Review: Ringed Love (Sentries, #6) by Elizabeth Noble

Sequel to Tethered Pair

New Colorado Protectorate fell with the assassination of Chancellor Clarke. Afterwards, like many others, Todd and Nick Ruger left the land of their birth and made a home north in Yellowknife. Though they have to say a sad farewell to friends and loved ones, they are taken in with open arms and in turn offer shelter to others.

They must still contend with angry ghosts, Windigos, and water spirits, but through it all, their love and devotion for each other never falters. Nick is awarded a degree in veterinary medicine and trains students from Yellowknife, while Todd becomes the town sheriff and takes on new sentry apprentices of his own. They remain steadfast in their duty as sentries as well, leaving behind a legacy meant to protect and defend those who need it the most.



This Sentries series is without doubt one of my favourite reads. Ever.

It is bittersweet experience to read this knowing it is adieu to Todd and Nick. The title 'Ringed Love' is apt as the book comes full circle capturing vignettes from their life together - significant interludes that follow the conclusion of book five. It is like coming across a box of cherished snapshots, a little jumbled but mostly in the right order that bring memories flooding in.

The world in which Nick and Todd Ruger live is post-apocalyptic, about 300 years in the future. Following a major natural catastrophe, slavery exists and paranormal threats are fairly common. A band of Sentries work to keep the general populace safe.

If I could select my favourite elements for a great story, this has all the best ingredients, adventure, conspiracy, social constraints, two great male leads, some sexy times, romance and a soupcon of angst. Absolutely delicious.

The author weaves high adventure with everyday life with a brilliance that can touch on dark and scary themes with a light hand.

Todd Ruger has an adventurous spirit, all his life he has honed his skills as a Sentry, fighting paranormal threats. Independent by nature, he has a huge protective streak. Very young he sacrificed some of his independence to take responsibility and ownership of Nick despite Todd finding slavery an anathema.

Growing up as a slave has impacted psychologically on Nick leaving him wary in social situations. His timidity should not be mistaken as a lack of bravery, he has huge personal strength. Both men have bucket loads of integrity and their relationship formed out of duty, is much more enriching than either imagined. They have forged a friendship, an enduring love and created a life partnership in every sense.

'Ringed Love' captures their rights of passage, it could possibly work as a standalone read, but a casual reader would miss much of the nuance and significance of the concluding piece, that completes the circle of their lives. Besides why would you want to deny yourself the rest of their adventures? I have been rooting for this pair from the very beginning and if this is a great way to bid farewell (even if I am greedy for more).

My only quibble is that it is a bit of a shock to see these guys as old codgers as well as in the vibrancy of youth. Either way it is clear that their deep affection and their pleasure in each other's company doesn't diminish over the years. Todd and Nick have very different personalities and needs, some by nature and some by nurture) and yet over their lifetime they grow and adapt to meet each other's aspirations and the changing social climate. Fundamentally they fight for each other and for a better world.

'Ringed Love' allows us to peek into the highlights and share recollection of adversity and celebration. It is a lovely read, I was only sorry it ended.

If you haven't yet read the series now is a great time to start. If you have been following the boys, then 'Ringed Love' is a great way to quell curiosity about what happens next. The previous books are in order: Marked Yours (Sentries # 1), Together Bound (Sentries # 2), Chained Hearts (Sentries # 3), Collared Souls (Sentries # 4), Tethered Pair (Sentries # 5). Ringed Love is the final book of the Sentries series.



 Find out more on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Taken Back (Taken #1) by Cali MacKay & Julie Farrell

 

Authors Cali MacKay & Julie Farrell are here to promote their release, Taken Back (Taken #1), a steamy MM Romance. Check out the blurb and the author bios...oh and the giveaway where you can enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of the title!

A Steamy M/M Romance

Author Name: Cali MacKay & Julie Farrell

Book Name: Taken Back

Series: (Taken Series, #1)

Release Date: July 27, 2016

Publisher: Tipsy Goat Press

Cover Artist: Cali MacKay

Pages or Words: 48000 words

Categories: M/M Romance, Fiction



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Blurb

Sometimes you need to go back to your past, in order to move on to your future.



Jax Hunter has spent the last ten years trying to forget his first love Nathan Steele—and the brutal betrayal that derailed everything he’d worked so hard for. Jax has finally gotten his life back together, when Nathan returns to deliver another blow – his company is set to bulldoze the bar he’s built from nothing.



Ever since that summer in high school, Nathan has been denying his feelings for Jax—the only person he’s ever loved. Nathan knows Jax might never forgive him, but when Nathan’s uncle is murdered and Nathan might be next on the hit-list, Jax is the only one he can turn to.



Jax still doesn’t trust Nathan—not with his bar, and for damn sure, not with his heart. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is to resist the undeniable passion between them. Can they overcome their past hurts and learn to trust each other again? Or will another betrayal tear them apart forever?

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Buy the book









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An E-Copy of Taken Back


a Rafflecopter giveaway




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Meet Cali MacKay & Julie Farrell

Cali MacKay and Julie Farrell are romance writers and long-time friends, who have combined their passion for M/M romance to write together, bringing you the steamy stories they've dreamed up. they've had a blast writing them, and hope their passion for the stories will come through in their writing, and you'll enjoy the characters they've brought to life, just as much as they do.

Where to find the authors:




Review: Risky by Bruce Rose

Falling in love is always risky…

Shane Merrick has poured everything into his nightclub only to find himself days away from bankruptcy. Just about the last thing he needs is a blast from his past, especially one who broke his heart. Keeping his focus off his sexual urges and on his business has been easy. Until now.

Wealthy playboy Jake Lang has a lot to prove. Mainly that he can make something of himself without his father’s money. Opening a nightclub in Fairview seems just the thing, until he discovers the man he never forgot running one. Instead of competing against him, Jake has the brilliant idea of joining forces, but first he has to show Shane that he’s changed.

Will the two men be able to work together, or will old hurts and new suspicions destroy their second chance?


Shane is adorably geeky and owns a nightclub which is not doing so great. Jake, a college boyfriend who always seemed to flit in and out of Shane’s life, seems to be back, and even ten years later, Shane can’t disguise his reaction to the man.

Jake needs an investment, so that he can prove to his father that disinheriting him was a mistake. He’s got his eye on Shane’s club, and has every intention of making a business relationship work.

I really enjoyed this. I loved the premise. The reunited lovers, but with baggage. Delicious. Especially since Jake is such an arse, and it takes every bit of willpower Shane has to not fall into his trap.

Shane was a great character. I loved him. I wanted him to get his shit together, and get the guy who he deserved.

I warmed to Jake over time. He was arrogant and pushy, but also his heart was in the right place. Even if he didn’t seem to know how to approach the situation, he was trying his best.

As a team they worked well together, and the snark between them was delightful. It made the content not as depressing as it could be. Sometimes I just wanted to give Shane a big cuddle and pet his head until the world was awesome for him.

Jake’s life seemed to be crumbling around him, but he was making the best of a bad situation.

Character development was strong, and I felt that each personality came out well. The descriptive content showed me exactly what I needed to see, and the relationship development was convincing.

Recommended for those who enjoy a little humour with their reunited lovers Romance.

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Review: Angel Undone by Leta Blake

The Archangel Michael is tired. He fought wars and shoved his brother Lucifer out of heaven all before the Dark Ages rolled around. His role as protector of Israel now encompasses all of humanity, and while he performs his job perfectly, there's little personal joy in it.

Until one night in a bar when he meets Asher.

Michael isn’t sure what it is about the vulnerable, self-deprecating Asher that calls to him, but something about his restrained depths, gentle smiles, and encyclopedic knowledge of flowers tugs at Michael in a way that can’t be denied. Too bad romance isn’t part of his mission.

Facing an eternity of perfect submission to God’s authority, rebellion stirs in Michael. Questions of free will, angelic vocation, and the role of love and lust demand answers that just might cost Michael his place in heaven.

Warnings: this novella contains urban fantasy, wings, angels doing unangelic things, erotic content, and playful blasphemy



Blasphemy that would leave my grandma open-mouthed and open-eyed in horror and my other grandma saying “Eh?”.



Well, it’s not that extreme, but if you are a little sensitive, this book is not for you.

I have read nothing of Neil Gaiman, so I have no way to compare.

This is the first book I’ve read by Leta Blake. I think her style is solid and the acid sense of humor kept me going until the very end.

But, honestly, there is little to be happy about.

The love story is off-off-off. And I’d like to say the fantasy/angelic theme was something innovative and great, but it wasn’t.



See, Michael, the Archangel, is given missions to save people on Earth. His task now is to save 40-year-old Jewish Asher, who has lived all his existence in the closet and is close to making a big mistake that would only push him deeper into his misery. Michael has to make him see light, and well, Asher does see light, in more than one sense.



I’ve heard this blurb before. It’s a well-worn topic.

I don’t know exactly where and when I heard or read it, but Lucifer being a surf boy didn’t sound like something new to my ears. I expected the badass angel to be something of the sort. Not surprised.

God being an asshole who gets amused mandhandling humans at his will was very typical, too.

The Christian part was broadly made fun of, but the Jewish part was a little wasted, in my opinion. Islam is only mentioned with their prophet Muhammad. I don’t expect Family Guy or South Park here, but I think those little jokes could have gone further. Maybe the author has more respect toward these religions, maybe she decided the Christian religion was enough, or maybe she just didn’t dare with the other two big monotheisms. Whatever the reason, I was a little let down.

Michael has spent thousands of years in utter submission and obedience towards his Father. But this time, he’s compelled to initiate a rebellion, as his brother Lucifer did a long time ago. The reason is this human with his Father’s imprint on him that calls him like a siren that he simply cannot resist.


I saw no other reason for Michael’s desire to be with Asher. Yes, they have very hot sex scenes together, but their interactions are of the physical sphere rather than really falling in love, and their dialogues were so vague and cryptic I was growing a little frustrated myself, because they are obviously not enough to form a real bond. Insta-love? Probably. Insta-lust? Clearly so.

I couldn’t believe the love story. And much less, I couldn’t believe why Michael decides to give up the divine favor just because of him. I can understand he was tired of serving, or not fulfilling his own needs, of not having his own life. But I can’t understand Asher being the cause and end of all of that.

All in all, I’m really disappointed in this novella. I expected much more, more originality, a more daring scheme of things, and of course, a love story that would make me lose my breath. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met.




A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: A Bouquet for Adam by A.J. Marcus & K.T. Spence

Adam Stephens’s simple life working in Denver as a computer programmer is turned upside down when his mother suddenly dies. His crazy relatives in Virginia want him to move in with them because they believe his autism makes it impossible for him to care for himself. But life improves, at least for a time. One day while wandering through the botanical gardens, he runs into struggling wildlife photographer Trent Osborn.

As a hesitant love blossoms between the two, Adam’s aunt and uncle push for him to live with them. Adam again refuses. The struggles between his desires and what everyone else wants collide. Adam disappears, and Trent is unsure if he’s run off to escape life’s pressures made worse by his autism, or if something far more sinister has happened. Trent embarks on a cross-country journey in search of Adam. What he discovers changes the course of his and Adam’s lives and the lives of everyone connected to them.


This story was just sweet. I wasn’t completely convinced by it all, but I’d have to say this was a well thought out story.

Adam is on his own now that his mother has died, and his Uncle is trying to convince him to move to Virginia to live. While out on a walk after burying his mother, Adam meets Trent, and they start a friendship.

ASD comes in all shades (hence spectrum), so it was difficult for me to place where Adam was. The only reason this matters is because he seemed to rely heavily on his mother, which made it more difficult to believe that she wouldn’t have written anything in her Will regardless of whether it was legally necessary or not.

In any event, I let that slide because I found that I really enjoyed Trent and Adam’s relationship development. I got a pretty good impression of both characters, and even if Adam’s behaviours were a little on the suspect side, I did find that his tells were clearly defined.

Trent in Virginia, I actually believed it was possible for those things to happen. Call me a conspiracy theorist, I don’t care. I can totally see something like that happen. I have been in a small town before, where everyone is in each other’s pockets, and I have definitely seen some suspect reactions to things that would normally cause action. So yeah, I can totally see Trent being caught up in a small town, being trapped and targeted.

The flow of this story was smooth, and it was easy to follow. It was emotional without getting too dark. Trent had some issues as well, but when he decided that he and Adam were going to be together, he didn’t stop until he had him.

I would recommend this as a comfort read for those who enjoy fairly straight forward romance. There is nothing overly complicated about the plot, so it would be something light and quick to work through.



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Review: Son of Money by Brandon Witt

Randall Morgan, youngest son of one of Seattle’s wealthiest families, rejected his family’s money to live free of their control and pursue his career as a photographer. To make ends meet, Randall does erotic photography and massage—a secret he keeps from his family so he can remain a part of his young niece’s life. But the price of that relationship is high, and Randall is once more slipping under his family’s thumb.

Noah Carroll is the spokesperson for the Seattle Humane Society, and the city holds a special place in his heart. When fate intervenes during a pet adoption, Noah finds himself face-to-face with his first love—Randall.

While Noah and Randall are not the teenagers they once were, the flame of a first kiss long ago draws them together. Their romance is beginning to grow, but someone is out to destroy Randall and expose all he keeps hidden.

When secrets and rumors thrust Randall into the public eye, his relationship with Noah isn’t the only thing that comes under threat.


This is my first Brandon Witt book and it’s like nothing I expected it to be.

But I loved it nonetheless.


It wasn’t the typical love story. Suffice it to say, the romance is “solved” during the first 40% (or less). No, it’s not that the following 60% is there for nothing, just to reach the length of an average novel.

The reason why is that Noah and Randall knew each other when they were teens. They had their first kiss at 13 and have never forgotten each other ever since.

“It’s just that it’s you, you know?” He shrugged, and I thought he was going to look away, but he didn’t. “I’ve always known you were the one. I wasn’t sure if you’d ever come back into my life or not, but that didn’t change anything. And then you did. Out of the blue. With no forcing the situation on either of our parts.”

Randall decides to buy a dog. Not because he longs for some canine company, but to satisfy his niece’s wishes. She’s not allowed to have a dog at home, so Randall decides to make her happy adopting it himself. And so he goes to the animal refuge his mother is holding a benefit for.

And there he meets Noah.

A grown-up Noah.


Was there an application to take him home?


As if.

He comes home with a rather ugly dog called Harper. I fell in love with the dog, too.

I must say Randall sense of humor amused me since the very beginning. He’s a witty man indeed.

Promise me to call him if I had problems? Call Noah Carroll. Yeah. I had no issue with that. Hell, sign me up for ten dogs – that would guarantee a problem and a phone call. “Sure. I promise”.

So, as I mentioned above, the romance develops very quickly. Insta-love? For some reason, I didn’t really care here. It’s not just the “old” flame of love they experienced in their early youth, but I really could feel their attraction and their chemistry. I could feel them complementing each other and that “destiny” awaiting them.

And I was enchanted with Noah since the very first page he enters the scene.


“You ask that after you kiss me.”


“Like I said, it didn’t look like you two were together to me.”

“And if we are?”

He shrugged. “You won’t be anymore.”

Another bark of laughter. “Wow. Not sure if that’s arrogance or supreme confidence.”

“Oh, sorry. I don’t mean it that way.” Noah looked abashed. “So are you? Are you together?”

I shook my head. “No. Definitely not.”

“Good.”

Noah and Randall don’t waste the time with big misunderstandings or with holding their feelings back just because. They are honest with themselves and with the other one, naked emotions on the surface. There is no sense in hiding when they both know what they are looking for. It was that way the whole while and I really appreciate the author didn’t beat around the bush just for the sake of it.


“Sorry, I’ll cut it out. I’m just nervous and really happy. Did I mention nervous?”


“Why are you nervous if you’re so sure about everything?”

“We’re human. We can fuck up what’s meant to be.”

The words made my heart hurt, which seemed ridiculous. “And we’re meant to be?”

He simply nodded. No other assurance or clever quip.


One thing is true: there are not many sex scenes, or at least, explicit sex scenes. I must say I was a little disappointed with this because there clearly are sparks between them two and I really wanted to see more than a glimpse of this. What a pity. Still, there is no time to get bored so I didn’t miss it too much.

I liked the photographer’s aura in the book. How the sessions are. How casual photos can be exactly what oneself is looking for. How that person feels something in the air and foresees a life-changing moment close to come for his camera to capture. How the following process is displayed in order to emphasize the best aspects of the photo. And Randall himself in that role.


Noah drives his proverbial ark: an animal refuge. It can be kind of forced but I could really picture him taking care of abandoned dogs and finding them a home. I really liked the method to find the perfect match for every person. Or, better said, the perfect match for every dog.

Religion takes an important place here. It’s not that we find bigoted people left and right, but it was what drove Noah and Randall apart when they were teens. Noah’s family is devoted to charity and helps people from socially disavantaged environments, which leads them to travel very far away when their sabbatical year ends. I liked this aspect of the story and how it shapes Noah’s character throughout the years.

Noah’s gaze sharpened, seeing me again. “And God took you. I couldn’t have you.”


So, which is the real “conflict” there? A myriad of things that are indeed the same: crappy people. Randall is a professional photographer but to make ends meet he combines his dream job with massage and erotic photograph sessions. Randall loves sex, so he had no problem in indulging himself if the occasion arises and he was attracted enough to the men who paid for his services. That earns him a “slutty” reputation when one of his clients decides to cause a big scene out of it, just out of spite.

And Randall’s family is not supporting at all. In fact it’s one of those with whom you wish not to find enemies in your life because you already have your family for that. The Morgans are portrayed as a disgustingly rich and powerful family with a few skeletons in the closet. Translation: they were truly fucked up.


The father is a manipulating bastard who manhandles his other son Dustin at his will. The mother was a social climber who is all the time looking down her nose at anyone who doesn’t meet her standards. She doesn’t exactly make an effort to include Dustin’s wife, Kayla, in the family. Kayla is the so-called “trophy wife” but she still struggles with that definition and with giving her daughter Bailey some kind of good example, but can’t avoid Bailey from being expected to behave as an adult in this constrained environment. Her uncle Randall is the only one who lets her be a child.

So when the shit really hits the fan, lots of conflicts appear and Noah and Randall have to find it in themselves to overcome all these obstacles and difficulties in order to build a new life together. I liked seeing how their relationship is put to test and how they manage to solve things and go on with their life. Noah puts lots on faith on them, whereas Randall is a bit more insecure. Despite reading his feelings well, he’s scared of “fucking up what’s meant to me”.

This is my first experience with Brandon Witt and I must say it was a good beginning.





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Review: Across the Sea by Wayne Mansfield

Twenty-two-year-old Jacob Tomkins is sentenced to seven years’ labour in the fledgling colony of Sydney Town, Australia. The voyage across the sea is arduous. He is travelling with mean, street-hardened criminals, some of whom would like to use him for their pleasure.

Fortunately he meets Peter, who takes Jacob under his wing. Together they find moments of pleasure amid the drudgery of the voyage. They share their hopes and dreams, and finally declare their love for each other upon the eve of their arrival in Sydney Town -- a place where the currency is rum, distilled and controlled by the powerful military.

But what will happen once they disembark? The chances of remaining together are slim. A lot can happen in seven years, especially when Jacob’s new master takes a liking to him. Is their love strong enough to survive the ravages of time? Can they survive the rigors of their imprisonment?



This story whisks the reader away to a time when crime did not seem to fit the harsh punishment meted out.

Jacob finding himself in dire straits stole some apples to feed his family, was caught tried and sent on a convict ship to serve seven years of indenture during the time of early colonisation of Australia.

Sailing from England to Australia he meets fellow convict Peter who helps make the journey more bearable and a close bond is formed that sustains their months at sea. Peter although much older, becomes Jacob's lover.

Across the Sea is told in three parts, the journey to Australia, life as an indentured servant at Jasper Livingstone's farmstead and decisions made once freedom is attained. All in all it is quite a charming love story set in fairly brutal times.

Despite Jacob finding quite a cushy job with his master Jasper, he still holds a torch for fellow criminal Peter unsure about whether they will even see one and other again but hoping that they might. I am still not quite sure what to make of Jacob's master Jasper. At one stage I thought the story might get much darker than it actually did.

What I like particularly about Across the Sea is the descriptions of day to day life on the ship and later on land. Jacob Is an affable protagonist. I just wasn't really sold on the relationship building along the way. I wasn't able to grasp the reason for Jacob's attraction to Peter, I didn't really feel the chemistry between them (and I was even more sceptical about the next relationship explored in the story).

The concept and historical setting intriguing and the exchanges between Jacob and the other characters interesting. I think I would have liked to see his life as a free man a bit more to balance the story. I guess I was hoping for derring do which never really happens. Instead this is an evocative read about extraordinary things that happen to ordinary people.

An enjoyable story that keeps you guessing right to the end and explores the unpredictability of life. Recommended for those who crave historical romance and heroes that have to work hard for their happy ending.


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Review: Assumed Dead by Becky Black

The zombie apocalypse left twelve people trapped, but safe, at a scientific research base on an Arctic island. Three years later, with supplies critically low, they know they can’t survive another harsh winter. But all of them fear what awaits them on the mainland.

Former grad student, Matt Warner, has retrained as a nurse under the group’s doctor, Peter Lane. Training is not the only thing Matt wants to be under Peter for, but Peter has always resisted responding to Matt’s interest in him. Before all this started Peter had a husband, Harrison, back home. A husband he desperately hopes is still alive.

Despair finally weakens Peter’s resolve and he and Matt begin sharing a bed. It’s Matt’s dream come true, even if he knows Peter’s feelings for him aren’t as strong as his for Peter. But everything changes, when the group learns of the existence of a vaccine against the zombie virus and they escape the island to search for the people distributing the vaccine. Matt fears their relationship won’t survive, because Peter wants to search for his husband—even if only to confirm his death. And Peter knows if he goes looking for Harrison, he’ll lose Matt forever.


I really can't resist a zombie apocalypse.

After the zombie virus came about, twelve people were left stranded in the arctic. They were there doing research and ended up stuck there for three years. Supplies are low, there's a new baby to take care of, and there's news of a cure. They decide to leave their safe haven to find more survivors and more about this vaccine.

Of these survivors there's Matt. He's a nurse and works with the group's doctor, Peter. He's had feelings for Peter for some time, but was never able to act on them. Peter has a husband. Well, he had a husband back home before the zombie apocalypse. Peter isn't sure what happened to Harrison, but he's not giving up hope that he's out there somewhere, waiting for him.

Peter can't resist Matt once he let's his feelings be known to Peter. They end up starting a tentative relationship that slowly turns into more. But once they decide to leave, Peter is set on searching for his husband.

I just didn't really like the set up of their relationship. I didn't like that Matt pushed Peter into being his boyfriend and I didn't like how he guilted Peter about his husband. Yes... it had been three years, but they were married, FFS! I don't know... the whole thing just left a bad taste for me. If I had felt a stronger connection between Matt and Peter maybe it wouldn't have bothered me as much, but I think Matt put too much pressure on Peter. I didn't feel any true chemistry between them. This is a romance, so everything worked out for all parties involved. A little too perfectly, considering all that happened.

Apparently, this is the second book in a series, but it reads fine as a stand alone. I did feel like I was missing something, but not enough to throw me off. But I do wish there was more zombie action. This story was mostly focused on the relationship, which is what I, unfortunately, didn't really enjoy.

I may pick up the first book since it looks to have more action than Assumed Dead. I am intrigued by this zombie apocalypse and I think book 1 is more what I'm looking for in this genre.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.
 

Review: Losing Faith by Scotty Cade

Father Cullen Kiley, a gay Episcopal priest on hiatus from the church, decides to take his boat, T-Time, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Southport, North Carolina, a place that holds an abundance of bittersweet memories for him. While on a run his first day in Southport, Cullen comes upon a man sitting on a park bench staring out over the Cape Fear River with his Bible in hand. The man’s body language reeks of defeat and desperation, and unable to ignore his compassion for his fellow man, Cullen stops to offer a helping hand.

Southport Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor, Abel Weston, has a hard time managing his demons. When they get too overwhelming, he retreats to Southport’s Historic Riverwalk with his Bible in hand and stares out over the water, praying for help and guidance that never seem to come. But Abel soon discovers that help and guidance come in many forms.

An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, and as Cullen helps Abel begin to confront his doubts and fears, he comes face-to-face with his own reality, threatening both their futures.


Religion fascinates me. As an Atheist it’s not a thing for me, but I am always interested in understanding other people’s perspective, from a purely anthropological point of view.
I know there is an entire sub-genre of Christian Romance, but I’m not sure what the proportion of those is reserved for gay romance.

This story was heartwarming, and I can appreciate that for a Christian this would be something enjoyable to read. I really like Scotty’s preface, and the intent behind it. As someone who is shy around strangers, I have many moments where I wonder if I should have reached out. Just ignore my deep discomfort and ask someone if they are okay. Of course, I’m way too socially awkward for that (truth) and so I will forever wonder ‘what happened’ in most of my day to day interactions. I’m glad Scotty could write this with the kind of outcome he desired.

Father Cullen was a convincing widower. I understood his need to escape and try and let go. I thought he was a practical man, and even though he was having difficulty, his head and heart were in the right place.

Abel was deeply repressed, and I can’t really imagine not having the freedom to be myself like that. Feeling like he is failing God, with the help of very fundamentalist Christian parish, he is struggling to know what is right for him.

I didn’t find the story overly preachy. Even though we are talking about two church leaders, it wasn’t bogged down in scripture, anecdotes, or religious content. There was enough to get the message across, to convince me of these men, but I didn’t feel heavy with it.

It was good to read a positive Christian story for a change. I imagine that Christianity has damaged a lot of LGBT people, so a lot of the stories I have read have been soaked in that bitter water. I like that this wasn’t about choosing one or the other. And it was good to read Cullen point Abel in the direction that was a better fit for him.

The relationship development was a slow burn. We are talking about a grieving widower and a Fundamentalist Christian Pastor. Even so, it covered a lot, and I felt that I knew both characters well.

There was some problematic content regarding the Parish gossip, as well as the other members of Abel’s church. While I have no experience in conversion therapy, and shudder at the thought of anyone being subjected to it, the way that this was approached in the story did not ring true for me.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Christian Romance. I think this would also be enjoyable for those who just enjoy romance. It is not heavy on the Religion, but is definitely present in this book.

Trigger warning: Discussions of conversion therapy.


Dreamspinner Press

Goodreads

Review: Valet (Rose Family Chronicles #1) by Jet Mykles

Tyler has never worked for a great house, let alone one with the history and prestige of Rose Hall. He feels unqualified for the post of footman, but hopes his experience as concierge of a fine hotel might count in his favor.

Following the deaths of his parents, Earl Johnathan “Johnnie” Rose has come into his inheritance. Now he's returned home to Rose Hall with his siblings to settle in as lord of the manor and earl of Roseton. Then his eye falls on the stunning new footman with the blond curls and shy smile. From that moment, Lord Johnnie's intention to settle in takes on a whole new meaning.

Longing for a relationship more intimate than master to servant, and determined to taste those pretty lips, Johnnie offers Tyler a promotion as his personal valet. Thrilled by the promotion and the chance to tend his lord, Tyler's naivete and sense of propriety don’t let him see the offer for what it is--until he’s lured into the earl's bed.



Jet Mykles is a new-to-me author, and whilst quite frankly suspension of disbelief is a bit of a necessity even in this alternate universe, the writing is sumptuous. The story is utterly delightful and I am a sucker for books in which description of costume and place is as detailed as the interaction between the characters.

Apparently this is a reworking of characters originally from a contemporary romance transposed into the past to meet and fall in love all over again. No doubt this will be a double delight for fans of the Heaven Sent series, but it doesn't detract from the story for those of us previously unfamiliar with their romance.

Tyler is a hardworking guy who finds himself caught in hard times and in need of new employment. He has built his experience as a concierge in a large hotel and uses his transferable skills to win a new position as a footman at the Rose family's country seat.

It would seem that Tyler is a bit of a conformist, and he has to negotiate the more bohemian approach to life and liberal attitudes of his employers. My best guess is that the story resonates with social mores from the 1800s, however different names for the days of the week, geographical locations and so forth are used giving it a slightly different vibe.

Lord Rose (Johnnie) has inherited the role and responsibilities of head of the family following the recent death of his father. He and his siblings have a passion for theatre and plan and produce a drama festival following the established tradition of their family, as enthusiastic patrons of the arts.

When the Rose family notice the new doorman they are certain he is perfect for Johnnie. As predicted, the attraction sparks almost immediately and Johnnie quickly offers Tyler the role of Valet with hugely increased salary and prospects.

Whilst Tyler is concerned both with proprietary and the vulnerability of his position, the Rose family do their best to welcome and reassure him, nudging him to consider a potential relationship with Johnnie.

Regardless of the potential romance, Tyler is drawn to Jonnie's passion for art and theatre and uses his organisational skills to help ensure the festival is a success.

Tyler balks at the idea that a long-term romance is possible because of their very different social status. His fears are confirmed by his disapproving uncle, and become manifest with the arrival of a group of aristocratic house guests. One of the young ladies has her sights set on Johnnie. The circles that Johnnie moves in, anticipate him marrying and fathering an heir. The lady makes her plans more than clear to Tyler playing directly into his paranoia.

Like Tyler, I find it hard to believe that Johnnie could find himself quite so enamoured with his new member of staff, however this story is a delight. It lavishly describes the decadent lifestyle, and the social interactions of an elite who rank the Queen and her entourage amongst their close personal friends.

I loved the will they, won't they, dramatic tension. Tyler is dubious, whilst Johnnie is determined to catch his man. The chemistry behind closed doors sizzles. I recommend this as a guilty pleasure read for lovers of historical romance.


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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Divine Magazine's Summer Blog Hop




Divine Magazine and Divine Promotions's Summer Blog Hop is in full swing! We hope you check all twenty-one blogs participating today for cool summer tips and memories. Maybe the awesome giveaway can be a factor too? Enter for your chance to win below. Look at the awesome prizes!!!

Summer is here and the unicorns are ready to party!




A unicorn's quick guide for the summer.

Find your nearest pool at the pony paddock and prepare your float...





But wait hasty unicorns...the most important part hasn't been completed yet.

(No, not hornjobs - that's later.)

Snacks! Drinks! It's hard sunning our horns, we need replenishment.

Snacks: Unicorn Food mix (no baking or real work required)





Unicorn Food
(Candy Party Mix)
Yields 25 servings

2/3 cup (two 2.82 oz. packages) sprinkle-coated gumdrops (Gelatines)
2/3 cup (5.5 oz.) pastel shimmer candy hearts
2/3 cup (3 oz.) star confetti sprinkles (I used Bakerella's)
2/3 cup (2.5 oz.) rainbow jimmies
2/3 cup (5 oz.) rainbow candy-coated sunflower seeds
1 2/3 cup (10 oz.) gummy bears (I love Albanese brand!)
2 tablespoons rainbow nonpareils

Combine all ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Turn sealed the bag over several times to mix the candy. Display in small galvanized buckets or place in colorful cellophane bags.



Now that the snacks are sorted...time for drinks...of the boozy kind.

Is there any better mixologist than the Tipsy Bartender?
Obviously not because this recipe for Unicorn Piss is a clubhouse fave.



UNICORN PISS

1 oz. (30ml) Kinky Gold
2 oz. (60ml) Triple Sec
½ oz. (15ml) Sweet & Sour
1 oz. (30ml) Island Punch Pucker Schnapps
2 oz. (60ml) Sprite
½ oz. (15ml) Kinky Pink
1 oz. (30ml) Watermelon Vodka


We think you're ready to face the heat today, unicorn...



Oh yeah!



For blog readers to enter the fabulous Grand Prize Giveaway you will need to go to the blog hop page http://divinemagazine.net/summer-blog-hop-2016/ and leave a comment (Share their best summer memory, their favorite summer tips or activities). Don't forget to enter in Rafflecopter.

Grand Prizes for this blog hop

18K Gold Filled Crystal Pearls Heart Party Dress Jewelry Set

Divine Promotions – 10 Days Promo Tour ($90)

Divine Promotions – 3 Day Release Blitz ($35)

$75 credit from Dreamspinner Press

$30 credit from Dreamspinner Press

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Links to all participating blogs