Saturday, August 8, 2020

ARC Review: Red Heir by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey

Red HeirFrom the blurb:

Imprisoned pickpocket Loth isn't sure why a bunch of idiots just broke into his cell claiming they’re here to rescue the lost prince of Aguillon, and he doesn’t really care. They’re looking for a redheaded prince, and he’s more than happy to play along if it means freedom. Then his cranky cellmate Grub complicates things by claiming to be the prince as well.

Now they’re fleeing across the country and Loth’s stuck sharing a horse and a bedroll with Grub while imitating royalty, eating eel porridge, and dodging swamp monsters and bandits.

Along the way, Loth discovers that there’s more to Grub than meets the eye. Under the dirt and bad attitude, Grub’s not completely awful. He might even be attractive. In fact, Loth has a terrible suspicion that he’s developing feelings, and he’s not sure what to do about that. He’d probably have more luck figuring it out if people would just stop trying to kill them.

Still, at least they’ve got a dragon, right?

Heather's rating:





I love Lisa Henry, and I really love her when she writes funny stories, so it's natural that I couldn't wait to try Red Heir. Though it wasn't a full home-run for me, it was charming and utterly delightful.

Red Heir really shined for me with the comedic moments. It reminded me a little bit of The Lightning-Struck Heart but dialed down a bit. There were scenes where I was shaking with laughter while reading in bed (sorry, hubby). The dialogue and the cast of character was just so fun. It was such an easy, entertaining read. However, I could have used even a wee bit more of that energy with the romance aspect of the story.

Blogtour: As It Pleases the King by Sara Harris



As It Pleases the King 
The King's Pleasure Book 1 
by Sara Harris 
Genre: Medieval Romance 


February 1542, London

Catherine Howard, Queen Consort of England, faces the executioner's axe.

King Henry VIII needs a new wife.

Lady Bridget Denny and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth, have fallen into favor with His Majesty's groomsmen. They are taken to Court to be judged for the position of the next queen, but Bridget fears the title of Queen of England is little more than a royal death sentence. The woods surrounding the castle are deep and dark and hold many secrets-perhaps there is room for one more.

Bridget is determined to escape the lusty king. But can she survive his royal executioner? 



EXCERPT

Tower Green Scaffold
February 13, 1542
I stood beside Elizabeth. The new emerald green shoes I’d
been given by my attending maids crunched in the thin
layer of frost that covered the ground. Earlier in my dressing
suite, one of the servants whispered that the color matched
that of my eyes. I wasn’t sure I believed her.
The newly risen sun did little to brighten the overcast sky that
cloaked the scaffold on the Tower Green.
“Never before have I seen so many people in one place,” Elizabeth
mused. “And here we are, in the front row to the Queen of
England’s execution.”
The fancy breakfast of quail’s eggs and French toast soured in
my stomach as Elizabeth chattered on, almost giddy. “Surely this
woman is the most hated of all His Majesty’s queens.”
Knots pushed burning bile into my throat. Still, Elizabeth continued.
“It has been widely whispered that even her own uncle,
the Duke of Norfolk, now despises her. He calls her, among many
other things, a common prostitute.”
Thankfully several people pushed between us, bound for the
scaffold, and saved me from having to respond to my cousin.

***

“Ladies!” The courtier clapped. “Come now,” he chirped, his face
and voice much too bright given the occasion. “Let us prepare
for the noon meal. You all must change in your given chambers,
then appear in the dining hall in one hour’s time.” He waved his
hands as though ushering cattle to slaughter. “Come come, ladies!
Much to be done!”
I felt eyes on me, burning, as I let myself be pushed along with
the retreating crowd. Careful to keep a tight grip on Elizabeth’s
hand, I dared a glance over my shoulder. There on the scaffold
stood the masked executioner, the deadly double-headed axe at his
side. Scarlet liquid coated the edge and dripped from the sharp tip.
Drop after drop fell dramatically into the straw below.
I was powerless to break away from his piercing stare and could
only return it. His haunting image burned into my mind like a
portrait. My stomach turned up in knots as the space between us
widened. What is so captivating about this ruthless, hooded headsman?

***

From nowhere, a servant appeared and refilled my mug. English
wine rose to the brim, fuller and deeper scarlet than before.
I brushed a cocoa brown tendril of hair over my shoulder.
“Thank you, sir.”
He leaned close to my ear. “Compliments of the King.”
My heart slapped the inside of my chest and my breath came faster.
Perhaps he is sending drinks around to all the girls.
Careful not to call too much attention to myself, I turned slightly.
The redheaded girl from Surrey still mopped at her front and her
large, gray eyes watered just a bit. Sure enough, her mug was dry.
Elizabeth, lost in conversation with one of the twins from Dorset,
picked up her mug. Her familiar voice rang out across the table
like a beacon in my ears. “Do you suppose His Majesty would
think me impolite if I were to ask for a refill?” Obviously already
feeling the effects of the first helping, Elizabeth sniggered. “That
wine is the best to have ever passed my lips!”
King Henry is watching.
My heartbeat, loud before, quickened to a pulsing gallop in my
ears. The world spun around me and melted the dining hall into
a fresco of colors, faces, and gold-beaked peacocks, still wearing
their iridescent feathers. I squeezed shut my eyes and gripped the
side of my chair. Mother Mary, please intercede before I become ill.
Someone clapped sharp and quick and sent a hush of quiet over
my giggling tablemates. The courtier with the plume strode into
the dining hall. His shoes, shiny black, clipped like horse hooves
on a cobblestone street.
“Ladies.” He bowed a deep bow. “Once again, it is so good of
you all to have accepted the King’s invitation and come to Court.”




Sara is a mother of four, animal lover and advocate, and conservationist. Little House on the Prairie, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and Lonesome Dove are among her favorite shows/movies and books. Sara holds her B.A. in History and is the author of the historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart, from 5 Prince Publishing and recently debuted into the children's book realm with Chunky Sugars (5 Prince Kids), written for her own chunky baby. 





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Friday, August 7, 2020

ARC Review : His Horizon by Con Riley


Blurb :
A His MM Romance Novel

Temperatures rise when there are two cooks in Jude’s kitchen...

Jude’s drowning in guilt when he can’t save his family business single-handed. The last person he expects to throw a lifeline is Rob, a rival chef who once beat him to first place in a cooking contest.

Two chefs working together won’t be easy. Not when Rob is everything Jude isn’t—popular, extroverted, and a one-time hook-up. What’s worse is that Rob wears his heart on his sleeve while Jude’s still in the closet.

Jude’s dilemma doesn’t end there. Rob’s rescue package comes with conditions that mean sharing everything from the profits to Jude’s sleeping quarters. Sleeping with the enemy will either be a disaster or signal a much brighter future, but only if Jude can meet Rob’s final condition and love him in the open.

Featuring opposites who attract, rivals to lovers, and an out-for-you storyline dripping with hurt-comfort feelings, His Horizon is the first in a shared-world series of standalone MM romance novels from Con Riley.

Christelle's rating:




If I have a use one word to qualify this contemporary MM romance set up in the Cornish coast, it would be “atmosphere”. And I love that.

The tropes? listed in the blurb: opposites who attract, rivals to lovers, and an out-for-you storyline dripping with hurt-comfort feelings. And it delivered aplenty. I could add to that the impacts of assumptions: how it can ruin relationships, whether familial or romantic.

Jude left his family and the pub where he grew up for making a career as a chef. To do so, he entered a cooking contest where he met Rob, his opposite in character and background and with a “not-so-ugly-mug” if Jude dared to admit. But just before the final, Jude quits everything to look for his parents who has disappeared during a world-boat trip after hitting a typhoon.

One year later, fruitless, he returns to his village, his sister and the pub, facing challenges and uncertainties. And unexpectedly facing Rob as well. Could Rob be the anchor he needs?

Blogtour: Nathan Unwrapped by Susan Saxx



Nathan Unwrapped
by Bestselling Author Susan Saxx

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance 

Nathan buries his talent and has sworn off his art, and all romantic relationships, 
but when a bulldozer of a man comes to seek refuge 
in the dilapidated house Nathan is renovating, all the promises 
he made to himself collapse under the weight of powerful emotions.


A RIDDLE WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY


Nathan Gentael couldn’t bear to lose his family’s legacy, an old house on the tiny cove of Refuge Bay. He scraped together every penny he could find to buy back the derelict manse, and now he needs investors to help put it to rights so he can create a place for people like him: emotional wrecks in need of a safe place to get themselves together.

Okay, he isn’t a wreck, but he has turned his back on his passion, and believes by helping others, he’ll help himself. When it seems no one is going to help, a new investor, ex-military Augustine Jake Reiden, who insists on being called Og, shows up early and inverts Nathan’s reality. Nathan has secrets, but this bull of a man who has more bravado than anyone Nathan has ever met, is harboring mysteries.

Dark and closed off, Og is willing to risk investing in the house, but he has conditions, and it turns out one of them is he wants Nathan.




The cataclysmic drop in Nathan's gut was all too familiar. If the pushy investor came in now and saw the disorder, everything would be lost. 
His mission. The only thing he knew that could make his existence even remotely redeemable. It would all be gone. Again. And he didn't know that he could recover from that kind of loss. 
This was his last reboot. Absolutely the last. 
And if that was gone...
Nathan ran to the back door, slammed it shut, turned the lock. Jumped to the kitchen window, hurriedly yanked the curtain closed. 
Dude. What are you doing?” 
Hiding.” 
Zach shook his head. “Buddy. He had to have seen the curtains open."
Pfft. Guys don’t look at curtains.” 
But the noise... the commotion in here...” 
That souped-up rod he’s driving would have drowned out the waves on a Nor’easter.” Nathan catapulted to the basement entrance, yanked out the extension cord connected to the fans downstairs, and tossed it down the wooden stairs. Then he hurriedly flipped the light in the corner off. “We’ll be super quiet. Wait him out. He won't know any different.” 
He slid down against the wall, tucked himself into the corner, looped his arm around Molly, who'd finally come back to his side, grinning her slobbery grin, and held her close. He motioned to Zach to join him. 
None of this made sense. But hell. He was acting on instinct. “When he’s gone, we’ll contact the agent. Reschedule. Clean up. Then...”
Zach looked wild. “Nate, he’s not stupid. Even if he’s an investor with way more money than those great big balls he's supposed to have, he’ll know. You can’t just...” 
And then, as if to be the proverbial cherry on the top - in tandem with the fact that there were cherries everywhere - a loud voice filled the air, coming from the far end of the kitchen, by the hallway.
There, wrapped in a distressed brown leather jacket and knife-edged khaki pants, stood a man. Shoulders spanning, well, way more than they would on an everyday mortal. Dark hair, curling around the nape of his neck. An open-throated shirt, brown leather boots. Staring at the two of them and definitely not amused.



To My Readers:

A New Genre.

A writer loves creating new worlds.

To date, I’ve written male/female romance anywhere from sweet to hot to erotic, all in the Real Men series. I love this genre, and plan to continue writing in it.

Last year though, I decided to try my hand at writing male/male romance and found that I loved it, in a very special way.

I find the dynamics between two men so different than the dynamics I’ve explored previously. There’s something about two warriors, two characters with similar power bases figuring out how to come together. And the intense vulnerability when they finally do…

I hope you love this new series. My lovely beta readers, none of whom read m/m previously, all gave it a big thumbs up.

Dear Reader: I hope you take a chance on Nathan, and his story. He’s an amazing man, and just needs someone to pull himself out of his self-imposed prison…

…and you may just find a new series that you love.

Love,

Susan





Amazon Bestselling Author Susan Saxx is a top 2 Amazon bestseller with her small town military romance series, Real Men, currently over 10 books long. She has a passion for the small towns of North America, and sets her compelling stories in the north country (Jack's Bay), western mountain country (Terrence Point, Dawson Ridges, Golden) and in Chesapeake Bay (Refuge Bay), all replete with quirky yet big-hearted neighbours always willing to lend a hand—and an opinion, whether requested or not. 

Susan also deeply loves Christmas, with numerous Christmas stories in her series, and adds more holiday books (including Valentine’s and Halloween), annually.

As she continues to write the beloved Real Men series, she is applying her passion for love without boundaries to the m/m genre. Her first book in the Men of Hope House series is garnering excellent reviews, with formerly m/f only readers exhorting others new to the genre to pick up the first in the series, calling it, “Pure Joy”, and ‘one of the best books I have read in a very long time’ – GoodReads. Susan can be reached at susansaxx[at]gmail.com.





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