Review: Blind Love by Laura Warby

When Owen and Nate are introduced in a bar one night, neither of them have any idea of the impact the other will have on their lives.

Nate, shy, reticent and blind, finds it difficult to trust Owen with his secrets, but after the two become roommates their relationship blossoms into more than either of them could have ever expected.

This book was a sweet little read. I loved the premise behind it, Owen bringing Nate out of his shell, first time love for the shyer man. Two great characters, a great premise and a story that tried to be too much. For such a short story it felt, to me, that there was just too much trying to fit in here.

I was expecting a slow burn romance between the two MC's as they slowly overcame the obstacles in place between them. What I got, felt more like insta-love, zoom through to serious and try and find a cure for Nate's blindness. I kind of felt a little let down. Not because the writing was bad, but because it was good and the story had the potential to be something really great. Maybe it's just a case of expecting something different from what I got, after all the author has the right to tell the story she wants to tell and it's not up to her to deal with my expectations. I so wanted this to be the story of a slow burn love though.

 Nate was blinded on the day his parents threw him out for being gay, trust and acceptance is really lacking in his life. I wanted Owen to slowly gain his trust, for them to become friends and then move from that into something more. It had so much potential, so many hurdles to overcome. I could then see the second part of the story, where Owen is trying to find a cure for Nate's blindness, to be a whole separate book. An established couple dealing with the problems life chucks at them....but, as I said, it's the author's story, not mine.

I enjoyed the setting of this book - I'm always going to have a fondness for books set in the UK being English myself. The opening scene in the pub was brilliant, it simmered with potential. I really liked the characters too. Owen, known as a bit of a player and Nate shy and reticent. They were great. I certainly didn't hate this book. It was a quick read that was sweet, but, like a mum moaning at her children, I just felt it didn't quite live up to it's full potential. That's just my opinion though, yours might be completely different.


Find out more on Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Homicidal Instinct (Guns 'N' Boys #2) by KA Merikan

All Seth wants is to live free with the man he loves. But escaping death at the hands of the mafia is just the beginning of an uphill struggle. When Domenico wakes up from his impromptu surgery and doesn’t even remember Seth’s name, Seth’s world falls apart. Suddenly it’s him who has to plan an escape from New York City and navigate their way to Mexico. All that without even knowing if the man of his life will ever love him again.

Domenico doesn’t know who to trust and what to believe. The man who introduces himself as his brother seems to hide dark secrets behind a cheerful smile. With the mafia breathing down their necks, there is no time to piece together the puzzle of Domenico’s life, and each time he thinks he’s solved it, a new part appears to be missing. Dom needs to find out who he really is, what he’s capable of... and what is the real story hidden behind Seth’s intense eyes.

Book 2 in KA Merikan's Guns N Boys series was equally as good as parts 1.1 and 1.2. Everything is the same - yet different. Whereas before Domenico has been the driving force of the duo, he now has amnesia and it is Seth's turn to step up to the plate.

It would be easy for a series such as this to become repetitive, but Merikan manage to keep it fresh and exciting. Something as simple as a change in the balance of power makes for an interesting storyline, full of twists and turns and doubts and sighs of relief. Book 1.2 had me not knowing quite how things would play out, and to a certain extent so did this book. With his memory loss Dom has to rely on information from Seth, but Seth isn't quite sure Dom's ready to handle the full truth. This leaves Dom susceptible to the whisperings of others, and what happens when you are unsure if you can trust the one person in the world in whom you have placed all your trust?

Despite his amnesia Dom is still very attracted to Seth, who he knows only as his brother. I love that this is still evident even through the doubts. It is the relationship between Seth and Dom that keeps me so invested in these books. I'm a sucker for true love - and a love that has to fight to be, as theirs has done, leaves me rooting for the MC's so hard. I've cried with these two, I've loved and laughed with them. I want their dreams to come true. I want Seth to open up a bakery or restaurant, I can see him so clearly in a mafia free life, it is after all what he wanted all along. Dom, I have to admit, is harder to place outside the family. It has been his life, it is what he's good at, what he has strove for...yet he's willing to change that for Seth. *I need to bandage my heart right now.*

There were moments in this book that I wasn't sure I could carry on reading. Moments when I hated the family with all my heart. How dare they stand in the way and stop these two? I'm not lying when I say there were parts in this book that were downright awful, I always hate any kind of 'collateral damage' innocent people getting caught up in the fray. It makes me sick. At one point, despite rooting for Dom and Seth, I have to say I found it really hard to forgive their actions. Even Seth with his talks of forgiveness made me squirm (and not in a good way) because, you know, don't do it. Bad decision - you can't want to be clean of this lifestyle just some of the time and then make choices that affect innocent people the rest of the time. No, that's not how it works. Despite this though I still love them and their story - even if I don't always love their choices.

Another fabulous instalment of the Guns 'n' Boys series, one I would recommend to anyone not put off by the warning tags.


Find out more at Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.


Possible spoiler - story warnings.
Themes: mafia, homophobia, assassin, organized crime, amnesia, road trip, chase
Genre: Dark, twisted erotic romance / crime thriller
Erotic content: Explicit gay sex
Length: ~88,000 words

WARNING: Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you.
‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence, offensive language, abuse, and morally ambiguous protagonists. Behind the morbid facade, there is a splash of inappropriate dark humor, and a love story that will crawl under your skin.

Review: Fallout by Lisa Henry & M. Caspian



High-school boyfriends Jack Haldane and Bastian Wade thought everything would be perfect once they reunited at college, putting disapproving parents and small-town attitudes firmly in the past. Now Jack’s on track for a PhD scholarship and a career as a researcher, and Bastian . . . well, living inside a broken body and trailing along in Jack’s shadow didn’t feature in his lofty teenage ambitions. A weekend camping trip back home offers a chance for them to reconnect, but an ugly confrontation with the local motorcycle gang is only the start of their problems. When disaster occurs and the world unravels, will Bastian and Jack manage to hold on to each other, or fall further apart as they try to survive? 


"If we want to survive, we adapt."


I have a confession to make. I'm a blurb skimmer. I try to read them. I really do, but under certain conditions I tend to lapse. This was one of those times. My blurb skim for this went a little something like:  "blah, blah, blah, two dudes who've known each other for a long time, yada, yada KRAKENRY!!!!!!!!" during which there was much squealing, squeeing and, if I'm totally honest, an approximation of a jig. 

Do not let this happen to you. 

Fallout is not a romance. It's a fascinating look at human nature and its capacity for both good and evil during a catastrophe with the central characters being an established gay couple who are in a low point in their relationship. They go on a hiking vacation back to their home town in an effort to rekindle their relationship. And all hell breaks loose.

The first chapter hooked me and I initially thought Fallout was going to delve into the difficulties of sustaining a relationship after the honeymoon's over and life has dealt them some hard knocks. Then chapter two happened. If you're familiar with these two authors, it should come as no surprise that they are comfortable and even revel in darkness. If you're squeamish, I wouldn't recommend this. There is on page rape and torture.

Now that I've gotten all the warnings out of the way I'm going to gush. I think the cat's out of the bag regarding my feels on these two authors, but they hit it out of the park here. I do hope they collaborate again because this felt like something special. For as dark as it can be it has pockets of beauty that left me a little verklempt, a feat in and of itself. They manipulated the English language to their will, wielded it with artistry in both the characterizations and the narrative which drew me in like a tractor beam then threw me around like a piñata at a party of seven year olds jacked up on cake and Mt. Dew. 

Fallout kept me on the edge of my seat. I don't mind saying at one point I had serious concerns one of the MCs wasn't going to make it. But the level of research they must've done to build this world is what made this stunning. Jack is working on a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and they get stuck on vacation during a freak volcanic ash fallout. Bas has a spinal injury that requires frequent monitoring and treatment. They folded in legitimate environmental concerns through the underbelly of this story which appealed to me as an environmentalist and illustrated the challenges of mundane daily activities by someone who has suffered a spinal injury. They gave them both depth by focusing on the details of what makes each of these men tick.

Bas and Jack spend the majority of Fallout apart after being separated shortly after the fallout begins. Their faith in their ability to survive is repeatedly tested and they both find themselves thrust into situations they never could have imagined. They discover truths about themselves, encounter atrocities and meet some extraordinary people. The genius, for me, was the plausibility of the catastrophe and, by extension, human nature under extreme conditions. 

How does one reconcile actions committed under extraordinary circumstances with their self-schema in the aftermath? 


He needed to know that Jack still wanted to touch him. He needed that to be the only thing that had never changed, and would never change.


It's a dark roller coaster of emotions but it's also, paradoxically, beautiful. If the warning tags don't scare you, you will be rewarded by what KRAKENRY have accomplished.



An ARC was provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala

Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.

Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.







Clockwork Pirate is everything I love about steampunk and LG-great gadgets, wildly creative and fantastic characterization. I'm almost starstruck with her range; she's conquered sci-fi, contemporary and now steampunk. If that's not enough to sell you, try this on for size:  GFY and a virgin AND interracial AND AND PIRATES! That concoction right there is full of win. The gift that keeps on giving, I tell ya.

The fact that LG chose an interracial relationship in post Civil War America and that she didn't shy away from the race relations topic made it more compelling somehow. Contemporary issues were deftly woven into a steampunk setting with an injection of swashbuckling adventure all working together to make the experience absorbing. 

Beche is a product of oppression, yet he wasn't depicted as bitter or vengeful, but judged people individually and has an enormous capacity to forgive which spoke volumes about his character to me. His first mate also happens to be the man who wielded a whip against him at the behest of his monstrous father, and Beche considers him family. I'm not sure most could conjure up the ability to forgive to that extent. Make no mistake though, Beche is a pirate captain and capable of ruthlessness, which is how he meets and captures Alex.


"He is so gentle I fear the world will treat him badly."

Alex is tenderhearted and loyal. He sacrifices himself to save his sisters and his crew then finds himself disturbingly attracted to his captor. You see, Alex's father subjected him to aversion therapy for his urning nature, so the hurt runs deep. What I enjoyed most about Alex's character was the dichotomy. He could easily be mistaken as delicate, but he's got a core of steel. He's not worldly by any means despite his margrave title, and he's somehow managed to retain an almost childlike naivete. His sisters, however, do not share these qualities and they both make for entertaining secondary characters.


"Why would you lie with a man? They're rough and unpleasant." She sat up a little straighter. "Of course, I do not include you in that judgment, but really? A man?" Aster appeared more bewildered than accusatory, and the fear in Alex's chest eased some. 


The writing is classic LG. The story is nicely paced, low angst with great characters, enough sexy times to quicken a pulse and outstanding world building. What I found in equal parts puzzling and amusing was the gender labeling thing. I didn't know what to make of it, but, frankly, I found I didn't care because I was enjoying the ride so much. 

Cool gadgets are cool.




If LG decided to expand on this book, I would read more from this world.


If steampunk isn't your thing, it's not overpowering. If steampunk is your thing, get on this already!


A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads!

Review: Semper Fidelis Anthology

Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

A Ring and a Vow by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

Publisher's Note: This book is the sequel to A Ring and a Promise.

My Marine by LE Franks & Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn't the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious gale storm – if he’s not too late.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM.



Well it's actually rated 3.375 Hearts to be exact. This anthology covers not only Marines but soldiers from the Navy and Coast Guard as well. Were the stories steamy? Some more than others. I finally got to read two authors, I was anxious to read. Some stories were over the top, some were sweet, some were plain hot - a mixed bag for potential readers.

Anomaly by S.A. McAuley - 3 Hearts

Hmm...this was an interesting take on a Marine MM story. Is it romance? Not really. But there is room for more. It ends with a HFN-ish ending, a little abrupt BTW. Galen is a Marine who is used to find anomalies on the battlefield. He's better than drones, gaining the nickname, "Magneto". And guess what else he likes? Comics. He's a geek and it's cute. I'm not interested in drones but that didn't affect my rating. It's more about the rough progression through the short story. The ideas were cool though, basically this story was hooking up through Waze. That's right, the app. Galen sees a cute boy, who turns out to be a rocket scientist named Zach. The story started to open up once the Waze flirtation started. The breakout star? Secondary character, Linc! I'd read a romance starring him. He certainly livened up this story. There was a sexy cupcake infused handjob rolled into a one night stand (we only got the handjob on page). I liked that but it seemed a little weird on how those two got to that point. Something about it seemed too soon and I'm not sure if it was true to how the main characters were introduced. Could also be I didn't get a lasting enough impression of Zach or Galen. 

The ideas though: possible Marine submission (wish we got to explore that), the geeky Dom(?),  the two MC starting a relationship, LINC - the wisecracking ginger aspiring pop singer...those things would have been awesome.  


Always Ready by T.A. Chase - 3.5 Hearts


Established couple alert! Ginger Silver Fox alert! Also, cool setting alert: Bering Sea, Alaska...someone's a Deadliest Catch fan, maybe? I dunno. What I do know is that a crab fisherman and Coast Guard diver finally come out as a couple officially after two years of being private and sneaking off once a month or when time permits in their busy schedules. This story had some things going for it: ginger, older lover who had a believable refractory period, a cute blond, younger lover who finally wants the world to know about him and his man, some decent sex (maybe 3 out of 5). But there were a couple of things that didn't work for me - the weird action twist, the way it all ended so neatly. All that was missing was a bow.  Oh and there were editing issues. 


And this butt hole descriptor: "rose-shaped hole". Now bear with me a minute...I've encountered a number of buttholes in my lifetime and I've yet to buck up on a rose shaped hole. The name isn't as bad as "palsied channel" *coughs Mexican Heat *coughs* but rose-shaped hole?


Here's a refresher for the anus:




As you see in this edible chocolate anus, these are for sale BTW (and you're welcome), there isn't a rose to be found anywhere. Maybe a ridged chip, wrinkles and tightly squeezed valley but not a rose for that anus bouquet.

So the story was semi memorable (pretty much have only rose shaped holes on my mind)...the characters were likable enough, not much depth. Established couples really ain't my gig. But I liked.


A Ring and a Vow by Devon Rhodes - 3.25 Hearts


Another established couple story except this is a follow up to a novella (which I did not read nor plan to because I already know how it pans out). It was very sweet. And it could be read as a standalone, I guess. It just felt like all the characters had a back story. A Navy soldier and a Marine finally get married in Virginia. There were military terms and happiness for finally being able to get married after 5 years of separation. There was a shower handy-j and honeymoon night special. And a saber arch, the guys walked down under their friends swords (no this isn't me being slick) at their wedding and it read like sugar flaked butter cream.  Memorable, not really.  And there wasn't a description on how the main characters looked (i.e. hair color, etc) which I guess means I should have read the first book. I kinda wished that was here in the story that probable first time readers would read. The author did their research with the terms and laws.  It ends with syrupy epilogue where they have a cavity inducing HEA. Good for them. 


My Marine by L.E. Franks and Sara York - 2 - 2.5 range (for math purposes: 2)


Oh dear. 

A great idea - Marine subterfuge, spying, Afghani setting for steamy hooking up. But there were too many factors that ruined the experience. With a plot twist I saw coming a mile away, Marine intelligence (which I question) officer, Sean Kelley falls for Afghani interpreter after first glance. The start of the story was interesting, I thought this was finally going to be a hot one. But the instalove, over the top declarations and long quotes while sexing ruined this story for me. There was potential but everyone was too tolerant - the general helps them out so easily? Really? How about the main characters calling each other "beauty", "the other half to my soul", getting all alpha jealous after fucking once. It's a case of magic dick and jizz wizards but it was hot. I'll give it that. I tried to love this story but after the flamboyant male military nurse calling Kelley, "sweetie", flirting and he"sashayed" out of the hospital room...I couldn't take this story seriously. It'd probably would have worked if the pretty descriptions were toned down (these are Marines we're talking about, not civilians who forget to do their job because they're dickmatized), there wasn't such an ease from all the secondary characters and more length to develop an actual relationship.  Shame really.

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna - 3.75 Hearts (barely)


Cherry popper read for me. And this was one of the stronger stories in the anthology...but that's not saying much. I am still wearing a 'WTF just happened' face after finishing this. This was like reading a condensed novel in a short story. It kept the longer sex scenes, introduced interesting ideas and cut out the middle. Are there missing chapters somewhere? I feel like there are missing chapters hidden in an encrypted part of the eBook and I missed it. This could have been a home run - reunited lovers (yes, an established couple again but they were separated for a long period of time)  Marine captain Jamie and his tattooed, ex-bad boy now brilliant drug counselor Tucker finally reunite to have long (and I mean long) sweaty sex in between Jamie's PTSD and domestic violence episodes. Jamie's PTSD was always turned up high, I know each survivor reacts differently but maybe if this story was longer, it wouldn't read so OTT at times.




And where were the scenes to see how Tucker handled all of this? And Tucker as a counselor, on one hand I applaud him for sticking up for himself but on the other hand, he's not Superman. Jamie could have seriously hurt him. Just telling someone to "fix it" isn't the normal route to go...I expected something more than that from a counselor. And the piecemeal feel to the entire story...I wish there was more filler in this, everything was so damn fast, I'm still turning my head back properly. I'd read from this author again to see how she handles novels. Oh the potential for this one...I'm surprised this was released as a single novella. 

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight - 4.5 Hearts

""Tie me down. Show me how much you want my tight, hot hole." Yeah, he knew he was a power bottom."
Another cherry popper author. Another Coast Guard/fisherman, established couple and large age gap story. And that's the end of the similarities because this story blew the others out of the water. 




Finally, a short story that was complete and gave enough meat to carry the story through. We have a fisherman/cook divorcee who came out later in life by the name of Kirk. He's my kind of character, not very demonstrative in how he feels but when he puts his mind to proving to his lover how he cares, it's well known.
"He didn't light candles or play soft music when they made love. He would hold Shane down, slam into him over and over, bite his upper back, force dick into the back of his throat and hold him there--but he didn't recite poetry or take him to chick flicks. They were more likely to spend the evening doing raunchy things to one another then gutting a Coho salmon they'd caught out on the river to eat for dinner."
Shane was a sexy, power bottom Coast Guard PO who liked to submit. And liked to be tied down. *growls* And the BDSM was in no way heavy: some bondage and light D/s. Me likey lots. I would have read a full novel of these two and the places they'd tie Shane down and fuck. The fucking? Rough and hot. *grunts* And some ass play! *skips and twirls*

The two men take their relationship to the next level by finally admitting those three words. The moment gets interrupted by Kirk's family and a bonehead move. There was some action and a HEA. And manhandling ass pounding! Romance too! *claps* Obviously, this was my favorite. (I wonder if this will be released as a single novella - it read the most polished) Most definitely reading more of this author, I need more of her writing in my life. Oh yes!! 


For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: The Mnevermind Trilogy by Jordan Castillo Price







I pretty much sat down and read the three Mnevermind books back-to-back, I enjoyed them so much I couldn't stop reading when one book was finished. Because I read them all straight off, I'm reviewing them together - I really think anyone interested in these should get all three from the start!


The Blurb: 1
Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

While forgetting your problems won’t solve them, it does seem like it would make life a heck of a lot easier. Daniel thought so once. Now he knows better. He and Big Dan have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like his father remembers.


They’re both professionals in the memory field—they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation seems to be sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.


Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel headed down the same path to fantasy-land as his old man?


The Blurb: 2
No two people are exactly alike, but Elijah Crowe is very, very different. 

Elijah is on the autism spectrum, so the tasks of day-to-day life most people breeze through are a challenge for him. His career suffered because he never got the hang of schmoozing, and now his talents are being wasted teaching classes at the mall. His social circle is limited to his ex, his therapist, and a structured inclusion group at the Rec Center. The one bright spot in his life is the memory science of Mnemography.

Although he loves nothing better than devouring the latest research and tinkering with all the specialized equipment, he never clicked with any other experts in the field until he met Daniel Schroeder. Daniel runs a memory palace—he even writes his own mnems—and that shared interest alone would make him fascinating. But Daniel and Elijah met under unusual circumstances, where the statement, “I like you, and I think you like me,” held some surprising nuances.

Now Elijah suspects he’s gay, but the few prominent people in his life are less than supportive. Some are downright hostile. Elijah might not be neurotypical, but he’s plenty smart. Surely there’s some way to get people to accept him for who he is. If only he could figure out how.
 


The Blurb: 3
Daniel Schroeder wants nothing more than to repair his father’s broken memories, but it’s been a long time since he’s thought of himself as a memorysmith. Even though convincing Big Dan of their current reality is the most painful task Daniel faces every morning, somehow life manages to prevent him from finding a cure. He needs to keep their family business running. And he needs to moonlight at a competitor’s shop to keep all his employees paid. Or maybe he’s just trying to keep himself from exacerbating the situation.

A year ago, Daniel would have presumed he was clever enough to memorysmith his way out of their predicament, but nowadays he’s not so cavalier. Playing with people’s memories shouldn’t be taken lightly, and things can always get worse. Even with the help of some of the best minds in the business, Daniel still isn’t sure how to navigate his way out of the persistent false memory that’s crippled his life. Is new programming the answer? Better gear? More money? Or is time the only thing that can heal Big Dan’s memories…if they can even be fixed at all.

What Daniel needs most is some breathing room, and Elijah Crowe is eager to provide it. Since he’s smitten with Daniel, Elijah is determined to prove himself—and he’s more than qualified to clear Daniel’s schedule by taking over some duties at Adventuretech. With the support of his new boyfriend, possibilities begin to open up for Daniel, hints of things he hasn’t even realized he’d stopped hoping for: the contentment of a harmonious family, the fulfillment of his creative expression, and a chance for a relationship with a man he loves.

This book completes the Mnevermind Trilogy.


*****
These books sum up pretty much everything I love about reading. They are unique, have great characterisation and a fantastic edge of reality - considering the subject matter is not a real thing (yet!).

The latest craze/fad/leisure activity is Mnemming, that is the ability to enjoy a dream-like world for a few hours where your greatest fantasy can come true. In a mnem the world is your oyster and you can spend a few blissful hours in complete happiness, once your time is up you go back about your everyday business and the memories of the mnem slowly fade over the next few hours, leaving you with nothing but a feeling of bliss. Sure, you might be a bit disorientated for a start - after all the mnem world feels remarkably realistic - but all will soon be back to normal.

Except when it isn't.

In a very few cases there have been reports of a persistent memory happening, that is when the brain retains wht happened in the mnem so much so you believe it actually happened. Not a problem? Well imagine trully believing, and experiencing, a big lottery win and spending as if that were the case...yeah, not so good when the cheques you're writing suddenly start bouncing.

Daniel Schroeder and his father, proud owners of Adventuretech, a memory palace, have been playing about with mnems for years. Then, a year ago, Daniel (a qualified memory smith) authored his own mnem, Life is Awesome, and among others his dad, Big Dan, tried it out. The problem was when Big Dan tried it out, for some reason, it caused a persistent memory and so everyday for the last year Daniel has to remind his father that he was separated from Daniel's mom, and she had moved on to pastures new.

Daniel carries the guilt of authoring the mnem that caused the persistence, dreads having to break the news to his dad each and every day, and is trying to keep his failing business afloat by running two jobs. In book 1 he meets Elijah in one of the mnems, when he (Daniel) was trying to retrieve a client at their allotted finish time. Nobody should be in a mnem apart from the client and those in the client's imagination, and Elijah was not part of the client's fantasy.

From here a wonderful relationship develops between Elijah and Daniel. Both have a love of nmeming in common, but things were never going to be easy for them. The fact that Elijah is on the autistic spectrum is not something that bothers Daniel, but it does mean he has to learn how to deal with this alongside their budding relationship. I loved the fact that book 2 was written from Elijah's perspective. We learn loads more about him and his first foray into a gay relationship. He also has a quite different way of looking at, and dealing with, Daniel's growing problems.

Through all three books we see several things happen. Firstly, the relationship between Daniel and Elijah - watching it grow was wonderful. It was so realistic not all moonlight and roses. The whole storyline about Elijah wanting to bottom but it not happening just felt so real. So true - it made me believe these characters all the more.

The ongoing problem with Big Dan's memory. I love Elijah's suggestions. No he couldn't take away the memory persistence but he did his best to help Daniel, to take some of the burden away from Daniel, to help seek a solution - permanent or otherwise. The same with the business. While Daniel is the kind of character who wants to shoulder all the responsibility for everything over time the cast of characters came into play to help him - Big Dan, Elijah and his work-friend Larry. All the characters in this trilogy were great.

The first book was slightly confusing at times - in a meant-to-be-like-that-way. Think The Matrix, it had that similar quality at times, leaving me never quite sure what was real and what was mnem. But I followed the string to the end of book 3 and it all became clear - and more importantly, I enjoyed every word.

Daniel, Elijah and co have found a place in my heart and this cleverly written series will be read again. I would absolutely encourage everyone else to give it a go. Refreshingly real and unputdownable it's worth a place in any book collection.
For more information check out Goodreads
A copy of these books were given in exchange for an honest review..

Review: Heart by Garett Leigh

Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish Traveller Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb's world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain.

Twelve months later Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, 'Uncle' Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden's other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn't dare dream he'll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.



Garrett Leigh will always break your heart. But, she will be cobble it back together and give you the best kind of hope for the characters you’ve fallen in love with in whichever story of hers you’re reading.

The first story of Garrett’s I ever read was Gypsy Rain. I fell for her words hard then and the bittersweet ending was perfect. Heart is the extended and contemporary version of Gypsy Rain. It really translated well to a contemporary story and the characters kept the personalities that made them so memorable in Gypsy Rain.

The beginning sucked me right in. The story of Dex and his life just plain hurt. He was a simple man living an impossibly harsh life. When he gets his chance to escape he risks everything and makes a break for it. Looking at his life though, he really had nothing to lose. His biggest regret was leaving the horses he cared for behind. He had a definite kinship with them. They were as undervalued as he was and without him their outlook was bleak. His sorrow at leaving them sums him up so well, humans have never been good to him, but the animals show him the appreciation and love he should have always received.

Fate finally smiles on Dex when he meets and starts to work for Rick and his wife in their restaurant. He’s got no past here, but he really has no clue how to live a life outside of the camp run by his “Uncle” Braden. He keeps his dead down, asks for nothing and slowly begins to settle in. Everything gets thrown out of whack when Seb shows up to be the new pastry chef at the restaurant. Seb has always been the magical memory that Dex kept tucked away, his mental escape that belonged solely to him. Having Seb back in his reality really threw Dex for a loop. Seb on the other hand, couldn’t have been happier. Dex is the man he hasn’t been able to forget since the first moment he saw him.

The middle of the book is pretty quiet. It makes sense for Dex and Seb though. Anything that would have moved more quickly would not have read well for Dex. It wouldn’t have been believable. His world is really pretty small and the life he’s living now is new to him. He spends a lot of time ‘absorbing’ his surroundings and Seb spends a lot of time introducing him to the world a little at a time. It was heartening to read Dex develop a sense of pride and value in himself. It was quiet and slow, just like the story at this point, but it worked.

It wouldn’t be a Garrett Leigh book without just one more dose of devastating heartbreak. Turns out Uncle Braden isn’t don’t with Dex yet and his evil wasn’t limited to just what Dex experienced. What followed was brutal, sad and frustrating as hell. Being that Dex has always lived off the grid, he wasn’t easy to find, but he had Seb who believed in him no matter what.

The aches and pains aren’t over yet though. Dex is recovering physically, but he and Seb need to find their balance again. Now it’s Seb who is having a hard time getting comfortable in his skin. He’s lost Dex twice now and has learned about his horrific life before the restaurant. It’s a tough part of this read to reconcile and Seb says it best with,

“They never talked about it. Ever. Not since Seb brought Dex home from the hospital. Dex because, well, who really knew with Dex? He didn’t talk much about anything unless he was drunk. And Seb? He didn’t know how.”


I was actually a little frustrated up until this point. How could this end if they don’t talk? But, when Seb himself admits his frustration about the same thing, it made me realize that this is just how this works for them. Anything else would have been wrong for Dex. Just because I don’t get it, doesn’t mean it’s not right for Seb and Dex. We aren’t really along for the ride as Dex heals with the help of a professional. We’re on the sidelines with Seb. It’s frustrating as hell, but there is really no better way to get into Seb’s head. In reality, he already knows too much, knowing more of Dex’s reality isn’t going to help anything.

Seb knows Dex though. He knows he can’t take away the past, but he can offer up a future for them. I loved the ending. There really wasn’t any better happy ending for both of them. The journey there was tough, but these guys earned every last bit of their happy.

Learn more about Heart and Garrett Leigh over on Goodreads.


**a copy of this book was provided for an honest review**

Guest Review: In The Absence of Light by Adrienne Wilder

For years Grant Kessler has smuggled goods from one end of the world to the next. When business turns in a direction Grant isn’t willing to follow he decides to retire and by all appearances he settles down in a nowhere town called Durstrand. But his real plan is to wait a few years and let the FBI lose interest, then move on to the distant coastal life he’s always dreamed of. Severely autistic, Morgan cannot look people in the eye, tell left from right, and has uncontrolled tics. Yet he’s beaten every obstacle life has thrown his way. And when Grant Kessler moves into town Morgan isn’t a bit shy in letting the man know how much he wants him. While the attraction is mutual, Grant pushes Morgan away. Like the rest of the world he can’t see past Morgan’s odd behaviors Then Morgan shows Grant how light lets you see but it also leaves you blind. And once Grant opens his eyes, he loses his heart to the beautiful enigma of a man who changes the course of his life.


Guest reviewed by Vivian

The truth lies in what you are not seeing.

Morgan, brilliance trapped in a form that can't always do what he wants. Frustration, aggravation, underestimated, belittled, mocked, and determined. He won't be pitied. He lives how he wants. Like many who are trapped in the liminal spaces of society, he sees things others don't.

Grant is lying low biding his time. Exchanging an ever-increasing lethal past for a future. Future dreams that he is waiting to collect. Well, the future is much different than he expected, but more than he ever dreamed.

Then there's the town of Durstrand and all it's inhabitants. They are a colorful crew that provide the depth and walls for Morgan and Grant to bounce off of. That and the past that's followed Grant makes for a fast paced read as trouble comes south.

I loved Morgan. His fortitude is amazing and he's got a wicked sense of humor. He's so smart that he runs circles around folks. He's beautiful and he's damaged--BUT, that doesn't make him imperfect. And it certainly doesn't make him unworthy.

Morgan is self sufficient, and aggressive when he needs or wants to be. Frankly, autistic power bottom is not a phrase I thought I'd be comfortable using, but nonetheless, it's true here. Morgan is damn sexy. I'm not the only one who thinks so, he's got a whole fan club.

Part of me is always hesitant of marginalized main characters because I'm worried that an author is using it to sensationalize the story. Wilder has written several books that have marginalized characters and each has been treated as a whole person, not a subset of symptoms. And in this case, worry would have been for naught. Morgan is autistic. Granted, he is high functioning and social in most instances. But, Morgan himself is more important than the label autistic. He is so much more.

The title is clever, a play on both Morgan and his art. Morgan sees light in ways most don't; he doesn't just break it down into waves of color, but how those waves move. The song they play is just for him. I don't think anyone is completely suppose to understand his art, it is a conversation he alone has with it. An intriguing interaction that is a vital component of who he is.

This is an emotional book that plays with trust and how fragile it is. How fragile we are when it is broken.
Trust is what’s hard. Broken hearts can be fixed. Broken trust?” His touch followed a tear down my cheek to my lips. “Trust doesn’t heal."

There are quiet moments of epiphany for both Grant and Morgan. They give each other something neither has ever had. Simply, it is a beautiful romance.

Overall, a Southern suspense that has heart and humor.

Favorite quote
Your battle is over. Live your life, be happy, love deeply.


For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!