Anne Reviews: Gyrfalcon by Anna Butler


TITLE: Taking Shield, Book 1: Gyrfalcon
Author: Anna Butler
Publisher: Glass Hat Press
Pages: 281
Characters: Bennet/Flynn, Bennet/Joss
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Series, Science Fiction
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield serial, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—and with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down.
He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war.

What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

Review:

I’d heard good things about Taking Shield by Anna Butler and as a long time SF reader, wondered if the hype was well founded. It is! A couple of pages into this story, and I was hooked. The world building is wonderful, and I felt like I was walking into a world with a rich history, and yet I had no problems in jumping in at the point this story takes place within it. The story starts with a fast pace action scene which grabbed my attention immediately. The technical aspect of the series is obviously well researched, but didn’t bog down the story either. I loved the way the author approached the aliens in this story—the reader learns about them alongside the characters, and I reacted in the same way Bennet did when he discovers—sorry, spoiler—which reflects how engrossed I was in the story.

Bennet and Flynn are very different characters, but they complement each other so well. There is a lot standing between them and their HEA, which makes a lot of sense considering everything else going on. I would have been disappointed if their relationship had gone smoothly, even though their romance is not the focus of the story. Although this story includes a romance, it is so much more than that, and I felt the romance was secondary to the plot. This is a SF story in which the characters are gay, rather than vice versa, and it works perfectly.

The supporting cast are well fleshed out too, and have their own motivations. I did find though, that as soon as I’d read the final words in this story, I had to keep going and read the next one…and the next one… so expect a few reviews while I play catch up.

Gyrfalcon reminds me of why I love SF, and I’d highly recommend the book—and the series—to readers who enjoy military SF with fabulous world building, complex characters, and a story that leaves you wanting more. Gyrfalcon is up there with one of the best books I’ve read this year. I don’t buy many hardcopy books because of the cost of postage etc to NZ, but there are a few I have on my wish list. This series definitely is.

Reviewed By: Anne

Click HERE to purchase Gyrfalcon by Anna Butler

Lydia Reviews: One Bullet by Casey Wolfe


TITLE: One Bullet
Author: Casey Wolfe
Publisher: NineStar Press
Pages: 152
Characters: Ethan Brant and Shawn Greyson
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Mystery
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

When Ethan Brant was shot, he found himself dealing with severe PTSD and unable to do his job as a police officer any longer. With the aid of Detective Shawn Greyson, the man who saved his life, Ethan not only finds himself again but discovers love as well.
Shawn’s life growing up was less than ideal, however, he overcame that to become who he is today. That does not mean he isn’t missing something in his life. What Shawn hadn’t realized, upon first meeting, was that Ethan could give him all that and more.
One bullet changed both their lives.

Review:

One Bullet starts off in a way that is sure to grab your attention and will keep it until the very end. The opening page could also be considered a trigger, so those with problems surrounding violence may want to keep that in mind.

Ethan was a police officer who ended up leaving the force after being shot. What makes his situation different is that Ethan was shot by a fellow police officer while Ethan was off duty. The whole event leaves him with a major case of PTSD. To this day not only does he suffer from nightmares but also panic attacks when around members of the police force. That is everyone except Shawn.

Shawn is a detective who happen to be on the scene when Ethan was shot. He also happens to be the only police officer who can talk Ethan down when he is in the middle of an attack. Slowly a relationship starts to develop from the bond that already existed between the two men. I love the way Shawn is so invested in Ethan, going as far as researching PTSD in police officers so that he has some understanding of what is going on with Ethan and how to help him. The men do have occasional roadblocks but come through them stronger than they were before.

While some parts of One Bullet are predictable, it is an entertaining story and one that kept me reading till the end. I really enjoyed this book and would love to see more of Shawn and Ethan in the future.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to purchase One Bullet by Casey Wolfe

Gabbi Reviews: Frozen Heart by Heidi Cullinan

Title: Love Lessons, Book 1.5: Frozen Heart
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Pages: 47
Characters: Walter Lucas, Kelly Davidson
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

Review:

As soon as I read the blurb to Frozen Heart by Heidi Cullinan, I knew I had to read it. Love Lessons is one of my all-time favorite books and I was thrilled to read about the next chapter in Walter and Kelly’s life.

Frozen Heart is a very romantic tale. It’s an uplifting, sweet and sexy story that will melt your heart and bring a huge smile on your face. It’s always refreshing to read well-written heroes that are truly meant to be with one another. I love how Walter and Kelly ‘get’ one another and enjoy watching how they take the extra steps to make the each other happy.

All I can say is read this book. I truly loved it and so will you.

Frozen Heart is the continuation of Heidi’s book, Love Lessons. Although Frozen Heart could be read as a stand-alone, I DO NOT recommend it because you’ll immediately want to see how this amazing couple got together. Walter and Kelly’s story is an addictive one to read and you’ll love every minute you’ll spend reading it.

Highly Recommend!

The Love Lessons series in book order are:

Love Lessons
Frozen Heart
Fever Pitch
Lonely Hearts
Short Stay

Click HERE to purchase Frozen Heart by Heidi Cullinan

Gabbi Reviews: Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan


Title: Love Lessons
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Pages: 301
Characters: Kelly Davidson, Walter Lucas
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

2nd Edition

Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.

Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.

Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.

As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.

Review:

I’ve read several books by Heidi Cullinan and I’ve loved them all. Ms. Cullinan has a way of really getting to the heart and soul of her characters. She has an ability to write well-told, sexy and thought provoking stories that live long with you long after finish reading it. The blurb does an excellent job at describing the story, so I won’t rehash a lot of it. Instead, I thought I’d talk about why I love this book and why I highly recommend it.

After I finished reading Love Lessons, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a well-rounded story. I loved how both heroes, and in my opinion, by the way Ms. Cullinan wrote them, loved them too. They are definitely not your average everyday cookie-cutter characters. No, these two men are extremely well-developed, humanly flawed and lovable heroes that live and breath off of the written page.

When it comes to the old adage that opposites attract, it is never better said than the romance in Love Lessons. Kelly comes from a small town, loves anything romantic. His favorite movies are Disney related and he hopes to one day find his own Prince Charming. Kelly is determined to have his own happily ever after.

When Kelly meets his new roommate, Walter, he wonders what in world they could have in common…except that they are both gay.

Walter has a love ’em and leave ’em attitude and doesn’t believe in romance, but he can’t keep from becoming fascinated with his new roommate, Kelly’s, romantic ideas and naive view of the world. As a budding friendship between the two men turn into something more, Walter soon learns that maybe there really is a Prince Charming out there for everyone…even for a pessimistic romantic like him.

I loved how Ms. Cullinan reveals the quirks and problems her characters are experiencing little by little as the story continues. Just as the Walter and Kelly get to know each other, we as readers, also truly get to know who these two heroes really are on the inside. I also loved how these two men really seemed to have an undying affection, friendship and deep love for each other. Believe me, Kelly and Walter’s story is not a quick, easy ride, but it’s truly a beautiful one to read.

Love Lessons is one of my all-time favorite books. It will be on my re-read and keeper shelf where I know I’ll revisit these characters and their amazing story again and again. If you are looking for a romantic read that will both bring tears to your eyes and joy in your heart, then Love Lessons is definitely the book for you!

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Gabbi Reviews: Textual Relations by Cate Ashwood


Title: Textual Relations
Author: Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Cate Ashwood
Pages: 88
Characters: Henry Hathaway, Asher Wescott
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Evolutionary psychology professor Henry Hathaway is ready to spend his birthday the same way he does every year: a good teeth cleaning followed by lunch with his brother. But when he receives a wrong-number text confirming the details of a date, he does what any considerate person would—he goes to meet them and explain why they’ve been stood up.

Asher Wescott hadn’t expected his blind date to go well, because when do they ever? Henry shows up instead, and things are suddenly looking up. Socially awkward and attached to his routines, Henry is nevertheless one of the most charming and kind men Asher has met in a long time.

Too bad he’s not Henry’s type.

An accidental date, an impulsive kiss, and a few conflicted feelings later, can Asher get Henry to see the world—and him—in a different light?

Review:

Textual Relations by Cate Ashwood is a sweet and sexy romance that left a smile on this reader’s face. I needed a light, romantic read and this story was just what the doctor ordered. Since the blurb does a good job at describing the story, I won’t rehash it. Instead, I decided to write about why I liked this story and why I recommend it.

One of the stronger aspects of the story are the two heroes. Both Henry and Asher are likeable men. I truly enjoyed watching them form a strong bond together and liked their story. Since the book is told by Henry’s point of view, we don’t get to know Asher as much as I would have liked, but we are able to see through Henry’s eyes how special he thinks Asher is and how easy it was for Henry to fall for him despite never being attracted to a man before.

Henry is an intelligent man, but despite this, he is quite walled-off and sheltered many ways. He has a routine he sticks by and doesn’t like change very much. It’s because of his reluctance to try new things, Henry has a controlled and somewhat boring life. When Henry meets Asher, his world is turned upside down. Asher is sweet and sexy and his zest for life, both fascinates and frightens Henry. As the two men get to know one another and Henry begins to allow himself to see more and do more, the two men form a strong bond and attraction toward one another.

I really liked Henry but he is cluelessness sometimes was off-putting to me. There were times I found myself wondering how he could be so naïve about some things, but in some ways, I did understand why Henry would be endearing to a sexy and more compulsive Asher. It would be interesting to see this couple in the future. I’d like to see how their relationship continues to evolve and if, despite their differences, they really do stand the test of time.

If you are in the mood for a sexy and flirty read, Textual Relations is the book for you. It’s a perfect rainy day read and an easy book to recommend. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Ms. Ashwood in the future and hope she does continue writing more about Henry and Asher one day.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Texual Relations by Cate Ashwood

Lydia Reviews: Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski


TITLE: Symbols
Author: Mario Kai Lipinski
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 350
Characters: Shane and Matt
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.
Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?
Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.
Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.

Review:

For those who love the young adult sub-genre, Symbols is an excellent story to pick up. From the first page, I found myself drawn into the world created by the, new to me, author. I loved the characters, yes, they could be cookie cutter in the way that Matt is small and picked on, while Shane is the big tough scary one. However, while we may have seen characters with similar descriptions before, these two have their own personalities that help make them stand out.

Matt has learned to live with the bullying he faces in school, going on alone without even letting on to his parents. He is worried when he hears the rumors floating around about the new kid, and scarred shitless when he finally sees him. Matt has every reason to be afraid as Shane is bigger than any other student at the school. His size and tattooed covered body screams thug, and the rumors saying he killed someone at his last school do not help. But, Shane is a bit of a teddy bear who will protect anyone he cares about, even at a cost to himself. While they notice each other earlier in the day, they really do not meet until Shane comes to Matt’s rescue. Matt is unsure how to react to Shane and cannot help worrying what the cost will be for the other student’s aide.

It is easy to see that Matt suffers from PTSD due to all the bullying he has gone through. I like that Shane realizes this and, in his own way, tries to help Matt. But Matt is not the only one suffering. Shane has many issues to overcome as well. There are the scars that are the result of a car accident when he was younger, he has covered them with tattoos which unfortunately helps flesh out his thug status. Then there are the events of last school year and the reason he is starting over in a new place.

Both of their issues cause a lot of misunderstandings between them. More than once I felt myself close to tears and wanting to hug one, if not both, of them. I want to say that after a rocky start their relationship flows smoothly and everything changes for them, however, that is not the case as this is a story that is full of angst. It is also one that I will be reading again.

For me Symbols is one story that I will re-read many times. the characters and the story line not only grabbed my attention from the beginning but stayed with me even after the story ended. I will also be keeping my eye out for more books by this author.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Love Wanted by John Inman


TITLE: Love Wanted
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 270
Characters: Larry Walls, Bo Lansing, and Jimmy Blackstone
POV: 3rd POV
Sub-Genre: Ghost
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

When it rains, it pours. Not only has Larry Walls been evicted from his apartment, but his hours have also been cut at the department store where he works, leaving him facing homelessness.
Meanwhile, Bo Lansing, a total stranger to Larry, toils at a dead-end job as a fry cook while attending night classes to become a certified chef. When the school closes its doors without warning, leaving Bo in the lurch for thousands of dollars in tuition, his dream of becoming a chef is shattered and his financial troubles spiral.
Desperate for a new beginning, each man answers an ad for live-in help posted by a wealthy recluse, and wonder of wonders, they are both hired! Just as their lives begin to improve, a young Kumeyaay Indian named Jimmy Blackstone joins the workforce at the Stanhope mansion.
When Mr. Stanhope’s true reason for hiring the young men is discovered by one of the three, a fourth entity makes its presence known.

Greed.

With all these players vying for position in a game of intrigue orchestrated by one lonely old man and a mischievous ghost, can a simple thing like love ever hope to survive the fray?

Review:

This newest book by Mr. Inman is not at all what I was expecting. Let me say upfront that I am a huge fan of this author and Love Wanted has not changed that. However, I was expecting another fun filled romp like many of his earlier books and while Love Wanted is funny, and will no doubt have the readers laughing at times, for me it had a different feel to it.

The book starts out with a prologue to set up the background of the book. Old wealthy Mr. Stanhope knows he does not have a whole lot of time left and with no family he has no one to leave all his money to. With that in mind Stanhope sets out to find two men who will find the kind of love he had with his husband. To do that he turns his house into a form of Big Brother, the only difference is that there will only be two young men ‘hired’ and neither of them know what is really going on.

When the story starts out it appears as if this will be a fun romantic story between Bo Lansing and Larry Walls, each having to start over, and hoping that their new jobs with Mr. Stanhope is just what they needed. Of course, you expect things to be a little crazy with Stanhope playing the two to see how they will react, and Jeremy, the ghost of Stanhope’s husband causing a little mischief. Slowing things begin to change and I started to wonder what was going to happen next, especially after Stanhope hires Jimmy Blackstone.

This is one of those books that would be easy to spoil so I will not go into too much detail. I will say that fans of this author really should think of picking up Love Wanted. While it, in some ways, was not what I expected, it was very well done. I found myself staying up late into the night to see how everything would play out. I loved the way the author wraps up the story and found myself wanting to cry at the end. I was glad to be given a chance to read this and will be putting it in my keeper file.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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