Tag Archives: published: 2014-12

A Christmas Bonus by E.M. Lynley

A Christmas Bonus

A Christmas Bonus by E.M. Lynley

Published by: Silk Road Press on December 17, 2014 (2nd edition)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Alec Compton is so close to making partner as his Wall Street investment firm. There’s just one catch: he needs to close a deal that one of his colleagues couldn’t, and he has to do it by the end of the year. And the end of the year is only a couple of weeks away. Alec springs into action, taking a meeting right away with the intended buyer, Brant Linton. Brant is a billionaire, and a well-known mogul of corporate mergers and acquisitions. And, as Alec quickly observes, he’s incredibly attractive. Alec walks away from their meeting with a plan, and it seems like everything is in order. Until a falling out between Brant and his current boyfriend causes him to leave town early for the holidays. Not to be deterred, Alec follows Brant, willing to go to any length to get him to sign the deal. And Alec’s resolve is quickly tested; Brant’s sister has forbidden any business dealings over the holidays, so Alec must pose as Brant’s boyfriend if he’s going to have the chance to convince Brant to sign the contract. But will what appears to be mutual attraction be a help or a hindrance to getting Alec toward his goal? And if sparks do fly, are either of them really willing to mix business with pleasure?

There are so many layers to this story: mixing business with something more, family drama, sibling rivalry and competition, career versus relationships, and the ends justifying the means. Don’t let that scare you into think this is a heavy or heady story; it’s not. It’s an easy and entertaining read. But there’s a realness to the characters and the situations that provides the opportunity for readers to think through some of the complexities that exist in our lives: work, family, love, and otherwise.

A Wedding to Die For by Xavier Mayne

A Wedding to Die For

A Wedding to Die For by Xavier Mayne

Series: Brandt & Donnelly Capers, Book 3
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on December 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

When a local baker and florist turn away a prominent gay couple and refuse to work their wedding, the couple strikes back. State law has recently been affirmed to prohibit discrimination, and the issue just might end up in court. But the governor and the attorney general would like to avoid that, which is why state police officers Brandt and Donnelly are called in to assist. And they resolve the issue with only a single meeting with each vendor.

The owners still aren’t keen on being associated with the wedding, however, leading them to each assign their sons to take on the task. It turns out that Justin and Roman are old friends who haven’t seen each other in years. And it also turns out they might just both have an interest in being more than friends.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, disaster strikes at the wedding. And the case that Brandt and Donnelly thought was over in a day becomes much larger…and more sinister than they could have imagined.

There are a few different plot lines here that are masterfully woven together to create an excellent story. There’s Brandt and Donnelly and their efforts to plan their own wedding. There’s the wedding that’s the centerpiece of the story. There’s the Justin and Roman relationship. And then the crime solving piece that comes into play for the second half of the book. It sounds like a lot going on, but it never really feels like it while reading it.

I will warn that there is a very brief moment of dub con here. It goes by quickly, but it’s an intense blip so I feel like it needs to be mentioned to anyone considering reading the story.

Although this is “Caper #3,” I will say that it’s the first book in this series that I’ve read. It’s not necessary to have read the previous books to follow what is going on, though there is the occasional reference that might make just a bit more sense with the full backstory of the previous books.

The King’s Men by Nora Sakavic

The King's Men

The King’s Men by Nora Sakavic

Series: All For the Game, Book 3
Published by: Nora Sakavic on December 3, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Neil Josten is back on campus, more than a bit worse for wear. He took on his rival to keep his teammates safe, whether they like it or not. And he hopes it will be enough to keep Riko off their backs until the end of the season. Because he doesn’t expect to be alive must past that.

But something’s happened since Neil’s been with the Foxes. His desire to run isn’t quite as strong. And then there’s Andrew. His hard-to-read exterior isn’t quite a difficult for Neil to decipher as it is for everyone else. And there are moments when he thinks there’s something there. But even if there’s not, Neil won’t be coming back from the summer, right?

As the season progresses, Neil thinks that just maybe he can pull through. But he seems to have forgotten that there’s more than one person that’s been after him. And secrets can only be kept buried for so long…

If you want to talk about slow burn, this is up there as the ultimate. Third book in the series before the relationship between Andrew and Neil that’s been building at an almost painful pace finally has some sparks. But don’t get me wrong: it’s all worth it. There’s so much dysfunction here that it almost drips off the page, but I find myself devouring every scene.

My only complaint is that I wish there was more. Kind of disappointing to see this one end.

Content warning: violence.

Corkscrewed by M.J. O’Shea

Corkscrewed

Corkscrewed by M.J. O’Shea

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on December 1, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Isaac Shelley, grandson of the quite wealthy Marigold Shelley, went missing several years ago. And his mysterious reappearance couldn’t make Marigold happier. She’s welcomed him in with open arms and is all set to arrange for him to inherit her estate. But Isaac isn’t who he seems. He only arrived in Marigold’s life as a con set up by his mentor, Roman.

But Isaac’s con isn’t the only one at play. Cary Talbot, inspector for Ms. Shelley’s insurance company, is on site to inventory the estate’s wine collection. Except Cary doesn’t work for an insurance company. He plans to convince the owner that one of her expensive wines is a fake. Then he can buy it off her at a fraction of the price and profit. His only problem is that no one can sniff out a con man like another con man.

So even though there’s a mutual attraction, it’s not long before Isaac and Cary figure out each other’s games. And while they agree not to turn each other in, it’s not as simple as that. There’s another player in this game–the infamous Black Mamba. Despite everything, the two will need to work together if they want to keep the Mamba at bay and get out of the situation unscathed.

There was something about this story that resonated with me. It’s not a complex plot, but it contains enough intrigue and mystery to keep the reader engaged. And the reader will want to stay engaged, let me tell you.

This isn’t a particularly steamy romance. And the relationship faces some obvious complications. But even though these two aren’t necessary “good guys,” I found myself rooting for them both. Maybe not so much to get away with their crimes–but in the relationship department for sure.

Late Bloomer by Bru Baker

Late Bloomer

Book Info

Title: Late Bloomer
Author: Bru Baker
Published: December 10, 2014
Pages: 64
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

David Rochester is perfectly content just keeping to himself. He’s a bit reserved, and maybe even closed off, but that works for him. Erik Shriver, an employee at David’s family’s tree farm, seems exactly the opposite. He’s outgoing and talkative, and there’s something about Erik that just gets right under David’s skin. This isn’t so bad on it’s own, but when David’s sister notices the effect Erik has on him, the whole family decides to play matchmaker. Even as David starts to reluctantly wear down and give in, he knows it’s unlikely this could amount to anything. Both David and Erik have a fair amount of baggage–albeit different kinds–and it’s hard to build a relationship when there’s so much of it there’s no room for the two people involved.

The story of David and Erik is definitely a charming one. These two just can’t help but get in their own way, even after they start to admit there might be an attraction between them. David’s meddling family isn’t nearly as scheming as David makes them out to be, and the supporting cast of characters serve as such a great support system for them both. If you’re looking for something sweet with a dash of angst, this is it.

Derek by B.G. Thomas

Derek

Book Info

Title: Derek
Author: B.G. Thomas
Published: December 26, 2014
Pages: 70
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Derek’s decade-long marriage has just come to an end. He’s gay, and has known this for a while, but that doesn’t make divorce feel any better. And on the day the divorce is final, he meets Marshall, a man who is definitely intriguing. The two connect and Derek finds that Marshall really might just be what he’s looking for. But this is all still very new to Derek. Can they possibly make something work together?

This is just the right length to get a snapshot of Derek and Marshall, and the start of their relationship. Derek’s starting a new chapter in his life, which isn’t always easy. But even when things are scary or unknown, they can be exciting. And they can be good for us. Moving on can be difficult, but sometimes getting on with one’s life is the only way to live. The story focuses on these two and the way they come together–there’s a low heat level–and it’s a well-written novella.

First Class Package by Jay Northcote

23784317Title: First Class Package
Author: Jay Northcote
Published: December 12, 2014
Pages: 21
Publisher: Jay Northcote
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Jim is a work-from-home writer who finds himself drawn to Patrick, a temporary postman assigned to his area in the run up to Christmas. It’s no coincidence that Jim begins ordering extra items to ensure he’ll get a glimpse of Patrick every day, but when it comes to verbalizing his attraction or asking Patrick out on a date, Jim is at a total loss. But he knows he has a limited window of time before Patrick won’t be bringing his package by anymore, and he needs to decide if he can get past his own hangups and take the leap he so desperately wants to make.

This is a fun and charming story, albeit it brief. Jim and Patrick are both such great characters and their interactions together are entertaining and endearing. Obviously there’s more than one instance of ‘package’ innuendo, but that’s part of the fun of a story like this. On top of that, it’s free, so you can’t really go wrong.

I would be interested in seeing what happens after the story ends, though, since it is so short…

Never Spoken by M.J. Owens

24057862Title: Never Spoken
Author: M.J. Owens
Published: December 18, 2014
Pages: 31
Publisher: M.J. Owens
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Peter’s best friends Evan and Kylie are getting married. He’s happy for them and glad to be able to support them on their special day. But there’s something that’s always been under the surface for Peter that he’s never acknowledged out loud. He’s not sure that he should, but he’s also not sure that he can keep it contained forever. Will he be able to make it through their wedding day without ruining everything?

The journey here with Peter is very interesting. The story is told largely by Peter reflecting back on things that have happened over the years as he tries to sort through his feelings and what he should do. The ending is a bit jarring (and I personally found it to be a bit frustrating), but as I reflected on it after, I could see the slow build that got us there.

The Ninety-Ninth Bride by Catherine F. King

23725228Title: The Ninety-Ninth Bride
Author: Catherine F. King
Published: December 16, 2014
Pages: 37
Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Dunya is in a bit of a predicament. The fifteen-year-old has been given to the Sultan as a bride by her father. Ninety-eight Sultanas have come before her, all suffering the same fate: execution at dawn. But when a mysterious woman shows up while Dunya is waiting for the Sultan, there’s a chance that everything could be different this time around.

I’m all about well-written retellings of popular stories, especially when they’re different enough to have a new layer of meaning or a different message. That’s exactly what Catherine F. King has done here. There are some great messages in here about family and gender and empowerment and human existence in general. The characters have real dimension to them and I absolutely enjoyed the journey King took me on as a reader. I look forward to reading more of her work.

A King Undone by Cooper Davis

23090887Title: A King Undone (Noble Pleasures, Book 1)
Author: Cooper Davis
Published: December 9, 2014
Pages: 340
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Arend knew from a young age that he was interested in other men. And while that normally wouldn’t be a problem, it just so happened he was a crown prince, destined to take the throne. And with that comes responsibilities and obligations–one major one being producing an heir of his own. So against his own wishes, he was forced into an arranged marriage with a woman, a loveless arrangement that he would much rather have done without.

Now, a widow for nearly a decade and having seen his son wed to a young prince of his own, Arend has decided it’s finally time to explore that part of himself that has been closed off since his youth. He sets out to hire a concubine and has very little problem doing so.

But will his concubine meet his expectations–and vice versa? And when conversations start about who will inherit the throne after the current generation, will Arend be once again thrust back into a relationship he doesn’t want to be in?

This is definitely a slow-paced story with a great deal of sexual tension and indecision. The writing is such that it feels like the reader is somewhat separated from the action of the story. This did seem to work for me as it was almost a reflection of Arend’s character and his overall approach to the situation. Despite the slow movement of the plot, I did find myself interested to see where things went and am interested in seeing what happens in the next installment.