Pippa Reviews: Cross my Heart by Catt Ford


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

Blurb:

Do you believe in love at first sight?

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Pippa Wood

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Gabbi Reviews: Anyplace Else by Kim Fielding


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

Blurb:

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: Fire Balls by Tara Lain


Title: Balls to the Wall, Book 2: Fire Balls
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 112
Characters: Rodney Mansfield, Hunter Fallon
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

2nd Edition

A Balls to the Wall Romance

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

First Edition published by Etopia Press, 2012.

Review:

Fire Balls by Tara Lain is the second book in the Balls to the Wall series. Since this is a re-release, this is the second time I’ve read and reviewed this book. Like before, I am starting this series on the second book because the first book in the series, Volley Balls, is a ménage based romance. If you follow me, you know that I’m not a fan of ménages, so I’ve opted not to read it, BUT having said this…if the first book is as good as the second, it is definitely something you should consider.

I’ve read several books by Ms. Lain and I have to say, I’ve enjoyed them all. She writes characters who are fun, unique and sexy as hell. Plus, the heated chemistry her heroes share, as well as the genuine love and affection they feel for one another, truly resonates off of the written page.

Rodney is one of those heroes that you can’t help but adore. He is a successful artist whose love of poetry make him a true romantic at heart. (Even if he doesn’t want to admit it to himself) Because of his short stature and flamboyant-and-larger-than-life personality, Rodney has learned that not all men can appreciate him as he is. Normally, this doesn’t bother him because Rodney likes and accepts himself for who he is really is.

Though Rodney is a big personality with a lot of zest for life, when it comes to relationships and falling in love, Rodney keeps his heart safe behind a big wall of indifference. This is somewhat surprising because Rodney is loyal to his friends and likes and is liked by many others, but no matter how many barriers he keeps between falling in love and his heart, when he meets the handsome and very masculine firefighter, Hunter, all of his indifference to the possibilities of love begin to crumble.

Hunter has been living his life to please others. Though his homosexuality is known to others, he is afraid to truly live his life as he wants. Because of his larger, muscular size, Hunter is often looked at as an Alpha male who shouldn’t have a soft and sensitive side. Since Hunter aims to please those people he loves, he has pushed aside his own wants and needs and is living a life that doesn’t truly suit him. When he meets Rodney the first time, Hunter is intrigued by the sexy, flamboyant artist but his shame in being attracted to someone so different that what is expected of him, keeps Hunter from allowing himself to own up to his fascination and attraction to the larger-than-life artist.

Opposites can attract, but as we read the story it’s clear that Hunter and Rodney have more in common than at first glance. I liked the way they tiptoed around their attraction for each other, despite both men not wanting to admit how hard they are falling for one another to their own selves. The intense physical chemistry between them struck me as a special one and I began to love how they *despite themselves* began to communicate and then fall in love.

There were times these two drove me crazy. I’m not a fan of deception and both Rodney and Hunter deceive one of Rodney’s friends, Jerry throughout the novel. I didn’t like this aspect of the story at all, but in a way I did understand it. This might turn some readers off, but thankfully the two men do seem to redeem themselves in the end. Also, as a side note…I loved Jerry and hope he gets his own story one day…just sayin’.

Fire Balls is romantic tale of two men who are clearly made for one another and it’s an easy book to recommend. Tara Lain truly writes romance with a heart and I can’t wait to read more of this series.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Lydia Reviews: Extrasensual Perception by Rayna Vause


TITLE: Extrasensual Perception
Author: Rayna Vause
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 208
Characters: Christopher Vincent and Jackson Whitman
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

If a stalker doesn’t kill them, the heat between them might.
Christopher Vincent is desperate enough for a job that he accepts an offer to entertain as a psychic in a friend’s nightclub. Jackson Whitman, one of the club’s co-owners, is less than thrilled by the new act. To him, psychics are ridiculous and a liability. But when they come face-to-face, attraction flares to life between them.
Someone is watching Jack and Chris from the shadows. What starts as a series of creepy encounters leads to deadly attacks.
Jack and Chris must set aside their differences and work together to survive a homicidal stalker. But can they survive their explosive connection?

Review:

Extrasensual Perception is part of Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desire line. This book is by author Rayna Vause, who is new to me, however I will be looking for more stories from her. In this book, the author brings two men together who have very little in common, not just financially but also belief wise. There is also a mystery woven through the story, that while it is easy to guess the bad guy, still leaves you turning the pages to see what is going to happen.

Like his mother, Christopher is psychic and when she asks him to deliver a message he does so, no matter how much he does not want to. When Angelica, his best friend and the person he needs to deliver the message to, offers him a job in her new night club reading fortunes, he takes it to cover his mother’s medical expenses. It’s there he meets Angelica’s brother Jackson.

Jackson does not believe in psychics and in fact thinks Christopher is going to be a liability to the family company. He can’t deny that he is intrigue and attracted to the younger man however and vows to keep a close eye on their new employee.

While Christopher is just as attracted to Jackson he is not planning to get involved with anyone who does not believe in him. But then Christopher’s visions start coming true and Christopher and Jackson need to figure out who is out to get Angelica.

I liked the interaction between Christopher and Jackson. Christopher does not take any gruff from Jackson, and while he does not force Jackson to accept what he can do, he also does not hide it. The attraction between them is strong as well and the two heat up the pages when they get together. I also like the mystery Ms. Vause has woven through out this story.

Someone is trying to kill Jackson’s little sister and the who is easy to figure out, it is the why that leaves readers turning the pages of this book. I like how action packed this story is and that the author was still able to hold my interest even after guessing the bad guy. I also liked that Christopher began to accept the visions rather than trying to ignore them. As readers, can guess, the fact that Christopher’s visions seem to be coming true, makes Jackson a believer. The little twists and turns in this story are well done and the way the author wraps up this story was fantastic. I am looking forward to more from this author and encourage others to give her a try.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Love is Heartless by Kim Fielding


Title: Love is Heartless
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 254
Characters: Nevin Ng and Colin Westwood
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Series
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he re-sponds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s wealthy, bow-tied landlord.
Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terri-ble crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.
Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that the sparks fly when they’re togeth-er. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.

Review:

Love is Heartless is the second story in the Love Can’t series by author Kim Fielding. While there is some crossover between the first two books, it is not necessary to read the first book before reading this one.

The main characters in this book are a little intense. Nevin is a detective with the Portland PD. He’s a total alpha, and the fact that his looks belay that fact causes some issues for the detective. Readers will want to read the prologue as it really explains why Nevin is the way he is. But looks aside, he is good at his job and tough as nails. Nevin is called in to investigate the murder of an elderly women who supposedly had no enemies. While there he meets Colin Westwood.

Colin’s background is completely different from Nevin’s. Where Nevin did not know where his next meal was coming from or which foster family he would be with next, Colin had the life of luxury. The only problem he had was one centered on his health and that only made his family more protective of him. Now an adult, Colin has had to work hard to prove he can be on his own. While volunteering for a charity that helps elderly gay people he finds one of his people dead. It’s now that he meets Nevin. The two men are intrigue by the other yet because of personal issues ignore what they are feeling. When another of Colin’s people shows up missing Nevin is once again called in. Because of the attraction the two feel for each other, Colin and Nevin make a one night stand deal. Problem is neither man wants it to end at one night.

I really like these two together. Nevin shows Colin it’s okay to be a little tough while Colin brings out the softer side of Nevin. While Colin is a little hesitant to fight for his independence, it is Nevin that has a harder time dealing with change. The chemistry between them is intense and I loved watching them move from one night stand to lovers and friends. When the two become serious and Nevin met Colin’s family, I had to laugh at some of Nevin’s actions.

While the men’s relationship is an important part of the story, it is not the only part that will hold the reader’s attention. Someone is killing the elderly and whoever it is has a connection to Colin. I think that the readers will love the twists and turns in this story. There are a couple of OMG moments in this story that I did not see coming and one moment where I was not happy at all. While it may be easy for some to figure out who the killer is, the why is something we hear about every day on the news.

I believe this is my first book by Kim Fielding but it will not be the last. I am curious to see what the next book in this school will be about and will look for more stories by this author.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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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

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Gabbi Reviews: Do You Trust Me? By BG Thomas


Title: Do You Trust Me?
Author: BG Thomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 191
Characters: Neil Baxter, Cole Thompson
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Western, Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

2nd Edition

The path to happiness starts with acceptance, and sometimes the chance for a bright, loving future means letting go of the past.

All his life, Neil Baxter has buried a large part of himself—the part that’s attracted to other men. He married a woman and denied that side of him existed. And he plans to keep right on pretending to be straight after his beloved wife has passed away.

To help him deal with his grief, Neil’s sister-in-law convinces him to vacation at a dude ranch. There, Neil meets Cole Thompson, a young, gorgeous, unabashedly gay wrangler—who is unabashedly attracted to Neil. And try as he might, Neil cannot deny he feels the same way. But desire soon becomes something more profound as the two men get to know each other. Cole is much more than a sexy cowboy: he’s kind, spiritual, and intelligent. In fact, he’s perfect for Neil… except he’s a man, and Neil isn’t ready to let go of a lifetime of denial. If he cannot find the courage to be true to himself, he might let something wonderful slip through his fingers.

First Edition published as Trust Me by Amber Quill Press, 2011.

Review:

I’ve read several books by this author and I’ve enjoyed them all. Mr. Thomas has a real knack at writing sweet and endearing characters that are easy to like.

It’s been two years since Neil’s wife has passed. Though he has a good job and a daughter that he loves to pieces, in some ways, he’s an unhappy man. When his best friend-who is also his wife’s sister- asks him to go to a dude ranch with the family, he’s not sure about going. Neil isn’t the outdoorsy type and really doesn’t think he’d enjoy it much. But since his sister-in-law is recently widowed herself he reluctantly agrees to go.

When he does a little research about the ranch he is immediately captivated by a picture of one of the ranch hands and is more than a little disturbed by his intense attraction he has for the man. Shrugging it off, when he and the family arrive there weeks later, Neil is even more disturbed when he meets the ranch hand, Cole, in person and worried when he finds out that Cole will be their guide/host for the week.

As the two men begin to know one another it becomes very apparent to Neil that Cole is attracted to him and even worse *to him* Neil is also attracted to the younger man. As the week progresses, Neil must face the sexual side he is denied all of his life, as well as, push aside some of his own prejudices and fears if he wants to take a chance a finding love again.

Do you trust me? is a sweet story about being true to oneself and to others. Since it is told in first person through Neil’s eyes, we get the full perspective of how he thinks and feels. This is good in some ways because Neil is like an onion…there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. He is known to be somewhat of a homophobe at first, but as the story continues it is revealed as to why he acted this way and why he has denied being his true self for all of his life. I admit there were times I wanted to shake some sense into Neil, but all in all he is a good man who finally faces his fears so he can be open to new possibilities and love.

Cole is a really sexy man. He’s strong and noble and you can’t help but like him. I know I did. But, because the story is in first person we don’t know as much about him as I would have liked. His persistence to get Neil to notice him and to take a chance on him was a romantic gesture within itself. I liked him and I liked Neil so they were a good couple together.

I had a few niggles with this story. I thought the last couple of chapters was rushed and not as fleshed out as it could have been. There is little to no angst when it comes to Neil being out to his family…they all seemed to know he was gay before he allowed himself to believe it. Also, this might be a tad bit petty but I hate it when one hero calls another one Daddy. I’m sorry it’s always made me cringe…I wish I didn’t feel that way, but I do. I know this won’t bother most people, but it did me.

Do you trust me? is a solid read with plenty of sizzling moments and romance to satisfy the pickiest of readers. I enjoyed the story and I hope Sloane gets his own story one day. If you like May/December stories with sexy characters and sweet romance, then this is definitely the book for you!

Recommended

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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