Tag Archives: published: 2014-07

Smoke and Mirrors by Lillian T. MacGowan

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors by Lillian T. MacGowan

Series: Smoke and Mirrors, Book 1
Published by: Loose Id on July 22, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Dr. Naim Moreau leads a quiet unsuspecting life. So when firefighter Frank “Deck” Dekker saves his life, he is appreciative but sees Deck as just another patient. Though he can’t argue with the fact that Deck is a rather attractive patient. And when Deck makes some statements that make Naim blush, he tells himself he’s just being delusional and when he comes around he will take it all back. But Deck doesn’t exactly do that. And Naim isn’t sure he can share his deepest secrets about his past with Deck…and if he did, wouldn’t Deck just run away?

If you like books that are paced well, then this is one that certainly meets that criterion. The reveal of the important parts of the story, the tension between Naim and Deck (and between Naim and himself) ebbs and flows in a pattern that seems just right, and the resolution comes at the right point. Solid writing and character development make this a worthwhile read.

Secrets in the Air by Liz Borino

Secrets in the Air

Secrets in the Air by Liz Borino

Series: Secrets, Book 1
Published by: Liz Borino on July 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Rhett O’Neil is pleasantly surprised to learn his grandfather is leaving the family business to him. He’s loved flying for as long as he can remember. The idea of continuing their charter flight business leaves him excited. But his grandfather also lets him in a secret. The business has been collaborating with the FBI to assist in their efforts to break up human trafficking rings. And it’s time to bring Rhett into the fold.

Rhett’s more than happy to help with the FBI missions. And he’s even more inspired when he learns his grandfather started doing the missions after the death of Rhett’s twin, Annabelle. It’s a testament to her memory he’s glad to carry. But things go amiss on the first mission. Not only is he forced to cross paths with his estranged mother, but he comes face-to-face with one of the traffickers. And he returns home to his husband, Kaden, more than a little worse for wear.

But Rhett remains determined to bring down the traffickers at whatever the cost. And as he’s soon to find out, the cost may be greater than he’d ever imagined…

Can I just say that I hope no one ever has parents like Rhett’s? Seriously. I was pretty much appalled with them from the beginning. And it all just seems to go downhill from there.

Kaden and Rhett make for an interesting couple. There’s something about their playful banter that helped keep the book light despite some of the heavy plot points. It was so evident how much they care for each other throughout the story.

This book underscores the meaning of family. So many times people talk about the family you choose versus the family you’re born with. And as much as we often thing we’re stuck with the latter, I don’t think we should necessarily feel that way. Family is about love, trust, and caring. If you don’t have that with the people who are supposed to be your family, then go out and find it elsewhere. The people who give you those things because they want to (blood or otherwise)–not with some begrudging attitude–are the ones who you should truly value in your life.

The Rescue by Derek T. Cole

The Rescude

The Rescue by Derek T. Cole

Series: The Harden City Chronicles, Book 1
Published by: Offhand in July 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

In Harden City, there’s a stark divide between the social and economic classes. The rich have the run of things; the poor are confined to the worst parts of the city. And for someone living in The Penn, it’s unlikely to ever get out.

Garth sits comfortably in the middle. He’s a Hunter, and his job is to hunt down some of the city’s worst criminals. His job puts him in the middle class, with a place of his own and a comfortable life.

While on a job to rescue an informant, Garth comes across Dean. Dean has lived in The Penn all his life, and he knows nothing else. But to save him, Garth needs to get him out. And he temporarily brings him to his own home. Garth’s world is completely new to Dean, but Dean seems like he’ll be able to adapt. And Garth could certainly use a friend…or maybe something more.

There’s one problem: the rich who run the city aren’t keen on same-sex relationships. To act on his feelings or to keep Dean with him would be a huge risk. And it might not be one he’s willing to take.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed story. The writing and the pacing really work well to keep the reader engaged. And the world where this story takes place is rich and vibrant. There are many layers that present themselves as one reads along.

That said, I was really disappointed with how this one ended. I know it’s part of a series, but it just seemed to stop. There wasn’t even the semi-resolution I would expect even from a cliffhanger.

But the ending aside, this is a dynamic and engaging story with some real conflict that digs at you as much as it digs at the characters.

The Blinding Light by Renae Kaye

Blinding Light

The Blinding Light by Renae Kaye

Series: The Tav, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on July 14, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★☆☆)

Jake Manning is in a bit of a rough spot. He’s up to his eyeballs in debt, which he took on to help his family. He doesn’t allow people to take advantage of him, and that’s made it difficult for him to hold down a steady job. And he’s reached a point of desperation. So when he applies for a housekeeping job for what he learns is one of the most difficult clients his potential employer has ever seen, he agrees to take on the challenge. Despite everything else, he is truly a hard worker. But even Jake wasn’t prepared for Patrick Stanford. Patrick is rude, bossy, blind… and perhaps one of the most attractive men Jake has ever seen. Not one to be taken advantage of, however, Jake pushes back just enough that he might be able to nudge Patrick toward some proper manners. And although Patrick is technically Jake’s employer, they strike a bit of a friendship that Jake wishes could become something more. But is Patrick even gay? And how can Jake find time for a relationship when his mother and sisters are always waiting in the wings for him to help them out?

I don’t know that I have much else to say about this except that it is entertaining. The banter between Jake and Patrick made me grin and chuckle most of the time, especially with some of the notes they would leave for each other. And there are some pleasant surprises along the way in this story that keep it interesting. I feel like a few issues from the past were sort of glossed over quickly when they came up–in ways that felt a bit abrupt. But overall, this is one that I enjoyed.

The Blinding Light at the Dreamspinner Press website

Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Three Strikes by Piper VaughnTitle: Three Strikes
Author: Piper Vaughn
Published: July 26, 2014
Pages: 23
Publisher: Piping Hot Books
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Jeremy probably hasn’t taken his job as seriously as he could have and has hit his third strike as far as his manager, Shawn, is concerned. But as much as Shawn isn’t keen on Jeremy’s job performance, he clearly has an attraction for the man he doesn’t seem willing to admit. But Shawn is still surprised when Jeremy offers himself up as a trade-off in order to keep his job. Shawn, being ethical, has to decline, but is willing to give Jeremy the same last chance he would give any other employee. But was Jeremy’s offer simply to keep his job? Is this all just some ruse to get under Shawn’s skin? Or is there maybe something there for Jeremy, too, that he just never expressed before.

This is a short and fast-paced story. It moves quickly, and I found it to be very engaging. There’s obviously some complexity here in terms of Shawn’s decision-making and trying to sort out just exactly what Jeremy is up to. But despite the pace, none of that is really glossed over and it seems authentic. I definitely would have like to know more about these two and how things develop after the end of the story.


Four: The Traitor

18080923Title: Four: The Traitor (Divergent, Book 0.4)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: July 8, 2014
Pages: 48
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

The final installment of the Four stories overlaps with the beginnings of Divergent. Having seemingly settled into a role within the Dauntless faction, Tobias has never let his guard down, especially when it comes to faction leadership. And these suspicions lead him to uncover a plan that both shocks and worries him, while he has little time to decide how to react…

This one was interesting because it’s the only one of the stories that overlaps with one of the original books. It provides for a more complete story and knowing what Tobias knew makes me want to go back and re-read the first book to see if there are any hints in the text. But, that aside, this is a fitting end to the series and a great way to tie these back into the trilogy itself. It feels a bit rushed at a couple of points, but I think that’s because a knowledge of the series is assumed, so there is no need to expand on the information that one should already know.

Four: The Son by Veronica Roth

18080922Title: Four: The Son (Divergent, Book 0.3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: July 8, 2014
Pages: 65
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

After getting through Dauntless initiation, Tobias works to settle into his faction. There are roles they want him to play, and he’s not sure it’s what he’s comfortable with. And when someone from his past emerges, he learns there may be something going on between the factions that could spell danger for everyone.

I continue to enjoy the Four stories, as it’s interesting to see more from his perspective and to understand how he became the person we first see in Divergent. The added depth provided through these stories makes the original series more meaningful, but because these are so full of spoilers, they really should be read after finishing Allegiant and not before. I certainly wouldn’t mind another story or two focusing on Tobias, if there’s a place for them anywhere in his world…

Four: The Initiate by Veronica Roth

18668485Title: Four: The Initiate (Divergent, Book 0.2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: July 8, 2014
Pages: 65
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Four’s story continues past his decision to transfer factions and we, the readers, get a chance to see what his own initiation was like. The challenges he faces and the way things unfold test Four in new ways and help explain how the circumstances of Divergent came to be.

The second of four prequel shorts, I feel like this one is the most telling about the Dauntless and many of the secondary characters (like Eric) and where they’re coming from by the time Tris arrives. An intriguing and engaging follow up to the end of the series. I’m definitely planning to continue with the remaining two stories…

Open Endings by Megan Linden


Title: Open Endings
Author: Megan Linden
Published: July 3, 2014
Pages: 54
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher Website: link

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

(eBook copy provided by the author via the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s ‘Don’t Buy My Love’ program in exchange for an honest review.)

This was definitely a sweet and enjoyable read which left me wanting to read more about these two.

Matt Holston will be graduating from college soon and has decided to consider the Marines, following in the footsteps of both his father and stepfather. But when Cole Perry, the Marine he encounters when he goes into the recruiting office, tells him he should completely rethink that choice, he finds himself more intrigued by the man than by the possibility of a military career. And by unraveling the mystery that is Cole, Matt just might begin to figure out who he wants to become, as well.

It’s easy to be taken with these two guys. They both possess endearing qualities and I found myself wanting to reach into the pages and give them both a hug.  Because this isn’t a lengthy book, the relationships develop quickly, but none of them seem forced; it has a very natural pace. While this wasn’t set up as a series, I could see myself reading one if the author felt inspired to write it.

A Bell for Andy by G.L. Roberts


Title: A Bell for Andy
Author: G.L. Roberts
Published: July 24, 2014
Pages: 240
Publisher: Seventh Window Publications
Publisher Website: link

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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

Brian and Andy meet as students at the same Catholic school in Boston.  They become fast friends and before long are inseparable.  The two have many things in common, including what they learn is a set of the same recurring dreams.  While it’s clear the two have affection for each other, they never share more than a kiss.  And though they go to college together, Andy leaves early and loses touch with Brian.  Their paths cross only a few times over the years that follow, but when Brian gets a call that Andy’s in the hospital, the truth about the bond they share and their dreams slowly starts to unravel revealing a mystery and love story that spans centuries.

Romance. Mystery. Paranormal. History. This story hit on all of those areas–which are ones I enjoy–and did so in a seamless and well-written way.  This is honestly a complex story and it takes a skilled storyteller to put it down on the page.  The story (well, stories) of Brian, Andy, and Marc are separate yet intertwining and revealing the details in just the right order was very important to both the mystery elements but also to the general build and flow of the plot. The characters are also very well-written.  I found myself just as frustrated (though also slightly amused) with Andy as I’m sure Brian was at various points and even the characters that we only see once or twice have a real fullness to them.

G.L. Roberts did a wonderful job with this one and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good paranormal mystery romance.

[Content warning: Suicide; discussions of past (non-graphic) violence]