Monday, December 5, 2016

Why I love Red River and what that has to do with Glenn Holloway

When I was fifteen I saw Red River for the first time. I of course, loved cowboys from a very early age just like everyone else, but Red River was a different thing. I discovered Montgomery Clift, (my love affair with him is a whole other thing that would take too long to discuss), who made that movie for me because he was this beautiful, sweet vulnerable man who had to stand up and take charge when he had no clue what he was doing. And the subplot is about a cattle drive while the main one is about a father and son--even though the main characters aren't related by blood--who have to deal with the son realizing his father isn't perfect and the father realizing that his son is all grown up. It's a great movie, full of lots of wisdom and while I could have done without the feisty female lead, everyone else is tropey as hell. Grizzled father, gorgeous son, smartass rival--who could have been the love interest if I wrote it--and the sweet grandfather character. It would have made a great book, maybe it was one, but certainly I remembered things about it when I wrote When The Dust Settles.

Thomas Dunson and his son, Matthew Garth

William Shakespeare said back in his day that there were no more original stories. That's probably true. Everything can be traced back to somewhere else, stories have overtones and characters that remind us of others. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell's seminal work, basically carved the idea in stone if anyone missed it. So the hero, waiting to burst forth, hiding his light under a bushel, I've read that a million times and in my book, Glenn Holloway is that guy. He's not the strongest guy, as Monty is not in Red River, but about his business and his people, he's the smartest.

Cherry and Matt
 In the movie, Matthew Garth's rival Cherry Valance, (same name as the lead female Soc in SE Hinton's The Outsiders), is a gunfighter. Matthew could have been one, but went the rancher way. With Glenn, he could have been a rancher but his heart wasn't in it, so he went the restaurateur way. But that doesn't mean when called upon to cowboy, that he isn't excellent at that job. I love the idea of people thinking you're one way only to have them be surprised.

 I went through a change with Glenn because when I originally wrote him, I was thinking he was like the other Holloway men, big and  loud and scary. But the more I thought about him, I realized that while he could be just as stubborn and sometimes irrational, he was gentler, quieter, and a bit smaller, leaner, and that too is me thinking about Montgomery Clift in Red River. Because even though he goes head to head with John Wayne--so you know he's powerful enough--he still has more quiet strength than overt aggressiveness. That was what I wanted for Glenn. He can save you, take care of you, he's a hero, but he's not the alpha male, he's the gentle omega that you can count on.

Montgomery Clift
I hope you all can see Glenn's transformation in the novella from the hot-headed, kind of jerk he was in After the Sunset, to the kinder, more introspective guy he's evolved into in When The Dust Settles.And if you have a free Saturday afternoon, you might give a black and white cowboy movie a try and settle in for Red River. It would make a nice cozy in-front-of-the-fire time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book of the Month Giveaway: It Was a November to Remember!

Cheers, everyone, and thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of our favorite reads in the month of November at The Novel Approach! It was another great month of reading, difficult to whittle our choices down to our absolute faves, but we managed. :)

So, here they are, our Top Reads in November

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BenThe Zozobra Incident by Don Travis – “I loved this book. I loved the setting and feel of being in Albuquerque. I loved our protagonist. I loved the pacing and suspense. This was a complete win for me.

About the setting: I imagine there are quite a few cultural differences between Albuquerque and the Pacific Northwest. However, even taking that into consideration, the story was hitting me more like a nineties historical than a contemporary PI novel, even though there were cell phones and a present-day car or two. Which didn’t bother me in the slightest, but I started to wonder if Albuquerque was sort of stuck in the past, with their western lingo and clothing styles. But I wouldn’t know for sure. That being said, I ate up the outdated fashion, cowboy discos, and silly old-timer expressions.”

LindseyCounterpoint (Song of the Fallen: Book One) by Rachel Haimowitz – “I love good high fantasy when it is written well and has a fairly unique plot which keeps my attention without becoming too confusing. And Counterpoint hit the mark back when I first read it.

The story takes place in a fictitious country where there was a past betrayal between Elves and mankind, creating enmity and dividing the county, each side having their own version of events leading to the treachery. Though humans face a larger issue, they are at war. The Surge is a war with animals, changed in body and mind and gone feral, who thirst for the blood of humans. Elfkind has stayed out of the Surge, but humans blame Elfkind for the war, and there is distrust and hatred. It is a very unique story which completely grasped my attention and wouldn’t let me go.”

MaryannMan & Beast (The Savage Land: Book One) by Michael Jensen – “Man & Beast is a historical thriller that takes place in 1797 and ‘98. Author Michael Jensen has melded factual research with fiction to create an eerily shocking mystery. For the time period, there is much hardship, fear and bigotry, and people have to keep their secrets hidden. This was a first time read for me from this author, and I was totally entertained by the twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. This was an excellent read. I’ll give fair warning, though; there is violence in the story, and it does get gruesome.

There’s also a sneak peek at book two, Man & Monster, at the end, and I hate that I read it. I want more! So I will definitely be looking for the second book in the Savage Land series, coming in January 2017.”

CarrieThe Boyfriend Makeover by River Jaymes – “Because of the differences between these two men, it’s necessary for most of this book to be a tale of how Ky and Noah must come together and be brutally honest with each other. Ky has to get to the bottom of Noah’s self-destructive behavior, and when it is revealed, boy is it a doozy. But Ky has secrets also, and really good reasons for keeping them. It is a slow burn in the romance department. The moments these two do manage to come together are so incredibly hot they literally scorch off the page! The old adage, “you have to love yourself first and foremost before you can love someone else,” is never truer than in this book. The epilogue was sweet and promised a satisfying HEA for these two. I enjoyed the on-page time with the other couples from the series. I would have liked the whole twin sisters/Texas/step father scenario fleshed out a little more, as I feel like I still have questions that will remain unanswered as to what will happen there.

On the whole, I highly recommend this book. It was an excellent addition to the series and I hope River Jaymes decides to write another book for the Boyfriend Chronicles. Hint, hint… Logan.”

JenniferThe Amateur: A Villainous Love Story by T.J. Land – “I don’t want to give too much away, as I feel that the story was so delightful in its reveal. One character is bigender, which I was thrilled to discover through the course of the story. If you have read T.J. Land before, this won’t come as a surprise that the author includes all members of the LGBT community in the story. This character was well developed and incredibly complex. The feelings the others had towards this person were also genuine and so beautifully written that I felt as if they were all very real people I could get to know.

Fans of T.J. Land should not miss this book. I truly hope there is a sequel because I would love to see more from the League and Mister Valiant, as well as Lion Man and the other heroes. What other shenanigans could they get themselves up to? What other threats could arise? What other ways could Eel attempt to seduce everyone? More, please!”

CassieLights, Camera, Cupid!: A Bluewater Bay Anthology – “The premise of the Bluewater Bay series is that all the novels are standalones, loosely grouped around a TV Show being filmed in Bluewater Bay. Each novel covers a different couple, and is written by a different author. The fun is that you can jump in anywhere in the series order, and occasionally you catch cameos of beloved characters that you’ve spent time with before. Which, for character-loving me, is deliciously torturous. The sad part is that you don’t get to spend any significant time with those beloved characters after their book is done.

Until now! (*squeeeeeeee*)

In four of the five stories in this anthology, the authors brought back the couples from their novels, just to feed my fixation on more, More, MORE character details. L.A Witt and Z.A. Maxfield give you peeks into the continuing lives of the characters they coupled in their novels. Anne Tenino gives you insight into the first chance events that her characters experience before getting their second chance in her novel. And Amy Lane pulls back the curtain on the past and the motivations of one of her novel’s secondary characters in about the same timeline as her novel. At least, I think it’s the same timeline. I hadn’t read hers yet, but I picked it up to read right after listening to this anthology, and I’m not quite done yet. But that’s how good her short was!”

JulesA Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote – “Let’s talk about the chemistry between these guys…Wow. They were so great together. Adorable, shy and dorky, sure…But, give them a dark closet to hide in during an innocent game of Sardines? I swear they almost burned the place down. If you don’t pick this one up for the lovely Christmas charm, then pick it up for that scene. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper sexy and fun.

I need to read more Jay Northcote. I don’t even care that he accidentally did fake boyfriends again for this year’s Christmas story! This one was even better, so roll with it I say! But, seriously, A Family for Christmas has it all. Get your fire going, maybe a kitty in your lap (there are so many sweet cats in the book, it will make you want one with you), and some tea or cocoa, and dig into this one. So, so cute and enjoyable.

SadonnaVivaldi in the Dark Box Set by Matthew J. Metzger – “This is the first I’ve read of Matthew J. Metzger’s work. I already had Vivaldi in the Dark, but when the box set was on offer for review, I decided I’d like to read the whole series. Let me just say that these books are quite impressive, especially for someone as young as this author. His ability to capture the heady rush of young love, the fear of realizing that all is not as it seems, the frustration of realizing you can’t fix someone, the acceptance that, for better or worse, this is it. I think he captures the impact of the depression from both the person dealing with the illness and those around them who love them. I can only think that he has had first-hand experience with this disease.

This is a bit of a harrowing series but well worth the effort. Kudos to the author for doing such a brilliant job with a difficult subject. The more books like these that are written and read by people, the more we will have a better understanding of, and empathy for, those who continue to suffer. This was really a beautifully written story told in three novels of love that doesn’t necessarily overcome, but love that perseveres and supports. Bravo!”


SammyMapping the Forest by Brandon Witt – “Mapping the Forest is more than just a sweet romance of healing and rebirth; it is a refection of a community—for better or worse—with all its flaws and gifts. Yes, this group of gay men had managed to find friendship and solace with each other, but the author does not lead us into this Utopian gay world where all is right. Instead, he allows his men to grapple with real life and the issues facing a marginalized people—there is homophobia and hate in this quaint national park suburb, but there is also acceptance and the needed strength to overcome prejudice. These characters are forced to make tough decisions that seem easy but carry long, life-changing consequences, and luckily for us they have a support network to help them through the toughest of times.

Author Brandon Witt has given us a slice of Americana via a national park setting. He has allowed us to watch his family sort out their problems, move past their grieving and find a new someone to call their own. Love blooms in this novel, and it is a sturdy, deep-seated kind, despite the speed with which it was established.”

LisaMonster (Vertex: Book One) by Soren Summers – “Corporate intrigue and the ethical question of using humans as guinea pigs to test Vertex’s latest innovation, Paragon—a scientific breakthrough that will make mankind better, faster, stronger, virtually impervious. And dangerous—gives this novel its dark and gritty edge. Summers’ writing is perfection, every scene is brimming with action, suspense and/or curiosity piquing, and the moral dilemma of right and wrong and who the monsters truly are elevates this novel to another level of excellence in the horror genre. Of course, whenever man interferes with the natural order of life and death, nothing good can come of it, which creates the twist in this novel—once the pin is pulled from the grenade, there’s no turning back. I loved the way the author sprinkled bits of information here and there in what seemed to be an innocuous way, when what was being revealed was not only disturbing but could be downright bone-chilling as well. There are some heartbreaking and brilliantly frightening scenes in this story, too, some great human touches within the inhumanity that gives it an emotional punch I wasn’t at all expecting.”

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And that does it for this month. Join us next time when we'll present our Best Books of 2016 picks! 

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The Giveaway

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

My favorite time of the year and my favorite holiday. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Guest Blogger Jaime Samms

For a long time, now, Mary has given me a standing invite to visit her blog, but for various reasons (read: Jaime is crap at remembering to do things) it hasn’t happened until today. So thank you, Mary, for being so very, very patient.

I'm really happy to be unveiling this print anthology of my dance stories, with three brand new, exclusive to this collection short stories about some of the in-between times and fringe characters alluded to in the main stories. Fair warning, I am totally dragging Mary into this, so be prepared :)

Now, if you all are like me, and I think it’s safe to assume a lot of you are, because if you're here, you probably read Mary’s books and maybe you’ll agree that one of the funnest things she does is treat us to little Easter eggs in her stories. No, not actual Easter eggs. I love it when a Marshal turns up in some unexpected place, or we see a crime boss in the background of a random restaurant scene, or one of Sam and Jory’s kids runs helter-skelter through someone else’s crime scene. (I don’t think that last one ever actually happened. But it could. Food for thought, Mary…)
Anyway, the thing is, this penchant of hers makes me pay more attention to those seemingly inconsequential tertiary characters. You never know where they might pop up again. They might even get their own book some day. In doing so, I have actually ended up paying more attention to some of my own throw-away characters. They become not-so-throw-away, and I feel like they need their little bit of the universe expanded.
So in a way, you can say that Mary is to blame for the three extra short stories in this anthology. So blame Mary. She’s awesome that way.
I’d like to give away a copy of this book while I’m here, and since it’s a print only volume, it will be signed. Here’s what to do: Comment on one of your favourite Easter eggs (one of mine, or one of Mary’s) and I’ll pick a name from the commenters out of a hat and send you a book!
I’ll give some hints for mine, because I’m guessing fewer of you have read fewer of my books than Mary’s. Think Patchwork Heaven music and The Detail Security Experts.)
Good luck, and let’s talk books!

Oh, but first. Pretty cover, because, well. It's spectacular!



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Guest Bloggers: Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/running-blind-by-venona-keyes-and-kim-fielding-7733-b
I'm so excited to have Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes here today sharing an excerpt from their upcoming release Running Blind that's out on November 7th. Here's a peek inside the book:

He checked the time when he got to the Greek restaurant and learned that he was ten minutes early. He hovered uncertainly just inside the front door until a woman spoke up. “Can I help you?”
“I’m supposed to meet someone, but I’m—”
“Kyle!” Seth sounded as if he was hurrying over from the restaurant interior. He briefly touched Kyle’s elbow. “I got us a table already.”
Navigating through restaurants was tricky. Tables and chairs could be anywhere, not to mention servers with their arms full of food. And patrons didn’t much appreciate having a cane whack against their legs. Kyle was grateful when Seth gracefully and expertly guided him through the dining room without making Kyle feel like a blind stegosaurus. Still, a small sigh of relief escaped him after he sat down.
“Would you like a menu?” asked a different woman.
“Not unless it’s in braille.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. The braille menu is in use right now. I can bring it over as soon as it’s available.”
“It’s fine.” Kyle turned to Seth. “Do you mind reading yours to me?”
“Sure. It’s an epic menu, nearly as long as the Iliad.”
Oh, so we’re going for light and playful.
“You mean there is more to the menu than saganaki, dolmades, and hummus?” Kyle used one of his anime voices with a Greek accent. He didn’t know what possessed him, but it felt good.
“Well there goes my excellent opportunity to impress you with my Greek pronunciation of avgolemono and spanakopita. Ooh! And tzatziki.
The awkwardness of not having a menu eased with the bit of levity. The waitress gasped. “Oh my God! You sounded just like the bad boy in Werewolf PTA!” She said it a bit too loudly, and the noise immediately around them abated a bit. “Can you say something else?”
Kyle ordered his drink in Terry James’s voice. She was so excited she nearly forgot to get Seth’s drink order. When Seth just ordered in his normal voice, she seemed disappointed.
“I horrified her, didn’t I?” Kyle deadpanned.
“Slightly,” Seth responded in kind. “I don’t think she’ll ever come back.” They both chuckled. “Well, the only thing I can do is lawyer speak. Will that be okay enough for me to narrate the menu? If you fall asleep, I’ll know I did my job.”
Kyle laughed. “Let me be the judge of that before you audition through ACX.” When Seth lapsed into puzzled silence, Kyle laughed again. “Sorry. It’s what I do for a living, actually. Narrate books.”
“Really?” Seth said, sounding slightly excited at the prospect.
“Yeah. Well, I used to be a voice-over actor, but I haven’t figured out yet how to do that without sight. Narrating books is an easier fit for now.”
“So you are the voice of bad boy Terry James in Werewolf PTA.”
“Was. And yes, one and the same.”
“That is so cool! Jeez, ex-lawyer sounds so lame compared to that. Plus you’re totally going to judge my menu-reading skills.”
Kyle leaned back in his chair and smiled. “I won’t.”
“What books have you narrated? Oh! I have the Audible app! I can look you up right now!”
“Um….” Kyle wasn’t so sure he was ready to admit to the Bible and gay romance. “How about if we order first. I’m kind of hungry.”
“Sure.”


Blurb:

Kyle Green is on top of the world. He and Matt have been together for ten years, and—as the voice of Ecos, the wildly popular anime character—Kyle is treated like a rock star in anime circles. But in an instant, a stroke leaves him blind. When photographer Matt gets the opportunity of a lifetime, Kyle reexamines their relationship, discovers it has been a safety net rather than a true romance, and sets Matt free to pursue his dream. Kyle’s life and career as he knew them are gone, and he must now find the courage and creativity to draft a new plan.
After being away for fifteen years, Seth Caplan comes home to Chicago to care for his mother and to partner with a small start-up tech company. He and Kyle meet after Kyle’s collision with a child’s sidewalk toy, and they hit it off. Kyle wants to get back into running, and Seth becomes his guide. As they get to know each other, they start seeing each other beyond their three-times-a-week runs. But Seth’s revelation of the dark reason why he left his career in California sends the relationship into a tailspin and leaves both men running blind.

Dreamspinner Press: http://syurl.net/jx5MLt


Bios:

Kim Fielding is very pleased every "me someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full "me. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others

You can reach Kim at:
Facebook—http://facebook.com/kfieldingwrites
Twitter—@kfieldingwrites
Website—http://kfieldingwrites.com/



Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carry on suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting in airports to the gate before the plane door closes.
Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.
Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boys, volunteers at an animal shelter, attempts to cook everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, is a seasoned triathlete, and enjoys swimming, biking, hiking, skipping, dancing, and her beloved overgrown garden.

You can reach Venona at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/venona.keyes
Website: http://www.venonakeyes.com/


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Monday, October 31, 2016

All Treats and No Tricks - October's Best Reads

Hi, everyone, and welcome to our October Book of the Month picks from The Novel Approach! We had an unprecedented month, in that so many of us couldn’t narrow our choice down to just one book, and not only that, but we have a record number of debut novels on this month’s list. How much do we love finding fresh new voices in the LGBT genre? So much.

So, without further delay, here are our choices for Best October Reads and, as always, be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

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CassiePsyCop Briefs by Jordan Castillo Price – “So, once more, all together, I’m here for the—”CHARACTERS!” (nice lungs in the back). We should all know this about me by now. So what could possibly be better than 200+ pages of short stories about some of my favorite characters from one of my favorite series, all focused on these people just doing what they do and developing their character arcs? There’s nothing better; that’s a trick question. That’s what this book is! I loved it, of course.

The stories themselves are great. This volume was like a box of chocolates. There was a candy set in the past. Some pieces were love scenes. That piece was from Jacob’s perspective (squee!); this one from Lisa’s. I’d experienced a couple of them before, and they were as tasty as always; a couple bits were new to me. Some were bigger than others. One was even a piece from the future! There was not a coconut or freaky toothpaste flavored candy in the bunch (yup, I’m riding this metaphor all the way to the finish line, folks).”



Changing Worlds by Cari Z. – “ I LOVE aliens and space opera stories. I dig sci-fi, I love how creative and strange an author can get with a new culture, and I really enjoy watching how cultures colliding can play out when humans get thrown into the mix. I even like when a romance comes into it; the confusion and minor miscommunication mishaps as the two different species sort themselves out can be amusing and a lot of fun. But there are also days that I HATE sci-fi as a romance sub-genre, both M/M and F/M, because there are some deeply ingrained thematic clichés involved in the romance end of the sci-fi pool. Some of them I just find annoying and lazy, but others I seriously, seriously loathe. So, I usually end up kind of cringing my way through sci-fi/romance books because I’m afraid these awful tropes are going to pop up and ruin something I want to love, kind of like a razor blade in a trick-or-treat candy bar.

While it may seem strange to put a list of things that a book is NOT in a review about that book, I’m about to do it with a list of these clichés because Cari Z. managed to avoid EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. in Changing Worlds, and I am so impressed and happy about it.



KimObjects in the Rearview Mirror by F.E. Feeley Jr. – “Objects in the Rearview Mirror, when it wasn’t giving me the willies, stirred up a few other emotions, like a bit of anger towards abusive people, compassion for those that suffer from alcoholism, and a bit of sadness for the one who tried to turn his life around, only to have it screw with him. And, when I finished the last page I had questions: Who was that strange woman, and will there be more of Jonathan and Eddie? Soon? Also, why isn’t this in audiobook format yet? I mean, this is something I would love to listen to!

F.E. Feeley Jr. has a new fan, and he’s become an auto-buy for me. Now, I’m off to read Still Waters. Thanks, Sammy, for the wonderful review of this one—it made me curious to try this author. Ooooh, I do so love a good ghost story!

This a 5 Star read and highly recommended!”



AngelTHIRDS: Beyond the Books Volume Two by Charlie Cochet – “If you’ve not read the main series books, I strongly suggest you bring up Dreamspinner’s site and grab the series before starting this book. The story prompts are from each book out so far, so there are spoilers for the entire series in these companion books.

The second volume contains more of the core group, mostly Dex and Sloane, but the others also make an appearance. The author also expands to include Lou and Bradley, and more of Hudson and Seb. I still have a preference for Ash and Cael, collectively called Cash by the fans, but I really enjoyed seeing all the side pieces bring the storylines in tighter. I hadn’t realized just how many clues there were to tying all the novels in together, but after a recent re-read of all the main books and these two extras, much of what I thought I had missed was right in front of me. I am ready and waiting for the next book and series involving this wonderfully detailed and exciting -verse by Charlie Cochet.

Thank you, thank you, Ms. Cochet for sharing your time and talent, and for indulging the whims of your fans. It’s been an awesome experience.”



MaryannTorch by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott – “When the plan is to take their enemy down, Noah is very much a valuable part of this dynamic team. He’s there to protect Rowe by any means possible, and the camaraderie of this group of men becomes even stronger. For me, besides the intriguing storyline, Drake and Elliott bring a deeper look into Rowe, Noah, Ian, Lucas and Andrei’s characters that are really eye opening. The changes that come about make vulnerable men strong, and strong men vulnerable. The plot itself is power-packed with high emotion, action, destruction, and with shocking and heartbreaking moments that you won’t see coming. But, there’s also just the right amount of teasing, humor and those aww moments with dogs and a cute baby kitten.

If you haven’t already read and want to get to know the men of the Unbreakable Bonds series, I highly recommend Shiver and Shatter before you tackle Torch. There’s also a book of short stories, Lucas, that’s sexy, naughty, sweet and fun. Hopefully that will hold all the Unbreakable Bonds fans until 2017 when book four, Devour, is published.”



LindseyDog Days by TA Moore – “From the beginning, the reader is thrown into the middle of something that is clearly big, but it is up to the reader to follow the storyline through the dark paths it takes, and piece together the greater picture. The writing is evocative and the prose almost poetic in its darker descriptions. The world building is done well, yet does not feed the reader every detail. Instead, the author gives just enough information for the reader to paint their own picture, in many ways. This doesn’t mean the story is difficult to follow; it’s more that the reader has to use their own imagination in certain aspects.

The characterization in this story is what really blew me away, Danny and his position in the shifter hierarchy. His weredog side is subservient, but his human personality is far from it, refusing to be a pushover and give into his more basic instincts. His independent personality is always in a constant struggle with this more primal dog self when he is near Jack. And Jack…. The sheer raw nature of his personality—wow.”



CarrieDinner at Jack’s by Rick R. Reed – “Rick R. Reed weaves a story showcasing all forms of love: parental love, romantic love, familial love, lost love, new love, the love we feel for our pets, and love reborn. There is a real big dose of fate here and some things you have to take things on faith, but overall, it’s a believable journey. The romance for Beau and Jack really takes a backseat to Jack’s healing, to his restoration of who he is as a person as he moves beyond his trauma. The secondary characters, while few, play a huge role in this story, and Ruth adds a much-needed point of humor as only an adorable pug can. I loved the recipes contained in the storyline (reference the first paragraph), and while I haven’t made them all, I can say the Dark Beer and Beef Stew is delicious.

Dinner at Jack’s satisfies, body and soul.”



A Kind of Honesty by Lane Hayes – “Lane Hayes has done it once again; she has written a first-class character driven novel that is literally unputdownable and told from only one character’s POV, which helps to create a seamless story that is all encompassing—you never miss the dual point-of-view. This author has a way of focusing in on the characters in her books; there isn’t the need for situational drama or unnecessary plot twists because her characters tell their own tales. A Kind of Honesty is written through Tim’s eyes, but you always know what is going on with Carter, and this is the genius of good character driven plots. Believe me, Tim has enough issues for the both of them! This book follows a favorite storyline for Hayes in that the main characters have to come to a major realization about their individual selves to be able to move forward together. Honestly, it made this a slow burn in that things didn’t pick up until after the half way point. Don’t get me wrong, the first half is super sexy hot, with some scenes that will leave you panting, but it is only when Tim begins to believe in himself and the fact that he can have love that things kick in.”



SammyUnsafe Exposure by Kaje Harper – “Those familiar with this series will get a glimpse of familiar faces, and I know I, for one, enjoyed seeing how they fared. True to form, this author doesn’t allow her characters to take the easy road. Theirs is a realistic journey, and even though you may enjoy visiting those old friends during this novel, don’t be surprised to learn that life still balances very much on the edge of a knife for many of them. But, as always, there is woven throughout this incredible story much hope for a better tomorrow. It may be a bumpy ride, but home is still there and friendships have only deepened over time.

Kaje Harper’s Hidden Wolves series just keeps getting better and better. She is continually recreating this paranormal genre and breathing new life into it with each installment. Her characters are living, breathing men who meet the challenges thrown at them and move on, battered and bruised, but determined to live the life they deserve. I predict that fans will rave about Unsafe Exposure, and I encourage those who are new to this author’s books to start with the first one of these gems and save the latest for last. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.”



JulesHexmaker by Jordan L. Hawk – “As with any of Hawk’s stories, though, I have to say that the mystery, suspense, and breathtaking action sequences are still the main attractions. The hunt for the killer, as well as both Malachi’s and Owen’s pasts, bring an intriguing cast of characters into the fold, a couple of whom I wanted to yell, “You’re suspect!” at. In fact, there is one twist, just before the book’s climax, that I was completely blindsided by. Fantastic awesome craziness.
It’s easy to get immersed in Hawk’s language, all her subtle nuances and hidden cleverness. That is to say, some of her cleverness is downright tricky and hidden—though, some of it is more out there in the open. I marvel at all of it. From more easily detectable gems like “Mal let out a bark of laughter,” and “A sly grin slid onto Mal’s face,” to the much more covert naming of a certain hexman. There is so much to love in this story. Every Jordan L. Hawk book I pick up brings about a singularly amazing and memorable reading experience. But, I have to say that the Hexworld books are quickly becoming some of my favorites.”



Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan – “I’m suuuch a believer in chosen family, as I’ve said before in reviews, and that theme was huge in this book. I loved this quote—“The family we make is as valid as the family we’re born to. Sometimes it’s a thousand times better.” Spenser’s foster mother, Clara, says this to him, and it’s a lesson that he’s trying to learn and trust in throughout the book.

There are so many other things I loved that I could share about this one, but I’m going to stop here. I want you all to go and read it and experience all of the emotion for yourselves. The last chapter and a half had me with tears in my eyes almost constantly, and the ending is, of course, gorgeous. I have so much love and respect for this story. Kudos to Heidi Cullinan for another amazing book.”

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In the Debut Category



SammyBlood Divine by Greg Howard – “This story…this immensely satisfying, gripping, terrifying story was just so very good. There was a lot to unpack in this novel—ancestry abounded and relatives that Cooper didn’t know existed literally come crawling out of the woodwork, and not all of them are quite what you would expect. Greg Howard creates new races of paranormal creatures that will make your skin crawl, yet still allows for a few good guys, albeit undead ones, to help save the day—for now. But it is Cooper and Randy who steal this show, Randy with his penchant for gallantry and his very carefully hidden love for Coop, and Cooper’s heart wrenching hope that Randy could possibly, finally, really be his makes for a romance that never fully takes the stage but dominates certain portions of this story in all the right ways.

Greg Howard cracks open the vampire trope with such force that you will never look at another vamp story in the same way. His monsters are bigger, badder and so intrinsically evil that you can feel your skin begin to crawl when they appear on the page.”



BenIn From the Cold by J.T. Rogers – “The noir pieces of this work were perfect in the little details of the world. The guns. The cars. The Cold War. I really did feel as if I were reading one of my cherished Robert Ludlum novels, but with a desperately needed gay twist. I wish I had had books like this when I was growing up.

The story had a delightful mix of great characters and a good-paced plot, but even though our protagonist risked life and limb on nearly every page, I experienced the most tension during the quieter moments between Flynn and Grant, and eventually Flynn and Pike. It seemed to me that with battle-hardened soldiers such as themselves, their relationships to each other were really all they had left to lose. They were family. I’m honestly a bit hazy–after reading–how Rogers actually wrapped up the main plot of the novel, but I can tell you exactly how the romantic plotline ended (I won’t), and it was deeply satisfying. Again, if you are familiar with Stucky, you are going to love this and it will certainly scratch an itch.”



CarrieUnder the Knife by Laurin Kelly – “Do you like food shows on television, specifically Top Chef? Are you a foodie person who also has a more salacious side and wonders what goes on when all those contestants are sequestered away from the world together during the competitions? Do you find yourself watching shows like The People’s Couch because you know they tell it like it “really is”?! Then you will love this book. This book is about two men who meet and fall in love while competing on the television show Under the Knife. I am warning you, though, there are way more explicit descriptions about the food than there are sex scenes, especially since these two guys don’t get together until roughly the 70% mark, but if you cook, you know it’s the mixing, the stirring, the dance in the kitchen that is the most fun, not necessarily the finished product. This book is so full of food porn that you will spend a large amount of time staring at your own pantry like it has let you down.”



LisaA Faithful Son by Michael Scott Garvin – “But being your own man and being a dutiful son can, at times, work at cross purposes, and there comes a point when the relationship between parent and child is as stifling as it is sustaining; though, no matter how old, there is always a part of us that clings to and mourns the loss of the innocence of childhood, when clouds took the shape of fantastic beasts and adventures culminated in the safety and security of home. As this story draws to a close, the two decades spent with Zach is, like life, a series of tragedies and triumphs. A Faithful Son is written as if a memoir, peppered with homespun humor and unspoken truths—secrets held close until the closing pages of this story when Zach is finally able to put words to feelings and openly declare his need for the man he loves.

A Faithful Son is one of the most powerful novels I’ve read in quite some time, emotionally and spiritually resonant, and a stunning work of fiction. I’ll carry the memories of this brilliant debut with me for a long time to come.”



Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean – “The police procedural aspect of Bitter Legacy gives readers an intimate look at the “one step forward, two steps back” of clue gathering and suspect interviewing in the seemingly unrelated murders of two young women. It sets the tone and pace of the novel, in the methodical and sometimes tedious process of investigating a crime with little to nothing to go on. Watching James operate as the lead investigator on the case also does a brilliant job of revealing who he is, not only as a bright young detective on the fast-track to promotion but as a man whose uncompromising instincts on the job run at complete odds with the compromises he is willing to make in his personal life to keep Ben Morgan in his bed—even if it means sharing Ben with a revolving door of hook-ups du jour. Witnessing James flounder out of his depth, grabbing for a lifeline and instead catching hold of an anchor that begins to drag him under, heart and soul, parallels the Sisyphean nature of the murder investigations—each shred of progress undone just as quickly as James thinks he has a handle on things.


Bitter Legacy is one hell of an impressive way to make a debut in this genre.”

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And that does it for this month. Until next time, happy reading!


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