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

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Gabbi Reviews: Whippersnapper by Michael Rupured


Title: Whippersnapper
Author: Michael Rupured
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 220
Characters: Oliver Crumbly, Tellumo Magnamater
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: May/ December. Contemporary
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Tellumo Magnamater is a fresh-out-of-college, first-year English teacher at Salt Lick County High School in Kentucky. He rides the bus to and from work, and every day he walks to the gym behind his small efficiency apartment to exercise. Perhaps because of being raised by two lesbians, Tellumo is attracted to older men. He sets his sights on fifty-something available bachelor Oliver Crumbly. But Tellumo isn’t the only resident interested in Oliver.

Peggy Tucker, a widow approaching her sixtieth birthday, is determined to marry again, and she thinks Oliver is her perfect match. Despite Tellumo and Peggy striking up a friendship at the gym, neither realizes they are interested in the same man. But the joke might be on both of them. Oliver, a retired history teacher, is the original crotchety old man who hates everything and everybody—especially young people.

Review:

Whippersnapper was a very interesting read for me. It’s a May/December romance, but in my opinion, the romance between Oliver and Tellumo isn’t the focus of the book. Instead it is a tale of three characters and how they evolve throughout the story.

Oliver is a grouch. He’s been through a lot in his life and he’s survived through many things. He can’t cook, he likes things the way they are, but deep down he is a lonely man. When the much younger Tellumo places himself into Oliver’s life, he’s not sure how he feels about it. I enjoyed watching Tellumo give Oliver’s life a breath of much needed fresh air. When it comes to having a relationship, Oliver hasn’t had the best luck but Tellumo is determined to have his chance.

I liked these two men together. I enjoyed watching both men open up to one another. It was obvious they grew to really respect and like one another. The romance between them really doesn’t happen until midway into the novel. I do wish there had been more sexual chemistry and a stronger emotional connection between them, but I did enjoy their banter and liked watching them begin to fix each other into their lives. I guess in the end, I just wanted more of them together, so I did feel a little cheated. I wanted more romance.

The third character who has a POV in this book is Peggy. She is a middle aged woman who is trying to get her life back together. I liked her, but her story distracted me from the two main characters. All in all this is a really good contemporary novel of the lives of three characters…Oliver, Tellumo and Peggy. The romance between Oliver and Tellumo was sweet but I would have liked it to be the main focus of the story itself…still this was a good book with likable characters.

Recommended.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Lydia reviews: Battle Stations and gave it a nice big 4.5 kisses!

Title: Battle Stations

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Author: Chris T Kat

Pages: 200

Kisses: 4.5

 

 

 

Blurb:

The fight to eradicate the Tash’Ba breeding stations continues, with spunky Commander Berit Turner and his Nadisc mate, Tom, in the thick of things. Sometimes it seems as though they’ll never locate and destroy them all. And there’s always the fear that the Tash’Ba have something else, something worse—if that’s even possible—lurking ahead.

As if things aren’t bad enough, Berit’s less than stellar past is threatening to bite him in the ass, and they’ve received alarming new information. The Tash’Ba queen needs to use Earth as a place to hatch the egg of her successor. And if what she says is true, the new queen will be even more voracious and cruel than her predecessor.

Berit, along with his team—Tom, Carson, Niyara, and Fleur—must do everything in their power to stop her. If they fail, Earth will be lost forever.

 

Review:

Battle Stations is the second book in the Alliance series. This is an outstanding science fiction series that fans of the genre really need to pick up. Full of creepy aliens and their army of hybrid monsters that they use to destroy the worlds they are interested in, the books will hold your interest until the last pages. While book one set up the series by introducing the characters and the troubles they are facing, book two takes you deeper into the aliens breeding stations and the Queen’s plans for Earth.

Berit, Tom and the rest of the crew are still trying to destroy the Tash’Ba’s breeding stations; in fact the book starts off with everyone on one of the breeding station planets and its nonstop action from the beginning. The author does an outstanding job bringing these action scenes to life and, many times while reading, I could not help thinking Battle Stations would make a great movie, or television series. Of course while the action in this book is sure to hold your interest, it is not the only part of the story.

The relationships that begun in book one continue in Battle Stations. While the author lets the readers see a little of the relationship between Niyara and Carson as well as the changing relationship between Rene and Ylkurt, it is Tom and Berit who continue to be the main focus.

I love the way Tom continues to allow Berit to find his way, only stepping in when he thinks the human is getting into trouble he cannot handle. The attraction that exists between them is as strong as ever and when they find the time to get together they continue to burn up the pages.

More traitors are revealed and the lengths that some of them go to is crazy. We also learn more about the Tash’Ba Queen. This character is one that could easily show up in someone’s nightmares. She is completely ruthless and the fact that she has set her eyes on Berit worries everyone.

Readers need to keep in mind that this is a series that needs to be read in order. Battle Stations was a great second story and I cannot wait to see what the author has planned for our heroes next.

 

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Bottoms Away by Etienne- published by DSP

BottomsAwayTitle: Bottoms Away
Author: Etienne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 225
Kisses: 4
Gay/ Contemporary

Blurb:

Chris Bottoms is glad to be home from the first of two surgeries that will free him of his ostomy bag, but life is keeping him on his toes.

Sequel to Bottoms Out; About a Bottoms: Book Three An Avondale Story

Chris Bottoms is glad to be home from undergoing the first of two surgeries that will free him from the ostomy bag he’s been wearing for more than a year. He’s anxious about the upcoming second surgery, but life is keeping him on his toes.
The bank hierarchy is clearly grooming Chris’s partner, Mickey O’Donovan, vice president of a mega-bank, for a promotion. That doesn’t help reconcile the family who turned their backs on Mickey for not going into the family business. To make matters worse, Chris’s little brother’s abusers are still out there, and that makes Chris angry. He and Mickey are raising Ted now. Between dealing with spiteful relatives and doing their best by a hurt ten- year-old boy, Chris and Mickey wonder how much more reality they can take.
Chris’s second and final surgery can’t come soon enough. Both men are looking forward its most important side-effect—Chris will once again be able to enjoy prostate massage—but not until three months after the surgery.

Review:
I have been lucky enough to have reviewed each story in the About A Bottoms series and I have given them a high rating for these reasons.
They are well written, the research that has been done to cover the medical issues that Chris has endured and survived must have been intense and the sexual abuse that both Chris and his little brother have endured has been dealt with by showing with a lot of therapy and love and support you can go on to live a happy and productive life.

Chris and Mickey are still one of my favorite couples, still deeply in love and with the new surgery that Chris has gone through he can now go back to the sex life he loves.
Ted is making great strides in his therapy and has discovered a great love of cooking. I love this sweet, quiet little ten year old and I hope one day to read his story, he deserves his own HEA.
If you have not read this series I hope you give it a try, it is a great love story and a story of survivors.
I found that in a few places it went a little long in the details of just everyday life but I think the author did this to show with all the hurdles these characters have had to endure it’s the little details in everyday living that helps heal the brokenness.

If you love a book that has depth to it and can still have the sexiness of two men in love, you will certainly enjoy this series.

Reviewed by: Cheryl

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Fractured by Mickie B. Ashling

Title: Fractured
Author: Mickie B Ashling
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 221
Characters: Roque and Lance
Sub-Genre: BDSM, Romance
Kisses: 4.5




Blurb:

Roque “Ro” Celdran dreams of a better life, far away from the hand-to-mouth existence of his migrant worker family. He moves to San Francisco to study Landscape Design but finds himself short of cash. Tony, Ro’s identical twin, comes up with a plan to help Ro make ends meet. The BDSM club Tony frequents is looking for gay men to act as submissives to the Dommes-in-training. Ro reluctantly takes the job and falls headfirst into a world he neither understands nor desires.

Lance Roberts is the new doctor at the dental practice started by Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy. On the surface, he seems to have it all: the Mensa IQ, blond and blue-eyed good looks, and the determination to make it in his competitive field. Underneath lies a frustrated Dom in search of the perfect sub who can handle his obsessive behavior and debilitating need for control.

When Ro ends up in Lance’s dental chair, the last thing either one expects is a physical and mental connection. Ro’s attraction to “White Bread” never pans out, and Lance’s weakness for Latinos always leads to a dead end. Could this time be different? What happens between the two alphas leads to a lot of soul-searching and some surprising conclusions.

Review:

Fractured by Mickie B. Ashling is a very interesting story. It’s about two men from completely different backgrounds and lifestyles who try to make it work.

Lance has had to work for things in his life, but has never needed for anything. Lance has never gone hungry, and was never broke. But his father instilled a very strong work ethic in him, and in doing so, instilled a very strong case of OCD. Lance has tried to have relationships in the past, but with his OCD and his kinks, they always ended badly.

Roque on the other hand started his life in the fields, picking whatever was in season, always traveling with his family to the next farm, next crop. Roque is extremely close to his twin, however they are the perfect case of good brother/bad brother.

When Ro’s brother gets Ro beat up, his life is altered. Beaten to the point of dis-figuration, without a clue as to why. But with the bad comes the good, and Ro is sent to a dentist to help restore his mouth. When the two men meet it is an instant attraction.

With them being so different can the two men make it work? And will Ro’s brother ruin everything with his antic’s?

Fractured by Mickie B. Ashling is a very good book that I would definitely recommend reading.

Reviewed By: Jerry

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Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford


Title: Fish and Ghosts
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author: Rhys Ford
Pages: 240
Kisses: 5




Blurb:

When his Uncle Mortimer died and left him Hoxne Grange, the family’s Gilded Age mansion, Tristan Pryce became the second generation of Pryces to serve as a caretaker for the estate, a way station for spirits on their final steps to the afterlife. Tristan is prepared for challenges, though not necessarily from the ghosts he’s seen since childhood. Determined to establish Tristan’s insanity and gain access to his trust fund, his loving relatives hire Dr. Wolf Kincaid and his paranormal researchers, Hellsinger Investigations, to prove the Grange is not haunted.

Skeptic Wolf Kincaid has made it his life’s work to debunk the supernatural. After years of cons and fakes, he can’t wait to reveal the Grange’s ghostly activity is just badly leveled floorboards and a drafty old house. More than a few surprises await him at the Grange, including its prickly, reclusive owner. Tristan Pryce is much less insane and much more attractive than Wolf wants to admit, and when his team releases a ghostly serial killer on the Grange, Wolf is torn between his skepticism and protecting the man he’s been sent to discredit.

Review:

A recent release by author Rhys Ford, Fish and Ghosts is a paranormal story that has not one vampire or werewolf in it, something that some readers of this sub-genre will find a refreshing change. Instead, this is a story about Tristan, a young man who has had the ability to see the dead since he was a small child. This, of course, led his family to believe that Tristan was crazy, a thought that plays heavily into the story. There is also Wolf, the man hired by Tristan’s uncle to prove that his nephew is unable to control the family fortune. Wolf is an interesting character and I think some readers will be surprised by his family history. I know I was.

For people who have not yet tried this author, Ms. Ford likes to have her characters feel an attraction right from the beginning. In this book you can see the connection forming between the two men, although Wolf does feel some guilt which is understandable. I like the interaction between Wolf and Tristan, and the chemistry between them is hot, however, it is the ghosts that really make this story.

The estate owned by Tristan is a stopping point for those ready to move on, as well as those just interested in hanging around like the young woman who shows up for the cook’s position and the little dog with a ball fetish. I love the way these spirits mean so much to Tristan and how once Wolf realizes that, goes out of his way to ensure the younger man can stay at the estate.

Fish and Ghosts has quit a few little twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the pages. This makes the story a great starting point for those who have not yet given this author a try. As a fan of Ms. Ford’s I always look forward to her stories and can’t wait to see if these two will show up again.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Kai for Christmas by E.T. Malinowski


Title: Kai for Christmas
Author: E.T. Malinowski
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 55
Characters: Kai, Cade
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 4.75


Blurb:

Kai O’Donnell hates Christmas. It’s not the blaring commercialism or the too-perky people. Being an interior designer, Kai can handle most people. But during Christmas, he has to deal with a man who gets under his skin like no other: Cade. Handsome—hand-me-a-towel-because-I’m-drooling-sexy—sarcastic Cade.

Cade Randall has been in love with Kai O’Donnell since setting eyes on the auburn-haired Native American. Falling back on his teenage habits, Cade picks on Kai every time they’re together. He wants Kai under his Christmas tree in nothing but a big red bow, his to keep forever, but Cade’s shenanigans may ruin something beautiful in the making.


Review:

This is a frenemies-to-lovers story. Kai, a red-haired Native American, belongs to the Irish O’Donnell family. His Native American mother is dead, but he loves his stepmother, Caitlin. The bane of his existence is Cade, Kai’s brother’s best friend. Kai and Cade have been at odds forever, verbally assaulting in a merry environment. Kai is gay but he hates Cade, yet thinks he’s hot. Cade is gay too and he’s only ever wanted Kai, whom he thinks is straight, so like a child he provokes Kai into fights so at least the guy feels something for him. Ah, kids…. Then comes along the Christmas when secrets come out.

Right from the start, we’re told about the cynical witticisms and snappy comebacks between Kai and Cade—but we’re given only a few delicious barbs. I had hoped for more repartee and humor. But that’s just my preference and expectation based on the blurb.

Kai is a very serious person. Losing a mother and gaining a new one, he has deep-rooted insecurities about what his family will think if they find out he’s gay, especially Caitlin who he feels might never forgive him for it. Being attracted to smart-mouth Cade who acts awfully childishly doesn’t exactly help. But Cade has his own family issues, getting emotionally cut off from them when they discovered he was gay. So the characterization is done well, with realistic issues and flawed people, as evidenced by the scene at the gay night club, the following fallout, and later the kitchen scene. The two men are believable, and the O’Donnell family is warm, boisterous and fun. Very amiable, perfect for a Christmas story.

The writing works, as does the pace, the sprinkling of background information, and sensual tension all over the novella. So, overall, a great little story about frenemies who learn the truth about each other and begin to see one another in a different light. The light of love. Recommended.

Reviewed By: Susan

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