Monthly Archives: March 2016

Talon by Amanda Greenslade

Talon

Talon by Amanda Greenslade

Series: The Astor Chronicles, Book 1
Published by: Australian eBook Publisher on April 1, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Talon is a young man just coming into his abilities. He happens upon an icetiger and confirms he is a Rada–one who shares a telepathic bond with an animal companion. And that means he also has a shapeshifting ability. But he also soon learns he may have more abilities than he imagined. When his homeland comes under attack by the Zeikas, a militant people who worship the fire-god, Zeidarb, Talon must rise against them. His abilities make him the best defense his people have. But the leader of the Zeikas is aware of Talon and his abilities, and he seems set on capturing Talon for his own devices.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on a young man like Talon. And he’s no family left to rely on. So he needs to figure out who he can trust and who he can’t. And he soon learns there are plenty of people on both sides of that line.

I always enjoy writers who can create a world with a high level of complexity and present it in an easy-to-follow manner. And that’s exactly what Amanda Greenslade has accomplished here. There are places and people and abilities and tribes and gods…so many names and words to keep track of. Yet I never felt like I had any real trouble doing so. And there’s a good mix of action and history, allowing readers to understand the context without needing to read a whole chapter of the history of the world to understand it.

I’m intrigued by this book, to be honest. I sort of stumbled upon it without really hearing much about it. But I’m glad I did. It’s an interesting start to what I’m hoping will be a great fantasy series.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Man and the Beast by J. Ashburn

Man and the Beast

Man and the Beast by J. Ashburn

Series: The Beast Within, Book 1
Published by: J. Ashburn on March 22, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Alec Ashcroft begins having vivid dreams and blackouts, he’s afraid. Those dreams involve him attacking people–most notably his boyfriend. It’s not even that they’re just dreams. They manifest as desires. Unsure if he can control himself, Alec decides his only option is to run away. The pain of leaving people behind is less than having to live with the knowledge that he harmed them should it come to that.

Alec winds up in Redfern, a quiet little town that seems like the perfect place to disappear. He’s lucky enough to find a job and a place to stay without much effort. And his boss’s attempts to fix him up with the bartender at least reassure him that he may not have to hide being gay in his new home. But he’s still wary of relationships until he can get whatever his urges are under control. When the mysterious Luca shows up, Alec thinks he may have an answer. Luca is like him. And he lives with a group of guys who are the same. The two quickly fall into an intense and passionate relationship. But there’s a dark side to Luca that Alec isn’t sure he can live with. And he’s not sure he can fit the image Luca has of what they need to do with their “gift”. But when Alec doesn’t know where to turn, he’s surprised once again by the little town of Redfern and everything it has to offer.

This is a little different take on the shifter story than I’ve read before. There are some interesting layers to the mythology here that I really liked. And the character relationships are interesting. And Max–you have to just love Max. I didn’t really like the way Alec’s boyfriend at the beginning of the story was just sort of dropped, but I understand that’s part of how Alec gets to where he needs to be. It just would have been nice to see some closure there. Maybe it will come in one of the later books?

Definitely give this a recommend for a quick and fun read. It’s not deep or heavy–it’s almost more of an action book. There is some violence, so take note of that before you read.

Fight to Forgive by j. leigh bailey

Fight to Forgive

Fight to Forgive by j. leigh bailey

Series: Letting Go, Book 3
Published by: Carina Press on March 28, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

After suffering a combat injury, James “Freddie” Fredrick has returned to a place he doesn’t want to spend much time: home. There were many reasons he joined the Navy and left four years before. It’s not something he wants to talk about with anyone and he never has. But when his sister picks him up from the airport and tells him she’s buying Elliott House, it seems he just can’t get away. Aaron Elliott is right back at the front and center of his life. Aaron who selfishly left him without a word four years ago. And things get even more complicated when he learns Aaron is back in town.

Aaron Elliott has avoided conflict all his life. If he can get through something without making waves, he will. But when he learned his mother and stepfather were planning to sell his father’s house, he knew he had to speak up. Aaron’s father left that house to him, and though a legal technicality has put his ownership in question, Aaron believes his father’s wishes should be carried out. So he halts the sale and decides to spend a summer at Elliott House. He just doesn’t expect to run into Freddie. The feelings come rushing back, but Aaron tells himself he has to let them go. After all, Freddie destroyed anything the two of them could have had four years ago.

As the two live in proximity again, their past eventually becomes a big enough elephant in the room that it can’t be avoided. Though both are committed to never going back down that road, can their collective willpower hold out? And what exactly is the truth of their breakup? Is it possible all could be forgiven?

I’ve been a fan of this series of stories by j. leigh bailey since the first one. The stories they tell are so rich and dynamic, I always have a hard time putting the books down. And the story of these two is certainly no exception. The value of communication and trust is clear in how this story plays out. And it reminds us that it’s also so important to meet another person where they are. You can’t hold someone to expectations that are outside of their nature–especially if you never communicate those expectations to them.

Strong recommendation on this one!

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Knight of Ocean Avenue

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Series: Love in Laguna, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on May 1, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Billy Ballew doesn’t have the best of luck with relationships. He has no problem attracting women, but things always seem to end before they get too serious. Which is where he finds himself once again: dumped. And he’s not excited to tell his mother who thinks he should be married and settled down at twenty-five. Preparations for Billy’s sister’s wedding provide the perfect opportunity for his family to try to “help” him. They set him up with stylist whose job is to improve his image. That should help him land and keep a lady, right? Except when Billy meets Shaz, he’s thrown for  a loop. There’s something about this guy that Billy just can’t shake. Billy likes him. And not just as a fascinating person who is good at what he does. Billy realizes he might like Shaz for something more. And he needs to figure out if that’s what he really wants before his chance is lost forever.

Too often I find that “gay for you” or first gay relationship stories take a very simplistic view. The guy goes from 100% straight to totally okay with being gay in the snap of his fingers. And that always strikes me as a bit unrealistic. Coming out to yourself is a major component of the coming out process. And coming to a realization that you may not be who you thought you were your whole life is a big deal. And I appreciate that this story treats it that way. It doesn’t dwell on it as the focal point of the story for pages and pages, but it provides a more realistic portrayal than I’m used to seeing.

It’s not difficult to like this characters, either. They’re all pretty great. And the subplots and scheming going on in the background with the side characters just makes it even more fun to read.

Somebody Killed His Editor by Josh Lanyon

Somebody Killed His Editor

Somebody Killed His Editor by Josh Lanyon

Series: Holmes & Moriarty, Book 1
Published by: Samhain Publishing on June 16, 2009
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Christopher Holmes is a bestselling author who’s seen better days. His mystery series–featuring an elderly woman and her cat–isn’t as popular as it used to be. His agent is encouraging him to think of something new. At her urging, he agrees to attend a writers’ workshop, and he expects it to be uneventful. But when he finds a dead body upon his arrival, he knows it will be no ordinary weekend. Add to it all that J.X. Moriarty, an old one-night stand and fellow author, just happens to be at the same retreat, and Christopher finds himself well over his head.

This is an interesting attempt at the Agatha Christie motif. It’s such a clear reference that it pretty much screams it with the characters referencing the tropes in their discussions. But it doesn’t quite hold the same level of intrigue one can expect from Christie. It also comes across as a bit forced and cliche that a mystery writer happens upon a mystery.

The characters are interesting, though. There are a few twists here to keep readers engaged. And it’s a rather easy read. So this still garners a decent rating and recommendation from me.

Ghost Star Night by Nicole Kimberling

Ghost Star Night

Ghost Star Night by Nicole Kimberling

Series: Sea of Stars, Book 1
Published by: Samhain Publishing on August 4, 2009
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Thomas Myrdin doesn’t have the life he knows he should have. While he’s allowed to live at court, he’s banned from using magic. And it’s through no fault of his own. But when he starts dreaming visions of the destruction of the world, he feels he must act. Even though the harbinger in his dreams is the newborn princess. But he will do what he must.

Lord Adam Wexley just can’t shake Thomas. There’s something about him that draws Adam in, even if Thomas doesn’t appear to feel the same. But Adam is loyal and knows his duty is to protect the princess. At the request of his mistress, Adam sets out to enlist Grand Magician Drake to assist. And he knows that won’t be an easy task.

Grand Magician Zachary Drake wants nothing to do with the court. He’s refused to ally or align himself with anyone. He lives outside of their system, doing his best to live outside of their traditions. But when Adam shows up at his door, he agrees to help. Even if it just might be his downfall.

This is a rich and unique world. The almost post-apocalyptic feel intertwined with fantasy and magic makes for an interesting combination. And the history and customs reveal themselves to the reader over the course of the story. It all flows well; nothing seems forced or out of place.

And these guys do not talk to each other about how they feel. Drake likes Adam. Adam likes Thomas. Thomas likes…well, you’ll have to read to find that one out. But they won’t say it or act on it. I wouldn’t call it slow burn exactly, but everyone takes the long way to their destination here.

It’s a fun an interesting read. And I give this a good recommendation to anyone interested in any of this book’s sub-genres.

The Lusty Adventures of Theseus by Arthur Griffin

The Lusty Adventures of Theseus

The Lusty Adventures of Theseus by Arthur Griffin

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on March 9, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Theseus comes of age, he sets out for Athens to claim his birthright. His father is the king, which makes him a prince. Along the way, he happens upon Pirithous and experiences passion for the first time. He also learns that his father may not be a great king like he hoped. And he confirms these suspicions when he reaches the city. The king sends other people’s children to Crete as a sacrifice to the Minotaur. While his motivation is to keep Athens safe, Theseus won’t stand for it. And that’s why he decides to stand in as one of the sacrifices. And if everything goes as planned, there will be no more Athenian sacrifices sent to Crete. But as Theseus has learned, nothing is ever quite what it seems on the surface. There’s more to every store than what meets the eye…

This is an interesting take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur if I’ve ever read one. It’s beyond steamy (indeed), but it doesn’t feel particularly gratuitous. I also appreciated the unexpected way the plot played out. There are some twists and turns that provide some colorful explanations for the status quo in both Athens and Crete. And they lead to an even more interesting ending.

This is the first book I’ve read by Arthur Griffin. I would not be at all opposed to reading some more.

Spring Break on the Blog!

It’s Spring Break Here at ConvergenceBookReviews

I’m currently traveling on a mini-vacation to welcome in spring, so the blog has been quiet for a couple of days and will continue to be through the remainder of the weekend. It’s a spring break of sorts. The upside is that I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading. Of course that means I have some great books to recommend to you all once I’m back home. (I always love the amount of reading I manage to get done when I’m traveling.)

I hope each of you had an amazing week! And I wish you all an even better weekend!

Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy by J.L. Merrow & Josephine Myles

Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy by J.L. Merrow & Josephine Myles

Series: Mad About the Brit Boys, Book 4
Published by: Self-Published on March 15, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

A trio of trios! (Or should I say a threesome of threesomes?) In this three-story anthology from J.L. Merrow and Josephine Myles, they assemble previously published stories with an M/M/M flair. And there’s definitely a lot of flair in this book. Featuring a shy guy working in a gym, a birthday celebration, and a trip to the dentist, there’s quite the range here. And not a single one of the stories disappoints.

Includes:

  • Kit Bag by J.L. Merrow
  • Unwrapped: The Birthday Gift by Josephine Myles
  • Getting a Filling by J.L. Merrow

These two authors are ones who always put together unique and fun stories. These shorts are prime examples of their ability to do just that. Even though they’re all previously published, I hadn’t read any of them before. And I’m glad I finally got the chance to do so. This is part of the Mad About the Brit Boys collection, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of those books after reading this…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Blog Tour: Never Too Late by Sloan Johnson

Title: Never Too Late
Series: Home in the Heartland #1
Author: Sloan Johnson
Genre: Adult, M/M Romance
Published: March 7, 2016
Dax: My life ended six years ago. No, really. I was dead on the side of the road following a gruesome motorcycle accident. From what I’ve been told, it’s only because of one stubborn man that I have another chance to make something of my life. I no longer hate him for screwing up what I thought I wanted. I want to thank him. NEED to tell him what his actions mean to me.

Now, I’m headed back to the town I’ve never set foot in even though it’s a huge part of my life. I’m not thrilled about that, but the job offers haven’t exactly been flowing in. They’ll probably think I’m crazy, because there’s no way I won’t be able to look at every guy I walk past, wondering if he’s the one who saved me.

Michael: My entire life, I wanted to save lives. I’d earned a full-ride scholarship and had been accepted to med schools across the country. I was so close to making those dreams a reality until the night held a dying man in my arms. I’ve never been able to get the images of his lifeless body caked in mud out of my head. Even when the paramedics tried to take over trying to save him, I couldn’t let go. I never let go. Eventually, my guilt over not doing more cost me everything but my son. And now, I worry I’ll lose him if I don’t get it together.

I’ve often thought that if I could find him, maybe I could get some closure and finally get my life back on track. Now he’s here and I’m more of a mess than ever. Once the truth comes out, will he keep trying to save me or will he realize that it’s too late?

Review_Purple

Dax’s life changed in an instant after a motorcycle accident six years ago. But the truth is that it wasn’t an accident. He’d set out that night to end everything. And while he first wanted to curse the EMT who saved him, he couldn’t be more grateful. He found the strength and courage to fight. He found a sense of purpose for his life. And he’s glad he wasn’t successful that night. Now, he has a degree in education and is starting a job as a kindergarten teacher. And it’s in the town the EMT was from. But that’s all he knows of his mystery savior.

Before Dax even gets settled on his first day in down, he encounters a young boy looking for his father. Dax offers to help the child, Jagger, and shortly thereafter meets his father, Michael. Dax learns that Michael is a struggling single father, but he never doubts that Michael as doing the best he can. Not knowing anyone else in town, Dax quickly becomes friends with Michael and Jagger, more than willing to help out his new friend in any way he can. It doesn’t hurt things that Michael is one of the most attractive men Dax has ever met. But he knows better than to even hope for anything–he’s been down that road with a straight guy before.

As Michael and Dax become closer, they learn that they can’t keep their secrets from each other. And there is a lot more to both of them than the other might have expected…

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this title, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. The way in which the author presents this world and the characters is nothing short of masterful. We learn about the characters and their past in an organic way that not only makes sense for the story but also builds the tension and suspense of the plot. And the cast of characters in the background are vibrant and vital to the story without ever overshadowing the main couple. This gets a strong recommendation from me. I see it’s billed as the first book in a series, and I’m definitely looking forward to future installments.

Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

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