards Investigative Agency? How as it started?

The three heroes in the Blood Brother series were thrown together in a horrible boy’s home as kids, and they were lost until they found each other. They each have a piece of their own past they want to track down, yet they’re fine with their new created family. They were lost, and now they aren’t, so they create the detective agency to find the lost for other people while still investigating their pasts.

3) What’s one thing that you enjoy most about writing?

There are so many good things about this job; it’s hard to pick just one. I like wearing yoga pants to work, I like creating worlds, and I like meeting with fans who are struck by the characters. Editorially, I just love the first chapter of a book when anything can happen and there are no limits.

4) Jaws or Jurassic Park?

Fun question! Well, I’d go with Jaws for the dialogue and overall story, and Jurassic Park (the new one) because of Chris Pratt without his shirt on.

5) What are your writing habits?

My habits include comfy socks, coffee or tea, and music playing all the time. Each book has its own playlist, and I’m fine sharing those, but usually people are confused. Many times the songs don’t have much to do with the book itself. I like the tone or rhythm or just the song and will listen as I write. I have found that if a book seems slow and I play a fast song, the pace instantly picks up as I write.

6) You are in a bookstore. Where do you head first?
I head right to the new releases and see what’s out and what I need to read right away. Then I stroll through all the shelves looking for something new to catch my eye. I love bookstores.

7) Is there a genre you haven’t written that you would like to try?

I imagine this question is like tossing a cat into a car wash. Authors love to write, and I think there’s no limit to that. I’d love to write a thriller, a legal thriller, a middle grade series, a sci phi book…

8) Did you have to do a lot of research?

I always do some research. For Deadly Silence, I looked into the Dark Web, current communication possibilities, and genetic manipulation. It’s all so fascinating, really!

9) How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

I’m not sure how to answer this except to say that everyone has a different voice. We’re automatically different from each other. I will say that I do take a moment and think…okay. If this usually happens, let’s go a different direction completely. That’s a lot of fun, actually.

10) Describe Deadly Silence in 5 words:

Dangerous, Sexy, Wounded, Funny, and Dark.

deadly-silence

About Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti wrote her first story when she was six – a romance between a princess and neighboring prince. The princess fell out of her castle and the prince rescued her. A happily ever after was had by all.

This theme of romance has been carried through Rebecca’s works until present time. While today’s heroine may have a medical degree, black belt in Karate and her own 401K, she’s still after that happy ending. And today’s prince may have fangs and wear a black hat, but hey, a modern princess likes a guy who bites.

Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides there with her husband, children and extended family who inspire her every day.

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards

The Mother by Yvvette Edwardson 2016-05-10
Pages: 256
Amazon
The author of the critically acclaimed A Cupboard Full of Coats makes her hardcover debut with a provocative and timely novel about an emotionally devastated mother’s struggle to understand her teenage son’s death, and her search for meaning and hope in the wake of incomprehensible loss.

The unimaginable has happened to Marcia Williams. Her bright and beautiful sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, has been brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she must bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court for the trial of the killer—another teenage boy—accused of taking her son’s life.How could her son be dead? Ryan should have been safe—he wasn’t the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife carried by a dangerous young man like Tyson Manley. But as the trial proceeds, Marcia finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about Ryan’s death and Tyson’s life, including his dysfunctional family. She also discovers troubling truths about her own. As the strain of Ryan’s death tests their marriage, Lloydie, her husband, pulls farther away, hiding behind a wall of secrets that masks his grief, while Marcia draws closer to her sister, who is becoming her prime confidant.One person seems to hold the answers—and the hope—Marcia needs: Tyson’s scared young girlfriend, Sweetie. But as this anguished mother has learned, nothing in life is certain. Not anymore.A beautiful, engrossing novel that illuminates some of the most important and troubling issues of our time, The Motheris a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.
four-stars

The MotherThe Mother by Yvvette Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very interesting. It followed Marcia Williams who is about to attend the trial of the 17 yr old boy who murdered her son Ryan.

Marcia came to court with an image in her head of everyone involved and she found herself constantly having to reevaluate those assumptions. From her husband Lloydie to Sweetie the young girl Ryan had been seeing, people weren’t acting like she expected or even wanted them to.

As a mother, I couldn’t imagine the pain and anguish Marcia and Llyodie were going through. There are so many aspects of a trial that I never considered for the eyes of the families both the victims and the accused. I must admit it was uncomfortable at times. This woman’s suffering was palpable. Definitely a thought provoking read. A powerful commentary on trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy and the effect on all those affected by the crime.

View all my reviews

Absolution (The Protectors # 1) by Sloane Kennedy

Series:
Narrator: Joel Leslie
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Absolution Book Cover Absolution
The Protectors # 1
Sloane Kennedy
Gay Romance; Contemporary Romance;
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
April 1st, 2016
audibook; e-book
356

But what I felt most was the perfection of what these two men were giving me. And I knew in that moment that I would do anything to keep it. Anything. --Cole

After four years abroad, artist Jonas Davenport has come home to start building his dream of owning his own art studio and gallery. But just as he's ready to put the darkness of his past behind him forever, it comes roaring back with a vengeance.

The only thing keeping ex-cop Mace Calhoun from eating his own gun after an unthinkable loss is his role in an underground syndicate that seeks to get justice for the innocent by taking the lives of the guilty. Ending the life of the young artist who committed unspeakable crimes against the most vulnerable of victims should have been the easiest thing in the world. So why can't he bring himself to pull the trigger?

After years of fighting in an endless, soul-sucking war, Navy SEAL Cole Bridgerton has come home to fight another battle - dealing with the discovery that the younger sister who ran away from home eight years earlier is lost to him forever. He needs answers and the only person who can give them to him is a young man struggling to put his life back together. But he never expected to feel something more for the haunted artist.

Cole and Mace. One lives by the rules, the other makes his own. One seeks justice through the law while the other seeks it with his gun. Two men, one light, one dark, will find themselves and each other when they're forced to stand side by side to protect Jonas from an unseen evil that will stop at nothing to silence the young artist forever.

But each man's scars run deep and even the strength of three may not be enough to save them...

Note: This book contains M/M/M sexual content and is intended for mature audiences.

This book ranks as my second favorite polyamory (menage) story behind Bound by Law by S.E. Jakes. It was one of the most angst filled books I’ve ever read and I loved it! Mace Calhoun was a hired mercenary with an assignment to take out Jonas Davenport, a gay pedophile who supposedly used his art to lure young artists and molest them. In the course of his surveillance, Mace began having doubts about Jonas’ culpability, so Mace began insinuating himself into Jonas’ life for more tangible proof of his crimes against little boys. Mace learned that Jonas was still recovering from the murder of his roommate, which he was an eyewitness too. Soon Mace and Jonas became attracted to each other. Just as their attraction was peaking, Mace’s plan was discovered by an ex-navy seal Cole Bridgerton, who was the older brother of Jonas’ murdered roommate.

When it was revealed that someone was after Jonas, Mace & Cole teamed up to protect Jonas and that’s when the three of them came to rely on each other. The three men had such baggage and were so emotionally damaged. It was a group of drowning men barely holding to each other to keep from drowning. It was an emotion plot, and I felt for all three equally. I really applaud this author for not making one character “more” important in the trio. Despite having different needs, I felt like Mace, Cole and Jonas were equally important members of their triad. Each person had chemistry with the other so any two of the trio could have been a hot couple. The author balanced them really well and thus I never saw them as anything but a threesome.

I wish the rest were available in audio because I would have gone right into the next book. It appears that there are at least 2 more books in this series so I am planning to read them as soon as I can.

About Sloane Kennedy

Although Sloane Kennedy always dreamed of being a writer as a teenager, she didn’t take the plunge until March of 2015 when she released her first novel as an independent author. Since then, she has released more than a dozen books including the Amazon best-selling “Barretti Security” series, “Finding” series and “Protectors” series. While she initially began writing M/F romance, she found her true passion writing gay romance and all four of her most recent releases reached the #1 spot on Amazon’s Gay Romance bestseller list and Freeing Zane, her final book in the Barretti Security series, made it to Amazon’s overall bestseller list. Sloane was born in Germany and grew up in Virginia and Wisconsin. Although she currently lives in Wisconsin, the place where she has always felt most at home is Seattle and many of her books take place in the Emerald city. Although she is unmarried, a menagerie of 2 dogs and 3 cats keeps her busy enough and 3 young nieces take care of the rest of her free time. Sloane loves being able to share her passion for romance with readers and she is truly humbled by all the support she’s received from fans and fellow authors alike.

Remember When by J.D. Robb

Remember When by J.D. RobbSeries: In Death #17.5
Pages: 440 Pages
AmazonB&N • (Website, Facebook, Goodreads)
Laine Tavish is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life in the small town of Angel's Gap, Maryland, as the proprietor of Remember When, an antique treasures and gift shop. At least, that's what everyone in Angel's Gap thinks. They have no idea that she used to be Elaine O'Hara, daughter of the notorious con man Big Jack O'Hara. Or that she grew up moving from place to place, one step ahead of the law . . .

Laine's past has just caught up with her, though-in a very dramatic way. Her long-lost uncle suddenly turned up in her shop, leaving only a cryptic warning before dying in the street, run down by a car. Soon afterward, her home is ransacked. Now it's up to Laine, and a sexy stranger named Max Gannon, to find out who's chasing her, and why.

The answer lies in a hidden fortune-a fortune that will change not only Laine's life but also the lives of future generations. And danger and death will surround that fortune for years to come. Until New York City detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas gets on the case.

A thrill-ride of a novel that blends present-day romance and futuristic suspense, Remember When is a tale of deceit and secrets, of strong women and fascinating men-a brilliant combination of the incomparable talents of the two sides of Nora Roberts.
four-half-stars

When I first began reading this book, I experienced a Deja vu moment.  I distinctly remembered the storyline but knew that I had never read this.  Even the characters were familiar to me.  Granted I do read a substantial amount by Nora Roberts (aka, JD Robb).  Moving forward to part II of the book, which I had not read, I realized that this was actually two novellas combined to form Remember When.  Part I was published in 2003 entitled “Hot Rocks” and was published under Nora Roberts, and Part II was originally called “Big Jack and published in 2010 as a stand- alone.    Confusing – VERY!

Part I was originally not part of the In Death series by JD Robb.  This is the beginning of the story of the main character, Laine Tavish’s life.  We meet Laine who now owns her own antique Store called none other than Remember When.  This section describes her life as a child with her notorious con-man father.  Part II begins some fifty years later.  This is where the reader will meet up with all of the In Death series characters, primarily Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke.  Eve is called to a murder case that happens to center around Laine’s granddaughter, thus the combination of the two novellas.

While this book certainly does not have to be read in order and one can read both Hot Rocks and Big Jack separately, it was fun to read at once to see Laine’s life progress.  I love the In Death series and slowly but surely will finish all of the books.  This series is fun, quirky, and extremely fast to read.  Although I read the eBook, normally I listen to these on audio.  The narrator is awesome!  I may have to go back and listen to this one at a later date!

I thought about giving this book 5 stars but decided on 4.5 since I was not aware that the two parts were actually two separate novellas.  The eBook did not state this.  Only after I read part I did I decide to do a little sleuthing on my own.

About J.D. Robb

With a phenomenal career full of bestsellers, Nora Roberts was ready for a new writing challenge. As her agent put it, like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and caffeine-free Pepsi, a pseudonym offered her the opportunity to reach a new and different group of readers. The first futuristic suspense J. D. Robb book, Naked in Death, was published in paperback in 1995, and readers were immediately drawn to Eve Dallas, a tough cop with a dark past, and her even more mysterious love interest, Roarke.

The series quickly gained attention, great reviews, and devoted readers. Since the debut of Loyalty in Death (the ninth In Death book) on Halloween 1999 on the New York Times bestseller list, every J. D. Robb title has been a New York Times bestseller. While fans had their suspicions, it wasn’t until the twelfth book in the series, Betrayal in Death (2001), that the publisher fully revealed that J. D. Robb was a pseudonym for bestselling powerhouse Nora Roberts. Unmasked, Nora Roberts fans who hadn’t yet picked up one of the Robb books were quickly playing catch-up.

Robb’s peers in the mystery world are fans as well, with accolades for the In Death series from such blockbuster authors as Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, Dennis Lehane, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Ridley Pearson, Linda Fairstein, and Andrew Gross.

The In Death books are perpetual bestsellers, and frequently share the bestseller list with other Nora Roberts novels. J. D. Robb publishes two hardcover In Death books per year, with the occasional stand-alone original In Death story featured in an anthology.

Forty books later, there is no end in sight for the ever-popular In Death series.

Still Waters (Memoirs of the Human Wraiths #3) by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Still Waters (Memoirs of the Human Wraiths #3) by  F.E. Feeley Jr.Series: Memoirs of the Human Wraiths #3
on 2015-03-30
Pages: 210
Amazon • (Website)
Memoirs of the Human Wraiths Promise, Michigan is very much like every other small town across the state. Built on the edge of a lake, the homes sit in neat little rows in cute little neighborhoods. During the summer Promise bustles with tourists who come to spend their vacation dollars and enjoy the lake’s refreshingly cold water. But Promise holds a terrible secret. In the center of the lake is an abandoned island where a curse is rumored to wait for victims, unabated and deadly. Most think it’s just a story, something used to keep kids out of trouble. Still, everyone gives it a wide berth. Everyone except Bret and Adam. They dare to venture out the night of Bret’s birthday. When they declared their love and promise to get married, they believe no one else heard their whispered words—but they are wrong. Five years after Adam dies, Bret returns to his family to heal. But someone is killing the people of Promise in random acts of violence. Bret, with the help of FBI agent Jeff McAllister, must discover the identity of a murderer with death on his mind and revenge in his heart.
four-half-stars

This is NOT scary and the writing is excellent. I also didn’t read the first two books because I was told it wouldn’t affect my enjoyment of this book.

Five years ago, Bret Williams and his fiancée Adam Woolsey were planning on spending the rest of the lives together when tragedy struck. Despite the pain, Brett continued to keep in touch with Adam’s family, after they adopted him as one of their own.

When FBI agent Jeff McAlister comes to town to investigate some homicides, he is drawn to Brett even though Brett is a potential suspect. Even though the circumstances aren’t ideal, there is an undeniable attraction. But in order to to move forward, Brett has to make peace with his past promises. Who is the murderer and what is their connection to Brett?

I couldn’t stop reading this one once I started. The actual writing was fluid, smooth and clear. The story and characters were well-developed and the folklore was interesting. I loved that Brett found comfort with Adam’s family, I loved that they affirmed him and that last fight was heartbreaking. From the beginning, I had hoped that the perpetrators of violence would meet justice and their deeds exposed. The journey towards that end started out sad and painful but ending with hope and peace. I kept expecting to freak out from fear, but this book was more love and redemption that spooky ghost story (though it was a tad creepy). I

If you want to read a love story with a little supernatural connection (ghost), I highly recommend this one.

About F.E. Feeley Jr

First and foremost, I am a husband to my wonderful husband, John. I am a father of our five-year-old German Shephard, Kaiser. I am an avid reader of Mysteries, Horror, and Suspense, and biographies. I am a gamer. My favorite ones are Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Star Trek Online,Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout, and Civilization Five. I love to cook and I love trying new recipes (hint hint). I am an avid music junkie from POPular music to Opera, to Showtunes, Gospel, Rock, Rap, and Hip Hop. I am also a Poet – a lot of which is offered on this web page for free. And I do some gay fiction writing from time to time.

I love connecting with people. As an ex- fundi, I grew up in a world where there was this invisible boundary set down between me and the world around me. I felt more like an observer than an actual participant in that world. Since I’ve left fundamentalism – it has been my constant endeavor to be a part of the world. To be a part of humanity. And when I write my poetry or my books, I draw from the experiences of being raised in that environment as well as the experiences of tasting the bouquet of humanity I’d been denied all those years ago.

It’s a way to entertain people, writing is a way to connect to them, as well as a way for me to recover from the world I’d lived in all those years ago. Thank you for coming on my journey with me.

Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfieldon July 27, 2014
Pages: 230 pages
Amazon
Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.

Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.

In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.
two-stars

I decided to try this book because the cover was compelling and I really like the St. Nacho’s series written by the author. Unfortunately, I can’t point to anything in this book that I enjoyed.

It started out really well and about half way, it descended into this baffling sex, lies and murder mystery. I found the character of Finn Fowler to be a head scratcher. Finn Fowler was the “left behind” character as his friend Dare Buckley left Palladin Washington in search of greener pastures. Finn was the son of the town whore and everyone picked on him. He was called “Foullest”, a play on his last name Fowler. Dare Buckley, the beloved town son, always stood up for Finn until the suicide of his detective father rocked his foundation. Dare and his family quickly left town, and Finn was stuck fending for himself again.

Over a decade later, Dare returns to town after a disgraceful error in judgment cost him his job. And he seems while some things are still the same, others have changed drastically. For instance, Finn isn’t as helpless as he used to be, and now Dare was the one who needed help putting his life back together.

This book was dark and never really got better. I never felt settled reading this book, not even at the end. I never quite understood Finn. I get that he had to create an environment he could control since almost everything around him was out of his control, but I didn’t understand what he truly desired. Bill Fraser and Dare Buckley, made sense but Finn, I can’t wrap my head around. The BDSM aspect to this story did NOT work for me and I found it disturbing. It was almost like Finn was broken inside just as much as Dare and Bill. I thought the author would somehow try to fix all three of them together. All three and the whole town seemed to be pretty messed up with their secrets and lies.

Aaron (Survivor Stories #1) by J. P. Barnaby

Aaron (Survivor Stories #1) by J. P. BarnabySeries: Survivor Stories #1
on October 8th, 2012
Pages: 238 pages
AmazonNarrator: Tyler Stevens
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control
four-stars

This was an emotional book, with many little steps in recovery.

Aaron Downing was brutally attacked while he walked home with his beset friend Juliette. His bestie was killed and while the monsters tried to kill him, he survived. But they weren’t caught, so Aaron lived in perpetual fear for his life. His nightmares and trauma affected his parents and 2 brothers who looked up to him their whole lives. Aaron had a long scar scar on his face, some on his body and a lot on the inside.

Aaron struggled to make it through each day until his college professor assigned him a deaf partner for a project. Spencer Thomas was treated as freak because he was deaf, so working with Aaron gave him someone who was similar to himself. Spencer’s mother had been mugged and Spencer was delivered 3 months too early. He survived but its a cruel world as he learns to live without his mom and his alcoholic, yet brillant father.

As Spencer and Aaron work on their project together, they formed a friendship. In the meantime, Spencer’s father, who is a doctor specializing in trauma, begins to treat Aaron for his anxiety. It was step by step, but slowly Aaron gets to the point where Spencer can touch him. This revelation leads to the acknowledgement that what Aaron and Spencer feel for each other is more than friendship.

What a sad, yet hopeful story. Aaron really worked and Spencer was so persistent in being there for him. They saved each other. I am glad love helped these two lovebirds heal some of their past hurts. Aaron to Spencer “I never thought I would find someone to look past the scars. I want to try if you do”. How can you not feel that? I read that like 5 times.

But the real heroes here were family, they hung on strong and gave these two a safe place to grow their wings and fly.

About J.P. Barnaby

JP Barnaby, an award-winning gay romance novelist, is the author of over two dozen books, including Aaron and the Little Boy Lost Series. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance, but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not hanging out with hot guys in leather, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix. A physics geek, she likes the science side of Sci-Fi, and wants to grow up to be Reed Richards.

Review: Home Work (Life Lessons #3) by Kaje Harper

Review: Home Work (Life Lessons #3) by Kaje HarperSeries: Life Lessons #3
on October 5th 2012
Pages: 356 pages
Amazon • (Website, Facebook, Goodreads)
Mac and Tony thought the hard part was over. They’re together openly as a couple, sharing a home and building a life with their two children. It’s what they dreamed of. But daughter Anna struggles with the changes, Ben is haunted by old secrets, Mac’s job in Homicide still demands too much of his time, and Tony is caught in the middle. It’s going to take everything these men can give to create a viable balance between home and work. Especially when the outside world seems determined to throw obstacles in their way.
four-half-stars

★★★★½
Another slight cliff hanger? Kaje Harper, you are killing me. You know how much I love Mac!!!

Mac and Tony are now raising their kids, Anna & Ben together as one family unit. They are trying to make the transition as bachelors to fathers with young children. They were definitely struggling to create a routine. Mac’s job as a homicide detective still required a lot of odd hours and Tony was overwhelmed trying to fill in the gap by himself.

Mac had difficulty setting boundaries with work time and home time and Tony seemed to be getting resentful of having all home life duties dumped on him. How can Mac let Tony and the kids see they are his #1 priorities when he is never there?

My enjoyment of this book was elevated by the supporting cast: Oliver, Bree, Jamie and Gina. They are the ones who kept this relationship from crumbling under the weight of the all expectations. They just wrapped the foursome with their love and it grounded the story. Obviously Mac loves Tony, but this is the most expressive and open Mac has ever been and Tony needed that. Tony is great for Mac and I loved Mac finally putting Tony’s needs first. The only thing that I am waiting for is the final act of complete honesty and trust, when Mac tells Tony some of the past pains that he still hides from Tony. The trip to the bondage club definitely touched on that issue a bit. I hope Mac will let Tony in and let Tony help him heal both physically. and emotionally.

Oliver is shaping up to be such an awesome partner. That’s what I love about Kaje Harper, the realism of her writing. It has truly been a process for Oliver to accept that his partner Mac is gay, and what that means for them at work. Bree, Jamie and Mama Gina are just awesome, the kids really needed that female touch and they are getting it in spades. Those kids are definitely getting the love they need to feel secure in this new family unit.

The murder investigation really took a dark turn, and I was so disappointed that IA let Terrence off the hook. I understand why, but I am hoping that Terrence will face more repercussions in the future because he continues to allow his bigotry affect his work. I am looking forward to the resolution of that murder case in book 4.

About Kaje Harper

I live in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, the mosquito is the state bird, and where sometimes in winter it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, the deepfreeze chill contributes to the breath-taking, but Minnesota’s a kindly, quiet place and it’s home to me now. I’ve been writing for far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty years*), mostly for my own entertainment, and currently am focused on M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, history, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp.

My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. My husband finally convinced me that after all that time writing, I really should submit something, somewhere. I was thrilled when it was accepted. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts, and teachers who speak their minds, and I had fun writing the four novels and three freebie short stories in the series. I’ve been just delighted by the reception Mac and Tony have received.

My first free book became the first story that I actually released – I put it up a month before Life Lessons just for the fun of getting it out there. Lies and Consequences began as a reaction to the November 2010 election. It looked like the repeal of DADT might be derailed by the political shift and I put the insanity of that law into the book. Then as I was finishing the first draft in mid-December the repeal passed. Which was great, but prompted a rewrite to a lighter and more action/romance book. This was a solo effort and I learned a lot from writing and releasing it and from the reviews. Check Smashwords for that one and many of my other freebies.

I now have a decent backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published. A complete list with links can be found on my Books page. This writing thing is addictive. So read, comment, tell me what you like and what you don’t, and help me make the upcoming books even better. I have an author page on Goodreads where I do a lot of book reviews, and this blog is reposted there.

You can find me to chat on my author page on Goodreads most easily – I hang out on Goodreads a lot because I moderate the Goodreads YA LGBT Books group there. I also post free short YA stories on that group, more than 50 of them so far.

You can also email me : kajeharper ~at~ yahoo ~dot~ com or find me on Facebook –