A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Nuts (Ace’s Wild #2) by S.E. Jakes — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 This series takes place in the same town, though each book is by a different author. Jagger and Preston meet on the first day of junior year after Preston gets punished for flunking out of several private schools and sent to a rough Boston public school. Although Jagger is […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Nuts (Ace’s Wild #2) by S.E. Jakes — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review:Anhaga by Lisa Henry — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 This is written in the third person point of view of Aramin, or Min, who I wasn’t sure had anything to recommend his character except his adopted nephew Harry. This is the first clue that he has a heart in his cynical, morally flexible shell and if he lashes […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review:Anhaga by Lisa Henry — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Warm Heart by Amy Lane, Seach And Rescue 1

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Cover Art © 2019 Alexandria Corza http://www.seeingstatic.com/

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

This is not a typical full length Amy Lane novel; it is part of the Dreamspun Desires line and has to fit into those parameters. This is like reading those romances with the red covers when I was younger–you know, the ones with blazing heat you can get a subscription for and can read in about four hours? My rating is for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Mallory is the finance guy hired by Tevyn’s grandmother Missy five years ago to take care of his financial future for when he retires or gets injured. Tevyn is a professional Olympian level snowboader. He’s young and has fun with whatever guy or gal catches his eye. With Tevyn being a client as well as a bit of a player, what chance does a ten years older, built for monogamy guy like Mal, have? Turns out, he has a really good chance and maybe Tevyn has only been biding time until he can have the man he really wants. Of course, now Tevyn has his own reputation to overcome. As Missy lays dying and a snow storm rolls in, their lives will change forever.

An emergency can draw people closer and tell you who they really are; Missy’s decline and the crash are just catalysts that allow them to be real about the things that matter. The reader knows right away they are in love with each other. In fact, everyone may know but them. With the author’s writing style, having both points of view enhances the story. Tevyn knows snow and emergency training from working at resorts. Mallory is the sensible, dependable one who is used to calculating risk so even though completely out of his depth, he is an asset to the team as they try and survive. Tevyn stepped up to show he is not a kid and can be a mature partner for Mal. Even though he is older, Mal lets Tevyn take the lead and as this dynamic kicks into place, so does their relationship.

The other great character here is the pilot Damien, who is badly injured when their helicopter goes down. Damien is former military and now works for a rescue outfit. Having Damien there adds a layer of depth that keeps this story grounded, ensuring that the crash is not an excuse for them to just be alone together or focus on sex. Don’t worry, there will be some steamy sex also but this is heartwarming and romantic. After such a traumatic event Mal’s business partner and friend, Charlie, tries to be the voice of reason about Tevyn, but the reader already knows there is no need. Still, it’s good he has someone in his corner.

Amy Lane is known for a bit of angst, but in this shorter format, I didn’t feel it. Even with the harrowing circumstances and the grief, the overwhelming notes here are of life and love. After five days where the survival details sounded plausible–the way they are rescued is not. I will say the end got a little too saccharine for my tastes, almost to make up for any of the actual realism. I really did enjoy this though and hope Damien gets his own story soon.

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Review: Love Is All: Volume 2 edited by Xio Axelrod

LoveIsAllVol2
Copyright © 2019 by Xio Axelrod LLC

I would rate this whole collection 3.75 stars.

This is a charity anthology, so I tend to think of the stories as a thank you for donating money. All anthologies are a mixed bag and people will like different stories than I do, but here are a few of my favorites from this collection. There is a variety of combinations (M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F) with bisexual, trans, and ace represented. They are all contemporary except for the one historical, paranormal romance. The foreword by Roan Parrish is quite eloquent.

R.L. Merrill, Pinups and Puppies (F/F, 4 stars)

This is told from the first person POV of Marianne, who is struggling with grief and reintegration after her retirement from the Air Force. She owns a vintage plane and volunteers to transport dogs to help shelters who find them homes. That’s how she meets Dinah, who co-owns the shelter. They both seem to have great support systems filled with family and friends. With great chemistry, their lives and interests slot nicely together, making them a cute couple.

Susan Scott Shelley, Sugar Crush (Bliss Bakery Series) (M/M, 4.5 stars)

Jack, a horror novelist, gets to know a baker named Gabriel when he joins a softball team to help his friend Shane. This has an opposites attract trope with great sexual tension and friends as extended family. This is about fitting into someone’s life and making room for them to fit into yours–giving each other a safe space and carving out shared time, while still having their own interests. Also, not letting fear or the past get in the way of the future.

Xio Axelrod When Frankie Meets Johnny (M/M, 4.25 stars)

DJ meets contractor/teacher in this hurt/comfort tale with an age gap. This story is what you make it. I highly recommend listening to all the songs that he plays for a hell of a good time. If an artist is mentioned, but not a song, pick one that has a title that fits the scene. I would have rated this higher, but I couldn’t tell if this was Johnny’s first time with a man or he was demisexual? There is certainly a misunderstanding I think could have been handled better, but the story is charming.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 Rafe’s human lover Eamon disappears through a portal to a differnet world after a ghoul attack. Rafe is a low ranking lord and thinks the king will not help so he decides to rescue his lover himself. As Eamon battles the elements and strange culture of the ghoul world […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Possibilities by Nicole Field, A King’s Council 1

possibilities400

I would rate this 4.75 stars.

This is a new to me author and I bought this based on the blurb. I would say this takes about 90 minutes to read. The writing syle is crisp and focused. It’s the story of a king who doesn’t want to be, was never intended to be, actually king. Hiring his jester is one of his many new duties, but it’s the one that ends up being his most personal. I love the idea of the King’s Jester being a trusted friend and confident. This author is great at building tension: court politics, longing for someone, establishing trust, and navigating power dynamics (not BDSM). Fairy tales can get away with many things that other books can’t. For instance, yes I did find it shocking they were left alone so soon. What if they were an assassin? What if they were a spy? But in this world, the jester school is well respected and trusted. This is meant to be a sweet fairy tale, so there is no room for that here. It’s a personal tale between two people based on mutual respect, a peek into their bubble. I am torn about whether I want another book, because this is perfect as it is in my opinion.

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Nicole Field’s Website

 

Review: Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert, Frozen Hearts 2

Arctic Wild Cover
Cover made by Carina Press

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

This is the second book in this series, but can be read as a standalone without any issues. Rueben’s best friend Craig, the spouse of a colleague at his law firm, has talked him into finally taking a vacation for his 48th birthday. Unfortunately, his friends cancel, leaving him alone with his guide. This trip wasn’t his idea and he doesn’t want to be in Alaska. It takes time for the scenery and companionship to grow on him. After Rueben unplugs from his phone and laptop, he is grudgingly starting to have a good time, and flirt with his guide. Tobias may be a smooth talker, but he has hidden depths behind his charming personality and quick smile. He also digs out his ethics and doesn’t sleep with his client when he has the chance. By the time the plane crash happens, I was already hooked on both these characters. Tobias is devastated his injuries might keep him from helping his sisters and his dad. He has little choice but to accept help from Reuben while he recuperates. The crash mades Rueben question his future and what he wants out of it. He vows to spend more time with his 14 year old daughter Amelia. What could go wrong with renting a house for the summer for all three of them?

For a relationship guy like Rueben, who likes to care for people, to agree to a summer fling is rare. For a hookup guy like Tobias to be friends with, and basically live with someone he’s having sex with, is equally unusual. I liked watching them both learn more about themselves. It’s not the age gap coming into play so much as the fact that this is Tobias’s first real relationship; he is not used to dealing with sharing his feelings or burdens. It’s also the first time he has prioritized something he wants for himself. Tobias’s father is such a large influence on him and his thought processes, that it takes him time to navigate through his inner conflict. Rueben hasn’t had the best luck at relationships, learning to put his job first because it gave him most of his sense of self worth. He has to work through breaking old habits–relearning to prioritize his daughter over his job, his life over his work.

This had all of the great writing, depth, and hot love scenes I would expect from this author. This book had an expansion of characters without making them flat or sacrificing any of the love story for the main characters. I thought the interactions with their respective family members all rang authentic. As a long novel, this really takes its time to immerse the reader in details about the activities, scenery, and characters. I found the plane crash to be realistically described while actually adding to the character development, rather than only as an excuse to trap the MCs together. This has some great tropes: opposites attract, fish out of water, age gap, slow burn, hurt/comfort and second chances. I would recommend reading both of these and look forward to the third one.

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Annabeth Albert’s Website

Review: Benoit by RJ Scott and V.L Locey, Owatonna U Hockey 3

Benoit cover
Cover by Meredith Russell

I would rate this book 3.75 stars.

This is the third book in the series and would benefit from being read in order, but could be read as a standalone. This is a spin-off series (think second generation) of the Harrisburg Railers series. It focuses on the senior year of Ryker, Scott, and Benoit who play college hockey on a team known as the Eagles at Owatonna University. Ryker and Scott were paired off in the first two books, so this book is about Ben meeting Ethan Girard, the team’s new defensive consultant and famed Boston defenseman.

Ethan is 32 and possibly nearing the end of his career, while Benoit is just getting started, so besides the ten year age gap are their choices, their outlook, and their life experiences. Sure Benoit is a bit jealous of all his friends, but he just wants to focus on hockey and go skate for Edmonton. He is navigating a lot of pressure to help make it big and care for his family, keep his grades high and earn a degree he can use if he gets injured and can’t play anymore. He also needs to decide if coming out publicly is a good decision when he is already battling racism. Ethan can afford, in every sense of the word, to do what he wants. He got drafted right away and never went to college. If he retires, he won’t have to face as much blowback for his sexuality. I feel like I was told all of that instead of being shown.

I have to say this third book is somehow removed from the characters for the first half because it is busy sharing the story with everyone else. A lot of it takes place in Benoit’s (or Ethan’s) head, but weeks go by without anything happening. Although this makes sense because Ben is avoiding Ethan, it makes it difficult to get into the story until about 35% of the way in. Everything seems skimmed over though, without much detail. Thankfully everything snaps back into focus with a detailed description of the hotel dining room for a Railers dinner. The book comes alive, with Stan and Ten, when Ryker convinces Scott and Benoit to go to a Railers game and hangout with his dads after. You do not have to know or have read about these characters to read this book–it was like the authors didn’t have a focus for the writing itself until this scene, when the reader is finally given enough details to actually picture the surroundings.

Benoit’s story really clicks into place when he and Ethan are a couple, spending time together, and stops worrying about what everyone else is doing. This is the writing at its best. There is a plot point that gets shoved in the background and pulled back out later to be used as a source of conflict. All this did for me was really highlight the age differences between Benoit and Ethan, making a HEA less believable. I personally would call this an HFN because they are not on equal footing and Benoit’s lack of maturity shows in how he deals with conflict. Some of the best scenes in the book were the ice hockey games at the end; this also highlighted the other parts of the book that were supposed to be suspenseful, but weren’t. Overall this was a good trilogy featuring college players and this book was a way to tie up any lose ends for Benoit, Ryker, Jacob, Scott, and Haynes. It gave the authors new characters to mention later. The next phase seems to be a new series with Ryker playing for the Arizona Raptors with Aarni, the guy who hurt his father’s fiance, which will pull the reader back into the NHL.

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*P.S. These authors are amazing at being non Amazon exclusive. They do a lot of work moving their books in and out of KU to allow their fans to buy from other platforms/formats. If you are reading this post way after it is written, the best way to know what books are on sale where, and for how long, is to subscribe to their newsletters.

Review: Love Is A Walk In The Park by V.L. Locey and Stephanie Locey

LoveIsAWalkInThePark_Cover
Cover design by: Meredith Russell

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

Sullivan is a dancer with big dreams of Broadway, but has ended up teaching mostly kids and the elderly at a rundown dance studio. He has a pitbull named Princess Pizazz Periwinkle, no really. One morning he sees Duane in the dog park with his Yorkie named Tiberius. It’s lust at first sight, but Duane is shy and a little awkward about putting himself out there. Sullivan has no such issues and Duane’s roomate Ronan helps encourage Duane. Of course, Pizzy and Tibby are doggie besties from there on out.

This story is told in alternating first person so the reader gets Sullivan and Duane’s thoughts throughout the book. Although the addition of details about their friends adds depth, Sullivan’s relationship with Aliyah mostly consists of insults, his awe of her art, and the fact she wealthy and it’s her condo. Duane’s relationship with Ronan mostly consists of him listening to Duane’s dramas. The book is realistic in it’s depiction of day to day life and trying to fit relationships in between work and sleep. There always has to be a conflict and in this case, it’s external to the relationship. Be aware there is an on page sexual assault. Emergencies and our reactions to them either drawn us closer, or push us apart from people. In this case, it’s all handled fairly quickly with not a lot of detail, allowing for minimal angst on the reader’s part. The final obstacle is when Duane’s parents come for a visit. Overall this is a sweet story of boy meets boy with explicit, but low heat, love scenes and a happily ever after.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Extra Dirty (The Speakeasy #2) by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 I didn’t know this was book two in a series, so I had not read book one. While I might have enjoyed this more if I had already known the large cast, I slowly got into the main characters. There is a lot of telling instead of showing at […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Extra Dirty (The Speakeasy #2) by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words