Friday, March 31, 2017

We Marched Right Into Some Great Books This Month!

Cheers, everyone, and welcome to our Top Reads in the month of March! It’s hard to believe we’ve come to the end of another month—it seems like we were just here sharing our February picks—yet here we are with not only some great titles but a chance to win two e-books, so check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.

And now, here they are, the Best of March!


JulesStrays by Garrett Leigh – “When I heard Leigh was writing a follow up to Misfits, I was beyond excited. Aside from loving the characters, I completely loved everything about the whole Urban Soul universe; so, I was looking forward to reading about the latest ventures the guys were going to be undertaking. My interest was piqued even further when I realized who one of the main characters would be. Nero was certainly intriguing as a secondary character, but I have to be honest—I had nooo idea how in love with him I was going to fall.”

BenThe Bisti Business by Don Travis – “One of my favorite aspects of this book was the plot. It was tight and pretty evenly paced. On the other side of that, there wasn’t a ton of character development or exploration into the side relationships established in book one. Despite being a minor character in this book, I wanted to see more of Del Dahlman, a hilarious fancy pants playboy who has sort of a unique friendship/business relationship with BJ. I would have also liked to see more of BJ’s boyfriend, Paul. Paul’s pretty simple and adorable, but I love how he brings out the softer—and sometimes harder!—sides to BJ. Maybe next time.”

LindseyPieces of Me by Melanie Hansen – “This is the start to what I hope will lead eventually to an epic HEA. Because after what I just read? I am cheering like a loon for Scott and Rylan. Even so, I readily admit this book will definitely not be for everyone. It’s tragic, heartbreaking and runs through a gamut of emotions I can barely even find appropriate superlatives to describe. There are happy moments, but for the most part both these young men are struggling, first as teenagers stuck in pretty abysmal situations, then as adults struggling to better themselves while carrying some pretty hefty baggage, which has molded them into a certain type of mentality and behaviors.”

MaryannThe Mystery of the Curiosities by C.S. Poe – “While Sebastian and Calvin are slowly but surely progressing with their relationship, they are also each dealing with their vulnerabilities—you can feel the fear that Sebastian has about losing Calvin. I really liked book one in this series, The Mystery of Nevermore, because I was familiar with Edgar Allan Poe, but with this sequel, the series gets even better. Max Ridley, Sebastian’s assistant, gets wrapped up in this mystery too, which I thought was fun because his character brings a lot of humor to the story. I was also intrigued because I knew of P.T. Barnum—the first thought when you hear the name is always the circus, but he brought us the “curiosities” too, which were bizarre, and it was interesting to see how C.S. Poe constructed a fantastic plot around them.”

CarrieThe Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe – “I love a good pirate story and this one didn’t disappoint. The historical aspects are spot-on (at least, they seem that way), and learning about the politics of the time, as well as life aboard a privateer, was interesting. Radcliffe does an excellent job blending these “facts” with her romance between these men. The political intrigue only enhances her story, it doesn’t detract—actually, it makes her romance seem rooted in real life and we get transported to 1600s Tortuga. Radcliffe did her homework on this one. You can tell, and I appreciate that.”

SadonnaMoment of Fate by Karen Stivali – “Wow! I was really blown away by this story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first three books in this series, and I’ve yet to read book four even though I bought right when it was released. This story is so well written; although, if you’re not a fan of angst, you might have a tough go of it. Bryan has a lot going on and some of the crap that he has to deal with is pretty intense. He’s proud and a bit damaged.

Oliver is such a lovely guy, truly a good man who is so right for Bryan in pretty much every way. Together they have to overcome Bryan’s fear and tendency to protect himself at all costs.

This is truly a beautifully written love story between two pretty dissimilar guys who overcome the odds. Highly recommended, particularly for lovers of underdogs who grow and triumph.”

KimUntil You by TJ Klune – “Until You is the latest installment in this fun and wacky series, and I loved how it didn’t disappoint when it came to good old fashion belly laughs. Paul is perfect with all his doubts and insecurities, and I love his character because of it. The fact that he doesn’t have a perfect build just makes him all the more human to me. When he starts to wonder that Vince may have doubts about marrying him, it takes a visit to a supply closet to convince Paul beyond a doubt that Vince loves and wants to marry him (I won’t give details, but it was a scene that made me smile big and giggle a few times).”

SammyAdulting 101 by Lisa Henry – “Honestly, I loved this story—the walking magical disaster that is Nick was just so wonderful to get to know. He was honest to a fault (think word vomit with no filter), kindhearted, easily excited and undaunted despite his own penchant for lying to his parents to avoid really confronting them about his lack of enthusiasm for college and the life they want for him. The awkward and sometimes poignant distance between he and his Dad is cleverly concealed with humor, yet Lisa Henry allows small cracks and fissures to bleed through, making Nick so damn lovable and vulnerable. We watch him become a man in this story—well, we watch him begin to become a man, and not in the way you might think. He learns to give honesty a chance; he is wary to say the least, but in the end, it becomes his lifeline and enables him to step into a world that previously was unattainable to the panic-stricken youth he had been to this point. Honestly, he is just adorable and funny and really delightful to get to know.”

LisaParasite by Soren Summers – “One of the things that Soren Summers does with a consistent beauty is translate his narrative into gorgeous imagery. Even in its horrific and morbid portrayal, each zombie encounter is stunning in its terror and violence and the uncertainty of who will and won’t come out on the other side alive. It’s his ability to draw the reader in by the senses that makes these books so engrossing, and it’s not an exaggeration at all to say that I see the story as much as I read it. Jonathan Hargrove appearing on page is enough to send a chill down my spine—better the devil you know? In his case, the answer to that is a definitive not. He is a conundrum of deadly proportions and composed in creepy perfection, as is this book and this series.”


And that does it for this month. For full reviews of these books and more, visit us at The Novel Approach. Until next time, happy reading!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Day Makes: cover things, mob things, and love

So...I have a new book out, A Day Makes, on the 19th of April about a mob enforcer and it was pointed out to me that this is the second one I've written. First, in Acrobat, there was Dreo Fiore who was also in the mob. Here's the difference; Dreo was muscle, meaning he stood around, looking big and scary and keeping his boss safe. In the end, he wasn't so great at it, since his boss was killed in a hail of gunfire. Ceaton Mercer, the main character in A Day Makes, is a mob enforcer. Not muscle. Enforcer. Dreo never shot anyone while he was guarding his boss and only drew his weapon to scare people off. Normally, just having the gun in the holster, under his topcoat, was enough to keep people away. Ceaton, not so much. Ceaton  kills people.

I will confess that I find mob guys terribly romantic. It's ridiculous but I can't help it. And I know in real life, they're not but my views on organized crime members are grounded in the ideal of what they are and not who they are. The nightly news has no bearing on my fantasy. Dreo, in Acrobat, is the classic gorgeous Italian man. Ceaton is more a regular guy. He was a Marine, he's had to make choices that were not great and he's doing the best he can to be ethical in a situation where one would normally not find even a drop of such. He's a killer where Dreo was a guardian. I think there can be lots of debate about what we do vs. who we are. In a small way, it's the same question with Ian in my marshal series. The things that Ian has to do when he's in the field as a Green Beret, yes they weigh on his soul, but do they make him good or bad? I think arguments can be made on both sides. What I loved about writing Ceaton is that he goes out, tries to do the best for everyone, even his boss' enemies, and works to be fair and sometimes, if the situation calls for it, he has to kill people. And of course bad people, predators, get extra special attention.

For the cover, I didn't want another book with a guy and a gun and a city backdrop. I've had those. I also didn't want a drawn one because, in my opinion, the mold was broken with Warrior's Cross. It doesn't get any better than that so why try? I wanted the cover to focus on Ceaton's humanity, his beauty, and not as much on what he does for a living. The cover is basically in his love interest's POV so we see what Brinley sees in the man he loves. When Reese Dante sent me the art, I just loved it so much. You get the beautiful man at rest but once you read the book, you know he can gut you like a fish too.

I was really excited to write a one day scenario. Where you wake up in the morning feeling one way, thinking one way, and by the end of it, you are forever changed. That's what happens to Ceaton. And there is a lot of his past that needs to be in there, the why and how that make him who he is, but it's also in the love that finds him. It was funny but when I sent in my forms that you fill out after you get a contract, one of the questions is about the feel of the book, the tone. I said, bloody and fluffy. I would argue that these things are not always mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Hot Reads and a Giveaway: To Quote Carrie, "Ahhh, the feels!"

Cheers, everyone, and welcome to a look at some of the books we felt were outstanding in the month of February! We've got some great picks this month, and, as always, there's a chance for you to win a couple of e-books, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below.

And now, here they are, February's Hot Reads!


CarrieWe Met in Dreams by Rowan McAllister – “Ahhh, the FEELS! This book. Ugh. This book. It’s so good! This wasn’t just a book for me, it was an emotional experience. You just want to reach inside the pages and wrap these men up and hug them. You want to tell Arthur that with your enlightened 20th century sensibilities, you feel for him and that there is no reason for him to be treated like a pariah. You will weep for Arthur and then, consequently, Fox, and you will sympathize that this scenario could very well have happened in Regency London with their use of laudanum and overly superstitious ways.

McAllister sets us up right from the beginning, weaving a spell over us with the insidious fog outside the window and the mysterious thumps outside the door.”

CassieCountermind by Adrian Randall – “Compelling. I keep circling back to that word. Countermind made me think really hard about privacy, technology, morality, social responsibility, and a slew of other big ticket themes. Adrian Randall did a masterful job of keeping me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure where the story was going until nearly the last page, and it’s been a while since I read something that I found so unpredictable. 4 Stars…5 stars? Heck, I’m not even sure how to rate it. 4.5 Stars! So all you lovers of spec fic, sci fi, and thrillers, this one is for you.”

JenniferThe Chains of Their Sins by Anna Butler – “Since I started reviewing this series in 2015, with the release of Gyrfalcon, I have made my love for the books clear. At least I hope I have. Bennet and Flynn have become two of my favorite characters of all time, and with this book, Anna Butler has usurped all other authors as my favorite. Never before have I read a book with such detailed characters and relationships. As I’ve said before, these are more than just characters. They are so heartbreakingly real, as are their relationships.

This book follows the events of Makepeace and picks up where it left off. Bennet is once again on the Gyrfalcon, his father’s dreadnought, which is just about the last place in the universe he would rather be, and it’s not just because of his father. No. On the ship he will once again come face to face with Flynn, the man he fell in love with over four years ago, despite not being able to be with him. And just because years have passed since they last saw each other, it’s clear that neither the passion nor the memories have faded.”

JulesImago by N.R. Walker – “I loved, loved reading this book because of how it made me feel. As I said in the beginning of the review, it made me smile. It gave me that silly, swoony feeling you get when you read a really great romance. It also got my adrenaline going toward the end. You’ll have to read it to see what happens, but let me just say that the final twenty-five percent was very exciting.

The bottom line is, I want you guys to read this one. Pick it up. Stare at the cover. Dreamy sigh your way through the story. And, then lemme know who you love more, Jack or Lawson, because I just can’t decide. One thing I know for sure, though, is that this will, without question, be one of my go-to comfort reads.”

MaryannShards in the Sun by Trina Lain – “Trina Lane has created a really great novel with some of the most in-depth and diverse characters, and some contrasting family dynamics. There is an abundance of information on Tyler’s horse breeding and running a resort ranch, and Brandon takes us into his world of books and how he got started with cover art. I think the main theme of the story is also about change—in life, in love, and how it causes fear for some while others face it head on. Shards in the Sun is my first Trina Lane book, and I was hooked. And with the way this novel ended, I’m looking forward to the sequel.”

SadonnaTru Flame by Edie Danford – “I have to say I really just loved this story. This is the real and romantic and just completely perfect final chapter for this couple. It was wonderful to watch them gain their footing as parents and be able to see that they wouldn’t lose themselves, and that they could have help and not relinquish their responsibilities. I loved all of the secondary characters in this series as well, and Sandra redeemed herself beautifully in this story. I cheered for this couple and their new family, from page one, and was left with a huge dreamy smile by the last page. My only complaint is that the series is over. I hope maybe someday we can revisit this couple—maybe with getting Gunnar’s HEA, or Sandra’s?? Pretty please??”

SammyEdge of Glory by John Goode – “I have said this so many times, but I think it bears repeating: Author John Goode is an outstanding storyteller. His characters encapsulate that “every man” we meet on the street where we live, the one who no one realizes has had to hide in the shadows and fear being who he really is meant to be, the one who longs to lead a life that is so often denied him. Mr. Goode writes this man with humor, grace, a hefty dose of flaws and a streak of courage. He creates characters that touch something deep inside each of us and leave behind a lasting impression.

Edge of Glory is not just a worthy sequel [to Going the Distance] but is also an outstanding second chapter in a series that comes highly recommended to you.

LisaMarried for a Month by Cate Ashwood – “While Ashwood could have milked the angst for everything it was worth in this storyline, I so appreciated that she kept the conflict in line with the risks Chase and Alec were taking with their friendship as the end of their month together drew closer…and their feelings for each other crossed the line. What started out as a joke ended up not being so simple. The guys set out to prove their friends wrong, to show them that marriage isn’t the be all and end all of a full life, and then ended up learning that to win this bet would mean going all in or risk losing each other for good. Ashwood does such a terrific job of stringing along the slow-burn without sacrificing the reader’s patience—the chemistry between these two is so tangible that you know once they give into it, it’s going to be off-the-charts sexy. And man, is it ever.

My recommendation? Read Married for a Month when you need a pick-me-up of the hearty eyes and shmoopy feels variety. It’s so much both of those things, and I adored it.


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


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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hot January Reads: Kicking off 2017 Right!

Cheers, everyone, and welcome to the kickoff of the new year and the first of our Book of the Month picks from The Novel Approach!

Since we did our 2016 Book of the Year picks in December, rather than a BotM for that month, we've decided to throw some love at the December titles we got a little giddy over too. Just because we can. :)

And, as always, there's a chance to win Two e-titles from our selections, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for details on how to enter.

Thanks for stopping by!

CassieThe Impossible Boy by Anna Martin – “You guuuuuuuys! I loved this book. I hadn’t heard about it until it showed up for review, and I grabbed it on a whim. I’m so glad I did!

First off, this is an adorable, slow build romance involving a gender non-binary individual. Rock on, Anna Martin! Thanks for giving a non-binary character a romance that’s SWEET. The conflicts that happen in this book are not about Stan’s gender identity, which is so, so refreshing. Those discovery kinds of stories are important and meaningful and should absolutely be told, but it’s also vital to see people who’ve already done their discovering, living and loving and getting things done, and that’s Stan! Stan’s got that part sorted already, no need for it to cause drama now. Ben’s band and schedule, Stan’s work and health, they’re what drive the action outside of Ben and Stan’s developing relationship, and that’s plenty and perfect.”

JulesThe Deeper He Hurts by Lynda Aicher – “The Deeper He Hurts is many things. It will punch you in the feels—I teared up during an emotional scene between Asher and his mom—as well as make you think. The characters are intelligent and insightful, and you will absolutely be enthralled by their power exchange, and their dynamics during scenes. This book isn’t only fascinating with regard to the BDSM aspects, however. It’s also an interesting character study in guilt, grief, and loss, as well as a truly gorgeous love story.”

BenNeon Fever Dream by Eliot Peper – “The plot was the huge win for me. I was surprised time and time again. At the outcome of every plot twist, a good mystery will leave me completely flummoxed, while at the same time slapping my forehead with a, “Of course that happened! How could I be so stupid!” I did that at least three times while reading this book. Maybe more.

This novel gave me everything I wanted in a thriller—surprises, quick pacing, great characters, and a colorful setting—while opening my eyes to a larger world. I also deeply appreciated how Asha was more than the sum of her parts. She had incredible agency and bravery. If I had daughters, I’d want them to turn out exactly like her.”

The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper – “I was more interested in the mystery elements, which had a good level of suspense and detective work…but which also weren’t solved. However, while I admittedly had a WTF moment after I finished the book, I didn’t take those frustrations out on the rating. I did my own detective work and figured out what was going on with the series, because I’m that kinda guy.

I want to give thanks to Ripper for writing a full LGBTQ spectrum cast. I look forward to experiencing the rainbow by going back and reading the first two books, and then finishing the series. And if that isn’t a solid recommendation, I don’t know what is.”

CarrieNo Small Parts by Ally Blue – “These two men were perfect for each other. The book really follows an age old romantic theme and as such, you know exactly where the story is headed and what’s going to happen. The difference in this book, compared to others, is that Ally Blue has spent the time to get you invested in her characters to the point that knowing the storyline ahead of time doesn’t matter at all. You want—no, you need—life to get better for Nat, and for Rafael to help shoulder some of the burdens he carries. The pacing is nicely done, the storyline flows to its logical conclusion, and they all live HEA. What more could you want in a romance?

There isn’t any angst, not really, just real life situations with Nat’s dad, which have to be dealt with, and I don’t call that angst. The main characters, once established as a couple, don’t deviate from each other. The sex scenes are hot and the book ends with both men being literally and figuratively on the top of a mountain, personally and professionally. This story has brought me back to the Bluewater Bay series.”

Sight Unseen by Susan Mac Nicol – “This story takes us on an emotional journey straight from page one, when Nate awakes in the hospital after being hit by a car while he was out running. Secondary characters abound, and we meet Nate’s current boyfriend immediately, and, quite frankly, I was less than impressed with that guy. The words narcissistic asshole fit really well! But, we also meet Cody’s family, Nate’s new home nurse, Suzanne, (who rocks), and Marty, his therapist (who so deserves his own book) while he is still in the hospital. I appreciated the inclusion of Dev and Blu; their friendship to Nate and Cody, and how they get there, is important. All the secondary characters play important roles in this story, and help to underpin and push forward the story arc.”

SammyMerry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton – “What really makes this little gem shine is Eli Easton’s ability to write characters that pluck at your heartstrings, and never stop tugging. Sean and Toby are just magical together—they are nearly a decade apart in age and yet, there are times when it is the younger of the two, Toby, who steers both the fight for saving Sean and their relationship to boot. In that classic turnaround, it is delightful to watch someone as nice as Sean Miggles finally have someone who really wants to take care of him, particularly since he has been doing that job for so many in the town for so long. The slow build in their relationship is just the right pace to keep this story from becoming clich├ęd or from falling into an insta-love type trope that I feel would have truly damaged this lovely story. I would say the only thing that left me just a bit unsettled was the end—suffice it to say, I will never enter a library again without remembering that portion of this novella.”

Painting with Fire by Lissa Kasey – “Honestly, this story is just top notch from beginning to end. There was intense action juxtaposed by peaceful, intimate moments where you could sense the healing of wounded spirits taking place. Jessie and Charlie’s relationship was a triumph of friendship and loyalty. They fully supported one another, both in the field and in private, and given their pasts, that was a huge thing for both of them. But it is really Bastian who triumphs in this story, learning to develop trust in another person that both opened up a whole new sexual world and an internal confidence that really allowed him to live life again.

Painting with Fire is a lush, poignant story that will draw you in immediately and hold you enthralled to the last page. It is a gorgeous victory of the spirit and a testament to survival, one that should not be missed. I highly recommend it to you.

MaryannMan & Monster by Michael Jensen – “Michael Jensen brings us a story of an American pioneer and some Native American folklore to make for an eerie, action packed, suspenseful and intriguing mystery. The 1700s and the undeveloped land are amazingly descriptive, and I was especially taken with Pakim himself. He was such a great character, elusive and mythical. This novel also poses the question, who is more dangerous, man or monster?

The first book in this fantastic series, Man & Beast, is a must read, introducing readers to John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman. I am so looking forward to the next novel from Michael Jensen.”

SadonnaDifferent Names for the Same Thing by Francis Gideon – “Different Names for the Same Thing is the second really engaging story I’ve read in the last month with trans main characters. I am so happy that these stories are being written and that the characters are multi-layered with desires and wants and insecurities and fears. I like that the author did not shy away from them expressing their sexuality as well. I think the authenticity of their portrayal allows the reader to connect on an emotional level and empathize with the anxiety that everyone feels in a new relationship. I definitely recommend this story for anyone who is interested in exploring a thoughtful trans romance.”

Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton – “I actually pre-ordered this story at GRL 2015, but never had the chance to read it, so when the audio was up for review, I jumped at it. I am a huge Marie Sexton fan, and I was certainly not disappointed in the story. This is a thoroughly charming tale that pulled me in from the beginning. I loved both Ben and Jason, and watching their relationship build was very entertaining—especially Ben’s embracing the 21st century, and the fact that Jason really cared for him.”

Jennifer From the Ashes by Xen Sanders – “While we may not have superhumans in our world (at least none that I am aware of), our history is embedded in this book. Our struggles and conflicts come to life on the pages of the novel, our social problems mirrored for us to see through a slightly different lens.

This book made me stop and think. Sure, it has some amazing battles, and the sex scenes are so hot I needed to step outside into the snow to cool off, but there is more to this book than just sex. Way, way more.

I have no doubt that this book—my first read in 2017—will make my top ten list for 2017. Very likely it would make my top five. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, and I highly recommend this book to everyone, regardless of whether or not you like superheroes or villains.”

Lisawhatever. or how junior year became totally f$@ked by S.J. Goslee – “Obviously, no Young Adult book is going to be angst free. It wouldn’t be authentic if it were, would it? But the author does such a fantastic job of balancing those deeper moments of abject confusion and fear with just the right amount of wit so as not to allow the story to be bogged down in the emo. Mike and Rook navigating their way around their attraction to, and feelings for, each other is a blend of sweet and poignant, with a little sizzle thrown in—because hormones. The start of their relationship isn’t poetry in motion, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll get it all figured out before graduation.

whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked. has reminded me why I’ve always felt a certain affection for the YA genre. This novel doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but what it does is treat its content with due detail and respect, and its characters with a little self-deprecation but with a lot of affection too.”

The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian – “The story’s slow burn of attraction is written so well against the professional and personal distance Georgie and Lawrence attempt to maintain, each for his own reasons, and I loved the stark physical contrast of these two men. Cat Sebastian drew each scene to perfection, crafted a historical setting that grounds readers in the time period without burdening the storyline, and brings Lawrence’s home to the fore in such vivid detail—think the west wing of the Beast’s castle. There isn’t a single character introduced that appears as nothing more than set dressing, and the dialogue helps tell the story as well as the narrative does. When Georgie and Lawrence begin to give in to and act on their attraction to each other, the tension shifts from denial of their feelings to the secrets Georgie is keeping, and the fact that his intentions weren’t at all honest, not to mention legal, when he began this particular con. The conflict of conscience that leads to the novel’s touching and tense climax was really the cherry on top of the story’s sweet romantic arc.”

∞ * ∞

And that does it for this month. Until next time, happy reading. And for more reviews and giveaways, please pop by The Novel Approach any time!

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*Please note that some e-titles may be available only via Amazon and will be distributed as a direct-to-kindle gift if selected*