Published by: Samhain Publishing on July 19, 2011 Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Al Fletcher never expected what would happen when he helped a drunk Larry Morton home. His efforts were not exactly appreciated as Larry sent him away and threatened to call the police. Though he came and apologized after he sobered up, it was still a bit of a jarring experience. But the two started spending time together, finding after a short time that the last thing Larry would want to do is send Al away. It might be too good to be true, though, as they come from two completely different worlds. And as much as they seem to click together, Al can’t help wondering if Larry can truly see past those differences in the long term…
This is a short read that moves quickly while managing to bring the reader right along for the ride. Without a lengthy exposition, the conflict that exists for these characters is made real rather quickly. Readers get a strong sense of both characters, even though the story is written from the perspective of only one of them. A well-written and entertaining story!
Series: Sci-Regency, Book 2
Published by: Samhain Publishing in November 2008 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Prince Payton Townsend is on a mission to find his kidnapped brother and bring him home. To help ensure his own safety and give himself access to information, he’s disguised himself as an Admiral’s assistant. But Payton’s ruse also unexpectedly gives him access to Marine Colonel Simon Hollister. And just as Payton is drawn to Simon, Simon is drawn to Payton in return. But there are things about Simon that Payton also does not know. Like that Simon is heir to the throne of Englor, the planet on which Payton believes his brother is being held. And that the culture of Simon’s planet is unlikely to take as kindly to any sort of relations between them as Payton may be used to at home. Can they manage to find a way to be together? And might Simon be able to help Payton find his brother? And what of Payton when his mission is completed? Will he return home and leave Simon behind?
An excellent follow up to the first book in this series. I enjoyed the way the story dives right into not only the action of the story but the setup for some of the conflict that comes later in the book. Readers can expect to fall right into this futuristic world that J.L. Langley has created that in many ways also seems timeless in the issues the characters deal with and the challenges they face.
Series: Holmes & Moriarty, Book 2 Published by: Samhain Publishing on December 28, 2010 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Christopher “Kit” Holmes cannot turn down a request to help out his former mentor, Anna Hitchcock. And he certainly wishes he could. But she’s called to ask him to step in and host a writing retreat at her home and he must heed the call. And to do so he must cancel yet another weekend with J.X. Moriarty, his new boyfriend, putting strain on an already tenuous relationship.
But Kit finds his problems are worse than he imagined after he arrives at Anna’s home. The fall that led to her injury and inability to host the event herself–well, it may not have been an accident. Anna suspects someone purposely injured her. And as Kit learns more about the various attendees at the writing retreat, he quickly learns that pretty much everyone around him has some level of motive for being the culprit. And Kit once again becomes an amateur sleuth, trying to find answers and unwittingly putting himself in danger. But will he be able to find out the truth before anyone else is hurt? And will he be able to make up with J.X. when all is said and done?
If you’ve read the first book in this series, you can expect a similar feel and approach in this second installment. Kit wanders unknowingly into a case and falls deep into his quest to solve it. Unexpected twists and turns fall onto his path along the way. And the danger becomes very real to him on more than one occasion. What’s different here is that the ending doesn’t wrap up quite as nicely as the first book. And probably not quite as nicely as most readers would like to see. But just as life is complex and doesn’t always go the way we’d expect or like, I appreciate this approach on some level myself.
Series: A Charm of Magpies, Book 3 Published by: Samhain Publishing on October 28, 2014 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Life for Stephen Day has never really been what one would call normal. But things are getting weird even for him. The justiciary is still in the process of rebuilding their forces, and one of the apprentices may be going mad with power. Of course, this only adds to the stress between Stephen and his lover, Lord Crane. A stress that comes to a head over the investigation of a theft in which Crane finds himself the victim. Can Stephen help solve the theft, figure out what’s going on with the young apprentice, and keep his relationship afloat?
I have enjoyed this series; the combination of historical and paranormal always has a way of drawing me in. And the characters here are the same characters that I’ve grown to enjoy reading about during the previous two installments. I have to say that I do feel like there’s just a little bit too much going on in this one, though. There’s the case at the core, there’s the drama with the justiciary, there’s the short-staffing of the judiciary–it’s just so many layers and makes things suddenly more complex than I feel they have been thus far. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready for this turn. I still enjoyed this book, and I absolutely recommend it. It just didn’t quite hit the spot in the way I expected it would.
Published by: Samhain Publishing on December 1, 2009 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
James Winter specializes in antiquarian books. Or, well, he used to until a scandal a few years earlier cast doubts on his reputation. So when a rich buyer, Mr. Stephanopoulos, shows up with a lead for James, he’s interested in using it to get back in the game. Mr. S has learned of a previously unpublished Dickens Christmas story, and he’s willing to pay top dollar to get it into his possession. The only rule is that James cannot tell its owner, Sedgwick Crisparkle, that Mr. S is the one who wants to buy the book. Seems easy enough.
Professor Crisparkle is more of a character than James could have imagined. He’s also rather dashing, and he quickly makes his own interest in James known. Despite possibly knowing better, James returns Sedgwick’s affections and they soon find themselves entangled in more than just a business arrangement. But there’s still the matter of closing the sale. And the question of why Mr. S is so insistent that Sedgwick not be made aware of his identity. How can James navigate his growing affection for one client and his business obligations to the other?
If you’re looking for a short(ish), sweet Christmas romance with a few minor hiccups on the path from meeting to falling in love, this is a story for you. It’s entertaining, well-written, and a quick and easy read. A good choice just in time for the holidays.
Series: With or Without, Book 2 Published by: Samhain Publishing on November 20, 2007 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Remington Lassiter is still adjusting to his new upside-down world. Overnight, he went from not knowing werewolves existed and that his best friend was one to being one himself. At the same time, Remi finds himself trying to do all he can to protect his younger brother from their abusive father. But Remi also carries some deeply-rooted secrets that he doesn’t even realize are hidden in his past. They will need to be confronted before he can truly be free. And then there’s the attractive and mysterious private detective, Jake Romero, who keeps popping up to help Remi out whenever he needs it. And Jake has his own bombshell to drop on Remi when the time is right…
The character development in this one is pretty solid. Each of these guys is a distinct character with complex backstories that come to bear on who they are and what they do. It’s hard not to feel for Remi at so many points while reading, but I appreciate that he has moments where he can find his strength and try to move things forward at the same time. I also appreciate that the author didn’t rush the relationship here, knowing full well that Remi has other things to deal with on top of confronting the possibility of being in a relationship with a guy. An interesting read, though there are some unpleasant moments in the lives of these characters.
Content warning: discussions of child abuse and domestic violence, virulent homophobia
Published by: Samhain Publishing on July 28, 2009 Rating: 4stars (★★★★☆)
Mark Jensen would describe his boss, Jonathan Varga, in many ways. Mysterious would be a big one. And he’d also probably say sexy too, but it’s not something he could ever act on. Not only is Jonathan Mark’s boss, but he’s also V-positive–a vampire–and it can be passed on through sex. So they carry on a professional relationship with Jonathan often holed up painting in his studio while Mark runs his errands, keeps the office clean, and procures cat blood for his boss. But when a major sale comes through on several of Jonathan’s paintings, he decides they should have a night out. The night itself is innocent enough, but it ends with someone from Jonathan’s past resurfacing. And that someone appears to be anything but friendly, leaving death and destruction in his wake. So Mark finds himself on the run with Jonathan, not really sure where they can hide or where they can turn. They both know they can only run for so long, and they can only hope they will make it out alive…
The idea of vampirism as a virus is a rather interesting concept. It adds a whole layer to the vampire-human interaction piece that doesn’t exist in more traditional vampire narratives. It also draws parallels to it as more of a medical condition than a “you are now a demonic monster overnight” condition. But clearly that doesn’t mean there isn’t drama around being “turned” or people using the virus to threaten or intimidate other people. Some vampire drama here with a few very interesting twists.
Series: The Only One, Book 1 Published by: Samhain Publishing on January 7, 2014 Rating: 4stars (★★★★☆)
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…
Series: With or Without, Book 1 Published by: Samhain Publishing on October 10, 2006 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Chayton Winston has been dreaming of a mate since he was five years old. And despite being part of an American Indian werewolf pack, in his dreams his mate always has blond hair and blue eyes. But his parents always told him he would find his mate in good time, so he forced himself to stop obsessing about it and just let it happen. So when an injured wolf is brought into his veterinary office and he experiences some strange feelings, he’s surprised. Of course, he’s also surprised because if those feelings mean his mate is near, it means his mate is male. He knows that won’t go over well with his mother, but he first needs to figure out how it goes over for himself.
Keaton Reynolds is a powerful wolf who wants nothing more than to leave any fighting in his past. He took a job as a professor in New Mexico, far from his family, to have a new start. So when we wakes up in a strange man’s vehicle after going for a run, he’s not sure what to think. And his thoughts are further clouded when he realizes this strange man is his mate. Not one to force himself on someone, he’s more than willing to walk away from Chay–especially since the man is straight. But the pull of a mate is strong. And Keaton may be in the crosshairs of someone far more dangerous than a mate…
I feel like shifter romances with the whole “unexpected mate” trope aren’t difficult to find. There seem to be several on the market. But the supporting cast and the world in which this takes place are different enough to make this unique. I do wish we got a chance to get to know the main characters a bit better. Once they’re thrown together, it’s all about how they interact and there isn’t much of them alone or with friends or family that might help provide a bit more insight into who they are. And Chay’s decision seems a bit fast for someone who was not expecting a mate like the one he got.
It’s still definitely worth a read, so I give it a recommendation.
Published by: Samhain Publishing on February 14, 2012 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Lord George Albert Westin (“Wes”) is incredibly shy and introverted. His stutter often makes people look down upon him, including his own family. He tends to stick to himself and his garden. But when he hears of an exotic orchid that he needs to see, he ventures out to the home of a fellow gardener. It’s there that Wes meets Michael Vallant. Wes is drawn to Michael immediately, but there are many things about Michael he doesn’t know. Not only is there the issue of Michael’s profession, but there’s a much darker secret that connects them. Can Michael help Wes come out of his shell more? And can Wes help Michael work through his past? And will Wes believe Michael if he tells him the truth?
A great and well-written historical. These two connect in a seemingly unexpected way, and the story that connects them through their history is even more out of the ordinary. I enjoyed their interactions even though their relationship developed in a rather unorthodox way. In some ways, I’m still not sure how I feel about the interactions with Wes’s family, but it does play into the history of both men. Overall an interesting read.