Category Archives: 3 Stars

Review: A Little Night Murder by J.S. Cook

A Little Night Murder by J.S. Cook
Title: A Little Night Murder
Author: J.S. Cook
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Historical
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

In 1942, Pearl Harbor has been bombed and the war is very much in evidence, but it would seem to have little to do with Frank Boyle, a respected Bronx born insurance investigator. He’s a man who can keep secrets, and no one suspects that his boyhood friend—local mob boss Nicky Brooks—is his lover. When Brooks accidentally kills Frank’s younger brother in a shootout, Frank must choose between his affair with Nicky and revenge for his brother’s life.

After Frank betrays Nicky, police detective Sam Lipinski, a Bronx native who has long carried a torch for Frank, makes a move against the mob and lands squarely in the way of Nicky’s plans. Sam smuggles Frank out of New York to keep him safe, and sets him up him in a small northeastern city. But there, a messy insurance investigation involving the Roarkes, who may or may not have killed their own mother for the insurance payout, places him in danger again. Dodging bullets, shady characters, and fallout from the war, Sam and Frank will need far more than luck on their side if they’re ever to see a loving future.

Review:

A Little Night Murder is a good story and I enjoyed reading it but something was missing for me and I don’t know what that something was. It starts out great, the story works, I liked the MC’s and all the secondary characters but unfortunately I never found myself connected to any of them.

It’s a historical about the mob and what happens when you get involved with them. It spans a couple of decades but the early years are told in flashbacks. Frankie Boyle is in hiding, he testified against his boss and lover Nicky Brooks after a shooting sanctioned by Nicky kills Frankie’s little brother. Frankie ends up in Newfoundland where he finds a pretty good life working as an insurance investigator until Nicky gets out and comes looking for Frankie.

When Nicky heads to Newfoundland to find Frankie, Frankie’s long time friend and sometimes lover Sam comes to Newfoundland to watch out for him….or so he’s led to believe. Sam is Frankie’s love interest but at a time where being gay can get you killed and Sam is somewhat unsure about how he feels and what to do about their relationship. Theirs isn’t an easy one but they do want to be together.

This story is full of mystery, intrigue and most of all revenge, there are twist and turns with a lot of ‘who done it’.  It’s well written and it moves at a good pace. The romance part is secondary but it works. Everything falls into place with this book and that makes it confusing to me as to why I didn’t fall in love with it. I did learn part way into the story that it’s part of a series and I wonder if reading the other two before this one would have made a difference.

It is a good read and I do recommend it for those that love to read historicals with a mysteries.

Review: The Ranch Foreman by Rob Colton

The Ranch Foreman by Rob Colton
Title: The Ranch Foreman
Author: Rob Colton
Cover Artist: Leah Kaye Suttle
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Lynn
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Queer
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

When Madison “Matty” Ward finds himself out of work and without a place to live, his cousin comes through with a job on the Gates cattle ranch. Despite not knowing anything about herding cattle or taking care of horses, Matty does his best to impress the older hunky foreman, Baxter Hollingsworth. Baxter is drawn to the new young hand, but he’s deeply closeted, and after an openly gay veterinarian shows he’s interested in Matty, Baxter’s repressed feelings lead to an explosive encounter. Baxter then withdraws—leaving Matty feeling angry and used—until an accident forces him to confront his fears.

Review:

After Madison Ward could no longer take care of his ailing Aunt Martha, his cousin Brian Ward not only found him a job, but a place to live on the Gates ranch as well.

Never having done ranch work before, Matty starts out as the low man, as a stable boy. Being out of the closet isn’t always possible in ranching. When an unwanted pass by a fellow coworker leads to more, the only man Matty has eyes for steps in.

Baxter Hollingsworth is not use to showing anyone but his stallion his emotions. Allowing the man that has captured his attention to escape due to his fears of being out, leads him to be drastic changes.

What I enjoyed…

I loved watching Matt find his place on the ranch. A city slicker in tennis shoes learns not only how to wear cowboy boots, but how to fill them as well.

What I didn’t enjoy…

I really think this book could have used a few chapters from Baxter’s point of view. I would have loved to hear what was going through his mind when Matt Ward walked into his life. Most of the time Baxter comes off as a jerk. Having his POV could have added to his character.

Overall, I give The Ranch Foreman by Rob Colton three stars. I think the story will be devoured by cowboy fans. I just felt the story was too one sided. The plot felt rushed to me. This took away from getting to really know the other characters in the story as well as we got to know Matt.

Review: Jasper’s Mountain by John Inman

Jasper's Mountain by John Inman
Title: Jasper’s Mountain
Author: John Inman
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Sean
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Mystery
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

When small-time thief Timmy Harwell recklessly “borrows” a Cadillac for a joyride, he doesn’t expect to find a cool $100,000 in the trunk. His elation turns to terror when he realizes the SUV and the dough belong to Miguel Garcia, aka El Poco, a Tijuana drug dealer with a nasty reputation. Timmy sees only one way out: leave the stolen car behind and run as fast as he can.

His getaway is cut short when a storm strands him outside Jasper Stone’s secluded mountain cabin. Jasper finds Timmy in his shed, unconscious and burning up with fever, and takes care of the younger man, nursing him back to health. The two begin to grow close, but Jasper, a writer who seeks only solitude, is everything Timmy isn’t. Straightforward, honest, and kind.

Timmy needs Jasper’s help—and wants his respect—so he hides his dishonest habits. But when El Poco comes after him, Timmy realizes he’s not the only one at risk. His actions have also put Jasper in harm’s way. Honesty now could mean Timmy loses the man he’s come to love, but not being honest could mean far worse.

Review:

After reading the blurb, I was so excited to start reading the book and boy, was I disappointed? I was. The first sixty-five percent of the book was honestly so boring. It dragged on and on. There were too many sentences that involved with either of characters thinking about sex stuff. It was getting annoyed. There were a couple of times where I just want to screwed it and put the book to my didn’t finish shelf. I chose to keep on reading and I was glad I did because the last thirty-five percent of the book was awesome.

What I like—

Everything that was going on in the last thirty-five percent was the only thing I liked about the book. It was enough to pick two stars up to three stars rather than leaving the book as a one star. The crazy lies Timmy had spoken were making me nervous as heck. I was more worry about Jasper’s safety. Especially his pets. I couldn’t believe what was going on between them and El Poco. El Poco was one strange man. I was more shocked at how the Timmy and Jasper was saved. The descriptive the author wrote was excellent. The humor was fantastic in the book. I could see the author’s strengths in this book and looked forward to try his other books.

What I didn’t like—

The first sixty-five percent of the book, unfortunately. It kept dragged on and on. The author seemed to be making Jasper a pervert as well. Naturally, when I see a man that was in a need of the medical attention, I couldn’t even possible think about anything naughty inside my head while attempting at helping an injury/sick person. It ruined the book for me. I ended up skip through every page until the day Jasper couldn’t talk or be positively happy to see Timmy that morning. Timmy took the jeep away, which was when I start to pay attention to the story.

Overall, yes, I can still recommended the book since I was one of the few that didn’t enjoy the book as much as others did. If the first sixty-five percent of the book had been cut down, the book would have been a five star easily.

Review: Summer School by Tam Ames

Summer School by Tam Ames
Title: Summer School
Author: Tam Ames
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Jay
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

Jeremy Decker’s recent split with his long-distance boyfriend has left him lonely with a mountain of debt. His only practical source of extra cash is to teach summer school, even if it means teaching history—not easy for an English teacher. To support him, the school hires Lucas Van Sloan, a much-younger college history student.

Lucas, with his swimmer’s physique and optimism, not to mention his determination to get what he wants, both attracts and annoys Jeremy… and what Lucas wants is Jeremy. The heat flares between them, but when Jeremy’s ex, a high-powered attorney with plenty of experience turning things his way, shows he wants Jeremy too, it threatens to snuff out the flame of passion and new love.

Review:

Jeremy is a 30 year old High School English teacher.  He has recently ended an 8 year relationship with an older man that he caught cheating on him.  Lucas is a 21 year old college student working as Jeremy’s teaching assistant for the summer. Jeremy has an attitude problem and clearly doesn’t want to be teaching History during summer school, but the debt he has accrued trying to save his long distance relationship with David has necessitated the need.

The attraction between Jeremy and Lucas is immediate and they are cute with their attempts to keep their attraction hidden.  Jeremy is hung up on their age difference and the fact that he is Lucas’ supervisor.  Lucas, well he really doesn’t have any hang ups about Jeremy, he just doesn’t want to scare Jeremy away.  Poor Jeremy never stood a chance against Lucas’ controlling nature.  Once Jeremy is pushed into rooming with Lucas the two have the opportunity to see each other and the possibilities in front of them.

The story was written alternating Jeremy and Lucas’ POV.  I usually don’t have a problem keeping track of whose POV we are engaged with.  However, I kept finding myself looking back to see who was speaking.  There was little plot and the story was heavily lined with sex scenes from cuddling, to full on adventures, to mild bondage.

Overall Summer School was an enjoyable story. Jeremy and Lucas have great chemistry and even though Jeremy was a bit brazen at first he became my favorite of the two. In the end you see these guys grow and are left with a couple that truly loves each other.

Review: Kid Gloves by Anna Martin

Kid Gloves by Anna Martin
Title: Kid Gloves
Author: Anna Martin
Cover Artist: Melissa Gay
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Sean
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Historical
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

Alone in his East London shop, a man known only as Dalton makes living prosthetics: bionic, mechanical limbs, from leather, metal, and magic. It’s to this little corner of the capital that Finn Croucher, an elite army marksman, travels after an accident leads to his hand being amputated.

While Dalton fashions Finn’s new hand and teaches him how to use it, he reveals some secrets long hidden, and he and Finn become lovers. But Finn must return to duty, and a string of letters becomes his only connection to the love he left in London.

Review:

Before I started reading the book, I was really excited because of the gorgeous book cover and it was a steampunk novella. What was not to be excited about? So, as I dug in, it had a good opening until the author started head hopping between two characters’ POV without break scenes. It confused me a bit so I had to re-read to figure out who was thinking. It continued that pretty often throughout the story.

What I like—

The opening, obviously. It hooked me in. Seeing what Finn came to see Dalton for. Getting new hand that was a mechanical type where it reacted to Finn’s nerve system. The author described the setting extremely well and what the characters looked like. I did get plenty of details about whom they were. That was the most important part of the story that I enjoyed.

What I didn’t like—

The ridiculously head hopping was starting to get annoyed. I felt that there weren’t enough details of how Finn handled with his new hand. He was back to the “war” and not even once the author described the frustration Finn dealt with his new hand. Did it accidentally crush his equipment? Did it protect him in the war? The questions kept on because I wholeheartedly expected the story to be focus on how the new hand changed Finn’s life. I got it that it had brought him to Dalton onto their new chapter of their life. That was a great part of the story but I wanted more stories that centered on his new hand.

Overall—

It was a good read. Could’ve done better but good. I still do recommend readers to check this one out. The romance between Finn and Dalton was great. It wasn’t a difficult to read especially when it was set in historical setting in London. I enjoyed it and that mattered the most. I strongly believed this book deserved three stars.

Review: Valley of the Dead by J.S. Cook

Valley of the Dead by J.S. Cook
Title: Valley of the Dead
Author: J.S. Cook
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Historical
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

The Second World War rages: it touches Newfoundland in unprecedented ways, throwing spies and patriots together inside expatriate Jack Stolyes’s Heartache Café and forcing uncomplementary bedfellows into alliances. It’s all in a day’s work for Jack, whose introduction to the Island included corrupt cops, a murder on the doorstep of his restaurant, and more than one attempt on his life.

When exotic and alluring Egyptian diplomat Samuel Halim enters Jack’s small corner of the world, Jack’s life will change forever. Then, on his voyage home, Sam disappears along with the code key to decipher a Nazi radio command that will set Rommel’s troops in motion.

Jack finds himself with nothing to go on except a fragmented late-night phone call from Sam and a handful of disparate clues. In the teeming heat of Cairo—a city rife with romance, secrets, sex, and danger, where no one is who he seems and violent death waits around every shadowed corner—it’s up to Jack to find the new love of his life and deliver the code that will change the course of history.

Review:

I’m always on the lookout for a good historical and this one caught my eye. The story takes place during WWII when being gay could have dire circumstances. Our MC Jack runs a cafe in Newfoundland where he meets Sam, an Egyptian Diplomat. The two instantly are attracted to one another and even though all they share is a kiss Jack can’t forget about Sam when he leaves. Jack receives a call from a woman that turns out to be Sam’s wife telling him Sam has disappeared and asks him for help in finding Sam.

I liked this story but there were a few things that I had issue with, first being the fact that Jack and Sam know each other for such a short time I couldn’t understand, even though there was a strong attraction, why Jack would run off to the Middle East to search for Sam, especially when he has just found out Sam has a wife and she is my second issue. I did think these two had great chemistry which I got from the flashbacks of their short time together. The story is told in Jack’s POV which works out perfectly for the mystery as Jack slowly learns what Sam does so do we.

I had a difficult time with the wife angle, I did really like her, she never came across as a horrible person but I never got why she would be okay with, even encouraged Jack and Sam’s budding relationship. It is explained much later in the book but that mystery took too long to be told that when the explanation is given it seemed too easy and a bit ridiculous.

The story is well written, there are a lot of twists and turns maybe too many, at times it was hard to keep who was doing what to whom and why. It’s no where near impossible to follow but there is a lot of action, adventure, mystery and betrayal packed into this story. There is a love story of sorts but it does take a back seat to everything else that happens it is a very small part of the story. I don’t think this story can be called a romance. It is another one of those stories that I would put in the gay fiction category one that does have two MC’s that fall in love but in no way is the focus of the book.

I enjoyed the read and with a few minor changes this could have been a 4 star book for me.

Review: Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan

Title: Hat Trick
Author: Chelle Dugan
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

Charlie Trevino and Tony Côté had one night together that neither could ever forget. Charlie left his number for Tony, but spilled water rendered it illegible. That mishap kicks off a year of failed connections and miscommunication. Tony fears what life outside the closet will do to his career in pro hockey, so he travels the country with his team and doesn’t search for Charlie. Charlie finishes college and tries to ignore his disappointment over Tony. When they finally get together, Tony’s closet takes its toll. But Tony attempts the ultimate hat trick, hoping for another chance with Charlie.

Review:

Short, sweet, sexy, romance, a fun read but don’t look for real life you’ll enjoy it more that way.

Tony, a pro hockey player spots Charlie in a gay bar. Tony is drawn to this shy young man and offers to buy him a drink. Poor Charlie, he’s so inexperienced he doesn’t say much but when Tony offers him a night he’ll never forget Charlie agrees.  Tony learns that Charlie is a virgin and vows to make this a night special. When morning comes Tony wakes to find Charlie gone and a note with his phone number, unfortunately Tony knocks a glass of water over on it reaching for the phone and he loses the most of the phone number.

A good portion of the story is about the two of them trying to find each other. When Tony is almost ready to give up he sees Charlie at one of his hockey games and they reconnect. There was chemistry between these two but Tony needs to keep the fact he is gay quiet he’s afraid it will affect his hockey career.  Charlie tires of being Tony’s little secret and leaves but neither can forget about the other and eventually they get their HEA!

This short is perfect when you’re looking for a sweet romance between those books that are full of angst. Nothing surprising happens in Hat Trick and I was pretty sure I knew where it was headed but I enjoyed it just the same.

Review: Left on Truth-be-Well by Amy Lane

Left on St. Truth-be-Well by Amy Lane
Title: Left on St. Truth-be-Well
Author: Amy Lane
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay, Bisexual
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

Carson O’Shaughnessy has one task: track down his boss’s flighty nephew, Stassy, and return the kid to Chicago. Then Carson can go back to waiting tables and being productively bitter about his life. He didn’t count on finding a dead body in Stassy’s bed, and he certainly didn’t count on the guy in the flip-flops and cutoffs at the local café helping him get to the bottom of the crime.

But Dale Arden is no ordinary surfing burnout—he’s actually a pretty sharp guy with a seductive voice and a bossy streak wider than the Florida panhandle. When he decides to boss Carson right into his bed, Carson realizes Stassy’s not the only one who’s been lost. Carson likes to think he’s got his life all figured out, that sex with guys is your basic broom-closet transaction; he may just have to revise his priorities, because nobody plans on taking a left at St. Truth-be-Well and finding love at the Bates Parrot Hotel.

Review:

So far I’ve loved all but one of Amy Lane’s books that I’ve read and even that one I liked a lot. She never disappoints, I love her angsty ones, the sweet ones and the fairy tale stories. Left on St. Truth-Be-Well has to go into the “I liked this one ” but it missed the “I love it” category. It was an easy enjoyable read but I didn’t find anything really knew here I was really looking for more from this story. I never found myself attached to the MC’s nor did I find there to be much chemistry between them, as individuals I liked the characters a lot but felt nothing for them as a couple. Dale was funny and laid back and I thought Carson was funny in a snarky kind of way, they played well off each other but for me it didn’t quite get to where I felt like it was time for them to rip off each other’s clothes or to that slow, romantic, sweet loving.

This story was like a hook-up story rather than an all out romance. It’s a sweet hook-up story but the romance part fell short for me. I’m sure I’ll be a minority in feeling this way and in no way do I think this is a “pass it by” book, it is definitely worth the read.

Review: When We Picked Apples Last Autumn by Hank Fielder

When We Picked Apples Last Autumn by Hank Fielder
Title: When We Picked Apples Last Autumn
Author: Hank Fielder
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

At twenty-eight, Josh Adams has more than a few secrets and personal demons. He’s an international traveler and doesn’t think he’ll ever be ready for the serious attention handsome and heroic airline pilot Benny Mills is ready to pay him. Their shared near-death experience seems to clarify everything for Benny, who wants nothing more than to share his stunning home in an idyllic Wisconsin apple orchard with Josh.

Benny offers commitment and a contented life of peaceful, loving comradeship far from the high-flying hazards of foreign travel. But for sexy love-’em-and-leave-’em-hot Josh, only another life-and-death adventure can convince him that the smoking heat of their mutual attraction is destined to be more than a hit-and-run entertainment.

With time running out, finding refuge from his increasingly dangerous world just might be what Josh needs after all. Especially when his and Benny’s very lives depend on it.

Review:

What a beautifully sweet and moving story. The chemistry between Josh and Benny is strong but could have been so much more if the story was longer. It’s well written and has a lot packed into such a short story, sometimes a bit too much that the romance takes a back seat.  I was taken by surprise when it turned into a story with mystery and intrigue, which is well done, but I did have a feeling there was going to be more to Josh than we knew.

The story starts with Josh on a plane that is being piloted by Benny. They are flying through a huge storm that has Josh wondering if this is the end. When the plane lands safely Benny comes out to meet the passengers and spots Josh. After thanking Benny for the safe landing he asks Benny for drinks and what he hopes will be a single night of fun.

Even with the strong chemistry between these two they seemed an unlikely pair but as the story unfolds it’s clear they are perfect for each other. I loved both of these men and I really liked their story but I stopped just short of loving it because of the length, their story deserved of so much more.

I do recommend this story if you’re looking for something quick that packs a punch.

Review: Johnny & Marian by B.G. Hope

Johnny & Marian by BG Hope
Title: Johnny & Marian
Author: B.G. Hope
Cover Artist: Shafali Anand
Publisher: Unicorn Productions
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay and Heterosexual
Length: Novella
Heat Rating:
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

Marian doesn’t love herself enough.
Johnny loves himself too much.
When a spell switches their places, one is upset, the other overjoyed. Being someone else can’t be that hard. Or is it?
Are you a guest or the final owner of the body you find yourself into? What could (or shouldn’t) you change?
*bonus* original short story that spawned the novella.

Review:

This novella is about a woman named Marian who has wondered what it would be like to be a man and a gay man named Johnny who would like to be a women but it would mean giving up his boyfriend Sebastian. Johnny is a selfish character he has so much in his life he just doesn’t appreciate it.

Johnny and Marian end up visiting the same fortune teller, Johnny believes, Marian doesn’t, but she goes along with her friend who wants a reading. Samantha, the fortune teller, over hears Marian say she’d like to be a man and decides Johnny and Marian need to learn a lesson and does a body switch.

This is a cute story that could have been a lot better, aside from Johnny, who I thought was hilarious in the beginning but got on my nerves as the story progresses, I never connected with any of the characters. Marian seemed one dimensional to me someone with very little emotion or personality, maybe that was what she was supposed to be but I never found myself caring about her one way or the other.  Her relationship with her husband Chris came across as really boring and when Johnny ends up in her body and shakes things up I found Chris’s attitude strange. I understand he wanted the wife he married back but there didn’t seem to be enough wondering what was going on with her and his decision to leave the marriage shortly after Johnny and Marian are swapped would have worked better if their marriage was in trouble. Maybe if the story were longer the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more and we saw more of Chris and Sebastian wondering what was happening to their significant other it would have worked better for me.

I was hoping for more, I loved this author’s other body swapping book Ciaran and Harith  but unfortunately this one fell a little short for me. There is a short novella at the end of this story that started this story, I really enjoyed it I wish there was more of it in the novella.  I gave this read an extra .5 stars for that short story.