Guest Review: Dantès Unglued (Ward Security, #2) by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott

When private investigator, Shane Stephens, is hired by the mayor of Cincinnati to track down the hacker who has been threatening him, Shane is sure this is the opportunity to launch the Merleau Detection Agency into the big time. He even convinces Rowe Ward of Ward Security to loan him one of his best IT specialists, Quinn Lake.

Shane, a man who prefers casual intimacy, is surprised by his attraction to the moody computer geek, but when Quinn suggests they have fun for the month he’s on loan, Shane happily agrees. Both men are expecting nothing more than a good time.

But the investigation takes an unexpected turn and they quickly discover they are facing more than a hacker out to ruin the mayor’s re-election chances. And as they spend more time together, they realize their relationship may be a lot more than just a good time.

With only weeks until the election, Shane and Quinn race to gather the proof they need while dodging bullets and possibly…falling in love.

Reviewer: NeRdyWYRM


Whelp

Where to begin. I'm going to preface this review by saying: take it with a grain of salt. I'm salty enough for all of us, I think, but you get what I mean. I've been trying (and failing) to refrain from comparing this series with it's predecessor, the Unbreakable Bonds series, which is one of my all-time favorites.

Unfortunately, Ward Security is suffering by comparison, which is at least partially due to my inability to compartmentalize the two and judge the books from the spinoff on their own merits. Or maybe I'm doing the too-hard-on-myself schtick, I dunno. It's a thing with a mind of its own.

make it stop--dantes unglued review pics

There are some things to like here, don't get me wrong. The writing is fluid, the editing is very good, the words in the dialogues flow well, the sex scenes are pretty hot (as always with these authors), and the plots aren't too far off the reservation.

There's also the usual amount of action, and it's very well done. The larger plotline, the whodunit stuff, is maybe a little far-fetched if you take this story and put it out there in real life, but it is possible that this type of stuff has happened somewhere out there before, so that's another for the plus column.

This book, with Shane and Quinn as the MCs, was more enjoyable for me than the first book in the series because I truly, truly, disliked Sven's love interest in that one. I call him: He-who-will-not-be-named.

voldemort -- dantes unglued pics

That said, I liked Shane and Quinn and I liked them together. I was a little confused by the fact that I didn't remember Shane being mentioned in Unbreakable Bonds or in Psycho Romeo (Ward Security Book 1). Drake & Elliott tend to pull MCs from characters that were introduced in previous books. Quinn, I knew, but if we did meet Shane before, I either had a brain fart or wasn't memorable.

That's a departure from the norm with these series and left me with no expectations for what Shane would be like or where he fit in this world of generally fantastic characters. In other words, for me, it was a virtual standalone. I don't have an issue with standalones per se, but it's not what I've come to expect. It irked a little.

pissy dean -- dantes unglued pics

So, unrealistic expectations? Or is this book just not meeting the bar set by the authors in other works. I'll have to let you decide for yourselves. I do know that I haven't enjoyed these books in general, or this one in particular, as much as I liked the ones from the previous series.

The characters aren't as dynamic, there is no real unifying series story arc and these pairs of MCs are kind of just freewheeling it through the Unbreakable/Ward universe. They feel tetherless to me and maybe that's where I'm having a problem.

There was a real sense of unity with Snow, Lucas, Rowe and Ian. Even when their guys started hitting the scene, it seemed like they slipped right into a hole shaped just for them. They were a family and I LOVED it. I just wish I was getting that same feeling with these and I'm really bummed that I'm not.

GOT disappointment -- dantes unglued pics

Well then, here's hoping the next one's better. The book gods know I've been drooling over Royce from day one, so ... yeah. I'm afraid I'll be disappointed. For that reason, I won't be anxiously salivating, waiting for release day. I'll get to it when I get to it and hopefully it's better than what we've gotten from Ward Security so far.

More reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be found on Goodreads here.
Images (when present) may be subject to copyright.
An ARC copy of this title was provided for an honest review.





Review: Whisper (Skins #2) by Garrett Leigh

Lonely physiotherapist Harry Foster has the world at his feet. A full client list, a six figure Instagram following, and a publishing deal for a book he doesn’t have time to write until his agent offers him a break—a retreat to the wild south west coast.

Cornish horseman Joe Carter is lonely too. Rescuing horses and managing Whisper Farm takes up most of his days, and by night he plays chicken with the farm’s perilous bank accounts.

At his sister’s unwelcome suggestion, he rents his only bedroom to a bloke from the city, and when Harry arrives, he’s everything Joe isn’t—calm, patient, and gorgeous enough to be exactly the kind of distraction Joe doesn’t need.

Harry doesn’t have time for distractions either—even shirtless farmers riding bareback past his bedroom window—but his moody host proves impossible to ignore.

On paper, they have nothing in common, but Joe is beautiful…glorious, and when an accident puts his life in Harry’s healing hands, the whisper of true love is inevitable. If the trouble that put the farm on its knees in the first place doesn’t get in the way.


Joe owns a rescue horse farm that is sucking the life out of him through financial woes, but he can’t give up, even though it’s not the life he thought he would have. He loves it too much, but loathes that he isn’t free to do the things he wants to when the mood strikes.

Harry needs to get away from the city so he can write his manuscript that is sucking the joy out of his usual passion for writing. As a holistic physiotherapist, health blogger, and soon to be published author, he hasn’t had time to really focus on himself, or how lonely his life has become.

Joe is a grump, from the first introduction, but there is something compelling about him that I was excited to get to know. I knew he was grumpy for a reason and wanted to know why. Harry is steady but complex. He has some secrets, and the contradictory personality where I couldn’t immediately tell if he was awkward, aloof, or shy.

When he gets out to the farm, his reception is less than warm. Joe is not a fan of some stranger staying in his house, and he makes that very clear. But as time goes by, he warms to the other man, and they start to form a tentative friendship that builds into attraction.

This can be read as a standalone, and feels like a standalone, even though it is the second in a series. Garrett Leigh’s writing style is easy to read, the plot is easy to follow, and just the right mix of witty and serious to keep me engaged for the entire story. I love that these characters had damage that didn’t take up the entire storyline. It is there, and part of their story, but their relationship building took centre stage. They both came into this story already acknowledging that there were things that prevented them from being fulfilled. Knowing themselves was a huge draw for me to keep going. It was exactly the kind of romance I needed at the time.

There was a beautiful sweetness to these two building trust and edging closer to each other. Joe was really open and honest about himself and how he felt. Harry was not expecting anything beyond locking himself in a room with his laptop and writing his heart out, but slowly, Joe, the farm, and the horses captured his attention more.

I loved these two together, and enjoyed getting to know them and Joe’s family. If you enjoy contemporary romance this is a definite rec from me.

a review copy was provided for an honest opinion


Review: Cash Plays (Seven of Spades #3) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

The Seven of Spades is back with a vengeance—the vigilante serial killer has resumed their murderous crusade, eluding the police at every turn. But a bloodthirsty killer isn’t the only threat facing Sin City. A devious saboteur is wreaking havoc in Las Vegas’s criminal underworld, and the entire city seems to be barreling toward an all-out gang war.

As Detective Levi Abrams is pushed ever closer to his breaking point, his control over his dangerous rage slips further every day. His relationship with PI Dominic Russo should be a source of comfort, but Dominic is secretly locked in his own downward spiral, confronting a nightmare he can’t bear to reveal.

Las Vegas is floundering. Levi and Dominic’s bond is cracking along the seams. And the Seven of Spades is still playing to win. How many bad hands can Levi and Dominic survive before it’s game over?





My immediate response upon finishing this book was:


Every time.

Every.

Single.

Time.


Imma have to re-think my whole vision of myself as "non-masochistic".

Cordelia Kingsbridge: slyly making readers redefine their self-image, one book at a time.

In other words...


Again! I knew it would. WE ALL KNEW IT WOULD! She'll prolly cliff us again in One-Eyed Royals. But I still steady keep reading them the second I get them. Like a junkie.

Honestly though, as hard as it was to read about two characters that I've grown to love struggle I wouldn't have it any other way. They have to test their relationship. It can't always be tongue slap your brains out sex and tender moments that make me heart eyes my kindle like a creeper. True, they're in a bad place right now but their connection to each other is soul deep and I know this too shall pass. There is relate-ability and authenticy in their issues which is what makes them difficult to read but also dovetails into stronger characterizations. I appreciate that these things weren't minimized or overwrought. Also, you know what the upside of them fighting is? ANGRY SEX FTW!!!!!!!!!



Where I think CK truly distinguished herself here is with the construction of this narrative. The Seven of Spades, I believe, is playing a larger puppet master role than I initially envisioned which opens up possibilities with regard to their endgame, and I do believe their is one. An endgame, that is.

Las Vegas's legendary organized crime plays a critical role in Cash Plays. The turf war has caught the attention of LVMPD and Dom gets involved by way of a possible kidnapping case he's working at his new PI job. There are three syndicates that run Las Vegas who seemingly have a cooperative relationship then Utopia bursts on the scene. No one knows much about them but they seem to be reaping all the rewards of said turf war. The lack of investigation into Utopia is my reason for deducting a half star. But even with that oversight this storyline was involved, complex and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

Get ready for LOADS of action in this installment! Levi BAMF ninjas out several times and even wends up on YouTube!


I love actiony books and this delivered while also subtly addressing the issue of gun violence and the role the police play in it that's in every headline and I liked the way it was handled; it wasn't preachy or didactic and it didn't divert attention away from the plot.

Those who suffer from depression may want to exercise caution with this one as both Levi and Dom seem to be struggling with it to varying degrees and coping with it in their own, sometimes maladaptive, ways.

Most concerning is Levi's relationship with the Seven of Spades and I don't mind saying I'm kind of beside myself over it. But I have to wait for the next installment.


Must read for fans of the series and psychological thriller fans.




An ARC was provided by NetGalley.


Series Recap Blitz: Taking Shield Series by Anna Butler


Haven't discovered the Taking Shield series by Anna Butler yet? The author and Signal Boost Promotions visit today to promote the science fiction series! Check it out!




The award-winning Taking Shield series comes to an explosive conclusion in the fifth book, Day of Wrath, to be published on 28 June 2018.

First that cover. Designed by Adrian Nicholas, who’s been responsible for creating the Taking Shield brand, this cover features a faceless drone, one of the cyborg soldiers sent against humanity by the Maess:



 

About Day of Wrath

In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friends… and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything he’s worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesn’t want to leave Flynn.

There’s time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, he’s ever had. That’s the plan.

Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Pre-order Day of Wrath

Want to win some loot? Pre-order The Day of Wrath at a digital store (Amazon, Kobo, Nook etc) and send a copy of the email confirmation (or a screengrab of it) to annabutlerfiction@gmail.com and

(i) Anna will send you the first chapter and some deleted scenes by email. The deleted scenes will be exclusive until the end of the year;

(ii) the first twenty to respond will get a little bag of Taking Shield loot; and

(ii) your name will be entered in a draw to win one of seven signed first edition paperbacks of Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab. Winners will be announced on publication day.

Preorder here: 
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kobo | Smashwords


Excerpt from Day of Wrath

As Bennet angled over to starboard, Flynn gave his own Hornet a metaphorical boot in the backside, and tagged along faithfully at Bennet’s port wing. He stayed close and tight. Pity the ensigns weren’t there to see how it was done. With finesse. Panache. And sheer, mind-boggling talent.

The Hornet’s navigational computer helpfully overlaid a representation of Aglaia with the usual spherical latitude-longitude grid, pulling the planetary data from the database. At least they had the figures for known planets logged and stored and the nav-com didn’t have to make it up. Which it could, of course, by designating the poles with an arbitrary north and south label, locating the equator, and inventing an arbitrary prime meridian to work with. According to legend, the system originated on Earth before man took to the skies, so old it was invented for sailing ships. Given Earth was ten thousand years gone, Flynn put a lot of emphasis on ‘legend’. Their flight navigation systems were built on bloody folklore.

Madness.

Still, at least he couldn’t get lost.

He followed Bennet into a high orbit along Aglaia’s equator, skimming along for a moment before going down into the atmosphere. And by skimming, he meant they bounced along like stones skipping over water before they burst through into a storm system. A big storm system. The air roiled in great waves and billows, buffeting the Hornets, and lightning cracked and sizzled off their hulls. The flow of the clouds was fierce, the turbulence greatest at the boundaries between cloud layers. And the winds! More than fierce. They were a howling, raging, relentless savagery that threatened to overwhelm even the Hornet’s engines. The Hornet bucked and balked against the winds, and it took every ounce of skill Flynn possessed to fight her into obedience, to keep her flying in the direction he wanted. He couldn’t rely on relaxed experience here. This was active, constant readjustment to make her respond. He dropped back a trifle, giving Bennet and himself room to ride out the bucking and bouncing. He wasn’t so much flying through Aglaia’s skies, as cavorting through them.

Gods, it was fun!

Anna : what you, dear reader, might expect from the Taking Shield series

Gay literature is a growing genre. And the biggest element of that, just as it’s the biggest element of literature generally? Romance. Love, hearts, kisses, and happiness. M/M romance, in particular, is booming.

Now then, if I’m reading a romance, I have certain expectations. I want to see two people attracted to each other, overcoming some obstacle to being together, being faithful and loving. And at the very least, the book must close with a Happy-For-Now ending even if the story can’t quite make it Happy Ever After. En route they can have all sorts of things happen: murders, mystery, mayhem. Doesn’t matter. What matters is they’re together and I can put the book down feeling good about the outcome.

But this is where things get a little sticky. Because if you’re looking for pure romance, then I have to confess that the Taking Shield series won’t deliver it. Shield isn’t romance. It is a love story—a very deep and, at times, intense love story—that covers five or six years of interstellar war and billions of miles of space travel. This is a classic space opera. All the staples of old school sci-fi are here: big spaceships, infiltrations of enemy bases, cool Shield suits, and lots of people running around shooting their lasers.

And it has two men in love. Oh wait. Not as old school as all that, then.

Across the whole of the series, there are two main story themes, intertwining with each other: the war against the Maess and, set against that, the relationship between Shield Captain Bennet and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. The Maess war and everything Bennet has to do there gets equal billing with the slow unfolding of his relationship with Flynn.

So something of a niche appeal, here! But if you like sweeping sagas and big love stories where the obstacles the heroes face are big and sweeping too, I do hope you’ll give Bennet and Flynn a try. They aren’t perfect, but a couple of guys with all their warts and faults, all their brilliance and intelligence, all their courage and loyalty and great hearts, all their beauty and all their ugliness—and they love each other. They love each other a great deal, despite every parting, and every reverse and upset in their relationship. And now, at the end of the series, perhaps they’ll get their chance.

Do come on the adventure with them. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

About the series

Taking Shield started out as a simple set of ‘what if’ questions. What if, in some AU universe, Earth’s been a burnt out dustball for the last ten thousand years? What if there’s a riff on the Exodus and remnants of humanity escape, but led by Pharaohs? What if the new world they found, Albion, is at war with an enemy no one has ever seen? What if the hero is a member of Albion’s special forces and the Military Strategy Unit? What if he finds something that seriously threatens Albion? What if he falls in love with a Fleet pilot and has his life turned upside down?

Earth’s a dead planet, dark for more than ten thousand years; lost for so long no one even knows where its solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But Albion’s drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.

The Taking Shield series charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.





Note: the novels are not standalones and should be read in order.



Taking Shield 01: Gyrfalcon — Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

Available FREE at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab — Shield Captain Bennet is on Telnos, an unpleasant little planet inhabited by religious fanatics and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines. It’s about to be about to be overrun by the Maess. Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can, but the enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ‘rights’ here. He isn’t family. He isn’t partner or lover. He’s just broken

Available at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 03: Makepeace — Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isn’t his father’s ship—bad enough that he can’t yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesn’t have the added stress of commanding former lover, Fleet Lieutenant Flynn and knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.

Bennet’s new mission takes him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity. It’s not good. It’s not good at all.

SECOND PLACE WINNER 2016 Rainbow Awards for Best Sci/Fi Futuristic book

Available at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 04: The Chains Of Their Sins — Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year's posting before returning to the Shield Regiment.

On the Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeace—ethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?

It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan...

FIRST PLACE WINNER 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Sci/Fi Futuristic book

THIRD PLACE WINNER 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Gay Book

Available from Payhip | A digital bookstore near you





 



Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.


Website and Blog | Facebook | The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group) | Twitter | Sign up for Anna’s occasional newsletter



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Review: In the Desert (States of Love) by Elliot Joyce

Can a Navajo trans teen and a nerdy Catholic find the place they belong... and maybe themselves? In the desert, anything is possible….

When Wren came out as transgender before his senior year, it cost him most of his friends. His father hopes joining a Boy Scout troop might help Wren meet other young men his age and be accepted for who he is.

Felipe Nieves wants the new guy in the troop to feel comfortable, and he reaches out to Wren. They become fast friends… with something more beneath the surface. Those feelings confuse Felipe, since his religion considers this a sin—and he’s always assumed he was straight—but he can’t help pining for Wren. Asking him out will take courage, and getting together won’t be easy… but through their friendship, both young men might find their identities… and learn to embrace them in a unique coming-of-age story set against the beauty of the American Southwest.


Wren and Felipe are teens who meet at a Boy Scout group. Wren was encouraged to go by his dad, as a way to meet more friends. Being out as trans is something recent, and he still feels awkward and alone as the only trans person he knows. So he goes along with his father’s suggestion to his little brother’s Scout group although he’s not convinced he’s in the right place for him.

Felipe is drawn to Wren and really wants to be his friend. He is almost compelled to be friends with Wren. He doesn’t fully understand why, but knows it has to happen. With the help of his best friend Kyle, he puts himself out there and they start building a friendship. While Wren knows he is crushing on his friend, Felipe is slow to catch on to his own feelings. Coming from a Catholic upbringing this is a pretty terrifying development for a boy who always thought he was straight.

I really enjoyed the awkwardness of this. It felt like my high school years. Yes, I was ridiculously awkward (and still am really), so it warms my heart that I am not alone, at least not in fiction. There was some really sweet relationship building between Wren and Felipe.

Wren is still learning to feel comfortable with himself and there are a lot of things he still wants to help this journey along. Fitting in has always been hard, but his new group of friends have no problems treating him like someone they have known forever. This confidence boost brings him out of his shell, and we get to know Wren as a great friend with an easy going nature.

Felipe is a sweetheart. He takes a shine to Wren, but he is also an awesome friend to Kyle and Travis. A bit of an introvert, who loves his Abuela, the baby of the family and the last one to go to go off to college, he is dependable and generous with his time and energy.

I loved Kyle’s personality. Even though he didn’t seem to have a filter, had boundless energy, and was completely flighty, he was still a great friend and had his own agenda in how he was going to get Felipe to acknowledge his attraction to Wren. Kyle reminds me of my baby brother. Growing up with him was equal parts exasperating and hilarious with the most generous heart I have ever known. I loved reading that here. I would have loved to learn more about him.

I didn’t get to know Travis much, as Kyle had a bigger support role than he did, but his easy banter and patience with Kyle was great and it would be fun for them to get a story. Even just a road trip adventure.

I enjoyed everything about this story. The character development is strong, as is the writing style. This is more character driven than plot driven, but that takes nothing from this story. It was a really nice, clean coming of age young adult novella that I would feel very comfortable recommending to everyone from 14 onward.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion



Review: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.

The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run--all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn't ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his "intended", Robby's only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is -- and can't resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

Damn, what a kerfuffle. If only Trace can get rid of the fugitive while hanging on to his own stupid heart.


I was a bit hesitant going into this book. While I like a good historical romance, Westerns just aren’t my thing. Luckily, Eli Easton delivered a funny, sexy, and sweet romance, in an entertaining Western setting.

description

The set-up of the story takes some suspension of disbelief. Escaping a murderous gang in New York City, and after a series of unfortunate events, up-and-coming actor Robby Riverton ends up in rural New Mexico disguised as a mail order bride.

Readers have to buy that Robby pulls off his disguise impeccably, but I was thoroughly impressed (and entertained) by how Robby threw himself into his character of “Rowena.” He’s hilarious, especially his interactions with the Crabtree family.

It’s easy to root for Robby. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, but just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Also, let’s talk about the Crabtrees. They’re unkempt, rough, and kinda gross at times. But they’ve got heart in spades. I couldn’t help but love them!

The only person who sees through Robby’s performance is the black sheep of the Crabtree family, Sheriff Trace Crabtree. Trace is exactly who you’d expect - big, strong, silent, and serious.

Trace and Robby are complete opposites, but the attraction between them is immediate. It doesn’t take long before they give into the heat building between them, and their hearts follow soon after.

I thought the two were sweet together. Both men had been alone for so long, with Trace resigned to living a solitary life. Robby and Trace gave each other something to look forward to beyond their less-than-perfect circumstances.

description

Robby’s troubles with the New York gang provide suspense, which pushes the relationship forward. The action doesn’t come into play until near the end of the book, but it kept things interesting.

Despite the romance being pretty cute, I didn’t find it particularly memorable. Trace and Robby just didn’t have that extra flair that Eli Easton’s couples usually have.

I think part of it was that the romance, while not insta-love, happens pretty quickly and was often drowned out by Robby’s interactions with the Crabtree family and his worries about the gang.

However, the epilogue ties up everything nicely, and I was glad to see Trace and Robby get their HEA. Overall, this was an enjoyable read, though not one of my favourites by Easton.


Guest Review: Darkling (Port Lewis Witches #1) by Brooklyn Ray

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

Warning: Scenes of bloodletting and death (and resurrection) of an MC.




Reviewer: NeRdyWYRM

Microcosmic

Maybe I read a different book than everyone else, I don't know. What I do know is that while I enjoyed this story, it was also unfulfilling. The world-building was spectacular. It was. The trans MC was well-portrayed and I loved the dichotomy of Fire/Air elemental they had going on here.

This is a novella, so I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling it for everyone. Given the length, everything counts. That said, Darkling is aptly named. Ryder's stomping ground is a dark, dark, place. His mind is a dark, dark, place for a lot of this book—and for good reason.

Liam is a breath of fresh air for Ryder, if you'll forgive the play on words. I spent a lot of the book feeling bad for him because the situation was just so ... heavy.

atlas-morph -- darkling review pics

I related to the feels. Ryder was quietly petrified, too self-sacrificing, compulsively pessimistic, and more than a little sad. Liam was inconspicuously supportive, despairingly hopeful, and forcibly helpless in the face of everything that was going on in this title. There was only so much he could do and that was heartbreaking.

So why am I not starkers over this title like everyone else seems to be? Well ...
there are a few reasons.

I appreciated Liam's effortless acceptance of Ryder. At no point did I wonder if he saw Ryder as different. He didn't. To Liam, Ryder was just Ryder. I loved that and wish it was like that for everyone in real life. I wish Ryder had been as accepting of himself. I was a little confused by the partial change, but that might be my ignorance yapping. Maybe Ryder was confused, too. Either way, I wanted to know more about that in specifics.

details -- darkling review pics

The world-building was good, for the small slice of the world we got to see. It was microcosmic, IMO. That was disappointing. Rewinding the story in my head, the scope felt extremely narrow. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think so. The plot was Liam and Ryder in this little bubble with The Big Day looming, and the only things that were fleshed out pertained directly to that and their relationship leading up to it. That's it.

Regardless of my slight sense of dissatisfaction, I was pleasantly surprised by the story overall. I think part of my disappointment lay in the fact that it wasn't quite enough. It felt like things were missing or waiting in the wings and those things were the things I really wanted to see.

peekaboo owl -- darkling review pics

Maybe we'll get more in book two, I'm not sure. The blurb for that one seems equally narrow in scope, but like Liam, I'm cautiously hopeful that there's more to this story arc than what we've seen and more of what I missed out on in this title in ones to come.




Release Blitz + Giveaway: The False Moon (The Immutable Moon #2) by Jacqueline Rohrbach


Celebrate the release of The False Moon (The Immutable Moon #2) with author Jacqueline Rohrbach and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the second novel in the paranormal reviews and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title:  The False Moon
Author: Jacqueline Rohrbach
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: May 21, 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 84,900
Genre: Paranormal, werewolves, shifters, gay, paranormal

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Synopsis

Outsiders call them False Moons, but Garvey’s kind call themselves Moondogs. Moondogs hunt. Moondogs live free. Moondogs stick together. Moondogs are half-breeds, not completely accepted by those who consider themselves “true wolves.”

Garvey is a Moondog to his bones. He and the unexpected get along just fine. That’s why when Molly, the vampire who should be a mindless eating machine, turns out to be an oddity, Garvey decides to hide her away instead of killing her.

But that leaves him needing another vampire to carry out the schemes of the two powerful werewolf rivals he’s caught between. What’s an improvising Moondog to do other than find some poor sap and create a new one?

Garvey might be a Moondog to his bones, but to defeat his enemies, he must navigate their world and be the stupid, subservient beast they expect. At least on the surface. Behind the scenes, Garvey intends to turn their plans against them and bring the two greater packs to the brink of war.

Excerpt

The False Moon
Jacqueline Rohrbach © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1: Jouska But Not Really
KIJO

Kijo stood in front of the gateway Mazgan stole from the Boo Hags. Lacking descriptive language, she could only call it doorish but smaller. As it was, when she became wolf, it was what she felt and not what she saw. Surging electricity pried apart large spaces inside of her to make room for itself amongst her being. This sensation wasn’t intoxicating. It was terrifying. Without knowing how she knew it, Kijo understood the presence with her wanted to rip her apart.

You do not open it. It opens you.

It was one of the few things Kijo remembered Lavario saying with any force back when he was still her father. Normally flippant about bright-line rules, he was stern, even afraid, when he cautioned her against tampering with the sentient powers immured within the gateways.

Back then, pride kept her from asking him more. As a new wolf, she wanted her pack to think she was in control, secure in her ability to fight any enemy the world had to offer. Varcolac. What a fool she’d been. Now it was too late to ask for guidance, too late to admit her fear, too late to do anything other than move forward. Under her nose, Mazgan had already brought a gateway there and left it where anyone could access it. Worse, he’d selected Garvey—a brazenly careless wolf—to travel through it and bring back a vampire of all things.

“Here is proof of Mazgan’s foolishness,” she said to herself in the darkness. “Here is proof he’s tampering where he should not.”

In her head, she considered her pack’s response. It’s nothing, they’d say.

She stressed the significance to them. “It is a gateway. Here.”

Their retort played out in her head. It was past time for Varcolac to have dominion over one. We are due. You are looking at your birthright. Your rank is not just some silly title. It is a destiny, Guardian.

Furious, Kijo paced the length of the hall. Her imaginary conversation with her subordinates became reality if she approached them now. Pack pride surmounted their caution. An honor they’d been denied all these years, a right reserved by the much hated Isangelous, was in their possession. Having did not mean tampering. Even if it did, the wolves of the Varcolac—mostly younger, brasher—might not understand the danger.

Mazgan hadn’t exactly hidden it either; the damn thing was literally a door to a storage room. Inexcusable hubris.

“You will need so much more to persuade them of the danger,” she concluded to herself.

This time, her pack did not answer her. She was alone.

No, not alone. An unknown entity stirred nearby. More curious than concerned, Kijo scanned the hallway, narrowing her eyes while she sniffed the air in measured, stable inhalations. Her nostrils barely twitched. Although she didn’t see, didn’t hear, didn’t smell anything, instinct demanded she listen.

Kijo straightened herself, haughtily raising her chin. She walked up to the gateway the same way she’d approach any other enemy. Touch. The energy sent her staggering backward. It was an impulse as strong as anything she’d ever felt, more demanding than even her body’s need for blood.

“No.” Defiant, Kijo said it out loud. Cold liquid ran down her spine. Sweat, she realized.

The energy shifted, tipping her direction as though to acknowledge her refusal. Softer this time, the request was seductive. Touch.

Kijo’s hand twitched at her side. With effort, she forced herself to walk away. Lavario’s words repeated, You don’t open it. It opens you.

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Meet the Author

Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion! You can find Jacqueline on Twitter.


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Blog Tour: Rogue in the Making (Studies in Demonology #2) by T.J. Nichols


TJ Nichols is here today promoting Rogue in the Making, the second in the Studies in Demonology series. Find out more about the inspiration for the series below! 


Reimagining our world

Urban fantasy is our world but with fantastical elements. I could’ve dropped demons and magic straight into our world and changed little else, but that didn’t make sense to me. If demons, and the magic of their world bled through to ours, our world would’ve developed differently.

Wars and invasions that we take for granted would’ve never happened.

One of the first things I did was print out a map of the world and start looking at how things might have changed. Which countries would be pro magic and which countries would be anti-magic. Who would be okay with wizards using the magic that bled through, but be anti-demon? There is no one size fits all in the Studies in Demonology universe.

My starting point for the series was that Vikings settled the east coast of America, thus Angus lives in Vinland. Why? No reason beyond me liking the little historical footnote that Vikings made it that far. Would the Vikings have used demon magic if it were available to them? In this world, yes.

Australia became New Holland—the Dutch arrived in Australia before the British. New Holland is pro-magic, and okay with regulated demon magic. To the north of them are countries that aren’t okay with magic.

The Abrahamic religions never made in out of the Middle East in this world. All religions would be different if magic and demons are real. Many of our myths that we take for granted would also be erased.

But I didn’t change everything because I think that no matter what humans would’ve still developed cars, and computers would’ve happened. Magic has it’s uses but it can’t do everything. Medical technology would be different as magic can be used to heal, but this would also create a two-tiered health system where the rich can afford warlocks to heal them and everyone has to take the long route of surgery or using unregulated wizard magic (and in Vinland wizards are seen as dangerous troublemakers).

For me, integrating magic into our world is less about creating magical rules and more about when magic appeared and how that has changed our world. If I know that, then I can build.

I did something similar in A Wolf’s Resistance, taking the idea that were wolves are real, how would that have affected WW2? Clearly, they worked for the French resistance carrying important messages. They would also had been hunted by the Germans, so they could experiment on them.

Part of the fun of world building for me is looking at how our world would be different, what would be better, what would be worse. Who would be in power, what would the wars be fought over? In the Studies in Demonology series there is a hint to a previous demon-human war that was pretty devastating. The Warlock College formed in the aftermath, but now they want to control all magic and are pushing the world to the brink of ice age and Demonside to the point of drying to achieve that.

If magic is a limited resource, it makes sense it would be something that countries want to control. Humans are still going to behave like humans magic or not. But because it’s my world and I do get to make the rules and took away the prudish behaviour the so often surrounds sex, and I made sure that being gay wasn’t even blinked at…sleeping with a demon though…well, that’s forbidden.

But even that rule had reasons, some of them rooted in the Warlock College’s need to control young warlocks, some of them from the power imbalance of a human-demon relationship and some because it’s never a good idea to sleep with the people you work closely with because if the relationship turns sour then everyone is at risk.

I could write a whole book on the world building, but I have another series to work on, so I’ll leave this here with this question.

If magic were real would you want to be one of the few who could use it? Would you want to be a demon using warlock or a demon free wizard?

Rogue in the Making (Studies in Demonology 2)

The blood sacrifices have brought rain to Demonside, but across the void, the Warlock College of Vinland is still storing and gathering magic, heedless of the warnings of the international magical community. The underground is full of warlocks who disagree with the college, but do they care about wizards and demons or only about snatching power?

With a foot in each world, Angus is no longer sure whom he can trust. The demons don’t trust humans, and even though he is learning more magic, he will never be one of them. He is human and only tolerated. Some demons would be happy to slit his throat. It’s only because his demon is powerful in his own right that Angus is alive.

Saka only has a year to prove that Angus’s people can change and that the magic taken will be rebalanced, but the demons want action. His affection for Angus is clouding his judgment and weakening his position in the tribe. Time is running out, and he must make a choice.

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bio:

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day.

After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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Twitter: @TobyJNichols
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