Review: Home Work (Life Lessons #3) by Kaje Harper

Mac and Tony thought the hard part was over. They’re together openly as a couple, sharing a home and building a life with their two children. It’s what they dreamed of. But daughter Anna struggles with the changes, Ben is haunted by old secrets, Mac’s job in Homicide still demands too much of his time, and Tony is caught in the middle. It’s going to take everything these men can give to create a viable balance between home and work. Especially when the outside world seems determined to throw obstacles in their way.

There is one reason that this book is getting a solid 4 hearts from me and one reason alone: TONY & MAC!

They are one of, if not the best couple I have had the pleasure to get to know and read about. I really couldn't be more pleased with the direction their relationship has headed and is continuing to go.

Why barely 4 hearts? There was way too much focus on the investigation for my tastes. This far into a series, when I am this invested in a couple, I just don't care about a police mystery and investigation. I really, really don't. I wanted Tony and Mac. If they weren't on page together, I was probably skimming. For that reason, I'm guessing I skimmed about 30% of Home Work. At least.

But then the last 50% happened and I was so in. So much happened to them as a couple and individually and as a family that I was riveted and just. couldn't. look. away. I don't want to give too much, or anything away because I think readers should be right there with Tony and Mac. Right there as they deal with everyday challenges together and make life changing decisions. I loved how they did it all together and are so completely committed to each other.

I love them. I love them as partners, as lovers and as parents. It's taken them three books to get there, but they've finally landed on solid ground, with their sweet babies right there with them.

What's better? I still have one more book to read about these characters I've fallen in love with.

Review: Ice by L.J. LaBarthe

Koby is a graduate student specializing in the cohabitation of dead and living cells in a single body, a course of study that requires he spend two years working in the labs at the parium mines in Antarctica, where he will assist in experiments conducted on the vampire prisoners kept there.

Expecting little more than a tedious assignment, despite the dangers of the environment and the dangerous vampires sentenced to the mines for life, Koby instead discovers a dome of horrors, where the persons in charge cannot be trusted and the greatest victims are the prisoners—and the most incongruous place to discover a new love. If he cannot solve the problems destroying the dome from the inside, the vampires won't be the only ones to die.

When promising plots leave a LOT to be desired.

I have to pour for my homie...that plot I looked for has gone.

I wanted to love this book. It had the elements to be a solid read for me:

  • Setting in the future
  • Vampires in prison
  • Some vampire/geek action

*sigh* Look at that cover. I really dig it. I had a spot of cover lust. Wish I could say the same for this story.

This is my first time reading a book from this author. I'm unclear how this author works with story telling but for this story, there was a lot of word dumps and not enough plot. Would I classify it as romance? Barely. Would I classify it as Sci-Fi? Meh, not really.

The plot revolves around a doctor/scientist, Koby who is contracted to work for a lab based in Antarctica. He researches the cohabitation living and dead cells in a body which seems perfect for him since his new job also is a prison of sorts for criminal vampires. Vampires who have been deemed criminal but unworthy for immediate death have been sent to Antarctica for life. These criminal vampires have to mine for a gas needed to save the ozone layer only found in that part of the world. Seems interesting enough right? So I thought. Then the story progresses with mediocre dialogue between characters and weird information dropped in at odd times.

If I had to describe the tone of the story, it was dry and cold...maybe fitting for Antarctica? The plot sludges through and we finally get to meet the other main character, vampire Mircea Aron cel Rau, a Romanian supposed baddie who was actually a good guy underneath for the little he is portrayed in the story. After a stilted and rapid conversation between the main characters, the story trudges through more information dump about vampires rights and the mistreatment of vampires like they were slaves and not the kinky kind. I am talking slave slaves, shackled and given no civil rights slaves. That is where the story's main passion lay, not in the romance. Disappointing.

Koby and co-workers are disgusted by the ill treatment of the criminal vampires. The vampires have no rights. They are treated unfairly and Koby devises a way to free them. The vampire revolution happens so easily and quickly, I question why the vampires never thought of doing what they did in the first place. They obviously had the strength. *shrugs*

Oh and then the romance plot is remembered somewhere between 70-80% and two kisses are shared. Koby gushed like a teen with his first did not annoy but it did give me pause. Also, I'm not a fan of those heroes it seems-you know the type, the bad guy hero made palatable by making him a killer but only of those who were truly evil, not innocents *rolls eyes* Mircea left a lot to be desired. He was kind of dull.

The epilogue? It was too long and really the romance was unnecessary. There was no romance building. Koby sees Mircea, feels weird around him, has two kisses, has no contact in two years and then walks off into the sunset? Really? Granted the story ends HFN-ish but it was a lackluster feel to the ending. I cared more about the secondary characters and they were so-so to begin with.

If this story was just that of a futuristic paranormal story that sticks up for vampire rights, I think I would have enjoyed it more. It was an interesting set up when ignoring most of the awkward dialogue/reactions. Or if there was an actual romance between Koby and Mircea, I definitely would have enjoyed it more. Unfortunately, these two different stories are melded and left me at the corner of Meh Street and Blah Avenue.

I liked the premise. I liked the cover and the story setting but overall the story was dull.

P.S. There is no sex in this story, so smut lovers beware!

Not mad...just a little disappointed.

Review: Turning 16 by Perie Wolford

New Gay Series To Pay Tribute To Sixteen Candles Movie and Other Awesome John Hughes Movies.

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss. But Sam knows that it’s not gonna happen. Or is it?

Disclaimer: The plot of the books substantially varies from the John Hughes movies and all the references to the movies are made as a tribute to their awesomeness.

*Also - Check below for a coupon code to get 1/2 off Turning 16

The teen years of my generation can be summed up by the collective works of John Hughes so when I saw a book was coming out loosely based on the classic, Sixteen Candles, I knew I’d be reading it. That is actually kind of a big deal because I’m not much of a YA reader. That being said, some of my favorite books have been classified as YA, so I’m not sure why some formulas work for me and some don’t, but this? This did. It read like I was watching a John Hughes movie for the first time, yet was still original. It paid homage to a classic, but didn’t get too lost in the nostalgia.

Sam is turning 16 and has a history of disastrous birthdays. Turning 16 is an awkward walk with Sam through his birthday week. The obnoxious younger brother is there, the extended family taking over his space is there, the supportive best friend forever is there, plus Jake. Jake is there. *sigh* Jake. Sam has had a crush on Jake forever and the teenage obsession he has with the rich, football hero golden boy is something everyone has felt at some point. Gender and orientation don’t matter, those all-encompassing feelings are the same and Sam had them in spades.

What I really liked about this story was it read like I was in the head of a 16 year old boy. It didn’t feel like a Beverly Hills 90210, 25 year-old actor playing a 16 year-old. This was a 16 year old kid in all his awkward, goofy and fumbling glory. The pieces that read a little awkwardly made sense and added to the feeling of the age and the generation. Hughes movies covered some serious moments and were able to do it without taking themselves too seriously and Turning 16 did that too.

There were some great secondary characters that I can’t wait to see again. I fell in love with Mitch, like really hard. You really have to meet Mitch. While Jake is swoon worthy, Mitch is who you want to spend all your free time with. He’s the guy, that if you end up in detention, you hope he’s there too. Sam and Mitch slowly develop a pretty special, and kind of surprising, friendship in detention . Mitch and Jake are both jocks and play on the football team. Sam is the team’s towel boy and that locker room was Sam’s way of being able to be around Jake more. Sam isn’t jock material, as he says,

“I have muscles! It’s just they are shy and don’t like to be seen in public.”

So, towel boy it was. The locker room was also fuel for his teenage libido and fantasies. Poor Sam and poor Sam’s skivvies. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that when the extended family invaded their house, Sam ended up having to sleep in the laundry room.

You remember the scene in Sixteen Candles where the dad is talking to Samantha after the dance when she can’t sleep and they have that great heart to heart and he say’s “That’s why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they’d call them something else.”? Turning 16 has the “dad talk” moment and it was just as good. Not only did Sam have crush drama, but he’s a 16 year old kid in high school, he’s not out, that wouldn’t be very realistic. So that scene was extra special and one of my favorites.

This was definitely a fun read and I loved all the bittersweet moments. It felt truly age appropriate without being patronizing and was nostalgic while still being relevant. Fun and poignant and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

BTW note: I LOVE the cover :).

BTW note Part Dos: Perie is pretty awesome and was kind enough to create a Smashwords Coupon for YOU good through 03/03/14.

Head over to Smashwords and enter Coupon Code: KE39S

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.

Review: Puzzle Me This by Eli Easton

Luke Schumaker designs computer games, working from his home. Every day he walks his dog in the woods nearby, never suspecting that someone who is completely smitten is watching.

The watcher is Alex Shaw, and he too works from home, designing logic and crossword puzzles. Alex’s options are limited: he’s too shy to approach Luke and his wheelchair won’t let him follow into the woods. His solution? Secret messages for Luke in the crosswords he writes for the local paper.

When Luke decodes them, romance begins, but then they face greater puzzles, like Alex’s interfering sister and what commitment to a man in a wheelchair really takes. And, most puzzling of all, how do you know if love is real?

I have determined that when I’m in the need for a literary hug I should look no further than an Eli Easton story. In this one we have Luke and Alex who live in the same apartment complex and the way they meet, through Alex’s secret notes in the local papers crossword puzzle is both sweet and unique. It made sense that Luke would figure it out, being a video game designer and puzzle geek himself. Their courtship is both thoughtful and steamy and I really liked reading about them together.

Alex is wheelchair bound and is too shy to approach Luke in a more traditional manner. When Luke and Alex do meet, Luke admits to being completely flattered by Alex’s overture and he’s very attracted to everything about Alex. Now, one thing I really appreciate about this author’s characters is they are likable but not perfect. I hate a perfect MC, I love real human reactions and when characters question themselves like real life people do. It’s important to Luke that he is with Alex for the right reasons and that a life together would be practical for them both. I realize that doesn’t sound really romantic, but it’s realistic and I give Luke credit for that. Alex’s family and friends don’t make it easy on Luke and I could understand Alex’s sister and her protective nature. Luke sticks it out though and I was all kinds of happy.

Of course angst has to happen, but it wasn’t overdone and fit the storyline. The outside world separated the boys for a time and Luke’s overwork and second guessing left me frustrated but that’s what was realistic and what kept the story from being too much fluffy love and instead was a really sweet romance with just enough realism. There were only two things I would have liked to see, the first being more of the puzzle courting with a little more mystery. It was fun and I loved that premise so I would have been completely happy with more of it. Secondly I think Luke needed to explain himself and his epiphany more to Alex. I bought what he was saying because I was in his head, but Alex didn’t get to hear that inner dialog and I wanted him to, he deserved it.

This is a perfect read for when you want to be hugged without being patronized and you want to meet a couple of MC’s you want to hang out with in real life.

Review: Mark Cooper versus America by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock.

Mark Cooper is angry, homesick, and about to take his stepdad’s dubious advice and rush Prescott College’s biggest party fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi. Greek life is as foreign to Aussie transplant Mark as Pennsylvania’s snowstorms and bear sightings. So, when the fraternity extends Mark a bid, Mark vows to get himself kicked out by the end of pledge period. But then he’s drawn into Alpha Delt’s feud with a neighboring fraternity.

Studious Deacon Holt is disappointed to learn Mark’s pledging Alpha Delt, his fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa’s sworn enemy. Mark is too beautiful for Deacon to pass up an invitation for sex, but beyond sex, Deacon’s not sure. He wants a relationship, but a difficult family situation prevents him from pursuing anything beyond his studies.

Mark and Deacon’s affair heats up as the war between their fraternities escalates. They explore kinks they didn’t know they had while keeping their liaison a secret from their brothers. But what Romeo and Juliet didn’t teach these star-crossed lovers is how to move beyond sex and into a place where they share more than a bed. That’s something they’ll have to figure out on their own—if the friction between their houses, and between Mark and America, doesn’t tear them apart.

Sooooo, if anyone had told me I'd be rating a book that ended with a


Fisting  - highlight here with your mouse.

five hearts, I'd have told them they were NUTS. But guess what, I did.

What can I say I adored this book from the second I opened it, fellow Unicorns didn't fare so well, but I was hooked. I think the fact that I absolutely loved Mark from the first second I met him helped. An Aussie bloke uprooted to live in America he couldn't even get a beer on his 18th birthday - I sympathised, here across the pond we do tend to celebrate 18 in the pubs and clubs, legally adults we're allowed to drink, waiting another three years for that legal pint, torture. I'm not saying being able to drink is the be all and end all, much older and wiser now I cringe at the hangovers of my past, but hey, I enjoyed them at the time (well not so much the hangover but the bits that came before the hangover) but I digress. Yeah I liked Mark, he was 18 but he had attitude - yet we still saw his nice side.

I also loved the more serious Deacon. Usually one or the other main character is who I luuuurve the most, but in MCVA the loving was equal. They were both great.

The whole fraternity thing - well I'm very glad I didn't go to college in America, I love the USA but really? REALLY? This actually happens? OMG. I've obviously read/watched some frat/sorority stuff before but it just seemed so much worse in this book.....however I liked it. God knows what that says about me, I really don't want to analyse it. It also tackled some serious bullying, reactions to which were not at all ideal, but reflective and realistic. If it makes you stop and think about how your interaction could help then good. It did me.

So the rooooomance (hey when you read that you have to do it in a sexy, drawn out, teenage girl way), well Deacon and Mark just worked so well together I was completely lost in their story. I don't want to spoiler it but I just loved them as a couple. They needed to be together, the way wasn't always plain sailing, but they got there in the end.

Sometimes when there is a lot of hype about a book it is easy to feel let down by the finished product, expectations can be too high, but in this case, in my opinion, no sirree it was as good as the hype suggested.

Review: Objects in the Rearview Mirror (Memoirs of the Human Wraiths #2) by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Memoirs of the Human Wraiths

Their new home on Frederick Street in Clay Center, Kansas, was supposed to give writer Jonathan David and his husband, clinical psychologist Dr. Eddie Dorman, an opportunity to enjoy married life. Jonathan has just released his first major bestseller, and he hopes to finally escape his traumatic past and find the quiet existence he has always craved. Eddie has taken a job at the Kansas State University psychology department, and they intend to begin anew.

They have barely settled in when the nightmare begins. Noises, disembodied voices, and mysterious apparitions make Jonathan’s life hell. Part of the house has decided to bare its teeth, show its jagged edges, and bring back the worst of Jonathan’s past. At first, Eddie cannot perceive the spectral events and fears for his husband’s sanity. When he’s also affected by the haunting, he’s unsure of what to do but refuses to be beaten.

Together, they seek a way to fight the forces trying to tear them apart. The world is a frightening place, but confronting their fears plunges Jonathan and Eddie into absolute horror.

This book is the perfect melding of a classic ghost story, a true love story and a psychological drama all wrapped up in an incredibly well written package.

  Objects in the Rearview Mirror is ultimately a story about fear and what damage fear can do in both this world and the next. There are two stories going on in this book plus the house that brings them together. It starts with a heartbreaking prologue that tells the fate of Alan Pemberly in 1975. That alone had me hooked and the tale of Alan’s aborted homecoming sets up the connection between Alan in 1975 and Jonathan and Eddie in 2013.

Jonathan and Eddie are a married couple who have moved to Clay Center, Kansas to make a fresh start. It was refreshing reading about an established couple who are so obviously committed to each other. There are allusions to troubles in their past, but nothing that most normal couples don’t deal with for the most part. They do have a couple of major issues that set them apart though. Firstly, Jonathan has an incredibly painful past that Eddie, being a licensed clinical psychiatrist, had tried so hard to help Jonathan work through. The fact that Eddie is a mental health professional is a bit of a blessing and a curse. He definitely has helped Jonathan put the pains in the “rearview mirror” but that doesn’t make them go away. Secondly, the house they have moved to seems to have all the classic symptoms of a haunted house. Strange things start happening very subtly at first and the bumps in the night are written so well that the creep factor was perfect.

Turns out the house Jonathan and Eddie have moved into is the same house that Alan Pemberly grew up in. The painful upbringing of both Jonathan and Alan causes an unnatural connection to form between them and this is where the really great psychological drama comes in. Jonathan has been wandering for years, never settling and this is something that has been hanging over his relationship with Eddie for a long time.

“ . . . his lover wasn’t wandering toward something in the hopes of finding new and exciting things; he was wandering away from something that followed him like a shadow attached to his feet, always just a step behind him.”

When the supernatural starts happening at home it’s almost too easy to blame Jonathan’s past and how he deals with it. Being a psychiatrist it’s natural for Eddie to head that direction, Jonathan must be having some sort of breakdown, even though Eddie has witnessed some crazy events himself. Jonathan begins to doubt himself, Eddie begins to doubt himself and the fear of what all this means is driving a wedge between them. Jonathan could only ever show his vulnerability to Eddie and now showing that vulnerability felt like a threat to his sanity. Throughout though, I never doubted their love and commitment to each other and that made the fear more real, I was anxious for them. There were a couple of really painful conversations and damn if those didn’t hurt to read. They were completely realistic though and I think that’s what made the whole paranormal aspect of the story work so well.

The supporting characters really added to the story and next door neighbor, Maggie was a calming force and wealth of knowledge to them both. Jonah was quite the sage who was a later addition to the tale, but his conversation with Jonathan alone is worth a mention. He tells Jonathan,

“I am going to give you some fatherly advice: when this is over, when all this is done, stop looking backward. Life isn’t lived in that direction. Your future isn’t in that direction. It’s forward, out into the horizon ahead of you. Stop clinging to dead things – they’ll drag you down with them and will destroy everything you two have worked so hard to create. You’ve got a man in there that loves you. He’s in the here and now.”

The journey through the rearview mirror has to be read and I don’t want to spoil any of the uber creepy moments for you. I honestly could not put this down until I knew how the story would resolve and I was really impressed how it all came together. Heroes were made and happy endings were had, and they didn’t come easy, but man, what a ride.

The epilogue is a very sweet wrap up and gives a nod to the series here which I love because it means the author is planning on more stories. I loved his one too much to be done.

Review: Measured Doses (Their Circumstances, #5) by T.T. Kove

After his father beats him, Chad escapes to the only safe haven he can think: his former teacher, Dion. But when he arrives at Dion's door, it's opened by a stranger—who promptly finds himself catching an unconscious man.

Unable to turn away the broken, battered Chad, Jeremy takes him in and tends his wounds, even if he would much rather have nothing to do with the student that his ex, Dion, cheated on him with …

Warning: Story contains a threesome


I'm a reader that likes trashy, angst ridden complicated reads, at times.  So when I read this premise, oh baby, was it my kind of read: cheaters (love reading about it), teacher/student affair (yup!) and menage? Mmm...sounds like a recipe for trash, trouble and lust aka a must-read for me. One man's trash is another man's treasure. And I can find treasure in hot messes. And this story was decent hot mess. If abuse and/or cheating are a trigger, step away from the book.

Chad (a ginger twink and owner of a below average penis!) is nineteen and majorly troubled. His father uses him as a punching bag, he has no self esteem and doesn't care to be used by others, his one moment of happiness born out of an affair was cut short by his love and ex-teacher. He doesn't tell everyone the extent of the abuse he goes through, he thinks he's stupid, worthless and uses drugs and alcohol as an escape. His only skill he thinks he has is that he is great at sex. I mean, he did set out to seduce his teacher, Dion. The cheating happened before the story starts. The story begins with the aftermath and spends a lot of time discussing emotions. Angst, baby, front and center.

Chad is abused by his father one day and goes to the only place he knows, his ex-lover's Dion's flat. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Dion doesn't answer the door. Jeremy, Dion's boyfriend does. Dion had told Jeremy of his indiscretion months ago and broke it off. However, Jeremy has made Dion suffer but can't seem to let go because he loves the man. And can't help but help Chad because he feels a connection to him, not one born out of hate or jealous...something else. Within days Chad goes on a downward spiral with drugs and booze but when he reaches rock bottom, Jeremy and Dion are there to save him. And offer light to his very dark tunnel.

The story mostly is told from Jeremy and Chad's POV. The two are damaged and own up to their part in the major angst going on. I enjoyed tat part. Jeremy never played the blame game on Chad. He knew his partner was in the wrong. I enjoyed each main character though, Dion played more of a minor role when comparing the three.

What I also enjoyed about the story is that the three people involved had some time to works through their relationship issues. And anti-cheating readers who like a lot reassurance that the aggrieved party is a bad cheater and appropriate groveling can rest assured. Dion owned what he did. Chad owned what he did. Jeremy was the wronged party, gave stress to Dion's life those months after.

But they all formed a throuple (threesome couple). How? Why?

After sorting most of the emotions (they were an emotional mini crew- MANTEARS and angst and such), the lust brewing between them finally erupted around 79%. And it was delicious. And it fit for the theme boiled throughout the story.

Issues? A few. Continuity-around 43% Chad is talking to his friend Wynn in what I assume was a hospital and then Jeremy & Dion show up and then are at home. And Wynn just disappeared. *shrugs* Oh and towards the end it seems Chad forgot emphatically telling everyone he's nineteen going on twenty because he's eighteen years old at the end of the story. *shrugs* I'm not one for excessively MANTEARS, most of it was justified so I won't harp about it. The story did not hit soap opera level dramatics but it got close a few times.

Even with the issues, it was a decent read that ended with a strong HFN and if I close one eye, hold up a hand to my face and look through the side of my eye...a HEA too.

It does seem that this book can be read as a standalone as Chad is a member of a group therapy member of other reoccurring characters. I was not lost.

Would I read more from this author? Sure. Why not?