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From the Ashes (Fire and Rain #1) - Daisy HarrisTitle: From the Ashes (Fire and Rain #1)
Author: Daisy Harris
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: ≈67k words, 216 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Closeted, Family Issues, Firefighters, First Times, OFY, Homeless, Pets, Series
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

He wanted a boyfriend. What he got was a hero.

When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.

Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.

Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until Jesse starts pushing for more.

Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.

REVIEW

I really liked this story. It’s a bit predictable but the characters and the overall writing make up for that.

This is about Jesse who has his apartment burned down, leaving him homeless and with his ex-landlords’ dog. Tomas was one of the responding firefighters and helped Jesse through his shock. Unable to leave Jesse homeless, he takes him home and cares for him and his big dog, Chardonnay. What starts there is a sweet but awkward relationship where Tomas is still in the closet, living next door to his family and Jesse is trying to get his life back together while they both fight the feelings they’re starting to develop.

The highlight of this book is probably the characters. Tomas is this big, strong guy with the sweetest heart that can’t seem to let Jesse go even if it means making his life somewhat difficult. I adored the way he tried to help Jesse and his struggle to keep things as friends between them. Jesse, at first, seems like a weak character but he’s actually strong, willing to stand up for himself and put an end to things that make things worse, even if it kills him to do it. Thankfully, while he attempts to do this, Tomas is not willing to let Jesse go and, even if he does say differently, he’s going to fight for what he has with Jesse, which I also loved!

The novel, in my eyes, was about coming out and being true to yourself and your family; to find that home that is yours and no one can take away. It’s not very angsty, even with all the situations Jesse and Tomas go through. Mostly, it is about Jesse and Tomas trying to make things work. Tomas wants a partner but doesn’t want to tell his family he’s gay. Jesse no longer has a family but just wants a partner that isn’t afraid to be with him. They’re completely different but together they’re hot and sweet. They have to go through issues such as Tomas coming out but more importantly dealing with Tomas’ older brother, Diego, who is very vocal of his opinion when it comes to Jesse and being gay.

While I enjoyed the story, I had a few issues with it. Mainly, how much sex there was. I felt like whenever Jesse and Tomas needed to talk, they’d have sex instead and put off talking for later. Also, Tomas’ reasoning for why he won’t have anal or why he won’t let Jesse go down on him were completely baffling, IMO, and didn’t make much sense to me considering what else he would do. Beyond that, I felt like Tomas’ family was a big problem between Tomas and Jesse but we don’t actually get to see them or get a resolution on ALL of their opinions of Tomas being gay and in a relationship. It was such a huge issue but that segment felt unresolved and left me slightly disappointed.

In the end, I really enjoyed the story. While it might have conflicts that felt clichéd, the characters were still likeable and made me want to keep reading. I liked that this story didn’t have much angst but still dealt with both Tomas and Jesse’s problems. I won’t lie that Jesse and Tomas together were very hot and had a good connection so readers will definitely enjoy that part of the story!


The Queen's Librarian - Carole CummingsTitle: The Queen’s Librarian
Author: Carole Cummings
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 68,666 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy**
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None (a couple, fade to black)
Keywords/Tags: Established Relationships, Magic, Alternate World Historical, Animals/Pets, Otherworlds, Royalty, Funny Guys
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

All Lucas Tripp wants is prosperity for the tenants of his family’s estate; good weather for the harvest; suitable matches for his sisters; a little money left over at the end of the month; and more quality time with his boyfriend, Alex Booker. That’s not so much to ask for, right?

Wrong. When his sister’s new suitor suddenly disappears, Lucas is drawn into an adventure of a lifetime—kicking and screaming all the way. Magical beings who were allegedly banished hundreds of years ago are coming through portals that were supposed to be shut against them—and that’s only part of Lucas’s problem. The rest consists of missing princes, breaking and entering, suspicious magicians, well-meaning women who are far too interested in Lucas’s sex life… the list goes on. Lucas is decidedly Not Amused, but he’ll get over it someday. Probably. After all, there’s always Alex.

REVIEW

Oh Carole… I just had so much fun reading that. You know, Carole has said several times that she thanks Fen for this book. Fen, for those of you who might not know, is her main character from the Wolf’s-own series and his head is just a mess of angst. It’s all for good reason because Fen lives in a really messed up world, but back to Carole. She has said that she needed to go somewhere happy, somewhere carefree after spending so much time (4 novels!) in his head. And I’m glad she did. This book is definitely the antithesis of those, of course with the exception of writing talent. I’m glad that I knew that about this book going in, because otherwise I might have been expecting a more serious style than her previous two series.

The book opens with one of the most hilarious chapters I’ve ever read. It is so easy to become endeared with Lucas, especially in the inner drunk ramblings of his mind at his first visit to a tavern. Trouble doesn’t really come until he’s had one too many and decides that it wouldn’t be too unseemly to have a pee outside, where he promptly becomes entangled with a bush. In a cruel twist of fate, someone seems him — pants partially open and wrestling with the arms of his coat — a man with long silver hair and speaking a lot of nonsense. It doesn’t seem too strange in his ale fuzzy brain when the man simply disappears after a whole lot of yelling words that neither understands back and forth but well, he’s still stuck in the bush.

When the man starts turning up in strange places to again shout incomprehensible words at him, Lucas starts to become alarmed. Especially when the man starts stealing his books. But it isn’t until his sister’s suitor disappears and Lucas is begged to find him that he runs into the man again, this time speaking some words Lucas understands. What he hears alarms him, especially because it appears that the man wants something from him and in the meantime intends to kidnap his cousin the prince as a trade. Lucas is so dead for losing the prince, but he knows that he has to do something to get Laurie back.

Really, the best part of this book are the characters. There is such a wonderful cast of characters that all have their own well-rounded personalities, characteristics and motives. But they have such a great banter. In reading the prior work from Carole Cummings, I always admired her writing which is at the same time intelligent and accessible, but I also never knew that she could write in such a playful way! It is really a delight to read. And just the same as it was for her, I think this is a really good book to read when you need a break from something, or from reading a more intense book. When I first talked to her about this book she referred to it as fluff, to which I immediately replied that I thought she could probably never write fluff. But I know exactly what she means now. This is a book you should read just for the pure enjoyment of getting out of your own head and into someone else’s for a while. And Lucas’ head isn’t a bad place to be 😉

There is quite a lot of banter between the characters, but mostly in the narration. Carole has written Lucas to have an imaginative mind that often banters with itself. That’s why I think this is a good book to read when you really need a break, because while the plot in this story is interesting in and of itself, sometimes the focus wavers from it to Lucas’ own thoughts, and those often take precedence over the action. Now, if you followed my advice then this is just a nice detour, but if you’re really focused on the plot and pacing then you might find yourself swept away on the tide of his thoughts. Sometimes the banter — Lucas’ runaway thoughts — seem to get in the way of the action a bit. And while I always enjoyed what he was thinking (and occasionally talking about with Alex) sometimes the timing is inopportune. Occasionally I wanted to smack him and tell him to pay attention!

Still, that is minor criticism on my part and I really, sincerely hope that Carole continues to explore this quirky side of her writing. Hopefully in the future we can get those style alternately — a book like Fen’s that rips out your heart and completely sweeps you away and then something later to cool you down and look on the sunny side of life.

**I didn’t categorize this as a romance. This is really a fantasy book to me. Sure, Lucas is madly in love with Alex and vice versa, but the story isn’t about their relationship. Their relationship is part of the story.


OutlasttheNightLGTitle: Outlast the Night (Lang Downs #3)
Author: Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 61k+ words, 210 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Series, Australia, Closeted, Cowboys, Emotionally Damaged, Friends to Lovers, Light & Sweet, Pets, Yearning
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Office manager Sam Emery is unemployed and out of luck. When his emotionally abusive wife demands a divorce, he contacts the one person he has left, his brother, Neil. He doesn’t expect Neil to reject him, but he also doesn’t expect the news of his divorce—and of his sexuality—to be met with such acceptance.

Neil takes Sam to Lang Downs, the sheep station Neil calls home. There, Sam learns that life as a gay man isn’t impossible. Caine and Macklin, the station owners, certainly seem to be making it work. When Caine offers Sam a job, it’s a dream come true.

Jeremy Taylor leaves the only home he’s ever known when his brother’s homophobia becomes more than he can bear. He goes to the one place he knows he will be accepted: Lang Downs. He clicks with Sam instantly—but the animosity between Lang Downs and Jeremy’s home station runs deep, and the jackaroos won’t accept Jeremy without a fight. Between Sam’s insecurity and Jeremy’s precarious position, their road will be a hard one—and that’s without having to wait for Sam’s divorce to be final before starting a new life together.

REVIEW

I’ll freely admit that the Lang Downs series is one of my favorite cowboy series. There’s just something about it that I absolutely adore. With this one, it’s no different. I loved both Sam and Jeremy, especially Jeremy since he has to overcome the hatred attached to being a Taylor. There was such animosity between Neil, Sam’s brother, and Jeremy, which made for some interesting conflict! Sam was someone I just wanted to give a hug. He’s so innocent even though he’s not young but I felt really bad for him and what he’s had to go through by playing straight.

The story revolves around both Sam and Jeremy finding a home where they’re accepted. After years of putting up with his brother, Jeremy’s finally had enough and leaves, heading towards Lang Downs in hopes of finding another job. Sam shows up around the same time after being belittled constantly by his soon-to-be ex-wife. Both guys are healing in their own way. Sam finally has the freedom to spread his wings while Jeremy finds in Sam what he thought he’d never get a chance to have. It’s a sweet, slow romance where Jeremy and Sam start a friendship before moving into anything deeper and many will be shocked to realized there is no sex in this novel. Something I was extremely glad for but even without the sex, I still loved it because even though it’s obvious there’s no love between Sam and his ex-wife, he and Jeremy still wait until the divorce is finalized before making their relationship into something more. I also loved that we get pieces of the station but also a little more of Caine and Macklin.

While I adored the story, I still felt like the relationship between Jeremy and Sam wasn’t quite complete. I feel like the situation with Sam and his ex-wife took too long to resolve and when it is finally over it was rushed through, making the ending feel rushed as well. I would have liked to see more of Jeremy and Sam as a couple, after Sam’s divorce, because I didn’t feel that concrete bond between them like I’ve had with the other couples within this series, which I was sad we missed.

Overall, I enjoyed the story very much. I love that Lang Downs is a place for those who are lost or rejected. It’s a great concept and I loved that we got Jeremy’s story and what he and Sam go through. It’s slightly sad but I loved the journey Jeremy and Sam go through. I can’t wait to read the next in the series and to find out who’s story is next!!


EvolutionLGTitle: Evolution
Author: Sam Kadence
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 68k words, 230 pages
Genre: m/m YA Paranormal Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Famous, GFY, Ghosts/Spirits, Injured Character, Musicians, Past Abuse, Pets, Phoenix Shifter, Physical Abuse, Psychic Abilities, Secrets & Lies, Under Aged Character, Vampires, Young Adult Characters
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

*This review contains some tiny spoilers*

BLURB

Gene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.

Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.

Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.

REVIEW

I adored this story because I had so much fun reading it!

One thing I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. Genesis and Kerstrande have two very distinct voices that are nothing alike. Gene is almost too innocent and forgiving, sweet and nice but fun and eccentric. Kerstrande is grumpy, snarky, and more likely to give an insult than a compliment. They’re yin and yang and balance each other out nicely. In fact, the balance they give each other is a bit crucial to the story and explains some of the troubles they go through. Both Gene and Kerstrande have had a hard life but while Gene has made it his motto to just go forward, Kerstrande still lives somewhat in the past. Ashamed of who he is and what he has to do to survive, it’s not until being with Gene for a while that he realizes he doesn’t have to make things worse for himself. On the other hand, Kerstrande is able to give Gene the one thing he wants most – and that’s to be accepted and loved for everything he is, warts and all, even if Kerstrande doesn’t actually come out and say it. More than that, I loved how soft Kerstrande got around Gene (even when he was fighting those feelings) and even more that he let Gene nickname him KC.

This story took me on a slow but wild ride. It grabbed my attention from the beginning with the spectacular way Kerstrande and Gene met. There’s possession, jealousy, lust, love, distrust and heartbreak and a boat load of other emotions. Gene goes from a nobody to a star over night. From someone who barely knows his own powers to being thrust into the paranormal world without even knowing it or the dangers associated with it. Kerstrande is very hot and cold so a majority of the story is him trying to push Gene away but not being able to let him go. Overall, this book is about their journey, finding out who they are and accepting themselves and each other. One of the highlights of this story, though, is the back and forth between Gene and Kerstrande and the passion they have together. I felt like they had amazing chemistry with KC insulting Gene and Gene taking it in stride. It’s sort of sad but Gene understood why KC was so mean sometimes. Although, they don’t exactly know much of each other in the traditional sense, I was able to overlook that because of how much they go through together.

While I enjoyed this book immensely, there were some problems I had. Mostly, there were times when I was confused on what was going on, how and why some things happened but others didn’t, such as how Joel didn’t burn from the inside out but Hane did. Another thing, though, is that Kerstrande in the beginning was very firm on the fact he wasn’t gay to the point that was one of his main responses to whatever Gene was saying. However, he quickly overcame that objection so it had me wondering, was he in denial? Or was he just gay for Genesis? It’s not quite clear but either way I would have liked a little more detail on that because of how forcefully Kerstrande would tell Genesis that.

One thing readers should be aware of is that when Kerstrande and Gene start their unconventional relationship, Gene is underage. A few months shy of 18, in fact, while KC, the vampire, is a few years older…. Or is he… Anyway, they have sex although it’s not detailed but beautiful all the same and while I didn’t have a problem with this, I do understand that some readers might not take kindly to Gene being underage. So, this is me giving those readers fair warning. After all, this is a YA story 😉 I will say that Gene is very mature most of the time to the point I kept forgetting he was so young.

Overall, a great story that I really loved reading. It had its faults but I was so caught up in the book and the characters, it was easy to overlook them. I can’t wait to see what else this author has coming out next because I adored the writing and the style. There’s a lot of stuff that happened within this story but I didn’t want to give many details on it. Mostly because I want the reader to experience it for themselves but also because I would just sound crazy if I tried to explain it all. LOL. I definitely recommend this to those who enjoy young adult paranormal fantasies and I hope those who decide to read it like it as much as I did 🙂


BlameItOnTheCatsLGTitle: Blame It on the Cats
Author: ET Malinowski
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 20,656 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Animals, Pets, Veterinarian, Light & Sweet
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Despite his misgivings, Christopher Albion is unable to turn down his employer and dear friend David’s request to care for yet another stray kitten. So Chris takes the tiny feline to the vet for a checkup, not expecting the visit to change his life. Waiting for him is veterinarian Dr. Anthony Vicario, who is just what Chris needs to find fulfillment in life. But when David finds out, he panics—worried he’ll lose his best friend. Chris now has his lover and his best friend, but Anthony and David will have to come to terms with both of them being important in Chris’s life.

REVIEW

I am a cat lover, no doubt about it. For some reason I thought this was about housecat-shifters, but… I was wrong! Still, I can get behind some good contemporary where cats are front and center. And there are several here that are front and center, ranging all different types and personalities, just like cats really are. Sadly, if this had been only about cats rather than the relationship between their masters, then I might have liked the story more.

Chris is a personal assistant for David, a scatterbrained and emotionally challenged billionaire who needs his whole life structured for him and tends to break down at the slightest provocation. And he’s an animal lover. David, not Chris. Well, sure Chris loves animals, dogs especially. But cats have a serious problem with him. For some reason they always attack him. They hate him. So when David brings home another kitty that he just couldn’t leave at the pet store, Chris is peeved to be sure, but David is his friend and most importantly boss, so he immediately takes the new kitty (“Cloud”) to the vet.

The new veterinarian at the clinic is Anthony, and the two have an instant connection. Chris is gun-shy, however and tends not to open up to men who show an interest in him. He’s almost… over professional at all times. But when an old lady at the clinic loses control of her two cats and they immediately attack Chris, leaving some pretty fierce wounds (and that’s no exaggeration, those claws can shred!), the tension is gone and the ice is broken between the two men. Which leads to some very unprofessional tonsil-hockey in the exam room on the good doctor’s first day at his new job. But… they just can’t stay away from each other.

I found this story to have quite a few problems, and in the end they just became too many for the story to turn itself around. There are continuity issues that weren’t caught, lots of random detail that isn’t needed, and most unfortunately, huge gaping plot holes:

1) Who is David? All we really know about his is what we’re told by Chris, which is that he’s eccentric and needs Chris to hold him together or he’ll completely fall apart. Also that Chris “rescued” him after his whole family was killed (in some sort of vehicle accident?) and that Chris took him home, patched him up and ever since they’ve been best friends… and employer/employee.

There’s so much that is important here. First of all, this relationship is the gold mine of the story. There is so much potential to delve into with such an unusual relationship. Plus, it’s the most important and central relationship in each David and Chris’ life (even more than Chris cares for Anthony, I’d say, at least until the very end). Yet, we know almost nothing about David, or their relationship except for the few facts we’re told. And not only is it a shame because it is a missed opportunity, but fleshing out that relationship and showing it on page would have brought this whole story together.

2) Unfortunately, there’s a six month (or maybe five month) gap around the 70% mark. I hate when this happens. Those months are the meat of the story. Strangely, it seems as if the author wanted to minimize this problem somewhat by making almost nothing happen during this time, so it’s not like we missed anything right? Nope. For me, it made the quantum leap in time much more obvious. Just after the jump Chris tells us that he’s finally ready to have sex with Anthony (and they do) and everything…. screech! Ground to a halt in my head. Wait, they haven’t had sex yet? You mean to tell me not only is Anthony so perfect that he’s willing to wait that long for Chris to “come around” or get used to trusting him, but he doesn’t even think it’s strange. Or that it might be important to talk about? Or that… I don’t know, we should maybe know the reason that Chris has such intimacy and commitment issues? And even if the issues is, as I assume, his relationship with David… that seems like something rather important to overlook and not work into the story.

I think that this author shows promise in that I enjoyed the style of writing, they just need to spend more time on the story, working it out and working on it more before it’s ready for public consumption. As for now, I’ll be interested to see what other reader’s think of this author’s future work, but I’ll probably be a little more hesitant to pick another one up for review.


The Druid StoneTitle: The Druid Stone (Layers of the Otherworld #1)
Author: Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 117,000 words
Genre: m/m Alternate World Fantasy Paranormal
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Angst-alicious, Bisexual, Emotionally/Physically Damaded, Ex-lovers, Fae, Gfy/Ofy, Injured Character, Kidnapping/Abduction, Magic, Pets, Physical Abuse, Secrets & Lies, Series, Suspense, Time Travel
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Sean never asked to be an O’Hara, and he didn’t ask to be cursed by one either.

After inheriting a hexed druid stone from his great-grandfather, Sean starts reliving another man’s torture and death…every single night. And only one person can help.

Cormac Kelly runs a paranormal investigation business and doesn’t have time to deal with misinformed tourists like Sean. But Sean has real magic in his pocket, and even though Cormac is a descendant of legendary druids, he soon finds himself out of his depth…and not because Sean’s the first man he’s felt anything for in a long time.

The pair develop an unexpected and intensely sexual bond, but are threatened at every turn when Sean’s case attracts the unwelcome attention of the mad sidhe lords of ancient Ireland. When Sean and Cormac are thrust backward in time to Ireland’s violent history–and their own dark pasts–they must work together to escape the curse and save their fragile relationship.

REVIEW

This story was… hard for me to get into. The world is extremely interesting. If I could rate on just that, I’d give this book five stars but I can’t because I struggled with other factors within the book.

What I liked is how desperate Sean was to stop reliving Cormac’s ex-lovers death. I also liked how shattered Cormac still is about his past. It made for some interesting conflicts between them. I also liked the chemistry they could have had together. Bits and pieces are shown but the full potential there wasn’t achieved, IMO. More than anything, I wished their relationship had been more developed because, while they might have had some attraction, I didn’t feel like there was any connection between them at all. In fact, I felt like there was always Cormac’s ex-lover that Cormac would put before anything else, including Sean, and I didn’t think that was fair to Sean, especially after everything he just did for Cormac.

As I said, the world is very interesting. It’s intriguing and captivating but I didn’t enjoy how it was handled. I was confused most of the time about what was going on. I couldn’t understand how Sean and Cormac would get into these situations, and while they were intense and interesting, it didn’t really make sense. This made reading the story difficult and I think what made the book also drag for me. I just really struggled with it. More than anything, though, the ending is what frustrates me. Sean and Cormac changed the past but nothing in the present changed. That made no sense to me at all. Also, while I found the ending very sweet, it came out of left field for me. Sean and Cormac love each other but I’m wondering how that development happened because I didn’t see it in the writing or the long journey they had together. I also really wished we got to see their time in D.C. because I felt like the ending was very abrupt in not showing that.

All in all, amazing world building but everything else I was just confused on. The events they go through and how they end up where they do, didn’t add up for me. I was confused on so many things that by the end, I was a bit disappointed by not only the journey they go on but the supposed love they’ve seemed to have developed off screen. Some people will really enjoy this one but, unfortunately, it missed its mark with me.