A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: The Spirit Key (Lock and Key #1) by Parker Williams — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 This starts with a long, detailed first person recap of the past from Scotty’s POV. After he died at age eight, he started seeing ghosts but didn’t tell anyone. This is really the crux of the whole book. By the time he was eighteen, it was overwhelming, unrelenting. The […]

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A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: A Deeper Blue (The Game #2) by S.E. Harmon — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 This is the second book in the series and should be read in order for maximum emotional impact. A year later, Blue is still basically in the closet. Happily ever afters are work. So, I’m not going to lie: I was upset about Blue using a beard. Keeping this […]

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Review: The Blueprint by S.E. Harmon, The Game 1

The Blueprint Cover
Cover Artist is Kanaxa

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

Kelly Cannon is having a very bad night. This book throws you in the deep end immediately. But sometimes you can’t ignore things anymore and Kelly is in love with his best friend, NFL player Britton “Blue” Montgomery. With Blue under so much pressure in his career, to have to worry about losing his best friend too is not helping. I can say I liked Kelly right away. I loved the use of humor. It took me longer to warm up to Blue, but then he does get less time on page at the beginning. After being in their heads, I can say these two deserve each other. The most difficult part of this book is being in Blue’s head, how does he not know?! Oh course, it’s obvious why. But, there comes a point when he can’t lie to himself anymore either. Turning a 17 year friendship into a relationship is not without its ups and downs.

This just feels natural. I love their interactions. Even during sex, they are themselves with humor and banter. Just when I thought they couldn’t be mature about things, they proved me wrong. The reminiscing about childhood events really works in this story as they both think about how much their relationship means to them. Kelly’s family adds so much to this story, I can’t imagine it without them but, it makes Blue’s family a glaring omission. I would have liked to see them too, even though his dad doesn’t sound pleasant. There is nothing about his brother. Still, they have made an impact on who Blue is and it would have added another layer.

There were small issues I had, like how accepting everyone is, which is less realistic than the rest of the book. There is also the timing of Kelly basically giving Blue an ultimatum–while I understood his feelings and why, the particular moment had me more sympathetic with Blue than Kelly. Maybe that’s on purpose though, and I just didn’t realize it. For anyone who likes friends to lovers, the nerd and the jock theme, and bisexual for you, as well as a coming out story, this is your book. Because there is a full range of emotions here, and it’s realistic without being overly dramatic, it doesn’t feel like a list of tropes.

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Review: Somebody To Die For By Kris T. Bethke, Requiem Inc. 3

Somebody to Die For Cover
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

 

Kris T. Bethke Somebody To Die For

This is the third book in the Requiem Inc., series. To learn more about the first book, Ghost of a Chance, or the second book, Lost Souls Found, go here.

The people who work at the company help find stranded souls so they can go on the next step of their journey after death and find peace. As a recap, the mediums find the spirits, the ghostwalkers die and go to them, the anchors bring them back and provide aftercare, and the guardians, as anchors with greater abilities, oversee several teams at once and make sure everything goes smoothly.

Ghostwalker Avery Wagner lost his anchor and bonded partner to cancer four years ago and now teaches rather than ghostwalking himself. Get ready to be mired in the angst of a widower. Jameson is in training, but doesn’t have the anchor gene. He’s awkward, determined and somehow really likeable because he wants to help people. The attraction is there for both of them pretty immediately and they both fight against it for different reasons. Even though the age gap here is 18 years and Jameson does make some immature mistakes, he also steps up when he needs to and learns from them.

Jameson hasn’t been assigned a ghostwalker yet and is going through the training alone. Thrust into working an emergency with Jameson, Avery is afraid of his feelings, not wanting to open himself up to that kind of pain again. The author took the time for Avery to be thoughtful about his grief. Jameson was so sweet and understanding. Their intimate moments were perfect: hot, sweet, and confused feelings. It’s the emotions that anchor this story and put it a shoulder above others. I did cry at one point. I love how everything is not magically fixed at the end–grief is a long process and love is complex. Even with the age difference, this gets to the point of being a true partnership where they work through issues and talk things out.

I’ve enjoyed this whole series. This may actually be my favorite of the three and it’s nice that the author finishes strong rather than the first one setting everything up while the other two seem tacked on to make more money. This is not that. This seems to have been a trilogy from the start and, whilst there could be many more stories to tell in this world if done right (there are 47 branch offices), the HEA of all the originally focused upon characters is now complete.

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: The Librarian’s Ghost (The Supers #2) by Sean Michael — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5 I was really excited to read this one because I enjoyed the first one in the series, The Supers. Coming off of a house exploration where there was no paranormal activity, the guys get asked to investigate McGregor Mansion. The gothic style house was built in the 1780’s, so […]

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Review: Love You So Special By Tara Lain, Love You So 3

Love You So Special
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

This is the third book in the Love You So series. I have not read the first two and didn’t feel like I missed anything at all so I would call this a standalone. I admit having a bias here as I went to school in and worked in Orange County, CA where this and a lot of her books are set. Tara Lain usually does the blue collar/wealthy trope well. She has reigned in the fabulousness for this one, although there is still a little OTT plot point.

Artie, a plumber working on a job in a concert hall gets to hear some of the music played for rehearsals. We know by his POV that it’s a unique experience for him. When we see the rest of his life–his work buddies, his family–we understand how he only superficially fits into his own life. His quirks as they are called, his interests, hobbies, what moves him, are what flesh him out as a person for the readers.

Francois is a rich, famous classical pianist who loves composing, but has anxiety performing because of the crowds. He lives with his overbearing mother in an exclusive gated community. They meet when Artie is hired to take over work on the guest house, being built in the back of the main house. Artie is enchanted by the music and then attracted by the man. Francois has been home schooled and is socially awkward, but he’s intrigued by Artie.

As Artie and Francois become friends, I found the interactions between them charming. Artie has spent so long pretending to be what everyone expects him to be, he is lonely. While Francois is out, Artie is not–not even to Francois. Of course, I’m happy when that changes. Some people just click when they meet and it just works. Francois having met Artie is the impetus for him to start trading security for some independence. Artie needs to stop living to accommodate everyone else in his life and start living for himself. Have you ever had someone say the right thing to you at the right time? Don, Artie’s landlord gives Artie something to think about that changes the way he looks at things. Francois’s epiphany comes during a much more traumatic experience.

At first I didn’t really like Francois’s mom, but then once we get to know her more she becomes more human and she does actually care for her son. Her idea of what’s best for him and his idea of what’s best for him don’t always gel. I could say the same for Artie’s family, but when they needed to step up and be supportive, they were so that’s all that matters. Right? So, yes, everything is resolved easily and there is some fan girl nodding to her favorite authors. Not everything has to be angsty. While I’m the first to say I like realistic stories, I like a good fantasy to cheer me up also. Sometimes the world is dark enough and I want to escape into a well written cheerful happy, sappy gay romance novel. This hit the spot.

I would rate this 4 stars.

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Review: The Supers By Sean Michael

The Supers cover
Cover Art by Aaron Anderson

Blaine Franks is a member of the paranormal research group called the Supernatural Explorers, and Flynn Huntington is hired to be the new tech guy. These are guys that believe in ghosts and are trying to prove their existence. They all spend some time getting to know one another, everything is normal, and they gel together well. The sexual tension starts right away as Flynn tries to remind himself they just met and are going to be working together. Flynn is also full of questions about what Blaine sees and how they document everything. He’s so excited, and seems to also be somewhat receptive to the paranormal phenomenon. Jason is the leader of the group, so of the three other characters, we get to know him the best. Darnell, the camera man, and Will, who helps with the equipment, are less fleshed out.

Whilst investigating an abandoned hospital, the creep factor is high. The juxtaposition between the normalcy of before, really helps set the mood and then clues us in when things are not what they seem. The author does a good job of making us excited and frightened each time they go back to record at the hospital. They make contact with multiple ghosts at the location, and investigate some of the people who died at the hospital.

Then there are the sexy down times when Blaine and Flynn explore one another and grow closer as lovers. This was more explicit than the other Dreamspinner Dreamspun Beyond books I’ve read. There are multiple sex scenes and I would definately call this an erotic romance. If this is our reward for being scared and grossed out, I am all for it. They are adorable dorks, but I have to say there is a lot of “giggling” in this book. The resolution seemed to work out well, although it was a little out of left field. I can’t really talk about that without spoilers, but we warned there is violence.

The guys took everything they recorded at Eugene Thurston Memorial Hospital and turned it into a forty-minute video and sent it to Jason’s producer contact in the hopes of getting a TV deal. The converted barn on Blaine’s parents’ property where he lives with Flynn is the defacto meeting place for the ghost busting team so I think I’ll be spending some more time there in future books. Since Halloween is coming, this was a perfect spooky read with more horror than I thought it would have, so if that is something you like, I recommend.

I would give this 4.25 stars.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 This is the second book in a series about five men who have forged a family and own a tattoo business. I would recommend reading these in order. Mace, a firefighter, has made himself Bear’s right hand man in helping raise the family, but it’s time he got some […]

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Review: Hiding In Plain Sight By Bru Baker, Camp H.O.W.L 3

hiding-in-plain-sight
Cover Art by Aaron Anderson

This is the third and final book in the Camp H.O.W.L. series. Harris, who is a certified psychologist, has been working at the camp for a while now, yet we still don’t know much about him. Harris figured out Jackson was his mate two years ago. Since Jackson had always made it clear he wasn’t interested in settling down, when Harris realized he’d bonded with him, he kept it quiet. After being friends for over a decade, Jackson finally starts to feel the need to nest as he realizes Harris could be his mate. This is epically bad timing as he is within reach of the job he has worked towards all his life, and it will require him to relinquish all pack ties and bonds.

All the angst comes from Jackson not wanting a mate, he’s been so focused on his career, none of his relationships have been serious except for the one with his best friend Harris…whom he hasn’t even told about his interview. They are both keeping secrets at this point. But whereas Harris comes off as trying to do what is best for his mate, Jackson comes off as very self-centered and oblivious. Everyone knows Harris is in love with him, but him. His brother Drew finally drops that bombshell in his ear. Jackson is still so busy fighting his own attraction, trying to keep his plan on track, he is hurting Harris. When he finally does admit defeat and acts on the attraction, he still can’t admit they are mates and puts Harris in a terrible situation.

I guess since everyone’s been paired off except Jordan, we need a new direction, so enter the Fae Council. With no mention I recall from the previous books at all, there are suddenly naiad, selkies, dryads, and other shifters. So I admit to being annoyed that they seem thrown in, so the author has options for other books in the future, rather than being preplanned and integrated into the trilogy.

Since Jackson is so busy with three different jobs and lives two hours away from Camp H.O.W.L., there needs to be a reason to have him there. Enter a high profile wolfling who is a famous actress about to go through her Turn. They will need to keep out the press, so the camp gets a security upgrade. We do get some fun details about patrols, but not quite as fun as the scent game from book two. I always enjoy the scenes from the camp classes, though. As you would expect, the main action comes from a security breach as a paparazzo tries to take a picture of camper Candice Bachman a.k.a. actress Kandie Bates. Suddenly the FBI is involved and the plot becomes OTT (over the top).

The Connoll Pack in New York, has been mentioned since book one, yet we know nothing about them. I couldn’t help but wish there was information about them woven into the plot because it would have made the ending so much more impactful. The reason becomes clear after the epilogue, when the author talks about her new series based on this pack. That is why all of the sudden Selkies and most other shifters have a treaty with the Tribunal and representation on the Tribunal court, which is in New York.

While I enjoyed this series, it seemed planned on the fly with things thrown in as they were needed. The resolutions to all of the issues are quick and pat. I would recommend this when you are in the mood for an easy HEA read with some steamy action. Although this is part of a series, I don’t think you would miss much if you read them out of order for some reason.

The author is donating a portion of the royalties from the Camp H.O.W.L. series to the National Parks Conservation Association.

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

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Review: Under A Blue Moon By Bru Baker, Camp H.O.W.L 2

Under A Blue Moon Cover
Cover artwork by Aaron Anderson

 

With Tate having left Camp H.O.W.L. in book one, there is a job opening for a new counselor and Nick Parry applies. Drew Welch is the new human camp doctor. They actually meet on the same flight to Indianapolis and don’t realize they will be work colleagues, allowing for them to be themselves and have hot, off page, sexy times. Don’t worry, we are there in the morning when they wake up. Whew!

The first book didn’t really set up a couple for the next book, so all of the sudden Drew is friends with Adrian and everyone else, having visited the camp often. Er, ok. The camp also seems much larger, with expanded services, which makes sense if it is going to be a series. As you can imagine when Nick realizes Drew is his new colleague, he doesn’t handle it well. Besides the fact Nick doesn’t date humans, he doesn’t want to be seen as unprofessional. Drew is a human member of the pack his mother marries into; he was raised in the pack and dated and hooked up with weres before, so Nick’s objections seem strange. I had to wonder how much time he had previously spent with humans on a daily basis before this camp; I mean he has a degree from a University, he’s been out in the world. It seems most of the book is Drew having to prove to Nick how capable he is while Drew is becoming more attached to him and I just wasn’t sure why.

I don’t look for things to criticize, but when there are things that are contradictory it’s difficult not to notice. Why did they call 911 when a camper gets injured? They are a wealthy, state of the art camp with a qualified doctor. They don’t want humans on the property. They don’t want a wolfling going through the change in a human hospital, where he might shift or they might draw blood, which would show abnormalities. The local hospital is rural and not very well equipped. This plot point seemed odd to me. Then later, after we already know there are safety inspections of the camp and that there had been work crews out to fix tornado damage, they are hidden and have no address, just a fake house they get mail at.

I did like the way the camp employees were shown to be a pack and supportive of each other like family. We got to see more of the camp classes and see the staff interaction in this book. I liked that the counselors are required to have counseling themselves. There is a great scene with a camp activity to train weres that really shows how Drew’s pack integrated him into the pack with games and fun. Drew is very likable, but it took me longer with Nick. We are told he is adorable but, for me, the more I got to know him, the more annoying I found him. They have a stupid competition between them after they make a bet which was entertaining and I think it was supposed to endear us to him, but it isn’t until something tragic happens that Nick stops being a dick–right about the time Jordan, Drew’s ex pops back up. I am a little worried about this character as he is written as sarcastic, which could go either way–funny or annoying. Then, there is make-up sex. Yay!

We are set up with a couple for book three, which should be about Harris. We’ve gotten to met Drew’s brother Jackson, along with his parents and see a bit more of Pack culture in the St. Lewis pack. Drew also has a medical practice in a nearby town, so we are getting to know people in the surrounding area. There are a few places for the author to go for book three.

I would rate this 3.25 stars.

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