The Mystery of UNCOVERING RAY–A Review

Hi there! I’m back over on Joyfully Jay with a review for a contemporary romance newly released by Edie Danford. UNCOVERING RAY is a “questioning” romance in that the audience is meant to question Ray’s gender, sexuality and motivation throughout.

The author gives good misdirection and calls on the reader to sort out all the stereotypes. I enjoyed it.

Uncovering Ray (Ellery College, #1)About the book:

When the right love uncovers the wrong secrets…

“Hey, man–you a chick or a dude?” Dealing with the same old boring question is a downer for college drop-out Ray Fayette, especially when it’s asked by the low-tipping, over-privileged students at the Ellery Diner.

When six-foot-five, muscle-bound straight arrow Wyatt Kelly publicly smacks down a fellow frat bother for caveman behavior, Ray’s interest is sparked. Wyatt’s not-so-subtle attraction sparks a few other things too.

But getting to know Wyatt proves dangerous. His sexy smiles and smart questions slide under even Ray’s prickliest defenses. Worse, his academic mentor happens to be Ray’s ex-stepfather, the dictatorial jerk who just kicked Ray out of his house. Again.

Wyatt suggests a housing arrangement that has surprising appeal—there’s space available at his frat house—but he’s unaware just how complicated Ray’s “identity issues” are. Ellery College kicked out Ray for a reason—a reason that could deep-six Wyatt’s academic career and Ray’s newly hopeful heart.

Please head on over to Joyfully Jay to see my full review.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Wanting Someone to FALL FOR ME–Review and Excerpt

ffmreleasebannerfinalHi there! Today I’m sharing in the release day festivities for JC Emery’s new novel series. It’s my first time reading this author’s work, which is always fun. FALL FOR ME is a story about finding the right person at the wrong time, and learning to live with it…

About the book:
Melanie Kincaid is a trust-fund baby with a knack for sassy comebacks and unnecessarily complicating her privileged life. So, of course she would have to fall in love with a man she can’t have.

Jameson Hayes is a NYC firefighter for Manhattan’s oldest ladder company with big shoes to fill and a city to protect. He’s strong, sexy, and not looking for the complications Melanie brings. But he can’t stay away from her either. The attraction between them is immediate and the pull between them is crazy powerful. But she’s only home for the summer and long-distance relationships never work.

Unfortunately, Melanie’s beauty and smart mouth are a lethal combination and Jameson isn’t the only Hayes who’s interested. As if his brother isn’t enough to compete with, now the city’s most famous arsonist wants to claim her as his next prize. Jameson can’t stand to watch Melanie get hurt and she can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble.

Fall for Me is the first Ladder Company novel, a stand-alone companion series about New York’s most elite firefighting family with hot alpha heroes, snarky heroines, and an arsonist hell-bent on destruction.

How about a little taste!

“Mom!” I move through the foyer and into the open great room— a large, open living/kitchen combo— where I leave my suitcase and kick off my flats before I hit the carpet. What the hell is she doing with gas? That stuff is toxic.

“Well?” Mom says, appearing at the edge of the hall on the other side of the kitchen. She has a hand towel around her neck and one of her many yoga-specific exercise outfits on. This one is a light blue and she’s barefoot. Monica Kincaid is dedicated to many things in life— her husband Christian, her daughters (the youngest, especially), and her charity projects— but yoga is the one out of all of it that I don’t understand. It puts her at peace, she says.

“Well?” I ask and drape the dress bag over the island counter top in the kitchen and move around to prop myself up on one of the bar stools. God, that gasoline smell is driving me mad.

“Are we planning a spring wedding yet or what?” Mom says with a grin. Her nose wrinkles, catching the scent of the gasoline, I’m sure. “Janet and I have been taking bets.”

“God, Mom,” I say and place my head in my hands.

“No really,” she says, “Tell me.”

“Nothing happened,” I say. Verbalizing it is even more disappointing than it probably should be. Apparently, Mom and Dad were also in on Jameson and Royal’s surprise trip. It took all of an hour after they landed for Janet Hayes to text me telling me she wishes she could have been there. It was sweet, but then she suggested she needed to leave me alone so I could spend as much time as possible with Jameson. And that we shouldn’t be disturbed. While the level of investment our mothers have in our has-yet-to-happen relationship is borderline creepy, the support is pretty awesome. It’s a rarity to find a woman as kind and loving as Janet Hayes is. Even if she doesn’t really know appropriate boundaries and likes to talk about when her sons were starting puberty… in all the gory details. I know more about Jameson’s solo activities when he was a kid more than I care to.

“You must be joking,” she says and heads to the fridge where she pulls out a single-serve cup of yogurt. “That man flew down to that god-awful place—,”

“Mom,” I protest. New Orleans never did grow on her in the four years I was there.
“Well, he did. He flew in to see you graduate and you two were alone for a few days. You can’t tell me you stayed in your apartment and nothing happened.”

My Review:
Some spoilers may be revealed. Read at your own risk…

Melanie and Jameson meet at a benefit for her mother’s charity. He’s a fire fighter and she’s a college senior home for the summer. They experience an instant attraction, with one glitch: Lydia, Jameson’s live-in girlfriend of the past five years. Conundrum 1.

Melanie and Royal, Jameson’s younger sister, hit it off and develop a friendship. Jameson’s entire family seems to like Mel a whole lot more than Lydia. Hennesey, Jameson’s brother is unattached and interested in sparking a fire with Mel. Jameson is irrationally jealous. Conundrum 2.

Mel and Jameson become friends, although this is fraught with sexual tension because each wants to connect, but Lydia stands in the way… Conundrum 3.

Mel is leaving at the end of the summer to return to school and Jameson’s locked into a lease with Lydia until March. Lydia knows about Mel, and confronts them about their ‘friendship.’ Conundrum 4.

Lots of stuff happens, but most of which was either Mel or Jameson acting poorly, with poor communication, or via stalking through FB or conversations with Jameson’s family. The first third of the book was not my fave–Jameson’s issue, essentially, is that he can’t afford the rent on the apartment (that Lydia picked out) without Lydia’s contribution. So, he’s too cheap to break up with her and have a chance with Mel….? Doesn’t inspire me.

Mel is spoiled and timid. She wants hearts and flowers, but can’t/won’t ever say this to Jameson, unless she’s rip-roaring drunk. Hmmmm. *Scratches head* *re-checks age of MC*

Okay, as this is a romance (of sorts), telling you that the leads get together isn’t a spoiler, but the wait for them to get together–after they have been single for a while–was really too long. Also, they NEEDED to talk more. I wasn’t sure if these were adults or fifth graders with a first crush.

The best part of this book was probably the mystery surrounding Mel’s stalker, an arsonist who Collects women, and spouts stuff about sins even though it put me in mind of SE7EN, (“Seven”) quite possibly the worst movie ever made with such an A-List cast.
(This scene is NSFW due to copious cursing and a hellacious murder.)

The romance itself resolved, but the mystery was To Be Continued, apparently, in the next book in this series. For a fire fighter romance there is an absence of heat, both the line-of-duty variety, and the sexytimes.

Interested? You cna find FALL FOR ME on Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Author:

As a child, JC was fascinated by things that went bump in the night. As they say, some things never change. Now, as an adult, she divides her time between the sexy law men, mythical creatures, and kick-ass heroines that live inside her head and pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English. JC is a San Francisco Bay Area native, but has also called both Texas and Louisiana home. These days she rocks her flip flops year round in Northern California and can’t imagine a climate more beautiful.

JC writes adult, new adult, and young adult fiction. She dabbles in many different genres including science fiction, horror, chick lit, and murder mysteries, yet she is most enthralled by supernatural stories– and everything has at least a splash of romance.

Catch up with JC on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon author page and Goodreads.

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Love Isn’t Easy as THREE, TWO, ONE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for JA Huss’s dark romantic suspense novel, THREE TWO ONE. I’ve liked Huss’s work in the past, and I know I’m going to get a story that bends romance out beyond the norm. Always filled with broken people who spackle their hearts back together and triumph over some fearsome histories, Huss is who I read when I want something truly different.
(Bonus, there’s also a good bit of sex–not that it’s all sexy…)

Three, Two, One (321)About the book:
Battered, barefoot, and huddled under a bookstore awning in the pouring rain, Blue only knows one thing. After fifteen months of captivity, finally… she is free.

Self-made millionaires JD and Ark are not out to save anyone when they stumble upon a wet and shivering girl one early Sunday morning. But when you sell sex for a living and salvation rings your bell… you answer the call.

After years of searching, love lifts the veil of darkness, and three people—with three very big secrets—find themselves bound together in a relationship that defies the odds.

Or does it?

Love. Lust. Sex.

This trinity might be perfection… but not everything should come in 3’s.

WARNING: This is a STANDALONE non-traditional M/F/M ROMANCE with a non-traditional ending.

My Review:
This is a sexually-explicit dark romance which features a M/F/M menage and some brief M/M elements.

Ark and JD are two men who collect public sex acts on tape for porn websites. They have been business partners for four years, having met the first night Ark stepped off a bus in Denver and rescued JD from a 4-on-1 beat down. JD is the star of the public sex tapes, and they recruit only legal, disease free women to perform. Ark is a master videographer and runs all the logistics of their operation. They have made millions of dollars in porn over the past four years, but it hasn’t been easy. JD has a dark past which includes a (recovered) drug addiction, a dead girlfriend and a missing daughter. They are weeks away from the culmination of their plan to open their own porn website when they meet a half-naked, shivering woman sitting in the rain on an early October morning.

Unable to score their required quota of public sex tapes for the week, JD attempts to cajole the woman into starring in their movie–she clearly needs cash–and she accepts. But, it’s raining and she’s freezing and looks strung out. They end up taking her to their penthouse around the corner, and that’s when Ark knows his life is about to change.

The woman, who they call Blue on account of her blue eyes, has been through extreme trauma–her body bears the welts and scars of beating–tell-tale scars of BDSM/rough trade sex play. When she becomes cognizant she confesses running away from a cult which had kept her as a captive sex slave for the past 15 months. Blue had been attempting to help her childhood friend escape from an baby-selling ring but got sucked into it, instead. She is broken and unwilling to attempt to return to her past life, afraid to embarrass her high-profile parents. Ark agrees to give her sanctuary in the condo he and JD share, but the attraction between them is magnetic. JD has no compunction about his interest, but Blue wants more than JD, she wants Ark, too, and Ark’s not down for a menage. At first. Ark is more than interested in Blue, but he’s not a “sharer” and he’s seen JD in action with women–he’s rough which is not Ark’s style even if it plays well in porn. Blue’s extreme agorophobia is unsettling, and the brand on her neck sends JD into a dark headspace–his girlfriend was branded just the same way, and their baby stolen, sold to adoptive parents. The questions about Blue’s history begin to be revealed, and mutual connections in the porn industry start answering JD’s long-desired inquests regarding the whereabouts of his daughter.

As the time winds, Blue and JD are able to entice Ark into committing to a menage. Ark is, himself, always slightly removed from the emotional aspect, and he fears that JD will hurt Blue–he’s seen it before. JD enjoys very rough sex, and Blue’s emotionally frail. But the shoe really drops when Ark arrives home to find some very abusive kink happening in his absence.

The mystery of JD’s guilty past, Blue’s quest for justice and Ark’s absent history all resolve in the final 10% of the book. It’s a carefully revealed mystery, with plenty of misdirection. There is a lot of sex, but little of it felt erotic. I think this was because scenes told from Ark’s POV were lacking emotionally, which was in line with his character. He was obsessive and controlling and holding too many secrets (of his own and JD’s) to allow for a full connection between himself, JD and Blue for a very long time. That isn’t a criticism. I enjoyed the way the characters interacted, and how the subtle foreshadowing built up to a seriously good payoff. This is a book that keeps the reader guessing, and waiting, and knowing that something REALLY REALLY bad is coming and hoping that it will all just work out.

Spoiler: it doesn’t. Not exactly.

There is a positive resolution where the baddies are brought to justice, and the guilty are punished, but it’s not a sunny, hearts and flowers ending. The intrigue and twistedness of the characters is fascinating, however. And though the end isn’t sunshine and rainbows, it’s honest and real and good. I’d highly recommend.

Interested? You can find THREE TWO ONE on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

J.A. HussAbout the author:
JA Huss is the author of the Amazon bestselling Rook and Ronin series, the epic science fiction I Am Just Junco series, and hundreds of kid-friendly science books in subjects such as biology, physics, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, and forensics. She has an undergraduate degree in equine science and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology. She has never taken a creative writing class and she hopes she never will.

You can connect with JA (Julie) on Goodreads, Facebook, twitter, her website, her blog or via her newsletter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Dealing With AN INFATUATION–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m reviewing Joe Cosentino’s newly released contemporary M/M romance novella AN INFATUATION. This was a quick, humorous read, but don’t let that give you the impression that it’s fluff. Within the pages you have homophobia, abuse, love, finding one’s true self, losing a first love, naked temptation and steadfastness.

An InfatuationAbout the book:

With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet.

Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart.

When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.

My Review:

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain some *mild* spoilers.

4.5 stars for this non-traditional M/M romance.

Lots of people rail about 3rd person over 1st person narratives. Well this is 1st person, which is my personal preference. But not only is the POV close, it’s actually interactive with the reader, obliterating the fourth wall. This has worked for me with other books, and it worked for me here. It is told entirely as if the MC, Harold, if recounting his tale of enchantment and woe for my personal benefit. I dug that.

And here’s why:
*Insert wavy lines/turn on the Way-Back machine*
*travel 20 years into the past*
Harold High is the typical teenage nerd, who is also gay. His sexuality isn’t readily apparent, but his status is low enough that he’s a bully target. He is assigned as a chemistry lab partner for Mario Ginneti, Adonis and football captain. Harold does so well helping Mario with chemistry, that Mario asks Harold to tutor him in…everything, including completing his college applications. Harold is more than happy to do so, as he’s fully-gaga over Mario.

The more time Harold and Mario spend, the closer they become. Mario allows Harold to see the vulnerable side of him. Mario is beautiful, but hates himself. His alcoholic father is abusive and his mother is neglectful. His nonna is the only one who show him any care or love. Except Harold.

There are some explorations, always ending with Mario mortified and Harold emotionally shattered. Mario knows how Harold feels, and he seems to reciprocate, but he can’t let himself be G. A. Y. He dates the cheerleading captain and gets into Yale and he and Harold are no longer in contact by graduation.

*Return to Way Back*
*the 10 year high school reunion looms*
Harold is excited to see Mario. Harold’s life has gone picture book well. He has a rewarding career and a loving husband. He’s been candid about his childhood feelings for Mario and Stuart, his husband, is anxious to meet The Legend. Mario’s life hasn’t gone the happy route. He is deeply unsatisfied and still desires Harold.

There is a point where Mario and Harold are alone and things could go bad (or good dependent upon one feels about infidelity) and I think the resolution of this infatuation is honest and reasonable.

This book is less a romance, and more a come-to-Jesus. It is about first love and faith and fidelity and finding one’s real self. It is mostly told in flashback with brisk pacing so there isn’t a ton of backstory bogging the pace. Harold is a lovely narrator, who is (at times) a bit teen-spastic. He’s also very glib, and the humor comes off less snarky because he’s so genuinely nice.

I loved Stuart, he’s super brave and generous. In high school, Mario is timid about his questioning sexuality, but kind to Harold. He protects him and befriends him. As an adult, his greatest regret is not openly loving Harold. I did feel sorry for his choices, and didn’t hate him for continuing to make poor ones. Understanding the deeper connections between these men–Harold and Mario–yielded a tender story. Do not expect any heat. This story is all about feels.

The end was unexpected, a bit sad, yet emotionally satisfying.

Interested? You can find AN INFATUATION on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:

Joe Cosentino is the author of AN INFATUATION (Dreamspinner Press), PAPER DOLL Jana Lane mystery 1 (Whiskey Creek Press), DRAMA QUEEN Nicky and Noah mystery 1 (Lethe Press–releasing this summer), A SHOOTING STAR (Dreamspinner Press–releasing this September), A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Dreamspinner Press–releasing this December), PORCELAIN DOLL Jana Lane mystery 2 (Whiskey Creek Press), DRAMA MUSCLE Nicky and Noah mystery 2 (Lethe Press), and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING (Eldridge Plays and Musicals).

He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, INFATUATION and NEIGHBOR, were performed in New York City. He wrote “The Perils of Pauline,” available on CDROM (through Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe received his MFA from Goddard College in Vermont, and MA from SUNY New Paltz. He is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York.

You can find Joe online on Facebook, twitter and his website.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday to LIFE UNAWARE!

Woo hoo! I’m excited to wish a happy book birthday to Cole Gibsen’s LIFE UNAWARE. I sure love realistic YA, and this book looks like one I’d gobble for breakfast.

About the book:

Regan Flay has been talking about you. 
Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.
Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.
The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…
Especially Regan Flay.


Interested? You can find LIFE UNAWARE on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, B-A-M, IndieBound and Powells.

About the Author
Cole Gibsen first realized she different when, in high school, she was still reading comic books while the other girls were reading fashion magazines.
It was her love of superheroes that first inspired her to pick up a pen. Her favorite things to write about are ordinary girls who find themselves in extraordinary situations.
Author Links:

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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

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Putting Him Back Together, PIECE BY PIECE

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Teodora Kostova’s PIECE BY PIECE, a contemporary M/M Romance. While this is a part of a series, it’s a standalone novel of grief and love.

About the book:Sometimes to reach the surface you have to fall to the bottom first… 

For the past ten years, Riley Davis’ life has been overshadowed by the tragic death of his partner. Fluctuating between alcohol induced daze, clinical depression and throwing all his time and effort into his business, Riley doesn’t believe, or even hope, that his life will ever be worth living again. 

Until Sonnie Frye drops by his haberdashery shop, changing his life forever. 
Sonnie is a man who likes getting what he wants, when he wants it. He’s worked hard to establish himself as Queen Victoria theatre’s chief costume designer, collecting multiple awards – and high-profile clients – along the way. Sonnie is used to putting his needs, goals and desires first, unwilling to compromise his own happiness for anybody else. Until he meets a handsome shop owner whose eyes are so sad that they immediately tug at Sonnie’s heartstrings. 
Seeing something he wants, Sonnie is determined to get under Riley’s skin and, preferably, into his bed. But he soon discovers the task is not that easy. For the first time in his life, Sonnie may need to put someone else’s needs before his own, and re-evaluate what really matters in life. 
Will the two men stand side by side to overcome their differences, and everything else life throws at them? Or will it all become too much to bear, shaking them to their very core, destroying everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve? 
***Sexual content, 18+ only*** 
***Piece by Piece is a standalone novel. It’s the full story of Sonnie and Riley***

My Review:
This is a series book, but it is not necessary to read them in order.

Sonny Frye is a demanding costumer, known for his fantastic creations for the West End Queen’s Theatre in London. Struggling for inspiration on a new project, he turns to a junior colleague, Penn, whose designs are stunningly creative. Penn introduces Sonny to his good friend Riley–who owns a fabrics and finishings shop that carries the exact type of vintage satin Sonny needs. Riley is stuck in a grief loop ten years deep.

Riley met Richard whey were newly adult, early to mid-twenties, and spent years together before Richard was struck by a hit-and-run driver and died. Since then Riley has had two suicide attempts and struggles daily with anger and guilt.

Sonny doesn’t realize all he’s getting into when caught in Riley’s sad gaze, but he knows it’s a stronger feeling that his usual attraction. Over the course of several month, Sonny and Riley develop a friendship–with Riley (seemingly) finally breaking out of his sheltered misery. Still, there are backslides, and Sonny’s there to catch him when he falls. Thing is, Riley falls deep and hard–when Sony and Riley begin to get physical, he’s guilty for finding love with another man than Richard–but he’s also guilty that he can’t love Sonny as strong as he loved Richard….

As for the book, I did enjoy the slow burn. Sonny’s such a rock, and Riley’s admittedly a mess. Just when I thought he got his act together, he broke down again. The interplay between his growing affection for Sonny and his guilt/grief over Richard is heart-rending. As a person who suffers depression, I’ve had first-hand experience of the disordered thinking Riley lives with.

I think there was a bit of a drag, however. It’s truly difficult to write about depression without getting bogged. I liked that Riley got himself the help he needed, but the way he went about it was frustrating to me. Also, I wanted to see his healing, and those bits were related in terms of sporadic letter to Sonny–who was the dearest of hearts and waited for Riley to return to him. The resolution was very touching and lovely, and I wished for just a little more time to bask in it.

It’s a good, solid love story, with characters that are compelling and real. Riley’s grief is real, his reluctance to let go of his love is a roadblock for a good long time, but he rescues his on self, which was admirable.

Interested? You can find PIECE BY PIECE on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Book Depository.




Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband and my son. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I’ve tried bores me to death and I have to do what I’ve always wanted to do, but never had to guts to fully embrace. I’ve been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among other things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It’s the only time that I’m truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time – my son has a bigger attention span than me.

When I’m procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Nintendo Wii game by a very inventive kid. 



Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse April 2015–KISSING TED CALLAHAN (And Other Guys)–Review

Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

As part of the Coffeehouse I’m sharing the best book I read this month. In truth, the best book I read was part of a blog tour–CARRY THE OCEAN–and I had agreed to post that review on Monday. It’s about two young adults (they are 18 and 19 y/o boys) with depression and autism, respectively, who find love with each other. Frankly, it’s hands-down fantastic. Please check out that review–the book is a life-changer.

For my Coffehous post, however, I’d like to share my review of an irreverent contemporary teen romance, KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS) released earlier this month from Amy Spalding. I highly recommend it to people who enjoy teen romance and rock band swooniness.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)My Review:
I really enjoyed this teen coming-of-age read.

Riley and Reid, both juniors at the same private high school in So Cal, decide to find willing kissing (or more!) partners upon learning that their fellow band mates Nathan and Lucy are “together.” Riley–who had been BFFs with Lucy–was really hurt that Lucy kept her messing around with Nathan a secret, and she leans on Reid a lot allowing a small distance between her and Lucy to grow canyon-sized.

Still, Riley and Reid are committed to the plan of finding the perfect boy/girlfriend, and they keep track of their romantic plans and forays in a notebook which they continually update. Riley is set on Ted Callahan a slightly awkward boy in their class who she’s secretly crushed on for a long time. Reid is interested in a girl who works in the local SPCA. They each try to make first (and second) contacts with their crushes, sometimes with good results. It’s a very interesting and self-deprecating read. The story is mostly told from Riley’s POV, but Reid’s journal entries are some excellent segues.

Along the path to finding the right guy/girl, there are mishaps. Riley finds her chem partner to be interested in more than their classroom experiments, and a fellow record store rat makes a lot of the right moves. Soon there are three guys who don’t mind kissing Riley, and she’s not sure if this is okay, but she’s rolling with it. Reid’s naked attempt to engage his dream girl (by feigning interest in a pet adoption) leads to troubles of the four-legged variety.

I think Riley was a very interesting character. The story is shamelessly honest–about fake ID’s, sneaking out, and finding the absolute right place for carnal activities. It felt very real and approachable in a way that teens will likely appreciate. Riley’s enthusiasm for life, her band and her boyfriend quest is engaging and fun. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and she’s wiling to admit to her mistakes in love–especially when the journal is suddenly…missing. I thought the end was a bit sappy, but not too much. I was in the right mood for a feel-good read and this one hit the high notes very well. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Interested? You can find KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS) on GoodreadsB&N, Amazon, or IndieBound.

Please take a trip to visit my fellow Coffehouse presenters. Their book reviews rock! And, as always, keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. Life Before the Hereafter
3. V’s Reads 4. StrangePegs — Side Jobs
5. MOCK? MOCK! 6. StrangePegs — Empirical Evidence
7. StrangePegs — Ghost Story 8. StrangePegs — If Chins Could Kill


Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for the third book in the Ganymede Quartet from Darrah Glass. As you may remember from my reviews of A MOST PERSONAL PROPERTY and A PROPER LOVER the Ganymede world is an alternate history universe where slavery still exists and Companion slaves, like Martin, are bred to be sold to the wealthy. They are meant to be sexual outlets for wealthy unwed teens, and to later become personal advisers in business and household affairs. It is the year 1901 and Henry is the son of NYC’s most wealthy man. He’s also in love with his Companion, Martin. Henry has always known he was a “fairy” but with Martin he not only embraces his unnatural urges, he’s scheming to celebrate them…

This is an adult read with explicit gay sex between two teens.

A Willful Romantic (Ganymede Quartet #3)My review:
Disclaimer: I am a super fangirl of this alt historical M/M romance series and stalk the author, unashamedly, so I can get my next Henry and Martin fix.

This is the third novel in the Ganymede Quartet series. It is best to read them in order.

Okay. Where we start in this book is New Years’ Day with Henry bursting with love for Martin. He so desperately wants to share his joy–it is a wonder to him how intelligent, beautiful Martin can truly care for him–about having a companion who is so caring. It troubles Henry that Martin may only love him because it is his job, and often questions Martin about how he might feel if he were a freeman.

Martin thinks this is all nonsense. He isn’t free, and has no desire to be free. He feels exceptional gratitude to have a master who values him as a person, and shows genuine affection.

The two of them are absolutely besotted. Still, this is all behind closed doors. True gentlemen make make use of their slaves, but they are not to kiss them, or ensure their mutual pleasure, or –Heaven forfend–confess to loving them.

But Henry is a willful romantic, and a Valentine has been procured. He is still nervous about Martin’s close friendship with a fellow slave, Tom, and he desires to know more about Martin’s history of training at Ganymede, but the edge of jealousy is wearing off. (Yay!) I really enjoyed Henry’s attempts at closeness with Martin. He laments the difference in their station only because slaves are free to be gay, and free men can be (secretly) gay, but a master/slave gay relationship is doubly tricky. His attempts at public claiming/closeness grow ever more dangerous.

Both Henry and Martin get a bit more voyeuristic in this book, but Henry continues to claim Martin all for himself–never sharing him. There is talk and fantasies about including a third, but Henry’s possessive stance soon garners him a bit of recognition, in a good way for a change. Slave relations are definitely in the forefront of this book, and we end with the knowledge that these boys are in for big changes.

Cannot wait for the next book!

Interested? You can find A WILLFUL ROMANTIC on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

A Vital Chemistry (Ganymede Quartet #3.5)If you want to know more of Martin’s story, each Ganymede book comes with a “companion” novella. A VITAL CHEMISTRY is told in Martin’s POV and recounts not just his current situation with Henry, but also a bit about Martin’s first, love, Richard–a fellow companion-n-training who dies during his 15th year at Ganymede. This is such a lovely book, very sweet, with a 14 y/o, tentative Martin having his first crush!

There is a lot of tenderness in the flashback sections, illustrating how all these boys came to depend upon each other emotionally, as well as physically. I really enjoyed getting more of Martin’s history.

I also really enjoyed Martin’s perspective on his current relationship with Henry. He is very pragmatic, and understands the social risks of Henry’s ardor. He must keep Henry in check–for Henry’s own good–even if it means denying his own desires. Still, he very much loves Henry and I so swoon for books with swoony love stories.

I’m not sure who adores Martin more:  Henry? Or me?

Interested? You can find A VITAL CHEMISTRY on Goodreads, Amazon and CURRENTLY FREE on Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
Darrah Glass is a writer and generally inquisitive person who likes her fantasies to be as historically accurate as possible. She loves research, sex scenes, and researching sex scenes. She’s married and happily childless, does yoga, never cleans her house, likes shoes and toenail polish, and is vain about her hair. As far as her priorities are concerned, she’d rather write than do just about anything else, and she drives a 15-year-old car but carries really nice purses.

You can catch up with Darrah on Goodreads, her website and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for ODIN’S SHADOW, a historical semi-romance from Erin S. Riley.  It is set in 870’s Ireland and Norway and features the troubles between an Irish bride and her Viking warlord husband.

Odin's Shadow (Sons of Odin Book 1)About the book:

Obsession. Treachery. Revenge. Redemption. Certain themes resonate across the centuries.

Odin’s Shadow is the first book in a series of three about a young Irish woman and the two Viking brothers who love her. The novel is set against the harsh backdrop of the Viking era in the 9th century, a time when the sight of a Viking longship sailing up the coast of Ireland would chill the blood of any man, woman or child. One young Irish woman, however, is not afraid of these Northmen, and a fateful encounter with one of them changes the course of her life forever.

Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of. She is intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, and longs for an escape from her sheltered existence. Selia is fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, and her hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.

A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind. With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.

As Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well. The tension mounts between the two men, and as Alrik’s character flaws come to light Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage. Ulfrik’s desperate love for Selia causes him to reveal a secret from the past that threatens to destroy them all, and Selia is left to make a heart rending choice between the two Viking brothers.

My Review:

This is well-crafted historical semi-romance. I say “semi” because it is a rather strained romance between people who have opposed loyalties.

Selia is a foundling child, with a twin brother Ainnileas; both were adopted by a bachelor merchant, Niall, and raised in his home in Ireland. At the time, the Finngalls (vikings) often raid the Irish coastline raping and pillaging. Selia and her brother are casualties who escaped death. Selia suffered a head injury which leaves her prone to strange visions, and though beautiful she is petite and unsuitable as a match to the nearby tradesmen. She is betrothed to an ancient man, and upset about it, when she encounters a Finngall in Dubhlinn.

Alrik would normally just take a woman he wanted, but something about Selia is captivating and he chooses to abide by her wishes–and arranges a marriage against her father’s objection. Still, learning Alrik is bloodthirsty and a murderer doesn’t quell the desire Selia soon experiences for her strange husband.

En route to Norway on Alrik’s dragonboat, she speaks often with Alrik’s half-brother Ulfrik. Ulfrik is the son of an Irish slave, and spends time teaching Selia their Norse language. He is as attractive as Alrik, and Alrik is particularly sensitive to infidelity. He is moody, jealous prone to sudden violence and often isolates Selia–something which happens in his own home as well.

The more time Selia spends with Alrik, the more she wonders if she made a poor choice; it doesn’t help that Ulfrik is constantly warning Selia of the danger of her husband. It is soon that Selia learns of Alrik’s father’s madness, and Alrik’s own Berserker nature. Though terrified, Selia is still committed to helping her husband–and she can reach him when others do not try. Their bond becomes deeper, and still more dangerous. Alrik’s family warn her not to conceive, something completely foreign to Selia’s Irish Christian upbringing.

Entanglement in Norway only make Selia’s new life more difficult. Alrik’s daughter hates her, a slave may be pregnant with his child, and Ainnileas may just make good on his promise to find and rescue her from the heathen vikings.

Underlying all of this are Selia’s misgivings about marriage, parenthood and her new home. Ulfrik seems poised to take over Alrik’s duties–both as Selia’s husband and as warlord. Alrik’s walking a razor edge between sanity and berserking. And someone in their midst is a poisoner, who could end Selia’s new life before she even decides how to live it.

For a historical, this book is hands-down awesome. The richly detailed descriptions of the time are seamlessly interwoven in the narrative. At no time did I feel as if I was being instructed in Medieval history. Selia is a good narrator, and the bulk of this story comes through her point-of-view. I really was able to connect with her, and her plight: a young naive woman now married to a madman and target for destruction by any member of Alrik’s household.

The story has sexytimes, but they are on the down-low and not tender or erotic. There are some instances of bonding between Selia and Alrik, but that are even more which are questionable and leave Selia doubting her marriage. For me, it didn’t read like a romance. There was love and affection, but there was far more intrigue and mayhem. It really felt more like a mystery-caper with romantic elements. It was an exquisitely told story, regardless of the genre.

Interested? You can find ODIN’S SHADOW on Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the author:
Erin S. Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in clinical counseling. She is also a board certified lactation consultant and has had extensive training in maternal-child health. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. She enjoys writing stories that reflect real life: Erin’s books feature complicated, imperfect characters who love deeply, make reckless decisions, and try again until they get it right.

A lifelong lover of books, Erin taught herself to read at the age of four and hasn’t been without a book since. She is an equal-opportunity reader of fiction and non-fiction, and her shelves are filled with books on psychology, archaeology, anthropology, and general history. The social history of women and their place in society across the ages is a favorite reading topic of Erin’s.

Erin is drawn to any creative pursuit, from making hand-stitched quilts to producing mini-movies for family and friends from home videos. But writing has always been her passion. When Erin isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her two wonderful children, reading anything she can get her hands on, watching football, and renovating her house with her husband of 17 years who just happens to look like a Viking!

You can catch up with Erin online on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Tales of Dating and Marriage from Jay Northcote

Hi there! Today I’m chatting about a two-book contemporary M/M series from Jay Northcote. THE DATING GAME and THE MARRYING KIND are two sweet romances featuring Owen and Nathan, young men who find love when they didn’t expect to.

The Dating Game (Owen & Nathan, #1)My Review of THE DATING GAME:
4.5 stars for this quickie, British, New Adult M/M romance.

Owen and Nathan went to Uni together and had mutual friends but were never close. Owen, out and loving it, had a crush on (supposedly) straight Nathan, but never toyed with Nathan because why bother? Plenty of gay mates were available. That was then.

Now, Nathan has returned to Bristol and is out with Owen and his good friends, Simon and Jack, who are a committed couple. Owen decides to risk hitting on Nathan, having just learned Nathan is gay. Well, Nathan may find Owen sexy, but he’s not up for a one night stand.

No, if Owen wants to be with Nathan, he needs to work for it. Owen’s thrown off by Nathan’s insistence on not one, but FIVE sex-free dates. Try as he might, Owen can’t remember ever going on a single date with a bloke. (He is, admittedly, a tart.) But there’s something in this challenge that strikes a chord with Owen and he agrees.

They set up their dates for Saturdays, and over the course of the first few weeks develop a rapport. Calls, texts, and of course their shared time on the dates pull both Nathan and Owen in closer than either had imagined. Their make-outs resulting in aborted physicality ups the stakes, too. Funny how quickly they take to phone sex!

This is really a sweet read with two men who find a connection they didn’t anticipate. Nathan didn’t want to be a conquest, and Owen couldn’t imagine finding a boyfriend. It was a rewarding short read with plenty of titillating moments and a couple hot scenes. The two POV narrative worked for me because I was able to find both men charmingly vulnerable and hoped that they’d decide that five dates just wasn’t enough…

Spoiler: It wasn’t. HEA all the way.

Interested? THE DATING GAME is currently on sale for $.99 at Amazon, regularly-priced on AllRomance, and Barnes & Noble.

The sequel, THE MARRYING KIND is really just delicious. Owen and Nathan have stuck together for two years, and despite Owen’s great misgivings over marriage, he proposes. Then, he learns he’s on the downsizing list for his job. His lukewarm feet start feeling colder by the minute… Let the drama begin!

The Marrying Kind (Owen & Nathan, #2)About THE MARRYING KIND:

Nathan wants to put a ring on it, but is Owen the marrying kind?

Two years on from their first date, Owen and Nathan are living together and life is good—except they’re not on the same page about marriage.

A traditionalist at heart, Nathan wants it all: the wedding, the vows, and a pair of matching rings. Owen, on the other hand, believes marriage is old-fashioned and unnecessary. They don’t need a wedding to prove their commitment to each other. Love should be enough on its own.

All it takes is one moment of weakness on a night out to force the issue. Owen finds himself engaged after a half-drunk proposal, and Nathan’s enthusiasm sweeps him along. But as the big day approaches, the mounting tension finally combusts.

If he’s going to save their relationship, Owen will need to decide once and for all if he’s truly the marrying kind.

Feel free to check out my full review for THE MARRYING KIND over on Joyfully Jay.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!