Lydia Reviews: Strong Medicine by JK Hogan


Title: Strong Medicine
Publisher: New Wilde Press
Author: J.K Hogan
Pages: 306
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?
The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work release program at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.
Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.

Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.

Review:

This author is new to me, and while I enjoyed the story, I feel I need to let readers know right off that this is a story full on angst and that Strong Medicine touches on several topics that could trigger some readers.

From the very beginning the author throws real life into the readers face. Cameron is a former child star. He’s moved from reality show star to singer in the family band that parroted what the fans saw on the show. Both his personal and professional life is under the strict thumb of his father. Cameron’s inability to be who he really is leads the young man to alcohol and soon he finds himself at the mercy of the law. This is actually a good thing for Cameron and I liked that the author has him getting help in the manner she does. I also could not believe that Cameron’s father and siblings treated the situation the way they did instead of standing by Cameron more. I was also discussed by his father’s actions later in the story. More than once I wanted smack Cameron’s father and love how Jonah handles him later in the book.

Jonah is one of those special characters that I think readers will really take to. To say he comes from an abusive background would be an understatement. I also do not want to give too much of this part away but I will say that Jonah should have been forced into treatment from the age of 5, if not sooner. Jonah admits himself to the local mental facility on a verily regular basis but since he refuses to really talk about his problems letting help is given. This is where Jonah and Cameron end up meeting, and while you would think that they would have nothing in common, these two young men see something in the other that no one else does, and that allows them to start to come to terms with their various issues.

A lot of this story takes place in a mental facility, and having worked in one at one time I found parts of this story very realistic. One such area concerns the doctors that run the facility. They all reminded me, in one way or the other, of doctors I have known, and it was easy to understand why neither Cameron nor Jonah thought the doctors could really help them. I did find it funny that both men finally chose different doctors to confide in.
The most shocking part of Strong Medicine, in my opinion, comes later in the book. I could not help worrying that this was going to turn out bad. Yes, I know you have no idea what I am talking about, but if I told you it would ruin the in pack of the event when you got to it.

I will be keeping my eyes open for more from this author and urge others to do the same.

Reviewed by: Lydia

Click HERE to purchase Strong Medicine

Lydia Reviews: Life Worth Living by Tina Blenke


Title: Life Worth Living
Publisher: Wilde City
Author: Tina Blenke
Pages: 213
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Jake has been in love with Quentin throughout college, studying the sexy science major from afar. Quentin has been in the closet his entire life, keeping his sexuality a secret from his political right-wing family. A summer romance brings the two men together but when Jake is attacked before graduation and then later in his home, the truth about the violence threatens to tear the men apart forever. Only when secrets are finally revealed can Jake and Quentin discover a life worth living

Review:

Jake is just about finished with college that is if you don’t count grad school. During the whole time he has been crushing on Quentin. The problem is that Jake can’t seem to get the nerve to approach him. Thankfully Jake’s friend Steve intervenes or these two may have never gotten together. I loved the scene at the beginning of the story when Jake is complaining about having nothing to wear as he stresses about a group get together that includes Quentin. Steve’s response made me laugh and I could not help thinking of my nephew who would have acted just like Jake. Be prepared for Jake and Quentin’s first meeting. I could not believe Jake’s response after Quentin introduced himself, in fact the first thing that popped into my head was “holy crab”, and as the rest of the scene played out I felt like I was watching a train wreck. All I could think was “Jake you really need to stop talking now.” Thankfully for Jake things seem to work out, and then some. When Jake finds himself alone with Quentin for the first time, Jake is in for a surprise and watch out because the pages really heat up.

I want to say that everything goes smoothly for these two and they live happily ever after. Unfortunately, there is so much angst in their story that at times I had to put the book aside for a time. The young men think they are going into this new relationship with their eyes open, yet both are unprepared for the difficulties they face and feelings get hurt. I worried more than once about how Life Worth Living would end, and readers should keep in mind that this story is a roller coaster ride so if you are looking for a light read you will need to pick up something else.

The author does a wonderful job wrapping this story up. It is done in a way that explains everything and while I hate what Jake went through, I think the story could not have gone any other way. I am glad I stuck it out and finished the book. While it will be a while before I read Life Worth Living again, it will be put in my to be read again file so that one day I can visit Jake and Quentin again.

Reviewed by: Lydia

Click Here to purchase Life Worth Living by Tina Blenke

Pammyla Reviews: The Rascal by Eric Arvin


Title: The Rascal
Author: Eric Arvin
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages: 110
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Gay Mainstream, Horror, Thriller
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Lana is a faded movie star who lives alone in a big house on a hill that overlooks the sea. She has lived this way since the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her husband.
Jeff and Chloe are a couple who live in a cabin below the big house. It was Chloe’s idea to strengthen their marriage; but she sees now that it isn’t working. Jeff has become obsessed with the cabin and the old water well. Chloe only sees strangeness around her.
One night while talking on the computer with Ethan, Jeff’s brother, a feeling of dread comes to the fore. When Ethan sees a figure behind Chloe, he leaves his boyfriend and baby and sets out to save Jeff.
Chloe, Ethan and Lana come together to fight an evil that would destroy Jeff. Will they succeed or will all of them fall to the taste of a young cannibalistic ghost?

Review:

The Rascal by Eric Arvin is a great horror story that gave me shivers and kept me on the edge of my seat.

I grew up reading and watching horror and The Rascal has some seriously good creepy factors in it. Need an example? Think Stephen King and It. There is plenty of fear, paranoia, and things lurking just out of sight that keeps this story a deliciously eerie read.

Jeff and Chloe are a married couple who’ve just purchased a cottage in the middle of nowhere, sight unseen, in a place called Bad Luck Hill. On top of this, they also have had some serious relationship problems. Chloe hates the place and gets bad vibes about it, but Jeff loves it and becomes obsessed by the well out back.

As things continue to worsen, Chloe calls on Jeff’s brother, Ethan for help. When he arrives things come to a head.

I don’t want to say too much because you’ll want to read this creepy book for yourself! This is truly a great read, but I thought there were a couple of illogical actions and reactions and it threw me a little, but the horror story itself gave me great shivers.

If you like a good horror story The Rascal by Eric Arvin is definitely for you. It is great to have Eric writing once more and I enjoyed the story he had to tell.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Pammyla

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The Vampire and the P.I. by JP Bowie


Title: The Vampire and the P.I.
Author: JP Bowie
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages: 186
Characters: Sean Martin, Arturo Menendez
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Vampire, Erotic Romance, Mystery
Kisses: 5




Blurb:

When Sean Martin was shot in the hip he thought his days in law enforcement were over. Leaving the force with commendations and a healthy disability agreement he opened up his own private investigative business, and for a while enjoyed success until a jealous and homophobic ex-colleague spread a story about Sean assaulting an underage boy, the son of an influential congressman.

Overnight, Sean’s business tanked, leaving him broke and with zero clients. That is until Master Vampire, Rafael Barrantes, hires him to find the murderer of Julian Hunter, a young male escort. Sean isn’t crazy about working for a vampire—but all that changes when he meets Arturo Menendez, Rafael’s private secretary.

The stunning and uninhibited Arturo wastes no time in showing his admiration for the handsome PI. He immediately tries, and succeeds in seducing Sean. In between bouts of the most amazing sex Sean has ever had, he discovers that the facts surrounding Julian’s murder have been swept under the carpet. Perhaps by pressure from his wealthy ‘clients’ whose veneer of respectability might be irreparably damaged if it were disclosed they had used Julian’s services.

With Arturo’s help, Sean wades through a web of deceit, lies and treachery trying not only to find Julian’s killer, but also to vindicate himself of the false rape charge that ruined his career. In the process he is beaten, kidnapped by a bad cop, and bitten by a rogue vampire. With the odds stacked against him, can he possibly ever solve the mystery of Julian’s murder, and can Arturo, even with his vampire powers, save Sean from a grisly death?

Review:

Wow! The Vampire and the PI is a great start to a new series! I absolutely loved this book! It is a refreshing take on a much told tale and I highly enjoyed the unique and interesting story Mr. Bowie has created.

Where do I start? For one thing, I loved the main characters in this book. Sean is a private investigator that has a run of bad luck. He’s been falsely accused of something *you’ll have to read it to find out* and it’s ruined his both professional career and his reputation in general. When he is approached by a the powerful vampire, Rafael, to help him find lover’s killer Sean takes the case. He is leery with working with vampires, but needs the money and hopes if he solves the case it will somehow help his reputation. When he meets Rafael’s secretary, Arturo, he is immediately attracted to the young looking vampire. Before Sean knows it, he is swept into a heated romance with Arturo and trying the solve the case of his life.

I loved this book! Sean is a smart and sexy man. I liked his determination to solve his case and loved his willpower and inner strength. As he and Arturo get to know one another I admit I loved every scene these two men had together. Arturo is tenacious and super sexy. Honestly, once the two men meet, Sean’s heart never had a chance. I loved how their relationship evolved and enjoyed watching them fall deeply in love. They truly made a great team together and their story is definitely a memorable one.

Another great thing about this book was the suspenseful storyline it had too. Mr. Bowie has written a very interesting who-done-it that kept this reader guessing what was going to happen next.

The Vampire and the PI has everything I look for when I read a romance. Between the amazing characters, hot sex and nail-biting suspense I was in Heaven the entire time I read it. I absolutely cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out!! In my opinion, Mr. Bowie can’t write it fast enough. The Vampire and the PI is a delightful read that I know I will read again and again. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-written paranormal romance. You won’t be disappointed!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Breaking the Habit by JP Bowie


Title: Breaking the Habit
Author: JP Bowie
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages: 124
Characters: Mike Peterson, Larry Bertoli
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 5




Blurb:

Mike Peterson is determined to break the gambling habit that resulted in two failed marriages, no money, no job, plus almost getting himself and his brother killed when loan sharks came looking for their money. In addition, he’s recently been having some doubts about his own sexuality. When his gay brother suggests he get in touch with an old friend, recently out police officer Larry Bertoli, Mike is at first leery of the idea, and their first meeting isn’t exactly ideal.

They decide to meet again and this time more of what they are and what they could mean to one another is revealed during their time together. They begin a tentative friendship that graduates to a first, fumbling attempt at romance. Can they find the secure relationship they both want, or will Mike’s addiction and lack of self-esteem hinder what could possibly be salvation for both men?

Review:

There was one thing that struck me as I was reading Breaking the Habit by JP Bowie. As much fun and craziness Dumping Las Vegas was, the second book Breaking the Habit was a slow, sexy burn. I really liked this contrast between the two books. In my opinion, it show how diverse Mr. Bowie’s writing really is. Although I know I’m in for a treat when I read his books, it’s great when the author writes something quite different than he had previously before.

I have to admit that Breaking the Habit is my favorite book between the two. I’m actually quite shocked by this because I admit I wasn’t completely sold on Mike in the first one. It was because of him that his brother, Jerry went through so much hell, so I didn’t know if I would end up really liking him in the end. Well, guess what? I totally did! Mike ended up truly working hard at overcoming his gambling addiction, as well as, trying to get his life back on track. He ended up being a very likeable and wonderfully flawed hero and I loved him.

I enjoyed the journey Mike goes through as he gets his life back in order. He’s trying to find a full-time job, goes to counseling and for the first time is starting to realize that he’s pushed aside his attraction to men practically all of his life. When he reunites with Larry there is a slow burn of attraction and respect that flows between them. Mike has to come to terms with his sexuality and it doesn’t happen overnight. I also liked that Larry didn’t pressure him. They talk. They begin to get to know one another and there is a friendship that forms between them before they fall into a sexual relationship.

But…when the do have sex…whew! There is an erotic chemistry between them that really sparked off the written page! I ended up loving this couple. They go through some issues, but in the end it was very easy to root for their happy ending and hope that everything turns out great for them in the end.

Breaking the Habit is a thought provoking romance with characters who live and breathe off of the written page. I loved this book and it’s a very easy book to recommend. Mark and Larry are truly a special couple who will live in your heart and mind long after the book is over. In all honesty, I hated to see it come to an end, but what a sweet and happy ending it was!! Loved it!

Although Breaking the Habit could be easily read as a stand-alone book in this series, I recommend reading the books in series order. You’ll definitely love Jerry’s story and you’ll also see how much Mark’s character truly develops over time.

The books in series order are:

Dumping Las Vegas
Breaking the Habit

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Foolish Encounters Anthology


Title: Foolish Encounters
Authors: Amy Lane, Angel Martinez, Elin Gregory, Freddy Mackay, J.C. Wallace, Tali Spencer, Tinnean
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Characters: Multiple
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Science Fiction
Kisses: 3.75




Blurb:

An accident, a chance encounter, a thought blurted out, a boat blown off course, a change in direction that suddenly runs into the line of fire – the smallest misstep can change everything. These foolish encounters are the moments around which lives pivot and sometimes spin out of control. Join us for tales of imprudent choices and bad decisions that can lead just as easily to hilarity as they can to tragedy.

Review:

Okay, I do have to admit to having a bias towards sci-fi, so it will come as no surprise that my favourites were the sci-fi stories.

The stories in this anthology are:

A Message from the Home Office by Angel Martinez
Shredding the Heart by JC Wallace
The Lunar Imperative by Elin Gregory
Blue and Green Persuasion by Tinnean
Well Hello, Eight Eyes by Tali Spencer
The Fenestration Penetration by Amy Lane
The Nut Job by Freddy Mackay

While my favourites were “A Message from the Home Office”, “Blue and Green Persuasion”, and “The Nut Job”, I also enjoyed “The Lunar Imperative”, “Well Hello, Eight Eyes”, and “The Fenestration Penetration”, although I think there is more to tell in “The Lunar Imperative”.

I don’t want to say too much about any of the stories because I will definitely ruin them, but I will say that I found the anthology overall to be enjoyable with the occasional surprise thrown in. I think the best bit was discovering that Freddy Mackay’s story returned us to the ‘verse of Angel Martinez’s “A Message from the Home Office” because I absolutely loved the story.

Having read the anthology, not only will I be waiting for more from the ‘verse discovered in Angel Martinez and Freddy Mackay’s stories, I think I’ll go look up some of Tinnean’s releases.

Please keep in mind that I am not a contemporary story reader, so readers of contemporary stories will probably enjoy the anthology too, especially “The Fenestration Penetration”.

Reviewed By: Alison

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Tread Marks and Trademarks by SA McAuley


Title: Team Maker Jock, Book 1: Tread Marks and Trademarks
Author: S.A. McAuley
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Words: 50,000
Characters: Alex Maddox and Christian Lawson
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Comedy, Geeks
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

Alex Maddox may be a genius. Or not. In thirty-four days he’ll know for sure. The robot he’s been perfecting for the last four years is finally ready. Alex won’t accept anything less than perfection—if he can keep a broken air conditioner, a flaky twin brother, a thirtieth birthday, and falling for the Norse god of advertising from derailing him.

Christian Lawson is an advertising god. A blond hottie with the beautiful brains to match. He’s worked hard to move past the accident that nearly took his legs, but it’s been years since he let any man get close enough to see just how deep his scars really go.

Christian isn’t the advertising executive Alex expected, and Alex isn’t the coolly confident inventor Christian’s had his eye on for years. But what they discover in each other may just be better than what either of them could have hoped for.

NOTE: This is a previously published work. The publisher has changed.

Review:

Tread Marks and Trademarks is a good, easy contemporary read with realistic characters and situations. Alex Maddox is driven, not by his career, but by his love of the Maker Movement. And like many, he considers himself to be average, nothing special. Christian Lawson disagrees; he things Alex is very interesting.

I really enjoyed the comedic notes that Ms McAuley injected into her story, and the fact that although there was some angst in the form of miscommunication, it wasn’t wallowed in and instead balanced the rest of the story. I also found Alex Maddox to be extremely relatable; after all, many people don’t understand my love of books, just like they don’t understand his enjoyment of the Maker Movement.

Not being a huge contemporary reader, this was only a four star for me, but if you love contemporary stories, you’ll probably find it to be a five. Ms McAuley is a strong, talented writer with the ability to make you feel like you are there, watching the story in person.

Reviewed By: Alison

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