Lydia Reviews: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford

TITLE:  Murder and Mayhem, Book Two: Tramps and Thieves

Author: Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 210

Characters: Rook Stevens and Dante Montoya

POV:  3rd

Sub-Genre:  Mystery, Series



Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder… and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West LA detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time is not on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.


Tramps and Thieves is the second book in the Murder and Mayhem series.  This is a series that needs to be read in order, please keep that in mind when reading this review if you have not read the first book.

When the book opens it looks as if Rook is back to his old tricks and for a moment there I was a little worried.  I really loved how the author used this hook to pull the readers back into the world created for Rook and Dante.  As I said it looks as if Rook is honing his skills has a cat burglar but, unfortunately for Rook not only does he not find what he is looking for, he ends up finding his cousin, Harold, dead in his bed.  Of course, that is not the worst of it, as he becomes the prime suspect after the police show up.

Standing by Rook through everything is Dante.  I love the way Dante believes in Rook, never thinking for once that the young man could ever kill his cousin.  With all that is going on not once does Dante really worry about how things would go for him at work because of Rook.  While the relationship between Rook and Dante continues to grow, and their passion is intense, it is the mystery that will really hold the reader’s attention until the last page.

The Maltese Falcon plays a key role in this aspect of the story which makes sense given Rooks occupation.  There are a lot of twists and turns as well as a few surprises that will shock the readers.  There is a scene, that at one point about had me crying.

While the mystery is wrapped up in a way that readers are sure to enjoy, it was the finally pages of the story that I am sure will have many fans of the series talking.  Now we just need to wait patiently for book three.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Rim Shot by Skylar M. Cates

TITLE:  Rim Shot

Author: Skylar M Cates

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 216

Characters: Micah Hutchinson and Kyle Sweeney

POV:  Alternating 1st POV

Sub-Genre:  Contemporary, Sports

Kisses: 4.5


Can college roommates go from friends to lovers?

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

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


Rim Shot is a new novel by author Skylar M. Cates.  This is a fast paced story with a couple of college boys at its center.  Both the guys, and the story line, will pull the readers into the story and keep them turning the pages until the end.  While the story is not really angst ridden  I believe there are a few moments that will surprise the readers

Kyle is a star basketball player on his college team.  Raised by a single father, he plans on using his skills on the court to make it to the NBA, but in order to do that he feels he has to keep his private life just that, private.    Keeping things private might have just gotten a little harder though when Kyle gets a new roommate.

Micah is struggling to keep things running smoothly in his life.  Working two jobs just to remain in school was hard enough but now he is forced to share a house with his ex-boyfriend and the ex’s new squeeze.  If Micah doesn’t figure out how to change things soon he may just go crazy.  When he gets a call from Kyle he can’t believe his luck is starting to change.

Things between the two young men are shaky from the start as each tries to get use to the other.  To make matters even worse, there is chemistry between them that each tries to ignore.  Its not to long before a friendship forms between Micah and Kyle.  As you would expect that friendship soon becomes more.  I actually like that the author keeps these two friends for awhile before moving them in to the lovers category.   Although I have a problem with Kyle’s need to keep his relationship with Micah quite it is understandable.

As the relationship between the young men changes so do the priorities in their lives.  Slowly they begin to see that it is possible to get the things the want in live with out having to sacrifice what is important.  I liked watching them come to terms with not only their feelings for each other but others in their families.

Rim Shot was a great read and I am glad I was given the opportunity to read it.  This is a story the fans of the author are sure to enjoy, while at the same time bringing the author new ones.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Anne Reviews: Makepeace by Anna Butler

TITLE:  Taking Shield, Book 3:  Makepeace

Author: Anna Butler

Publisher: Glass Hat Press

Pages: 328

Characters: Bennet/Flynn

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: SF, Series

Kisses: 5


Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in <i>Heart Scarab</i>, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isn’t his father’s ship—bad enough that he can’t yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesn’t have the added stress of commanding former lover, Fleet Lieutenant Flynn and knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.

Bennet’s new mission takes him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity. It’s not good. It’s not good at <i>all</i>.


One of the things I really like about this series is that there are consequences.  After Bennet is injured in the previous story, he doesn’t just snap back into action, but spends months recovering from his ordeal.  I enjoyed seeing more of Bennet’s relationship with his family in this story, plus his building bridges with his father. I felt for Bennet and Flynn and that they couldn’t be together—so tragic on both sides. I thought the imagery the author used for that worked nicely.  Bennet’s sister being assigned to the Gryfalcon added another level of awkwardness to an already awkward situation.  I also liked Rosie as a character and really felt for her and the situation she finds herself in. I think she makes the right call in order to stay true to who she is.

There is a bit more about the background of their world in this story, too, which I enjoyed. The links to Egyptology is great, and it’s obvious the author has a passion for the subject.

But as with the previous books in the series, this is an action SF story in which the protagonists happen to be gay, and I thought the author balanced the relationship and story well.  The storyline with the Maess kicks up a notch, and I was horrified by certain parts of it. I liked the contrast between Bennet’s reaction to that of the Caliban’s crew to what is going on. Bennet’s guilt as to what he has done comes across very clearly, and I like the fact that it’s not going to go away anytime soon.

Another thing that kicks up a notch is the political agenda.  Kudos to the author for writing such politically driven people that I disliked with a passion almost immediately.  She doesn’t pull any punches and I was turning pages quickly needing to know what happened next.  The story asks some very realistic ethical questions, and I found it very thought-provoking.

I’d recommend Makepeace to readers who like a solid action packed military SF story with well developed world building and characters, and a plot that makes you think.

Reviewed By: Anne





Lydia Reviews: Hanging the Stars by Rhys Ford

Title: Hanging the Stars

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Author: Rhys Ford

Pages: 206

Kisses: 5


Angel Daniels grew up hard, one step ahead of the law and always looking over his shoulder. A grifter’s son, he’d learned every con and trick in the book but ached for a normal life. Once out on his own, Angel returns to Half Moon Bay where he once found… and then lost… love.

Now, Angel’s life is a frantic mess of schedules and chaos. Between running his bakery and raising his troubled eleven-year-old half brother, Roman, Angel has a hectic but happy life. Then West Harris returns to Half Moon Bay and threatens to break Angel all over again by taking away the only home he and Rome ever had.

When they were young, Angel taught West how to love and laugh, but when Angel moved on, West locked his heart up and threw away the key. Older and hardened, West returns to Half Moon Bay and finds himself face-to-face with the man he’d lost. Now West is torn between killing Angel or holding him tight.

But rekindling their passionate relationship is jeopardized as someone wants one or both of them dead, and as the terrifying danger mounts, neither man knows if the menace will bring them together or forever tear them apart.


Hanging the Stars is the second book in Ms. Ford’s Half Moon Bay series.   This is the story of West, you remember him, he is Lang’s brother who just happens to be an ass.  Well in this story, which takes place two years after the end of Fish Stick Fridays, West has changed, some.  I love the way he is with Zig, the love he shows his niece is proof that he can’t be all that bad.  I also like that his and Lang’s relationship has improved as well.

The story also introduces several new characters, one of whom is our second main character, Angel.  There are many similarities between Angel and Deacon. Like Deacon, Angel grew up in a dysfunctional family.  When he was finally able to get away he had to start over with nothing.  Now he has a bakery that he loves, and manages a small run down motel that serves as a second chance location for those in need.  He also cares for his eleven-year-old brother who was dropped off one day by their father.   The relationship between the brothers is shaky but Angel his best.  Also like Deacon, Angel has a distrust of cops, something that comes into play during Hanging the Stars.

Where this story differs from Fish Stick Fridays is that West and Angel already know each other.  The two met years ago as teenagers.  The attraction between them was instant and the two fell in love before they knew it.  But they came from different backgrounds and where separated by parents who were only looking out for themselves.  Now, all their unresolved issues come to the surface when the two are forced back together.

West has plans for the motel, however, due to his grandmother’s will, Angel has a say as to what happens to it.  When Angel refuses to sell either the motel or bakery, someone decides to take matters into their own hands.  Soon things start to happen that leave both men wondering who is out to get them.  Then there is the chemistry that still exists between them.  Neither man is ready to start a relationship but they can’t seem to help it.  For them it is almost as if time hasn’t changed.  I liked that the two waste no time getting reacquainted, as well as clear the air with regards to their past.   I also like the connection that West forms with Angel’s brother, Roman.

This story has several twists and turns, as well as a few close calls that will leave the reader worried about what will happen next.    While one of the bad guys was easy to guess, the other was a bit of a surprise.  The destruction he leaves behind could have a lasting effect in West’s life.

I am a fan of Ms. Ford’s.  I love her many series and was sadden when some of them ended.  I would strongly recommend this series to anyone who has not yet tried it.  While it is not necessary to read the first book before reading this one I would suggest you do so anyway.

Reviewed by:  Lydia

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Check out the cover reveal for Elvira Bell’s exciting upcoming release, Astray!!



Wavesongs #1
Elvira Bell
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genre: Romance, Historical fiction, LGBT, M/M, Coming of age, Pirates, Age gap

Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

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Meet the Author

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m fiction with a touch of romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

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Lydia Reviews: Bone to Pick by TA Moore

TITLE: Bone to Pick

Author: TA Moore

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 240

Characters: Cloister Witte and Javi Merlo

POV:  3rd

Sub-Genre:  Mystery

Kisses: 4.5


Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother—find the missing and bring them home.

He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better.

This time the missing person is a ten-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.


Bone to Pick is a great mystery that is sure to pull readers in from the beginning.  Both the main characters are in law enforcement, one local and one federal.  Cloister is a K-9 police officer with a lot of baggage.  When the story opens he is taking down a druggie.  The author does an excellent job with the opening scenes and not only did it pull me into the story, it brought to mind episodes of COPS or PD Live.  I did have to laugh a time or two, especially when the meth head thought he saw a bear.

Cloister is pulled from his usual shift when a call comes in about a missing boy.  Arriving in Plenty, Cloister runs into Javi Merlo, an FBI agent he has history with.  There is a tension between the two men that will leave the reader wondering what went down between the two men.  I really liked the way the author handled the romance between the two men.  While the author could have easily had their relationship be one that developed fast and with little conflict, she did not do so.  Instead, the relationship between them is rocky at times and I wondered if there would even be a HEA for them.  This really added to the story and was one of the things that kept me turning the pages.

The mystery that is woven through out Bone to Pick is one that really had me guessing.  I have to say, I spent a lot of time changing my mind about who the bad guy was.  I think the readers will be just as surprised by the way this part of the book plays out.  For me it was a toss-up as to which I enjoyed more the romance or the mystery.

I will be looking out for more from this author and hope that there will be more books with these two main characters.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Kimberly Reviews: Hearts and Hazelnuts by Kris T. Bethke

Title: Hearts and Hazelnuts

Author: Kris T. Bethke

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 103

Characters: Jordan, Beckett

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Kisses: 3 


Mechanic Jordan Hart is down on his luck, so he gladly accepts a temporary job servicing tractors at a hazelnut farm in Newberg, Oregon. He doesn’t expect to be attracted to his boss, Beckett Shaw. Still working on embracing his bisexuality, he’s reluctant to start anything, but Beckett’s gentle coaxing convinces Jordan to take a risk.

Beckett has vowed not to get involved with anyone until he can restore the Shaw Farms name as a leader in hazelnuts. But there’s no denying his interest in the shy mechanic who shows up at his door. Just as they begin to find a balance, outside forces threaten to tear them apart. Job opportunities force Jordan out of the Portland area he loves so much. But when danger comes too close to Beckett, Jordan must decide if he can follow his heart to the Willamette Valley… and straight back to Beckett.


With Hearts and Hazelnuts, we get another entry into the States of Love series – this time set in Oregon. The story centers around Jordan and Beckett’s emerging relationship, while also balancing a threat to Beckett’s farm, a few side characters whose stories are mostly heard rather than seen, and a promise that everything will work out in the end.

The two main characters, Jordan and Beckett, had their relevant backstories fleshed out enough to support the story and allow us to root for their eventual success. We got the typical “both are interested, but don’t know the other is as well” teases before they embarked on their mutual passion, along with some hints that there was more going on in their histories than we got a look at. I’m curious to know more about Jordan’s relationship with his parents, as well as Beckett’s relationship with his dad. There felt like there was much more to say on both those fronts, but perhaps that’s best left for another visit back to these characters and their future together.

Jordan’s brother, John, and the farmhand Cory were two more characters that I wanted to know a bit more about, but we only got glimpses of them. To be honest, when the explanation of who had been helping competitor Homer Gagnon harass and vandalize Beckett’s farm, I was fully expecting it to be Cory’s estranged boyfriend instead of bringing in a whole new character. But maybe that would have been a bit too neat and tidy for the story. In the end, we did get a solid explanation of why it happened, how all the characters fit together, and a promise of a bright future for them all as they worked together and remained close to one another.

If you’re looking for a story that gives you a bit of mystery, some quiet wondering if the two characters will work out, and a promise that there is more in store for Jordan and Beckett, then Hearts and Hazelnuts is for you. I still hope that we can revisit these two again sometime soon, because I want to know what else they’re getting up to on the hazelnut farm!

Reviewed By: Kimberly

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