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'All Choked Up' by Hank Edwards

Choked Up (Up to Trouble) (Volume 4) - Hank Edwards 'Choked Up' by Hank Edwards is the fourth book in the 'Up to Trouble’ series. It takes place about six months after the previous book left off. PTSD has put life on hold for Mark Beecher and (Aaron) Pearce as he is recovering. Mark is frustrated by his mental state and is pushing himself to get over it. Not that Pearce has complained, but Mark yearns to be able to hold his own in their relationship and not feel so completely dependent on Pearce. When Pearce is called to assist in a murder case in Detroit, he quickly realizes that it's not just business, it is also personal. All clues point directly to the sociopath, Robert Morgan. The murders are designed to lure Pearce back to Detroit in order to finish what happened in Barbados. Pearce doesn't want to leave Mark but they both know how important it is to stop Morgan, not only for their own closure, but to prevent more men from dying and to obtain justice for those killed. Mark tries to ease Pearce's fears by reminding him of how much progress he's made and reassuring him that he will be able to manage on his own. Mark knows Pearce would never leave him if it weren't absolutely necessary. There are a lot of concessions Pearce makes while working on this case because of its relevance. For one, Pearce always works alone. In this investigation, Pearce is assigned a partner named Jake Perrin who is the Special Agent In Charge. Pearce isn't the easiest man to work with but Jake's easygoing banter and willingness to cooperate win Pearce over. The investigation is crawling with not much evidence to go on. Yet, while the clock keeps ticking, the body count continues to rise, along with Pearce and Jake's impatience and frustration at their lack of success. When Mark catches the look of Pearce's face on one of the news broadcasts, he decides he needs to go there. Mark begins the ten-hour trip to Detroit to be with his man. Mark doesn't quite know what he is going to do when he gets there, but he's certain about one thing. He will have to endure Pearce's wrath for coming. As expected, Pearce is furious, yet secretly relieved to have the comfort and support that only Mark can give. When Mark's best friend goes missing, he refuses to stand by and do nothing. Begrudgingly, Pearce and Jake allow him to become part of the search and hopefully, rescue, fearing the worst and hoping for the best. Pearce and Mark have come a long way from the days when Pearce was Mark's witness protection guard and became his lover instead. Mark cracked through that seemingly impenetrable shell and straight to Pearce's heart. They are uniquely different men who found someone with whom they belonged and, regardless of their often life-threatening escapades, consider themselves unbelievably lucky. There's a fair amount of sex in this murder mystery thriller and the physical encounters are steamy. Since Pearce and Mark communicate what's in their hearts best through physical intimacy, it is a natural method for them to reach an understanding and to reconnect. I enjoyed meeting Jake and loved the sometimes naughty banter between him and Pearce. It added much-needed levity to what, for the most part is a dark story. Also, it was a perfect way for Pearce and Jake to connect as a team. Anyone who is a fan of Pearce and Mark will be delighted with this book and with its conclusion. For anyone new to this series, the books must be read in sequential order for the optimum reading experience. Thank you so much, Hank!
Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/choked-up-up-to-trouble-4-by-hank-edwards

Lost in Loveland (Welcome to Loveland Book Two) K-Lee Klein

Lost in Loveland (Welcome to Loveland Book 2) - K-lee Klein “Sometimes all you need is a big leap of faith.” ~ Sean Bean When Jack and Lucky, of 'Lost in Loveland' by K-Lee Klein, start dating, they decide to take it slow to give them time to get to know each other before considering anything serious. It has been six months now; they've settled into a warm and comfortable pattern and are happier than they have ever been before. They are in love yet, for fear of driving the other away, Lucky and Jack still hesitate to take the next step. They need to trust their feelings and take the necessary leap of faith that will cement their relationship. Something needs to happen to shake them out of their fear and into each other’s loving arms. When Jack comes to Loveland, he hopes to make a new start; to leave the grief from losing his parents and the conflicts he's always had with his three sisters behind. Life is never that simple. Jack is the executor of his parents’ estate and has the final say on anything concerning it. Jack's sisters constantly call him but, not wanting to deal with their selfishness, pettiness, and just plain spitefulness, Jack avoids their calls. When he finally contacts one of them, she tricks him into coming back home under the guise that they have sold their parents' home. When Jack tells Lucky what has happened and that he needs to go back and deal with it, Lucky is ready to drop everything and go with Jack, for moral support if nothing else, but Jack tells Lucky he doesn't want him there. Jack fears that contact with his crazy family will cause Lucky to run in the opposite direction. Understandably, Lucky is hurt but he has no choice but to honor Jack's wishes and stay behind. Lucky misses Jack terribly while he is gone. Their lives are so entangled that seldom does a day go by when they aren't together. With Jack gone, Lucky doesn't quite know what to do with himself. Without Jack's reassurance, Lucky begins to doubt himself. He wracks his brain for something he's done that Jack might be upset about. Lucky's past insecurity creeps back in and he begins to wonder whether or not he's good enough for Jack. Lucky knows practically nothing about Jack's family because Jack is unwilling to share that information. After talking to one of Jack's students, who is certain that Jack won't be back, Lucky's imagination begins to run away with him and he begins to wonder. Lucky begins to fear that once Jack gets back home, he will realize how much he misses it and will want to stay, soon forgetting about him. Jack and Lucky are suffering from something lots of people face, a lack of understanding due to poor communication. They are so tied up in the bad choices they've made in the past, that they hesitate to let the present determine their future. Love doesn't have to be as complicated as people make it; they need to listen more to their hearts and less to their heads. I adore Jack and Lucky. They are such complicated, yet genuine people that I couldn't help but become attached. This is the second book in the 'Welcome to Loveland' series and should be read sequentially. If you like long-haired, hippie-like school teachers and plaid-shirted, wool-capped hockey players, and an endearing host of townspeople living in a very special place, you may enjoy this story. Thanks, K-lee, for another pleasurable visit with Jack and Lucky. I look forward to reading your next book.

All for One (All for Love) Nicki Bennet and Ariel Tachna

All For One - Nicki Bennett, Ariel Tachna “Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense.” ~ Helen Rowland On their way to a well deserved respite from their positions as musketeers, Aristide, Leandre, and Perin, of 'All for One' by Nikki Bennett and Ariel Tachna, run across a wounded man, Benoit, who turns out to be a messenger carrying a note accusing the head musketeer, M. Orville, of treason. Incensed at the thought of it, Perin and Leandre are ready to skewer Benoit on the spot, but Aristide has more compassion for the injured man. He decides to take the messenger to a nearby inn and nurse him back to health so he can figure out whether he is in on the conspiracy or merely a messenger with no idea what the communication says. Aristide is soon convinced that he isn't involved in the conspiracy to dishonor M. Orville and begins to trust him. As he gets to know him better, Aristide feels an attraction to him that isn't shared and acts honorably, never forcing his attentions upon Benoit who has just lost his wife and unborn child to a plague. Under the guise of his boss wanting to question him further, Aristide brings Benoit back to Paris with him, much to the dismay of the other two musketeers. Since Aristide seems to trust him, they are somewhat obligated to do the same, although they are jealous of their lover's obvious interest in Benoit. Benoit is a good catholic man who has never even imagined being in love with another man, but he finds himself with mixed feelings when it comes to Aristide. He tries to chalk it up to admiration and appreciation, but that doesn't cut it. He knows his feelings run deeper, but he just can't seem to overcome what has been a lifetime of teaching telling him being with another man is a sin. Benoit tries to accept his growing love for Aristide but his actions lead to a huge misunderstanding between them. In a blind rage, Aristide rides out, not knowing where he is going. When he doesn't turn up for duty the next morning, his friends, especially Benoit, are thrown into a panic and ride out to find what has become of him, not knowing whether they will find him dead or alive. Historical romance is probably my favorite genre and of those stories, ones about musketeers have to be near the top. There were enough similarities in the book to that of Alexander Dumas's work for the plot to be familiar; Nikki and Ariel's musketeers are just as brave, loyal to their calling, and as excellent with their swords as the original musketeers were but in addition, they are in a ménage relationship. Off duty, they are randy, unruly, and crude at times. Their main focus off duty is in using their “swords” in a completely manner leading to hours of abandoned sexual pleasure. The story is well written with an interesting, complex plot and unique, new characters as well as five others from the first book in the series. There is a lot to keep up with. In my humble opinion, there is an overabundance of sex which distracted me from the plot and had me rolling my eyes a few times thinking: Not again! It's quite graphic and erotic and I'm guessing that people who love to get down and dirty may love it. I have to admit that I enjoyed the first book in the series a lot more. If you like political intrigue, musketeers, sword fighting, and falling in love, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Nikki and Ariel, for the exciting adventure. I look forward to the next book.
Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/all-for-one-all-for-love-2-by-nicki-bennett-and-ariel-tachna-at-dreamspinner-press

Calling and cull by Augusta Li

Calling and Cull (Blessed Epoch) - August Li “Revenge, lust, ambition, pride, and self-will are too often exalted as the gods of man's idolatry; while holiness, peace, contentment, and humility are viewed as unworthy of a serious thought.” ~ Charles Spurgeon 'Calling and the Cull' by August Li is the fifth book of the ‘Blessed Epoch’ series. It begins approximately ten years after the previous book ended. The war is over, but the truce is tenuous. Knowing that the armies of the thirteen goddesses is growing and King Garith's Blessed Epoch is in danger of being taken by force, Octavian Rose and his lover, D'Aurlian, travel to the Twenty Nine to seek out Yarrow's advice about how to proceed. When Octavian and his men get to Yarrow's domain, they are somewhat shocked at first at the life they find in this magical near paradise. With its carefree people, relaxed sexual activities, and its intrinsic beauty it is not difficult to see why anyone would feel like they are in paradise and why they would never want to leave. Still, they are not sure how anxious Yarrow will be to see them. Surprisingly, Yarrow welcomes them with open arms. When Octavian tells them about what's happening with the goddesses, it throws Yarrow into a fit of rage that only his lover, Sasha, can diminish. Yarrow despises the goddesses who, although powerful, are not immortal beings at all, but women who have gained so much knowledge and magic, stolen from their husband. He abhors that people still worship these “whores” as he calls them and has pledged to destroy them all and heal the pure magic polluted by these beings. Octavian isn't the only person who has come to support Yarrow in his quest to overcome the goddesses and their followers. His lovers, Duncan and Sasha, are there, and later they are also joined by others. Yarrow doesn't adhere to King Garith's truce or any of the rules his cousin has given. He has also warned the Johmatran ships to stay away from his islands. Partly to test Octavian's loyalty, he asks him and his men to help the Emiri raid the ship to discover what they are carrying. When word of the attack comes to King Garith, he has no choice but to demand that Yarrow come in person to face the charges. The results of this meeting only cause more trouble, putting King Garith in an impossible position: attack the Twenty Nine or face civil war between his army and that of the temple. With a heavy heart, he gives the order to invade. This is what Yarrow and his followers are expecting and prepare for as much as they can. This volume answers as many questions as it raises in the continuation of this epic tale. The world building continues to be fantastic; the familiar characters and on-going plots are well wrought, along with new characters and circumstances being seamlessly woven into the action. There's no way I can do justice to the story in the space allotted in this review. There are so many new characters, relationships, information, and understanding that it would take several pages even to scratch the surface. This is definitely not a stand-alone book. Fans of the series will love it. Since there is so much knowledge gained from the previous books, those of you new to the series would be lost without first catching up. Thanks, Gus, for offering me another awesome part of one of my favorite high fantasy stories ever!
Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/calling-and-cull-blessed-epoch-5-by-august-li-at-dsp-publications

Sweet Summer Sweat by Clare London

Sweet Summer Sweat - Clare London “How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat. Some dance to remember, some dance to forget...” ~ Eagles (Hotel California) Scot, of 'Sweet, Summer Sweat' by Clare London, and his boyfriend, Jerry, are bound by their desire to escape their awful home lives and blindly run away together. Neither are sure where they are running to. All they know is that there is nothing for them where they are. In the middle of nowhere, they end up at a broken-down, yet seemingly magical old motel. Their stay here provides them with the opportunity to discover who they are and what they truly want. At the motel Scot and Jerry are provided with hedonistic opportunities they have never even imagined. Hot, seductive, uninhibited young men, Oliver and Vincent, who drip of sensuality and seem to offer them everything they could possibly desire. Jerry almost immediately falls under the spell, but tries to resist it. He feels guilty about wanting to cheat on Scot. Scot is deeply affected by the sensual atmosphere of the motel that seems to provide every need even before they anticipate it, favorite foods, music, dancing, and, of course unlimited sex. Scott has always deferred to Jerry since he seems to be the more experienced of the two, but lately he has been questioning the validity of that line of thinking as well as his feelings for Jerry, whether he is the love of his life rather than just someone convenient. Another thing on Scot's mind is the voice and smells that have come to him as long as he can remember and have become even stronger since he arrived at the motel. When Scot finally meets Connor Maxwell, he realizes that it's been Connor's “presence”, his voice that has been calling to Scot for a long time. Being at Maxwell's has intensified this communication between them. Still, Scot resists the temptation to give in, which, in his view, is to give up on living and exist here, basking in sensual satisfaction, in this magical, but surrealistic representation of living. Yet Scot knows that Connor is and has always been his one true love and he doesn't want to let him go. He has to decide whether to stay here with Connor, or go on with his life, possibly without him. Clare has outdone herself in creating this decadent, sensual place where physical pleasure rules; one that offers unending gratification with no responsibility. But it comes at a price. It's not rewarding except in a hedonistic way. The men are scrumptious and the sexual encounters are almost indescribably vivid. To some this would be heaven but to others, hell. It depends upon what you want in life, to play it safe or take a chance and have even more than Maxwell's can offer. If you like stories that are fantastically erotic with gorgeous men and unfathomable pleasure with mystical undertones, and a plot to boot, then you may enjoy this book as much as I did. Thanks, Clare, for the exceptionally enjoyable sexual romp combined seamlessly with a deeper meaning.
Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/sweet-summer-sweat-by-clare-london-at-jocular-press

On Your Sole by Caitlin Ricci

On Your Sole - Caitlin Ricci

Randal Tobit, of 'On Your Sole' by Caitlin Ricci, is managing his father's shoe store so he can retire. Randal doesn't even like shoes and finds the job difficult. What makes it even harder is the one stipulation his father makes: he can't fire Casey, the perky young man who is working as their shoe salesman.

Everyone loves Casey for his gregarious nature and his seemingly unending knowledge of shoe fashion. It's not that Randal doesn't like Casey, he does. In fact, he's quite attracted to the flamboyant, vivacious guy, but he tries his best to talk himself out of approaching him in an amorous manner. Randal tells himself that Casey is way too young for him and that it's not a good idea to ever get involved with someone who is your employee. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that Casey is obviously very sexy and extremely interested in Randal.

Casey notices his reservations but it doesn't deter him. Casey asks Randal out to dinner but Randal refuses. Still not put off, Casey reminds Randal that he has his number if he changes his mind. When the police call to ask Randal to come down to his store because it has been broken into and ransacked, he calls Casey to give him the bad news. When Casey offers to help with the insurance assessment and paperwork, Randal won't let him, but after realizing how overwhelming it is, he finely acquiesces. All Casey wants as payment is a date.

This is a short, sexy story with paranormal, magical elements that add a lot of spice to the story. It also reminded me that people can't be judged by their outward appearance because most wear “masks” of some sort for protection. If you like sexy young men, second chances, hot, sensual encounters, and magic, you may enjoy 'On Your Sole'. Thanks, Caitlin, for the entertaining diversion.

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/on-your-sole-by-caitlin-ricci-at-pride-publishing

Lord of a Thousand Steps (Love in Laguna) by Tara Lain

Lord of a Thousand Steps - Tara Lain

“Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go... Love is work, but most of all, Love is realizing that every hour, every minute and every second was worth it because you did it together.” ~ mediawebapps.com

'Lord of a Thousand Steps' by Tara Lain begins three years after Ian is introduced in a previous book in the series. Ian and Rico have been together for three years. Ian is convinced that Rico is “the one”, but when Rico goes back to Mexico on family business, his communication with Ian becomes infrequent at best, making Ian doubt Rico's commitment and his feelings for him.

Ian is studying architecture in college and interns for a prestigious firm. He's quite talented and grabs the attention of an important client. She has a new project coming up that Braden Lord, CEO of the company, will be working on and, after meeting Ian, insists that Ian be allowed to work with him. Although Ian is flattered and honored to be working with Braden, it's also quite intimidating. Ian is extremely attracted to Braden, but there are so many ways that that's not a good idea. For one, even though his boyfriend, Rico, seems to have deserted him, he would never cheat. Another reason is that Braden is much older and is in the process of a messy divorce while trying to gain full custody of his children. Even so, Ian starts to notice signs that Braden seems to be interested in him as well.

On a trip to the beach, Ian brings his cat, Anderson, with him. Braden and his children, JoJo and Mireille, just happen to be there and Mireille falls in love with Anderson. They all get along so famously that Braden invites Ian and, of course, Anderson, to visit. This is all well and good, but Ian still can't forget his place. Braden has just come out as gay and has no idea how to act. Since Ian is the only gay man he's close to, they have this unreal conversation about what to expect from the gay scene, such as dating, safe sex, etc. Braden wants to explore being gay, but is wary of doing anything that his wife could use against him in court. Between working together and their frequent 'cat visitations', Braden and Ian become close. The children adore Ian as well. After Ian's relationship with Rico ends, he feels free to approach Braden. Ian decides that neither of them should consider a serious relationship since he's just gotten out of a bad one and Braden has never been in a relationship with a man. He convinces Braden that it would be better if they are just f*ck buddies instead of becoming serious. Although it's not exactly what Braden wants, he reluctantly agrees. They attempt to be discreet, but one night, Jo-Jo catches Ian and Braden kissing. Jo-Jo is furious, and feels that Ian has betrayed their friendship. He flies into a rage and calls their mother to come get them, throwing everything into chaos, especially any relationship that Ian and Braden could have had.

Tara has created a beautiful love story between two fantastic men who love each other and fight to be together. One of my favorite elements that has become Tara's trademark is breaking down stereotypes. Instead of giving Braden all the power and expertise because he is older, she gave Ian, the younger of the two, wisdom beyond his years and more sexual experience. Fans of the series will love this sequel and will enjoy visiting with Jim, Ken, Billy and Shaz. Thanks, Tara, for a memorable tale that reminds us that every journey, no matter how long, begins with that first step.

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/lord-of-a-thousand-steps-love-in-laguna-4-by-tara-lain-at-dreamspinner-press

Spindrift by Amy Rae Durreson

Spindrift - Amy Rae Durreson

“Spindrift from seas with passion erupts stinging the eyes, pouring down cheeks
castles of sand, now all washed away by oceans of tears that flow through the pail.
Tears in a bucket filled from above blurring the vision in sorrowful eyes spill their liquor as weeping clouds precipitation from rain filled skys.”

~ Howard Brace (Bucket of Tears)

Siôn Ruston, of 'Spindrift' by Amy Rae Durreson, goes to the village of Rosewick Bay to try to regain his sanity in, what he thinks, will be a small, uneventful place. Little does Siôn know, that Rosewick is the most hazardous and precarious place he could be.

For the first few weeks, Siôn tries to relax and busies himself taking photographs and painting. One morning he is awakened by a ghost walking through his bedroom moaning, stinking of death and sea water, and calling out for Sarah and Joshua. At first Siôn thinks he's completely lost his battle with regaining his sanity until he goes down to the village museum and meets a young man who is the spitting image of the ghost haunting him. Mattie turns out to be the ghost's great, great grandson and tells Siôn the story about Matthew's drowning and the curse attached to it; if the ghosts are seen then a young man will drown before the end of the summer. Mattie stirs up feelings Siôn has not felt for years, but his first thought is that at thirty, he's too old for the twenty-one-year-old bundle of energy and enthusiasm and that he has nothing to offer him. But Mattie lives downstairs from Siôn, making avoiding him almost impossible. Mattie begs to come up to Siôn's and “ghost watch” with him. Reluctantly, Siôn agrees. When Mattie witnesses the ghost firsthand, it frightens him more than he'd imagined it would. Despite Siôn's reservations, he and Mattie grow from friends into lovers.

When Siôn has more “ghostly” encounters with not only Matthew but also his lover, Joshua, things really get intense. Each event brings with it more information and Siôn is convinced that there is a great deal more to the tale than what he is learning from the research he's been doing. A big breakthrough is when he is able to contact a partner of one of the victims who drowned years ago. Another is when Mattie discovers a journal that belonged to Joshua but it is in code. Siôn works with the journal and is able to decode most of it, but the results still don't give them all the answers they need. The closer they get to the truth, the more complicated things become. Conclusions that Siôn and Mattie have come to about what happened between Matthew and Joshua seem to be completely wrong. Matthew is convinced that if Siôn stays, he will be the one on the bottom of the ocean floor and begs him to leave. Siôn is stubborn and feels that he's run away from too much in his life and is determined to stay and find a way to break the curse, once and for all.

This well written story quickly captured my imagination and had me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. Since it is written in first person, I discovered things at the same time as Siôn. I knew no more or no less than he did, which was fine except that I really would have liked to have known Mattie's side of the story as well. The ghosts were frightening and intriguing. Siôn and Mattie have to work hard to be able to untangle the confusing facts and get to the truth. Mattie's cousin, Caitlyn, was a great character, full of life, intelligent, and cheeky. She had an amazing impact on the story, to be a bridge between Mattie and Siôn as well as her role in helping them discover the truth about what happened between Matthew and Joshua. She absolutely won my respect.

The “search for the truth” was delightfully suspenseful and deliberately misleading, adding to the overall intensity of the tale and surprising me with an ending I didn't expect but that worked out perfectly. If you like tales about ghosts, secrets, curses, hot sensual encounters, and opposites attracting, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Amy, for the unique, suspenseful tale.

 

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/spindrift-by-amy-rae-durreson-at-dreamspinner-press

Civil War and Broken Hearts by Julie Lynn Hayes

Civil War and Broken Hearts (Rose and Thorne Book 2) - Julie Lynn Hayes

“...Well I've found my one and only like the long, lonesome river finds the sea and I can't believe how lucky I was that you and your love were waiting around for me...You're my darling one and only...” ~ Gladys Knight (The One and Only)

When Ethan, of 'Civil War and Broken Hearts by Julie Lynn Hayes, shows Vinnie an article about a civil war movie they are shooting in town in which actress Caroline St. Clair is staring,  it starts an argument between them. They have met her before and Vinnie can't stand her. He is still convinced that she is after his man. Ethan keeps trying to tell him that he is overreacting but Vinnie is sure he's right. Assuming that there is little chance they will run into her, Ethan and Vinnie set out to enjoy a rare day off. However, their plans are rudely interrupted by their boss, Anderson Riley, calling with a new case that needs immediate attention. Anderson asks them to come and to pack a bag. Neither are very happy about it, but when Vinnie learns what their assignment involves - guarding Caroline St. Clair - he is very unhappy.

St. Clair has been receiving death threats and Ethan and Vinnie are there to flush out the culprit before any harm comes to her. Vinnie hates the idea of being so close to someone who so obviously wants his man, but knows he has to remain as professional as possible. But, when Vinnie hears the details of the undercover operation, in spite of the effect it will have on his and Ethan's careers, he almost loses it. St. Clair has arranged for Ethan to play her boyfriend, which also means he will have to sleep in her suite, while Vinnie poses as a personal assistant to Troy Garrett, her very handsome and very gay co-star with whom Vinnie will share accommodations. Before the assignment even begins, St. Clair has found a way to “divide and conquer” by separating Vinnie and Ethan.

As the investigation continues, so does St. Clair's attempted seduction of Ethan as well as her efforts to humiliate and hurt Vinnie. But she's got an ulterior motive being so “cozy” with Ethan. She doesn't really want Ethan; she's trying to make her ex-fiancé and current director, Gordon Daimler, jealous. It doesn't work. In fact, it seems that Gordon and his new woman try their best to rub their being together in. When Gordon makes the announcement that his new girlfriend is now his fiancée, St. Clair fights back by claiming that she and Ethan are engaged as well. By this point, Vinnie has had it. But when Ethan gets a call from their boss he has to tell Vinnie that St. Clair told him that Vinnie is distracting Ethan and wants Vinnie off the case. But it gets worse. Vinnie is not only dismissed from his current investigation, he's suspended with orders to stay away from Caroline St. Clair.

These stories are exceedingly entertaining and well written. Stories written in first person are tricky, at best, and sometimes difficult to pull off, but Julie does a terrific job using Vinnie as narrator. He's such a complex character that seeing a situation through his eyes makes everything more emotional - from his joy and love for Ethan to his heartaches and sorrows when he's feeling down, inadequate, and undeserving of Ethan's love. Being privy to Vinnie's thoughts had a powerful impact on my connection with what was happening. A pleasant and unexpected surprise was Troy's personality. I was expecting a spoiled, privileged diva and was introduced to a generally nice guy who comforted Vinnie when times got rough and did what he could to make things easier for Vinnie and Ethan. I'm certain that after this escapade, Vinnie and Ethan will not be saying “Hooray for Hollywood” anytime soon, if ever again. If you like stories involving movies set during the Civil War, Hollywood stars, filmmaking, jealousy, and suspense, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Julie, for letting me visit with Ethan and Vinnie again. I'm looking forward to book three!

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/civil-war-and-broken-hearts-rose-and-thorne-2-by-julie-lynn-hayes-at-dreamspinner-press

Keeping Karma by Tory Temple

Keeping Karma - Tory Temple

“Animal Communication is the ability we all have to make a connection with an animal through the universal language of telepathy. This means we mentally send and receive thoughts, images (clairvoyant), feelings (clairsentient) and words (clairaudient). Animal Communication can also be described as deepened intuition.” ~ Rachael Millikan (Beyond Barking Animal Communication)

All of us have the ability to communicate with animals but most people have forgotten how. It's a matter of listening with your heart instead of your head. Alex Myers, of 'Keeping Karma' by Tory Temple, is especially gifted in animal telepathy. He usually keeps his skills quiet because of the negative reaction most people have when he does tell them. Alex has a relatively mundane job at the front desk of an emergency veterinary clinic. The best part of his job is helping with the animals where his telepathy skills often come in very handy in triaging their injuries into those who are seriously in need of care and those who are not. Alex is so busy between school and work, he has little time for a social life. When Dylan Travers, animal control officer, comes in late one night with an injured fawn, Alex can't help but hope that might soon change.

Alex and Dylan feel an immediate attraction to each other and soon end up going out and head quickly for the bedroom where their passion ignites in a big way. They already know they have lots of things in common, especially with their love for animals and their welfare. Even so, Alex is afraid to share his gift with Dylan and even more so his illegally owned ferret, Karma. He hides it as long as he can, until Karma gets out of her room and comes into the bedroom where he and Dylan are burning up the sheets. Instead of being upset, Dylan thinks it's funny and tries to reassure Alex that he won't turn him in. In fact, Dylan compliments Alex about Karma's ferret-friendly room that is equipped with ramps, hammocks, towers, and toys. Even though Karma shouldn't be there, Dylan takes it all in stride.

Gordon Sheer, whose mother regularly donates to the animal hospital, comes into the center mostly to harass Alex. Gordon is a homophobic bully and he and Alex can’t stand each other. To Alex's amazement, Gordon decides he wants a job there. Alex is amazed that Gordon even wants a job, period, since he has no idea he even likes animals.  From what the animals are communicating to Alex, they don't like Gordon at all! Gordon gets the job and ends up doing a lot of what Alex is doing since, technically, Alex is hired for reception. Soon Alex begins to miss his contact with the animals. Knowing he still has a key, he goes into the shelter to have his lunch break. The animals are unusually distressed and are trying to warn him that things are not as they should be there. He doesn't take them seriously at first but the more frightened they become the closer he listens. Alex can hear voices and realizes it is Gordon and someone else in the animal room. Alex knows he has to do something so he dials Dylan's number and walks into the room, scared but determined to get to the bottom of what is going on. Then the man with Gordon starts choking him and Alex falls to the floor.

This is a well written, entertaining read. I was particularly drawn to the animal telepathy aspect of the story since, as a certified animal communicator, I have several years of personal experience with animal communication. Tory's depiction of what Alex experienced when the animals communicated with him are close to what actually happens. I also know about being overwhelmed, as Alex was, with so many voices talking to you and trying to hear all of them at once. I also do animal rescue and have had many ferrets in the family over the years. Tory obviously knows a lot about ferret behavior because the way she described karma was right on the money. They are funny, wicked smart, and can be quite destructive at times, but so adorable that it's difficult to stay mad at them. I despised Gordon and thought he sounded like a spoiled rotten twelve-year-old. Alex and Dylan were super hot in and out of bed and presented me with several steamy demonstrations of that fact. It made me feel a bit like a voyeur. If you like animals, ferrets in general, hot men in uniform, even hotter sex, and suspense, you may enjoy this story. Thanks, Tory, for the giggles Karma's antics gave me, the introduction to animal telepathy, and for giving Alex and Dylan their happy ending.

 

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/keeping-karma-by-tory-temple-at-dreamspinner-press

Angel of 13th Street by Eden Winters

The Angel of 13th Street - Eden Winters

Angel of 13th Street' by Eden Winters is a story about a subject that shouldn't even exist—throwaway kids, many of whom have to resort to prostitution just to survive. This story is about Jeremy, an eighteen-year-old who, against all odds, is trying to avoid the dangers of living on the streets, particularly selling his body. He's viciously pursued by a group who want to drag him into the downward spiral of hooking. Fortunately, this neighborhood has a man they call the angel; Noah Everett helps kids get off the street and either back home or at least a new start elsewhere. When Noah saves Jeremy from his pursuers, they join together to fight for the lost kids. It then becomes a question of who is saving whom.

Noah never thought of himself as an angel, in fact, just the opposite; but every time he helps a young man escape the throes of prostitution, he feels like he's repaying a debt. If he can keep one person from feeling the pain he felt before he left that life, then it's all worth it. When Noah helps Jeremy, he doesn't know how much it is going to aid him as well. Having Jeremy with him, enables Noah to feel alive again. The angel has a lot of demons to battle; and, holding on to the past, is not helping. Noah is stubborn though and has a terrible time asking for help. Doc, the man who helped Noah escape, is the only person Noah loves and trusts. Together, they set up the network to rescue lost boys and give them a new start. He's a complicated, secretive man, with a hard shell which seems uncrackable. How deep his feelings run for Jeremy shows when he swallows his pride and walks into the lion's den at Willie Carnell's office, the pimp who is determined to get his claws into Jeremy. The deal he strikes with Willie has the potential of taking the angel through a personal hell; Willie Carnell is actually Billy Cordell, Noah's ex-lover and the root of all the guilt about his former life. Letting go of Billy is the hurdle Noah must leap before he can move on.

Jeremy is intelligent, determined, and resilient. He's wise beyond his years and is unbelievably perceptive. He's lived on his own since his last foster parents asked him to leave when he turned eighteen. Despite living on the streets, Jeremy still attends school every day; he's driven to finish and, hopefully, earn a college scholarship. When Noah rebuffs his advances, he doesn't give up; he sits back and waits until he can break him down. When he takes over the laundromat next door to Noah's bar, as a school project, he once again, proves not just how smart he is, but what a good businessman he can be as well. Jeremy does everything he can to prove to Noah that he's not a kid and deserves his respect. Although it hurt him, even when Noah finally opens up about Billy, Noah handled it with grace and compassion, Jeremy worries not so much for himself, as about the pain it causes Noah. Everyone around them can see that Jeremy is good for Noah and brings a positive change into his life. Jeremy motivates him in a way no one has been able to do for years. Even Doc explains to Jeremy how he knows Noah loves him, by the fact that he's never asked him to keep someone safe before in all the years they've been working together. This is enough to convince Jeremy to stick with his angel.

'The Angel of 13th Street' is a complex story about an unpleasant, but seriously important issue, one most of us aren't aware of. There are young people out on the streets right now who need our help and we can't ignore them. Knowledge is, indeed, power and leads to change. I'd recommend this story to anyone who wants an honest look at life on the streets and how much these kids need help. Thanks, Eden, for presenting this problem in a knowledgeable, direct way.

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/the-angel-of-13th-street-the-angel-of-13th-street-1-by-eden-winters-at-rocky-ridge-books

Something Like Rain (Volume 8) by Jay Bell

Something Like Rain (Volume 8) - Jay Bell

“Love hurts. Love scars. Love wounds and mars any heart not tough or strong enough to take a lot of pain... Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain...I know a thing or two, I learned from you...Love is like a flame, it burns you when it's hot...Some fools think of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness. Some fools fool themselves, I guess. They're not foolin' me...Love hurts” ~ Roy Orbison (Love Hurts)

'Something Like Rain' by Jay Bell is the eighth book in the epic puzzle that is his 'Something Like’ series. This book focuses on William and Jason and events surrounding them from William's perspective.

William and Jason are attracted to each other from the first time they meet at the gay youth group meeting. At the time, William is punishing himself for the accident which left Kelly, his current boyfriend, crippled. As penance William stays with Kelly long after they should have gone their separate ways, resenting it more every day. Another reason William resents Kelly is that he has always wanted to be in the Coast Guard and has trained every day for years perfecting his swimming skills. When the accident happens, William is forced to put those dreams aside in order to take care of Kelly.  That, along with his attraction to Jason, leads him to cheat on Kelly rather than face him directly. William is not being fair to Kelly, Jason, or himself. When Kelly finds out, he's much more graceful that William expected him to be.

William and Jason can be together now and become very involved with each other. William says he loves Jason, but he is still planning on going into the Coast Guard, putting his need to feel important and be a hero before being with Jason. Jason, like everyone else, takes second place while William pursues his dreams come hell or high water. Even his new love isn't enough to deter his desire to be a “coastie”. William will be gone for four years and wants to focus on training without any distractions.

Although they try to stay in touch, the longer William is away, especially after his one-night stand with a stranger, the more unfair William believes he's being to Jason. Rather than discuss it with Jason, the next time William comes home, he has lunch with Jason and doesn't even kiss him good-bye. William thinks it's for the best but Jason has no choice in the matter.

I really had a hard time with William's behavior. He may have meant well, but his inability to communicate his feelings hurt a lot of people, Jason in particular. After all he has gone through, I really want to see Jason find happiness. I don't think William is a bad person, he just doesn't know how to express himself - but he's certainly not my favorite character. Instead of facing situations after considerable scrutiny of all of the possible consequences, he just does whatever he feels is best. That's not a good formula for a relationship. I'm amazed Jason sticks with him as long as he does.

It was good to visit with Tim and Ben again as well as the other characters I have grown to either love or dislike in the stories.  It was a treat sharing Tim and Ben's happiness and their unique zaniness made me smile. Fans of the series will appreciate this lengthy sequel, made up of personalities and relationships contained within this prolific series, filling in yet more of the blanks. For those new to the series, it's long and involved and you may want to check the reading order of the books to know the most efficient way of reading them. Thanks, Jay, for adding even more detail to events in the 'Something Like' series.

 

Same Time Next Year by Eden Winters

Same Time, Next Year - Eden Winters

Legend tells us that on Halloween night the “veil between the worlds” becomes thin and allows spirits to pass through more easily. Jerome from 'Same Time Next Year' by Eden Winters will heartily agree. The spot where his lover and best friend, Greg, died, becomes a place where, on Halloween night, every year, he can do more than long for him.

Jerome and Greg are convinced that they are made for each other and will be together forever, that nothing or no one will ever come between them. When Greg is killed, Jerome is inconsolable. From that time on he lives in the past, dreaming of being with Greg again, not being able to move on. His grief and love is so strong that it permeates the veil between this world and the next, giving his lover Greg the energy and incentive to manifest at a special time and place to be together again, i.e., as long as they abide by certain rules. For instance, they can't leave Greg's car. As wonderful as it is to be together, when Greg has to leave, Jerome is left to grieve all over again.

As the years go on, things change drastically for Jerome, but stay the same for Greg. He's watching over Jerome, waiting for a time when they can be together again. Other than that magical night on Halloween, Jerome is lonely and maudlin. Worse yet, he's never able to totally commit to anyone else, no matter how hard he tries, because his heart belongs to Greg. Their once-a-year trysts become more difficult, especially for Jerome who is left behind.  He desperately wants to be with Greg who promises that he will be, just not yet.

This is a bittersweet story about a love that can't be diminished, even by death. The devotion Jerome and Greg feel for each other is phenomenal. Their meetings are wonderful and painful at the same time, but what keeps them going is that they know that some day they will never have to leave each other again. Although this is a sad story in parts, it's also hopeful and inspiring, especially for those who are left behind when someone they love dies. The promise of being together again some day, is a beacon calling them to have patience, honor the memory of the person who has passed, and strength to wait until they can be re-united. Thanks, Eden, for the touching Halloween love story.

 

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbow-reviews.com/book-reviews/same-time-next-year-by-eden-winters-at-rocky-ridge-books

Checkmate (All for Love Book 1) Nicki Bennet and Ariel Tachna

Checkmate - Nicki Bennett, Ariel Tachna

“In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.” ~ Isaac Asimov

Teodoro Ciéza de Vivar of 'Checkmate' by Nicki Bennet and Arial Tachna, has one main concern—supporting his son, Esteban. Anything else, including his own pleasure, takes second place. His occupation as a mercenary is a dangerous one but it pays well; for Teodoro, it's worth the risk. When he's hired to find Christian Blackwood, son of an English nobleman, Teodoro sees it as an easy job, over and done with swiftly. What he doesn't realize is that retrieving Christian will engage not only his sword, but his mind and his heart as well.

Teodoro accomplishes his mission, getting Christian away from Hawkins, his bodyguard, but wounds him in the process. After hearing that Christian's father sent him away for his own protection and learning that St. Denys, the man who hired Teodoro to 'retrieve' Christian, is the one Christian needs protection from, Teodoro understands Christian is in trouble. He will not leave him unprotected until he can eliminate the threat, so Teodoro takes over as Christian's bodyguard. After making preparations for Hawkins to be taken care of, Teodoro brings Christian back to Madrid with him. From the start, Teodoro and Christian have a strong attraction to each other, but honor prevents Teodoro from propositioning Christian; he thinks he has nothing to offer Christian and that there is no way Christian could possibly want someone so far below his class.

Teodoro's son, Esteban, is not happy when Christian insinuates himself into their home and, apparently, into the heart of his father as well. With patience and consistency, Esteban comes to see that Christian isn't there to usurp his position or take Teodoro away from him and begins to trust him. Esteban also sees how much happier Teodoro is with Christian around. With the help of his best friend, Raul, Teodoro obtains evidence in writing of St. Denys association with conspirators in an attempt to assassinate the king of Spain when he meets with the English Negotiator, who happens to be Christian's father. St. Denys is condemned and executed, but that's not the end of their problems. There is another coconspirator out there to be taken care of. Before Teodoro can present his evidence, he is arrested by soldiers of the Inquisition charged with Sodomy. It's obvious to all that the man working with St. Denys is to blame for alerting them because he thinks it's a way to get rid of him. His family and friends agonize over what will happen to Teodoro and desperately search for a way to save him, because, generally, no one escapes the Inquisition’s clutches.

I thoroughly enjoyed this swashbuckling tale and fell in love with the characters. Teodoro having a son was a nice twist. Raul added a touch of the exotic; the mystery surrounding the man was intriguing and his dedication to Teodoro was admirable. Teodoro and Christian's miscommunication about their attraction gave them time to get to know each other better before jumping right into bed. Teodoro and Esteban as well, didn't give Christian enough benefit of the doubt, assuming that he was just a spoiled, privileged child, instead of the fair-minded, not condescending man he actually was. If you like swords for hire, hot sex, despicable enemies, intrigue, betrayal, and a happy ending, then you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Nikki and Ariel, for the exciting story. I'm looking forward to reading more of the series.

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/checkmate-all-for-love-1-by-ariel-tachna-and-nicki-bennett-at-dreamspinner-press

'Fallow' (Whyborne and Griffin' by Jordan L. Hawk

Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin Book 8) - Jordan L. Hawk

“I have loved to the point of madness. That which is called madness, that which to me, is the only sensible way to love." - Francoise Sagan

Whyborne, of 'Fallow' by Jordan L. Hawk, hasn't been the same since their last adventure when he tried to stop a message from being sent to a destructive ancient people who had been to Earth before, leaving chaos and devastation in their wake. Since a signal went through, they are now preparing for war. Griffin notices the changes in Whyborne, how he's pulling away from Griffin, but can't get him to talk about what's troubling him. Whyborne thinks that if Griffin knows the truth about what Whyborne actually is and why he was compelled to come to Widdershins in the first place, he will hate Whyborne for dragging him into the chaotic events surrounding the town.

When Whyborne receives a letter asking for a meeting that will be enlightening as well as one of warning, dreadful things happen very quickly. A man is murdered and the murderer and victim are both from Fallow, the town where Griffin was raised. Needing to know more about the mystery Whyborne, Griffin, Iskander, and Christine board a train and head to the town of Fallow. Griffin is hoping now that his father is dead, his mother will accept him back into her life. Whyborne is also wishing for that to happen, but for a different reason. Whyborne is planning on telling Griffin the whole truth about his identity and, hopefully, reuniting him with his mother, keeping him safe from further harm caused by Whyborne's association with the maelstrom.

Griffin's mother is relieved to see him, but when she finds that Whyborne is with him, she's sorely disappointed. Things go from bad to worse. Griffin's 'shadow sight' detects the same kind of corruption in several of the residents of Fallow that he previously detected in the murder victim and his killer in Widdershins. It's some kind of black mold that takes over the victim's body causing them to decay and submit to mind control. Besides people, the mold has also corrupted the water, land, and the corn that grows on it. They soon uncover a plot to take over not only Fallow and its residents, but also Widdershins where they can do even more damage. The plan is connected to the ancients whose “homecoming” was thwarted when Whyborne disrupted the homing transmission in the previous book in the series. Whyborne and his friends know that they must stop the corrupted corn from getting to Widdershins at all costs.

Although there are the familiar black magic, sorcery, monsters, and mayhem of the other books in the series, this book also focuses on a real crisis in Whyborne and Griffin's relationship. Their devotion to one another is tested by harrowing events and hard, cold facts, and it raises a lot of questions and concerns not easily dismissed. Once the truth is revealed, how will it change them? Will they stay together or will it be too much and come between them? While these questions are answered, many others are raised in order to pique my curiosity, making me wonder what lies in store for the citizens of Widdershins and our group of heroes. I recommend this story to all Whyborne and Griffin fans and for those new to the series, start at book one and catch up or you will miss an extraordinary reading experience. Thanks, Jordan, for once again proving that real love can conquer all.

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/fallow-whyborne-and-griffin-8-by-jordan-l-hawk

Dare to Risk by Kara Nash and Caitlin Ricci

Dare to Risk - Kara Nash, Caitlin Ricci

You can't always get what you want But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find You get what you need.” ~ Rolling Stones (You Can't Always Get What You Want)

Most people would be sentimental about inheriting a farm their grandfather had owned, but Bran, of 'Dare to Risk' by Kara Nash and Caitlin Ricci, sees it as a source of misery and bad memories. He quickly makes a deal to get rid of it. This would have worked if not for Kaden Barker, who, with his friends. has been working for Bran's grandfather and has grown to love and respect him. Kaden is appalled that Bran would even consider getting rid of the farm. When Kaden runs the solicitor off the farm with a shotgun, Bran has to go there himself to intervene. This is when Bran learns that his grandfather stipulated in his will that before he can sell it, Bran has to stay there and work the farm for thirty days, otherwise, Kaden and his friends can stay there for five more years before he can sell it.

Bran hates the farm with an inexplicable passion. Everyone, even his best friend, Chris, gets the impression that something horrible must have happened there to make him feel so much animosity. Combine that with the fact that Bran is determined to sell it and resents the hell out of having to even go back there, much less stay there for a month, and it's a recipe for disaster. Kaden and his friends are certain that Bran is not up to the hard work and long hours, but Bran surprises them and keeps up fairly well. He's actually starting to fit in a bit when his friend Chris, sure that Bran is miserable, comes for a visit to cheer him up. He and Bran are an odd couple, joined at the hip and bonded by their miserable outlook on life; they act more like lovers than buddies, but swear there's nothing more than friendship between them. Chris is the only person Bran comes close to trusting but even Chris doesn't know everything about him. In fact, the way they communicate with each other is through a drinking game, truth or dare. Emotionally, it's safer. While at the farm, they involve Kaden and his friends, Samuel and Trent, in their game. This game, although sometimes funny and sexy, usually ends disastrously, revealing things the men often aren't ready to face, causing all kinds of emotional havoc.

Despite their opposition, Bran and Kaden's physical attraction finally erupts in a fiery expression of passion. Yet, there are problems; Kaden doesn't do “just sex” and Bran can't give in to the feelings he has for Kaden. Although intimate, Bran constantly reminds Kaden of how many days they have left before he sells the farm and he and his friends have to leave. Each time they hook up, it's followed by an argument just as ardent. Bran can't let go of his anger, along with his obvious self-hatred and resentment, except for the being a millionaire part, for the path his life has taken. Bran is letting his past control his future. Discouraged and heartbroken, Kaden finally tells Bran he's had enough of Bran's push-me pull-me attitude. It's not a game to him; Kaden loves Bran but wants to be more than a notch on his headboard. Kaden makes it abundantly clear that he's not playing Bran's game any longer and walks away.

I chose this book because I love to read about sexy cowboys, especially ones from other countries like New Zealand. I was drawn into the story by the emotional graveside scene where Kaden and his friends are saying good-bye to Bran's grandfather. When Bran shows up, I didn't know what to think of him. After reading the book, I'm still not sure what to think of Bran. I tried to understand him, but with his arrogance and lack of social skills, I wasn't able to do so. I liked Kaden although I have a lot of questions about him like why he was working on a farm in the middle of the US when he had other successful ventures in New Zealand. Also, I got confused with trying to juggle three relationships at once. It pulled me out of Bran and Kaden's romance. Despite the confusion with so much going on at once, I did like the story. Since it's the first book in a new series, I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that many questions will be answered in books to follow. If you like cows, farms, rich, sexy men from New Zealand, and complicated millionaires, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Kara and Caitlin, for a whirlwind story. I'm looking forward to see what happens next.

 

 

Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/dare-to-risk-dare-1-by-caitlin-ricci-and-kara-nash-at-dreamspinner-press