Review: Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love #1) by Heidi Cullinan

Love, adventure and a steaming good time.

As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.

Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.

When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.

Warning: Contains tinkers, excessive clockwork appendages, and a cloud-sweeping tour of Europe. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism. Men who love men, women who love women, and some who aren’t particular.


I'm not going to perpetrate like I've read tons of steampunk but I can say this is the best steampunk I've ever read, the most steampunky with dirigibles, oodles of clockwork and let's not forget the outfits! There's something about buckles and bodices that do it for me. 

This AU Europe that HC built beamed off the page like a beacon creating a movie in my head. I want to live there and fly around on The Brass Farthing and learn to tinker. I could pirate! What? I could. There is a pesky war between France and Austria that's been going on far too long engineered by Conny's nutters archduke of a father who's deluded himself into believing that he can unite Europe and RULE IT ALL!!!!!!!! *insert manic laugh* but clockwork and sky pirates! We all have our priorities. And I'll risk a war zone for some buckled up pirates with accents. 

Conny is a tinker apprentice to THE master tinker in France, Felix. Right from the start I liked Conny and as the story unfolded I wanted to squeeze the stuffing out of hug him (probably too tightly and too long). Conny happens across Johann half dead on a corpse barge and has to help him. Because Conny is that guy. He's the most charming blend of sweet, devoted, depraved and slutty. I love him. He has the biggest, most tender heart and the dirtiest, filthiest mouth. They just go together like bees and honey and create the magic. Did I mention how much I love him?

"I want you to fuck me while people watch us. Is that all right? Will you hate me if you find out I'm a terrible slut?"


*stares off into middle space remembering all the sweet filthy... swilthy?*


In the process of fixing up Johann's limbs he's notices a metal shard in his chest that will kill him unless... he "borrows" Master Felix's clockwork heart. It's for a good cause, right? Right.

And thus the adventure begins! I'm not sure why the clockwork heart becomes such a hot commodity shortly after Conny "borrows" it, but it does and the interested parties are quite... determined in trying to claim it. So much so that Conny, Johann and Conny's best friend, Val, are forced to go on the run with Johann's former pirate crew on The Brass Farthing. And it was so much fun! This book was a blast to read. Every time I turned around something else was happening or another great character was being introduced. I daresay it was swashbuckling. Swashbuckling sky pirates!

And it just so happens Johann is Austrian to Conny's French so... star-crossed lovers! 

The language fumbling they did initially was adorable. We got both of their perspectives and seeing how frustrated they both were until they worked out they both spoke English was so endearing. I loved all the French and German as do both of them, particularly during the sexy times. *suggestive eyebrows* I'm sorry but' fuck me' in French is oodles hotter than 'fuck me' in English and I'm glad someone has recognized this universally accepted fact. On second thought, not sorry. Because truth!

"Baise-moi. Prends-moi par derrière. Défonce-moi."

Admit it. Your undies just spontaneously shuttlecocked off your body, right?

Johann is an 18 yr old virgin who's got nein experience in the relationship/attraction/romance department. He's a little confused and surprised by his feelings for Conny but there's none of that denial nonsense. He just doesn't know what to do. Good thing Conny's been around the block and over the table and in the back rooms and in the middle of the local tavern. Have I mentioned how much I love him?

No one does humiliation and exhibition like HC. She the Mistress of these particular kinks and they are on point in Clockwork Heart.

Their relationship builds and takes them in some interesting directions some of which they struggle with, but they always work through. I appreciated that they are possessive in their own way and built their relationship prior to dabbling in polyamory. But what I kept coming back to was the way Conny sees Johann. Johann is mostly clockwork and he never once sees him has deficient, maimed or disabled. Quite the reverse actually. He's so turned on by Johann's clockwork and that clockwork gets put to some good use.

*coughs*grunts*trills* IDK what sound I'm making but it's circling this block.

HC adds layers of character development over the course of the story as well as their back stories without being information dumpy until not only were there two fully realized main characters but secondary characters that are fleshed out too. I'm just putting it out there right now. If book 2 doesn't involve Captain Crawley and Valentin I'll be having a litter of kittens. You've been forewarned.

These types of series are my favorite-the ones where strangers become family and they keep folding in members strengthening their group exponentially. And this one has swashbuckling steampunk pirates! 


Clockwork Heart is the complete package of fast paced adventure, fantastic steampunk imagery, a tender star-crossed lovers romance and face melting filth.

Couldn't recommend anything more.

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

Find out more on Goodreads.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Clockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan

We welcome Heidi Cullinan to the clubhouse today to talk about her phenomenal new steampunk novel, Clockwork Heart.

Clockwork Heart is, like many steampunk novels, a work of alternate history. At its heart are two subtle tweaks to the past we know, and the story imagines the ripples those alterations create.
The first difference between the Europe of our past and the Europe Clockwork Heart’s characters inhabit is the presence of a noble gas called aether. In classical understanding, aether is a philosophical concept of material beyond the terrestrial sphere of Earth. It was something of a catch-all to explain gravity and light. In ancient and medieval times aether was imagined to remain closer to Earth, as Earth was assumed to be most of the universe, but later we imagined aether extended throughout space. There’s much more to aether’s history in our philosophical, scientific, and cultural understanding, and you can get a rudimentary introduction about it here.
In A Clockwork Heart, aether is imagined to be a tangible element, a versatile gas which can be used as an energy source and as a medical aid: as an antiseptic, as a pain killer, and as a means to gently render a patient unconscious for surgery.  It’s mined primarily in the Alps and Himalayas, though the Americas have found it in the mountains of the south, in Argentina and Peru, and in the north, in the Western US and in Canada. Because of the presence of aether, economies, allegiances, and even borders of countries are different than we know them to be today or in the latter half of the 19th century.  Petroleum is entirely unused, save the occasional industrialist pushing it as an alternative fuel source.
The other major difference the world of Clockwork Heart brings to our understanding of history is the domination of the nation of France. Beginning with the rise of Napoleon, France became and remained the dominant power, but unlike the England of the world we know, France never becomes complacent in its power, nor does it overreach. It overtakes Germany and much of Spain, but only at the beginning of the book does it take Switzerland. The Austrian empire holds back France, England largely escaping because it’s so difficult to seize and maintain a hold on the island nation. Italy, in an alliance with Portugal, manages to stay out of the fray and hold dominance in the Mediterranean, and with the rise of the Americas as an economic and developmental power, it’s once again a powerful trade hub.
Of course, Clockwork Heart begins with the world on a precipice: soon there will be either greater, more devastating war, or their will be the first cracks in France’s might and the beginnings of a new peace. Which direction the continent takes is not up to the leaders of nations or the generals of the army. It’s all down to a rag-tag group of airship pirates, a defected young Austrian soldier, and a tender-hearted tinker in possession of a clockwork heart.

RELEASE DATE: Feb 2, 2016
Format: Novel • Genre: Historical/Alternate History/Steampunk • Length: 80,000 words (estimated)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Ebook ISBN: 9781619227231
Print ISBN: 9781619233959
Characters: Johann Berger, Cornelius Stevens
Short Summary: Tinkers. Soldiers. Spies. Pirates. Alternate history, airships, a sweeping tour of continental Europe via the clouds. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism, some naughty use of clockwork prosthetics. Men who love men, women who love women, men who aren't particular. Love, adventure, and a steaming good time.
Love, adventure and a steaming good time.
As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.
Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.
When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.


Today it’s commonplace to get from here to there in a jet airplane, but at the beginning of the 20th century, it appeared equally possible we would one day commonly get around by airship.

Airships, or dirgibles, operate by being lighter than air. They come in different shapes and sizes and can have different functions, but they all have a gas bag full of lifting gas less dense than the surrounding air. The envelope may be one great balloon, or it might be comprised of several cells filled with gas. The gondola beneath the envelope can be simple or grand, and airships can be used for passenger transport or for war. The most notable passenger airship of course is the Hindenberg, and it’s famous for being a fiery disaster. World War I saw the most use of airships as offensive aircraft, though they largely proved ineffective.

In the real world, airships proved far less efficient and more dangerous than their airplane successors, and today airships are usually blimps over sporting events or festivals, or hot air balloons used for recreation. The greatest issue with airships is fuel. Hydrogen, as the Hindenberg proved, is too flammable, and helium is too rare and expensive. Heated air is free, except the energy must sill be spent to heat it, and at the end of the day jet fuel is so much more practical.

In Clockwork Heart, airships are common as mud and are fueled exclusively by the oft-used steampunk element aether. In my novel aether is a noble gas with all manner of uses, but the most common is to function as airship fuel. Pilots of ships large and small use aether to send their vessels into the sky, across oceans and continents. And, in the case of The Brass Farthing, to aid and abet pirates.

At the end of the day airplanes are the most practical, but if all things were equal, wouldn’t you rather see a sky full of balloons than a highway full of cars?  Until that dream is realized, visit the alternate Europe of Clockwork Heart and sail your way into adventure.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Buy links:

About the Author:

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at


Enter to win your own copy of Clockwork Heart!

Just leave a comment with a means of contacting you (email, GR acct page, Twitter). Giveaway ends 10pm CST on February 6th then we will randomly pick a winner. You will have 48 hrs to respond otherwise we will choose another.

Good luck!

Review: Dangerous Territory by Cari Z.

With his father barely in the ground and his sister married to a scheming bastard, Carter is on the verge of losing the family ranch. His only chance at holding onto his inheritance is to get his cattle to market before his brother-in-law. That means braving Mason Canyon, which on top of being snake-infested and easily flooded, is also shifter territory. Most clans would just as soon shoot humans as look at them.

His only hope of making it is to trust the shifter who's agreed to help him, and pray that Rani won’t double-cross him. If Carter doesn't go he loses everything, and if he doesn't make it there his family is as good as dead.

Another Cari Z. winner for me! Aw yeah!

Carter is on borrowed time.

The human cowboy has to try to salvage what is left of his inheritance, thanks to his sister's recent marriage to Percy, an idiotic businessman who knows nothing about ranching. Anyone with half a brain can see what Percy is about but Carter's sister has a personality transplant and lets this d-bag run amok. Carter has to sell cattle quickly and must travel through deadly shifter territory.

In the alternate universe paranormal historical, America is broken up into territories. Humans and shifters don't get along for the most part. But Carter has to trust shifter Rani as his guide through the rough shifter terrain of Oklahoma Territory since he has no other choice. Rani has his own agenda as son of the nearest shifter tribe's chief.

I enjoyed the main characters (though I wished we got to learn more about Rani). The relationship between the men starts off slow since Rani is quiet and seems to be contemptuous. But you know the sort: quiet, scornful but underneath the sarcastic, biting exterior, lives a hot, possessive interior who notices everything. My kind of guy that shifter Rani. I was practically drooling from the moment he entered the scene. Carter is fighting his feelings for men (which even in the alternate universe is still against the law) but is drawn to the persnickety Rani. The chemistry is there. :D

I thought the premise was interesting. The kind of slow build between Rani and Carter (how slow could it be in 56 pages) I mean, they are forced on a road trip (is this a Cari Z. theme?) with a common goal of saving Carter's inheritance for about two weeks and they don't immediately jump in the, plain? This is an alternate historical western.

And trust Cari Z. to make it interesting as fuck. The storytelling is good. Seriously, I read about venomous snakes and didn't get creeped out. I read with bated breath for when they were going to attack or when Rani was going to attack them. Of course, Rani being an unusual shifter was an added bonus, with demon like features. *squee* I really thought the shifter set up was different and dope. Wouldn't mind returning to this world again or maybe reading a sequel *cough*hint*cough*

What I wished we could had seen? The aftermath especially to the sister and the "scheming bastard" husband, Percy. (I never liked that name, so it made it even worst for that guy). I'm a lusty sort. I like to read revenge when it's due. And for those two, it's overdue.

The story ends with a HFN walking toward the HEA if Rani has anything to do about it. I like that there are possibilities with the ending but I still wouldn't have minded a little more.

I'm greedy that way when the story holds my attention. ;)
And the entire story, how it all came together? That was the best part.

Recommended for unusual shifter lovers such as myself who enjoy biting.

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.

Guest Review: Ravel (Ripples in the Status Quo, #2) by R. Phoenix

When the monsters of myth and lore claimed the world for their own a decade ago, they relegated humanity to the bottom of the food chain. Survival takes every ounce of the skill and cunning Ashton has learned as a human faced daily with supernatural predators. When a chance encounter with a werewolf reminds him surviving isn't really living, he must choose between what he knows and what could be.

Reese hasn't been able to face the world in years. He hides away in his home, rarely venturing out lest he be forced to face what reminds him of all that he's lost. When a human thief breaks into his home one night, he's confronted with the harsh truths of a society he supports through his silence. But when questioning the status quo is punishable by slavery or death, can he risk being labeled him a sympathizer?

Guest Reviewer: Chelsea

I really enjoyed this story, it kept me enthralled until the end and I found the darkness of the world and the lightness of hopeful new love was a well balanced contrast.

This is a world where supernatural beings, or ‘supes’, sought a place among society, but then overran it. Now humans can either live in the slums with no income and no resources, or live as ‘pets’ or slaves to the supe’s.
“Those who had implemented the status quo had promised peace and safety for supernaturals. They had been forced to live in the shadows for so long, afraid of what might happen if so much as a single light swept over them, and the idea of living in the open had been intoxicating. The changes had come at the cost of humanity…”
Reese is a werewolf who has lived in his home in solitude for the past 10 years, mourning the death of his lover. Ash is a human who has learnt not to trust the fragile place humans now hold in society, and steals whatever food and resources he can find. When Ash tries to steal from Reese to save a sick friend, they’re both brought to question the world they live in and the people who now occupy it.

The banter between Reese and Ash was wonderful and Ash was really very funny, which lightened up the book considerably. I could feel the connection between these two, and saw the desperate need for companionship they both craved.
“When had he last felt like the center of someone’s universe? When had someone looked at him and wanted him, seeking to share instead of simply taking?”
I certainly had a decent case of the feels throughout this book, Reese’s loss for his lover, Ash’s distrust of everyone, both of their need for something good and hopeful in their lives.
“He only wished he had something to hope for. Why not true love? Why not some fairy tale story where the beggar got the prince and they lived happily ever after?”
It really did end up being a pretty perfect blend of bleak despair and hopeful new love. It ended on a solid HFN which I really liked given the length of the story was set over the course of a single week, so anything more would have felt unrealistic.

I really hope there will be more to this series as I want to someone disrupt the status quo!

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review & Giveaway: Magic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price

Professor Topaz is tired of fending off advice that he should retire in Vegas where magicians his age have an easier time finding work.

Ricardo Hart's career has sunk so low, he's resorted to shaking his moneymaker at bachelorette parties.

But there's a casting call for a new reality show called Magic Mansion that could change everything for these two gay stage magicians, one recovering from the loss of his partner, the other awe-struck by the presence of his idol. Each is poised for a critical second chance: at fame, and at love.

Who will win? Step into the Mansion, and find out....

Jordan Castillo Price is putting the spotlight on her backlist; choosing to feature one of her back list each month. January kicks off with Magic Mansion.

I am having so much trouble writing a review for this book, Not because I didn't like it, as you can see I gave it five hearts and I read it twice within about ten days, but because I want to write an essay on everything I loved about it, which would be impractical and pretty spoilerish! I've highlighted the hell out of it as well, something I rarely do.

On the surface I shouldn't like this book. I read the blurb and it is about two things I'm pretty unfond of - magic and reality TV (with one I HATE not knowing how it's done and with the other I hate watching desperate people be humiliated for money) In fact, it is fair to say I only read this because it was written by Jordan Castillo Price and she is one of my go-to authors. I am SO glad I did.

"John was stunning in an Edwardian cutaway coat and deep burgundy ascot. In his top hat (silk, not satin) and his striped trousers, he looked like he was seven feet tall. But it wasn't just height he possessed. It was presence. His audience approached him in awe, and when he greeted them, gravely, in his deep and profoundly serious voice, Ricardo could practically see them all break out in goosebumps.
In fact, he did, himself. "

There is one reason that this book resounded with me so much and that is because I fell utterly in love with Professor Topaz. I think (I hope) readaholics will understand this, that feeling of a character being more real than actual real life people, to the point where you can't get them out of your head. I guess it's why fandoms are so big, the interweb has given us obsessives a place to meet and share our passions. 

Unlike TV programmes though, with a book there is no actor to put a visual to the name, no visual to blur the lines between character and actor (does that make sense). With a book it is literally all in your head. or my head in this case. Professor Topaz, John, got in my head so much that I started rereading pretty much straight away. One particular scene near the end is so imprinted on my brain that it's what I've been thinking of before I fall to sleep each night. It's not even the scene so much as John on the scene. It's stuck in my brain like some kind of visual earworm. A mindworm?

Why? I don't know. I've tried to put into words what it is about this character that has me so stupid, and all I come up with is a rambling paragraph of nonsense. He's far from your typical 'hero' - for a start he's 63. He's not an alpha male in the typical body-builder, muscles of steel, bad boy kinda way. Nor is he a geeky nerd. He's just him...
A gentleman.
Charming in a quiet way.
A showman.
A friend.

He got inside my head and I couldn't stop thinking about him. I loved it. I love being consumed by a book, love that feeling of falling onto it, of living it. 

For those of you who have yet to try work by this author, i would really, really encourage you to do so. Especially if you're fed up of reading the same stories again and again. I love her characters and settings. 

Magic Mansion was an interactive book as it was being written. It is set around  a group of magicians competing in a kind of Big Brother environment. during the writing process, the contestants of the 'show' were voted off by her readers. Castillo-Price didn't know who would get voted off - and from what I've read, was often surprised by the result - which made the story writing fairly spontaneous. It's difficult to plan if you don't know which character is going to be still in the book. What a skilled writer, I'm very much in awe.

We are with the magicians as they experience life in the mansion and as they find out which tasks they are to compete in. Though it is mainly written from John and Ricardo's POV (I also love Ricardo, by the way, he just didn't side-swipe me quite as much as the Professor, I totally get how he fell for the man), we do have some 'video diary' thoughts of other contestants and some introductions as if we were watching the show itself. It sounds like it shouldn't work... but it does.

The cast of characters and crew are fantastic. The tasks and eliminations; amazing. The hints of true magic in a world of show magicians and illusionists are perfect. It really is a fantastic book that I'm beyond glad I read.

For more information see Goodreads.

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

To buy links:
Smashwords (variety of file types available)

Excerpt from Chapter 1: 

The stairs to John’s apartment seemed narrower than they had on his way to the hospital. The overhead lights, dimmer. The smell of cigarettes and sweat and cooking grease, more pervasive. Sorrow made the world a darker place.

Music throbbed from the apartment beneath his. He could knock and tell them to turn down the TV set…but what difference did it make? In the scheme of things, how much did the annoyance of a soundtrack blasting through the floorboards really matter? Besides, perhaps it was a comfort to know he wasn’t entirely alone—even if those other persons dwelled below him, and referred to him as “that asshole who should just turn up his own TV.”

He let himself in and hung his suit coat carefully in the closet, then slid the knot of his tie all the way down and stepped into the apartment’s living room. Framed posters in lavish colors filled the room—mere inches apart—so the slivers of wall that showed between them seemed more like an accent, disguising the fact that the rest of the place was painfully austere. Ringleaders. Clowns. Acrobats. But mostly, magicians.


Most of those from his mother’s generation, great showmen from the sixties and seventies, had passed. And most of those from John’s generation had retired. They encouraged him to do the same—and so he was unlikely to call any of them for moral support over the incident at the hospital. They’d tell him he was wasting his time, and that it was too expensive to live in California, and that if he moved to Florida he’d be deluged by wealthy widows who’d be so grateful for a private performance that he could start living the high life again.

He might remind them that while he had nothing against the company of ladies, he’d never been inclined to get romantically involved with them. And depending on which one-time illusionist or retired emcee he was speaking to, they would encourage him to stop being so picky—because at our age it’s more about the companionship than the sex, anyway—or they would drop the subject entirely and find a quick reason to get off the phone.

Even though he didn’t expect to hear anything that would lift his spirits, John considered who he might call and glanced at the phone.

It rang.

Providence? John crossed the room and looked down at his caller ID. No, not providence…his agent. He picked up the phone.

“Hello, Dick.”

“Guess who I just got off the line with,” Dick Golding said. John sighed, quietly, to himself. Dick didn’t wait for an answer. “Saint Mary’s. You know what they told me?”

“I’ve already spoken with—”

“They said you showed up today and talked the nurse on duty into letting you perform. Gratis.”

“I did.”

“Hell, John. Not only is this hospital circuit the kiss of death, but now you’re doing it for free?”

John considered the question, then said, “Apparently, not anymore.” A commercial, much louder than the TV program itself, blasted through the floor. Windows, siding. Tax incentive. Free installation.

“Look, popular magic, these days—it’s all about the young kids. The Criss Angels. The David Blaines. What you need is a steady gig with a more mature clientele. I’m not saying you’ve got to move to Vegas, but a long-term gig there, four months, might change your mind—”

“I’ve lived here all my life. I have no desire to move to Las Vegas.”

“The cost of living there, compared to L.A.—”

“No desire whatsoever.”

Dick sighed, then. And not to himself. “I’m not gonna lie to you, John. We’re pals, and I keep you on for old time sake, but you need to start living in the present. If you won’t take a gig in Vegas, and you won’t consider the cruise line I pitched last week, then you might need to look into something…edgier.”


“You and Casey—maybe it’s time for a book. A memoir. Casey Cornish and Professor Topaz: Behind the Curtain.”

John glanced at Casey’s last promo shot. Rakish, blond, sparkling eyes and a broad smile. He’d been sixty-two at the time—but he looked as dazzling as he had in his late forties.

“You two could be the next Siegfried and Roy,” Dick suggested.

“We never performed together.”

“So it’ll be a big revelation that the two of you were an item.”

“Roy Horn was mauled by his own tiger onstage. Casey was hit by a car on the way to the post office. I doubt that will sell nearly as many copies.”

“Focus on your love life. Cater to the gay crowd. I know you’re capable of stringing a few sentences together. Open up your word processor and just start anywhere—we’ll hire an editor to clean it up later. Easy peasy.”

The thought of parading his relationship with Casey in front of the world in print, especially for the sake of money, made John ill—even when he realized that Casey himself might have encouraged him to do it. Casey had been the affable half of the couple, and he’d always said that any publicity was good publicity.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of Casey and John being the next Siegfried and Roy was minuscule. Siegfried and Roy were stunningly popular; they’d been top-ten in the highest paid performers in the United States when Roy had his accident. Casey had been unemployed and up to his neck in credit card debt when he was killed.

The downstairs TV noise grew even louder.

“Once that book comes out,” Dick said, “think of all the doors of opportunity that’ll open up to you. Piano bars. Gay cruises. You can make double, triple rates if you specialize—you’re still a good-looking guy, you’ll get top dollar.”

As distinctly as if the set had been playing in his own living room, John heard the words, “Lights…camera…magic.” He lowered the handset from his ear, with Dick still going on about how he should cash in on his homosexuality while gays were “hot,” and focused instead on the commercial downstairs. The voicework was hastily produced, a local spot with too much audio high-end and no background music, which made the words carry right through the floor. “Do you live in the L.A. area? Are you a professional magician? If so, Magic Mansion is looking for you. Call 888—”

The channel changed. An inane laugh track swelled, then fizzled. Theme music piped in. John could hardly pound on the floor and tell the neighbors to change the channel back. Not only would they misinterpret the knocking as a complaint about the noise level—the number would be long gone. John raised the phone to his ear again, and found Dick saying, “…you never know. If you start getting out more, maybe you’ll meet someone.”

“Dick,” John cut in. His agent fell silent. “What do you know about Magic Mansion?”

Jordan Castillo Price is kindly offering up an ebook copy of Magic Mansion to one lucky person. To be in with a chance comment below with your favourite magic act - or, if you're not a magic fan, tell us why. Don't forget to leave a way to contact you - email, twitter, facebook etc! A winner will be chosen at random sometime Friday 5th February (it'll be in the afternoon, GMT!!) and notified as soon as possible.

Author Visit: Joe Cosentino

Boy Meets Boy Reviews is happy to welcome Joe Cosentino into the stable today. In fact, we've handed over the reins (so to speak) for this blog post, where Joe talks about his newest release, The Naked Prince. As yet I've not read it - my TBR is teetering, but I cannot wait to get to this story - I love Joe's words! For now though, over to Joe.

Hello Boy Meets Boy Review Readers. It’s Joe Cosentino here talking about fairytales. Okay, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m talking about the old fashioned kind we read as kids in those old worn-out books with fancy print and glorious illustrations. The beautiful stories of peasants becoming princes and princesses, finding true love, and living happily ever after in palaces full of turrets that reach to the star-laden sky. Grrrrrzzzzzzzppppp! That’s the sound of the canned background music coming to an abrupt halt. Why aren’t there any openly gay characters in those old fairytales and in the newer remakes of them on film? Couldn’t a peasant boy fall in love with a prince? Couldn’t a tired, hungry, homeless blond boy seek refuge in a house with three bears? What was Pinocchio’s growing appendage really trying to tell him? Did Jack enjoy his time up there with the Giant more than either one of them let on? Could the Snow Queen be a handsome, frigid, gay prince?’

As the old expression goes, if you want something done, do it yourself. So having written three successful novellas published by Dreamspinner Press, (AN INFATUATION—Divine Magazine Readers’ Poll Award for 2nd Place Favorite MM Novel of 2015, A SHOOTING STAR, and A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS), I decided to write a fourth—a rainbow adaptation of my four favorite fairytales full of humor, romance, and adventure all taking place in Fairyland. “The Naked Prince” is a different take on the Cinderella story. Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Will Cinder and Prince Charming confront their manipulative mothers, bring equality to the kingdom, find themselves, and find one another? In “The Golden Rule,” when he is caught with nimble Jack, eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden is thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents. With nowhere else to go, he breaks into the home of three men living on Bear Mountain. Bo and Butch enjoy having a young roommate, but Ben isn’t convinced. Will Gideon and Ben make vinegar or honey? “Whatever Happened To … ?” takes place on Christmas Eve. A reporter living on Andersen Lane interviews a celebrity for the Queen Newspaper series, “What Ever Happened To … .” Friction ensues between the celebrity with the growing appendage who can’t tell fact from fiction, and the reporter who has a thing for giants. Eventually a romantic spark is lit between the two as Christmas Day arrives, and they realize they have more in common than living in Fairyland. Finally in “Ice Cold,” after losing their families during the great ice storm in the northernmost kingdom of Fairyland, young Gaelen and Kieran pledged their love for one another. When Isidore rides into Frost Village on his elaborate sleigh, Kieran follows the handsome prince to his castle in Arctic Kingdom, where Kieran becomes Isidore’s bewitched slave. This leads Gaelen on an amazing adventure to find his true love and melt his frozen heart.

I hope you all read these aptly named fairytales. They will no doubt bring you back to the fun and fantasy of your youth with a very gay twist. I also hope the movie studio producing those amazing animated fairytales finally realizes that fairytales should include everyone—including boys who like princes!

Thanks Joe for stopping by. I LOVE the sound of this story!!

As was his custom, Cinder sat at the fireplace, lit a candle, and placed his pet mouse from the jar onto his lap. He closed his eyes and asked his fathers to help him get to the ball to give his stepsister her missing apparel for her dance with the prince. Suddenly the flame of the candle flickered, and Cinder heard his fathers’ voices. Cinder’s father Maxwell, told him how much he missed him. Cinder’s other father, Mortimer, reminded Maxwell that he missed Cinder too. Maxwell explained to Cinder that he was safe and happy in the other world. Mortimer interjected that Maxwell should not forget that Mortimer was safe and happy in the other world with Maxwell. It was the most comforting moment of Cinder’s life, except for meeting the young man in the meadow.
Maxwell then said, “Cinder, my son, whom I love more than anything in all creation, your fathers have been granted one night, and one night only, with the power to help you. And we have chosen this night.”
“Tell our boy what we are going to do for him,” said Cinder’s other father Mortimer.
Maxwell explained that Cinder would attend the prince’s ball.
Cinder could not believe what he was hearing. At first he thought it was a dream, but no dream could ever be so wonderful. Knowing his stepsister must be heartbroken without her hat and bag, Cinder hoped he could get them to her before she danced with the prince.
“Tell Cinder the stipulation, Maxwell.”
“I was just about to do that, Mortimer.” Then Maxwell said to Cinder with tenderness in his voice, “My son—”
“He’s my son too, Maxwell,” added Cinder’s other father.
After taking a calming breath, Maxwell continued. “Our son, the great force has granted me—”
Mortimer cleared his throat.
“Has granted us the special power to send you to the prince’s ball, but the power will last for one night only. At the stroke of midnight, everything will return back to the way it was.”
Cinder was incredibly grateful to his fathers. He wanted more than anything to tell them how much he loved them and to ask them so many questions, including whether they could help him see the young man from the meadow again. But before Cinder could speak, a slight breeze grazed his cheek. The breeze grew slowly and steadily in intensity and finally became a gust of wind as Cinder’s burlap clothing magically transformed into an exquisite powder blue suit, ruffled shirt, and handkerchief. Cinder looked down at his feet and noticed the mouse’s pickling jar had been transformed into handsome glass slippers. The wind continued to grow until it threw open the cottage door, carrying a pumpkin from the root vegetable bin and Cinder’s pet mouse with it. Cinder hurried outside and marveled as the pumpkin turned into a stunning gold coach and the pet mouse expanded into a handsome coachman. The squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit, and blue jay frolicked in the wind until they became four striking white horses.

published by Dreamspinner Press
e-book $4.99
Dreamspinner Press
All Romance EBooks (ARe)
Barnes and Noble

Fantasy Romance
ISBN-13: 978-1-63476-758-3
Pages or WC: 30,000 words
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Follow Cinder and Prince Charming in this twist on the classic “Cinderella” tale, as they discover their inner strengths and find their very own happily ever after. Enjoy “The Naked Prince” and three other reimagined Tales from Fairyland, each with a unique spin on stories we all know and love, including “The Golden Rule,” where eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden, after being thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents, breaks into the cottage of three burly men on Bear Mountain, “Whatever Happened To…?,” in which friction ensues between a celebrity with a growing appendage and the reporter who has a thing for giants, and “Ice Cold,” where young Gaelen must save his love Kieran after a handsome but evil prince freezes Kieran’s heart and bewitches him into being the prince’s slave.

Praise for Joe Cosentino’s books from Dreamspinner Press:

“unbelievably beautiful” “a masterpiece” Lovebytes Reviews

“as Joe Cosentino proves time and time again, with his wonderful writing and storytelling ability, love will prevail, and you will smile from ear to ear." Kathy Mac Reviews

“a master class in how to write short fiction (or any fiction). Joe Cosentino has provided a work that will leave you thinking and wanting to savor and re-read it again and again.” GGR Reviews

“Like an onion, Joe Cosentino's stories have layers.” “For those readers looking for something a little bit different - dare I say unique? For those readers who like to laugh. For those readers who appreciate the nuances of people and the way each character is different. For those readers who want to read a damn good story - check out this author. I'm glad I did.” “A truly fabulous read.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

“This story just blew me away.” Cathy Brockman Romance/MM Good Book Reviews

“From the beginning I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to finish the book.” Inked Rainbow Reads

“really grabs you and tugs at your emotions” “unique and enjoyable.” Nautical Star Books

“It turned out exactly how I wanted it to.” BFD Book Blog

“This is polished prose at its best. Intelligent writing, a thought-provoking plot and characters befitting the theater genre” “one of my favorite reads this year.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews

“Don't miss this one friends, it is a heartfelt story magical in the telling! Thanks Joe for putting your heart on the page for us to savor!”
Bike Book Reviews

“It’s unusual for me to get sucked into a book in the first chapter but it grabbed me early and I read the whole thing in one day”.
Nautical Star Books

“There were times I laughed and then there were times I cried…unforgettable.” Multitaskingmomma Reviews

"I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing." BooksLaidBareBoys

"The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours." "If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews

Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming releases are Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press) and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press releasing March 15). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015.

Web site:

Release Day Review - A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson

Military historian Luke Alcott leaps at the chance to live in the seventeenth-century country mansion of Eelmoor Hall, home of the Royal Military School of Medicine, after being offered a job cataloging the school’s archives. Luke believes he chose the perfect place to start a new life and put his broken past behind him. But soon after settling into the old house, he hears strange noises—like footsteps—and he begins to suffer from terrible nightmares.

 The only person Luke can turn to for help is the taciturn caretaker, Jay, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who carries an old battle wound. Together they try to understand Eelmoor Hall’s history and decipher what could be causing the haunting. As the weather grows colder and snow dusts the countryside, a child goes missing. Luke needs to deal with his own demons and learn to trust in love again if he hopes to face down the angry spirit and find the missing girl.

I love how the author told this story. It sooo worked. Luke is telling their story and I don’t mean it’s just in his POV, I mean he is writing down the story of Eelmoor Hall at Jay’s insistence with the hopes that Luke will be able to let the ghost go. It really reads as if a friend is telling me a truly great ghost story because it’s so story-tellerish. That totally makes sense in my head. It’s very personal from the beginning so I felt an immediate connection to Luke because his voice was so strong. Not to short change Jay at all, his presence was just as strong as he made comments to Luke throughout. Jay’s little digs and endearments as he peeks over Luke’s shoulder at what he’s writing, as told through Luke’s voice was completely charming. Note, pay special attention to 21%, it was yummmm and dayum and awwwwww all at once. It also is exactly why I love Jay and Luke together.

We know from the get go that they are an established couple, no mystery there, but that in no way takes away from the romance as the two get to know one another through Jay’s retelling of their winter at Eelmoor Hall. There is more than just one ghost in this story too. Not only is the mystery of the Mistletoe Bride told, but so is Luke’s history and the missing ex who still has a piece of him. That was a heartbreaker right there. It spoke to Luke’s strength of character and loyalty in a way that was really well done.

 You’ll especially enjoy this if you are a native and have any interest at all in history. I’m across the pond from the stories setting and I found it fascinating. I’m sure a big part of that was in how Luke communicates. He’s that awesome history teacher you had (or wish you had) that teaches through anecdotes and makes the historical figures into real relatable people. It’s not that the story was particularly heavy with historical information, just balanced perfectly to make the ghost story make sense to what was happening to them.

 I really love a good old fashioned ghost story and this is exactly that. It’s a story that has roots as a mysterious tragedy and that has been told and retold so many times the truth has been lost along the way. With Luke being a historian, it made perfect sense that he would be able to research the story of the Mistletoe Bride and figure out what facts fit their locale. The story is not overtold, it’s the perfect less-is-more approach. A few perfectly placed words and the absolute best chapter endings ever kept me hooked and deliciously creeped out.

The author did a really great job of balancing the ghost story with the romance between Jay and Luke. They may have been thrown together via circumstance and a haunting, but they didn’t shy away from the good thing they had going. I loved the evolution of their relationship, their banter and the building heat between them. They were both so real and honest, it was refreshing to read the beginnings of a relationship without unnecessary angst. They said what they felt and showed affection naturally. Plus, they had snark, I love snark. Considering the situation they found themselves in, the story could have been too heavy and dark, but the banter and aforementioned snark kept the story relatable throughout. I loved it.

Jay waited longer than I would have done, long enough that I was starting to get restless, but at last he said, “Clear.” 
“I don’t think she’s going to shoot us.” 
"Keep walking, Luke.” 
“I’m walking. Just saying.” 
I was pretty sure the look he was giving me was less than fond. “You’d be a pain to rescue.” 
“Oh, is this a rescue now? I thought we were both just running away.” 

Some of the absolute best parts were when the two were getting to know each other and divulging the stories of their own personal ghosts and then the reaction of the other. The reactions were always very thoughtful, words weren’t thrown into conversation to fill space or placate, every revelation had meaning. When Luke spoke about his ex, Danny, Jay was honest but respectful. Jay lost a leg on a tour in Afghanistan. He’s self-conscious in front of his new lover and the honesty that Luke respected him with was just perfect.

While Jay’s assignment to Luke was to write their story with the hopes of finally letting the ghost go, the conclusion that Luke came to in the end was ideal. This will no doubt be a reread for me in the future. The characters are too good to read just once and I had too much fun with the mystery not to revisit it.

To get your copy of A Frost of Cares follow the link to Dreamspinner Press.

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