Lydia Reviews: Mai Tais and Murder by JC Long

TITLE: Mai Tais and Murder

Author: JC Long

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Pages: 156

Characters: Gabe Maxfield and Maka Kekoa

POV:  1st

Sub-Genre:  Mystery, Series

Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Gabe Maxfield never wanted to be a detective or a policeman or anything of the sort. The closest he wanted to come to the law was writing legal briefs and doing research for a big-shot law firm. Nice and safe, and without all the stress. No unanswered questions, just well-defined legal precedents.

When he moves to Hawaii in the wake of a disastrous breakup and betrayal by an ex, a murder investigation is the last thing he expects to get wrapped up in, but he can’t help himself when a dead body, a hunky cop, and his best friend get involved.

So much for sipping Mai Tais on the beach and admiring the well-tanned bodies around him.

Review:

Mai Tais and Murder is the first book in the Gabe Maxfield Mysteries series.  If this story is anything to go by I will have to keep my eyes open for the rest of the books.  I really liked Gabe.  He has a bit of the snark factor going for him which made me smile at times.  He has recently gone through a rough break up and the only choice he saw for himself was to move to Hawaii where he will be closer to his best friend, Grace.  It is through his friend, Grace which Gabe finds himself pulled into a murder.

The other M/C in Mai Tais and Murder is Maka Kekoa.  Maka is a detective with the police department.  He is also Gabe’s new neighbor.  While they had a brief introduction as Gabe was trying to talk to the movers, Max and Gabe are brought together again by the murder of Grace’s partner.  While there is not the “love at first sight” feel to the book, there is an attraction between Gabe and Maka that grows as the story progresses.  This ends up making things difficult for both men as Gabe is drawn increasingly into the murder investigation that Maka is officially involved in.  I liked seeing these two try to figure out just want kind of relationship they are forming, as neither man is ready to admit they want to get involved in anything serious.  Although I loved the romance aspect of this story, the mystery woven though out it is just as engaging.

When Grace’s partner is found died, Grace becomes the suspect and Gabe goes out of his way to find out what is really going on.  The author did a fantastic job holding my interest during the book and more than once I worried about how Gabe would react if Grace turned out to be the murder. I liked the little twists and turns and the fact that the author kept me guessing was a bonus.  For me the story was wrapped up perfectly and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the series will look like.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Gabbi Reviews: The Valet by SJ Foxx

Title: The Valet

Author: S.J. Foxx

Publisher: NineStar Press

Pages: 154

Characters: Hugo, Sebastian

POV: 3rd Limited

Sub-Genre: Historical

Kisses: 2

Blurb:

After scandalizing his family name, wealthy brat Hugo is kicked out of his parent’s home in NYC, and tossed into the English countryside. There, he must live with his extended family and learn what it means to be a “gentleman,” or be cut off and left without his inheritance.

Brattish, reckless, and out of control, it seems that Hugo may never learn his manners. That is, until he meets his match: a stoic, no-nonsense valet, Sebastian.

Hugo and Sebastian are swept up in a forbidden fling, and they play a game of power.

Can Sebastian get a handle on his master? Or will Hugo’s foolishness leave him penniless?

Review:

I just finished reading The Valet by SJ Foxx and I’m still not sure of how I feel about this book. If you follow this blog, you know that I like historically set romances. The Valet is set in the twenties, and since I’ve read precious little homoerotic romances set during this time, I was anxious to read it.

I thought the author did a good job at describing the loneliness that Hugo experiences while being banned from his hustle and bustle life in New York to the almost droll existence his relatives live in England. There were times I truly felt sorry for Hugo because it is obvious that he is nothing but a disappointment to his family because of his reckless ways.

To say that Hugo can be a brat is an understatement. Even the author calls him a petulant child…which is exactly how he acts. I admit, I never warmed up to him because of his childish behavior. I like bratty characters, but Hugo continued to act as an unruly child through most of the book and so I had some difficulty liking him. Now don’t get me wrong. Hugo isn’t a bad person, I just don’t know if he would be a person that I would want to be around in real life. Men who continue to be spoiled brats grate on my nerves more often than not.

On the other hand, I liked Sebastian a lot. He’s a cheeky spitfire that I found myself becoming fascinated with. His boldness and outspokenness were fun to read and I enjoyed watching him put Hugo in his place more than once.

In the end, I read romance because I enjoy watching a meaningful *hopefully* relationship develop between the two heroes. Though Sebastian and Hugo definitely get very heated sexually, I missed the intimacy of a real emotional connection between them. I honestly didn’t think Hugo spent enough time getting to know Sebastian at all. I wanted to know more about him, but in the end, Sebastian was a big mystery to me and that was a huge disappointment.

Both Hugo and Sebastian’s story could have been a great one, but instead, The Valet left me wishing and wanting more. Though the story is a decent one, I had hoped it would have been a better developed, more intimate one.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase The Valet by SJ Foxx

Get into the Halloween Spirit! Check out the release day blitz for a collection of stories by NineStar Press!!

Get in the holiday spirit with the Halloween collection of stories from NineStar Press

Releasing between October 9th and October 23rd, don’t miss a single one!

Available October 16th 

Synopsis

Danton is a 1200-year old vampire, blinded by the Medieval Church, who makes his life as a paranormal romance novelist. He writes about a vampire detective and “pretends” to his fans to be a vampire himself. But book sales are down because he has been without love for over 30 years and just doesn’t have that spark of romance left in him. Until he meets Kevin, a disbelieving young man, desperate for a job, who is brought in by Danton’s agent to try to lighten up his life and heat up his prose.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Available October 16th 

Synopsis

Drew hates labels, but loves Halloween and he wants a trick-or-treat of his own. At his mother’s to deliver emergency candy, she has him get the door in his gender-bending costume. The handsome man with the little trick-or-treater would be Drew’s perfect treat.

David’s attraction to Drew is no trick. He wants the whole Drew, in all his unlabeled glory, making Drew think this could be a treat that lasts long past the holiday.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

 

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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: 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

Anne Reviews: The Visionary by Charli Coty


TITLE: The Visionary
Author: Charli Coty
Publisher: NineStar Press
Pages: 153
Characters: Colin Page, Alonzo Green
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Paranormal
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Colin Page, eighteen-year-old community college student, apple polisher and all-around goody-goody, has a secret. He sees things that aren’t there. Unfortunately, the Doc Martens on the floor of the mail vestibule in his apartment building really are there and attached to a dead body. Hunkered over the body is someone Colin had barely noticed before, Private Investigator Al Green. Most people scare Colin, but for some reason, Al doesn’t, even after he reveals that he knows about the hidden reality of their world.

Alonzo Green, despite his low-power mind, is determined to help right the wrongs he un-knowingly contributed to. He’s also hopelessly smitten. He knows it’s wrong—probably even dangerous—to enlist Colin’s help with the investigation. And that’s before considering all Al has to fear from Colin’s fiercely protective and powerful mother.

Colin and Al put some of the pieces together, but as soon as one thing becomes clear, the picture changes. The search for the Big Bad takes them from Portland to Tacoma and Seat-tle, and eventually to San Francisco, but their journey into each other’s arms is much short-er.

Review:

I love stories that explore the paranormal, and what grabbed me with this story was its exploration of a very different kind of power. Colin not only sees what others don’t, but auras—different colours which reveal things about people they’d often prefer kept hidden. I enjoyed this idea, and the world building that went along with it. Power can be stolen, and with dangerous consequences.

The author uses descriptive language really well, with some of the imagery sticking with me to the extent that I noted it down so I could use it in my review. These examples use colours, which I thought extended the fact that Colin doesn’t just see people, but also the colour surrounding them—“Forest-green moan,” and “Velvet tips of new fern tumbling on the wind.”

I also liked that the supporting characters were fleshed out, and had their own back stories and issues to deal with. Some were from Colin’s past, some from Alonzo’s, but I liked the way the cast worked together. I particularly liked Lavaughn who is Colin’s stepfather, and Dawn as I like strong female characters as part of my MM reads.

I thought Colin and Alonzo complemented each other well, as their personalities and life experiences are very different, although they hooked up quickly. Splitting the POV between each man also meant that the reader is introduced to Alonzo through Colin’s eyes, so there’s that hint of unreliable narrator. Is Colin’s perspective skewed because he is developing feelings for Alonzo, or is there a deeper manipulation going? After all, Colin isn’t the only one in this story with powers. I must admit I got a little confused and ended up re-reading a few bits to make sure I hadn’t missed anything during the part which is Colin’s perspective but that meshed with how Colin would have been feeling thrown into this world and learning that his own abilities are part of a much bigger picture.

But as the story continued, the pace picked up and Colin—and me as a reader—got more information about what was going on, I couldn’t put my tablet down. The ending is very satisfying, although there are consequences as there should be. The fact there were consequences gave the story a realistic touch. Colin’s power isn’t an easy one to live with, and the world and its inhabitants aren’t always good people.

I’d recommend The Visionary to readers who enjoy a complex story that doesn’t spoon feed all the information, interesting world-building, people with powers, and MCs who don’t always know the answers.

Reviewed By: Anne

Click HERE to purchase The Visionary

Patrick St. James Reviews: Only Say the Word by Scott D. Pomfret


Title: Only Say the Word
Author: Scott D. Pomfret
Publisher: NineStar Press
Pages: 342
Characters: Colm Flaherty, Sandy Plunkett,
Genre: Fiction/Hea
Kisses:
1.5

Blurb:

Can a man be Catholic and gay and still true to himself and his lover?

Colm Flaherty sets out to do it. Rejoining the Church after long estrangement, Colm discovers a gift for speaking at Mass that puts wounded people at peace. Miracles and visions abound. Colm is hailed as a “gay saint.”

But even as Colm brings peace to the parish, gritty Boston grows uglier: The Commonwealth is rocked by violent political division over gay marriage, his relationship with his older atheist boyfriend is undermined by devotion to a Church that devalues their love, the archbishop wants to sell the Franciscan chapel to the highest bidder, and there’s an abused former altar boy out there who has determined that he can win redemption by assassinating Colm in the midst of Mass.

After Colm is shot in the pews, all Boston’s tensions comes to a boil, and extremists of every kind clash. His would-be assassin escapes, the archbishop and mayor only contribute to the culture wars, and Colm’s ex-boyfriend is torn between his grieving for his catastrophically injured lover and his commitment to gay liberation. When would-be assassin makes an attempt to finish Colm off, only a single disgraced priest has any chance of preserving Colm’s life.

Review:

First, let me say what this book isn’t. It isn’t a protracted or detailed love story between two men. Their story is given in bits and pieces. This book is not a HEA book as one of the couple lies in the hospital near death from being shot in the face during the Catholic Mass.

Now, what this book is, is even more bothersome to this reviewer. It is a complete recitation of the hatred and bigotry that both the Church and many people have against the GLBT community. Having been “inside” the Church at one time, I can tell you that the litanies of sins that are heaped upon the gay community are many and deep when piled upon one another. This was not a book one could enjoy if the reader is either gay or stands with the gay community. This is a book about Priest-child molestation. Even some of the prayers or words that are said by the Lector are incorrect.

It is about the murder (?) of a beautiful gay man who seems to have been touched by God with a special gift which fails to protect him when a lone gunman who was molested by a Priest brings revenge down upon the Church and later again by killing an innocent Priest; both times during Mass. At least, after a long manhunt, he is captured. It got the extra half-kiss simply for the author having written a book. The author also made a separate chapter, even if only a couple of pages or so, whenever the character changes in the story.

I cannot recommend this book to anyone on any level.

Reviewed by Patrick St. James

Click HERE to purchase Only Say the Word