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Mar
9

Review + Blog Tour: The Secret of Hunter’s Bog by Ally Blue

Review + Blog Tour: The Secret of Hunter’s Bog by Ally Blue The Secret of Hunter’s Bog Author: Ally Blue Hi y’all! I’m Ally Blue. Welcome to my blog tour for my newest book, The Secret of Hunter’s Bog. Thank you for stopping by. Be sure to comment on this post, or any of the posts on the tour, for a chance to win a full set of my Mojo Mysteries series—Demon Dog, A Ghost Most Elusive, and Myth Adventures—in the winner’s choice of electronic format. Read on and enjoy! B.’s Review: After a fire destroyed their first shop, Koichi McNab never thought he’d meet anyone special when he and his twin sister opened their new store in a strip mall. Thanks to the way his last relationship ended, he certainly never expected to find someone he could really fall for again. But when he discovers that the gorgeous owner of the “glamping” store next door has some secrets of his own, Koichi gets more involved than he ever intended, and realizes that he just might be able to take another chance at love after all. Raised in affluence, yet isolated and ignored by his family, all Will Hood thought he needed was his father’s approval. When the man he fell in love with vanished without a trace two years ago, Will decided that he’d be better off on his own. But, when an Instagram photo leads him on a chase to the town of Duchene, Alabama, Will finally begins to see that living in the past won’t heal old wounds, and that the love he’s always wanted is closer than he could have imagined. With a grand total of just over 200 pages, The Secret of Hunter’s Bog is a very busy story. The introduction of more than one mystery, unsolved crimes, an element of suspense, and a healthy dose of romantic entanglement insured that there was plenty going on to keep those pages turning. There were a few places that seemed necessarily abbreviated, and which could be expanded a little more should the opportunity arise, but I think the author did a lot with the space she had. Although I’ve never been able to fully enjoy the idea of “insta-love” in fiction, I can certainly appreciate a degree of “insta-lust,” and Will and Koichi have plenty of it. Both men are rendered fairly dumbfounded at first, and there are several bouts of stunted chitchat and impure internal monologues to go with it. A sweeter, more all-encompassing kind of attraction...
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Feb
25

Review: The Unicorn by Delphine Dryden

Review: The Unicorn by Delphine Dryden The Unicorn Author: Delphine Dryden Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Mara Tyndall is unhappy, but she tries to fill the void in her life with scenes at Club Onyx and her beautiful ex. Knowing Mara is unhappy, Mistress Amie pushes Mara into trying out a new club, where she may be able to figure out what she wants from life. Daniel and Delia are happily married, but lately, they feel something is missing in their relationship. While they are exploring their mutual desire to add kink into their sex lives, they are struggling to make it all come together. When it is suggested they try a new club in town, they decide to take a chance, and after spending one evening with Mara, they both know they want more. The Unicorn shares the story of an unconventional romance, pushing the definition of love beyond society’s norms. Daniel and Delia are in love, but recognize that they want more, and each is secure in their love to explore possibilities. With the story shared from all three character’s POVs, it allows the reader to grasp a better understanding of each person’s fears and desires. While communication break downs lead to a deeper anxiety, it is completely normal and relatable. While a reader may not be able to relate to the situation, I feel that most people will be able to relate to one of the characters. First there is Mara who is comfortable with her sexuality, but missing love. She can’t marry her dark needs for pain and submission to finding a partner whom she can also just snuggle with and love. Then there is Delia, the wife who is always in charge of the day-to-day and can’t let go when she most needs it. She has trouble seeing her husband as her Dom because her mind can’t shut down, always worrying about things like the HOA or if she put the wet clothes into the dryer. Finally there is Daniel, who is afraid of showing his true inner self and needs because he’s been conditioned it’s wrong. He lacks the self-confidence to explore those desires, therefore his inner-Dom suffers. Each character is missing something and it isn’t until the three are together that the pieces begin to click and fall into place. And once that happens, not only do they find complete sexual satisfaction, but their lives become richer and fuller. The Unicorn is an erotic...
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Feb
24

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Strong Signal Authors: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Garrett Reid has a long way to go until the end of his latest—and last—deployment. All he wants to do is to put in his hours working on the vehicles at the base and log some time on his favorite MMORPG. But, the untimely demise of his character at the hands of a ringer leads him on a quest for payback that turns into something entirely unexpected. Gamer extraordinaire Kai Bannon is mostly happy in his carefully constructed world. He’s got a highly successful Twitch stream, a steady income from several gaming companies, and a loyal following that provides him with plenty of backup whenever the creeps come out to play. But when a surly Army mechanic reaches out from halfway around the globe, Kai can’t help but want more of what the man is offering. It would be perfect if the idea of venturing beyond the walls of his apartment didn’t leave him shaking in a cold sweat. I had been itching to get my hands on this story since the moment it was teased online a couple of months ago, and I’m very happy to say it was better than I imagined it would be. Strong Signal absolutely nails the intricacies of online relationships, and wonderfully validates the potential to form genuine connections with others that would never be possible in the “real world.” As someone who has made several of my most meaningful friendships via the internet, I couldn’t agree more. In this first offering from what is sure to be an exceptionally relatable and compelling series, Ms. Erickson and Mr. Hassell tackle a lot of simple truths about the bonds that are sometimes formed on the internet, and do so in a matter-of-fact way that made perfect sense to me. The emotions themselves might be complicated, but the fact that they manifest legitimately is not. Though it certainly isn’t a flawless system, the boundless essence of the internet offers Kai and Garrett more opportunities to explore their own natures in ways that simply aren’t possible where an abundance of physical proximity extinguishes the desire or ability to do so. Fairly early in the story, Garrett says: “But things were different via email. The words just came out.” I found both Garrett and Kai to be frustrating, entertaining, and enormously likable characters. They are so different in many ways, and yet they...
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Feb
16

Review + Giveaway: How the Cookie Crumbles by Jaime Samms

Review + Giveaway: How the Cookie Crumbles by Jaime Samms How the Cookie Crumbles Author: Jaime Samms Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having survived an adolescence filled with loss and uncertainty, Frederick Jackson thought he’d seen his share of heartache. But, being betrayed by the man he’d grown to care for—along with getting cheated out of a well-earned win on a popular cooking show—proved him wrong. Running away to build his dream in the small town of Bluewater Bay seemed like a great idea. At least, until his past not only catches up with him, but moves in across the street. Blaire Caruthers might have been raised by a domineering, unscrupulous father, but now all he wants to do is escape the man’s control and right the wrongs of the past. Of course, winning back the man he sold out for a flashy diversion and higher ratings is at the top of his list. But, no matter how deeply he regrets the harm he’s caused, Blaire learns that trust broken isn’t easily restored, and that some battles simply aren’t his to fight, much less win. Not surprisingly, I found Frederick to be the easier of the two main characters to like. He’s a survivor, and he inspires a fierce loyalty in those who know and love him. He’s also thoughtful, compassionate, shy, determined—nearly perfect as sympathetic characters go. Far from being predictable or two-dimensional, however, Frederick is also fighting a very personal demon of his own, the nature of which the author allows to build gradually, until I felt like I could truly appreciate the scope of what Frederick is constantly battling. Blaire, on the other hand, I absolutely loathed by the second chapter. His shared history with Frederick ensured my opinion of him as the “bad guy,” an impression that took quite some time to reverse. He has no excuses, but, to his credit, Blaire doesn’t really try to make any. He wants another chance, even though he knows he doesn’t deserve it. Still, if it’s possible to earn forgiveness, then he does about as well as anyone in his situation could. Though he makes mistakes, he comes through for Frederick when he needs him most, which went a long way towards winning me back over. In the end, I couldn’t help but wish that everything would work out for Blaire as much as Frederick. The Bluewater Bay series has provided some wonderfully memorable characters, and this addition is no exception. I’m always excited when...
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Jan
6

Review: Tempted to Death by Jessica Jarman

Review: Tempted to Death by Jessica Jarman Tempted to Death Author: Jessica Jarman Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Tara Wilcox and her brother, Ben, are paranormal hunters. They track down evil, violent paras, hoping to stop them. Ben’s wife Nicole has been captured by a soul eater demon, and Tara knows the only way to find her is with the help of the best hunters in the business, Oliver and Luca. The problem? Tara and Ben are paras in hiding, while Oliver and Luca believe all paras are bad. The other issue? Tara is in love with the couple and left the pair without a word months ago. Tempted to Death is a fun romp in the paranormal romance genre, without being all sunshine and roses. Shared in the shifting third person POVs of Tara, Oliver, and Luca, the reader gets good insight into all facets of the trio’s relationship. The story isn’t overly long, and I appreciate that Ms. Jarman establishes a strong backstory romance for the trio right up front. It makes their romance more believable and allows me to understand and feel their pain over the break up and relate emotionally to Tara. Another great thing about Tempted to Death is that Luca, Oliver, and Tara each love the another: it’s a true menage. I found I enjoyed the story more because it’s three in love and not just two on one. While Oliver and Luca were in love before meeting Tara and remained a couple after she left, they both love her as well, and love being all together. Tempted to Death is an enjoyable, fairly quick paranormal erotic romance. The multi-person POV, gives a balanced view of the relationship and events. The characters are all likable, and with their off-page history, the bonds are stronger and more emotional. It’s one of those stories where you pretty much go in knowing what will happen, and the journey to get there is what makes the book so entertaining. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Months ago, Tara Wilcox ran away from Luca Castell and Oliver Gordon. She’d fallen hard for the pair of hunters and feared their growing feelings for her. But what truly terrified her was the possibility that they’d discover what she really is. That she’s the very thing they hunted.  Luca and Oliver are partners, in every sense of the word, and their lives are spent running toward danger. Falling for Tara...
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Dec
28

Review: Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

Review: Sunset Park by Santino Hassell Sunset Park Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’ve been waiting for Sunset Park since I turned the last page of the inaugural novel of the Five Boroughs series, Sutphin Boulevard. The latter marked the beginning of what has, so far, been an outstanding couple of stories, and I was thrilled when the sequel not only lived up to my expectations, but blew them out of the water entirely. Raymond and David may have carved out a place for themselves in the first story, but in Sunset Park, they handily and conclusively outshone everyone else around them. Of the two main characters in this story, David continued to be the more difficult for me to become attached to, even though I already liked him a great deal by the end of Sutphin Boulevard. That isn’t to say that I never grew to love him, because I absolutely did, just that putting a lot of faith in David seemed to be a shaky prospect at times—which is ironic, given some of his actions and comments throughout the story. But, that’s not a bad thing, either, since the result was decidedly sweet. Choosing between stability and being happy is a gamble, and, having been hurt by “questioning” guys before, David likes to hedge his bets by eliminating as many unknowns as he can. I did think that David’s ex-boyfriend, Caleb, got this much right when he says: “and now you are trying to find rational motivation for an irrational action.” Regardless, there seems to be a big difference between David as an observer and David as a participant, and he’s overwhelmingly hyperopic when it comes to himself. Raymond, on the other hand, won me over from the very beginning. He is straightforward, thoughtful, proud, and far more capable than he’s given credit for. What you see is what you get with him, for those who bother to look without their own pre-defined filters, anyway—which most people seem averse to doing. His acceptance of the immediate status of a situation is often taken for indifference, leading to a lot of frustration for both Raymond and those who care about him. But, the lack of an obvious trajectory with regards to these situations in no way means he doesn’t, or won’t, have one, making David’s faith in him even more significant. Raymond has an almost nonexistent “bs” threshold, which I appreciated...
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Dec
23

Review + Blog Tour: Part & Parcel by Abigail Roux

Review + Blog Tour: Part & Parcel by Abigail Roux Part & Parcel Author: Abigail Roux Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: After months of concern over so many beloved characters, and successfully avoiding all of the spoilers I possibly could, I was very pleased to discover that Part & Parcel ended up being even more wonderful than I had anticipated. Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott have been favorites of mine for ages, and the introduction of the Sidewinder stories helped ease the distress that accompanied the ending of the Cut & Run series, which I have always loved tremendously. Kelly and Nick are absolutely perfect for each other, and, while I’ve always wanted them to be happy, there was never any doubt that their path would be a difficult one. Though it is told primarily from Nick and Kelly’s perspectives, Part & Parcel is inarguably an ensemble effort. All of the surviving members of Sidewinder (and Zane) share a good amount of screen time once their (literal) journey begins—a facet of the novel that was welcome after having just said goodbye to them after Crash & Burn earlier this year. Zane, in particular, even shares narrating duties, which proved to be a very effective way of making me feel like a participant in the narrative, not merely an observer. One of the things that makes Part & Parcel unique is the combination of flashbacks and shifting narrators, along with the humor and answering sweetness and melancholy inspired by Elias Sanchez’s missives, that make up the entirety of the story. The team’s memories and Eli’s own words comfortably fade back and forth from one to the other, effectively transforming the ghost of a man who’s haunted these characters since Cut & Run into a real person within Part & Parcel’s pages. The result is that the audience is able to get to know Elias Sanchez over the course of the team’s journey, just as Zane, who is the “outsider” of the group, does. Ms. Roux is notorious for torturing her characters, and she does an especially thorough job of it in Part & Parcel. Nick and Kelly have been together long enough at this point that the issues they haven’t dealt with yet become a serious problem over the course of the story. Every single one of these men have a lot of lingering darkness from their time in service, as well as many events that followed, but poor Nick is positively drowning in it. On the...
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Dec
21

Review: Stuck Landing by Lauren Gallagher

Review: Stuck Landing by Lauren Gallagher Stuck Landing Author: Lauren Gallagher Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: After the long, painful dissolution of her previous relationship, Anna Maxwell isn’t in a hurry to jump into any new attachments, much less with anyone involved with Wolf’s Landing. But, when the tough, gorgeous stunt coordinator Anna has had a crush on for months suddenly breaks up with her boyfriend and makes it clear that she’s more than willing to help work off their mutual frustrations in bed, Anna sees no reason not to take her up on the offer. Even though Anna’s determined not to fall for a bisexual woman again, Natalya Izmaylova seems to be everything Anna has ever wanted in a partner. And while walking away should be easy, Anna is quickly learning that it most certainly is not. Told exclusively from Anna’s perspective, Stuck Landing follows the developing relationship between two wonderfully tenacious, extremely capable women who are perfect together—if they don’t self-destruct along the way. One thing I was especially pleased about is that both women are so open about what they want sexually. Anna and Natalya like and want sex, and it was nice to see that out there so matter-of-factly. Regardless, the chemistry between them is so obvious and undeniable that every scene they have together practically vibrates with it, whether they’re having sex or not. I was glad, but not at all surprised, to see biphobia addressed so unapologetically in the Bluewater Bay series, and by this author, in particular. As has been the case with just about every other story I’ve read in this collection, the stumbling blocks Natalya and Anna face seemed real, and were far from easily overcome. Biphobia is a serious problem that doesn’t get enough attention in literature, in my opinion, but Ms. Gallagher dissects the issue both thoughtfully as well as candidly, and I appreciated both very much. Once again, the Bluewater Bay series has proven that beautifully written, thought-provoking fiction is alive and well. Stuck Landing is frank and occasionally harsh, yet manages to be evocative and incredibly sweet in places, too. Ms. Gallagher has repeatedly demonstrated that she is an impressive storyteller, and makes quite a few good points here in a relatively short narrative. Although it can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading all of the Bluewater Bay stories, since each is unique, yet often interconnected. The entire series has a lot to offer, and is one...
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Dec
14

Review: Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw

Review: Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw Behr Facts Author: Pat Henshaw Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Abraham “Abe” Behr is the head of his family’s business, Behr Construction. The company is losing money, and it appears it may be the sabotage of disgruntled family members. Abe brings in outsider Jeffrey Mason, CPA, to help with the books and figure out what’s going on with the finances. While Jeff may not know about it, there is bad blood between the Behrs and Masons, making it more difficult for some in the Behr family to accept Jeff’s work. As the pair work together to solve the mystery, they realize that they are becoming more than friends. Behr Facts is the love story of an unlikely pair, making it despite their own hang ups. It’s an enjoyable novella with likable characters. And while not completely original, it’s still a good story. I have not read the previous books in the series, and while loosely connected, they are standalone in nature. The story is shared in the first person POV of Abe, which was a bit off-putting at first, since most romances are usually told in third person POV. I stumbled around the dialogue for a bit until I got used to it. And while it seemed pretty obvious to me as to what was going on at Behr, apparently it took Jeff and Abe several weeks. This seemed a bit unrealistic to me, as who would allow losses like Behr was experiencing for weeks before making a move to stop it? One thing that bothered me a bit was that the author tries to address bigotry and hate in this short story, but it felt forced and used stereotypes rather than integrating actions and reactions in a more original way. The whole story has a cookie cutter feel: not bad but not unique. In the end, Behr Facts turned out to be more about a man discovering who he is and what he wants out of life rather than an engrossing romance. Abe was always doing what was expect of him by others and never anything for himself. His journey is all about self-discovery and finding true happiness. It’s a feel good, everything-turns-out-great kind of story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the story didn’t stand out, it still was enjoyable. My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly...
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Dec
7

Review: Stranded by HelenKay Dimon

Review: Stranded by HelenKay Dimon Stranded Author: HelenKay Dimon Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: As a trained assassin, Kyle Cabe thought he knew a thing or two about betrayal. But, getting shot and left for dead by the man he should have been able to trust more than anyone else took that awareness to an entirely different level. Now, Cabe’s ready to forget the past and start over, or so he tells himself—as soon as he finishes this one last job. Too bad his heart isn’t so easily convinced. Brax Hughes had always known that his plan to save Cabe during his last assignment would cost him dearly, but he’d never given up on trying to win him back. After all, it had been for Cabe’s own good, right? But, lies are still lies, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, and sometimes telling the truth just isn’t enough to undo the damage. From the beginning, this story wasn’t at all what I expected. Though I was able to finish it in a single day, Stranded had a lot of twists and turns, which made it a real pleasure to read. With a cast of characters composed entirely of highly skilled, often duplicitous assassins, it certainly isn’t your average romance. Of the two main characters, Cabe won me over almost instantly. Wounded inside and out, he’s got a lot of threads to untangle, and even more bad memories to contend with. And that’s before he’s faced with an entirely different version of the reality he’s been living with for nearly a year. Hot-tempered, but extremely adept, Cabe’s loneliness is an undeniable presence throughout the narrative, and I couldn’t help wanting him to be happy. While he does technically owe his life to the apparent treachery of his former lover, I felt that his anger was well justified. Alternatively, I found Brax to be as frustrating as he is lovable, which is actually quite a bit. As the architect of the event that still haunts them both, he’s got all the answers, and the control, making every desperation-induced misstep he takes all the more painful. I thought Brax’s perspective on his faith and profession was an especially interesting facet of his character, and liked him even more for it. Although I did find his conviction in the rightness of his actions, as well as his unwavering love for Cabe, endearing, I could also understand Cabe’s recurring desire to punch him. Regardless of...
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