MAKE ME WHOLE–A Magical M/M Romance

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a slow-burning, magical M/M Romance from Marguerite Labbe. MAKE ME WHOLE is a bit contemporary, a bit ancient history, and a bit mythology, all wrapped up in a realistic romance.

Make Me WholeAbout the book:

After a grueling battle in ancient Greece, lovers Dexios and Lykon committed their lives to each other in the name of Goddess Cythera. After the war, fearing the strength of his love for Dexios, Lykon abandoned his vow and returned home. Heartbroken, Dexios called on Cythera, who changed him into four unfinished statues. In that form he would wait for his fickle lover to return, break the curse, and make him whole.

Thousands of years have passed when Galen Kanellis finds the statues in the storeroom of a Seattle museum and makes them the focus of his new exhibit. Needing information, he contacts his ex-lover Nick Charisteas. Nick has a lifelong dream of finding the Dexios Collection, and the last thing he expected was for it to wind up in the hands of the man who broke his heart. As both men search for answers about the statues, worries of abandonment and fear of loss test their renewed relationship, threatening to separate them again—this time permanently

My Review:

Nick and Galen were on/off lovers, not exclusive, about 6 months ago. Nick wanted a commitment and Galen couldn’t give him one, so he walked out. This isn’t as heartless as it sounds. Galen had previously been in a serious relationship but his lover was killed in a car wreck with a drunk driver–while Galen was driving. Galen survived in body, but heart and spirit remain crushed even two years later–he still can’t get behind the wheel without panic attacks. So, he wasn’t ready to commit to another man, though he did feel that something promising had been building between them.

At the point where the story begins, Galen ‘s art museum is prepping for a new exhibit and (astonishingly) he finds four bronze statues in the back of his storeroom. These four statues have no known provenance but they are clearly old and seem form a continuous exhibit, a nude warrior in four separate poses that suggest a missing mate.

Stunned and overjoyed with his find, Galen immediately incorporates the statues into his new exhibit, but he also reached out to Nick–who is a an art fanatic and also an antiquities hunter. Nick knows all about the statues as it turns out–his family had OWNED them in the past but they were lost at sea decades ago. Nick had, in fact, been planning a dive to discover the wreckage.

As it turns out, the statues have a curious history. They are all of Nick’s ancient ancestor Dexios, and depict him awaiting the return of his missing lover, Lykon. Throughout history, these statues have been cared for–at times they have been completed. It seems the real Dexios was cursed to wait eternally for Lykon to return, and the only way for these lovers to be reunited is through reincarnation and reconnection.

So, Nick’s thought is HE is the Dexios while Galen must be Lykon. Galen is appropriately appalled–he’s still not sure he can HAVE a relationship. Yet, the two (Galen and Nick) embark on a real relationship. They go on dates and begin to develop the kind of intimacy they had missed the first time round. It remained to be seen if this would reunite Dexios and Lykon, UNTIL THEY STARTED TAKING OVER THEIR BODIES!!!

I really enjoyed this book. Such great emotional angst. So many stakes–not just can Galen get over his grief? Or, can Nick overcome his fear of abandonment? No, we also have mythology and magic interfering in ways designed to truly test the love and faith of both Galen and Nick.

It was a slow burn, with tentative steps toward reconnection. Many times Nick, Galen, or both, had to slow the machinations of Lykon and Dexios. This was all to the good because they’ve waited hundreds of years to be together and failed several rounds of reincarnation. Smexytimes were well-written and steamy.

Interested? You can find MAKE ME WHOLE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Dreamspinner Press. I received a copy of this book via Goodreads’ Don’t Buy My Love program in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Marguerite has been accused of being eccentric and a shade neurotic, both of which she freely admits to, but her muse has OCD tendencies, so who can blame her? Her husband and son do an excellent job keeping her toeing the line, though. Together with her co-author Fae Sutherland, Marguerite has found a shared passion for beautiful men with smart mouths.

When she’s not working hard on writing new material and editing completed work, she spends her time reading novels of all genres, enjoying role-playing games with her equally nutty friends, and trying to plot practical jokes against her son and husband. Her son is learning the tricks too quickly and likes to retaliate. You’d think she’d learn.

You can find Marguerite on Goodreads, her website and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

He Worked Hard SEDUCING LAUREN–A Review

Hi there! Today’s book is a contemporary romance from best-selling author Kristin Proby. SEDUCING LAUREN is part of the Love Under a Big Sky series of novels written about a group of connected friends in Cunningham, Montana. And Lauren is the Cunningham heiress.

Seducing Lauren (Love Under the Big Sky, #2)
About the Book:
Now that his best friend, Josh, has happily settled down with his true love on a Montana ranch, small-town lawyer Ty Sullivan starts thinking that maybe single life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And when Lauren Cunningham’s no-good ex-husband comes after her for an unexpected trust fund, Ty steps in to protect her.

But soon he can’t help but think of her as more than a client. Lauren’s in no mood to jump into another relationship, so how can Ty convince her that her mistake wasn’t getting married, but marrying the wrong guy?

My review:
This book is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone. It features the love story of Ty, a successful lawyer, and Lauren, a newly divorced woman with some pretty lucrative secrets–and a gold-digging ex-husband.

The ink is barely dry on the divorce papers when Lauren is served a suit seeking half the trust fund she inherited after she kicked out her emotionally-abusive, philandering husband, Jack. And, he’s appearing on her doorstep seeking money, however he can get it. Lauren wants Ty to help her shut down Jack’s suit, but he won’t–because he thinks it’s a conflict of interest to take on the legal case of a woman he’s been secretly admiring.

Ty has wanted Lauren for the past year, or so, but he’s been biding his time. She was embroiled in a brutal divorce, and then her parents died suddenly–leaving her both an heiress, and utterly alone. Ty’s history isn’t fantastic. Working his way through college and law school, growing up,with an abusive, alcoholic father, he’s developed a giant “protector” complex. As he attempts to woo Lauren, this become more and more prominent–mostly because Jack is behaving more and more psychotic.

When Jack’s manipulations escalate into threats, Lauren seeks an order of protection, and Ty become the rock on which she leans. Expect domestic violence.

The end is an HEA, but in my opinion it came too fast. I would have wanted to see a bit more of a courtship, especially as Lauren has been burned (badly) before in love. Ty is clearly nothing like Jack, yet, after all the legal and physical battles Lauren has endured/survived, I’d expect more wariness.

Because this series is based on a group of friends, the accessory characters are the ones being spun off. Ty’s friends Cara and Josh had been linked in the first book, and Ty’s (divorced) sister Jillian will find love again in the third. It seems divorced women being successfully matched is the theme here, which is nice.

Expect lots of smexytimes, though the gory details aren’t overwhelming. Expect many professions of love, though they seem to happen too quick. Expect some extremely erratic and illogical ex behavior, though doing so only harms the chance of satisfying his own greed. (My opinion: Jack was almost cartoonishly evil. Not only was he bad, he was bad at being bad, too. His physical threats didn’t serve his self-interest, whatsoever, and that seemed Jack’s whole modus operandi: getting more for Jack. If he had stuck to being cool, slick and litigious, I could have found him more acceptable as a problem.)

Now, a slight rant, because there a lots of books out with ex’s hell-bent on “revenge.” I know that domestic violence is a problem. I know that some men never get over being tossed out, and they stalk, beat and kill their former lovers/partners/wives. I TOTALLY get that. Really. But, if that’s a part of the fiction, I really want to see the possessive behaviors. The unwelcome overtures. The escalating violence. Not because I’m into it–I’m not. But, if that’s the character being written, well, that character needs to be written authentically. Given a whole persona. Most times, I feel this characterization is begun, and left half-done, with a big leap on the reader’s part to fill in the blanks. For me, it always leaves the story arc falling short.

Unfortunately, I felt this was the case for Jack. He was somewhere between annoying and menacing but quickly snapped into psychotic. I saw it happening, and couldn’t make the leap. Partly, I believe it was because Lauren’s notions that her home had been invaded never had any corroborating evidence, just her “feeling,” which left ME feeling skeptical, and emotionally flat, instead of tense or worried.

Back in my youth I was chilled to the bone by SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY. I will never forget that scene when Laura (Julia Roberts) returns to her new home, in her new town, and senses “someone” has been there. Nothing is broken, in fact nothing is out-of-place. Then she opens the cabinets to find all the canned goods are stacked in perfect columns just as her abusive husband had ALWAYS dictated and she knows he has found her. The fear just slices through her, and the audience.

I guess I was waiting for that to happen here, and it didn’t, so I couldn’t connect as well as if it HAD happened. If Lauren had found, maybe, a trinket left out, or even better something beloved destroyed beside some sort of symbol that couldn’t be directly tied to Jack, but would send a strong message that he’d been in the house, I would have had the requisite fear that she was in physical danger. There is a property crime, yet, it still seemed impersonal; unidentified vandalism often feels that way, for me. As if, once done, it’s exhausted the vandal’s anger and thus the threat. Only if there are serial instances showing more and more damage does a sufficient pattern develop indicating a growing problem.

In short, the book is interesting, and held my attention, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I am kinda sad to say that because I really had high expectations, based on reviews of earlier work. I think I’d like a more straight-forward romance, better, and will look forward to the next book (Jillian’s story) filling the gaps.

Interested? SEDUCING LAUREN releases tomorrow, Aug 19th. You can find it on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley.

Kristen ProbyAbout the Author:

Kristen is the author of the Amazon and USA Today bestselling With Me In Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

Readers can catch up with Kristen on Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Steampunk StoryBundle is Amazeballs…

Hi there! Today I’m talking about a great deal I ran across through my friend and fellow writer, Susan Kaye Quinn. I have featured a few of her books in the past, not hard to–she’s a talented and prolific indie author–but today’s deal is unique to me. A story bundle.

1efc1-thirddaughter_cvr_medThe way a StoryBundle works is described below, so please read on. In the meantime, I’m going to share mini-reviews from two of the books in the bundle.

The first is Quinn’s own THIRD DAUGHTER. I have adored both this and the sequel SECOND DAUGHTER (not part of the bundle).

They are steampunk books set in the fictional East Indian-inspired matriarchal world of Dharia and feature a daredevil of a princess bent on saving herself from a loveless marriage and her country from a war.

imageThe second book in the Bundle I finished was THE MACHINE GOD by MeiLin Miranda. This story focuses on the adventure of Dr. Adewole, a linguist and Humanities expert investigating the floating island of Risenton. Myths surround this site, and when a power source becomes available, Adewole and a team of explorers and military-folk ascend a mile into the sky to meet an untouched culture. Their arrival is legendary, but the mystery surrounding Risenton’s history takes up the tale.

Adewole’s mission to study the history of the city uncovers the primary documents of a sinister inventor who combined magic with metal and brought about his own destruction–along with those of thousands of Risenton-folk. Now, a thousand years later, Adewole’s research uncovers the power behind that destruction, and he’s an inadvertent accomplice to (perhaps) the second coming.

It’s like STARGATE and THE IRON GIANT had a love child and called it THE MACHINE GOD. I loved it. Like both of those movies, malevolent forces are working behind the scenes to weaponize an ordinarily peaceful invention.

Beyond creative, I also loved that the main character of THE MACHINE GOD, Adewole, was a man of color and a scholar. The steampunk elements remain throughout, but the fantasy elements, from living metal to sentient, speaking birds, make this story unique. This book is truly well-written allowing the fantasy to simply blend instead of outshine. The fun thing is there’s another book in the Bundle–BLACK MERCURY–which adopts a similar setting, so I’m anxious to dive into it.

Now, each of these books purchased through Amazon would cost $3.99. You can set your own price on the StoryBundle site for the purchase of the first four books in the Bundle, but if you pay more than $10, they kick in three bonus books (a $12 value).

I’m new to StoryBundle, but I’m going to watching this take off. What is also cool as that each book comes separate, unlike a boxed set where you have to page through six books to get to the last one in the set…something prolific eReaders (like myself) can appreciate.

The Bundle of Extraordinary Steampunk

Story Bundle is like Price Line for Books where you choose your own price! It’s a great way for readers to discover new authors in a genre they already love. This steampunk story bundle was curated by Susan Kaye Quinn (author of Third Daughter, a steampunk fantasy romance), and she explains what steampunk is all about below.  Hop over to see how you set-your-own-price on these story bundles and scoop it up for yourself (bundle lasts a limited time only)!

The Bundle of Extraordinary Steampunk
Curated by Susan Kaye Quinn

The most common question I get about steampunk books is, What is steampunk?

The easy answer is that steampunk stories are set in the 19th century Victorian era when steam-driven technology was primary, corsets were tight, and tea was a formal affair. But that’s like saying science fiction is about spaceships when the genre is much broader, deeper, and more amazing than that. (And yes, steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction.)

With a thriving real-life steampunk culture that is very do-it-yourself in inventing characters, costumes, and gadgets, the real answer is that steampunk can be virtually anything you want it to be. It’s this tremendous devotion to creativity that actually drew me in to writing steampunk in the first place (along with the gorgeous costumes!). In this steampunk bundle, we have an east-Indian fantasy romance, an Asian-flavored pirate love story, a Shakespearean retelling, two stories set in a common world with a floating island, a young adult adventure about a lightning invention, and a story that uses Arcane Science in the modern world. These stories are perfect examples of the truly rich diversity of steampunk stories, while each also portrays a world where steam technology shifts the ground under their characters feet.

We think of the Victorian era as being somewhat repressed, but it really was a time of tremendous change: class divisions, and the aristocracy it supported, were being challenged by the everyday men and women who were bringing about amazing technological advances. Science was on the rise! And the beautiful costuming and formal traditions of the past were coming into conflict with those first hints of the modern world. Steampunk stories in general resonate with readers not just because of their fun, escapist fantasy; a flight into the past when things were simpler, adventures were fought with sword and gun, and social strictures brought some order to the world, but because the upheaval wrought by technological change still resonates with our real lives today.

What is steampunk?
It’s a story like any other story: a chance to escape the world for a few hours, to live in the wilderness of an author’s imagination, to adventure, to fall in love, to die for one’s friends. It’s classic storytelling in a visually rich, emotionally gripping era that still resonates with us today. Plus you get to rollick about in corsets and top hats, inventing gadgets and saving the world from the villains who turn that fantastic steam technology to their own dastardly purposes.

Strap on your goggles and prepare for the ride!
— Susan Kaye Quinn

The Bundle of Extraordinary Steampunk

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, Tweet us at @storybundle, Like us on Facebook, and Plus us on Google Plus. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.