Tag Archives: published: 2014-01

The Only One Who Knows by Cat Grant & L.A. Witt

The Only One Who Knows

The Only One Who Knows by Cat Grant & L.A. Witt

Series: The Only One, Book 1
Published by: Samhain Publishing on January 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Lieutenant Josh Walker knew training to become a Navy SEAL wouldn’t be easy. But what he didn’t expect was the hard-assed Chief David Flint to push him harder than anyone else in his class. And he also didn’t expect he’d develop a mad crush on Chief Flint, either. And when the two of them wind up at the same bar on New Year’s Eve, Josh learns that for Chief Flint–David–the feeling is mutual. They launch into a brief fling, cut short by Josh completing training and shipping out.

Fast forward a few years and their paths cross again. This time David–Senior Chief Flint–is under Josh’s–Lieutenant Commander Walker’s–command. And despite all of the reasons they know they should steer clear of each other, their attraction gets the better of them. The two find themselves going around in circles about whether they can truly be in a relationship; there are rules about these things after all. And when a member of their team overhears one of their conversations and uses the information to blackmail Josh right before they deploy on a dangerous mission to North Korea, they find themselves launched on another journey: one where they must decide what they mean to each other and what they’re willing to sacrifice to keep what they have.

When I finished this book, I went back and looked at the word count. I was surprised that the number of pages seemed so much shorter than what I read. The authors have done a great job of packing a lot of action into this 220-page book. It’s paced well, the character development follows a steady and believable arc, and the background characters help bring life to the world of the story. I enjoyed this and give it a strong recommendation, especially if you like m/m military romance…

Autumn in the Highlands by Spring Horton

Autumn in the Highlands

Autumn in the Highlands by Spring Horton

Published by: Spring Horton on January 14, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

David Dillahunt has been backpacking through Britain, seeing all the important sights. When he passes through the village of Glencreag on his way to Loch Ness, an innkeeper convinces him to stay. David’s not sure there’s too much to see, but the innkeeper, Angus, promises him he’ll see things most tourists miss. And the first thing David spies is one of the employees at the inn. The man, whose name he learns is Andrew, has a bit of mystery about him. Which works because David is as much a fan of mystery as he is history. And when David learns Andrew is the local Laird, he’s struck with even more questions. Why is the Laird working at an inn? Why would he need to work? And of course, the biggest questions of all: Is he gay? And if so, might the attraction be mutual? What David finds as he learns the answers to those questions is an even more interesting mystery to solve. And both David and Andrew just might be able to provide each other with answers to questions they’ve both had all their lives.

Sometimes things happen when we least expect them. And sometimes the things we fear will happen are just that–things we fear. But that doesn’t stop us from trying exert whatever control we might have over our lives or a situation. Giving up that control can be extremely difficult. And that’s especially true if we’ve had bad experiences in the past. These are the issues that both David and Andrew face in this story. And it not only impacts their friendship and the way they relate to each other, it has affected the ways they’ve both lived for years. If they can just be willing to let their guard down long enough to let the other person in, they might just be able to make it.

Hunting Under Covers by Various Authors

20572629Title: Hunting Under Covers
Author: Aimee Brissay, Shayla Mist, Kaje Harper, M.E. Sanford, J. Vaughn, Katies Crewman, Kathleen Hayes, and Others
Published: January 15, 2014
Pages: 349
Publisher: Divergent Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Hunting Under Covers is an m/m romance anthology inspired by the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge in 2013. The anthology contained everything to be found on that list in a single book (quite a feat). Even with that lofty feat, it also serves up an interesting array of stories by a number of different authors.

Living Out the Fantasy by Aimee Brissay
A short but sweet read. Anthony is at a conference in Las Vegas and missing his boyfriend, Robert – so much that he almost thinks he sees him. When he gets back to his hotel room, however, he finds a stranger waiting for him. There’s an intensity here that I appreciated and that managed to come through despite the length of the story.

Thank God for Games Saga by Shayla Mist
Rich is a game designer who was just offered his dream job, right at the time things are really starting to get serious with his boyfriend Eric. There’s definitely a fair amount of angst here as they work through the idea that they will likely need to break up as neither thinks a long distance relationship is the right choice. It struck me as a little anticlimactic as the situation could have been resolved much differently (and earlier), but I still enjoyed it.

Changes Coming Down by Kaje Harper
Will, Casey, and Scott are in a polyamorous relationship in a small town. Add about seven layers of complication to that and you’re there. I really liked the characters and the relationship, but the story itself was way too long. There’s really like three or four different stories here; just when the plot resolves, guess what – there’s a new conflict. This was an excellent story idea, though, and I would be interested to see it expanded into a series with each bit split out with more time to develop each one.

A Capricorn Tale by M.E. Sanford
It took me a moment to get into this one – it’s a fantasy/sci-fi tale with amphibious creatures that also end up interacting with humans. I’m still not entirely sure I understand all of the issues surrounding their society/culture, but it was something different and refreshing to read.

Pierced by J. Vaughn
This was probably my favorite bit of the anthology, though it was also probably the most difficult one to read. Paul finds Kyle in the shower of his college dormitory after he’s just been assaulted. After working to try to comfort Kyle and convincing him to report the incident to the police, the two form a connection that seems like it could be the start of a relationship. But knowing Kyle’s attackers are still out there keeps them both on edge. Some tough subject matter, but very well-written.

Demons, Time Travel and Bacon, Oh My! by Shelby, Marc, Raganna, Filipa, K., Astrid, Eepa, Danielle, Susan, Amanda, Pamela Su, Brandilyn, Teresa, Fehu, Jamie, Kaje, and Jay
I don’t know that I’ve ever read a story by this many authors before. While it did seem a bit disjointed and choppy in places and as a result had moments where it was just confusing, overall this was a creative story.

Trevor and Jace have accepted a dare to spend the night in a reportedly haunted house. Unbeknownst to them, it really is haunted by a demon who pulls them into his game. But they soon learn the demon is motivated by a force much stronger than evil – and it’s that force that they end up finding together.

I know this was a sci-fi/fantasy tale, but some of the twists were rather jarring and just didn’t seem to fit with the story. And the final showdown with the witch was anticlimactic and extremely unrealistic. But I did find it interesting, overall.

There Are Worse Things by Katies Crewman
Frank has been invited to attend a Halloween party by his roommate, Nick, on Nick’s family private island. Although Frank and Nick are both gay, they’ve never really pushed their relationship past friendship, though they clearly share a connection and go to great lengths for each other.

This one had me going and engaged until the plot twist involving Nick-from-the-future showing up and adding all sorts of unnecessarily complications to the story. A number of additional layers and warnings of future doom are tossed out and then just quickly dispensed with as though they weren’t plot points at all. I did like the two main characters and would have liked to see more about them and their relationship and how it grows.

Home by Kathleen Hayes
When Angus, a Scottish highlander, was born, there was a prophecy made about finding his true love on his 30th birthday. And on that day he finds himself thrown forward through time right into Brian who is being attacked on the street. After Angus saves him, Brian invites Angus back to his place and offers him a place to stay. But Angus is stuck trying to figure out how all of this fits into the prophecy and if the man he just met is, in fact, his true love.

There are a few time jumps in this story that sort of threw me off and disappointed me because those gaps are where I think the most character and relationship development could have taken place. I found it difficult to truly engage with Angus and Brian because all we got to know about them and their relationship was high-level surface facts and nothing very deep.

Poetry by the Scavenger Hunt Teams
These were creative and interesting.

Content warning – This book deals with a few issues that some might want to be warned about: rape/sexual assault, violence, male pregnancy, cross-species (humanoid) relationships

Title: Abel (It Can’t Be You)
Author: C.J. Bishop
Publication Date: January 23, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Abel is a dancer at a male strip club who is injured by an over-zealous creep of a customer and ends up in the ER where he meets Dr. Grant. For Dr. Grant it’s lust-at-first-sight and he can’t shake his desire to be with Abel no matter how hard he tries. But can he get through Abel’s rough exterior that seems to push everyone away. And when Abel’s sister gets sick, can he find a way to comfort the young man that doesn’t just make things worse.

Content warning off the bat – descriptions and depictions of past sexual abuse/rape.

There’s something about this story and the characters of Abel and his sister that really drew me in and made me want to like it. I think there’s a lot of potential with the characters, but overall this first installment of the series didn’t really hook me as much as I think it could have. The insta-love here on Dr. Grant’s part is nearly jarring – he sees him once and doesn’t just want to get intimate with him, he suddenly wants to mate with him for life? That’s a bit too much. And I’m still not sure how I feel about the way things seem to conveniently and unrealistically line up at the end to provide the major twist that comes out. That said, reviews seem to indicate the next couple of books in the series are better than the first, so I’ll probably give the second a shot just because I’m hoping for something better for these characters who do have a lot of potential for a great story.

Title: A Case of Possession
Author: K.J. Charles
Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The second book in the A Charm of Magpies series, A Case of Possession picks up shortly after the end of The Magpie Lord. Lucien and Stephen are continuing with their relationship, though Lucien can’t help but feel like there’s a limit to their connection – there are things Stephen is keeping from him. Before they get a chance to try to sort this out, they get pulled into another mystery surrounding several murders and a suicide and attempts by one of Lucien’s former associates to blackmail him, Stephen, and one of Lucien’s good friends. There more paranormal adventure here as well as a number of further tests of Lucien and Stephen’s young relationship.

While I liked The Magpie Lord, I feel like this one is even steps above it. There is more depth in this book and while there’s a lot that happens, I found it easier to follow. Meeting Stephen’s associates was also a great touch that added more depth to the world in which Lucien and Stephen live. Another great historical paranormal mystery romance.

Title: The Deja Vu Experiment
Author: J.G. Renato
Publication Date: January 31, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
This was a quick but interesting read. I requested it on NetGalley because it was categorized a science fiction and the description was intriguing. After reading it, I don’t know that I’d call it science fiction – it’s almost more of a commentary on philosophy and metaphysics. There were moments where I found myself trying to sort out if it was fiction or non-fiction just due to the narrative which is, I think, a testament to the way the author was able to give us a complete and distinct character using first-person storytelling.

Overall, this book made me think and raised some interesting questions, but I’m someone who enjoys thinking about the nature of existence. But it didn’t deliver what I expected and I think it has a limited audience that would truly enjoy it. And I don’t recommend picking it up if you’re expecting a good science fiction tale.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)