Review: Arctic Sun (Frozen Hearts #1) by Annabeth Albert

He’s built a quiet life for himself in Alaska. But it doesn’t stand a chance against the unrelenting pull of a man who’s everything he shouldn’t want.

Ex-military mountain man Griffin Barrett likes his solitude. It keeps him from falling back into old habits. Bad habits. He’s fought too hard for his sobriety to lose control now. However, his gig as a wildlife guide presents a new kind of temptation in superhot supermodel River Vale. Nothing the Alaskan wilderness has to offer has ever called to Griffin so badly. And that can only lead to trouble…

River has his own methods for coping. Chasing adventure means always moving forward. Nobody’s ever made him want to stand still—until Griffin. The rugged bush pilot is the very best kind of distraction, but the emotions he stirs up in River feel anything but casual, and he’s in no position to stay put.

With temptation lurking in close quarters, keeping even a shred of distance is a challenge neither’s willing to meet. And the closer Griffin gets to River, the easier it is to ignore every last reason he should run.


I wanted to love ‘Arctic Sun’. I thought I’d love it. It’s a perfectly fine read with well-rounded characters, angst, and the beginning of a happy ever after. However, it just didn’t resonate with me.

‘Arctic Sun’ introduces readers to two complex MCs - cranky mountain man Griffin Barrett and former supermodel River Vale. The two men are very different, yet find common ground.

Both men have not-so-perfect histories. And they’ve paid their dues. Griffin’s a recovering alcoholic and River struggles with an eating disorder. But they cope very differently.

Griffin prefers to live quietly in the Alaskan mountains, helping run the family tourism and transport business. On the other hand, River jumps from one adventure to the next.

When the two first meet, it’s a shaky start. While there’s an immediate spark between them, Griffin passes quick judgement on River, who he assumes is a flaky and pampered socialite.

However, River proves Griffin wrong pretty early on. River may be a pretty boy, but he’s strong and determined.

And so begins a waiting game. River’s all for a vacation fling, but Griffin approaches things more slowly before giving in to the attraction between them.

And when I say slowly, I really do mean slow. Or at least that’s what it felt like. For me, there were waaay too many pages with not much happening.

With things moving so slowly between River and Griffin, I found myself almost detached from the book. So much so that the character and relationship development, as both men shared their histories and built a friendship, didn’t mean much to me.

I understand that the two have some serious baggage, but the hot-and-cold routine, the will-they-or-won’t-they just got old and repetitive.

It isn’t an easy romance for Griffin and River. It takes a lot of work for them to reach a point where they’re happy with themselves and their relationship. I could appreciate that hard-won happiness.

But I just wasn’t invested in the relationship. This is a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for an angsty slow read. But if that’s your jam, give ‘Arctic Sun’ a try.



A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Blog Tour + Giveaway: At A Stranger's Mercy (Badge and Bullets #1) by Brittany Cournoyer


Join today's blog stop for At A Stranger's Mercy (Badge and Bullets #1)! Author Brittany Cournoyer and Vibrant Promotions celebrate the new gay murder mystery with more book info and an eBook giveaway for At A Stranger's Mercy!

FB_IMG_1554156723036

At A Stranger's Mercy
Badge and Bullets Book 1
Brittany Cournoyer
Gay Murder Mystery
Release Date: 03.22.19

FB_IMG_1554155176796

Blurb
Making eye contact with a killer wasn’t exactly how Bradley Danforth had planned to start his day. As an accountant, he craved structure and routine. What he hadn’t anticipated was being part of a real-life murder mystery with him cast in the starring role.

Death and sorrow were part of Max Donohue’s job description, leaving the detective hardened after years on the job. On his latest case, he’s the one stuck protecting the only witness in a sadistic homicide.

One death becomes two… then three. And soon Max and Bradley find themselves playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. Can Max save Bradley from the clutches of a serial killer? Or will the killer finish what he started?

At a Stranger’s Mercy is the first installment of a continuing series featuring the same two characters. It’s a suspenseful murder mystery that depicts detailed crimes, strong language, and adult situations. While this series will include a romance, it’s a slow burn that develops throughout the series.

FB_IMG_1554155110406

FB_IMG_1554155166606



Excerpt

I shut the door, making sure to lock it behind me, and started the engine after clicking my seatbelt into place. After checking my rearview and side mirrors, I slowly backed out of the driveway then pointed my car in the direction of the coffee shop—and work. Only then did I realize I’d have to drive by the man who was still digging around inside his car.



He must’ve heard my car approaching because I watched out of the windshield as he straightened to his full height and pulled his car door partly shut so I wouldn’t hit it when I drove by. While a nagging voice inside my head told me to keep my eyes on the road, I couldn’t stop myself from looking and locking eyes with the man standing by his vehicle.



I felt like time reduced and my car was moving in slow motion as I drove by. The anger I could see in his eyes had me gasping aloud, and I felt my blood run cold. The black, cold eyes burned into mine, and I couldn’t bring myself to turn away, no matter how much I knew I needed to. The unease I felt earlier intensified, and even though I wanted to press my foot down harder on my accelerator to get the hell out of there, my body felt nearly paralyzed with fear. It was only when I was past his car I could finally breathe easier.



I didn’t even bother to stop and get coffee; the mood for it had completely gone. Instead, I went straight to my office in hopes of getting lost in my work so I could shake the weird feeling that had settled over me. But it didn’t happen. The unease clung to me all day, and my mind was plagued with flashes of black, angry eyes. My hands shook as I punched numbers into the calculator. My handwriting was barely legible thanks to the tremors as I tried to make notations, and it was incredibly difficult to concentrate since I was so off-kilter.





FB_IMG_1554155208128
Brittany was born in a small town in Alabama and moved to Indiana when she was thirteen years old. She currently resides there and works as an operator at a local hospital. When she isn't working, she loves to spend her free time writing stories, playing with her puppy, Delilah, watching television, and spending time with loved ones.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

vibrant-promotions-logo.png

Review: Rim Shot by Skylar M. Cates

Can college roommates go from friends to lovers?

Kyle: I’m confident that with hard work, my position as point guard can carry me from rural Indiana to the NBA. I also know I’m attracted to guys, but admitting it might disappoint my father, who is all I have in this world. I have big dreams, so I’ll stay in the closet. As long as my life remains scandal-free, I have a shot.

Micah: My large family can’t spare the money to help with my education, but that won’t stop me from studying medicine. I needed to get out of the house I was sharing with my ex before I went insane. Luckily, I heard about a guy looking for a roommate. Living with a straight jock won’t be easy, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.


Let me just start off my saying reading has been rough for me for almost a year. I love reading, I am a reader and a hopeless romantic but reading and me weren’t getting along. I honestly thought that I lost my love for it but I was determined to find my mojo again. This book, in a time where I couldn’t read… I read it in a day.

Yeah.

Now, I will confess to being a big fan of this author’s work and her Sunshine and Happiness series is one of my favorites. Add in the fact that this would be a favorite trope of mine with the jock and the smart boy and then add in the angst of a closeted athlete… I was sold before I even opened the book.

But then I opened it and met Kyle.

The hardest part of my life was letting go of what “normal” is.

Where do I begin with Kyle? I loved him for so many reasons; his athleticism, his dedication to the sport, training and nutrition needed to be a top basketball player at Harrison University, his faithfulness to his team and to his father. Kyle is the epitome of the all American Jock but he’s hiding something. When his roommate Jason Keller has to move out of the dorm and leave college because his girlfriend is pregnant, he suggests Kyle room with Micah, the team’s trainer assistant. Kyle knows Micah is gay and has a boyfriend but is worried Micah could catch on to Kyle’s heavily guarded secret. Also, Kyle thinks Micah is cute so…

Micah just needs the heck out of his living situation that includes his ex and his new boyfriend. Leaving a crappy relationship and being able to nail all his classes as well as holding down two jobs makes for one busy Pre-Med Micah. So when his phone lights up with a call from well-known basketball player who is totally eye candy and offering a place to live, Micah can’t refuse.

I adored these two together. This is totally a romance but it’s also a tale of two young men finding themselves and coming to terms with their fears and wants. Both boys have baggage and both boys need to learn how to trust and let go. For Kyle, it’s trusting his sexuality and that coming out will be okay and for Micah, it’s trusting his feelings and that love won’t always hurt him. They are perfect for one another and their chemistry burns the pages from day one. But while the chemistry is hot and the UST is insane, this truly is a slow burn romance letting the boys become friends and find their way to one another through friendship. Had they not been such good friends, things would have gone a completely different way with the whole Kyle scrubs deal. Just saying.

How many times had I watched him in silence, wanting him? And now I could reach for him and it was real. But I cautioned myself. It was also temporary.

Goodness but this was so sweet to read. The way the young men realize that what they thought was the end all be all of their existence pales in comparison to what it means to truly love and be a partner to someone. Even though Kyle is closeted through most of the book and their relationship is kept secret, I liked that it was Kyle that had the biggest issue with it and that Micah was there for him without resentment or reservation. Sure, they both had moments where they wanted to be out and affectionate in public but the respect they had for one another was beautiful to witness.

There is a good amount of sex in this and the way it’s all explored made for a hot read. You can’t have intimacy without trust and you can’t have mind blowing sex without respect and Kyle and Micah had loads of it while they learned each other’s bodies. I am so on board with what Kyle loves having Micah do and I think Micah may be one of the best at it I’ve ever read.

It seems I have not lost my ability to ramble so I am going to wrap this up.

This was a college aged sports romance that gives just enough sports to know how important it is to Kyle but really delivers on the romance between two friends who turn into lovers… this was so good.


A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Release Blitz + Giveaway: Fault Lines by Shane K. Morton


Celebrate the release of Fault Lines with author Shane K. Morton & Signal Boost Promotions! Find out more about and enter in the giveaway for a backlist ebook from the author!






Length: 63,000 words approx.

Blurb

Drag goddess, Ursula Moolay, left Kentucky as fast as her size twelve pumps could carry her and has created a new life for herself in Los Angeles. Here, she has found herself surrounded by a group of people with their own secrets and lies:


A daytime Soap stud hiding in the Hollywood closet.

A reality television producer prepared to destroy his star.

An aging showgirl- the complex’s mother hen, fighting to survive.

A married male escort desperately hiding his profession from his pregnant wife.

And finally, Ursula, pulled into a terrifying ordeal of drugs, murder, and deception as she grapples with her own identity.

Enter the world of red carpet meltdowns, sex tapes, shopping with drag queens, earthquakes, mortgages and murder.

Can they survive or will they each fall into the cracks of LA’s fault lines?

Author Bio

Shane K Morton lives in Studio City, CA with his husband Jody and their fur baby Slayer. His first novel, The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing was published in 2016. When not writing, Shane can be found at a film festival or performing cabaret somewhere in a dark dive bar in LA.


Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions


Review: Winter Magic Anthology by Various Authors

Winter Magic – where warmth and cheer and all good things associated with the festivities of this magical season are set to make your hearts glow. The Winter Magic anthology features six shifter stories from some of your favorite eXtasy Book authors. Let romance work its magic for you this winter.

average rating

Alpha Challenge by Liz Kay 
4.5 Hearts 
I’m not a huge enemies-to-lovers-trope fan, but this one I could totally get with. Probably because only one of the MC’s saw an enemy, while the other was just plain fascinated. It made for a fun dynamic between Juri and Phoenix. Plus, bears. Juri believes he’s destined to take over the clan his father has been alpha of for years and I had to respect his belief because he wasn’t just some overbearing alpha dickhead, it was obvious he loved his clan and his family so he wanted to honor them by leading. Buuuut, he didn’t expect Phoenix to come along and challenge him. The author did a great job of making two alphas work especially given the outcome of the challenge. I’ll be down for reading more of this author’s shifter stories after meeting Yuri and Phoenix.

Challenge the Sun by Deja Black 
3.5 Hearts 
Dimitri and Eric are an interesting couple. Dimitri is a goblin and a bit of a prick. Eric is ex-military who’s moving on with his life after recovering from an injury received while serving. Dimitri has some misconceptions about what strength and courage are and we’re given enough backstory about him to understand his thinking organically. So, while he’s incredibly frustrating, he has an undeniable appeal. Eric is frankly too good for Dimitri for much of the story, but he’s seriously attracted to the dumbass so figures a one time thing will be fine and then he can move on. Thing is, neither of them can move on and it takes some external action for the two of them to come together again and for Dimitri to finally get some awareness. It’s too bad he had to figure it out by seeing Eric be a badass rather than just getting to know him and recognizing his strength, but I’m guessing that’s not a goblin thing. The sparks between these two were awesome and when two kinks align you know you’re going to get a good story.

Liam by Suede Delray 
3.5 Hearts 
While I loved the unique premise of Liam, I did kind of feel like I missed a good chunk of story. I wasn’t lost in what was happening at all, but it did read like I was dropped in well after the story started. I inferred a lot of things, but it wasn’t too tough to figure out, but I would have liked a more well rounded beginning. All that being said, the meat of the story was great and I would love to read this as a novella at least. We scratched the surface of some great characters and I would love to just get a whole lot more of everything.

Melting His Fiery Heart by Charlie Richards 
3 Hearts 
I haven’t read any of the Wolves of Stone Ridge stories and so I went into Melting His Fiery Heart blind. It’s a fated mate stories that hits all the nails that make those stories fly. Instant attraction, instant boners, instant boning; it’s all there. I liked that I got a little bit of Riley’s personality before he met Dagskon because after that it was all mating all the time. They did have some activities with the rest of Dagskon’s family and their friends and an obligatory villian to keep things moving, but I could have done without the action and would have preferred to spend time getting to know Riley and Dagskon separately and together. I think I would have really liked both of them and they would have been fun to watch as they got to know one another.

Red Run Rescue by Lynn Michaels 
3 Hearts 
Again, I loved the setup of this one, but felt like I was missing out on a chunk of the story. Rory and Donner have two new fawns and it’s apparent they are a relatively new couple, so there should be a lot for me to learn as not too far into the story Donner is leaving to rescue another deer shifter (and it’s obviously a trap set by wolves) and Rory stays behind to watch their two little ones and prepare for the Yule celebration. I was told enough about the council and wolves in passing, so I get that the former is clueless and the latter is evil, but that’s pretty much it. Which was fine for a short story, but I would have liked more dynamics between Rory and Donner when they were not in stress mode. I liked them both very much and it was obvious they loved each other deerly (See what I did there? That started out as a typo). Anywho, I loved the little snippets of the Yule tradition and how loving Rory and Donner were towards one another, a full story of that would be lovely.

The Vacation From Hell by Catherine Lievens 
2.5 Hearts 
Much like Melting His Fiery Heart, The Vacation From Hell is part of a much larger universe so I didn’t have a lot to go on when I started. There are six MCs and frankly, that’s a lot to wrap my brain around for a short story. I stopped trying to keep it all together and just let the banter and action flow. One half of each mated pair has some sort of paranormal ability and works for some sort of assassin agency or something or other. My apologies for butchering the setup and dynamics, but honestly, going in blind, this is all I had to work with. Basically the three couples decide to take a much needed vacation to a luxury cabin that turns out to be anything but and they get an unwelcome visitor who causes shenanigans and gives the assassin dudes a chance to do covert things. I may not have known what was really going on most of the time, but I do know the story had a happy ending, so, yay happy ending!


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

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Honeythorn by Marina Vivancos


Celebrate the release of Honeythorn with author Marina Vivancos and Signal Boost Promotions! Don't miss the back list eBook giveaway today!








Length: 58,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Blurb

Omega Milan Pryor knows his duty. He must travel North through the continent towards the snow, the cold, and his new betrothed. They say that Lord Alpha Raphael Ledford, the man he is to marry, is as artic as the weather of his land. But Milan has always been an optimist. Perhaps he might find friendship in the arranged marriage. Even love.


It doesn’t take long for Milan to realize that all the rumours about Lord Raphael are true. Reclusive, distant, frigid. Milan finds himself unwelcome in what he must now call his new home. He’s used to fighting for what he wants—but can he survive a husband as cruel as Lord Raphael?


Being bonded to one who rejects you is a painful thing. Will Milan be able to win his husband’s regard? What terrible secret is Lord Raphael keeping, and will Milan be able to discover it before it’s too late?


Or will Milan perish along with his heart?


Author Bio


When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.


Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.


Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.


Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!






Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions


Review: The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith

A Fast Paced Espionage Thriller for Alan Furst Fans Set In Post-Cold War Poland.

It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it's feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

Smith’s depiction of post-cold war Poland is gloomily atmospheric and murky in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, The Fourth Courier brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.




DNF - 49%

Part of it was me and part of it was the writing style. All of it was 100% disappointing because I love suspense thrillers and was virtually bouncing up and down to read this. To be fair, Smith clearly knows Poland and that shows in the writing.

What I had anticipated was a good, juicy thriller that I could sink my teeth into but this is more focused on creating an atmosphere rather than the investigative aspects of the genre that I enjoy. I found the pacing glacial, so I threw the towel in, something I strive to avoid with ARCs but I just don't care how this ends. Additionally, the head hopping was too much for me. Dr. Ustinov was particularly grating with his endless "Ha!"ing.

Jay is an FBI agent sent to assist the Polish police/government in its investigation of a series of murders, one of whom was found with radioactive residue on his hands. Up to this point, Jay has made exactly one trip to Polish police headquarters and two to his own when I threw the towel in at nearly half way! 

Jay seems far more interested in hooking up with Lilka than finding a killer. How are you going to help solve a series of murders whilst enjoying Madame Butterfly or getting blotto with Lilka's family? Doesn't seem like an efficient use of one's time to me. And as long as I'm touching on the sex, all of it made me low-grade uncomfortable either because of the casual misogyny tossed around by multiple characters or the awkwardness of the act itself or simply the crassness with which it is discussed. None of it's explicit but it still somehow felt gratuitous. Perhaps it's in an effort to fully realize these characters but it backfired for me and made me dislike them.

There also seems to be an underlying bigotry against Russians which I understand given the time period but I can't shake the feeling that it could've been finessed better.

There are gay characters sprinkled throughout the narrative which is how it was marketed to the blog but I will say the one that's mentioned in the blurb has, thus far, introduced himself as the Acting Regional Security Officer which translates to him being a CIA operative. Great! At their second meeting, in 1992 post Cold War Poland, which is still mostly communist, he casually outs himself to Jay. I'm not saying it couldn't happen but... really? Really? '92 is still tail end of the AIDS epidemic and you're right next door to mother Russia who are still surveilling everything AND why out yourself to some random? I mean, good for him for owning it but... *side eyes* #weirdness

However, reviews thus far are mostly positive so I clearly read it wrong. Not recommended but my opinions are my own and YMMV.



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



Guest Review: Stay (Working Out the Kinks #1) by K.M. Neuhold

What happens to a couple when one of them discovers a new kink that he’s not sure his partner will be into?

Dear Art,
I’m sure you get messages like this all the time but I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore. I suppose I should start from the beginning... Three weeks ago, I saw puppy play for the first time and now I can’t stop obsessing about it. Wait, no, that’s not really the beginning...Ten years ago, my best friend who I’d been in love with my entire life told me he loved me too.
For ten years I’ve been living in complete bliss with Lars, the man of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fights and disagreements (mostly because I do irritating shit and every once in awhile he reaches the end of his patience), but he is my other half in every way. I didn’t know I could love someone the way I love him.
Then, three weeks ago, I saw puppy play for the first time and now I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not so different from when I realized I was gay, there was a moment where everything sort of clicked into place and my whole body was like “yes, THAT’S what we’ve been trying to figure out all this time.” At first I thought maybe I should just let it go because it’s not the kind of thing I can imagine my partner being into. But last week I went into a kink shop and ended up walking out with a puppy hood. I stashed it in our guest bedroom closet and haven’t even had the courage to take it out and try it on again, let alone show it to Lars. I don’t know what to do. How do I bring this up to him? And what if he isn’t into it? I feel like I don’t recognize myself anymore and I don’t know where to turn. Please help.

Sincerely,
One Lost Puppy


Reviewer: Annery

I’ve thought long and hard about this review. What to say, that doesn’t come off as harsh or petty, because really there isn’t anything objectionable about the story. It’s constituent parts are like a list of some of my favorite things, including a flipping of expectations when it comes to D/s relationships. Maybe I’ll start there, with what I liked and what worked for me. Small mercies.

Lars and Jonah are what Lars himself calls “lifers”. Their moms are best friends who were pregnant at the same time leading to the guys being BFFs since infancy, though their romantic involvement didn’t come until they were twenty-five. When the book starts they’ve been together for 10 years and are everything but married. Lars is a veterinarian and Jonah is an emergency room doctor, they share a home, a life, and a deep love rooted in friendship and familiarity of the best kind. Jonah is a big strapping ginger, a head taller than Lars, but he’s also bit of a playful goof who likes to dance around the house and ruffle his partner’s more serious personality. Perhaps it’s a way of letting off steam from a stressful job, but it’s also an aspect of their, heretofore, unacknowledged D/s relationship, as Jonah says:
”I’m nearly twice Lars’ weight and more than a head taller than he is. Granted, I do top more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I’m in control.”
Lars is fairly regimented. He likes order and everything in its place, but he also loves Jonah fiercely and makes sure of his well being. The love of between these two is another check in the plus column but it’s also is a good starting point for the this wasn’t for me column.

If you like your characters to have pretty much zero conflict between themselves and the world at large, this book is for you. If you like your MCs to say “I love you” and “anything you feel or want is good, valid, and I’m on-board with it” every five seconds, this book is for you. If you believe that the introduction of a major life change should present zero ambivalence in an established couple, this book is for you. I’ll have to demur.

One sunny day Lars & Jonah go to a Pride Parade and they come across some Puppies and their Masters. Jonah is more than a little intrigued by the group:
One of the men is dressed in a dog mask with black leather harness on his chest, and a pair of underwear with a bone on the ass and the word woof printed inside the bone. He’s naked aside from that, but honestly, that’s not the part that shocks or draws my attention, he’s hardly the least dressed person in the crowd. It’s the joy shining in his eye as he wiggles and starts to wrestle with another man dressed similarly. It’s the absolute inhibition as he lets out a happy bark like he doesn’t have a care in the world, and it’s the way the man holding his leash smiles at him with warmth and love. (btw, I’m pretty sure it should be *lack of inhibition*)

So that’s fine, right? Sometimes we suddenly find something that just clicks with us, but Jonah takes this to a whole new level. It’s suddenly the thing he always needed but never knew about. There’s reference to him having dabbled briefly in BDSM during college, before he and Lars became an item, but apparently he never pursued it further and puppies had never been on his radar. Really? Odd, I know all about them, but okay, I’ll buy it. That’s not what made me have to read this with a squinty eye, it’s the fact of his immediate quasi obsession with the kink and then his reluctance to talk to Lars about it. After the almost diabetic coma inducing protestations of love and acceptance between these two it was a tough pill to swallow. Sure, Lars makes an off the cuff remark about puppies being weird, when they first spot them at the parade, but wouldn’t anyone who isn’t into that lifestyle? They are weird. I think that is, and should be, a point of pride for folks in the kink community. And this is the heart of my dislike of this story, it’s so eager to tell us it’s okay to like what you like and be who you are (not a point I disagree with) that it treats kink like apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, and vanilla ice cream. It’s that thing where you take something you love and try to tame and polish it to the point where you can’t recognize in it the reasons you loved it in the first place. The weirdness, uniqueness, and non-conformity are domesticated to unobtrusively fit in with square or proper society. It’s taking a cat, a creature that’s two meals away from being feral, having lost none of its shared traits with larger felines, you make it a housecat, neuter and declaw it for good measure. Utterly sad, senseless, and kind of infuriating. I’m fairly sure the folks who participate in the Folsom Street Fair are happy to be active participants of what society deems the margins and aren’t dreaming of that spot on the PTA or the white picket fence house in the suburbs. Perhaps they do belong to those two groups, but their love of kink isn’t something they’re going to try to mold like a square peg into a round hole.

On with the book. There might be a few spoilerish comments, although there is no mystery or conflict to spoil. Sorry.

There isn’t much more to tell, but fairytale fantasies. Before telling Lars about this new obsession, Jonah writes to an online advice columnist voicing his fears of Lars’ reaction and HE USES Lars real name! Umm … wow. In the end Lars finds out and …. *crickets*. Nothing happens. Acceptance without a single doubt. Sure. Granted Lars had always been somewhat dominant, but I’d think jumping to wanting a puppy sub would merit a teensy bit of self reflection. But that’s just me. These two go full swing into the lifestyle, taking classes, because they’re just super dot the i’s cross the t’s kind of guys, and go off into the sunset in bliss.

There’s a dangle for the next book but I’m not sure I’ll go along for the ride. This was like reading the diary of your most boring cousin. You still love them but you don’t need to know about that day they reorganized their sock drawer. Also I didn’t care for this sort of present tense continuous? thing the author had going. *shrug* On the plus side this is one more book to add to my growing Vanilla Kink shelf. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

This didn’t work for me, and I’m probably in the minority, but it might for someone who wants zero angst, conflict, and a super cautious, and perhaps inaccurate, peek into kink. It has likable characters, it’s well formatted, and has a cute cover.


A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach


Author Jacqueline Rohrbach and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the magical release of The Soulstealers! Learn more about the fantasy and its gorgeous cover today, enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!


Title: The Soulstealers
Author: Jacqueline Rohrbach
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 1, 2019
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 90100
Genre: Fantasy YA, LGBT, Magic, soldiers, power struggle, spirits, Penumbra, slow burn

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Arnaka Skytree grew up believing she was chosen to bring new magic to the world. As the heir to the cult of druids responsible for keeping their floating palace habitable for the wealthy aristocracy, she’s expected to wield her power as those before her did: by culling the souls of peasant women.

But when Arnaka learns more about the source of her magic, and that her best friend’s soul will be harvested, she embarks on a journey to end the barbarous practice and to restore a long-forgotten harmonious system of magic practiced by the original druids. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the only girl chosen to restore balance to their world—many others have powerful magic inside, and with them, she will tear the floating palace from the sky so everyone can live in the sun—out of the shadow of the eclipse.

Excerpt

Soulstealers
Jacqueline Rohrbach © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1
The Choosing

Flowers bloomed around Arnaka Skytree. Tiger lilies tickled her feet while orchids pried open one eye. Rose, the pricklier of the three, stuck her with one of its thorns. She puffed some air up in its direction, fluttering petals and her bangs. Late for her Choosing, Arnaka forced the insistent garden out of her mind, to focus on the currents of air traveling around her, picking out the magic radiating from the flowers the way her older brother picked out soldiers to die for him—delicately, decidedly.

Strong magic ran in her family. The ritual she had to go to was nothing but a mere formality. She would be a druid like all the other women in her family before her, down to the original matriarch—Arnaka the Creator—whose name she shouldered. She was bound to it the way her magic was bound to living things. Soon, it would be the last tattoo burned by magical fire into her skin.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she pressed her finger deep into the sifted dirt around her, begging the world to swallow her whole. The flowers, sensing her sadness, bowed their heads, but they couldn’t give her what she wanted. Destiny’s feet were too heavy for soft petals.

“Lady Arnaka? Are you here?”

Nara, one of her maids, stumbled into the conservatory. Arnaka felt the young woman’s life force before she opened her eyes to watch the bony girl blunder over the flowers, which recoiled from her steps, lifting their leafy underparts to avoid a trampling. Arnaka gave Nara’s approach a small, fond smile.

When she finally saw Arnaka, Nara jumped as if surprised. Her brown eyes widened, giving her the appearance of a deer about to be speared. “Lady Arnaka. Your mother wants you in the hall for the ceremony.”

“I know.”

“She sent me here to get you.”

“I assumed.”

“Lady Arnaka…” the poor girl prompted her.

Arnaka sighed. Nara, who was brought here as a servant and lived on the daily whims of her captors, had no choice but to play her role in today’s events. She wasn’t trying to drag Arnaka to the ceremony out of spite, avarice, or revenge. Doing her job without getting hurt was her only goal.

Pity softened Arnaka’s voice. “Of course. Tell Mother I’ll be right there.”

Nara hopped from one foot to the other. Voice barely above a whisper, she said, “I’m supposed to escort you, Lady Arnaka.”

Arnaka lifted her head and glowered at the servant, hoping the severe expression might be enough to send her on her way. Having company on the long trek toward the hall forced Arnaka to be strong. Really, all she wanted to do was run, hide, vanish.

You promised, she reminded herself. You promised you’d go through with this, and that you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

With a wince, the servant tried again. “My lady, please. Your mother. She’ll—”

“Very well. Come on,” Arnaka interjected before Nara completed the statement with “punish me.” Hearing about her mother’s temper coupled with her propensity to harshly correct servants for slight failures would only twist Arnaka’s already knotted emotions.

“Thank you, Lady Arnaka.”

Said as if she had a choice. “You’re welcome.”

Banter wasn’t something Arnaka lavished on the silly, sweet girl. The walk down the hall was silent. Nara didn’t seem to mind the quiet, or notice. Newly employed, she occupied a world where magic was still magical. The diamond archways casting rainbows to the reflective surface beneath their feet dazzled. Gold shone. Ruby and sapphire mosaics sparked her brown eyes to flame. Tiredly, Arnaka grabbed the gawking servant, who tripped over her own feet as she ogled the spectacle, by the upper arm to drag her inside the transport.

“Ceremonial hall.”

In moments, they arrived. In front of them, the entire court gathered. Thousands of nobles, maybe more, in their best attire.

Her mother broke from the crowd and rushed over. “Arnaka, my daughter. You are radiant today.”

Both of them had black skin that always seemed moonlit and black hair that grew in thick waves. Her mother’s was always swept up into elaborate twists. Arnaka cut hers rebelliously short, letting her curly bangs cover her golden eyes, the pride of her family line. Look into your future mirror, the elder druids always liked to say, you are the spitting image of your mother.

Although her mother was undeniably beautiful with her high cheekbones and angular features, Arnaka’s pleasure in hearing about their resemblance waned. She didn’t want to be kin to a monster.

The swirl of Mother’s elaborate gown extended a foot or two in each direction. Mercurial as the woman herself, its folds, bows, frills, and ruffles shifted on whim in color and in style until she settled on a deep royal purple with a long ivory lace train that fluttered in the air like a cobweb in the breeze.

“Wasteful as always, Mother.” Arnaka pointed to the dress, to which she still made minor adjustments. Meanwhile, the living gathered around her looked wary. Druid magic required life, willing or not. “Glad you settled on something before the whole assembly was depleted.”

A few of the nobles glanced at their feet and cleared their throats but did not comment on the awkward exchange. Her brother puffed his chest. “Sister,” he bellowed, not unlike a braying goat. “We have waited for this moment your whole life.”

Lacking the refinement of magic, Escan’s features looked blunt and staggered as though whoever carved him had jittered uncontrollably during the process. Only his eyes, the color of golden flame that was his family’s legacy, rendered him attractive. Every girl wanted babies with ladder-climbing genes and nothing said advancement quite like the bloodline of old aristocracy. Otherwise, her brother lacked figurative magic as well as literal. He was doing his best to steal the moment despite it.

Arnaka looked at the assembly of aristocrats before her. Like her mother, they wanted all the religion with none of the sacrifice religion required. Servants were there to pay the life price for their magic. In a pinch, merchants would do. Who better to understand there was a cost to doing business? This was probably the first time in centuries any of them felt the intrusive pull of magic’s touch at their own doorstep.

Resigned to what was to be, Arnaka raised her voice to carry across the room. “I am here to bring new magic.”

Applause broke out. Arnaka winced away from it, hating the fact they clapped for her, for the evil thing they were about to do. You promised her, Arnaka had to remind herself again. You looked her in the eye and said you’d go through with this, then you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

She’d been so focused on remembering her vow that she forgot the ceremony. The pain from the burning as her final tattoo, a small circle on her forehead, seared her skin surprised her. More than any of the other tattoos branded into her arms and back, it hurt with pain beyond the smell of her own flesh, beyond the residual throb of the wound. It foretold what was to come after.

As the smoke around her cleared, a young woman a few years older than her was escorted forward. Unnamed at birth, she existed to be Arnaka’s spirit sister until she became a soul familiar, forever bound to serve as an instant source of magic. But Arnaka knew her name, a deep secret between them that she’d sworn to keep. She held onto it even as the knife plunged into the young woman’s throat. She thought it when the soul heeled at her side—Hannah. Again when she went to bed with the thing looming over her shoulder—Hannah. Only once more after that.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion! Follow Jacqueline on Twitter.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Button 2


Review: Frost by Isabelle Adler

The end of the world as they knew it had come and gone, and the remnants of mankind struggle to survive in a barren landscape. Twenty-three-year-old Finn sets out on a desperate mission to scavenge for the much-needed medicine to help his sister. He knows better than to trust anyone, but when a total stranger saves him from a vicious gang, the unexpected act of kindness rekindles Finn’s lost faith in humanity.

The tentative friendship with his rescuer, Spencer, gradually turns into something more, and for the first time in years, Finn lets himself yearn for joy and hope in the dead of nuclear winter—right until Spencer goes missing.

They say love is the greatest power of all, but it seems it would take nothing short of a miracle to overcome the dangers that threaten to destroy Finn’s only chance for happiness and the lives of his loved ones.


Any proper apocalyptic story is going to be bleak as the daily, if not hourly, struggle to survive weighs heavily like an unbearable burden.


Here, Finn’s situation is no different, but he bravely takes a risk to help his sick sister, venturing into the dangerous city to scavenge for supplies. Unfortunately, he encounters an unsavory group who’s also looking for some rare treasures, but avoids death by the kindness of a stranger named Spencer.


This showcases perfectly that despite harsh reality, the sense of hopelessness that’s just about to overwhelm all, a simple act changes everything - outlook, expectation, goals - and gives one the courage to fight for the happiness that basically seemed forever lost.


Realistic dystopian vibe where nothing is sugar coated, this still had great feels and a nice dose of sexy. This ends perfectly as that hard fought win brings some much needed light to so much darkness.



A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears by Gregory L. Norris


Don't miss today's steampunk romance release blitz for Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears from author Gregory L. Norris and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears
Author: Gregory L. Norris
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 1, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 10100
Genre: Science Fiction/Steampunk, LGBT, steampunk, romance, gay

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

At the request of the Earl of Kensington, Donovan Tisdale attends a mind-expanding presentation by Richard Sandominus Flynn, the Minster of Steam-based Sciences. Flynn reveals the next step in steam-based power—flights to the moon and far beyond conducted by mechanical men.

The attraction between Donovan and Flynn ignites from the moment they meet and follows them through the dangerous political climate of Her Majesty’s jeweled city as dark powers seek to dismantle the clean-based power poised to send humanity to the stars.

Excerpt

Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears
Gregory L. Norris © 2019
All Rights Reserved

I fell in love with him on that lost afternoon, a day that now seems part of another life and time. At the Earl of Kensington’s request, I headed to the planetarium to hear Richard Sandominus Flynn deliver a lecture to a full house of eager learners and free thinkers. Most of those assembled were students from university, steam workers, and members of Parliament. As the earl’s ward—a punishment for past petty crimes more than a chance at redemption, I was convinced—I sensed I didn’t belong and planned an early escape. Perhaps to the botanical gardens. I always loved it there.

But soon the lights dimmed, and I settled against the faded red velvet seat, and my life forever changed. Overhead, stunning images washed over the smooth curves of the mother-of-pearl ceiling. The moon was first, its familiar cratered face easy to recognize. Only I had never seen the Earth’s nearest neighbor presented in such detail. Other celestial bodies followed. One, rust-red with what I assumed were polar ice caps, could only be the planet named for the god of war. A comet, in stunning clarity. The planet Jupiter. A constellation of stars.

“What you are seeing,” said a man’s commanding voice that drew my eyes reluctantly down from the heavens and to the lectern on the small stage, “are photographic images of the universe that surrounds us.”

Equally as breathtaking as the voluptuously full moon above him was the man. Tall, with dark hair and a trim beard, his face was the handsomest I’d ever beheld. His gentleman’s shirt, coat, and trousers, even his boots, fit him in a manner that suggested his clothes loved his body. I understood their ardor. Choking down a heavy swallow, I realized my mouth had gone completely dry.

“Permit me to introduce myself,” the man continued, and how his voice matched the rest of his presentation in its majesty. “I am Richard Sandominus Flynn, Minister of Steam-based Research and Technology. The visual stills you are seeing are courtesy of Her Majesty’s Galactyscaphe, Britannia 2, a steam-powered platform presently in orbit around our fair world some one hundred and fifty miles above our heads.”

Gasps sounded around the planetarium. I listened, stunned like my fellow audience members. What the handsome man said challenged the mind.

Still, despite notions of spacecraft launched beyond the world of our origin, I couldn’t break focus with the man who’d sent Britannia 2 on her journey. He now stood beneath a representation of two suns and a fiery red sphere, which seemed to dance about the pair. His voice seduced me. An attraction so strong for him consumed my flesh. Deeper, in what I rarely thought of anymore as soul.

“Our understanding of the world around us—and the worlds beyond—grows daily. It is my belief that within a reasonable expectation of five years’ time we can land similar craft on our nearest neighbors—the moon at first, of course. But then Mars in one direction, Venus in the other. Initially, with exploration teams of mechanical men—robot workers who will pave the way for manned expeditions.”

More gasps followed. Flynn offered the barest of smiles, a measure of pride and one rightly earned. A strange emotion fluttered in my stomach. It could have been at the memory of the time I rode with the Earl of Kensington in Her Majesty’s jeweled airship, Trafalgar, from Heathrow Field to his family’s ancestral estate—the thought of traveling many times higher robbed me of breath and sent a shiver tumbling down my spine. Or it might have been Flynn himself, who seemed to have found me in the audience. His eyes, a vibrant green even given the distance that separated us, greeted mine. Suddenly, I felt as desirable as any of the planets or stars captured by Britannia 2’s cameras.

Flynn’s hairy throat knotted as he swallowed, and my pulse quickened. For the next second or so, our eyes remained locked. In that bottled gaze, I dreamed the minister desired of me a fraction of what I craved of him. Then Flynn blinked and resumed discussing the future of programs like the Britannia project, threatened by politics and enemies of the Steam Workers’ Union. The lightness inside me evaporated, replaced by a miserable weight. He was Richard Sandominus Flynn, who’d sent spacecraft into orbit and would one day launch mechanical men followed by human beings to the stars. I was Donovan Tisdale, a reformed petty criminal from the streets of London who’d once stolen in order to eat.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Raised on a healthy diet of creature double features and classic SF television, Gregory L. Norris is a full-time professional writer, with work appearing in numerous short story anthologies, national magazines, novels, the occasional TV episode, and, so far, one produced feature film (Brutal Colors, which debuted on Amazon Prime January 2016). A former feature writer and columnist at Sci Fi, the official magazine of the Sci Fi Channel (before all those ridiculous Ys invaded), he once worked as a screenwriter on two episodes of Paramount’s modern classic, Star Trek: Voyager. Two of his paranormal novels (written under my rom-de-plume, Jo Atkinson) were published by Home Shopping Network as part of their “Escape With Romance” line — the first time HSN has offered novels to their global customer base. He judged the 2012 Lambda Awards in the SF/F/H category. Three times now, his stories have notched Honorable Mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Best-of books. In May 2016, he traveled to Hollywood to accept HM in the Roswell Awards in Short SF Writing.His story “Drowning” appears in the Italian anthology THE BEAUTY OF DEATH 2, alongside tales by none other than Peter Straub and Clive Barker. Follow his literary adventures at www.gregorylnorris.blogspot.com.

Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Button 2

Review: Thrown to the Wolves (Big Bad Wolf #3) by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton is going to meet his boyfriend’s werewolf family. Unarmed. On their turf. 

And he’s bringing his cat. 

When Agent Cooper Dayton agreed to attend the funeral for Oliver Park’s grandfather, he didn’t know what he was getting into. Turns out, the deceased was the alpha of the most powerful werewolf pack on the eastern seaboard. And his death is highly suspicious. Regardless, Cooper is determined to love and support Park the way Park has been there for him.

But Park left him woefully unprepared for the wolf pack politics and etiquette. Rival packs? A seating order at the dinner table? A mysterious figure named the Shepherd? The worst is that Park didn’t tell his family one key thing about Cooper. Cooper feels two steps behind, and reticent Park is no help.

There are plenty of pack members eager to open up about Park and why Cooper is wrong for him. Their stories make Cooper wonder if he’s holding Park back. But there’s no time to get into it…as lethal tranquilizer darts start to fly, Cooper needs to solve the mystery of the alpha’s death and fight for the man he loves—all before someone else dies.


This book did my squishy marshmallow heart GOOD and quickly became my favorite of the series so far. ðŸĪž I do so hope there is more to come from Cooper and Park. I'll beg if need be.

"You've seen the worst of me. You are the best of me. I won't ever risk losing that again."

Thrown to the Wolves finds Cooper and Park at Park's family compound for his grandfather's memorial along with Cooper's cat, Boogie, who comes in handy a time or two. From the very beginning Adhara sets a metronome-like pace with unexpected things happening and odd people emerging, all of which leaves the reader wondering if all of this is going to be important later and/or how it's all going to tie together. Cooper is mostly recovered from his leg injury and Park is as doting as ever. It's adorable.

Park is still harboring some secrets, mostly of the omission variety but many of the burning questions I had about him and his origins were answered. Park's family are quite the interesting bunch. I'll say no more but several of them kept me on my toes collecting all those dropped breadcrumbs.

Even better, Cooper is back to his entertaining self, in his own special droll way. I hadn't realized how much I missed that guy in The Wolf at Bay. He's happy and it shows and that made me happy.

However, Rome wasn't built in a day and they are by no means perfect in the communication department but they are both trying and get points for that. They implicitly trust each other and the love they share is the force that drives them both to strive for something bigger and stronger, something unique unto them.

One person can't love you enough to make up for all the people who don't, but Cooper wasn't trying for all the people. Just the one. Just for right now.

Their sex lives continue to surprise and delight me. This role playing thing they've got going... 🙌ðŸĪŠðŸ‘ðŸĪŊ💊 ASDFGHJKLOIUYTREW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Sex Gods,

Hi there! YUGE fan of your work.

Please if you could find it in your heart to continue to inspire Charlie Adhara with a certain hunky werewolf and his slightly neurotic but totally lovable human, I'd be SUPER grateful were there to be more of their particular brand of reindeer games in my future. Perhaps something of the mating variety that included some biting? 😘

Good talk.

🍆🍑,

Me

My only quibble is the mystery wasn't as engrossing as previous one, but I quickly forgot all about that when the twist at the end came. Did not see that coming. At all. But I dug it. And I want to see how it plays out in the next book. 🙏🙏

Fans of this series should be happy with this installment and if you've not started the series, it's not a standalone so skedattle on back to The Wolf at the Door and get to work!




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