Lydia Reviews: Just Like Cats and Dogs by BA Tortuga


TITLE: Just Like Cats and Dogs
Author: B.A. Tortuga
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 206
Characters: Sam and Gus
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Paranormal
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Can cats and dogs ever get along, let alone fall in love?
Sam knows you can never go home again. As an orphaned feline shifter raised by wolves, being an outcast is nothing new to him. But the pack is still his family, and when one of them passes away, Sam returns to the New Mexico desert to say good-bye.
Gus is a loner who rarely returns to his pack, but as fate would have it, Sam is there when he chooses to visit. The history between Gus and Sam is tumultuous, to say the least, but when Gus gets an eyeful of the grown-up and gorgeous version of his childhood bully, he can’t control his reaction. And he isn’t alone.
The attraction is powerful, but so are their differences. And with trouble brewing in the pack and danger surrounding them, Sam and Gus might not have the opportunity to seek com-mon ground.
This action-packed shifter novel is the ultimate opposites attract and enemies-to-lovers ro-mance, and it includes a bonus novella, In the Dog House.

Review:

Just Like Cats and Dogs
is the first book in the Sanctuary series by author B.A. Tortuga. This is the second edition of this book and was originally published by Torquere Books. A novella follows this current edition, as well as a sneak peek at the second book in this series.

Sam is a feline shifter adopted by a wolf shifter family. Because he is a feline, he has always been an outcast, even within his own family. When he left New Mexico, he had no plans of returning, but then his adoptive father died and Sam returned to say his good-byes.

Gus is a wolf and during their high school days he enjoyed tormenting Sam. When he sees, the other man has returned he can’t help getting a few jabs in. At the same time, he is drawn to Sam.

This shifter story is a little different from others. It’s not the fact that the MC’s are from different species, or that they are mates. It is the fact that these two don’t realize right away that they are mates. There’s no “pull” that makes them come together, instead there is a rightness that makes them want to be together. That does not mean that everything between them is roses and sunshine. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Gus’ life and family is in New Mexico. Sam’s is in New York. They think of each other often and when they unexpectedly run into each other, they take advantage of the situation. While they may not be ready to reveal their feelings to each other, they are no longer denying those feelings to themselves. I love the connection that develops between these two men. Even though they do not come out right away and declare their feelings for each other it is evident in the way they act. I love that they call each other puss and pup.

This story also has a few twists and turns that readers will not see coming. Even though I had read this book when the first edition came out, I was still shocked and worried about Sam. I did want the smack Gus a little and loved that Sam’s sister and brother were there to talk some sense into him.

The author did a good job wrapping this story up. Readers will approve of not only the ending, but also the short story that follows. I can’t wait to see what the second book will bring as the author did a great job building the suspense with the short story and sneak peek. Fans of this author really need to add this book to their must-read list if they have not done so already.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Gabbi Reviews: Step by Step by KC Wells


Title: Step by Step
Author: KC Wells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 256
Characters: Jamie and Guy
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Jamie’s life is one big financial mess, and it really isn’t his fault. However, the last thing he expected to find in the library was a Good Samaritan. He might have been suspicious of Guy’s motives at first, but it soon becomes apparent that his savior is a good man who has been lucky in life and is looking to pay it forward. Guy being gay is not a problem. Jamie’s not interested… or so he thinks.

Guy is happy to help Jamie, and the two men get along fine. But when Jamie’s curiosity leads him from one thing to another, Guy finds himself looking at the young man with new eyes. What started out as a hand up is now something completely different….

Review:

Step by Step by KC Wells is a beautifully written story with two incredible characters that will live within your heart long after the story is finished. This story will be a true delight for anyone who craves an exquisitely written romance. I simply adored these characters and was enthralled by the story they had to tell.

In life, almost all of us need a helping hand. When we meet Jamie, he is literally at the end of his rope. He is almost homeless and in desperate need of guidance and a lot of compassion. When an older man, Guy, approaches him and is willing to help him out with NO strings attached, Jamie cannot believe his good luck and at first is doubtful about Guy’s compassionate nature and willingness to open up his home and his life to him.

Having no other choice, Jamie takes a chance and decides to give Guy the benefit of the doubt and he swallows his pride to allow himself to be helped. Neither man knows that this decision will change the course of their lives forever.

What starts as a tentative friendship develops into a rich and thriving relationship between two people who truly like, love and respect one another. I loved every minute I spent reading this book and I truly hated to see it come to an end.

It’s not that often that I’ll read something and immediately want to reread it as soon as I finish it, but Step by Step is one of those books. KC Wells is a master at writing bewitching, romantic stories with characters that live and breathe off of the written page. After reading this book, I am a fan of hers for life. I loved this book and cannot recommend it high enough.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Gabbi Reviews: Rushing Love by Meg Bawden


Title: Rushing Love
Author: Meg Bawden
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 93
Characters: Grayson Harland, Flynn Webb
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Western
Kisses: 2

Blurb:

After a devastating breakup with the man he thought he’d spend his life with, Flynn Webb takes a vacation to a South Dakota dude ranch. It’s something completely different from anything he’s done before, and it helps that it’s as far away from his ex as possible. Trapped in his own depressive thoughts, Flynn is surprised to meet Grayson Harland. Not only is Grayson a sexy cowboy—one fifteen years younger—but he’s the most charming man Flynn has ever met.

Flynn doesn’t have much experience with being seduced, and he has even less with guys like Grayson taking an interest in him—and Grayson is definitely interested. What begins as a fling while visiting iconic South Dakota sights soon develops the potential for much more. But Flynn is afraid that falling in love again so soon—and with a man so much younger—will lead only to another catastrophic heartbreak. Luckily for them both, Grayson isn’t giving up without a fight.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Review:

Rushing Love is the first book I’ve read by this author. I have to admit I really looked forward to reading this one. I love a May/December romance, but unfortunately this one didn’t work very much for me.

Flynn is a thirty-something man who has decided to travel to a dude ranch in South Dakota with his best friend. His lover of nineteen years has cheated on him and he needs both a change of pace and to hopefully mend his broken heart. The minute he meets the younger, Grayson, Flynn life is immediately changed forever.

Here’s what worked for me: I thought the author did a good job describing South Dakota, as well as some of the interesting touristy things you can do there and I did enjoy it. I also liked the age difference between the two heroes. I liked the premise of the story and though the chemistry between Flynn and Grayson could be pretty good at times.

I had an issue with both Flynn and Grayson’s behavior in the book. Flynn is supposed to be heartbroken over the loss of his partner for 19 years, but after just two days he’s willing to uproot his life for Grayson? Here’s the thing, I love insta-love, but only if it works and it is written well…but this one was a little over the top for me.

I also thought the dialogue was stilted and well…strange at times. Grayson says stuff that made me wonder if he was 13 year old boy *with bad manners* instead of a young man. He pursued Flynn doggedly and won his man. Ironically, I DID kind of like his determination and he DID have some cute moments, but unfortunately I rolled my eyes more than anything from his and most of the characters behavior and stilted conversations.

I’m sorry but this book didn’t work for me at all. I know there will be other people who will read it and like it, I just wasn’t one of them.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press website

Gabbi Reviews: Rough Edges by Cardeno C.


Title: Rough Edges
Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: The Romance Authors, LLC
Pages: 46
Characters: Kyle Potter, Brent Haralson
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Kyle has an unwelcome crush on his nemesis Brent. Brent has a welcome crush on his friend Kyle. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks to the wrong family, Kyle Potter has spent his life clawing his way toward a better future. When he gets the perfect job at the perfect firm in perfect Los Angeles, Kyle is sure there are only blue skies ahead. And then he meets perfect Brent Haralson.

Born with a silver spoon to a well-established family, Brent Haralson has never been interested in leveraging his connections. Friends, success, and dates come easily to Brent and rejection isn’t something he has to deal with in life. And then he meets perfect Kyle Potter.

Kyle despises his unwelcome crush on his lazy, arrogant nemesis. Brent welcomes his feelings for his stubborn, brilliant friend. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.

Review:

Any time I read a story written by Cardeno C., I know that I’m in for a delicious treat. There is something special about her stories that keeps this reader highly satisfied and coming back to them time and time again.

To say that Kyle hates Brent is almost an understatement. Almost from the first day they meet and anytime they are around each other, Kyle does NOTHING to hide his emense dislike for him. Between the snarky comments, body language and down and out rudeness toward Brent, I truly wondered two things.

The first thing I wondered was if Kyle would ever soften up to Brent. Sure, Brent was born into money and though Kyle thinks he is a waste of human life because he does not work, Brent is kind-hearted and extremely likeable. Even though Brent allows Kyle’s snarky comments roll off of his shoulders, Brent is no push-over. He can be sarcastic and very witty and most of the time was able to keep Kyle in his place. Through half of the story, Kyle hates Brent and honestly searches for reasons to almost be mean to him.

The second thing I wondered was if I was ever really going to like Kyle. While reading this story, I liked and admired Brent and honestly didn’t care for Kyle’s stubbornness when it came to deliberately hating Brent…no matter how nice Brent was or how much Brent set out to help him. His insistence to find fault with Brent’s whole life began to grate my nerves badly and at one point in the story, I truly began to hope that Brent would tell Kyle to kiss his ass and find someone else to obviously like and admire.

I shouldn’t have worried because this is a Cardeno C. story. Trust me when I say that this author knows how to write relationships and romance. Even when you wonder if the chips will be down and there is no hope for this couple, Cardeno C. is always able to somehow turn things around and make these characters not only likeable but made for each other.

The thing is…even though Kyle could be a jackass there was an interesting backstory as to why he felt the way he did and why he was a stubborn and sometimes too serious for his own good. I liked how Brent was able to see through Kyle’s hard outer shell and into the softness Kyle had deep inside. Kyle and Brent both are complex and interesting characters and I ended up loving them both.

If you are looking for a well-written story and you enjoy a good sarcastic hero with more bark than bite, then Rough Edges is definitely the story for you! I wish the story had been longer. Just when it was getting so good, boom, it was over. Ugh! But the happy ending still left a smile on my face and I know I’ll revisit these characters soon when I’m in the mood for a quick and very satisfying read.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Rough Edges by Cardeno C.

Gabbi Reviews: First Flames by Drew Hunt


Title: Fireside Romance, Book 1: First Flames
Author: Drew Hunt
Publisher: JMS Books
Words: 30,180
Characters: Simon Peters, Mark Smith
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

All four novels in Drew Hunt’s best-selling gay erotic romance series, Fireside Romance, are now available in one box set! Contains the stories:

First Flames: One evening, when the loneliness becomes overwhelming, Simon gathers up his courage and goes to the red light district of the town to buy a little human companionship. As the weeks pass, Simon and Mark find warmth and friendship indoors. When an explosion injures Mark, Simon has to make a decision. Can he offer Mark shelter and nurse him back to health without revealing his true feelings?

Burning Brighter: After declaring their love for each other on Christmas Day, Simon Peters and Mark Smith settle down to a cosy life of domestic togetherness. Snuggle up in an easy chair and toast your toes in front of the fire as you read Simon and Mark’s continuing romantic adventures.

Heating Up: Simon and Mark’s social life grows. However, a near tragedy reminds them to celebrate such togetherness because it could be snatched away. Simon discovers he has a kinky side, one which he and Mark often explore. Join them as they navigate the highs and lows of life.

Glowing Embers: Numerous challenges face Simon and Mark. Because of his time on the streets, Mark worries about HIV. Mark’s dad gets back in contact and brings issues of his own. Can this unconventional family pull together despite all the world has thrown at them?

Review:

Simon is a lonely man who longs for male companionship. Not only does he long for a companion, he wishes to have someone special to share his life with. But, being a librarian and a little bit introverted, Simon doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to meet people.

One night he is so lonely he opts to buy a male prostitute for a couple of hours of his time. Though he knows sex is always an option, Simon wants to just hang out with a man, maybe watch television and cuddle for a while. When he spots “Jim” and purchases some of his time, Simon isn’t prepared for the unexpected feelings he has for “Jim”.

As the two men get to know one another, both seem to crave an emotional connection. Both Simon and “Jim”, who has now confessed his name is truly Mark, enjoy the time they spend just in each other’s company and a budding friendship begins to form.

As time goes by, when Simon finds out that Mark has been injured, he leaps to the young man’s rescue. As their feelings continue to develop, both men must learn to face their insecurities if they want to truly have something special between them.

First, Simon is a likeable man. He’s a hard worker and enjoys his job. Since the story is told entirely through his eyes, we truly get to see how his feelings for Mark, as well as his own insecurities, grow as the story continues. Though I liked Simon, I thought he needed to spruce up his life a little bit. At times, he was a little bit too much into his routine and maybe a tad bit dull, so I was glad to see Mark come into his life and bring some sparkle into it.

Mark is also a likeable man. He comes from a difficult home life, leading to his lifestyle choices. I found myself charmed by his sweetness and thought he was well-matched for Simon.

If you are looking for a romance between two likeable characters without a lot of angst, but with plenty of sweet moments, First Flames is definitely the book for you! I liked these two men and enjoyed the story the author had to tell.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase First Flames by Drew Hunt

Gabbi Reviews: Fangs Like Me by Lyssa Dering


Title: Fangs Like Me
Author: Lyssa Dering
Publisher: Nine Star Press
Pages: 120
Characters: Lane, Parker
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Paranormal Romance
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Lane, a newborn vampire, still feels the pain of betrayal. Two years ago, a faithless boyfriend took his life, and now, Lane’s Maker has also left him behind. The pain of separation burns strong when all Lane wants are arms to hold him and enough warm blood to satisfy his voracious appetite. At a shifter party, Lane is drawn to a hunky Alpha werewolf who tries to console him.

Parker is more than a thoughtless hookup. Since his family disowned him for finding boys just as hot as girls, all he wants is someone to love and look after. The sweet little vamp calls to his protective instincts, but he sure is jumpy. Cuddling with boys is new and delicious, but when this boy also wants him as a food source, things get complicated.

Vampires and shifters aren’t supposed to get along, and Parker’s rough dominance triggers bad memories for Lane. But Parker’s wolf wants Lane, and he knows he can give Lane what he needs. Can Lane learn to navigate his past and give the thing growing between them a chance? Or will the very real possibilities of heartache, abandonment, and even death, keep them apart?

Review:

Fangs Like Me is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be my last. I really enjoyed the dynamics between the characters and the world they lived in.The blurb does a great job describing the story so I won’t rehash it. Instead, I thought I’d write about why I liked this book and why I recommend it to those who love a well-written paranormal romance.

Lane is considered a very young vampire. He has only been turned for a couple of years and still has a lot to learn when it comes to living and surviving as a vampire. Though he lives in a home with other established and older vampires, Lane suffers greatly because his maker has left him and has no intention of coming home anytime soon. Because of this, Lane lives with the thought that his maker doesn’t care for him and in many ways he feels unwanted and unloved. He truly struggles to live with the newness of being a vampire and is often confused and emotional because of it.

Sparks fly when Lane meets Parker. This is a surprise for him because Parker is a shifter…and an alpha shifter at that and in many ways any kind of relationship between them is forbidden. But, Parker is just as drawn to Lane and feels a deep connection and need to take care of the young vamp. As the two men begin to allow their guard down and get to know each other, they are soon faced with the difficulty of being with someone who is not the same species and some of the prejudices from it.

I liked this book a lot. I enjoyed the chemistry between Lane and Parker. It was easy to believe that they genuinely care for one another and I liked the way their relationship develops as the story unfolds. Parker really looks out for and takes care of Lane. I thought that was both sweet and an endearing part of his character.

The only reason why this book is not a five kiss read for me is because there is some things that were left unresolved. Also, I really would have loved to more about the backstory between the characters. (Parker in particular) In my opinion, this book needs a sequel BADLY. Plus, Parker is NOT immortal…so I see that as a problem in the future. There were many loose ends that needed to be resolved for me, but having said this…I really liked this book and I hope the author continues their story.

Fangs Like Me is a well-written, thought-provoking story with a fresh take on a paranormal romance. I loved the creative storytelling ability Ms. Dering has and can’t wait to read more
stories by her.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Fangs Like Me

Lydia Reviews: Shards in the Sun by Trina Lane


TITLE: Shards in the Sun
Author: Trina Lane
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Pages: 251
Characters: Brandon Blackstun and Tyler Synder
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Western, Contemporary
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

The heart of Texas beats strong, fueled by the love between two men whose lives are in-terwoven 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 interna-tional 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 re-lationship that stirs something deep inside them. Distance and misunderstandings force Ty-ler 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:

Shards in the Sun is the first book in Ms. Lane’s The Heart of Texas series. This book is a contemporary western that spans over a period, however the author does such a good job with this story that it does not feel as if is dragging.

Brandon was raised by a single mother and while he’s smart he felt college was not for him. After some struggles he found himself a job at the library, which he sort of loves, and a side job designing book covers. When his ten-year high school reunion rolls around, Brandon would prefer not to go but gets talked into it. While there, two things happen. One, one of his old tormentors apologizes for what he did and explains why he behaved the way he did. Two, Brandon meets the love of his life, he just doesn’t know it yet.

Tyler was raised with everything he wanted. However, when he decides not to follow in his father’s footsteps, his parents do not approve and things between them become tense. Tyler had plans though and with an inheritance from his grandfather he buys a ranch and starts on his dream. While he doesn’t leave the ranch much, he does go out occasionally and when he’s out one night he comes across Brandon.

The two have a rocky start. There are numerous misunderstandings that lead Brandon to believe that he just imagines a connection between him and the gorgeous cowboy. After a little meddling by his friend, Jessenia, and Tyler’s brother Zach, Brandon and Tyler finally get together.

The chemistry between the two men is intense and the men really heat up the pages, however, there are so many issues between them that I could not help wondering when the two would face a separation. That eventually becomes an obstacle that they must overcome but their biggest problem is Brandon and his feelings of not being good enough.

I really liked this story. The men pull you into their story from the get go, and keep you wondering how things will play out. I loved the interaction between them even if there were some times when I wanted to shake Brandon. I did like the way he got Tyler’s parents to see that what Tyler was doing was something to be proud of. As for Tyler, I liked that he stood by Brandon, even if he should have been a little firmer with him a time or two. One of the best parts of this story for me was watching the way Brandon grows as an individual. He comes into his own professionally and realizes just what is important personally.

Shards in the Sun is also full of wonderful secondary characters that play import roles in this story. There is of course Brandon’s mother, who is a little crazy. Jessenia who is Brandon’s best friend. There is also Tyler’s parents and brother. What is a little unexpected is the role that Brandon’s former bully plays.

Javier has a connection to both main characters and while his past actions have long lasting effects in their lives, a friendship of sorts does eventually form. He’s not in the story a lot, but it is hinted at that he will be the focus of book two.

Fans of Ms. Lane’s are sure to like this new story, and while I believe this is the first of her books I have read, it will not be the last. I can’t wait to see what book two has in store.

Reviewed By: lydia

Click HERE to purchase Shards in the Sun by Trina Lane