Anne Reviews: The Ugliest Sweater by Gillian St. Kevern

TITLE: The Ugliest Sweater

Author: Gillian St. Kevern

Publisher: NineStar Press

Pages: 56

Characters: Dan/Jake

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Series, Contemporary, Humour

Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Dan’s favourite festive sweater is so ugly, it’s cost him not one but three boyfriends and sent him back to his parents’ place for the third Christmas in a row. About to give up hope of ever having a Christmas date, Dan meets Jake, a hot guy with a rock and roll edge. Jake is infatuated with Dan’s sweater but vanishes before Dan can decide if Jake is for real or really in need of an eye-check. After all, no one has ever liked the sweater.

Dan’s sweater is rocketed to national attention, when Jake’s radio colleagues launch a hunt for the mystery man in the hideous jumper. Dan jumps at the chance to meet Jake again, and they hit it off in a big way, to the accompaniment of intimate gigs, exclusive clubs, and the paparazzi. Dan falls hard, but despite obvious mutual attraction, Jake refuses to take him back to his apartment. Is the relationship real – or a ratings stunt? After all, Jake has a reputation for cool that Dan, a lowly gym instructor, could never approach. Is a fondness for tacky Christmas clothing the only thing they have in common? Or does uber-cool Jake hide a Christmas secret of his own?

Review:

The Ugliest Sweater is a short, sweet, feel-good story. I loved the tone and humor and found myself smiling as I was reading.  It’s a great mix of romance and fun with quirky characters.  The description of the sweater itself was… impressive…. and visual.  Truly an ugly sweater.  Dan and Jake are a perfect match, both in personality and their Christmas obsessions.

Although it is a feel-good story, there’s still some tension within the relationship as both men struggle with their own insecurities, which made their path to a relationship feel realistic. I appreciated the fact that Dan feels out of place at Jake’s work function—it reaffirms the fact that although these guys are quirky, they’re still three-dimensional characters.

There’s a bit of sex for such a short piece, but the story is such fun, an easy read, and left me with a warm glow. Although it’s a Christmas story, it’s one to enjoy all year round.

I’d recommend The Ugliest Sweater to readers who enjoy a short, sweet, feel-good story with likable characters, and a very ugly Christmas sweater.

Reviewed By: Anne

Click HERE to purchase The Ugliest Sweater

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

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