Lydia Reviews: You Never Know by Mary Calmes

TITLE: You Never Know

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 200

Characters: Hagen Wylie and Mitch Thayer

POV:  1st POV

Sub-Genre:  Contemporary

Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.

Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.

If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.

Review:

You Never Know is a fast-paced read by author Mary Calmes, and one her fans are sure to enjoy.  The story is told in the first person by Hagen Wylie and is a story about second chances.  Hagen, and our other m/c, Mitch, were high school sweethearts with their lives planned.  Mitch would head off to college where he would hopefully catch the eye of an NFL recruiter, while Hagen would catch up to him later.  But as things have a way of working the boy’s plans fall apart and so does their relationship.

Fast forward to the present and Hagen has a successful construction company and a secret, friends with benefits relationship with a well-known actor.  He is also living with the after-effects of his time in the military.  As for Mitch, he went on to find his fame and fortune in the NFL.  He married, had two children, and divorced.   Then he returned to his hometown to raise his boys and win back Hagen.

I liked Hagen from the beginning and his reaction to finding out Mitch was back as the book starts had me laughing.  I loved how he acted as if it was no big deal while those around him were spazzing about it.  Even those new to town seem to know the men’s history together and wonder how Hagen is going to react.  When the two do meet up again it is done in a way that readers will not expect and lets you see just how strong a connection the two men still have.

Hagen, however, is reluctant to get involved with Mitch again and rightfully so.  I liked that the author did not have them start over as if nothing had ever happened.  Instead, she makes Mitch work for his chance with Hagen and he even acknowledges that he has a lot to make up for.

While I did enjoy this story, and will be reading You Never Know again in the future, there is one point in the story that I wish would have been different.  Although the story covers a short period of time, the story is to the halfway point before Mitch shows up.  I would have liked to have seen him and Hagen spend more time together, yet in some ways, it seems that Hagen spends more time with Ash, his friend with benefits than he did with Mitch.  While that was a bit of a sore point for me, it did not keep me from giving this book a 4, as the time Hagen and Mitch do spend together was well done.

Those that like Ms. Calmes books are sure to like this one, and for those who have not yet tried any of her books I recommend you give this one a try.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

 

 

 

Lydia Reviews: A Day Makes by Mary Calmes


BOOK: A Day Makes
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 200
Characters: Ceaton Mercer and Brinley Todd
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Mystery
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Mob enforcer Ceaton Mercer has killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways—he stashed the last two bodies in a toolshed belonging to a sweetheart marine researcher in an idyllic island community—but he’s really not such a bad guy. Over time he’s found a home of sorts, and he even learns he’s found a place in the hearts of the people he works with… at least enough so that they won’t put a bullet in his head because he’s outlived his usefulness to the boss.
But he never thought he’d find one day could change his life, and he’s about to discover how wrong he is.
Because in a single day, he meets the man who looks to be the one, the love of his life. It’s an improbable idea—a man who deals in death finding love—but it’s like it’s meant to be. That single day gets weirder and troubles pile up, forcing Ceaton to take a hard look at his dreary life and accept that one day can change everything, especially himself. His future might be brighter than he expects—if he can stay alive long enough to find out.

Review:

You would not expect a mob enforcer to be the hero in romance novel, or for him to be so likable and complex. Yet, that is just what you find in Ceaton, one of the main characters in Ms. Calmes newest release, A Day Makes. Becoming a mob enforcer is not what Ceaton expected to do after leaving the military but when he finds himself infornt of a local Vegas mob boss he takes the job, it’s either that or becoming homeless or worse.

Ceaton’s time in the military has instilled in him a code of ethics that rules his life to this day, even if his current job is beyond the norm. He quickly moves up the ladder of Grigor’s organization and becomes the one people turn to while Grigor tries to look legit. The men he surrounds himself with have become the family he lost when leaving the Marines. While Ceaton thought he would stay with the organization for some time, that is not what happens. After Ceaton has been with the Serbian organization for several years, Grigor fears that he is planning a takeover, and sets out to fix the problem.

Ceaton realizes that things have changed and is beginning to worry that his time as Grigor’s enforcer is coming to an end. Doing one last job for his boss finds him looking after the son of a local judge. The connection between Brin and Ceaton is fast and intense. Ceaton knows the younger man is his from the first moment he sees him and will go out of his way to protect him.

I really liked A Day Makes and plan to re-read it again soon, I will admit that I was wondering when the romance part of the story would kick in. When it did I was not disappointed. Brin is like a ray of sunshine which is just what Ceaton needs in his life. I was surprised by the past connection the two men had, as it was not what I was expecting. The men don’t have the time to take things at a leisurely pace as there are many out to get them. Besides those hunting Brin, because of his father’s dealings, Ceaton is also worried about his “brothers in arms” as he has no idea which side of the fence they are on, his or Grigor’s.

I really loved the way the author wrapped this story up. I knew Ceaton’s military history would be important at some point so was not too surprised by one aspect of the ending, however, everything else floored me. I realize that the author has many books on her plate, but I strongly hope there will be a follow up to this as it will be a great beginning to a new series.

Reviewed By: lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Lydia Reviews: A Day Makes by Mary Calmes


TITLE: A Day Makes
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 200
Characters: Ceaton Mercer and Brinley Todd
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Mystery
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Mob enforcer Ceaton Mercer has killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways—he stashed the last two bodies in a toolshed belonging to a sweetheart marine researcher in an idyllic island community—but he’s really not such a bad guy. Over time he’s found a home of sorts, and he even learns he’s found a place in the hearts of the people he works with… at least enough so that they won’t put a bullet in his head be-cause he’s outlived his usefulness to the boss.

But he never thought he’d find one day could change his life, and he’s about to discover how wrong he is.
Because in a single day, he meets the man who looks to be the one, the love of his life. It’s an improbable idea—a man who deals in death finding love—but it’s like it’s meant to be. That single day gets weirder and troubles pile up, forcing Ceaton to take a hard look at his dreary life and accept that one day can change everything, especially himself. His future might be brighter than he expects—if he can stay alive long enough to find out.

Review:

You would not expect a mob enforcer to be the hero in romance novel, or for him to be so likable and complex. Yet, that is just what you find in Ceaton, one of the main characters in Ms. Calmes newest release, A Day Makes. Becoming a mob enforcer is not what Ceaton expected to do after leaving the military but when he finds himself infornt of a local Vegas mob boss he takes the job, it’s either that or becoming homeless or worse.

Ceaton’s time in the military has instilled in him a code of ethics that rules his life to this day, even if his current job is beyond the norm. He quickly moves up the ladder of Grigor’s organization and becomes the one people turn to while Grigor tries to look legit. The men he surrounds himself with have become the family he lost when leaving the Marines. While Ceaton thought he would stay with the organization for some time, that is not what happens. After Ceaton has been with the Serbian organization for several years, Grigor fears that he is planning a takeover, and sets out to fix the problem.

Ceaton realizes that things have changed and is beginning to worry that his time as Grigor’s enforcer is coming to an end. Doing one last job for his boss finds him looking after the son of a local judge. The connection between Brin and Ceaton is fast and intense. Ceaton knows the younger man is his from the first moment he sees him and will go out of his way to protect him.

I really liked A Day Makes and plan to re-read it again soon, I will admit that I was wondering when the romance part of the story would kick in. When it did I was not disappointed. Brin is like a ray of sunshine which is just what Ceaton needs in his life. I was surprised by the past connection the two men had, as it was not what I was expecting. The men don’t have the time to take things at a leisurely pace as there are many out to get them. Besides those hunting Brin, because of his father’s dealings, Ceaton is also worried about his “brothers in arms” as he has no idea which side of the fence they are on, his or Grigor’s.

I really loved the way the author wrapped this story up. I knew Ceaton’s military history would be important at some point so was not too surprised by one aspect of the ending, however, everything else floored me. I realize that the author has many books on her plate, but I strongly hope there will be a follow up to this as it will be a great beginning to a new series.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Lydia Reviews: Chosen Pride by Mary Calmes


Title: Chosen Pride
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 240
Characters: Jon Slade and Kelvin MacCurdy
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Paranormal
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Jon Slade finally met his mate, but instead of it being the happiest day of his life, it became the saddest when wolf shifter Kelvin MacCurdy chose his obligations over their fated bond, leaving Jon to pick up the pieces of his shattered dreams. Lucky for him, Roman Howell, his boss and the owner of L’Ange, saw promise in the forlorn lion and put him to work so he wouldn’t have time to sit around and lick his wounds while he waited for his wounded spirit to heal.

Then the wolves make an official visit to L’Ange, and Jon finds out Kelvin’s pining for him is taking its toll on his position as the king’s champion. Though Kelvin’s training and the ex-pectations of others steer him toward an intended mate, Jon has an unbreakable hold on his heart, and it’s no longer possible for Kelvin to keep himself from where he truly belongs.

But the conclave brings more than Kelvin to the château. It also brings a challenge to jackal alpha Quade Danas, a threat that Quade and Roman, Arman and Linus, and Jon and Kel-vin may have to fight in order to keep L’Ange’s family intact. Jon never wanted to lead a pride, but the loyalty and devotion to one is ingrained in him. Kelvin was raised to punish anyone who questioned his king, but the calling to protect others runs through his veins just as deeply. To come out on the other side of the battle together, Jon and Kelvin will have to hold the darkness of solitary pride and broken hearts at bay—and find strength in belonging to something bigger than themselves.

Review:

Chosen Pride is the third book in the L’Ange series by Mary Calmes. This is a series that must be read in order so if you have not read the first two books you may want to wait to read this review. Chosen Pride is the story of Jon Slade, who you will remember was hired to seduce Roman in book one. He came across as a bit of a prick, but Roman liked him and brought him into the fold. In book two, Jon met his mate but was rejected, much to his shock. Now in Chosen Pride, Jon is one of the MC’s and is forced to decide whether he should move on or not.

Jon has been working with Linus at the chateau. Recently his performance has been lacking, causing Linus to come down on him. Jon is shocked when Sheridan, another worker at the chateau comes to his rescue and soon the two strike up a friends with benefits relationship. Just when Jon is starting to get a grip on things, his mate Kelvin, along with the wolf king and his group show up at the chateau.

Kelvin did not want to walk away from his mate, but because of his position within the king’s circle he had no choice. the separation is killing Kelvin however and when he shows up at the chateau with the king he knows he has no choice but to finally claim his mate.

Once Ms. Calmes brings these two together things really take off. Neither man can deny want they are to each other and I liked that the author did not drag this part out. They are also hot together and I was surprised by the way Jon took control. These two waste no time claiming each other which means that they are going to have to inform the king, who will not be happy since one of the reasons they are at the chateau is to announce the bonding of Kelvin to a female of another pack. What neither man realizes is that their mating affects more than just their lives.

While I loved this story as a whole, I really loved the way it changes up the series and am curious as to what Ms. Calmes will bring us next. Ms. Calmes is an author that is on my must buy list and Chosen Pride does not change that.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Lydia Reviews: When the Dust Settles by Mary Calmes


Title: When the Dust Settles
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 107
Characters: Glenn Holloway and Mac Gentry
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Western
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Glenn Holloway’s predictable life ended the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family. As if that wasn’t enough, he then poured salt in the wound by walking away from the ranch he’d grown up on, to open the restaurant he’d always dreamed of. Without support from his father and brother, and too proud to accept assistance from anyone else, he had to start from scratch. Over time things worked out: Glenn successfully built a strong business, created a new home, and forged a life he could be proud of.
Despite his success, his estrangement from the Holloways is still a sore spot he can’t quite heal, and a called-in favor becomes Glenn’s worst nightmare. Caught in a promise, Glenn returns to his roots to deal with Rand Holloway and comes face-to-face with Mac Gentry, a man far too appealing for Glenn’s own good. It could all lead to disaster—disaster for his tenuous reconnection with his family and for the desire he didn’t know he held in his heart.

Review:

When the Dust Settles is the third book in Ms. Calmes Timing series. Unlike the first books, this story is about Glenn, Rand’s half-brother/cousin and is told from Glenn’s point of view. The story picks up about two years after the end of After the Sunset and several things have changed in Glenn’s life.

Readers of the first two books may remember Glenn and will be surprised when the reason for his actions in the previous books is revealed. Now that Glenn has come to terms with who he really is, not only has his behavior changed but so has the way he looks. Glenn is also happier than he has been in some time, but he is lonely and alienated from his family. I could understand why Glenn would want to stay away from his father as the man is a jerk, however the fact that he has stayed away from his brothers and Stefan should not have been allowed to last if it did. I wondered how the author planned to reconcile Glenn and his brothers and thought the round up was a good idea, but could not help wondering if it would make matters worse. One of the pluses brought by the round up is the fact that Glenn and Mac are thrown together for a short period of time.

Readers of the previous books will remember Mac, Rand’s foreman. Mac is all man and an alpha at that. The attraction that Glenn feels for the foreman also confuses him since Glenn has always saw himself in the alpha role when it came to relationships. The fact that Mac makes him feel slightly submissive scares Glenn. The attraction between these two is strong and they heat up the pages of this story so be aware.

Glenn has also gotten his restaurant and his workers have become the family he feels he has lost. But things are changing there as well and Glenn is face with some decisions that would bring him even closer to his family.

There is a lot going on in this story, especially when you consider the fact that this is just a novella. While I enjoyed When the Dust Settles and plan to re-read it again soon, I think it would have been even better if the book had been longer, allowing for more depth of character and plot. It would be great to see more of these two and I hope the author will bring them, as well as Rand and Stefan, back for more.

I am sure fans of this series and the author will enjoy When the Dust Settles and I hope those who have not yet read it will give it a try. Just keep in mind that while Rand and Stefan are not the focus of this new book it is necessary to read their story before moving on to Glenn’s.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Lydia Reviews: After the Sunset by Mary Calmes


Title: After the Sunset
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages:169
Characters: Rand Holloway and Stefan Joss
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Western
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Two years after riding off into the sunset with ranch owner Rand Holloway, Stefan Joss has made a tentative peace with his new life, teaching at a community college. But the course of true love never does run smooth. Rand wants him home on the ranch; Stef wants an exit strategy in case Rand ever decides to throw him out. Finally, after recognizing how unfair he’s being, Stef makes a commitment, and Rand is over the moon.
When Stef gets the chance to prove his devotion, he doesn’t hesitate—despite the risk to his health—and Rand takes the opportunity to show everyone that sometimes life’s best surprises come after the sunset.

Review:

After the Sunset is the second book in Ms. Calmes Timing series. Like the first book, this one is told from Stefan’s point of view, but the story does not come across one-sided as can happen with some stories told from this view point. The story picks up about two years after the end of book one. Stefan has moved to Texas and is teaching at the community college. Some would think that this would mean everything between the two men is running smoothly. That could not be further from the truth.

Stefan is so used to being tossed aside that he keeps waiting for the other shoe to fall in his relationship with Rand. Because of this, Stefan has put off making major decisions which is causing Rand to wonder if Stefan is planning to leave. I did not have a good feeling about where the men’s relationship was going when After the Sunset started. I could understand Stefan’s concerns while at the same time understanding Rand’s loss of patience, even though he is still madly in love with Stefan. I wanted to shake the younger man and tell him to open his eyes before he lost Rand for good. Thankfully I did not have to, as the author did it for me.

While Stefan comes to some clear understandings, he knows he must find a way to show Rand what he, and their home, mean to him. Like the first book I had read After the Sunset before, but forgot what would happen during the book so was surprised by the actions Stefan went to. I could not believe the d**k move Rand’s uncle pulled and don’t know that I would have been as understanding as Stefan.

For me it is this book more than the first one that shows just how much in love Stefan and Rand are. The home and future they have built is strong and readers can easily see that this is a relationship that will last. While this story does not have the added mystery woven through it like Timing did, it is still a story that will leave the readers turning the pages to see what will happen, and leaving them satisfied once they reach the last page. There are a couple of little twists and turns that I really enjoyed and think other readers will as well.

I am a fan of this author and have many of her books in my e-library. I love the way she brings her characters to life, and that they are always so different from each other. I also love that her characters do not always come perfectly formed, instant they have issues and imperfections which makes them and the story more believable. If you have not given Ms. Calmes a try, then I strongly suggest that you pick up this series.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Lydia Reviews: Timing by Mary Calmes


TITLE: Timing
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages:204
Characters: Stefan Joss and Rand Holloway
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Western, Mystery
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Stefan Joss just can’t win. Not only does he have to go to Texas in the middle of summer to be the man of honor in his best friend Charlotte’s wedding, but he’s expected to negotiate a million-dollar business deal at the same time. Worst of all, he’s thrown for a loop when he arrives to see the one man Charlotte promised wouldn’t be there: her brother, Rand Holloway.

Stefan and Rand have been mortal enemies since the day they met, so Stefan is shocked when a temporary cease-fire sees the usual hostility replaced by instant chemistry. Though leery of the unexpected feelings, Stefan is swayed by a sincere revelation from Rand, and he decides to give Rand a chance.
But their budding romance is threatened when Stefan’s business deal goes wrong: the owner of the last ranch he needs to secure for the company is murdered. Stefan’s in for the surprise of his life as he finds himself in danger as well.

Review:

Mary Calmes’ Timing is a romantic western with just a touch of mystery thrown in. The story is told in the first person from Stefan’s point of view. Right from the beginning Stefan pulls you into his story and leaves you wondering how things between him and Rand will play out. The history between Rand and Stefan is full of discord. From the moment, they met, Stefan has been in lust with the older man, but for some reason Rand seems to hate Stefan. When Stefan’s friend Charlotte, Rand’s sister, is planning to get married, Stefan is willing to be the bride’s maid. He just does not understand why it takes a whole week to tie the knot, leaving him more chances to run into Rand. Also, since he’s already going to be in Texas he’s talked into handling some business for his boss. Stefan can’t wonder which is worse, the weeklong wedding foo-foo, handling business when he should be on vacation, or spending time with Rand.

Obviously, Rand does not really hate Stefan and watching how this plays out will be fun. When Rand calls a cease fire, Stefan is a little confused, but will do anything to make sure Charlotte has the wedding she wanted. The attraction between Stefan and Rand is easy to see and it is surprising that the two of them have been able to ignore it for if they have since it is so strong. Of course, the fact that Rand had been married at one point didn’t help. I liked watching these two come together. Rand is so protective of Stefan that at one point I thought he was going to end up killing his own cousin. But the passion that exists between them does not necessarily mean there will be a lasting relationship, which has Stefan afraid.

Besides the romantic portion of Timing there is also the mystery. Even after reading this story numerous times I am always surprised by the bad guy. I want things to play out differently and am shocked by the extend the bad guy goes to. Yet it is because of what happens that Rand’s and Stefan’s feelings for each other is made clear to them.

Timing is the first book of Ms. Calmes series of the same name. This book, as well as book two, have been published previously. While the stories themselves have not been changed, the covers have. This story, along with the author’s Matter of Time series made Ms. Calmes one of my must buy authors.

Reviewed By: Lydia

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website