Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet.

This was another great installment from the Kingmaker Chronicles. In saying this however, I did think Griffin acted like a bit of a tool during the first part of the novel, and needed to spend some more time being penitent. He really let loose and considering the lengths he’d gone to find Cat, this seemed a little off. I’m loving the mythology and battle scenes. The character growth of Cat was good and I think the secondary characters are a treat. Great read and I wait for the next book.

4 Stars.

Goodreads
Amazon

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.static1.squarespace.jpg

Bad Judgement by Sidney Bell

I absolutely loved this. The snark was strong, along with brilliant chemistry and excellent world building. I think if occasional darker moments are not your thing then this might not be for you, but I adored it. I had a few moments where Embry reminded me a little of Laurent Captive Prince, but just a smidgen though. It was totally its own book.

I really hope this author writes loads more books, and fast, because I’m lined up already for purchasing. Excellent and twisty, dark plot. Long with a slow build of tension (my favourite) and some seriously excellent sex scenes. Loved it.

5 Stars.

Goodreads
Amazon

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.static1.squarespace.jpg

The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara.

archers1Reading The Archers Heart was truly a pleasure. This beautiful fantasy novel draws on elements from the Mahābhārata and is set in a land, not dissimilar to India, called Marhavad. It is a tale of caste, magic, betrayal, adventure, war and love. I spent a week sloping off to bed early just so I could read more!

I think the first thing that appealed was the setting. The Indian influence that saturated Marhavad was delightful and with most of what I’ve read in fantasy set in more European influenced worlds, an enjoyable change. It made me remember reading The Far Pavilions (incredible, beautiful story) and sneaking out to watch The Jewel in the Crown when I was younger. I cannot express how nice it is to read about somewhere a little different and loose some of the Anglo-European centric feel that many fantasy novels have. No LOTR template here and no singing hobbits either! 

The world building was tight with magical elements blending seamlessly within the historical feel of the novel. It was also well paced with nothing glossed over or rushed despite the book covering a period of several years. There were the odd bits that lagged, but for the most part I was kept well entertained. 

I liked the character of Keshan Adaru, who is a man with change at the forefront of everything he does. He is determined to see a society where all men and women are treated equally and the caste system removed. He is charismatic and beautiful. The romance that blossoms between him and Prince Jandu Paran kept me up way past my bedtime. I think, of the two characters, the depth and growth of Jandu was what really captured my interest. He begins the story a brash young boy and grows into a man worthy of his title. And yeah, all serious waffle aside it was kinda hot. heh.

The inclusion of Tarek Amia, whose story runs along side that of Keshan and Jandu, was very poignant at times. I enjoyed his stoic, soldier like nature and unrequited love for his Prince. Such an honorable man, I wanted someone to ruffle his hair occasionally. 

If I have any whinges it’s that I did find Jandu’s curse a little odd in the scheme of things. While it did move the story along it was a little different and unexpected. I also felt a bit uncomfortable at the unsympathetic portrayal of Keshan’s wife and wondered if this could have been handled a little differently.

I think the most charming thing about this book is its uniqueness. I don’t think I’ve really read anything quite like it before and this was probably its most appealing quality. Beautifully presented and a distinctively different read that is well worth reading. Liked it lots!

Paperback from Blind Eye Books and from Amazon.

True North by Bethany Brown & Ashlyn Kane.

tn-ebookSmall-town engineer Jackson Strange has been clumsy his whole life, so when an accident at work sends him to the local clinic, it’s no big shock. The surprise is his magnetic, heated attraction to the enigmatic Julian Piet, a charming doctor with killer good looks who pulls Jack off his lonely course. Now that their paths have crossed, Jack and Julian head off in a new direction – but between Jack’s reluctance to be open about his sexuality and Julian’s shattered self-confidence, they can’t seem to decide what direction that is. It takes a push from Julian’s meddlesome sister to send them stumbling headfirst into romance.

Happily wrapped up in their fledgling relationship, Jack and Julian think they may have found their way when unexpected roadblocks appear on their path to forever. Wrathful storms, dangerous illness, family connections, and broken hearts threaten their tenuous balance. Will the trials send them spinning apart – their love scattered to the four winds? Or will Jack and Julian learn to believe and trust that together they can find true north.
From Dreamspinner Press.

How can you resist a man in scrubs? Years of watching ER, Chicago Hope and now Grey’s obviously has me well conditioned. heh.

This book starts with promise, two guys meet and are attracted to each other, always a bonus in a romance novel. Bit of the whole caretaker hero doing his taking care thing, it was good. I liked Jackson, he was sweet and had me imagining warm plaid shirts. Not sure why, just did! Julian is a nice foil of slender goodness with much fiesty sexiness. There is a beautifully described small town in winter, interesting secondary characters and it was nice and long. (long is good!) 

The only problems I had with the book were a few moments with awkward plot devices that had my suspension of disbelief working overtime. I also found some of the explanations about backgrounds and where the boys came from a little confusing, but the rest of the book read reasonably smoothly.

Despite these problematic moments I’ll be interested in seeing what their next book is like. It is coming soon from Dreamspinner Press in March. You can check it out here.

Get get the ebook and paperback here.

Playing The Field: Faceoff by J. M. Snyder

faceoffChristian “Magic” Magdziuk is a minor league hockey player with dreams of someday heading to the NHL, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that dream come true. So he plays with the Richmond Rebels for only one short season before he asks to be traded to the Bedford Blizzard, a farm team for the American Hockey League, where he might get a little more notice from scouts.

His attitude on the ice left him few friends among the Rebels…that is, until teammate Ronnie Niedermeyer took a liking to him. One thing led to another and the two men became lovers during the time Christian played with the team. But when he transferred to the Blizzard, he left the Rebels-and Ronnie-behind.

Now it’s the first game of a new season, and Christian’s facing off against his former teammates in the season opener. But after all this time, does something still smolder between Christian and Ronnie?

This was an incredibly quick read. The story was made up of a series of moments, brief, succinct and fast paced rather than having the padding of a longer novel around it. Perhaps it is my fault for not looking more closely at what the word count of the book was when I was buying, but, at 40 pages in pdf I cannot help but feel a little disappointed that it was not longer. Especially as what I did read was enjoyable. I know I have whinged about this before, but when I pay that much for a book I guess I expected a few more pages. However, due to how the story was written maybe it would not have worked in a longer format.

The romance was sweet and hot and I enjoyed the characters. Christian with his drive and ambition to do better for himself and Ronnie with his quiet stoicism. The premise of the book is what initially made me pick it up and the lovely cover. I have a thing for sports romances and have all of Susan Elizabeth Phillips firmly on the shelf!

So, much locker room shots, men in towels and hockey sticks. Nice!

Get it here from Amber Allure.

Mexican Heat by Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon

998SFPD detective Gabriel Sandalini might as well have put a gun to his own head. One red-hot sexual encounter in a bar’s back room has put two years of deep undercover work in jeopardy-two years of danger and deception as he worked his way into crime boss Ricco Botelli’s inner circle. Gabriel can’t afford emotional entanglements. Hell, he can’t afford emotions. But that was before he had a name to pin on that anonymous one-off-Miguel Ortega.

Miguel Ortega doesn’t trust anyone, but tough, street-smart Gabriel brings out the conquistador in his Spanish blood. But distractions are nothing short of deadly right now, not with his boss’s impending marriage to Botelli’s sister, which will ensure peace-and massive drug profits-for both families.

On a trip to Mexico to set up drug supply lines, a violent confrontation proves they’ve got each other’s backs-to a degree.

Then one savage act changes everything, testing not only their fragile bond, but Gabriel’s will to live.
From Samhain Publishing.

A total shoot em up action adventure novel complete with buff heroes, bad guys and tequila shots off butts. I was so just waiting for someone to chime in with, ‘say hello to my little friend.’ It certainly did require a certain suspension of disbelief, but for all that I did enjoy it a great deal. And, it was such a long book! 

The novel is in two parts. While the 1st hooked into my undercover cop fiend and fascination with men and big guns, it was the 2nd part that appealed more. The wounded soldier with life changing injuries shtick just floats my boat.

What drew me in was how well the characters fit together. Gabriel was feisty and fiery with Miguel being a perfect conterpoint with his smooth and charming nature. It also made me laugh several times when Miguel is trying to be somewhat romantic and admittedly getting just a little dribbly and Gabriel just scoffs at him. Towards the end Gabriel has the most classic line, “Jesus, the shit you talk, Antonio. Go on.” It was so perfect and had me sniggering. Such a heavy moment and yet it was this ability to poke fun that made me feel that the novel had a lighter side and did not take itself too seriously. I think, that had it lacked these moments of levity the characters would not have been as diverting as they were and I would have been a little more dubious about the premise. 

As the book ended in such an interesting place with the characters still in the early stages of a relationship, I’ll be very keen to see what the authors do next. I think Gabriel has a lot more developing to do as a character and I am eager to see  the next installment. 

Check out the book here via MLRP, or you can get it in ebook from Samhain.

Gobsmacked by LB Gregg

lb_gobsmacked_500x75021No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Mild mannered Mark Meehan’s good judgment flies out the window when he finds his lover banging another man. Things go from bad to worse as Mark’s crazy revenge scheme uncovers shocking secrets-sending him straight into the arms of hunky lawman and old friend, Tony Gervase, a man of limited patience and secrets of his own.
From Aspen Mountain Press.

I liked Mark. In fact no, I more than liked Mark I just adored this character. He was smart and sexy, but most appealing was his very human and real nature; which is what made this book so charming. Tony was a sex god of course with his whole tall, dark and chest hair going on, but it was wanting to see what Mark would do next that kept me up till way past my bedtime.

The writing was crisp with some beautiful use of language, without it looking like the author had fallen into a thesaurus. I liked this. Sometimes it’s nice if an author feels you’re intelligent enough to cope with the big words. heh. The pace of the story was quite fast, not short, just quick with no down time. This made for real edge of your seat reading. I was just dying to know what happened next and it felt like no words were wasted. The humor was also a nice suprise, although I did not spend the whole story laughing my ass off it was enough that my partner asked me what I was reading several times… which eventually turned into, ‘are you still reading that book?’

And hot. Holy shit, I do try and suppress my prurient side and not focus solely on this, it is a romantic story after all not Hot Cops (which does look rather interesting…) so there is loads of lovely sweet stuff, but this was just so good – or maybe I just have a thing for bathroom sex! heh.

I can honestly say I did not know quite what to expect going into reading this book, especially after reading the synopsis where I wondered if the crazy revenge theme was really going to be my cup of tea. But it was a great read, seriously! Memorable and one I cannot wait to see in paperback.

You can purchase here at Aspen Mountain Press and in March in paperback at MLRP.

Interview – LB Gregg

yukon_man1It is my pleasure to share an interview with you from author LB Gregg.
Clever, funny and a smarty after my own heart, this talented new author has the first Men of Smithfield book coming soon in ebook from Aspen Mountain Press and in March the paperback version with MLRP.
The MLRP series is called Smart Ass, the first is Close Quarters. The Men of Smithfield stories will be paired with Amber Green’s new series Turner & Turner.

I know you think this is an ass question, but would you care to share a few things about yourself? Favorite shoes, neck tie, body piercing… cake?

Favorite shoes? Black leather driving mocs. Worn to perfection (meaning I need to toss them) and comfortable in any weather. Also my black and orange ski boots.

Neckties? Surely you jest.

My favorite body piercing on someone else is a small gauge. Emphasis on small. I admit to an unnatural interest in the Prince Albert, but this is purely academic.

Cake? That’s one of my favorite bands!

beagle-trainingBeagles. Possibly the best dog IN the world? Your thoughts on this noble beast?

My dog ate a grease stick. MMmmmm….grease stick. It never ceases to amaze me what a beagle is willing to ingest. Chapstick, fruit snacks, a jar of peanut butter, a roll of paper towels, a bag of grapes, heck, they’ll lick chicken feed off the ground. I mean the list is as endless as it is impressive.

There is no sweeter dog, though.

What made you start writing?

I was strong armed into this, no question. I always wanted to write but I lacked the discipline. It was through the encouragement, and the daily, er, support of my blogging friends, and my writer pal, that I was able to get these novellas written. Those folks really kicked me (read: my ass) into gear. Also, M/M is the genre where I found both my voice and the stories I wanted to tell.

lb_gobsmacked_500x75021I think your books are fresh, funny and totally sexy, but what do you think sets them apart?

Thanks, Sarah. That’s so nice to hear. My stories are pretty short and the pace is fast, but it’s the setting that I think is atypical. New England. People say, write what you know. So I did. The folks here are practical, no-nonsense, and bit tricky to get to know. Each season brings a brand new set of expectations for our lives, from the kinds of weather we experience, to the clothes we wear, to our leisure activities, to the coffee we drink (iced or hot?). I’m sure that’s true elsewhere, but my experience has been predominantly here. I’m keen on it.

Where would you like to see the m/m medium go in the next few years?

I’d like to see m/m lose it’s ‘kink’ appeal and get into the broader market, for the genre to gain credibility and garner respect. Imagine a harlequin line of category glbt novels!

What do you think has been your most important piece of work to date and why?

Ha. Well I only have the one book out so I’ll say…that one! Gobsmacked. It’s important to me on many of levels. It’s my first book, my first time writing, and the fact that my friends and family supported my writing endears it to me. Please buy my book. heh.

The next book in the Men of Smithfield series, Happy Ending, is close to my heart.

I wanted to write a story that presented a positive family dynamic with a gay parent, but that’s not the focus of the book. Happy Ending is a love story. Seth and David are one lively pairing, phewie. I never knew what that David was going to do next or how Seth was going to react.

60382763What sort of characters are you drawn to writing about?

I ‘m drawn to everyday men who find themselves out of their comfort zones, who have to make decisions on the fly, and who wind up having the rug pulled out from under them by some inappropriate guy. In Gobsmacked, Marks entire life unravels in a series of fast, unexpected events and he’s scrambling to make sense of things…so Tony makes his move. I do like that Tony. Tony likes to take charge, and Mark is out of control. Gob is an old friends, alpha/beta, cop story. Tres. Hot.

In Happy Ending, the next in my Men of Smithfield series, the no-nonsense and stern Seth Weston meets his unlikely match in the funny, daring, and laid back David Cooke. It’s a fun story and, I have to admit, it’s a bit spicy.

How hard is it to write scenes with the smex? Making it hot and sexy without it coming off as cheesetastic?

It’s tough. I rewrite love scenes constantly trying to get them just so and …. I’m never satisfied. I’m working on the edits for the print version of Gobsmacked and I’m still tweaking. The Aspen e-book will be slightly different than the print. It’ll be interesting to see what readers think.

starving-writerAny suggestions for wannabe authors hoping to get published?

Well, this ain’t no War and Peace (thank god) but to get published in this genre, you have to write write write. Set daily goals and meet them, and when you don’t, cut yourself slack because tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes in it. Find someone you trust to read for you and ask for specific feed back. Never ever be afraid to toss stuff and rework it. That’s not failure; that’s the process. That sounds bossy, but the truth is, the books we read aren’t written on the first go, or the tenth, they are the culmination of a lot of work, rereads, and rewrites. And as a pal said to me last night, Books are built one word at a time.”

You’re a bit of a reader geek when you’re not writing. Are there any romance authors you’re particularly addicted to?

Well, Josh Lanyon, of course. He’s the king. I enjoy JL Langley very much. Victor Banis. Outside of m/m, I have some old favorites in the romance world, Lisa Kleypas, Suzanne Brockmann, Christina Dodd, Teresa Medeiros, and Joanna Lindsay and, well she’s not really romance, but I adore Charlaine Harris. My new favorite? The ever clever Meljean Brook. She’s fantastic. Oh and Kresley Cole. I’ll stop here because I could go on all day.

stevemcqueenAre there any story lines that suck you in as a reader more than others? Cops, desert island or perhaps intrepid book sellers?

I’m partial to intrepid book sellers, this is true. I also love tough navy seals, hard-nosed and closeted cops, and certain stern starship commanders…I like those big alphas…and I like them best when they are paired with a smart ass beta who keeps them on their toes. That contrast is delicious.

What are you working on currently?

I’m working on a story called Shelter, at least that’s what it’s called today. It’s not a Men of Smithfield story, but it is m/m and it’s one of my favorite romantic contrasts… May/December. Yum.

I have the rough of Men of Smithfield III waiting on my hard drive. It’s being…persnickety. I should finish that by the end of February.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions. ALL of them! heh. I really do appreciate it and it’s been super cool. Mwah!!

Thanks Sarah! Mwah back atcha!

picture-2As a special treat I am going to offer a free ebook copy of Gobsmacked to a lucky poster, just leave a comment saying hi and I’ll make a draw later next week.

postcard_myspace_jpegIn the meantime check out LB Gregg’s website here and the link to MLRP. The Smithfield Gazette is also a very worthy publication to sign up for and you can check it out here.

Artwork at the top of page is from Mikemen.

A Strong and Sudden Thaw by R. W. Day

14157The Ice fell upon the world nearly a hundred years ago, and if civilization didn’t rightly collapse, it surely staggered and fell ill a while. In the small town of Moline, Virginia, folks struggle to survive, relying on hybrid seed sent by the faraway Departmet of Reintroduction and Agriculture and their own faith in God and hard work. But when a mated pair of dragons starts hunting the countryside, stealing sheep, and attacking children, the townsfolk quickly learn that they don’t have the weapons or the skills to fight off such predators. 

David Anderson is a farmer’s son who has explored the world through books. When he meets the new healer in town, Callan Landers, he doesn’t quite know what to make of the strange warmth stealing over him. It’s not until he surprises Callan with another man-and both men are promptly arrested for sodomy-that David finally realizes the truth about his own feelings. 

When David and Callan stumble over a secret in a nearby abandoned town, their personal problems fade before government politics and corruption that threaten lives. It seems the dragons aren’t the worst dangers facing Moline.
From All Romance eBooks.

I’ve never been a great one for the great outdoors and nature. I don’t do bugs and a girl has to have somewhere to plug in her hairdryer! So, I was surprised to have enjoyed this as much as I did. I found the day to day details of David’s life on the farm and and the interactions with his family and Callan absorbing.

The world building was well done and the hint of conspiracy certainly gave the story a neat twist. Some of the book leaves you guessing a little till the end and I am hoping the 2nd book comes out soon as I cannot wait to see what happens next.

The romance between Callan and David was sweet, tender and passionate. David was such a sturdy character, a likeable cuss and I enjoyed him immensely. The books length was also a plus and defnitely allowed the time for the development of the characters. At 282 pages in pdf I really felt that I got bang for my buck. I liked!

 

To get this wonderful story go check it out at the following sites – 

All Romance eBooks
Lethe Press
Website for R.W. Day

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