Pippa Reviews: Shards in the Sun by Trina Lane


Title: Shards in the Sun (The Heart of Texas series)
Author: Trina Lane
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Pages: 251
Characters: Brandon and Tyler
POV: Third
Sub-Genre: Cowboys and western
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

The heart of Texas beats strong, fueled by the love between two men whose lives are interwoven like the long grass of the hill country they call home.
Brandon Blackstun has spent the last decade moving on from the hellish halls of high school. With an invitation to his reunion in hand, he plans to show his former classmates that not only did the repeated occurrences of being slammed into lockers not cause brain damage, but he’s now a successful cover artist for the very books they buy off the shelves.

Tyler Synder was determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps as head of the international corporation that bears the family name. Instead, his heart is tied to the beat of his horses’ thundering hooves. He operates a breeding program for Tennessee Walkers and a guest ranch a couple of hours from the urban luxury of Dallas where he was raised.

The two men might live very different lives, but the heat between them is hotter than any Texas sun. With the help—or meddling—of an unlikely pair of friends, the two explore a relationship that stirs something deep inside them. Distance and misunderstandings force Tyler and Brandon to consider whether the fulfillment they’ve experienced in each other’s arms is worth the sacrifice of the lives they’ve built individually.
Texas may be the second biggest state in the union, but is it large enough to embrace the love between these two men, or will their deeply hidden fears shatter the boundaries of their hearts?

Review:

I am a huge fan of cowboy stories, but I have to say I have mixed feelings about Shards in the Sun. Before I launch into what I liked and didn’t like, I gave the book a solid 4 kisses because of some wonderful characters and scenes.

Trina Lane has created two very likeable characters in Brandon and Tyler, and I liked their disparate backgrounds. Brandon’s job as a cover artist is close to my heart, and I love cowboys. I wasn’t so sure about some of their interactions and conversations, but I love their interactions with other people. My mixed feelings arise from the fact I was less interested in them as a couple, and more interested in the men with their friends and families.

Overall, I was more captivated by the secondary characters than the main pair, and the author took time and care to give them depth. It was well done, and kept me reading to the end. I appreciated that the author didn’t use stereotypical tropes for the wealthy family, and the family dinner made me chuckle. I also appreciate that female best friend was treated with respect, and wasn’t a Mary Sue to be used and tossed aside.

When I read a book, I don’t usually pay much attention to description and vocabulary unless it detracts from the story, but in this instance, it was evocative and spot on. Shards in the Sun has shown us a well-developed world, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Reviewed By: Pippa Wood

Click HERE to purchase Shards in the Sun

Pippa Reviews: Cross my Heart by Catt Ford


Title: Cross My Heart
Author: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 220
Characters: Lana (Roland) and Daniel
POV: 3rd *Alternating*
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Roland Reynolds—or Lana Renault, as she’s now known—knows that life is no fairy tale. Fortunately she has her trusted friends, nicknamed the dwarfs, to keep her company. She lives her life to the fullest while keeping what’s beneath her skirt to herself.

American painter Daniel Hunter is no stranger to adversity either, and it’s left him with not only strength but secrets. Unlike Lana, he remains aloof, content to observe life and beauty from the sidelines… until the first time their eyes meet on a crowded Paris street.

Cupid’s arrow finds its mark in Daniel, but while Lana longs for romance, she knows there’s no prince in her happy ever after. If their story is to have a fairy-tale ending, Daniel will have to convince Lana to let down her walls—and, in the process, reveal what he fears sharing the most.

Review:

Do you ever read a book and just don’t want it to end? Cross My Heart has been the first book in a long time where I’ve not wanted to reach the last word. Don’t worry about the pronouns. They make no difference when you’re rooting for Daniel and Lana. The difference between Roland and Lana is so subtle, and yet so well-drawn.

Cross My Heart is a modern-day fairy tale, but life for our heroes has been more Grimm than Disney. You have a prince with a less than charming past and a prince wrapped up in princess outfits and living in a tower without a door. Anyway, before I get carried away, let me tell you to read this book. This is a love story, with interfering friends, murky pasts and a backdrop of Paris. There is an interesting dip into British politics which could be stereotypical but had an element of reality.

Lana’s friends, the dwarves (who aren’t), play a large part in the book and have their own journey to make. The author made me feel alternately frustrated and wanting to hug the heck out of them. Our heroes’ journey is different but just as profound, just as frustrating at times.

If this was Disney, I’d want them to be sitting with a bowl of meatballs and spaghetti and sucking on the same noodle – if you get my drift. This is a love story. Go buy it.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Pippa Wood

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Anne Reviews: You Had Me At Hero by Michael P. Thomas


TITLE: You Had Me At Hero
Author: Michael P. Thomas
Publisher: JMS Books
Pages: 85
Characters: Mark Potts/Starr Bradford
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Interracial
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

When seventeen-year-old Mark Potts fell from a balcony, he lost both the use of his legs and any faith in heroes. Now twenty-nine, he’s long-since come to terms with his injury. His job provides more opportunities for eye-rolling than for riding to anybody’s rescue, but with two kids to bring up, he barely has time for his husband, much less for heroics. Besides, Starr Bradford is a policeman — how many heroes does one family need?

Mark and Starr love each other madly, but stress management is a load-bearing pillar of their happiness. When Mark’s coping skills fail him at exactly the wrong moment, he’s left hanging by a thread of words he should’ve kept in his mouth. He has the power to repair their relationship, but when Starr’s workday suddenly goes south, will he get to wield it? Keeping it together long enough to find out is a job worthy of any superhero!

Review:

I got sucked into this story on the first page and stayed up late devouring the book in one sitting. The story is narrated in third person from Mark’s perspective, and I really liked him as a character. Despite an accident in his teens putting him in a wheelchair, he has moved forward and made a life for himself. Although in a wheelchair, that is not what defines him and nor does it stop him from living his life to the fullest.

His relationship with his husband, Starr, is very sweet, and it’s obvious that the two men are very much in love. I enjoyed their interactions, and their family life with their two boys Jory and Jarrett. It felt very realistic, and made me smile. The supporting cast of friends and family added to the storyline and gave the impression of the story being a slice of a complete world.

However, as with life, this story is not all sweetness and light. I really liked the way in which Mark—who is married to an African American and is raising African American sons—realises that being black brings with it bigotry that he hasn’t experienced before, despite being in a wheelchair and being gay. With his job as a 911 call centre operative, he listens to a lot of people at the other end of his phone, not all of whom share his perspective of the world. Heroes don’t all fight crime out in the field wearing a cape.

Mark and Starr also do fight on occasion, and like with most couples, the reason behind it is not always totally rational. This also added realism to the story, and when Starr is involved in a callout which goes quickly south I was on the edge of my seat needing to know that he would be okay.

The author’s writing style makes for a very easy read, and I’d been reading for some time, needing to see what happens next, without realising how late it was. It’s not the first novella I’ve read of Michael P. Thomas’s and hopefully it won’t be the last.

I’d recommend You Had Me At Hero to readers who enjoy a contemporary romance with interesting likeable characters which tackles some big issues but without shoving it in the reader’s face.

Reviewed By: Anne

Click HERE to purchase You Had Me at Hero

Pippa Reviews: Snapdragon by Michelle Woody


Title: Snapdragon
Author: Michelle Woody
Publisher: JMS Books
Pages: 220
Characters: Chris and James
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Thriller
Kisses: 3.5

Blurb:

Private detective Chris Mason thought he only had to worry about his brother Dylan discovering he was dating Homicide detective James Harris. Dylan and their best friend, Ron Abrams, don’t like James, and Chris has to handle their animosity towards his lover. But then Chris is targeted by a serial killer who leaves snapdragons with his victims.

James leads the Snapdragon investigation as head detective. As each murder links Dylan and Ron to the killings, James questions Ron’s motives and his connections to Chris. Ron’s pet name for Chris has always been Snapdragon. Could there be more behind Ron’s playful teases than Chris knows?

When Ron’s attraction to Chris is exposed, their friendship totters. Is a darker side to Ron revealed? Could he be involved with the Snapdragon murders? And will Chris be able to solve the case before he becomes the killer’s next victim?

Review:

Snapdragon is a story with a lot of potential, but lacked the intensity to be an interesting thriller or a great romance. The real interest for me wasn’t the plot or the romance between the two main characters. I’m not keen on reviews which say if you did ‘x’ it would have been much better, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

It had a competent thriller plot which kept me reading to the end to find out whodunit. I though the use of Snapdragon as an ongoing theme in the story was skillfully done. However, the whole plot could have done with more intensity. It was bland at times where it should have been nail-biting, and there wasn’t enough tension in the interactions between the protagonists even though it was discussed.

The author has well-developed characters with a good supporting cast, and that is where it trips up for me. There was no chemistry between the romantic leads, Chris and James. It was almost like the relationship between the two men is an afterthought. By contrast, the tender chemistry between Chris and Ron kept the story going. By the end, I was rooting for Chris and Ron, with James as a poor second. I think all the emotional energy is expended between Chris and Ron, and Chris and his brother. Next time, I suggest the author focuses on one relationship, because it’s inevitable that one must suffer.

Snapdragon wasn’t a bad thriller, it just didn’t leave me invested in either the plot or the romance and that was disappointing.

Reviewed By: Pippa Wood

Click HERE to purchase Snapdragon

Sophie Reviews: Dragon’s Breath by Stephani Hecht


Title: Dragon’s Soul, Book 3: Dragon’s Breath
Author: Stephani Hecht
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Pages: 77
Characters: Tommy, Nicholas
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Shifter, Fantasy, Series
Kisses: 3

Blurb:

Sometimes, to save another, you have to look at your own weaknesses first.

Ever since Nicholas saw the small Dragon in chains in the scrying bowl, he knew that he had to save him. For some reason Nicholas is drawn to the other man and he won’t rest until he knows he’s safe.

Tommy has been a captive from the day he was born. When he is rescued by Nicholas he feels an instant connection to him. But Tommy is afraid to let his guard down and let anybody get close to him.

Can Tommy overcome his abusive past? Or will it doom him and Nicholas from finding love?

Review:

Dragon’s Breath is quick and easy paranormal themed story with plenty of action, sex and a cast of characters that are all sexy within their own right.

Stephani Hecht is an author I’ve read before and for the most part, I really liked what I read. She writes heroes who are pretty damn sexy and there is usually a wit to her writing that gives me a chuckle or two.

Who wouldn’t love Tommy? He’s small and has been a slave all of his life. Unable to shift into his dragon, Tommy has some self-esteem issues but still has a zest for life that I really liked. Nicholas is the perfect man for him. He is sarcastic, funny and a general bad ass when it comes to fighting for what is right and fighting for Tommy. They were a good couple and I liked them together.

The story is a smooth read. I liked the backstory these characters told and overall, enjoyed the interesting life they lead. If you are looking for a short and sexy story this one is for you.

I wish there had been more to it. There is an instalove factor to it and because it is a shifter story, I guess I understand it, I just wish there was more to the relationship than what was given us. There really isn’t a buildup between these two men and I missed it. I’ve read many stories by this author and though I really like them, in some ways they all follow a pattern that I would love for the author to get away from, because I would love to see a fresh take on a much used formula.

I liked Dragon’s Breath. I wish it had been longer had more depth to Tommy and Nicholas’ relationship.

Dragon’s Breath is the third book in the Dragon’s Soul series by Stephani Hecht. I haven’t read the first two, Dragon’s Eye and Dragon’s Heart yet but I do plan on reading them some time in the future.

I recommend this read to those who enjoy a shifter story and crave a quick and easy read. Fans of this author will enjoy her latest installment in this series and look forward to more.

Reviewed By: Sophie

Click HERE to purchase Dragon’s Breath

Woo Hoo! Celebrate Valentine’s Day week with a special discount from Pride Publishing

To celebrate this week of romance Pride Publishing has an amazing discount from Bestselling author Carol Lynne at Amazon for a limited time. Pride Publishing has set up a collection of the first three titles from the Campus Cravings series as a volume which will be discounted, Campus Cravings Volume One!

To purchase Campus Cravings Volume One click HERE

Want to know more about Campus Cravings? Check out the blurb below:

Books one, two and three in the bestselling Campus Cravings series – previously released as single titles

Coach

Being a gay high school football coach isn’t easy, especially in a small town. For five years Justin has repressed his sexuality in order to keep the job he loves. His only serious temptation is the father of his star running back. Sparks fly between the two men, and one Friday night after a winning game, Justin just can’t say no.

Luc is the man he’s been searching for his entire life. But is this new relationship worth risking his career?

Side-Lined

College is supposed to be a time of exploring new things, learning about yourself and having a good time doing it. For Max Henley, it was the hardest time of his life. During his sophomore year, his best friend and lover, Nick, was killed in a car wreck. A car Max had been driving.

Now two years later Max has thrown himself into his studies. Side-lined from football due to an injury sustained during the wreck, Max’s entire focus is on academics. Well, that and his Professor Alec Demakis.

The problem is, whenever Max thinks about his Professor, the guilt over Nick’s death returns. Can Max ever forgive himself enough to love again?

Sacking the Quarterback

Julian Malono loves his job as conditioning coach for the university football team. When he meets incoming freshman quarterback Koby McIntire, he’s instantly attracted and offers to help with Koby’s conditioning regime.

Koby is thrilled when his all-time favourite player agrees to help him. Not only can they work on Koby’s upper body strength, but maybe on the growing attraction between them.

What Koby doesn’t know is that a lifetime of abuse has left its mark on Julian. When shadows from the past threaten their growing relationship, Koby helps Julian fight back by getting him the help he so desperately needs.

But will therapy be enough when the past comes back to threaten Julian in person

Gabbi Reviews: Anyplace Else by Kim Fielding


Title: Anyplace Else
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 33
Characters: Grant Beaudoin,
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 3

Blurb:

Grant Beaudoin should be thrilled to escape Minneapolis at Christmastime and grateful to lounge on a Hawaiian beach. Instead he is mired in self-pity and drowning in too much tequila. His twin is marrying the perfect man, while Grant is stuck in middle management with no love life in sight. A walk into the rain forest leads to a meeting with a doomed man who has a story about a holiday that predates Christmas. Grant comes to realize that difficult endings can lead to new beginnings—and perhaps a brighter future.

Review:

Anyplace Else is a quirky story by Kim Fielding. Out of all of the books in the Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar this short was the most unique and strangely interesting.

I love the author’s works. Ms. Fielding has a real knack at writing thoughtful, well-written characters. She also thinks out of the box when it comes to unique storylines and so on…but having said this, Anyplace but Here is wildly different and more than a little strange.

Grant has gone to Hawaii to be in his twin’s wedding. Grant is down in the dumps and feeling sorry for himself. When he meets several different people who talk about the mysterious god that lives on the island once a year, Grant is confused *I was too* and intrigued by what he thinks is an old wives tale.

I can’t get into this story without giving it away but believe me when I say, this story is more of a Halloween story than a Christmas one. There is a lot of mythology and urban legends to this tale…almost to the point that it left this read confused as to what was going on and what was going to happen next.

Here’s the thing…though the story was a bit odd…I found it oddly endearing. I liked to two heroes and thought this little short story would have been really great if it had been more fleshed out and a full blown story.

Anyplace Else is unique and I liked it. I wish I could have loved it. I wish it had been a stand-alone novel. Instead, I was left a little confused.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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