Tag Archives: published: 2015-12

A Trip to Remember by Meg Harding

Trip to Remember

Book Info

Title: A Trip to Remember
Author: Meg Harding
Published: December 1, 2015
Pages: 55
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Colin is really looking forward to spending Christmas with his family, and he’s not going to let the blizzard that cancelled his flight stand in his way. He sets out in his car, driving carefully, but that doesn’t work out for him, either. He finds himself in a ditch, freezing, with nowhere to go. Knowing he can’t stay in his car, he gathers his luggage and treks to the nearest house he can find. And he’s surprised to find Logan, an attractive fitness instructor, at the door. Logan invites Colin in and helps him warm up, willingly allowing him to stay until the blizzard passes. Although they start the weekend as strangers, spending time in close quarters helps them learn more about each other and become fast friends. And while it’s still cold outside, it doesn’t take long for things to heat up inside the house.

This is a fun and sweet story that really shines. It’s not long, but the author does a great job of using every word and every page with purpose. And even though we only see Colin and Logan for a short time from beginning to end, things never feel rushed or overly constructed in their interactions. I definitely found myself wanting more from these characters. What happens next?

Not the Best Day by Brynn Stein

Not the Best Day

Book Info

Title: Not the Best Day
Author: Brynn Stein
Published: December 1, 2015
Pages: 32
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

To Henry, Christmas shopping is a necessary evil; there are so many things he’d rather be doing. But gifts need to be purchased, so he’s stuck going through the motions to get it done. And on top of it being two days before Christmas–and therefore a busy day all around–he runs into a complete jerk who keeps crossing his path and getting in his way. He doesn’t know what the guy’s deal is, but he aims to just complete his shopping and be done with him. Except when days don’t go as planned, sometimes they really don’t go as planned.

This is a short and very action-oriented story with some unexpected twists as the plot progresses. There’s a lightness to the writing that comes through (despite Henry’s foul mood), and despite the length, I feel like it was easy to connect to the character and understand what this day is really like for him. Shorts can be difficult sometimes, especially when you’re working in the romance genre. But I also never expect a romance short to deliver the slow burn relationship building that one might see in a novel–there’s just no room for it. But when I can end the story with a smile on my face and pleased with the direction the characters are headed, then we’ve arrived at a good place

Ashes of the Tyrant by Erin M. Evans

Ashes of the Tyrant

Book Info

Title: Ashes of the Tyrant (Brimstone Angels, Book 5)
Author: Erin M. Evans
Published: December 29, 2015
Pages: 432
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

It seems like Farideh and her sister, Havilar, are constantly thrown more than their fair share of challenges. They’ve escaped demons, imprisonment, a mad wizard, the wrath of deities–the list goes on and on. But just as they thought they might get some calm, their adopted father, Mehen, has been called back by the clan from which he was exiled years ago. While some expect it’s just a formality to inform Mehen of the death of his father, he knows they wouldn’t go through the trouble to call him back without also wanting something more. And when several young dragonborn are found dead shortly after the group arrives, they are quickly enlisted to help find the person–or thing–responsible.

I’ve been enjoying this series by Erin M. Evans quite a bit since it launched out of The Sundering. There’s something about Farideh as a character that just draws me in, and the crowd that surrounds her are certainly very interesting, as well. In this installment, we get a bit more detail of Mehen’s history, which I found to be enlightening, though there’s not quite as much action here as there has been in previous books. Even though there wasn’t as much in the way of direct conflict for Farideh this time around, the forces that are moving against her are still lingering in the shadows, and I expect that will all be coming to a head soon, as well. Definitely looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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

Twofer by Daisy Harris

Twofer

Book Info

Title: Twofer
Author: Daisy Harris
Published: December 22, 2015
Pages: 176
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

For Frankie, coming to college has been great! He seems to have no problem finding guys to hook up with, and he’s certainly not about to stop. His roommate, Jeremy, isn’t quite having the same experience, however. It’s not that he couldn’t–Jeremy is a very attractive young man. But he’s inexperienced and isn’t able to approach the game with the same ease as Frankie. So Frankie makes it his personal mission to help Jeremy get laid, even offering to show him a thing or two in the process. Jeremy seems most comfortable with Frankie, but they’re certainly not going to go there because it’s a bit difficult for two bottoms to make it work, isn’t it? So they set out to find a third, someone who can satisfy them both, offering up a “twofer” for a “lucky” top. But feelings and sex aren’t always in tune with each other, and once they get tangled up, it can be very difficult to unravel them…

I have to admit that I always enjoy the stories Daisy Harris writes that are set in college. There’s a quality she brings to her writing of the setting that lets you know the story is a bit fantastical but not really over the top (no pun intended). Frankie and Jeremy’s story is one that probably does play out in some similar ways every once in a while in reality, and I found myself shaking my head at them more than once or twice.

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

Brothers by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

Brothers

Book Info

Title: Brothers
Author: Ralph Josiah Bardsley
Published: December 14, 2015
Pages: 254
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Jamus Cork’s life has not gone in the direction he’d planned. When his parents died while he was in his early twenties, he became the guardian for his younger brother. Though he’s experienced some success as a writer, everything he’s done since then has been for Nick. Friendships, relationships, love: those are all things he’s denied himself out of obligation and an intense guilt he’s carried for years. Sean Malloy is the youngest in a traditional, South Boston Irish family. He’s stood out as different from the rest of his family all his life, through his academic pursuits, his love of books, and his resistance to pressures to date and marry. He’s just moved back home after taking a teaching job at a prep school. His focus on school has allowed him to ignore some of the things about himself that he’s not just ready to face. But when Sean and Jamus meet in church, there’s an instant connection and all of their secrets threaten to spill out at once.

In the realm of understated family drama, this book rushes to the front of the pack. There’s the dynamic between Jamus and Nick, which has all kinds of complications, and then there’s the Malloys, who all take things a little bit differently as they come. There are also some glimpses of a completely different family dynamic through Nick’s friend, Matt. The things we do for family, those ties that bind us together–those are the things that really matter, even if they might mean something different to each person or manifest in different ways. But it’s important that we notice and recognize the ways people show they care, even if it might not always be the way we would show it or the way we would prefer.

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

Brooklyn Secrets by Triss Stein

Brooklyn Secrets

Book Info

Title: Brooklyn Secrets (An Erica Donato Mystery)
Author: Triss Stein
Published: December 1, 2015
Pages: 242
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Erica Donato is an urban history graduate student, balancing the completion of her dissertation with being a single mom. Her research focuses on 1930s Brownsville, during a period of time when the area was heavy with organized crime. A stop at a library in the area leads Erica to meet a teenager named Savanna, a young woman with a bright future ahead of her. But when Savanna is attacked, Erica wonders if there might be a connection to some young men who accosted her one day when she was leaving the library. And when she realizes he was in a class with Savanna’s mother years ago, she finds herself even more connected to the story and the case. Erica Donato is curious and never one to let her knack for research go to waste…

Typically in a murder mystery, the search for the suspect leads us down a path of finding someone who is depraved or sinister. But so many times, crimes are committed as a result of circumstance. Or, in the case of younger criminals, sometimes they just don’t know that they have any other choice. This story takes us down that other path–the path where social pressures and the folly of youth can lead people to harm others just as easily as a criminal nature. And those are paths that are much more difficult for us to follow, not only when it comes to figuring out “whodunnit” but also accepting the answer once we find it.

This is the third Erica Donato book, but you don’t necessarily need to have read any of the others. I hadn’t before reading this, and I had no problems at all following and understanding the story. It’s very self-contained.

The Two Lords of Wealdhant Manor by Katherine Marlowe

The Two Lords of Wealdhant ManorBook Info

Title: The Two Lords of Wealdhant Manor
Author: Katherine Marlowe
Published: December 9, 2015
Pages: 158
Publisher: Honeywine Publishing
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Algernon Clarke is destitute; the debtors’ prison is calling his name. But when a railroad executive, Mr. Sutton, shows up and tells him he’s the heir to an abandoned estate, he thinks he’s found the solution to his problems. Algernon has no problem letting the railroad set up across the land of Wealdhant Manor as long as it means his fortunes turn around. What he doesn’t count on is Jasper Waltham, the groundskeeper of the manor, who is very invested in the estate and the well-being of the people living on it. “Lord Jasper”–as the people call him–is unwilling to see the railroad disrupt the lives of those around him, and he is extremely skeptical of Algernon’s claim to the estate. Can the two of them find the space to live on the same land despite one man’s protective nature and the other’s lack of connection to the place? And when a spark of attraction springs up between them, how will they reconcile that with their competing interests?

Don’t buy into the thinking that history can’t be fun. Yes, this is historical fiction, but it’s still historical and it’s still fun. Both Algernon and Jasper are endearing in their own ways, but then you put them together and, well, it just gets even better. It can often be hard when we’re forced to choose between multiple things that we want, especially when we’re convinced those things are mutually exclusive. But the reality is that they don’t always have to be, and sometimes we can find a way to get around the obstacles and have more than we ever dreamed. And such is the story of Algernon and Jasper.

Highly recommended for fans of historical m/m romance–especially those who especially enjoy regency stories…

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

Status Update by Annabeth Albert

Status Update

Book Info

Title: Status Update (#gaymers, Book 1)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Published: December 7, 2015
Pages: 189
Publisher: Carina Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Noah Walters is a geoarchaeologist at a conservative religious college on the verge of making tenure. All he has to do is finish up his book, and he’s gone to a campground in Utah in his RV to do just that. He’s left all distractions behind. But when one of his neighbors in the park, Adrian Gottlieb, is stranded by his boyfriend, Noah feels compelled to let the unexpected distraction that is Adrian into his trailer. It turns out Adrian is on his way to his sister’s wedding in Denver, and he’s been left with nowhere to get there. Against what he sees as his better judgment, Noah decides to try to get Adrian to the event. Along the way, Noah learns that Adrian is a designer on one of his favorite video games, making the fact that they couldn’t be more different a little easier to handle on the drive. But despite Noah’s demeanor, the two just might have more in common than either of them expected…and the distraction Adrian provides might just be too much for Noah to shake…

This was a fun and entertaining read, while also being extremely endearing at the same time. Both Adrian and Noah have had their struggles in life and love, and it seems there’s a serendipity to their meeting. There are a few twists and turns–fitting for a story that involves a road trip in a recreational vehicle–and an ending that’s not entirely expected.

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