Audiobook Review: After the Fire (Through Hell and Back, #2) by Felice Stevens

A single bullet destroyed the dreams of Dr. Jordan Peterson. With his lover dead, Jordan descends into an endless spiral of self-destruction that nearly costs him his friends, his career and his life. When Jordan finds himself working closely with the aloof Lucas Conover, the investment banker's mysterious past and unexpected kindness shocks him back into a life and emotions he'd thought lost forever.

The betrayal by the foster brother he'd worshiped taught Lucas Conover never to trust or believe in anyone. Living a solitary life doesn't free him of the nightmare of his youth; it reinforces his belief that he would never fall in love. When the death of one of his clients forces him to work closely with Dr. Jordan Peterson, he meets a person whose suffering exceeds his own. Though Jordan rejects his effort to help, something within Luke pushes him discover more about the first man to ever get under his skin. As Luke lets down his guard and Jordan lets go of his pain, desire takes control. Each man must come to terms with past struggles if they are to create a future together. And learning to trust in themselves and love again after tragedy and a lifetime of pain, may be the only thing that saves them in the end.

Narrated by: Kale Williams
Listening Length: 10 hours and 2 minutes



Reviewer - Annery

This is book 2 in the “Through Hell and Back” series narrated by the excellent Kale Williams. I’d say that one star is for his performance. The choice of narrative speed and voices is exactly on point and lends poignancy and grit to the story while also grounding it. The book works fairly well as a stand-alone but I’d say having book one in your pocket enhances the experience as far as character development and emotions.

This is a story about mourning, second chances, and forgiveness. Forgiving others and perhaps the hardest thing, forgiving ourselves. So … a little on the heavy but not overwhelmingly so.

The story picks up nine months or so after tragic event at the end of book one and Dr. Jordan Peterson is still a walking shell. Existing but not living. Enter Lucas Conover, one of the financial advisors left in place to help steer the foundation Jordan is meant to be to be heading. Lucas threatens to wrest control of said foundation due to Jordan’s lack of interest. It turns out that calling the good Doctor out on his failings is exactly what he needs to kick him back into gear. Lucas and Jordan meet and though it’s not lust or much less love at first sight there certainly is a spark and that’s all she wrote.

I liked that Jordan and Lucas, even though they had a growing attraction, got to know each other over the course of some months working together on matters for the foundation and that the relationship evolved from that base. I liked that Lucas and Jordan had to revise or adjust attitudes and beliefs and that they were open to change. I liked that both had to overcome more than the usual “will they/won’t they” scenario but rather some pretty authentic problems particularly Jordan. I felt like the author presented a solution to his problems that was evidently well researched and narratively well executed. I liked the participation of friends and family introduced in Book 1, particularly Drew and of course Ash, though the Lucas and Ash “conversation” was left for far too late in the book for my liking but that’s a minor niggle.

My major niggles are more personal. There were perhaps one too many “issues” in this book and at times these seemed to tip the scales: mourning, grief, addiction, childhood abuse, the failures of the foster system, homelessness, drug dealers, illegal guns etc. One or two these would have been sufficient for one book.

The other thing is really personal and perhaps irrelevant. I’m giving nothing away by saying that Jordan is grieving the abrupt violent loss of his long term partner and fiance and yet about a year out he’s IN LOVE with another guy? I dunno … seems sudden or that the Doc’s affections may be fickle. We know he’s not. So maybe for moi a little more time might have eased the way? Unless we’re going with Keith, the dead fiance, left this man Lucas to keep Jordan sane, loved, and safe? Would Patrick Swayze do that for Demi Moore at the end of Ghost? Maybe. Let’s be generous and with that.

If you’re in the mood for an issues book with some serious sexy times on the side this will fit the bill nicely, but I’d go with the audio because it will surely enhance your enjoyment of the story.


A review copy was provided.

Audiobook Review: Wrapped Up in Chains by Cindy Sutherland

Devon West is a professional Dom who runs his own club, doesn’t believe in romance, and has never been in a long-term relationship. All this changes when he rescues Chase Mackenzie.

Chase is a runaway who has been kept as a slave since he was sixteen. Now twenty-three, he’s still innocent and sweet despite being severely abused and left behind by his Dom.

When Devon finds out that the man who held Chase hostage is the same man who hurt him terribly when he started learning about the sub/Dom lifestyle, he knows he has to keep Chase safe.

Spoiled rich boy and sociopath James Kingston is obsessed with Devon. He’s convinced Devon would be his perfect sub and Devon only thinks he’s a Dom because he needs proper discipline. Losing Chase to Devon is like rubbing salt in the wound, and he’s determined to get them both under his thumb. This time, Chase may need to rescue Devon.

Listening Length: 8 hrs 39 min
Narrator: John Anthony Davis


Well I went into this thinking I’d get a good BDSM story but instead got a good comfort story, am I complaining? Not at all! This was steady and peaceful, not at all what I was expecting and it was quite lovely. The audio however…. wasn’t bad….but I’ve definitely had better.

Chase has been a slave in the guise of a sub for the past seven years to a particularly sadistic and psychopathic ‘dom’. One night he’s left in Devon’s BDSM club and beaten badly in public. Devon, of course comes to the rescue and takes him under his wing while Chase has a chance to heal.

I was waiting… just waiting for the BDSM fixes all spiel, but it didn’t come at all here! In fact BDSM played a very minor role in the overall story here. We see more of Devon comforting Chase and falling more in love with him as Chase comes more out of his shell.

For me the romance between Chase and Devon lacked a little. I mean the comfort was great, like I’ve mentioned, but their love and connection felt to sudden to be able to suck me in the way I like.

Now this audio wasn’t bad. The voices were nice and normal and Devon's voice was pretty darn sexy but there was a significant lack of emotion, which could have contributed to my lack of connection to the couple. Obviously there are some beautiful moments in this story and I could sense some lines were meant to be delivered on a sob, or in a manner that tugged at the old heart strings, but they just weren’t.

While I did enjoy this story, I just can’t give a rating much more than average when I don’t feel a connection between the MC’s. Especially in a hurt/comfort book, where the connection is 80% of the story. Honestly I would probably recommend reading this in comparison to listening to it, but I still did enjoy it.



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Be My Best Man by Con Riley


Celebrate the release of Be My Best Man with Con Riley and Signal Boost Promotions! Find out more about the book on today's blitz and enter in the Con Riley eBook giveaway! See our 4.5 ❤️ tag team review HERE.




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 260 pages

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design

Blurb

Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?


After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya's vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.


According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.


Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.



Author Bio

Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.


Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.


When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don't disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.




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Guest Review: Aunt Belle's Time Travel & Collectibles by Marshall Thornton

Where would you go if you could travel to any part of your past? That’s the question Terrance faces on his 45th birthday—and right away, he knows. He wants to go back to 1992 and not meet Mr. Wrong. But what begins as a journey to change the past becomes a trip to find the future. From the writer of Femme comes a story of best friends, time travel and going backward to move forward.











Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*

Ah, the many a conundrum that comes with time travel and all the ways it can change, influence, and affect outcomes.


Terrance has not had it very easy the last 20 years due to a disastrous relationship that he admits he was too blind, too naive, and too much in denial to know better. He’s finally back on his feet, and he’s ready for the next phase of his life sans David. Serendipity must be on his side because Terrance somehow gets the crazy crazy chance to travel back in time in the hopes to right some wrongs and side step ever meeting his ex to prevent himself from a lot of grief and trouble.


However, changing the present isn’t as easy as Terrance thinks it will be. Complicated rules are at play and it’s hard to know if the past can really be manipulated. That doesn’t stop Terrance from trying to find out some big answers to lifelong questions and such a trip (or better yet, trips) is the perfect chance to lend perspective and actually understand major events he can’t clearly recall. Such eye opening revelations make him realize who he’s truly meant to be with and he’s eager to start anew.


This was a wistful, fun, and quite the feel good story about second chances. Thornton can weave a great tale, and this was thoroughly enjoyable as the reader roots for Terrance to get his guy!


Thank you to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review




Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Dragon's Devotion (Chronicles of Tournai #5) by Antonia Aquilante


Antonia Aquilante and IndiGo Marketing make the final stop on The Dragon's Devotion blog tour! Read more about the fantasy author in today's interview, read the excerpt and enter the giveaway to win any NineStar Press eBook!


Title:  The Dragon's Devotion
Series: Chronicles of Tournai, Book Five
Author: Antonia Aquilante
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: September 4, 2017
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 108100
Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, paranormal, shifters, dragons, magic users, bisexual, family drama, abduction/kidnapping, political intrigue, royalty

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Synopsis

Corentin is a scholar with a secret—his magical Talent allows him to turn into a dragon, and he isn’t alone in that ability. Long ago, dragons were hunted fiercely, until they went into hiding, becoming things of legend. Corentin has traveled the world with one aim—to protect his people and keep their secret safe. Drawn to the principality of Tournai by news of someone close to discovering that secret, he hopes to avert suspicion. His attraction to the too-serious Bastien isn’t convenient for his purpose, but it isn’t something he can ignore either.

Lord Bastien, Earl of Ardesia, inherited his title unexpectedly when his parents were killed in a sailing accident along with the parents of his cousin, Prince Philip. Since then, Bastien has devoted his life to the obligations of his family and estate—so much so, that it has caused tension between him and his siblings. His world is further shaken when he receives an anonymous letter informing him that the tragic boating accident may, in fact, have been murder. Bastien throws himself into investigating whether the allegations are true and finding out who killed his parents.

As Corentin and Bastien become closer, the mystery of Bastien’s parents’ death draws him further into danger. Corentin feels compelled to protect Bastien, but the threat is closer than they know. Now, Corentin must decide whether preserving his secret—and potentially his people’s safety—is more important than saving the man he loves.

Excerpt

The Dragon’s Devotion
Antonia Aquilante © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

In the privacy of his small office, Corentin circled his neck and rolled his bare shoulders and back, trying to loosen the stiffness there—impossible because his muscles weren’t really stiff. But he did it anyway. It was just that he hadn’t changed and stretched his wings in far too long. Whether real or imagined, it had always been this way if he didn’t use his Talent regularly. Only how was he to accomplish that in this place?

There wasn’t anywhere in the capital city where he could change unseen, and few places close to Jumelle where a large dragon would go unnoticed.

But while he was in Tournai, he’d have to deal with it. He’d managed a few night flights out over the sea when there wasn’t much moonlight. He’d have to get away for another as soon as he could without rousing suspicion. Not that he was being watched, or that anyone suspected what he was, but if a foreign scholar slipped away too many times with no explanation and someone were to notice… He didn’t want to take the risk. He’d come to the principality of Tournai to make sure no one knew of dragons; he wasn’t going to risk anyone finding out from him.

With a sigh, he reached for a fresh shirt from the cabinet in the corner. It wasn’t entirely appropriate for the university, but the more formal shirt and tunic he’d been wearing for this morning’s early lecture had been ruined when he’d walked into a sorcery student’s experiment out on the lawn. The lack of formality of his new attire wouldn’t be a problem since he’d only be working in his office.

He’d just lifted the shirt over his head and was letting it fall over his shoulders when he heard the creak of the floorboard a step inside his office, warning him too late that he wasn’t alone.

His own fault. He’d gotten complacent about pushing the door closed since he was usually the only one on this corridor. And he’d just been chastising himself about not giving away his secrets.

He whipped around, and the man who’d caused the creak froze just inside the room. His tall frame was elegantly and expensively attired, his pale blond hair perfectly styled, his exceedingly handsome face brimming with shock and curiosity. Corentin’s stomach sank. He knew what this man was—he’d made a point of avoiding him because of that knowledge. Master Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, stood just inside his office. He’d obviously seen the markings on Corentin’s back, the faint, shimmering scale pattern that marked him as one with the Talent to become a dragon.

Corentin froze as well, a litany of curses running through his mind. Anyone who saw the pattern would know what he was. Or, anyone at home would know, at least. He’d come to Tournai because there were whispers of the prince’s cousin Etan looking into dragon legends. Lord Etan, a young scholar who often lectured at the university, was well-respected, and his interest was enough to worry Corentin. But Etan had only theories—some quite close to the truth but nothing proven.

The question was: what did Master Savarin know? He was a powerful sorcerer, and a scholar as well, which was why Corentin made a point of avoiding him. Corentin had already displayed too much of his power by using it recently to help find a kidnapped child, but it could still be passed off as merely a powerful fire Talent. Dragons were myth and legend these days. He could bluff his way through this… as long as Master Savarin didn’t know what the markings signified.

Corentin forced himself to relax, to present a casual demeanor he didn’t feel. He reached for his spare jacket, shrugging into it as he spoke. “Master Savarin, isn’t it? What can I do for you?”

Silvery gray eyes focused on him. “What are those? On your back.”

Corentin buttoned the jacket, keeping his movements unhurried. He would not look as if he was trying to hide anything. “On my back? You mean the tattoos? I suppose they’re not quite genteel, but…” He shrugged.

Master Savarin’s gaze sharpened. “Those are not tattoos. I’ve never seen tattoos that look like that.”

“Have you seen many tattoos?” Corentin asked, keeping his voice mild.

“Some.”

“I wouldn’t think they’re very common in the circles you move in. Or at least I haven’t seen many tattoos during my time here at the university.” Was this argument going to get him anywhere except into more trouble? He needed to divert attention from the markings, not discuss them interminably.

“Perhaps I know different people than you think.” Master Savarin’s attention never wavered even as Corentin used his most forbidding stoney mask.

“I got these on my travels. Perhaps they’re different from the ones you’ve seen.” Maybe that would be the end of it.

“I’m rather well traveled myself. I still haven’t seen anything like that.”

“You can’t have seen everything.”

When he saw the suspicious glint sharpen in Savarin’s eyes, Corentin wondered if he’d gone too far. Was it the words or the smooth tone with just a hint of flirtation that took him a step further than he should have gone? The question was what would Savarin do. And what did he know?

Savarin laughed, a smooth, practiced laugh probably not out of place at the court of Prince Philip and his consort Amory. “No one could, but I’m certainly doing my best.”

Corentin propped a hip on the edge of his desk, letting out a laugh of his own and fixing a charming smile on his face. He could still divert this conversation. “A fellow traveler. I’m doing my best to see everything as well. Insatiable curiosity, I suppose.”

“A thirst for knowledge and new experiences.”

“Yes, I’m always eager to see and experience new things on my travels.”

“I am as well.” Savarin tilted his head slightly, regarding Corentin in a way he couldn’t decipher. “Of course, sometimes I don’t have to leave home to find new experiences.”

For a moment, he wondered if Savarin was flirting. “A true scholar is always learning.”

“Yes, exactly.”

“It’s why I came here, why I travel in the first place.”

Savarin nodded. “I don’t think I ever heard where you’re from.”

Corentin’s guard went back up. “Far from here. A small place in the foothills of the Nashira Mountains.” Not exactly the truth but close enough. “No one’s ever heard of it. A reason to travel, yes? If you come from somewhere so small and isolated?”

“I suppose it is. I grew up here, so I didn’t have the same experience.”

He hadn’t heard much other than that about Savarin’s vague origins. “No, you wouldn’t have. Jumelle is a vibrant, busy city from what I’ve seen. So many people from so many places. So much knowledge here at the university.”

“Yes. And with all that, and all my travels, I’ve never heard of magic of the kind you performed.”

Corentin forced himself to remain calm, to appear calm at least. “Magic I performed?”

Playing dumb to stall would probably get him nowhere, but he did it anyway. And of course Savarin proved him right, because the man wasn’t stupid. “Yes, the magic you used to help recover Master Tristan’s baby daughter when she was kidnapped earlier this year.”

Since the incident, he’d been kicking himself for using the magic, and he’d done his best to avoid Savarin’s attempts to question him about it. But what could he have done? He hadn’t met Master Tristan, who was a merchant in Jumelle, before that day. He’d gone to have lunch with Etan and found the palace in an uproar because his infant daughter was missing. As much as he wanted to not draw attention to what he was, he couldn’t have lived with himself if he hadn’t offered to help.

And his help had aided the royal guard and Savarin in finding the baby. Both Etan and Master Tristan had been extremely grateful, and Etan, who was soon to marry Tristan, had said he was in Corentin’s debt.

“It was no great or special magic, but I was happy to be able to help. Horrifying that a baby would be stolen from her home,” he said.

“I have to disagree about the magic being special. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“You didn’t see it, so I can’t imagine how you would know.” His words came out sharper than he intended, and he regretted it immediately, but there was nothing for it now.

“It was described to me in detail,” Savarin said, showing no reaction to Corentin’s slip in tone. “You told Lord Etan, Master Tristan, and Lord Flavian that you have a fire Talent, but I’ve never seen someone with a fire Talent do what you did.”

“I doubt you’ve met every person with a fire Talent in the world.” He tried to say it lightly, almost joking, but annoyance at the questioning was layering over his worry.

“No, but I’ve spent my life studying magic and the different Talents people possess. I have a touch of a fire Talent myself. So I know something about it.” Before Corentin could decide what to say next, Savarin continued. “At first, when I’d heard what happened, I was simply curious. I wondered what you’d done and if I could learn how to as well. But when I asked to talk with you, you put me off. And soon I realized you were avoiding me. That’s when I got suspicious. Because you had no reason to avoid me.”

“Perhaps I didn’t feel the need to be interrogated about an uninteresting bit of magic used to help someone recover his child.”

“But the magic wasn’t uninteresting to me. And it wouldn’t have been an interrogation. It would have been two scholars—two men with Talent—discussing magic. From what I’ve heard, you have no problem engaging with scholars here. You and Lord Etan meet often to talk about your respective work. Given that, surely you can see how I might suspect you’d done something you wouldn’t want anyone to know about? Something that might even be dangerous to Tournai or its royal family.”

“I resent that implication. You’ll remember I used the magic to help Tournai’s royal family.” Corentin kept his voice steady, but he silently cursed himself. He hadn’t meant to become more conspicuous by putting Savarin off, but he’d needed more information, and a plausible story. Keeping away from him had seemed best if the alternative was giving away who and what he was. Now he wasn’t so sure.

“I haven’t forgotten.” Savarin’s tone wasn’t anything other than what could be termed condescending. But Corentin expected arrogance from him. “Neither does that mean you don’t have bad intentions. A smart man knows to bide his time, to gain the trust of others, before—”

“Before what? Betraying it? I do have some loyalty, and whatever you think, I helped out of the desire to see an innocent child brought home to her father.” Corentin regarded Savarin steadily, not giving him a flicker of anything he might twist into more suspicion. “I assume you used your magic to help for much the same reason.”

“I did. But it’s your behavior afterward that reflects poorly on you. You’re lucky I haven’t alerted anyone else to my suspicions.”

Corentin forced himself not to react to the threat in those words. He’d heard rumors, whispers, of spies being found in Jumelle, sent to ferret out information by the conquest-mad emperor of Ardunn. The Ardunn empire had been conquering and absorbing countries to its east for years, and it was rumored that its emperor had his sights set on Tournai, which was wealthy and strategically located on the western half of the continent. He had no love for Ardunn himself—the empire’s borders had expanded far too close to his home, which remained safe and hidden only due to the impassable mountains—so he could understand that there might be an air of caution. Would vague suspicions be enough in Tournai’s current climate? Savarin was trusted. Would his word be taken without any other proof?

“I don’t know what you think I’ve done, or am planning to do.”

“My suspicions might be nebulous, but my concern is for the safety of my country and its royal family when they are in such close proximity to an unknown and potentially dangerous magic.” Savarin seemed about to say something else, but at that moment, the university bells chimed the hour. He cursed under his breath. “I have to go to the palace for a meeting with the princes.”

Corentin nodded, glad for the reprieve. “Of course. We’ll finish our discussion at another time.”

A time long in the future, if ever.

Savarin hesitated and then seemed to come to some sort of decision. Dread flooded Corentin. “No. I’m not going to chance you getting away from me again.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m going to make sure you’re here waiting when I return from my meeting,” Savarin said as he stepped back through the doorway.

“I say again, excuse me? I might agree to wait for you, but I can’t see what you can do otherwise.”

Savarin’s lips curled into something that was almost a smile, but very definitely smug, and Corentin’s dread grew stronger. Corentin strode toward Savarin, not sure whether he would throttle the man or stride past him and away, putting an end to an infuriating and nerve-wracking confrontation. Before he could make the decision, he hit an invisible barrier in the doorway and stumbled back a step.

He put a hand up, flattening it against the magic that barred his path, a wall he couldn’t see. “What have you done?”

“Ensured that you’ll still be here to finish this,” Savarin said, as if it made complete sense for him to trap another person against his will, as if it was all right.

“You think I’m going to run away?”

“I think you’re going to go back to avoiding me, and I can’t have that. We’ll continue our discussion when I return.”

“You can’t do this,” Corentin bit out, but the sorcerer had already turned away, and a moment later he had disappeared down the stairs.

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Author Interview

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?
It depends on the story. Sometimes I do a lot of research, sometimes less. As for authentic voice, I think that’s less research in the sense of books and the internet (though it absolutely can be that too and I certainly do it) and more listening to people. My characters are people to me, so they have to sound and act like real people. and I think that’s the important part.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?
Titles, definitely! I’m so bad at coming up with titles. They’re the last thing I do before I submit a book, and it takes me forever sometimes to come up with them. (My mom actually came up with the title for my first published book when I couldn’t think of anything!) I love naming characters, and I have a stack of name books and couple websites I study to find just the right one for each character. The cover design process is fun too, and it’s so exciting to find a draft cover in my inbox. I just adore The Dragon’s Devotion cover. I wanted to dance when I saw it. So, yeah, titles are definitely the most difficult.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you're an author...what do you write?"
I always say romance. The reactions vary—I’ve gotten some not so good ones and some excited ones and everything in between—but given any interest at all, I’m happy to elaborate about my books, probably more than they want to hear.

What does your family think of your writing?
They’re mostly supportive, though only a couple have ever read anything I’ve written. My mom is especially supportive. She believed in me and my writing even I had doubts on this journey. My best friend Jena and my cousin Christine have been wonderful too. Mom, Jena, and Christine were the ones reading my work when I first starting pursuing publication and wasn’t telling anyone I was writing. (Love you guys!)

Meet the Author

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

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Tour Schedule


9/4      Books,Dreams,Life
9/5      Love Bytes
9/5      The Novel Approach
9/5      Hoards Jumble
9/6      Queer Sci Fi
9/6      Drops of Ink
9/6      Erotica For All
9/7      Bayou Book Junkie
9/7     Shari Sakurai
9/8      Boy meets boy reviews

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Review: Eighty-One Days by Zoë Mullins

FROM POPULAR ROMANCE AUTHOR ZOË MULLINS

Jenna was there to mend Luke’s heart after Eric left town. Now that Eric’s back, how long will it be before Jenna invites him to share her and Luke’s bed?

Eric didn’t know Luke would be heartbroken when he left town to join a hotshot forest fire crew in Western Canada. They’d been best friends since kindergarten, had gone to school together, had bought their first car and a home together and had shared their lovers. At some point, friendship had turned to love.

Luke didn’t expect, when he brought his crazy cat in for stitches, that his heart would be mended by the sassy new veterinarian. Jenna may have been new in town but she’d heard the rumors and she liked the carnal fantasies he spun for her in bed of he and his best friend sharing her.

Of course, that was before Eric’s job brought him home and back into their lives.

Jenna isn’t sure she can be what they need, but she’s not going to give up without a fight. Even if that means inviting the sexy firefighter to share their bed. Surely there is enough love to go around.



So the blurb for this story tells pretty much the entire backstory, and this story starts with Luke trying to maneuver his relationship with Jenna into a throuple with Eric. The only problem is, Eric hasn’t been around much in the last two years, so Jenna doesn’t know him well, and doesn’t quite understand the relationship between him and Luke.

This was an enjoyable menagé short. There were some gaps and problems but I think it was still sexy for a novella. At just over a hundred pages, this story is mostly based around Eric and Jenna getting to know each other, and the finer details of whether Jenna even wants to be in a poly relationship, or if she and Eric can develop a deep enough bond to give Luke everything he wants.

For the most part I thought the characters were all strong. Jenna really gave it a go when trying to develop that bond with Eric without forcing it. They had to find how they fit together, since the basis of their budding relationship was Luke.

I don’t think Luke really intended to find someone who would eventually share him with Eric, but probably subconsciously he went for someone who would be open to it. This endeared me to Luke. I really enjoyed him as a character and thought he was definitely worthy of having two people he loved come together for him and for each other.

The drama reinforced their commitment and I didn’t find it to be contrived. The story flowed well, and the issues I had were minor.

This was a sweet MMF story and I would love to read a full length novel from this author.

A review copy was provided.



Review: Past the Breakers by Lucie Archer

Casey North lost everything when his restaurant burned to the ground: his hopes, his dreams, his reason for living. With nothing tying him to LA, he packs up and moves back to his hometown of Land’s End. He takes up residence in a beach house and attempts to shake the depression he’s fallen into after his life collapsed. There’s just one tiny problem: the ghost haunting his kitchen.

Myles Taylor wasn’t always trapped in the Between. One minute, he was about to propose to his boyfriend of five years as they sat out on their surfboards, and the next, he woke up on the beach to find his long-dead uncle walking toward him. After his shock fades, he must learn to navigate his new reality as he searches for a way to move into the Great Beyond. But first he must deal with the man who’s invaded his territory.

With Myles tied to the beach house and Casey unwilling to leave it, the two must learn to cohabitate as the lines separating them begin to blur. They grow closer than either expected, but what will become of them once Myles finally escapes the Between?


New to me author Lucie Archer has delivered a slow burn romance with a ghost and it was a truly lovely story.

We meet pansexual Casey North as he is dealing with the aftermath of his Los Angeles restaurant Cinder being destroyed in a fire. The restaurant was everything to Casey so losing it spirals him downward into depression and to make matters even worse, his girlfriend leaves him. Casey decides the best plan is to take the insurance money, rent a house on the beach back in his hometown of Land’s End and try to put his life back together.

Myles Taylor was happy with his life as a professional surfer and happy to be renting a house on the beach with his equally professional surfer boyfriend, James. One perfect morning, Myles and James head out for a morning surf session where Myles planned to purpose only to have Myles wake up on the beach and seeing his late Uncle Joe walking toward him. Myles soon learns he is stuck in what is called the “In Between” after an accident out on the water. An accident that Myles can’t remember and Myles is now stuck to the beach house with minimal range to move about. For some reason, he’s attached to the house and needs to find a way to move on, but he doesn’t know if he needs to fix something in his life, or someone else’s.

I liked that we got both Myles and Casey’s POV’s in this book as it’s always a plus to see how the ghost is dealing with things. Myles is a good guy who is not just a surfer, he went to college for a business degree and has a good head on his shoulders. His uncle Joe was the man who raised him and everything to him until he lost his battle with cancer. The fact that Joe is not in the Between with Myles and only shows up sporadically makes Myles’ situation tough to deal with. You see, Myles has no idea why he is stuck and not able to follow Joe (who doesn’t know either) to the Beyond and he is frustrated that he can’t remember how he died. The meeting of Myles and Casey was comical even though Casey and his cat Jasper were a bit freaked out by the ghost in the house and things flying about.

But, Casey is on the edge with his depression and when he hears Myles moving things in the house he turns to this therapist who suggests he is hallucinating and prescribes new meds. On a whim, Casey seeks the guidance of a fortune teller who tells him he has a spirit in the house and gives him a book to help.

Myles isn’t happy someone has moved into the beach house that he considers his and decides he is going to scare Casey away. But when Casey comes back with the book and begins to talk to Myles, he decides having someone to talk to isn’t a bad thing.

I adore the way Myles sees Casey! We know that Casey has been depressed over the months since the traumatic experience of his restaurant burning and has let himself go. He’s put on a few pounds and shaving has become a chore so he sports a beard but Myles, Myles with the athletic physique sees nothing but a fuzzy stomach he wants to blow raspberries on and arms he wants to feel around him. Myles never suggests Casey change the way he eats to lose weight or even shave, he accepts him as he is and not just because he is the only one Myles can talk to. You feel the attraction the men have for one another even though they aren’t quite in the same reality of the living.

While the story deals with Myles being a ghost, we are also dealing with the mystery behind his death and the betrayal of his boyfriend James. Casey does everything that he can to help Myles and even contemplates what it would be like to be in a long term relationship with a ghost. The two are amazing together and the chemistry they have is wonderful to read. I loved how Myles met the neighbor and how it fueled his want for Casey to see him and when Casey does, it was sigh worthy. There were a bunch of sigh worthy moments in this that actually had me reading past my bedtime because once these two could see and hear each other, it was super romantic.

This truly was a lovely book where Casey and Myles build not only a unique friendship but a slow burn romance develops with clever ways of communication and a strength that comes from wanting more from both men.

The end wasn’t what I was expecting and while it may seem a bit over the top, this is a romance with a ghost so you have to take it for what it is. You know? For me, I loved the end and that epilogue was perfect.

Past the Breakers, is wonderful slow burn romance and aptly named with a POV from a surfer. The breakers are the waves that crash toward the shore line and in “surfer speak”, it’s where the surf dies. So, being past the breakers is the point where we pass the crash of the waves and watch what lies beyond our reach. With a romance between two men who have lost it all, who feel they are outside who they used to be, only to find one another again, it truly is a life and love past the breakers.




Giveaway + Blog Tour: Foxglove Copse (A Porthkennack novel) by Alex Beecroft


Alex Beecroft & Riptide Publishing are here today promoting the new Porthkennack novel, Foxglove Copse. Be sure to comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Good luck!


About Foxglove Copse


After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.

Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.

Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/foxglove-copse


About the Porthkennack Universe

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur's Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.



About Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:
     Website: alexbeecroft.com
     Blog: alexbeecroft.com/blog
     Facebook: facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
     Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
     Goodreads: goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft




To celebrate the release of Foxglove Copse, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook of their choice from Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 9, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!



Tag Team Review: Be My Best Man by Con Riley

~ Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?

After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya's vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.

According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.

Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.

Averaged!


R *A Reader Obsessed* - 4 Hearts

This was my first Con Riley and I’m quite the happy reader!

What’s not to love about a traumatized immigrant from Russia (a virgin, no less) who falls for an older man? Not much. Not much at all.

First you have sweet Vanya, who’s barely survived a violent attack and is desperately trying to gain British asylum. For now he’s safe, but until he’s deemed officially legal, he cannot earn an honest wage. Thus, Vanya is barely scraping by; he and his friends struggling to stay safe and save up for a better place to live. Since Vanya is in this waiting limbo, he often hangs out at his roommate’s workplace, an upscale department store. Through a series of events, he’s sorta mistaken for a personal shopper and is hired by a rough and tumble man who’s in need of a makeover. If caught earning money, Vanya could be deported, but his desperate situation makes it very hard to say no to some easily earned cash.

Enter Jason. When he voices his objections to his brother’s 3rd pending marriage, his lack of tact gets him in trouble. Since he’s gone too far, Jason has to show that he’s trying to get to know his future sister-in-law to make amends and hence, needs to make a very good impression. Insert Vanya here. Is this situation really plausible or reasonable? Not really. However, it somehow works, and thus a slow burn begins between these two.

I admit age gaps can easily turn me off (and this one is a whopping 22 years), but when done right or when the gap is not the main issue, it’s a nice added touch. Of course, the main dramatic bomb hanging over our heads is Vanya’s secret that he isn’t some big wig fancy shopper, and though he knows he must tell the truth, he so desperately hangs onto whatever happiness he can get with Jason before he can make himself do so. Of course, the hole deepens, making it harder and harder to speak up. Honestly, I could’ve done without this drama, but it is what it is.

Overall though, this had a lot of what I like in a romance -twisty doubt and insecurity, all entwined in some great tender UST. The heat level is decent with some delicious buildup, and despite being a bit sparse on the details, it was still plenty sexy. Vanya is also a character to root for. He’s had it rough and has lost much. He aches for his old life and family, but Vanya is not broken. He’s optimistic, hopeful, determined, and takes pleasures in the small things that reaffirm his tenuous freedom. Jason in turn, is protective, caring, as well as vulnerable too because of a rocky past. He sees Vanya’s genuine kindness and honesty, and wants for the first time, in a long time, to have someone to care for, to have someone notice him and his details and to return the favor.

It really was a pleasure watching these two fall in love.

So yes, this was a great romance despite the inevitable obvious conflict, and I unexpectedly and quickly breezed right through - a huge indicator to me of just how much I enjoyed this!

Thanks to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sara - 5 Hearts

I once said I loved Con Riley’s words so much I would marry them and that hasn’t changed. I have read everything the author has written and I have yet to find one of her books I haven’t fallen in love with.

Be My Best Man is no exception to my marriage vow and right now, I want to hug the hell out of her. The author took on the job of tackling such a political climate with respect and responsibility to these troubling times but not weighing the book down with it and giving us a wonderful romance full of hope. It’s a balance that compliments the romance as well as Jason and Vanya complement one another.

Ugh. Where to start this review? Jason and Vanya meet at a department store where Jason is waiting to hear back from his foster brother, Andrew and Vanya is hoping to improve his conversational English while hanging out with his best friend and roommate Kaspar. Jason mistakes Vanya as a salesperson and after Vanya suggests a few ties that Jason doesn’t buy, they both make a lasting impression on one another.

Told through the dual POV’s of both our MC’s we learn right away the trouble Jason is going through with his foster brother Andrew, that they had words and Andrews accidentally gave Jason a black eye. But Jason kinda deserved it. I mean, he said some horrible things about the young lady Andrew intends to marry and then Jason ends up being in the exact same situation so karma works in this sense.

But Vanya, goodness. We meet Vanya in the immigration centre as he waits to hear the status of case and the asylum he seeks in Britain. Vanya has left his homeland of Russia after being assaulted and disowned from his family and is now in the process of starting a new life in London. Without a Visa, there isn’t much he can do until he is legal and that includes getting an actual job. Vanya has left a full life behind, he was almost done with classes to become and elementary aged teacher and meeting Jason is a chance at something he can’t let slip away.

You see, Jason assumes with how Vanya looks, dresses and his ability to pick out a tie in a Bond Street department store that Vanya is a personal shopper. Considering Andrew has quietly demanded that Jason clean up his appearance to impress his fiancée leads Jason to track down Vanya and offer him the paid task of dressing Jason smartly. It’s an opportunity for Vanya to earn money under the table and help save for a real place to live with Kaspar.

Wow. There is so much in this story to talk about but it would be spoiling it. The level of emotions the book pulls you through are stunning and angst ridden that I couldn’t stop reading and finished this book in a single Sunday. We go through a lot with Jason and Vanya both together and on their own. They both have demons to face, regrets to leave behind and a chance at a future with someone that is so stunning, they are blinded to any fault that cracks the surface of their romantic bubble.

I really liked Jason. I felt for him as he tells the story about moving in with Andrew and his mum as a foster child and how they accepted him fast and fully into their little family. He will do whatever he can to not hurt Andrew and while he’s made assumptions about Andrew’s fiancée Chantel, Jason is forced to eat one extra-large piece of humble pie as he begins to fall for Vanya, as the brothers find themselves in similar relationships.

Watching Vanya and Jason go from a business transaction to friends then lovers was beautiful. This is slow burn romance that focuses on the importance of family which if you’ve read a Con Riley book is always a central focus. I love that the author does that, she infuses love and acceptance of every kind into her work and it’s permeates from the page and you absorb it through your pores. It’s impossible to read this book and not feel. Try it. I dare you.
I found the way Vanya goes about learning English to be adorable and admirable. I can’t imagine having to learn…everything in a new way how he must to acclimate to a new country. Heck, I have a hard time changing how I take my coffee but Vanya finds intriguing ways to learn not only English, but British slang as well so he can truly converse with anyone and help his asylum case.

So while Jason and Vanya are becoming closer, Vanya is keeping “white lies” about his alien status, where he lives and why he is in the country from Jason. In the grand scheme of things, these are important things but the way the men feel about one another, the lessons they learn through their love and others around them is the real heart of this romance.

Now that’s not saying this isn’t one hell of a sexy read, because it is. The age gap between Jason and Vanya makes this delicious and when you throw in Vanya’s inexperience, it’s time to dig in and get it on. Yeah, the intimacy mixed with the sex that give whispered declarations, mirrored encounters and even first kisses will give you so many feels, you‘ll want to go back and read them again. I know I did.

But this book… it’s so wonderful I can’t describe it. The love that Jason and Vanya find is gorgeous. The love that Andrew and Chantel find that builds and repairs bridges is lovely and Kaspar and Anna lend another love story to the bunch and it’s all so amazing. This book is full of so much love and hope among the political background of Brexit and what’s happening to gay men in other countries that it was a blessing to read.

That epilogue just about killed me with feelings but I adored the hell out of it.

Be My Best Man is multicultural romance among a politically charged state of being. It’s a love story that defies the odds of finding love in a hopeless place and gives the reader a glimpse inside the life of a displaced man seeking asylum in a country that currently doesn’t want his kind.

That cover is amazing showcasing the wispy, vulnerable yet determined nature that is Vanya down to the color choice for reasons you’ll get when you read the book and I am in love with all of it.

Con Riley has done it again and my marriage to her words must begin with a ransom because, how freaking adorable was that?



See the Be My Best Man release blitz HERE!