Bonds of Love by Mickie B Ashling

Mickie B. Ashling - Bonds of Love Cover 475h3v3Title: Bonds of Love

Series: Bay Area Professionals 02

Author: Mickie B Ashling

Genre: Contemporary, BDSM

Length: Novel (270 pages)

ISBN: 978-1-61581-367-4

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (23 April 2010)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖 3 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Getting to know each other hasn’t been an easy journey for Scott Gregory and Robin “Red” Kennedy. Falling in love and exploring their kinkier sides revealed a perfect match, and Scott is a devoted sub to Red’s headstrong and often impulsive Dominant personality.

Scott, Robin, and their friend, Susie, open a new dental practice a short distance from the old office but miles away from Scott’s former boss and his Promise Keeper mentality. But the move doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. Robin’s mother is in a medical crisis. Scott’s grandfather makes an unexpected appearance. Ongoing interference from Jenna, Ron’s needy assistant, stirs up trouble. And Susie, having completed her training as a Dominatrix, is on a quest for the perfect male submissive.

Then there’s one more threat to their relationship: Robin’s desire for a public collaring, something the shy and formerly closeted Scott is having a really hard time accepting. Is a strong and binding love―albeit a kinky one―enough to keep Scott and Robin together?

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Bonds of Love is the second book in Mickie B Ashling’s Bay Area Professionals series. Being new to the author’s work, I feel that I am still exploring their writing style, although I really did enjoy the first book to the series. This novel is a direct continuation from Impacted! and so it is vital that you read the first book before moving onto this one.

The story picks up Robin and Scott’s lives as a D/s couple, but also as professionals as dental hygienist and dental surgeon, respectively. They are still dealing with much of the fall out that came with working the homophobe dentist that they used to work for – and surprisingly this has spread to encroach their personal lives/backgrounds. To be perfectly honest, although I liked the introduction of a new character (an elderly gent and all around nice fellow), I found this storyline dragging on a but of a turn off.

Scott and Robin continue to build their lives together. It’s tricky when they work with each other and are in love with each other. Then there is the whole exploration of the BDSM, which leads to Robin wanting to collar Scott in front of (mostly) his acquaintances at their preferred club. Also, on the topic of BDSM, we see Scott’s best friend, Susie, explore her needs as a dominatrix in her quest to find satisfaction and maybe even a sub of her own (again, another strangely complicated storyline).

While, over all, I found the story enjoyable and glad to see the guys are just as awesome together as they were in the first book, I was turned off a bit by the melodrama that seemed to pop around every corner.

I recommend this one for people that like BDSM romances and/or to those that love a good soap opera.

Saving Crofton Hall by Rebecca Cohen *Retro Review*

Title: Saving Crofton Hall

Series: Stately Passions 01 (A Crofton Hall Novel)

Author: Rebecca Cohen

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (240pgs)

ISBN: 978-1-63216-508-4

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (24th November 2014)

Heat Level: Low – Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.

Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.

But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Although this is the first book in a new series, I’d advise that The Crofton Chronicles be read first as there are some revelations in this story that connect directly to The Crofton Chronicles.

Ben Redbourn is the 16th Earl of Crofton something he is very proud of and uses to his advantage… in nightclubs. Ben finds himself in dire straits when his mother confesses her gambling debts has led to them facing foreclosure of Crofton Hall, and Ben swears that Croton Hall will have to start paying for herself as he has no intention of losing the old girl, and he needs help. Ashley is being laid off from his job at a castle when a plum opportunity falls into his lap, he adores Crofton Hall and its Earl and working there would be a dream. Ashley throws himself into getting Crofton Hall ready for the public but keeps his attraction to Ben close to his chest, Ben is known for being a playboy and Ashley prefers relationships but as secrets from long past are revealed Ashley will have to take a chance that Ben wants more than just a brief fling.

This is a fantastic addition to the Crofton Hall stories, we are brought into contemporary times and the struggles the current Earl faces because of his mother’s irresponsible actions. Ben is a superb character who has played the field since he got his heart broken, when he faces the loss of his beloved home he puts his private life on hold to try and pull off a miracle. Ashley is brilliant as the events manager who has some slightly shady connections, he is the perfect person to get Crofton Hall up and running and who sneaks his way into Ben’s heart. Ben’s family are wonderful as they each act their parts, Ben’s mother, Elena, as the tearful remorseful gambler, his sister, Caitlin, as the sneaky match maker and his brother Harry as the artistic dreamer.  

Although there is a romance brewing between Ben and Ashley it doesn’t actually pick up till later in the story, first we are faced with the hoop jumping of getting Crofton Hall ready to open to the public, a startling discovery and secrets from the past revealed. When Ben and Ashley finally get together they are then faced with another secret Elena was keeping, one that puts them in danger. Their relationship moves fast but the build up to it has you knowing that they both know each other well and that their feelings aren’t fickle or fleeting.

I loved this story, seeing Crofton Hall brought up to date and the way that Sebastian (from The Crofton Chronicles) still managed to look after the Redbourn’s interests after so many years was amazing. The storyline was wonderful, the characters brilliant and the writing flowed smoothly with a couple of twists… I especially loved Ashley’s family’s immediate history and the way that his father’s influence helped Ben out. Rebecca Cohen delved into just what it takes to open a manor like Crofton Hall to the public, there was no glossing over the requirements and there was even a bit of dodgy dealing snuck in to keep it interesting, add in a sweet romance and you have a wonderful story.

I recommend this to those who love wonderful stories, great characters, two men who embark on a new romance, secrets and revelations, a touch of danger and a fantastic ending.

Forever Hold His Peace by Rebecca Cohen *Retro Review*

Title: Forever Hold His Peace

Series: The Crofton Chronicles 03

Author: Rebecca Cohen

Genre: Historical, Elizabethan Era (1599/1600)

Length: Novel (200pgs)

ISBN: 978-1-62798-771-4

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (16th June 2014)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Despite the uncomfortable clothing and the gossip at court, Sebastian Hewel is still enjoying the role of Lady Crofton, wife of Earl Anthony Crofton. But when Queen Elizabeth asks a favor of Anthony, Sebastian’s world fractures and his heart threatens to break. The Queen wants Anthony to seduce Lady Marie Valois, the beautiful daughter of a French noble, to discover the whereabouts of her father, who is wanted by the King of France.

Sebastian knows Anthony can’t refuse the Queen, especially since he has something of a reputation at court. But the situation is further complicated when Marie meets Sebastian without his disguise—and starts flirting with him. Her brother, Lord Nicholas, arrives at Crofton Hall, not happy that his sister has been linked to a man like Anthony, only to find his own head turned by Lady Crofton and her acerbic wit. Contending with the attentions of both siblings—and a very jealous Anthony—would be bad enough. But then Sebastian’s uncle demands Sebastian and Anthony stage Bronwyn’s death to avoid discovery….

A Timeless Dreams Title

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Sebastian and Anthony are back and Sebastian must put on the performance of a lifetime. Sebastian and Anthony are happier than they have ever been, but everything is about to change. Someone wants Bronwyn gone and they have hatched a plot that will have Bronwyn accused of witchcraft, Anthony and Sebastian have to move quickly as the sheriff begins to investigate. Before Sebastian and Anthony can move forward with their plans for the future Anthony wants revenge on the person responsible and Sebastian is more than ready for the role he will have to play.

The conclusion to Anthony and Sebastian’s story in The Crofton Chronicles sees us saying farewell to Bronwyn’s role in Anthony’s life, but the person who brought about Bronwyn’s early demise will have to pay for their treachery. Sebastian has played the role of Bronwyn for two years after being manipulated into replacing his sister for her wedding, Sebastian easily flits between being himself and Bronwyn (although he still hates the restrictive dresses) and neither Anthony and Sebastian is ready to lay her to rest but when their hand is forced their revenge uncovers a dastardly secret and any guilt that lingered for Sebastian is wiped away. But, with no role longer to play Sebastian wonders what to do next and Anthony has the perfect solution.

I really enjoyed this addition to Anthony and Sebastian’s story as we see treacherous plans come to fruition and Anthony’s retaliation, we see Sebastian having to make decisions for his future and we see Sebastian’s and Anthony’s love staying true and strong. This is a beautifully written story where action must be taken quickly and surprising twists are unearthed, we are treated to the theaters of London as Sebastian returns to his first love and the Elizabethan court as Anthony exacts his revenge. The story falls into line perfectly and we encounter Sebastian and Anthony at their most amorous, of course it doesn’t run exactly smoothly as an old flame of Anthony’s tries to stir the pot.

I have to say that I have been impressed with the detail that has been given to this series, where fact and fiction have been blended quite well to give us a good look at Elizabethan England and the risks that many faced. Anthony and Sebastian are two of my favorite fictional historical characters and I was so happy to read the epilogue and discover that they enjoyed many years together.

I recommend this to those who adore historicals, men who chance everything for love, revenge at its sweetest, a wonderful plot, a passionate couple and a great ending. 

Duty To The Crown by Rebecca Cohen (2nd Edition) *Retro Review*

Title: Duty to the Crown (2nd Edition)

Series: The Crofton Chronicles 02

Author: Rebecca Cohen

Genre: Historical, Elizabethan Era (1599/1600)

Length: Novel (210pgs)

ISBN: 978-1-63216-129-1

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (28th May 2014)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Sebastian Hewel has never been happier. But his life playing the role of his twin sister Bronwyn, the wife of Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, is about to change. Rumors abound that Bronwyn is using witchcraft to enthrall her husband, and false evidence has been found. Practicing witchcraft is a crime that could have Bronwyn brought in for questioning by the sheriff, and that would reveal Sebastian and Anthony’s secret.

Together they must decide whether it is time to lay Bronwyn to rest. Anthony intends to ensure that whoever implicated Bronwyn pays for the treacherous deed. Whatever happens, Sebastian and Anthony must prepare to face an unknown future together.

A Timeless Dreams Title

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: This book is part of a series and must be read in order.

 Sebastian is still enjoying his role as Lady Bronwyn, the wife of Earl Anthony Crofton, but things start to become sticky when Anthony is asked by Queen Elizabeth to do his duty to the crown and seduce the whereabouts of a French noble from Marie, the nobles’ daughter. Anthony’s duty becomes difficult when Marie meets Sebastian and becomes charmed by him and then her brother, Nicholas, arrives only to fall under Bronwyn’s charm. Now, Sebastian has to charm the whereabouts from the siblings and Anthony has a taste of his own medicine. It is complicated further when Sebastian’s uncle insists that the farce ends. Just how are Sebastian and Anthony to cope with the pressure of pleasing a Queen, an interfering uncle, a suitor who becomes obsessed and bandits?

Ah an excellent second book of Elizabethan forbidden love with a dose of political intrigue. Sebastian is appalled when Anthony confides the Queen’s request (more like royal decree), that instructs Anthony to do whatever he has to in order to seduce the whereabouts of a French noble from the man’s daughter. Sebastian struggles with his jealousy and begins to doubt Anthony’s love for him, as Anthony seems to be enjoying the seduction just a bit too much. But, the tables become turned and not only does Sebastian become the focus of Marie’s attention, he also, in the guise of Bronwyn, becomes the focus of Nicholas, Marie’s brother. Anthony and Sebastian both struggle with the task that has been laid on their heads.  But, they soon discover that whittling out hidden nobles is not where the danger lies.

I really enjoyed this second story of The Crofton Chronicles. Picking up just over a year after the first book we see Anthony and Sebastian are still madly in love and devoted to each other. I will have to say that in this book I could see how much they care for each other and the connection between them was much stronger and more tangible.  The relationship between them is something to be envied and it is, by other women in the Elizabethan Court.

The storyline is really good.  I enjoyed delving into the political intrigue of the Elizabethan Court and seeing the effects on those who are involved and I really liked the twist near the end, it was an added bonus. I must admit I am intrigued as to what will happen to Anthony and Sebastian, and I am really hoping that there will be more to their story in the future.

I will recommend this to those who love historicals, forbidden love, hot sex, jealousy, duels, political intrigue, bandits and a very happy ending.

The Actor & The Earl by Rebecca Cohen (2nd Edition) *Retro Review*

Title: The Actor and The Earl

Series: The Crofton Chronicles 01

Author: Rebecca Cohen

Genre: Historical, Elizabethan Era (1598/1599)

Length: Novel (216pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (9th May 2014)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel takes his bow at the proscenium only to embark on the role of a lifetime. When his twin sister, Bronwyn, reneges on the arrangement to marry Earl Anthony Crofton, Sebastian reluctantly takes her place. At nineteen, Sebastian knows his days as a leading lady are numbered, but with this last performance, he hopes to restore his family’s name and pay off his late father’s debts. Never mind the danger of losing his head should he be discovered.

He didn’t expect Anthony to be so charming and alluring—not to mention shrewd. While he applauds Sebastian’s plan, Anthony offers a mutually beneficial arrangement instead. Sebastian will need every drop of talent he has to survive with both his head and his heart intact, because this is the best part he’s ever had.

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Sebastian is an actor who is called home by his cousin to perform the role of his life time. Sebastian’s sister has eloped, but she was due to marry an Earl. Now, due to family debts, Sebastian has to fill the role of blushing bride. Anthony is far from hoodwinked and offers a solution that benefits both of them. Now, they just have to fool the nobility and maybe they will both keep their heads.

This is an interesting story of Elizabethan England and the illicit marriage of an Actor and an Earl. Sebastian loves acting, but just wishes he could get more masculine roles. Now, he is offered the role of a lifetime after his sister elopes, but it is a role that could cost him his head. But, he never suspected it would also cost him his heart. Anthony is a man, who will take his pleasure where he can, discovering his future brother-in-law will be his wife, he uses it to his advantage. But, the marriage affects him more than he thought and his scandalous days are numbered.

The characters in this book are very interesting with both Sebastian and Anthony acting like men of their times. Although, at times Sebastian had to act like a woman of their time. Anthony wasn’t a perfect husband, although he did try. Changing a way of life was hard for him and he messed up several times with Sebastian. Sebastian made for a good wife, but he was a great man and the way he tried to stick to his guns with Anthony was quite impressive. The setting and time frame were well done with some great descriptions of the theatres of the time period.

I must admit to not warming up to the characters all that much, Sebastian and Anthony seemed to have no real connection between them and I didn’t feel as though they really got emotionally involved with each other. It felt more like convenience than any real attraction especially from Anthony, and even later it still felt like there was a distance between them even after they declared their love. Their sex life was hot though and that was the only time I felt a real connection between them. The best part for me, was when Anthony starting fighting for their relationship and began to court Sebastian in earnest.

I will recommend this to those who love historicals, those who love masquerades, fighting for love and a happy ending.

The Bear’s True Mate by Elizabeth Monvey *Retro Review*

Title: The Bear’s True Mate

Series: Divergent Species 01

Author: Elizabeth Monvey

Genre: Paranormal

Length: Novella (78 pages)

Publisher: Evernight Publishing (23 Sept 2015)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb: Henry McBane had a wife. And a true mate. And they weren’t the same person. He once made a terrible mistake and it cost him everything. When he found his wife dead from a group of shifter hunters, he gets work as an enforcer to the Shifter Council in order to bring the hunting club down. 

Ajay Orbin has been a prisoner for months, trapped with others as living science projects and held at the whim of a horrible scientist. When he’s finally rescued, he can’t believe it’s by the man he once loved with his whole heart. 

Can he find it in himself to forgive Henry? And what happens when he finds himself…pregnant? 

ISBN: 978-1-77233-514-9

Product Link: Evernight | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This is not the first time I’ve read a book by Elizabeth Monvey. I’ve only read one or two other books and they had me a bit reluctant to go again because the writing style did not agree with me. However, I have to admit that this is the first time I really and truly connected with the characters and absolutely fell in love with her story.

Honestly, the story is something of a tried and true formula, and fans of that formula will not be disappointed by the story. I suppose in some ways it really does come under the banner of cheesy paranormal romance. But, hell, I’m a sucker for that and I ate it right up! The story starts with Ajay Orbin, who has been trapped by scientists in a lab; let’s call that tried and true #1. He’s a bear shifter who has met his mate, another bear shifter, Henry, tried and true #2. However, circumstances have kept them apart and hurt Ajay, namely the fact that Henry had a wife, tried and true #3. Henry is a bear shifter who goes around with a team to free shifters who are being experimented on, tried and true #4.  And that is where the M-preg stuff comes in, tried and true #5, and is of course something that is more niche in terms of tastes than everything else in this story. So, now our heroes are forced to be together again despite not all having the time to heal the rift that had formed between them – really, I would have liked a little more self flagellation (all mental!) on Henry’s side.

Look, despite my rating because I really did love this book, you can tell by my brief analysis there are plenty of holes in this story. Most glaring would be the rushed pace of story and character development. Part of me wanted to bring the rating down to 3.5 because I think with more words and time this could be a truly awesome book. It is something that you could expect from a Flynn Eire or Lynn Hagen type of story and without the detail of a Stormy Glenn book. But as it is, I loved the story, I loved the shifters, I love the M-preg stuff – all the elements were there to suck me into the world of Ajay and Henry and I enjoyed every second of it.

Americana Fairy Tale by Lex Chase *Retro Review*

Title: Americana Fairy Tale

Series: Screw Up Princess and Skillful Huntsman Trilogy: Book One / A Fairy Tales of the Open Road Novel

Author: Lex Chase

Genre:  Fairy Tale, Urban Fantasy

Length: Novel (340 Pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 12, 2014)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb:  Modern day fairy-tale princess Taylor Hatfield has problems. One: he’s a guy. Two: he’s Sleeping Beauty, the most useless princess in existence. Throw in his true love, Corentin Devereaux, a huntsman descended from child-eating witches, and Taylor’s younger brother, Atticus—this generation’s Snow White—who tried to kill him. That didn’t go so hot. 

For two years, Taylor and Corentin live their Happily Ever After. But Corentin is cursed to lose his memory every seven days, including his life with Taylor—a painful reminder that he can’t provide for the man he loves. Taylor insists Corentin has the strength to succeed, and when Taylor discovers a way to break the curse, he is more than willing to pay the cost. 

When an enchanted blizzard devastates Corentin’s hometown of New Orleans, Taylor is convinced Atticus is to blame and grows desperate to find him amid the Big Easy turned frozen wasteland. Corentin believes Taylor is chasing a ghost while he chases the ghosts of his own past. Old tensions scratch open scars, leaving both to wonder if they have each other’s best interests at heart. The clock is ticking until Corentin loses his memory and the rabbit hole goes so deep they may never come out.

ISBN: 978-1-63216-207-6

Product Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Lisa

Review: This is the first book in this series but I would say you could read it separately. Now to be truthful I really did not really care for this book. It gives you a new level on the old fairy tales you grew up on. However the story itself was well written with quite a bit of detail, which is not saying the pace was right on. It seemed to go in all directions and I lost interest in the story before the second chapter.

Now this should have been a reason not to grab the book, because fairy tells creep me out. I don’t have the same beliefs as many though. So I can see others falling in love with them. It has so many twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat though.

Although I am not sure how to write the review without giving too much away. Taylor is the princess who doesn’t seem to have the curse where as his brother Atticus is pretty much Sleeping Beauty. They need their rescuer but it doesn’t work out the way it should. Nothing ever does. In fact Taylor and Corentin are at each other, but not in a good way, from the start. Then there is Corentin’s curse to get over. Taylor also has to save his brothers ass.

Now even I have to admit that this story was funny as hell. I have never laughed so hard in my life. It even had a lot of action, which did the opposite for me, it made the book dull in that part. I wasn’t too sure what to feel in the end. I was in fact bored quite a bit also. It was a mixture of feelings in the story.

It was a quirky and goofy story that should capture ones attention and be able to keep it. However it didn’t do that for me. It didn’t give me what I wanted from the book.

The book starts out at a pretty good pace then it hits a snag. I am not really sure how to put it, but right when you are getting to the good part, then wham nothing. Not that the story stopped telling but it just went downhill for me. I had wished that my feelings had changed with the story though. It has a great bit of potential though. I would recommend it because as I see it just because it didn’t do it for me, doesn’t mean that another would not love it.

Going Deep by Silvia Violet *Retro Review*

Title: Going Deep

Series: Fitting In 04

Author: Silvia Violet

Genre: Contemporary, Ménage

Length: Novella (161 pages)

Publisher: Silvia Violet Books (22 Feb 2016)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Blurb: Gray, Jack, and Mason are back. Their threeway relationship keeps growing stronger, and Gray ‘s feelings for his partners run deeper than he ever thought possible. While he’s learned to be romantic at home, at work, he’s still a big tough cop that nobody wants to cross. So, when the murders of several young prostitutes falls to him to solve, and he has no suspects and no motive, his confidence takes a hit. Every dead end, every day that goes by, adds to the urgency he feels to find the murderer.

Gray desperately needs a break, with the case and for himself. He excels at taking care of both his men, in bed and out, but when it comes to accepting comfort in return, he shuts down, even with everything at work going to hell. Jack and Mason want him to take a vacation when the case ends, but Gray knows he sucks at down time unless it’s spent in bed.

With his case weighing on him and his partners trying their best to help, Gray is going to have to figure out how a high-handed man like himself can let go. 

ISBN: 9781311799982

Product Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This is the fourth installment of Silvia Violet’s Fitting In series. By now I’ve gone through a number of Silvia Violet books and in addition to loving the plot lines she creates, I also thoroughly enjoy her writing style. For me it is just so easy to zoom through just about every book that I’ve picked up. But back to the Fitting In series, we are back with our primary trio – Mason, Gray and Jack – after a departure from the guys in the previous book. The guys are in love and work so well together.

After book 2 being written from Jack’s POV, we are now back to having the story told from Gray’s POV. I must admit that Gray still annoys me at times, mostly because he seems to value his work above his personal life on a regular basis. But no one is perfect and something we are all guilty of, I think, in real life. The other thing to remember about Gray, which is why he is so good, is that he is a tough cop – a detective since his promotion in book 2 but it is nice to see that Mason and Jack are working their magic on the man and there are definite traces of a cuddly teddy bear. I wouldn’t say that Gray is the glue holding them together – I love how Silvia Violet has written it that each man has his own role in the relationship – but Gray is definitely a the dominate player in their trio. There is some light BDSM but nothing major beyond some bondage and spanking, although the guys talk about plans for a play room.

As for Mason and Jack, through Gray’s eyes it is clear that Jack and Mason a certain strength to the relationship that he cannot. This is especially true since it becomes increasingly clear that Gray is stressed from work and I definitely think that he needs the strength of both his men to help him through, even if Gray does not want to go on the holiday that Jack and Mason so desperately want.

My only criticisms are that the ending was a little abrupt, although I like to hope that there is more from the guys. It was danger, danger, danger… then bam! HEA! Not that I’m complaining, I think that it still worked really well. Part of me longs for a book written from Mason’s POV. Because that is something that I felt throughout all the previous books, part of me really wanted to hear from other characters in the ménage besides the man that is narrating (in Book 2 that was Jack and in book 3, with a different trio, it was Bryce).

All in all, though, this is a book I recommend without reservation, especially those that love to read a hot ménage relationship that works.

Burning Up by Silvia Violet *Retro Review*

Title: Burning Up

Series: Fitting In 03

Author: Silvia Violet

Genre: Contemporary, Ménage

Length: Novel (148 pages)

Publisher: Silvia Violet Books (18 Feb 2015)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Blurb: Bryce has been a firefighter for ten years, but when a horrific house fire leaves him reeling, he moves to a new city, hoping to shove those memories behind him. As he adjusts to his new station, Bryce keeps to himself until Matt and Toby, two hot young men in his unit, throw temptation in his path. Bryce knows better than to mess around with men he works with, especially two newbies who are in the closet. But after a difficult day, Matt and Toby offer him compassion and friendship, which slips so easily into sex Bryce finds the combination irresistible.

Matt and Toby want to expand their relationship to include a third, and they’ve set their sights on their sexy bear of a lieutenant. Their first night together is a scorcher, and, more than that, it feels right, to all of them. But since Bryce refuses to hide who he is, and dating men on his shift is against the rules, all three men are going to have to make some tough choices if they want to stay together. 

ISBN: 9781311307828

Product Link: Amazon  US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo

Reviewer: Prime

Review: I am seriously in love with the Fitting In series by Silvia Violet. Burning Up, however, is a bit of a departure from the previous two series which concentrated on three other men making their relationship work. For that reason this book works as a standalone if you want. Most importantly, though, you have three hot, gay fire fighters who seem to need little or no coercion to become a thruple.

The story follows established – and closeted couple – Matt and Toby, who are keen to add a third to their relationship. They need a dominant male, which means that there is some very light BDSM. That’s when we throw Bryce into the mix. He’s a bit older than Matt and Toby and has been a firefighter for ten years. After a horrific house-fire he picks up his life and ends up at the same station as Matt and Toby in an effort to get over the horrors in his life. However, Bryce also has a strict rule of not being in a relation with a co-worker and for damn good reasons.

This is hot and sexy. There are hot firefighters in dangerous situations and a good dose of sexual healing so that a trio of men who just fit together can get their HEA.

Grown Up by Kim Fielding *Retro Review*

Title: Grown Up

Author: Kim Fielding

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (94 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (18 March 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb: It’s time for Austin Beier to grow up. His car is falling apart, his roommates are less than ideal, and he’s just been fired for the umpteenth time. His love life hasn’t evolved past bathroom hookups at his favorite clubs. Forced to borrow money from his father yet again, Austin is walloped by an epiphany—he needs someone to mentor him into maturity. And who better to teach him how to be an adult than Ben, his father’s office manager? Cute in a nerdy sort of way and only a few years older than Austin, Ben is a master of organization and responsibility. But as he gets to know Ben better, Austin learns that whether you’re eight or twenty-eight, growing up is never easy.

ISBN: 9781632169112

Product Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: First off, the cover had me laughing. I’m sure many will recognise as a parody of that painting of Venus in a half shell (Birth of Venus by Boticelli), which is very symbolic because this is all about Austin Beier (in his late twenties) putting on his big boy pants and growing up. The more I think about it, the smarter I think it is.

Austin is a party boy and has difficulty keeping down a job. He has an interesting family dynamic, though his father and stepfather are wonderfully supportive (even if there is no appearance of his stepfather). A talk to his father and his own intuition makes Austin realise he has to grow up. So he turns to his father’s long time employee, Ben, only a couple years older he is highly organised and has his life on track, albeit a somewhat lonely one.

This is a fun read and for the most part is light-hearted, with a sprinkling of humour. I loved both characters and I particularly like the development that Austin goes through in his endeavour to “grow up”.

Beneath the Palisade: Reliance by Joel Skelton *Retro Review*

Joel Skelton - Reliance CoverTitle: Reliance

Series: Beneath the Palisade 01

Author: Joel Skelton

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (300 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (23 Mar 2012)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb: Rising star attorney Harper Callahan hires Ian Burke to landscape his backyard, but it’s his heart that gets the real makeover. Cautious at first, Ian is soon won over by Harper’s good looks and charm, and before they know it they’re on the fast track to romance. 

Then a brush with death makes Harper and Ian reassess their plans for the future… and offers them an opportunity for adventure. What starts out as a casual fantasy of owning and operating a B&B on Lake Superior soon explodes into reality as Harper and Ian realize that when they rely on each other, they can accomplish great things.

ISBN: 978-1-61372-404-0

Product Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This is the first book I’ve read by Joel Skelton and if this is any indication of his writing style, I cannot wait to get to the next two books in this series. In fact, I’m rather glad that I picked it up now with 3 books already available and not when this book was first released. I’m selfish like that. 😉

The first thing that I’m going to say is not an actual criticism but more as an observation. So if you read the blurb it’s in two paragraphs, which I finally realised splits the book in its two halves. I was a couple chapters in and I was thinking “where is this brush with death?”, “what do the… where is this Palisade?” and “Will Ian and Harper just get together and do what they’re meant to?”

This book is a bit of a slow burn and is the perfect set up for the next two books in the series. The opening in fun and dragged me right in immediately as we meet Ian as he is filming his first TV ad for his landscaping company. Immediately you know that he is a great guy and that he is surrounded by some fun, if not interestingly quirky, people. Then we meet Harper. He’s a successful lawyer, but he’s involved in defending a criminal case which has had more than its fair share of local and national media attention. Late one night, Harper see’s Ian’s ad and figures he might as well get his garden fixed. Oh, he had actual reasons, but being that he was attracted to “the actor” on the ad probably doesn’t help his sleep deprived state.

I don’t want to go too much further into anything in terms of plot. As I said, this is a slow burn and for that reason it might not appeal to those that only have the attention span for fast pace. However, where there is not a lot of plot going in, the author makes up for this in spades with the brilliant character development. Shaping the world and the characters in a way that is easily relatable and where the reader will probably recognise pieces of their lives as “oh, yeah, that’s what real people do”. It also helps that the attraction between the guys is both subtle and hot.

One thing I will say though is that I was really confused when a character, Alex was first introduced. If anyone finds this off putting, just hang in there. I’m still sceptical about how he was introduced but by the end of the book it is clear that Alex is an important character in both Ian and Harper’s lives.

This will probably appeal to a broad range of readers but as I said earlier, it is a slow burn so some may find it a tad boring since all the action tends to happen in the second half.

The Wolf in Your Cabin by Alexia Ward

Alexia Ward - The Wolf In Your Cabin CoverTitle: The Wolf in Your Cabin

Series: Magnificent Beasts 03

Author: Alexia Ward

Genre: Paranormal

Length: Novella (96 Pages)

Publisher: Siren Publishing (August 20, 2016)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb: Freddie Dark is looking forward to some rest and relaxation at a ski resort. When he gets stuck with a hunky human named Justin Isaac as his roommate in a luxurious cabin, he is none too pleased. In his mind, shifters and humans don’t mix. But his predisposition quickly changes when he realizes that Justin is his mate.

Justin Isaac is about to be evicted from his apartment when he wins a ski trip. Hoping to escape his dire financial woes for a little while, he sets out on his vacation. To his delight, his new roommate, Freddie Dark, is a giant wolf shifter with super good looks and strength. It may be cold and snowing outside, but things soon get hot and steamy in their cabin.

There’s a murderer in the ski resort who’s killing guests one by one. Freddie and Justin are next on his hit list. Can they figure out who the killer is before he strikes again?

ISBN: 9781682954539

Product Link: Siren-BookStrand | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Lisa

Review: Each book in the Magnificent Beasts collection features a different romantic couple. To enjoy the overall story arc and crossover characters, I would recommend reading the series in sequential order.

Freddie was about to go crazy. He is going through the empty nest syndrome. Two of his three younger brothers have found their mates and the third is never home. He is going bored with each minute. That is until he wins a free skiing trip. He is paired off with one hell of a sexy human.

Justin is broke, soon to be homeless and nothing good in sight. Then he won a trip of a lifetime. He might as well have a bit of fun with it. Then he gets an eye of his sexy roommate and well we shall see. Then things start happening that just might end them both.

It is a pretty sweet story, but it doesn’t flow off the pages as it should. It came off rushed and a bit off. Freddie might be an alpha wolf, but he comes off as a paranoid idiot in parts. In other parts, like with his brother, the alpha shows. Also is it just a pack of three, because even in real life wolves need packs.

I honestly not really sure about this story, but it is still a nice read.

Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw

Title: Behr Facts

Series: Foothills Pride 03

Author: Pat Henshaw

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (92 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (28 Oct 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly a family member—is stealing from Behr Construction, which primarily employs Behr relatives. Abe takes the unprecedented step of hiring an outsider, likeable CPA Jeff Mason, to go over the books and help find the culprit. They are drawn to each other as they talk to workers, including Abe’s two younger brothers and their shifty cousin.

Since he has sacrificed romance all his life to build the business, Abe’s surprised by his feelings for the handsome Jeff. He’s even more shocked when they are confronted by bigotry in the Sierra Nevada foothills community, which is being inundated by gays moving from the San Francisco area. As he and Jeff get closer, Abe must come to grips with coming out to a family and community that aren’t very tolerant. Fortunately, being the head Behr helps him find his footing and grab onto love when it bites him.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-270-0

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This is the third instalment and Pat Henshaw’s Foothills Pride series and I am still in love with it as much as I was when I first had the pleasure to read and review the first book. All books in this series can be read as a standalone, but I recommend that you read it in order. There is a lot of overlap with characters popping up and even in a supporting role, these characters are such a key to the life of the town that I doubt that anyone could help but go back and read the stories of at least four other members of the community. But that’s just me, I suppose, since I’ve already stated just how much I love this series.

I am aware that fans of the paranormal/shifter genre may get tricked – Foothills Pride sounds like a shifter pack rather than it being the LGBTQ community of the Sierra Foothills being who they are/not hiding who they are. Being a fan of shifter books as well, this thought has crossed my mind a time or two since the first book.


Behr Facts is a wonderful addition to the series. The pun intended in the title is a big clue for anyone who likes their men in the form of big, burly men (bears). Behr may be the last name of MC, Abe Behr, but he is also the bear of the title. He is the CEO of the family construction company, which hires a great deal of the Behr family living in the local area. Since the death of his parents he has been trying to look after his younger brothers and then run the company with a single-minded determination which has meant that dating has been something he has pushed to bottom of his list. Things change when he meets freelance accountant Jeff Mason. In fact his presence not only saves his business and helps Abe find the bad apples in his company, but he also makes Abe want to be a man that Jeff is proud to be with (which includes having to come out).

Abe and Jeff are a very sweet couple. They’re both the type of personality that is quiet on the outside, hiding the depths are on the inside. They have a very quiet strength between them and the result of this is some understated but crackling sexual tension between them. The story is simple but it continues with the bigotry of the community with the increasing homosexual population (I think that’s how you say it). Abe is frustrated with the bigots and is keen to get rid of as many as possible, as well as trying to find out who is stealing from the family company. There is also a bit of set up for the future with Abe’s younger brothers, Ben and Connor.

Abe is a hard working guy who has always put others’ needs before his own, I’m glad he got his HEA with someone that complements him perfectly!

As a quick PS, if you go to be Pat Henshaw’s blog ( there is a map of the fictional Old Town in Stone Acres, California – where the series is set.

Far From Home by Madeline Urban

Title: Far From Home

Series: Anthology

Author: Madeline Urban

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Length: Novel(196pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (January 1, 2008)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥ 3 Hearts

Blurb: A collection of three m/m sci-fi novellas by Madeleine Urban: Enhanced, Close Encounter, and Following the Sun.


In Earth’s not-too-far future, a talented scientist stumbles over a plot to use the genetically enhanced military to declare martial law and take over the government. Dr. Ryne Siler enlists his friend, Dr. Cary Matthews, a brilliant engineer, to figure out how to stop it. When the investigation goes awry, they’re on the run, and the only thing between them and capture is a hidden cache of sleeping soldiers with enhancements of their own. Ryne and Cary are desperate, but will waking these soldiers help – or just make things worse?

Close Encounter

Space privateer Tris is just doing his job – delivering canisters to a military science vessel – when he discovers that he is transporting people infected with an engineered virus designed to exterminate the human race. In the midst of an alien attack, can the rogue pilot save patient Retter – the key to the cure? Or will he lose both humanity’s salvation and his heart?

Following the Sun

The nearly fatal crash of their spacecraft leaves Jack and Samuel stranded on a verdant planet far from civilization. Discovered and sheltered by a native tribe, the two resign themselves to new lives – lives that include a new culture, a new language, and even new love. But their new home isn’t at all what it seems, and when war and illness strike, they find out just how far from home they are.

ISBN-13: 978-0-98150-841-2

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Shorty

Review: Three short stories that would have been much better if there was more to them.

Enhanced is about Rhyne and Cary waking up two engineered level one soldiers to take out level three killing machines. Interesting but too short with too much romance.

Close Encounter is about a space privateer, Tris, who is transporting goods and realizes he is also transporting a young man infected with a virus that could either destroy humanity or cure it. I enjoyed this entertaining story that was sealed with a kiss.

Following the Sun is a strange story about a tribe who worships the sun. Two men, crash land and get saved by the tribe. Alas I can not really expand on that or else I’ll give away the entire story.

All three stories were entertaining but way too short. Needed more information in all three.

The Plumber by Serena Yates

Title: Plumber

Series: Workplace Encounters 10

Author: Serena Yates

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (117 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (21 Oct 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: Hard work and long hours have made Will Kovar’s business, Total Plumbing Solutions, a success. When he’s called to fix a bathroom at the Safe Home for Girls and Boys and sees how tight money is for the charity, he’s happy to donate his time. Meeting the home’s manager, Steve Hayes, is an added bonus, especially when Steve invites Will to dinner to thank him for his generosity. Will learns Steve’s wealthy family isn’t happy about his choice to make a career in social work, but neither man expects Steve’s parents to leave eighteen children out on the street to prove their point. Will is determined to help Steve figure out how to provide a safe and happy home—for both the children and themselves.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-519-0

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This is a short and sexy book, which is the seventh book in Serena Yates’ Workplace Encounters book. Each book is standalone, with new characters and no overlapping characters. This instalment is completely new to the series and it is a wonderful addition.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a hot blue collar worker? This is going to be a book that will appeal to a great many people who are into MM.

Will Kovar is a plumber with a heart of gold. He works hard and owns his own business and he’s pretty damn successful. It’s on a call out to the Safe Home for Girls and Boys that he meets an equally as generous man, social worker Steve Hayes. The two just click and while there is plenty of sexual tension there is also a lot of sweetness and cuteness between the two of them. It’s a well-rounded story where we see Will and Steve’s personal and professional lives clash together (and not always in good ways).

The Model by Serena Yates (2nd Edition)

Title: The Model (2nd Edition)

Series: Workplace Encounters 09

Author: Serena Yates

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (125 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (23 Sept 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥ 2.5 Hearts

Blurb: When successful fashion model Fabio Bonardi discovers his first wrinkle, he knows it’s time to move on to Plan B. He is tired of the loneliness and drama of the modeling world, so he enlists shy financial advisor, Edwin Zachary, to help him start a business. Edwin is the first man who sees something beyond a pretty face in Fabio, and the connection between them is immediate and surprisingly deep. But insecurity, fear of rejection, and the fact they live on opposite sides of the country make pursuing a relationship challenging. Before they can figure out the details, a mysterious stalker tries to drive them apart. Then Fabio disappears after a photo shoot, and both men face an unexpected battle for the lasting relationship they both so desperately want. 

ISBN: 978-1-63476-322-6

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: I really don’t know how to take this book. I really am finding myself at a loose end, trying to figure out what to say. This is book nine in Serena Yates’ Workplace Encounters and can be read as a standalone book, as none of the books have any plot or characters in common.

The story is about Fabio, a model who is beginning to worry getting old and wrinkles (well, one) at 28. Finding that it is time to retire from the modelling gig, he is ready to move onto some other business plans. He just needs a financial advisor to advise him about what investment or what business he should start. This is where Edwin steps in. He’s a bit of a whiz when it comes to business and it is his job to help Fabio set up a new one.

I think that my problem with this particular book is that it has all the plot devices there set up for what should be a cool book. There are a couple of strong MCs, who also happen to be hot. There is some mystery and danger. There is more than enough drama. And the last, but not least, the spark between the guys is strong. However, for me, these plot devices are not used to their full advantage and so in the end the story falls a bit short.

Lovers & Fighters by Nash Summers

Title: Lovers and Fighters

Author: Nash Summers

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (127 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (9 Sept 2015)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥ 3 Hearts

Blurb: Scott Halleck and Julian Reeves are polar opposites in almost every way. Scott, a modern arts curator at a museum in Chicago, relishes the finer things in life. Julian is a strange photographer whose hair color changes as frequently as his mood. As far as Scott can see, Julian is an erratic know-it-all who lives his life one day to the next. To Julian, Scott is an uptight, too-coiffed perfectionist.

As the two men continue to run into each other, their dislike grows, but beneath that animosity, a fire is beginning to spark. Scott is baffled when he realizes he is falling for Julian, a man who burns hotter than a wildfire. Scott will have to decide, for the first time in his life, if he’ll let the flames take over.

ISBN: 9781634765312

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This was a difficult one for me to review. This is a fantastically put together book and the artist within the two main characters comes out clearly in the writing, to the point of poetry. However, and this is a big however, I just wasn’t feeling it. Let me explain:

Firstly, this story about art curator Scott Halleck, told from his POV. He’s got a pretty ordinary life with an attentive boyfriend that he realises his feelings aren’t so strong (yes, it’s completely okay to feel sorry for both Scott and Ryan, I understand and appreciate both perspectives). Then at a bar he meets Mark, who is basically an arsehole, but what the hey… then he meets Aaron, which is just Mark’s alias and again the guy is an arsehole… and then finally he meets Mark/Aaron as Julian, estranged brother to his best friend’s girlfriend. There is an instant connection between the guys, but Scott has Ryan and Julian is just continually being combative/ destructive to anyone who wants to make nice with him.

Now, this is where I wasn’t feeling it. I felt the sexual tension and the attraction between the MCs. I felt the conflict within the characters, too. I get that this is meant to be an unhealthy type of romance with no real HEA other than what we do get. But for some reason it just didn’t completely gel for me. Too much was left unresolved while Scott and Julian miraculously held hands and wandered off into the sunset with their HFN, they spent too many angst-ridden pages running from each other.

Of course, it might just be that I am only one of a handful that feels this way. As I said before, the writing is almost poetic and yet the talk of hollowness, destruction, etc. makes me think that Scott is borderline obsessive over Julian. While Julian has his own demons to face (which I don’t think was fully addressed by the end and could have had more), Scott also talks of his state of mind that screams to me like unaddressed depression. Neither of those sits well with me. I don’t mind dark romances, the kind of head-fucks that speak of destructive relationships, but at the same time I don’t like stories that don’t fully do justice (or acknowledge) any physical/substance abuse and other mental problems.

Yet, in all that, this is a well thought out and thought provoking book, thought provoking in the fact that I was ready to yell at my screen on public transport while reading. The writing is as artistic as the characters, though you could never really, on face value, call Scott a haunted artist. This is a dark romance where both character are fighting themselves and each other.

All About the Boy by P.A. Friday

Title: All About the Boy

Series: Anthology

Author: P.A. Friday

Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, Erotic

Publisher: NineStar Press (July 25, 2016)

Length: Short Story (51 Pages)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥ 2.5 Hearts

Blurb: Some men like gentle loving—others like to switch up the power. In P.A. Friday’s collection of stories, explore the raunchier, edgier side of lust—a space where domination and control can be the greatest turn-on.

From Stefan finding out the hard way just how straight he isn’t, Jake who has to learn to behave or take his punishment, to Kel juggling two very different lovers at his workplace, doing what you’re told has never been sexier.

ISBN: 978-1-91115-364-1

Product Link: NineStar Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Lisa

Review: What I thought was a short story turned out to be 3 very short stories. The problem was they were not really stories, just some hot sex scenes.

Pretty Little Straight Boys

Rufus came out to his friends that he was gay but what he had not told anyone was how he wanted Stefan. One of his best friends but the man was straight, or so he thought. One hot night of drinking leads them all into a game of hide and seek. The one found had to forfeit something, but when Stefan was found it turned out to be something else.

For such a very short story, the author did a good job of making it seem just a bit longer. It was not really my taste, but it was a bit hot.

Making Amends

Jake is in trouble with his master and he needs to be punished. Alessandro has one major rule for him to behave. The problem was Jake like his punishment just a bit much. Except maybe this punishment might just be a bit to much. Just give him to Leo.

No real story here but it was still pretty hot. Just a bit of kink to go with the day I suppose. However it was really just to much for me. I think giving your boy to another is degrading and gross in my eyes. Especially if you know your boy doesn’t like the other man. It was a complete turnoff for me.

Office Politics

Kel has two sexy lovers at his work place and liked to be bossed around a bit. Dean and Peter who would have thought.

Just a bit to much for me. Sounded a bit violent and I don’t much care for the way they were treating one another, although it was still hot I suppose. Kel has two lovers who don’t know about each other. He is a dominant and a submissive, basically a switch. Dean is a violent dom, where as Peter is a complete submissive. To me two lovers who don’t know about the other is cheating, and the book dropped completely.


I really need to pay attention to blurbs on books. I came close to liking the first book, but the other two books were complete flops. I don’t like cheating and I can’t stand a man giving away his boy to a gross man whom the boy doesn’t like. So all in all, total degradation in my eyes. The first book has a chance of being turned into a complete story, but the other two were just porn to me. I am afraid this book will go straight to the discard pile. Definitely not a book for me.

The Chauffeur by Serena Yates (2nd Edition)

Title: The Chauffeur (2nd Edition)

Series: Workplace Encounters 02

Author: Serena Yates

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (120 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (4 Mar 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥ 3 Hearts

Blurb: Scarred former model Kyle Anderson leads a double life. By day, he works as a chauffeur for his uncle’s limousine rental company. Since his wages are too low for him to become financially independent, he works nights as an exotic dancer, donning a mask to hide his identity and the facial scars that got him rejected by his parents. Kyle catches the attention of Nick Giddings, a forklift driver who visits the club to let off steam. Nick is stuck in a low-skilled dead-end job after being kicked out of school for a prank he didn’t commit. The two men immediately connect, but when Nick is laid off and Kyle’s uncle pushes him to date a woman, everything comes crashing down.

ISBN: 9781632168368

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: The Chauffeur is the second book in Serena Yates’ Workplace Encounters series. However, none of the books are related and are stand alone stories. This is the second edition of The Chauffeur, with Dreamspinner Press re-releasing the whole series. I read the first edition and could not tell the difference for the most part (my memory is a tad dodgy, though). Serena Yates herself has said that the difference between the first and second (this) edition is that she added a couple scenes, adding approximately 2500 words to the story.

The plot of The Chauffeur is enjoyable, so before I go into the story I’m just going to put this out there: the writing style is not going to be to everyone’s taste. Sometimes the wording was a bit clunky and some of the details that I wanted to know about Nick and Kyle was lost in the words. Also, the wording of the sex scenes is sometimes rather clinical – e.g. using “ejaculate” instead of “come” or “climax” or “release”. Another thing that I’ve realised since reading other books in the series that the general plot that is followed is very similar, but considering there are no characters to connect the books, this is not really an issue. Finally, I think that the blurb offers information much more clearly than it is presented in the book.

The book itself is about Kyle and Nick. It is told from both their POVs (in third person), something that I enjoy and sometimes prefer over one POV or first person of one character. Kyle was a model and very successful. That was until an accident left him scarred and revealed his family’s true colours – they ignore him after that. He now works as a chauffeur for his uncle’s limousine company. Desperate to supplement his income he becomes a stripper and this is where he meets Nick. Nick is a forklift driver (something that I found difficult to see by the wording used)… to be honest, though, I just got more information reading the blurb than I did the book. However, the main thing is that Nick is a low-skill worker and his job is in jeopardy. No matter the skill level it is a relatable position for most of us in the workforce.

If anything I would have liked a bit more background about both Kyle and Nick. I just felt like I was being teased about their background and what traumas/events are shaping their current lives. These guys have a lot of chemistry and a lot more potential.

Overall, this is enjoyable and a good way to pass some time. It’s the type of book you read if you’re in the mood for something that you don’t need to think about too much as you go along.

The Bricklayer by Serena Yates (2nd Edition)

Title: The Bricklayer (2nd Edition)

Series: Workplace Encounters 04

Author: Serena Yates

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (136 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (15 April 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: Mike Brown has been a bricklayer working for the same construction company since leaving high school at eighteen. While building a conservatory for a Victorian house northwest of downtown Baltimore, Mike meets Ash, the landscaper hired to restore the gardens, when Ash distractedly stumbles over some of Mike’s equipment. Mike offers to take Ash to dinner as an apology, Ash hesitantly agrees, and the two men start dating. Then Mike is pulled away from his next assignment of building fireplaces by a promotion he doesn’t want, only to be fired for incompetence two weeks later. Three of the fireplaces have collapsed, one seriously injuring a cleaner. With Ash’s support, Mike must figure out who sabotaged his work, and why, before he faces a lawsuit.

ISBN: 9781634760218

Product Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: The Bricklayer is the third book in Serena Yates’ Workplace Encounters series. However, none of the books are related and are stand alone stories. This is the second edition of The Bricklayer, with Dreamspinner Press re-releasing the whole series. I read the first edition and could not tell the difference for the most part (my memory is a tad dodgy, though). I could not find exactly how the word count has changed on this new edition.

The plot of The Bricklayer is enjoyable. However, this also has the same problem of the previous books: the writing style is not going to be to everyone’s taste. Sometimes the wording was a bit clunky and some of the details that I wanted to know about Mike and Ash was lost in the words. Another thing that I’ve realised since reading other books in the series that the general plot that is followed is very similar. One or both the MCs are closeted and somewhere along the line, an MC faces losing their job (or business). Considering there are no characters to connect the books I’m not going to consider this to be a major issue.

I like both Mike and Ash – they are great characters with great chemistry. Mike is a mason, he works his butt off and he loves his job. He is close to thirty and still in the closet because he is terrified how his family would react (again, understandable but I love the family’s reaction). In general, Mike is just really sweet and relatable. He is a lot easier to relate to than Ash. Ash, on the other hand, is a landscape gardener who has been hired to work on the same house where Mike is contracted. The guys literally bump into each other, which leads to a rather awkward dinner which may or may not be a date. Ash is a kind of stand-offish characters – or he’s just really shy. But when Mike needs the help, he steps up and things start to fall into place.

I figured out pretty quickly what was going/the direction of the plot. This is a light and enjoyable read, especially if you’re in the mood for something that you don’t need to think about too much as you go along.