Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ARC Review: Thick & Thin (THIRDS, #8) by Charlie Cochet

Sequel to Smoke & Mirrors

In a matter of days, Dex has been kidnapped, tortured, killed, revived, become half Therian, offered the chance to become a spy, and accepted a proposal to marry his jaguar Therian boyfriend, Sloane Brodie. It’s been a lot to take in, and although Dex is still trying to wrap his head around everything that’s happened, he knows he has to move forward.

After the events of Smoke & Mirrors, Dex and Sloane find themselves in one of the most frightening situations of all: revealing the truth to their Destructive Delta family. When the dust settles, nothing will ever be the same, and it’s up to Dex to prove that in the face of change, the one thing that will always remain the same is family.

Jewel's rating:

Thick & Thin picks up immediately where Smoke & Mirrors left off. Dex is still reeling from all the changes that happened at the end of Smoke & Mirrors, both to himself and the team. We get some questions answered in Thick & Thin and are set up for the next book quite nicely.

At the end of Smoke & Mirrors, Dex and Sloane made a decision that kind of left me going "say what?". All of that gets explained here in more depth and I was happy for it, though I am still kind of giving that whole direction the side-eye. I'll just have to see how it plays out. I don't want Destructive Delta (as a team or as individuals) to lose themselves, so I guess I'll just have to exercise a bit of trust. There are obviously still a lot of questions that need answering and I'm looking forward to seeing it all unfold.

Audio book Review: When the Dust Settles by Mary Calmes

From The Blurb:
Glenn Holloway’s predictable life ended the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family. As if that wasn’t enough, he then poured salt in the wound by walking away from the ranch he’d grown up on, to open the restaurant he’d always dreamed of. Without support from his father and brother, and too proud to accept assistance from anyone else, he had to start from scratch. Over time things worked out: Glenn successfully built a strong business, created a new home, and forged a life he could be proud of. 
Despite his success, his estrangement from the Holloways is still a sore spot he can’t quite heal, and a called-in favor becomes Glenn’s worst nightmare. Caught in a promise, Glenn returns to his roots to deal with Rand Holloway and comes face-to-face with Mac Gentry, a man far too appealing for Glenn’s own good. It could all lead to disaster—disaster for his tenuous reconnection with his family and for the desire he didn’t know he held in his heart. 
Listening Length: 3 hours and 12 minutes

Karen's rating:

This was my first Mary Calmes audio book and I'm so happy that it went well. I love Mary Calmes and it would have made me so sad to have this go poorly. So needless to say I'm glad to have dodged that bullet.

I knew I liked this story because well it's obvious I've read the e-book. So we won't rehash how much I liked the book I'll just do my usual and give you the link to my original review...
Review: When the Dust Settles

Now that I've got that out of the way let's talk about the audiobook. This one gave me a chance to listen to a new narrator...Sean Crisden. I know from my friends that he's done some of the books in the Cut & Run series and I've listened to a few other samples by this narrator and I'll be honest they didn't all appeal to me, but I decided I wanted to give this one a chance and I'm glad I did.

Blogtour: Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

Please welcome Ki Brightly with 

Trust Trade 

Gem City Grit #1 


Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

I would like to thank My Fiction Nook for having me here today! Trust Trade, my newest book, was released on January 27th.
Originally when I was sitting down to write Trust Trade I thought that I would produce a “hooker with a heart of gold” kind of book. I’ve read several of them over the years, and usually enjoy them. I had some vague Pretty Woman sort of notion of what might go on with the plotline—hooker who is a good guy meets other good guy and decides to stop being a prostitute to be with him. Run the rails off the “protector” trope. The end. Take a bow.
As my ideas about the book progressed that’s not what happened, at all. Honestly, my books are never what I think they’re going to be, so I shouldn’t even be surprised at this point when they take a left turn and detour through uncharted waters.
I like to have realism in my work, so I began researching some statistics on prostitution in the United States. At some point, I stopped because what I found was excruciatingly awful. Most prostitutes die violently, end of story. Most die around thirty years of age. Many are drug addicts, alcoholics, and as a result of their lifestyles, have acquired one chronic illness or another. HIV. Hepatitis. STD’s on parade. The entire health outlook isn’t pretty. It’s simply bad news all around. These stats more than anything forced me to switch tracks with my story. This wasn’t going to be a romanticized version of what being a prostitute is. This was going to be dark.
Vicki Karp said, “When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.” I identify with this statement on an almost spiritual level. I usually have a very particular idea of what I want the book to be about and maybe the main conflict of the story, but a lot of the rest of it evolves as I write. So, instead of writing a book about a prostitute, I wrote a book about a person dealing with the very real aftermath of being paid for sex for many years. I wrote a story about a man trying to put his life back together. I wrote a story about a man fighting for his own self worth and safety, and who, in the process, learns how to protect others as well.
We’re all our own heroes in one way or another, and as much as Jeb needs Freddy to pull him out of the fire, he has to do the bulk of the legwork himself. I hope you take the plunge into Jeb and Freddy’s story and stick with them through the shadows until they reach their light.
Happy reading!
Ki Brightly

Excerpt from Trust Trade
Jeb Birchman
I stand there for another few seconds, not sure what else to do. I try the doorknob just to make sure it’s locked. I can’t take Max with me if he won’t stand up and say what his dad did, especially if the cops get called. Unsteady, my thoughts scattered and all over the place, I square my shoulders and walk down the hallway toward the party.

Why am I doing this? Why don’t I leave now? I take a deep breath and step
I want to vomit.

Release Blitz: A Face without a Heart by Rick R. Reed

Cover: Aaron Anderson

Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 56,887 words

About the book:

A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”

A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.


He was beautiful. Beauty is so seldom ascribed to men, too often incorrectly attributed to men with feminine features—wavy blond hair, fine cheekbones, teeth cut from porcelain. But I’ve always thought of beauty as a quality that went deeper than the corporeal… something dark, dense, inexplicable, capable of stirring longings primal, longings one would be powerless to resist.

He was beautiful. I sat on a Red Line “L” train, headed downtown, bags of heavy camera equipment heaped at my side, one arm resting protectively over them. I watched the young man, unable to train my thoughts on anything other than this man who had blotted out the reality of the day, magical and transforming. Beauty, especially so rare a beauty, can do that. The young man was an eclipse, his presence coming between myself and the reality of the day hurtling by outside train windows.

He had come in behind three foreign people, a bright counterpoint to their drab clothes, colorless, already wilting in the August humidity. They chattered to one another in a language unrecognizable, Polish maybe, and I was annoyed at their yammering, unable to block it out sufficiently enough to concentrate on the book I was reading, a biography of William Blake.

I almost didn’t notice him. It wasn’t like me to pay much attention to what went on around me, especially when I was preparing for a shoot. Usually I used the time on the train to set up the photographs I would take, the way I would manipulate light and shadow and how it fell on my models, to arrange the props, set up and test the lighting.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review: The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen by Valerie Z. Lewis

The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen
A comedy about a bisexual mechanic turned model who aims to get the man of his dreams and save the world as soon as he finishes smoking this joint.

Todd's rating:

This story was equal parts awesome and spastic.

It took me a very long time to warm up to Stephen, who was cold, negative, bitchy and the most terminally unhappy person you'd never hope to meet in real life.

But Doug. Sweet Jesus, Doug made me laugh and smile so hard. He was such a breath of fresh air and a complete whirlwind of feel-good emotions on every single page. No, he'll never be the smartest person in the room, but he'd be the one you'd remember most, in the best possible way.
"I'll have pie with you right now, for a period of no longer than forty-five minutes. But in return, you will promise to stop calling my house and hanging up."

"For how long?"
Doug asked.

Stephen looked at his watch. "I'm leaving at five thirty."

"No, I mean for how long do I have to stop calling your house and hanging up?"

Stephen paused. "Forever."

"That's not fair. How about until Wednesday?""

Blogtour: Too Close by R. Phoenix

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 52,000 words

About the book:

Skylar Orion's life has been complicated ever since his mother abandoned him and his sister Evie. Making ends meet seemed impossible until Tate Chandler took them in -- his knight in shining armor who promised to make life about more than just surviving. But Tate is not the man he seemed to be, and even his whispered I love yous and generous gifts do little to soothe the pain he causes. Knowing he can't give his sister all that she deserves without Tate, Skylar stays with him, relying on bad puns and a worse sense of humor to keep up the charade.

He will do anything for his sister, even if that means acting the responsible adult and going back to his old high school to meet Dexter Weston, the hot math teacher who can make even algebra interesting. Sparks fly between the two of them, but with his dependence on Tate, Skylar isn't free to follow his heart. He wants what is best for Evie, but can he pass up the chance to find love that heals instead of harms? 

Warning: This book contains scenes of domestic abuse and violence that some may find triggering to read.

Exclusive Excerpt

“You mean Mandy’s running out of people to set me up with, and I can’t wait until she does,” I retort. “How the hell do I let you talk me into this?”

“Because you know I won’t shut up until you do.”

And that’s the truth, which is how I end up agreeing to these things to begin with. It’s easier – and far less time-consuming – than trying to talk him down. I’m quiet as we get in the car and I start toward his place.

We fall into companionable silence.

“I just want you to be happy, Dex,” Gavin says when we’re a few blocks away.

“I am happy,” I tell him, though my voice is a little sharper than I meant it to be.

“Uh-huh,” he says. “Which is why you sound like you’re about to try to castrate me with a fork.”

“A fork would be too kind,” I inform him grimly. “Seriously, Gav, I don’t know why you keep doing this.”

“Rosy Palm and her five sisters are getting old,” he says, shrugging.

I glare in his direction. “Thank you for the mental scarring. I’ll be thinking of you every time I jack off for the next month.”

“You mean you don’t already?” Gavin feigns shock, and I have the sudden urge to open his door and shove him out of the car.

“Only if I want to get rid of the hard-on,” I retort.

He laughs. “Come on, Dex. It’ll be good for you to talk and hang out with someone new.” He pauses, then adds, “The ducks don’t count. Just in case you were wondering.”

“What about the rabbits?”

Blogtour: Broadway Babe by J.C. Long

Please welcome J.C. Long with 

Broadway Babe


Tate O’Connor has worked hard to realize his dream of dancing on Broadway, and it’s about to pay off with a premier in his first show. He doesn’t expect the distraction of sharing the stage with his celebrity crush: Broadway superstar Mike Chang. Drama ensues both onstage and off as Tate and Mike work closely and realize there could be something between them. However, there are those who don’t think an up-and-coming dancer is good enough for someone with Mike’s talent and fame, and rumors and misunderstandings might lead to broken hearts if Tate and Mike can’t work through their confusion and insecurity.

Hello there, everybody! I’m J. C. Long and I’m here on my blog tour for Broadway Babe, my new novella from Dreamspinner Press! I want to thank you all for joining me along the journey, whether you’ve visited every stop along the way or just stopped by today. I also want to say a deep thanks to My Fiction Nook for hosting me!

I’ve been having a lot of fun on this tour—we’ve had wacky interviews, top tens, and the soundtrack I’ve selected for the novella. Now I want to do something that most writers really love to do, and that’s talk about my dream cast for the movie made on my book! While it’s always hard to find the perfect actor to play the part unless you were imagining that actor from the get-go, it’s possible to find something that works well enough. Since I’m not casting an actual movie, I can also time travel to pick actors that maybe don’t fit the image anymore but at one point would have!

First up we have our narrator/MC, Tate O’Connor. Him I didn’t imagine as I wrote—I had a vague idea, but nothing solid. This guy took the most time for me to find an actor to represent him. I didn’t find the right guy for height, but Nathan Kress has the build I think of, and he also has this expression that is exactly what I picture on Tate’s face. 
Now, Mike Chang was the easiest. When I wrote him I pictured Harry Shum Jr. (hence the character named after his dancing man on Glee). Who wouldn’t want to be his leading man?
Now for Annabelle Hutch, our main lady. I love her so much. She was one of the hardest for me to figure out, but once I saw a commercial for FOX’s Scream Queens I knew who she was: the lovely Emma Roberts. She needs to be a little shorter for my story, but she’s still lovely and her personality is an EXACT match for what I feel about Annabelle.

That brings us to the closest thing to an antagonist this story has: Donnie. He was easy, almost as easy as Mike Chang. I knew who he was the moment I started picturing him. James Van Der Beek from his Dawson’s Creek days. 

Now we have Ryan and Tishara, Tate’s friends in the show. They were pretty difficult because when I wrote them I actually imagined two of my friends, so finding an actor to represent them took a moment. For Ryan, I decided on Anna Kendrick, if she had shorter hair. The personality is similar, and I think she’d pull it off really well.

Tishara, I finally decided, would be Keke Palmer. I respect her skills as an actress (and she’s beautiful, right?)

Blogtour: Rogue Magic by Kit Brisby

Please say hello to Kit Brisby and 

Rogue Magic 


While trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron's hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion—with outlawed magic.

When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he's ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn't pull it off, Levi will be put to death.

Byron discovers that he isn't the only one questioning America's stance on magic. And he learns that Levi is stubborn, angry, and utterly enchanting. Time is running out, though. Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that’s forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.

Get the book:

About the author:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Audiobook ARC Review: Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry

From The Blurb:
6 hrs 1 min 
The struggle is real. Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty? 
That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult. 
Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely. 
Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime. 
This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.

Karen's rating:

I read the e-book for this one last summer and to say the least I really enjoyed it. Here's the link to the review I wrote at that time...my thoughts really haven't changed and it's kind of a longish review, so rather than re-post the whole thing I'll just hook you up and you can go see it if you're interested in the long version...

Book Review: Adulting 101

So what's different this time? Why, I listened to the audiobook, of course.

I'm actually rating this one just a bit higher because if anything I enjoyed this a bit more than I when I read the book. Nick J. Russo was the narrator on this one and he totally nailed it for me. Especially Jai's voice it was perfection. His Jai sounded exactly how I imagined Jai would sound. I honestly liked everything about the narration of this book Nick was excellent, as was Devon and well...everyone...

Book Review: Empty Net (Scoring Chances, #4) by Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating).

Jewel's rating:

Empty Net is the fourth book in Avon Gale's Scoring Chances series, and it is the best one yet. Truly, this series just keeps getting better and better. Empty Net is about facing your fears and finding your freedom. It's about taking control, even though it terrifies you, and figuring out that you do deserve better than you were given. And it's about figuring out that you don't have to do it all alone.

Isaac Drake is the spirited, blue haired goalie for the Spartanburg Spitfires and we met him in the previous book when Misha and Max took him in and took care of his stalker issues. Isaac has always had a lot of attitude, but he is good at hockey and is passionate about the game. He's smaller in stature than most goalies, so Isaac has to be faster. Isaac is also openly gay and doesn't care who knows it. His parents threw him out when he was 17 because of the gay and Isaac has done what he's needed to in order to survive and play hockey. He's not proud of having had to sell himself, but at the same time he's not ashamed, either. Personally, I admire Isaac for living life on his terms. I hate that he had to go through what he did, but he's tough and stands up for himself when he needs to.

Laurent St. Savoy, in Power Play, was the goalie for the Asheville Ravens, whom his father, Denis St. Savoy, coaches. The Ravens have the worst reputation in the league and the worst attitudes. They are a team of thugs and bullies coached by the biggest bully of them all. Laurent hates his father and did what he had to do get traded from the Ravens just so he could get away. Laurent just broke my heart. He was severely abused by his father his whole life until he felt no self-worth at all. He had no friends, dear old dad made sure of that, and no social skills to speak of. He was a good goalie, but he never enjoyed hockey, or really anything else.

Book Review: Power Play (Scoring Chances, #3) by Avon Gale

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

Jewel's rating:

Power Play is my favorite of this series, so far. They just seem to be getting better and better! We also get some delicious angst here, that wasn't in the first two books, so I am very happy right now.

Misha and Max have a history on the ice and it's a bit of a painful one that cost them both their careers. Max's because the accident was in the form of a head injury that killed his peripheral vision and Misha's because he never forgave himself, even though it wasn't his fault and was totally an accident.

Misha is a broody guy. He left Russia because he's gay and he feared for his life. But nothing was ever easy for him and he's carried a whole lot of self-loathing because of his upbringing and the things he's had to do to survive. The accident that ended Max's hockey career was just even more confirmation that Misha doesn't deserve to be happy.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review: Breakaway (Scoring Chances, #1) by Avon Gale

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He's put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

Jewel's rating:

When I started reading Breakaway, I knew next to nothing about hockey. And now? Heh, I still don't. But I didn't let that little thing keep me from enjoying this fun, low-angst story.

Lane Courtnall is a 20 year old rookie, with the Jacksonville Sea Storm, with a lot of potential on the ice and not a lot of social skills off it. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed, and he's blurty as all hell, and by that I mean he has absolutely no filter, but he's got a good heart, once you figure out he really isn't trying to be mean. I've got to say, though, Jared has the patience of a saint. If I had to live with someone like Lane, it would probably end in homicide. In the story, though, I found Lane oddly endearing. Lane is gay, but doesn't have any sexual experience. Most people find him a little odd. Maybe because he is a bit odd.

Audio ARC Review: When All The World Sleeps by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock

From The Blurb:
Daniel Whitlock is terrified of going to sleep. And rightly so: he sleepwalks, with no awareness or memory of his actions. Including burning down Kenny Cooper’s house—with Kenny inside it—after Kenny brutally beat him for being gay. Back in the tiny town of Logan after serving his prison sentence, Daniel isolates himself in a cabin in the woods and chains himself to his bed at night. 
Like the rest of Logan, local cop Joe Belman doesn’t believe Daniel’s absurd defense. But when Bel saves Daniel from a retaliatory fire, he discovers that Daniel might not be what everyone thinks: killer, liar, tweaker, freak. Bel agrees to control Daniel at night—for the sake of the other townsfolk. Daniel’s fascinating, but Bel’s not going there. 
Yet as he’s drawn further into Daniel’s dark world, Bel finds that he likes being in charge. And submitting to Bel gives Daniel the only peace he’s ever known. But Daniel’s demons won’t leave him alone, and he’ll need Bel’s help to slay them once and for all—assuming Bel is willing to risk everything to stand by him. 
Length: 12 hrs and 11 mins

Karen's rating:

"Do you know what you do when all the world sleeps?"
I f*#k anything. I kill people, I'm crazy.
"You talk a lot. We talk a lot."
Daniel Whitlock walks in his sleep and that wouldn't be so bad if it was all that he did in his sleep but it isn't and now after years in prison having paid his debt to society. He's trying to rebuild his life...to rebuild  himself...but, that's a lot harder than it sounds when people won't let go of the past, won't accept why things happen.

Joe 'Bel' Belman's one of those people. He just can't believe that Daniel wasn't aware, wasn't cognizant of what he did the night Kenny Cooper died. It's only as he begins to witness Daniel's erratic behavior, his confusion and terror at suddenly finding himself places he doesn't remember going, saying and doing things that he later has no memory of that Joe begins to truly question what he thought he knew.

But it's not until Bel rescue's Daniel from his own house as it burns that he truly realizes the fear that Daniel lives with...fear of what he'll do once he falls asleep, fear of how vulnerable he becomes as he tries to keep the world safe from him. Bel agrees to help Daniel by being with him at night and keeping him from leaving his home and what starts as simply doing his duty to help keep his community safe turns into so much more for both men. What begins as duty soon becomes friendship for these two men and slowly turns into so much more but it's not an easy path they've chosen. Small communities can be as mean and vindictive as they are kind and caring. Memories are long and forgiveness is short, especially when things aren't all that they seem to be.

"When All the World Sleeps" is not an easy story. It's dark and heartbreaking...filled with pain, fear and suffering but it's also graced with love, hope and acceptance as Daniel and Joe struggle to find their way together and build something good and loving.

This is actually my second time out of the gate with this one. The first time was back in 2014 when the e-book was released, I gave the book 5 stars then and I stand by that rating now for both the e-book and the audiobook as well.

ARC Review: Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

From The Blurb:
Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college. 
Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

Karen's rating:

This was my first time reading this author and it was a toughie. 'Trust Trade' started out on a very stark and gut wrenching note as we are instantly thrown into Jeb's life, as he runs from what could easily be certain death.

Jeb's life is a daily struggle filled with heartbreak and disappointments. For him a good day is any day that he survives in tact and sadly Jeb's story is out there. It's in every city and on any street corner. It's parents who give unconditional love with too many conditions, it's a world ruled by isolation and fear a world that no child should know and to many live in.

Jeb didn't start life deaf and he's fought hard to survive the only way he knows how...by using his body. It's Jeb's latest client who no longer wants him because of his age who ironically not only makes him face the fact that he needs to find another way to survive if he wants to keep living but also provides him with the means to do so. Jeb strikes a deal with the devil but he's determined to make sure that this deal sees him on the winning side and he's working hard to improve his situation when he meets Freddy.

Freddy's life has been very different from Jeb's. Freddy's fortunate and while he knows this he really has no idea just how fortunate he truly is. He's got awesome parents who want the best for him and love him with all their hearts. He's in his last year of college when he spots Jeb in the campus bookstore and suddenly he's wanting to leave with more than books in his arms. It's not love at first sight but Freddy has little doubt that if he has his way he'll be signing up for a course in Jeb 101 before he's done. Freddy's not bothered by the fact that Jeb's deaf he grew  up with deaf parents he can sign he knows how to communicate with the deaf community and Jeb being deaf turns out to be the least of their problems.

Overall I really enjoyed this story.  While there was a lot of heartache and more than one stressful moment there were also moments that were warm and sweet and made me smile. I liked the way the romance between Freddy and Jeb developed. Neither of these young men were perfect and that was as it should be. They're young they've never been in love before and given their circumstances I would have found it hard to believe that they got through everything without a disagreement, conflict or a screw-up by somebody somewhere along the way that's just not realistic.

Release Blitz: Seven Days by Cristina Bruni

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books
Cover: JM Snyder

Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 61,269 words


During a golf tournament in Virginia, American golfer Reggie Weston meets Russell Lee, the British former world champion in the sport. The two men hit it off when Russell takes Reggie under his wing, teaching him the tricks of the game.

As their friendship deepens, Reggie finds himself falling in love with the Englishman, though he knows Russell doesn’t feel the same. He’s painfully aware of the fact that Russell isn’t gay.

But there’s more to Russell than meets the eye. He’s a troubled soul, plagued by monsters in his head telling him who he should be. He’s spent most of his life hiding his sexuality from the world so he won’t disappoint his homophobic mother.

Is seven days enough time for Russell to break through the years of hurt and accept the new direction fate has in store for him and Reggie?


The Englishman beat him at pool, winning both matches. Reggie wasn’t upset, though, as every moment of their evening together was delicious. Everything apart from the beers Russell drank one after another, until he got so drunk, Reggie decided it was time to return to the resort.

“Tomorrow you have a tournament to win,” Reggie reminded him, pulling him out of the bar with difficulty. The silvery rays of the smiling moon lit the boardwalk, giving it a magical atmosphere.

“I won’t win any tournament tomorrow,” the Englishman murmured, gritting his teeth as he stopped in the middle of the road.

Reggie pushed him across the same moment a car zoomed by, blaring music.

“If you don’t rest a little, you won’t win anything,” he admonished, like a brother. Then he nervously massaged his cheek. He wasn’t accustomed to feeling it covered with hair.

“You can’t wait to shave?” Russell asked.

“No, no. It’s just that…I’m not used to it. But do I look good, at least?” he wanted to know.

The Englishman chuckled. “I already told you I won’t answer until tomorrow.”

A second later Reggie found himself holding car keys. “And these?” he asked, giving them an interrogative look.

“You drive, if you want us both to play tomorrow,” the Englishman said.

“Oh…okay,” Reggie stuttered, as if it was the first time he saw a car key in his life.

Russell fell into the passenger side seat and completely opened the window, putting his elbow out, then resting his head on it. He remained in that position until they reached the resort.

From time to time, the notes of the Nickelback rock song “How You Remind Me” cradling them both, Reggie gave him admiring looks. His long hair, now free, danced in the wind. The way he sat made the veins in his neck tense like cords, and Reggie stared at his strong profile, his long, light eyelashes…

God, what he would do to lay his lips on that face and give it little kisses?

They stopped at a traffic light just before reaching the resort. Reggie kept his eyes fixed on the red light, because they had already strayed too much to Russell’s face.

“What was your parents’ reaction when you told them?”

Reggie turned, surprised. Russell had spoken without moving a muscle, apart from his lips.

“Told them what?” 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kindle Weekly Deals~ Week of 1/21/17- 1/27/17

"Tigers and Devils" by Sean Kennedy- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!


"Just Like Heaven" by Suki Fleet- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to FREE!


"The Earl's Defiant Wallflower" by Erica Ridley- Adult, historical romance~ Price drop to FREE!


ARC Review: Hipster Brothel by K.A. Merikan

--- 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.


Themes: Hipsters, sex work, friends to lovers, bisexuality, post-breakup issues, coming out, first time, alternative lifestyles, lumbersexual bear, commitment

Genre: M/M contemporary romance Length: ~50,000 words (standalone novel)
WARNING: Explicit content, strong language. A shameless amount of buzzwords. May cause second-hand embarrassment

Jewel's rating:

Hipster Brothel was delightfully adorkable. This is a fun read, folks. Low on the angst, high on cuteness and cuddly lumberjack bears. A friends to lovers story that is supremely enjoyable. Plus, boozy jam. I want some of that!

Mr B is a beefy, bearded, cuddly, teddy bear of a man. He's sweet, loyal, and is pretty damn handy. He builds furniture, he upcycles things in clever ways, he makes fruity booze and delicious jams. He's been doing CrossFit for a few years to keep fit, and that is where he met Jo Lau.

Jo is slightly younger than Mr B's 28 years. He's Chinese, has long dark hair and prefers edgy styles for clothing. And he lives with his mom, but that's just economical. Jo and Mr B are a lot different, but they're best friends and neither can imagine life without the other.

After Mr B breaks up with his longtime boyfriend, Mr A (there's actually a point to the nicknames), he feels kind of lost. For several years he's lived with, worked with and had a relationship with Mr A and now? He has none of those things. He's moved into a train car he has on some land his brother owns and he's working on making it livable. Jo comes over to commiserate and they get a bit drunk on booze that Mr B made and brainstorm about what Mr B can do, now. Drunk brainstorming is dangerous, my friends. Dangerous.

Blogtour: Starsong by Annabelle Jay

Please welcome Annabelle Jay with 


The Sun Dragon #3 


The inhabitants of Earth thought they evaded the enemy robots by fleeing to another planet, Balu, under Merlin’s leadership… but they were wrong.

Meanwhile, on the nearby planet Draman, the half-human, half-dragon people celebrate a Naming Ceremony. On that day, the children pick between colored robes that represent the choice to become male or female.
After Sara Lee, maid and best friend to Princess Nimue, escapes the ceremony with a child who refuses to select a robe, she resigns herself to a life without the princess in order to fight an oppressive tradition. However, an attack by a robot spaceship looking for Merlin forces both women to seek help from the sorcerer, and princess and maid are reunited. Unable to protect them during the battle, Merlin sends them back in time, where the women must find Allanah, defeat the creator of the robot army, and decide whether the gender norms of their society are strong enough to keep them from falling in love.

Get the book:

Friends First: Sara Lee and Princess Nimue in Starsong
by Annabelle Jay
In The Sun Dragon and Merlin’s Moon, the first two books in The Sun Dragon Series, the main characters fell in love pretty much instantly. Due to the magical ability to see the world through the eyes of someone you love when you touch them, it was pretty obvious that Allanah loved Cormac and Merlin loved Lup. Of course, there were obstacles—Merlin and Lup were animals/humans at opposite times, while Allanah ended up seeing the world through two people’s eyes—but that initial love was established.
Not so with Starsong, Book Three in The Sun Dragon Series, which takes place on the alien planet Draman. Dramanians are half human, half bone dragon, and they are all interex (though they do not learn that word until they come to Earth). Because of the multiple points of view in the book, readers find out pretty early on how Princess Nimue, the daughter of the Dramanian king, and Sara Lee, her maid and longtime friend, feel about each other. They do have a “sixth sense” about where the other person is, but due to their planet’s restrictions on same-gender love, they just assume it’s part of their friendship.
Here is Nimue’s description of Sara Lee:

Blogtour: Exile by Caleb James

Please welcome Caleb James and 


The Haffling #2 


Liam Summer, with the face of an angel and the body of an underwear model, has done bad things. Raised as the cat’s paw of a murderous fairy queen, his beauty has ruined many. When Queen May’s plot to unite and rule the fairy and human realms fails, Liam wakes naked and alone in a burning Manhattan building. Unaware the blaze is arson and he its intended victim, Liam prepares to die.

Enter ax-wielding FDNY firefighter Charlie Fitzpatrick, who Liam mistakes for an ogre assassin. As Charlie rescues Liam, he realizes the handsome blond has nowhere to go. So he does what he and his family have always done… he helps.

As for Queen May, trapped in the body of a flame-throwing salamander, she may be down, but she’s not out. Yes, she failed the last time, but Liam and others will pay. She knows what must be done—possess a haffling, cross into the human world engorged with magic, and become queen and Goddess over all.

As Liam realizes the danger they all face, he discovers unexpected truths—that even the most wicked are not beyond redemption, and that love—true love—is a gift that even he can receive.

Get the book:


Caleb and Liz’s Pearls to Get You Published
Caleb James/Charles Atkins with Guest Appearance by Editor Liz Fitzgerald

In yesterday’s Facebook Feed one of my friends bemoaned the shoddiness of several recently purchased self-published books. “I couldn’t make it past the few pages,” he wrote. “The editing was horrible.”
I can relate, and where time is precious, starting a book only to wrinkle up your nose and say, “This is crap,” a few paragraphs or pages in, is a waste. And while I get how my FB friend thought the editing was bad, there’s a bigger question. Was it edited?
Before I go further, let me vet myself. I have over fifteen traditionally published books to my name… er, me, Caleb James, and Charles Atkins, MD. They range from murder mysteries and thrillers to the Caleb James high fantasy novels, including my latest with DSP Publications—Exile. I’ve written a textbook on co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders and plainspeak books on Alzheimer’s and Bipolar Disorder. I’ve even ghost written a published memoir. Outside of books, I’ve had well over two hundred essays, articles, and short stories. I’ve published, I’ve won contests, and in 2015, I was a Lambda finalist for best lesbian mystery−Done to Death (Severn House). That last one gave me a chuckle, and the award ceremony−even though I didn’t win−was awesome.
So let’s talk about editing and how to take a messy first—or rough—draft and prune, polish, and perfect it. If you’ve been following this blog tour, yesterday’s piece was about spitting out that rough draft, free from editing and all of the negative voices that can shut down creative process and forward movement. Now that you’ve got that manuscript, whether it’s a blog post, or a fantasy novel, it’s time to sculpt.
For those−and I’ve met many−who view editing as an unhappy chore and something to be endured, the first step is to rethink that attitude. The revision process can be creative, inspired, and mindful. And once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s quite enjoyable. For me it’s like doing a crossword or jigsaw puzzle. Everything needs to fit together and flow. While any author must acquire some editorial skills, assistance from a trained eye makes all the difference between getting a thumbs-up from a publisher or literary agent or getting a form letter that begins:
“Dear sir or madam:
We regret to inform you… “
To flesh this out, I’ve enlisted the help of my dear friend and editor, Liz Fitzgerald. She has over thirty years in the industry, is a senior editor for a publishing house, and also freelances.
Me: So Liz, what exactly does an editor do?
Liz: An editor makes you look good. It’s our job. We take what the writer produces and turn it into something presentable.
Me: That’s vague. If you were to come up with a top ten list of dos or don’ts, what would be on it?
Liz: The first is spell-check. When you’ve finished any piece, go through and spell-check it at least once.
Me: Number two?
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