Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones

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.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight: by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #11
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 352 • Format: eARC
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Purchase Links:
AmazonBarnes & Noble

A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, missing people, errant wives, philandering business owners, and oh yeah…demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead. In this eleventh installment, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband and world-rocking lover, maybe Charley can find a way to have her happily ever after after all.

three-stars


Utterly Frustrated.

As a fan it hurts me that every freaking book is now a cliffhanger. I use to be the biggest advocate for this series, and honestly I just feel letdown as a fan of the series. I get so sick and tired of little info being put out each book that pertains to the big showdown at the end of whenever and then bam cliffhanger. It’s now book 11, what are we waiting for? It’s super convoluted, and I just find myself frustrated at best to describe it. I put in my time, money, energy and love into this series. I think about how the series started, and yeah nothing was set in stone, but so much information is being put out at each book that I’ve lost focus on what the end game was. It seems like a lot of filler information, and nothing set in stone for a finale of epic proportion and what I feel like we were lead to believe. I mean at this points, it just seems like it’s never going to end. I don’t see the ending in sight. I know it’s bad for me when it’s not even funny anymore, and I just want the book to end. Trust me, I’m mad.

**Sighs**
Charley and Reyes continue to do the back and forth not talking, talking, not trusting, trusting each other. It’s annoying. It’s also annoying that Charley has to continuously ask what she can do, and never try anything first. She never attempts things on her own when it comes to her powers. I know Reyes is the know how when it comes to this stuff, but damn Charley the foolishness has to stop.

I didn’t really gain anything by this book. A few scenes satisfied me, and of course I love seeing the gang together, but it’s the second book since Beep was born that we still don’t see them interacting with her. I KNOW they aren’t suppose to but, the Charley from books 1-5 would have moved heaven and hell to see her child. Atleast it’s what I think. I’m getting tired of Reyes doing the same posturing he does every book. Ya’ll know I love me some Reyes Alexander Farrow, but I think him and I are almost at our end. As I type this, I know I’m not mentally strong enough to quit the series until I know it’s over.

I miss the old formula to this series, and sometimes I feel like it’s this long because it’s a money train. That’s the angry side of me, and I hope it’s not the case. I really wish we can get back to the investigating and an end game. I feel like this group of people has been through enough, and nothing else needs to shake them. What I didn’t need was another cliffhanger. Yet we can’t get everything we ask for.

About Darynda Jones

NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a Rebecca, two Hold Medallions, a RITA ®, and a Daphne du Maurier, and she has received stellar reviews from dozens of publications including starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the Library Journal. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike, and she is ever so grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. She currently has two series with St. Martin’s Press: The Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of almost 30 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at www.daryndajones.com.

Unwanted (Elemental Assassin #14.5) by Jennifer Estep

Unwanted (Elemental Assassin #14.5) by Jennifer EstepSeries:

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: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin
Release Date: July 18th, 2016
Pages: 100 • Format: e-arc
Published By: Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books
Purchase Links:   Amazon USBarnes & Noble

The New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series continues with a new e-novella–from the point of view of Finnegan Lane, the foster brother of Gin Blanco, and a fan favorite of readers of the series.

The fallout from his disastrous “family reunion” in Bitter Bite has left Finn feeling hurt, angry, and depressed. He can barely stand to look at himself in the mirror, much less eat any of the delicious barbecue from Gin’s famed Pork Pit restaurant.

But when the funeral for a slain security guard at his bank turns into a showdown with some nasty underworld giants, Finn knows that he must act in order to protect an innocent family.

Finnegan Lane might be the most unwanted man in Ashland these days, but he’s determined to try to make amends for his past mistakes…

four-stars

This was a welcome addition to the Elemental Assassin series as the reader got to hear Finnegan Lane’s point of view.

Following the crushing betrayal by this mother Deirdre Shaw in Bitter Bite, Finn was still wallowing in guilt over the death and destruction caused her in attempted robbery. Finn was trying to figure out how to make amends and regain the trust of those who felt that he was complicit in his mother’s scheme. This book saw him begin to regain his sense of purpose and respect as he was able to help a family who lost their protector and provider in the bank massacre. What I loved was that it wasn’t Bria or Gin or even the ghost of Fletcher Lane, but Finn alone taking a step onto redemption road.

While I found all the blame heaped on him to be undeserving, it spoke to Finn’s character that he didn’t brush people’s feelings aside. He took everyone’s hurts to heart and he resolved to help make amends. This novella had a slightly somber mood, lacking Finn’s signature cocky quips, but it still felt like an Elemental Assassin. It was a nice shift in focus to another beloved character in this series.

*Special Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

Ezi

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

Audiobook Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narrator: Nick Podehl, Teri Schnaubelt
Say Goodbye for Now Book Cover Say Goodbye for Now
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Historical Fiction, Romance
Lake Union Publishing
December 13th, 2016
audibook; e-book
366

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

This story grazes upon on a number of sensitive subjects. There was the issue of a female doctor, Lucille “Lucy” Armstrong, whose husband left her as her professional standing exceeded his. In addition, her adolescent son resented her because of her work schedule. Adding insult to injury, Dr. Armstrong was lacking in respectable patients as many people in the rural area of Texas refused to be treated by a woman. Then author also deals with the issue of child abuse and abandonment as the reader was introduced to the life of twelve-year-old Pete Solomon. When Pete took pity on an injured wolf dog and got help from a ten-year-old black boy Justin Bell to carry the dog to Dr. Lucy, the author introduced animal abuse, racism and hate crimes into the story.

I enjoyed how the author weaved the story together although I felt she didn’t really delve deep into any of those issues. It was enough for the reader to consider each character’s plight and how they dealt with their lot in life. These four people were outcasts or not part of the acceptable society’s circle, but they found in each other an anchor. Many times, people say blood is thicker than water, but many families are “chosen” or “formed” by necessity. This was one of those times that a makeshift family provided love, acceptance, support and encouragement in a situation where it was badly needed.

Once I started this book, I didn’t put it down. It wasn’t exactly tear inducing but there was a small dose of angsty. I definitely had an emotional connection to the characters because I felt bad for Pete, Justin and for Calvin and Lucy as a couple. That journey to lasting love certainly touched me. There were different kinds of love expressed in this book and it made up for the pain and hatred shown to the characters. There was an encouraging evolution in this book that gave me hope for society today.

I didn’t give this book a five-star rating because while the author did a great job developing the heroine Lucy as well as Pete, but I had a surface grasp on Justine, his father Calvin and Pete’s father. I would have liked more information regarding Pete’s father, especially from his own perspective. Still, this book was really a moving and poignant read.

*Special Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.”

Ezi

Friendly Fire by Cari Z.

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.

cariFriendly Fire: by Cari Z.
Release Date: October 17, 2016
Pages: 252 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped.

Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.

But Elliott is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.

three-half-stars

The only thing that saved me from DNF the book was my need to see the end through. I liked the first half of the story, the two bad people were obvious, or at least one of them was. I enjoyed the writing a lot. It pushed me through the end. At the end of the story, I don’t know if I like the relationship. They didn’t really bond for me. I guess I wanted more passion from the couple and that’s what I found that was seriously lacking! I liked Lennox a lot and kinda loved his name. (It went on my future’s children name list)! I like Elliot for the most part, but I hated his job. It bothered me more then the story. I felt like we were leading up to this amazing story line and it wasn’t apart of the story. I didn’t like his career from the get go, but it became the focal point of why these two guys were together and I don’t get a glimpse of what Elliot does to make it special. Another thing was the getting to see him and Vanessa together. That bothered me. I wanted that scene for myself since Elliot cared so much about letting things happen to him just so Vanessa career wouldn’t get hurt.

I can’t speak for other readers but I look for things I can relate to in novels. I like the realistic idea that Elliot screwed up in life so he is atoning for his mistakes by not being a burden to his sister. Yeah, he had some really crazy things happen to him, but he was so worried about messing up Vanessa’s life that we get word of mouth instead of the actual scene. I’m greedy, I guess I wanted to be able to relate to him in some sort of fashion. I wasn’t to thrilled about the outcome.

Lennox was the type of person that you need to warm up to. He kinda comes of stand offish, but I like to call that “gentlemanly stoic”. He seems like to be in a difficult head space in life. I don’t really know the time frame from him being out the military to present day now. He seemed to be atoning for mistakes he things he’s made, but that’s one thing we don’t get to see about Lennox. I feel like his story wasn’t finished. He didn’t get enough personal screen time to me, and I wanted him to come to terms with his own grievances. It’s a part in the book where he is telling Elliot about his reassurances and atoning for prior mistakes. I don’t know if that was a light bulb moment for Lennox, but it didn’t seem he got the closure to me.

All in all, this was an okay read. I enjoyed the writing way more then the execution of the story. I don’t think it gelled well after the 50% mark. I really would have liked one trope to have been the main focus. Instead, I feel like the mystery/suspense as in competition with the romance side of the story. I will definitely check out more from this author though.

About Cari Z.

Cari Z. is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She has a wonderful relationship with her husband, a complex relationship with the characters in her head and a sadomasochistic relationship with her exercise routine. She feels like Halloween should happen every month, which is why you get this picture of her, and hopes that you enjoy reading what she’s put out there as much as she enjoyed writing it in the first place.

Wriggle & Sparkle by Megan Derr

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.

Wriggle & Sparkle: by Megan Derr
Release Date: August 10, 2016
Pages: 260 • Format: eARC
Published By: Less Than Three Press
Purchase Links:
Less Than Three Press AmazonARe

Lynn is a kraken shifter in every way: detailed, tenacious, resilient, and hard-working. Also possessive, vain, arrogant, and demanding. It makes him an excellent agent for the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Security and Investigation—and impossible to work with, as the long list of partners who have transferred away from him will attest.

His newest partner is a unicorn, possibly the worst type of paranormal for work that often turns ugly and violent. Everyone knows unicorns are too delicate for such things. Then Anderson proves to be a unicorn like no other, the kind of partner Lynn has always wanted—the kind of partner he wishes was more. But if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that the only thing harder to keep than a partner is a lover.

Warning: Contains tentacle porn

Publisher’s note: This was originally published as a serial at Yaoifix. It has been edited and revised for release with LT3, but nothing significant has changed

three-half-stars

This was a super cheesy and fun shifter story. I’ve never read a story featuring a unicorn & a kraken. LOL. I laughed alot. For all of Lynn uneasiness about having a partner and him swearing that a unicorn was to soft for him, he fell for Anderson quickly and hard. This was a cute collection about Lynn & Anderson two different species working together and falling in love.

It was snarky and campy to a joyous extent. I liked the writing and telling of the story. I’m super glad I wasn’t annoyed about the sugary sweetness of it. It still had a plot, rather easy but it was still a plot. It was some of the silliest adventures ever and Derr wrote some of the steamiest scenes ever. I enjoyed it more then I thought I would. It was some tentacle/ shifting sex going on. I was a tad bashful, but I digress it was done and HAWT!!!! I enjoy laughing and it’s no shortage of it. Kudos Megan, I enjoyed it alot.

About Megan Derr

Writing and reading are my life. I’m pretty equal opportunity, there is very little I do not like to read. But, I think it’s safe to say that romance and fantasy are my primary stomping grounds :3 I love writing slash, it works for me in a way that writing other things never did. Past that, I’m all over the board – fantasy, supernatural, contemporary, space operas, you name it.

Outside of those primary obsessions, I love cooking, baking, reading, movies & TV. I also enjoy harassing my five cats. I live in a beach town so I never again have to put up with snow.

If you need/want to reach me, email is your best bet (doesn’t matter which), but I’ll respond anywhere as long as I see it. I can be slow to reply to emails, fair warning. I get a lot of them and stuff gets buried fast. But I will eventually reply, and by all means harass me if I do not reply quickly enough.

His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace

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.

His Royal Favorite: by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret #2 
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Pages: 245 • Format: eARC
Published By: InterMix
Purchase Links:
Amazon

The conclusion of Lilah Pace’s racy, romantic male/male duology following His Royal Secret…

James, Prince of Wales, is making history. He’s decided to come out to his subjects—and the world. However, telling the truth means exposing his relationship with lone-wolf reporter Benjamin Dahan. Although Ben never wanted commitment, the unexpected depth of his feelings leads him to join James in the media’s harsh spotlight.

When the news story explodes across the globe, Ben can endure the mockery and dirty jokes. But after his tragic past is cruelly revealed, his life begins to implode. Can even his love for James be worth this?

James has it no easier. His revelation divides the country and sparks turmoil within the royal family. He must struggle to defend not only himself and Ben, but also his younger sister, who hovers on the brink of a breakdown that could endanger her life.

Is Ben strong enough to survive the onslaught and stand by James’ side? And will James have to make a choice between Ben and the crown?

four-stars

Book two was not for the lighthearted at all!!! It was super emotional and way more angsty!!! GAH. I dislike angst and reading this is why. In my head Ben would have got over himself 20% into the story. I get it, and understand ALL his reservations but I totally was being #TeamJames over here and wanted him to sacrifice his freedom for James. It didn’t work like that, and man this book did wonders to my emotions. I feel like I need a palate cleanser and need to read a comfort read or some fluff afterwards.

This picks up immediately after book two. I almost want it to be a trilogy because I like these two characters so much. I think the author handled this wonderfully. Nothing was easy to any of the characters to me. Both guys were constantly tested, it really made them put their future in perspective. I couldn’t imagine living like that, and too see Ben trying should have been enough for me. I really like Ben alot, he’s independent, career-orientated, and self reliant. To see him part ways with the pieces that he feels makes him about did me in. I’d understood the resentment and the falling apart from one another.I think James was one of the realistic guys ever. Yeah he lived in a bubble, and doesn’t have a debit card, but he constantly gave Ben an out. He was willing to allow the love of his life, a life instead of being in the media spotlight constantly.

On top of those two, Indigo’s mental health status has reached a boiling point. I felt for James, because he’s rolling solo on this. He has no help, he has no training and he’s trying to do what he thinks is the best of her. Bravo Ben!!! Thank you for saying what I’m sure everyone reading is thinking. We can’t help Indigo without professionals, and it’s time to allow someone else to take over the reigns for a little while.

I did find myself less enamored with this then book one. It was tamer in the physical acts, it was way angstier I ever would have expected. It didn’t have the same magic as book one, but I guess you could say it was the honeymoon period for those guys and they needed a break. I’m looking forward to more from this author. This series is one I’d definitely recommend!

About Lilah Pace

Lilah Pace is a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling author, so she can’t give away too much about herself here, but she has lived everywhere from Italy to the United Kingdom before putting down roots in the American South.

She’s addicted to Diet Coke, loves her dog, and daydreams about several British movie stars (though usually no more than two at a time).

And while it took her a long while to get up the courage to write books, now she hopes she’ll never stop.

To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy

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.

To TerminatorTo Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Pages: 152 • Format: eARC
Published By: Less Than Three Press
Purchase Links:
Less Than Three AmazonARe

Dexter Wu’s life is hectic, but he’s managing—mostly. He’s on the verge of finishing grad school, and that means putting the final touches on his number one project: HAL, a social robot and children’s storytelling companion. But his best friend is leaving the country for good, his birthday’s coming up, he’s swamped with studying for finals, and he hasn’t slept in days.

He’s also going to destroy the world.

At least, his robot is, according to the possibly untrustworthy Agency, an organization whose mission is to protect the world at all costs. After his birthday party turns into a fight for his life, Dexter’s simple life of fast food and Netflix binges is replaced by a glitchy oracle, the world’s douchiest secret agents, and an ever-increasing chain of conspiracies.

With the help of Andre, a mysterious and disenchanted young agent turned rogue, Dexter sets out to plead his case to the Director in an effort to get his life back to what counts as normal—but he should know by now nothing is ever so easy.

three-half-stars

“He was Neville Longbottom with a badass gun and he was going to fuck Voldemort’s shit up.”

I laughed alot while reading this. Seriously I loved all the different movie references that the characters threw at each other. I like the super cheesy villain. I thought Dexter Wu was an Asian Stiles. It read like fan fiction mostly to me, it’s not necessarily bad, but that’s how I felt. This was super light comedy with semi sweet romance. I had never heard of the author before, and I kept going back to the book on Netgalley and I’m glad I did. Wes Kennedy did a good with these characters, and the super sweet flirty times between Dexter and Andre. I especially loved Beavis parts. I was laughing so hard.

Dexter is a 21 year engineering major at MIT who loves Chipotle and Five Guys and loves his robot Hal. Unbeknownst to him his best friend is a super secret spy from “The Agency” sent to destroy him and his world destroying robot Hal. Super Agent Andre decided to save Dexter since the plan was never to harm him. I liked Andre and his stuck up ways. He was so agency never stepping out of character or hardly being flawed. I did enjoy when both guys decided to open up and be themselves. I thought the pacing and flow of the story was good and solid, and so many laughable moments. It’s no sex in the book at all, and Dexter admits to being asexual. I will admit, I groaned after reading the book. It’s like my 4th book in the last six months with characters being asexual. I don’t have a problem with it, but I read for the acts of sex and romance. I think I was missing it with these characters, but it was novella length so I didn’t get to perturbed. I just had images in my mind of Dexter being all awkward during it. All in all the OTT moments stole the show with the story. Maybe the author will write a part two so we can know if these two get into anymore shenanigans.

About Wes Kennedy

Wes Kennedy (aka Brooklyn Wallace) is a queer fiction author and starving graduate student from the great state of Texas. She loves libraries, hot wings, Pepsi, Blaxploitation, and comics. An anxious perpetual sleeper with a penchant for self-deprecating humor, Wes has a soft spot for writing comedies, forbidden love, and nerdy queers. When not writing, she enjoys touring various anime and sci-fi conventions across Texas, reading and writing fanfiction, yelling about sports, and watching TV shows religiously.

Counterpunch (Belonging #2) by by Aleksandr Voinov

Counterpunch (Belonging #2) by by Aleksandr VoinovSeries: Belonging #2
on Sep 15, 2014
Pages: 212
AmazonB&N
Fight like a man, or die like a slave.

Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he's the "Mean Machine", a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.

When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn's services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it "love"—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn's conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.
four-stars

This wasn’t a light read for me, but it was engaging. I know coming into a Voinov novel, not to expect a simple, shallow read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Brooklyn Marshall was the top slave boxer but wanted to compete with the free man boxing champion. In this society, people could be born slaves or sold into slavery as punishment for crimes. Brooklyn was a cop who convicted of murder, and thus became a slave. When he isn’t boxing or training, his owners farm him out for the sexual whims of rich clients.

When Brooklyn meets Nathaniel Bishop, a well-connected lawyer, it was clear that he found a client who didn’t just see a slave. Nathaniel saw a man and treated Brooklyn with care. Soon their relationship evolved and the two of them started a real love affair. Nathaniel convinced Brooklyn that they could fight to get his conviction overturned and Brooklyn’s status as a slave reversed. So as the lovers grow closer, there is this sense of foreboding that I couldn’t shake. Of course, the happily ever after hit a huge snag and some of Nathaniel’s past was revealed.

Honestly, one of the things that I enjoy about Voinov’s writing has to be the slightly dark romance with hope still lingering. It’s clear that Brooklyn was that are full of despair, but he still yearned for his life before his conviction. Boxing was a way to unleash his anger and rage, but the sex scenes with Nathaniel were intense as well. I was pleased with the outcome of the story and with the direction that Brooklyn’s life is headed.

This story wasn’t all hearts and flowers, but there was light at the end of the tunnel and so the journey was worth it to me. The writing was very visceral and I just felt the emotions from the main characters. I was firmly  rooted in Brooklyn’s corner and I was pulling for him to win both in the ring and in his life.

*Special Thanks to Riptide Publishing via Netgalley for the reading copy.

The River Leith by Leta Blake

The River Leith  by Leta Blakeon May 15th 2014
Pages: 173
Amazon • (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
five-stars

Wow. I loved this one. It had controversial things that made it so dramatic, emotional and so engagin. Great book!

Leith Weinz is a boxer who sustained brain trauma after an illegal hit to the back of his head during a boxing match. He woke up from a coma with partial amnesia, he can’t remember the last 3 years.
Zachariah Stevens is part of The 3 yrs Leith can’t remember. What do you do when the person who means the world to you doesn’t have a clue who you are?

This book was angsty because it hinged on the unknown. Leith doesn’t know Zach. Leith doesn’t know if and when he’ll get his memory back. Leith doesn’t know if he’ll ever box again. Zach doesn’t know if he’ll get the love of his life back. Zach doesn’t now how he can live without his partner. The doctors don’t know if Leith’s memory will return.

The uncertainty was making everyone anxious, irritable, scared and emotional. I felt like I was on eggshells too, waiting for the lightbulb to come on. What an emotional journey. I felt for Zach, Marian, Ava and Arthur. How much do you tell Leith or do you wait for it come back? What would I do if my loved one saw me as a stranger? It’s amazing at how the body retains certain memory even when the cognitive mind doesn’t. I appreciate this author tackling a difficult subject with sensitivity yet conveying the sense of helplessness the characters felt. I could see everyone’s POV and I just had to walk with them with hope and patience.

I wish I could hug everyone in this book.

Special Thanks to Romance Beckons via Netgalley for review copy.

About Leta Blake

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan

favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology

and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting

romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S.,

Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.