Cephalopod Coffeehouse May 2015–I AM THE TRAITOR

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, and it was the concluding book in Allen Zadoff’s Unknown Assassin series, I AM THE TRAITOR. Last summer I read both I AM THE WEAPON (originally published as BOY NOBODY) and I AM THE MISSION, and found the fast-paced stories about a 16 y/o government assassin to be pretty kickass. I was offered an advanced reviewer copy of this book, and I devoured it.

I Am the Traitor (The Unknown Assassin, #3)About the Book:
In the third and final installment in the Unknown Assassin trilogy, Boy Nobody is on the run from The Program and uncovers a secret about his past that forces him to decide where his loyalties lie.

The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard who was captured by The Program. Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson — he can’t trust anyone.

My Review:
This is the third book in a series, and books should be read in order.

This book picks up where I AM THE MISSION left off, with Zach still trying to determine if his father is dead, and to hunt down and recover his friend, Howard. Howard became friends with Zach in book one of the series, and helped him run his op in book two–all without the knowledge or consent of The Program, the government agency that procures, trains and manages this group of elite teen assassins to which Zach has belonged for five years. Ever since his father was killed.

Over the course of the books, Zach’s confidence in The Program–and his handlers Mother and Father–has slipped. Howard was Zach’s safety net, one outsider who could attest to his existence in the event that The Program tried to scrub him, but The Program learned about Howard and has taken him into custody. Zach knows they will kill him–and he’s determined to ensure that won’t happen.

Naturally, Mike–Zach’s field commander, is up on the score. Not only does Mike know where Howard is, he has a new mission for Zach: eliminate Howard. A good soldier would follow orders, and Zach knows this mission is a test–he fails it spectacularly, not only rescuing Howard but also a girl who is imprisoned with him, Tanya.

As with everything in Zach’s world, nothing is what it seems. Two things remain true, however: Zach wants to find his father, and Howard is sure he is still alive. Together, Tanya, Howard and Zach search for inroads into The Program’s files to learn the truth behind Zach’s father’s story. They investigate the news story regarding Zach’s parents’ deaths. They hijack a terminal at a high security research lab. Dogging their steps is Mike, who is equal parts ally and hunter.

It is a thrill ride, sure to keep readers turning the pages. I loved both previous books in this series, and Zach is a fascinating sociopath. Somewhere in this morass of murder and mayhem he has grown the conscience The Program believed it had snuffed out. His decisions are no longer guided by a faulty directive, and his quest to save his father and friends renders him inarguably human.

I had expected both of the big twists–with no lack of enjoyment–and gloried in Zach’s triumphs. The big themes, government intrusion, research ethics, mind control, and the growth of the industrial military complex, are all present, but are far overshadowed by Zach establishing trust, redeeming himself, putting others before his own mission. As a conclusion to this series, it is excellent.

Some readers may balk at the teen assassin aspects of this book, and how otherworldly capable The Program’s agents are, but it was akin to The Bourne Identity, for me. The pace of the book is extraordinarily fast, with not a spare word to be found. I have a hard time imagining there will be a reader over age 12 who takes more than a day to finish this book.

Interested? You can’t get I AM THE TRAITOR just yet, but it can be preordered in advance of it’s 6/9 release at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. Or try your local library mid-June. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Hope you have a chance to hop around to my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers and find a book to intrigue you! Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!


For Them, Love Was About TAKE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for TAKE, a M/M erotic romance by Ella Frank. TRY is the first in the three book series, and you can find my review here. I totally liked it bunches. I’d advise any readers to get the books in order. The series is billed as an erotic romance, and there is nothing less than a whole lotta sex in the first two books. What’s more, however, is a slowly developing love story between a man who never wanted a man, and a man who never wanted to need a man.

Take (Temptation, #2)About the book:
TAKE – verb: to reach for and hold in one’s hands or get into one’s possession, power or control.

Logan Mitchell is a man who’s always been more than happy to take what he wants. It’s a philosophy that’s proven lucrative in both his business and personal life, and never was it more apparent than the night he laid eyes on Tate Morrison. After pulling out all the stops and convincing the sexy bartender to give him a try—he’s hooked.

Now, Logan finds himself in a predicament that demands more from him than a smart-ass answer and his innate ability to walk away when things get too deep. He has a choice to make, and it’ll force him to do something he’s never done before—take a chance.

Tate Morrison knows all about taking a chance. He took the biggest one of his life the night he showed up at Logan’s apartment to explore his unexpected reaction to the man. Ever since then, he’s thought about little else.

At first he was convinced his attraction was based solely on his body’s curiosity. But the more time he spends with the silver-tongued lawyer, the more Tate realizes that their physical chemistry is only the beginning. He’s starting to catch a glimpse of what life with Logan would be like, and it’s one full of excitement and satisfaction—a far cry from what he had in the past with his soon to be ex-wife.

Each man will face their fears as they begin to understand the true meaning of give and take. Their feelings for one another will be tested, as will their very beliefs. But now that they’ve found love where they least expected it, will they be brave enough to reach out and take it?

My Review:
First of all, that’s probably the sexiest cover I’ve ever seen. And I got the paperback of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on my bookshelf. It had better clue you in that this book is SEXY…

We left the last book with Tate outed to his conservative Catholic family and he and Logan discovering how to move forward with their budding romance. Tate had never had a sexual experience with a man, before meeting Logan. Now, he is beginning to understand how he feels about his sexuality, and how satisfied he is with Logan as a partner. He does not particularly find other men attractive, though this is evolving.

The big crisis of the book is dealing with Tate’s homophobic family. It does not go well. In fact, introducing his family to Logan goes spectacularly bad. On the outs, Tate requests some time apart–which drives Logan insane. (Short trip!!) Still, during their week apart, Tate learns that his appreciation for attractive women is not attraction, and he really wants to make a go of things with Logan. Meanwhile, Logan learns that Tate is a good and honest man, someone to whom Logan can finally cleave, unlike his previous relations with others. The book ends with a minor cliffy, but nothing to get bunched up over.

We do get a fair amount of content between Logan and his half-brother Cole. The family dynamics between Logan’s “family” and Tate’s are quite different, and it was really cool seeing their relationship so accepted by their peers.

There is a lot of heartfelt conversation in this book, more so than in the first one. These men are trying to build a relationship, instead of simply taking sexual pleasure. In that regard, the book names are a little mixed-up, IMHO. It’s absolutely smoking hot, and filled with more sex than a gay bar’s bathroom. Expect to be F-bombed back to the Victorian age. I’ve finished the series, so I’ll share my review for TRUST in the coming weeks.

Interested? You can find TAKE on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author: (In her own words…)
I am first and foremost a proud Australian, but currently reside in Texas with my husband. I love to read and write contemporary and erotic romances, but I also like to step outside of the box at times when it comes to telling a story that really speaks to me.

I absolutely adore dessert. I could skip the main meal and head straight to the dessert line every time…especially anything that is covered in caramel. I am a GLEEK (yes I admit it… So? It makes me happy), on the other hand I love Dexter and he makes me happy too, so analyze that!

I love to sing really bad at the top of my lungs, and I often have conversations with myself. Some of my favorite authors include; JR Ward, Tiffany Reisz, Nalini Singh, Lori Foster, Lauren Dane, SJ Frost and many more.

Last but certainly not least, I am the author of The Exquisite Series, Blind Obsession and most recently The Temptation series.

You can find her online on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Teaching Both MIA AND THE BAD BOY–Review and Giveaway

Mia and the Bad Boy tour banner
Hi there! Today, I’m sharing my review for a contemporary YA romance featuring a shy, smart girl and the bad boy musician she’s tutoring. MIA AND THE BAD BOY by Lisa Burstein is a fun, flirty romance for teens. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway for a $25 Ticketmaster GC.

MiaAndTheBadBoy_FCAbout the Book:
This good girl’s about to meet her match…
Ryder Brooks is living the dream—he’s famous, loved by millions of girls, and miserable. All he really wants is to write his own music, not Seconds to Juliet’s sugary sweet pop. In order to do that, though, the “bad boy” of the band will have to play by the rules. And that includes behaving with his new—and super cute—über-good-girl tutor.

Mia Reyes is in fangirl heaven. Tutoring her favorite member of her favorite band? It’s a dream come true…until it turns into a complete nightmare. Ryder is nothing like she thought. He’s crude, arrogant, and pretty much a total jerk. And the worst part? She’s roped into pretending to be his girlfriend so that no one finds out he’s being tutored. Fake kisses, plenty of PDA, and even sharing his hotel room…

But sometimes even the baddest of bad boys needs a little redemption.

Note: This is the second book in the YA series Backstage Pass. It can be read as a standalone.

My Review:
Mia is a first generation Mexican-American whose parents want her to go to medical school. She has been groomed since birth to study, study, study, and never had a boyfriend. Check that: she’s never been allowed to have a boyfriend. At 16, her only kissing experience has been with her hand. In exchange for her help tutoring The Ryder Brooks for a month so he can pass his GED test, she will receive four years of tuition at UCLA paid in full. Not bad.

What is bad? Ryder.

He’s nasty, and that’s in the mean way, not the sexy way. Though he is sexy, too. If Ryder were a flavor of ice cream, he’d be burnt bacon. He’s abrasive, unkind, and rather stunned that his tutor is both younger and sexier than he’d anticipated. Since she can’t be hidden amongst the crew as a therapist or other talent help, he insists that she pretend to be his girlfriend–in front of the other four members of his band.

This is a difficult position for Mia, particularly because she wanted to like Ryder so much. She adores his music, only to learn that he hates the manufactured sound of it. She admires his performances, only to hear how he detests the boy band life. Ryder is a bit spoiled, actually, in his professional life. Personally though, he’s been abandoned time and again–first by his alcoholic mother and later by the foster system shuttling him from family to family without finding one stable home which wanted to keep him.

Mia is a temporary distraction, but she is a good tutor. Ryder finds himself not only engaging with the GED material, he’s slowly becoming obsessed with his fake girlfriend. And Mia is warming to the Ryder whose cool customer demeanor is beginning to slip.

This is a fun and flirty romance that has little conflict. The biggest obstacle to Ryder and Mia getting together is her desire to be ‘the good girl’ her parents adore. Ryder, despite being 17 y/o, is far more worldly and experienced–and he knows Mia is innocent. He doesn’t want to ruin her, but he does want her.

Expect a double-cross mishap that splits them up, and the epic grand gesture to reunite. I liked both Mia and Ryder. It took me longer to like Ryder, however. There were some issues for me, as an adult, that seemed glossed over–like how autonomous Mia was. Not many 16 y/o’s can decide their own fate, and her parents, who are described as smothering, certainly let her have a long free rein which wasn’t consistent. Still, for a teen book, it’s pretty breezy. Not a lot of drama.

Interested? You can find MIA AND THE BAD BOY on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and iBooks. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.


Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $25 Ticketmaster gift card!
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

lisa bursteinAbout the Author:
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.

She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous.

You can catch up with Lisa online on her website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.




Hi there! Today I’m helping celebrate the release of SEARCHING FOR BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Probst. This is the 3rd book in the Searching For series and it is published by Gallery Books. Check out the teaser and giveaway below for a chance to win a necklace and signed book.
JennP_Searching forBeautiful
About the book:
The highly anticipated third novel in the Searching For series from Jennifer Probst, “one of the most exciting breakout novelists” (USA Today), featuring a runaway bride and the man who wants to be more than just her best friend…

Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin…and flings her right into her best friend’s arms.

When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.

Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?


Interested? You can find SEARCHING FOR BEAUTIFUL on Goodreads, Amazon , Barnes & Noble , Kobo , and iTunes.


Click on the Rafflecopter link and enter to win a necklace, and signed backlist book from Jennifer Probst.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Jennifer ProbstAbout the Author:
Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.

She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon’s Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at http://www.jenniferprobst.com.

You can find Jennifer online on her website, Facebook , Twitter , Goodreads.

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Together They Learned In NATIVE TONGUE–Review Giveaway & Excerpt

tourbutton_nativetongueHi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Lucy Felthouse’s NATIVE TONGUE. This is a contemporary M/M military romance novella which is the sequel to DESERT HEAT, and features British officer Hugh Wilkes and his first committed lover, linguist and medical student, Rustam Balkhi. Don’t forget to drop down below and enter the giveaway!

Native Tongue (Desert Heat #2)About the book:
They may be back on British soil, but the battle isn’t over.

When Captain Hugh Wilkes fell for his Afghan interpreter, Rustam Balkhi, he always knew things would never be easy. After months of complete secrecy, their return to England should have spelt an end to the sneaking around and the insane risks. But it seems there are many obstacles for them to overcome before they can truly be happy together. Can they get past those obstacles, or is this one battle too many for their fledgling relationship?

Thank you so much for having me here today. I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Native Tongue which shows the boys, Hugh and Rustam, out in Soho, the gay-friendly area in London. They’re still trying to settle into their relationship and get used to not having to hide who they are. They’ve also bumped into a couple of out-and-proud gay gays who are intrigued by their story. I hope you enjoy the snippet, and be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway, then check out the rest of the stops on my blog tour.

Happy Reading,

Lucy x

Many thanks to Lucy! So, how about a little taste?

Lots of handshaking between the four men ensued as they were all introduced.

“So,” Jared said, glancing between Wilkes and Balkhi, “would it be okay if we joined you?”

Wilkes turned to Balkhi. “Are you okay with this?”

Balkhi seemed a little taken aback by the whole situation, but there was warmth in his eyes. “Yes, of course. I suspect Jared and Paul will be able to give us some… insider information that we might find useful.”

“Excellent!” Jared clapped his hands, then reached for Paul’s hand once more. “Okay, let’s go. I’m looking forward to this.”

With that, Jared and Paul turned around and began walking down the street.

Wilkes looked at Balkhi, shook his head, and shrugged. “I’ve no idea what just happened there, but it looks as though we’re in for an interesting evening.”

Balkhi smiled, and as they fell into step behind the other couple, he leaned in close to Wilkes and said, “Yes, I think we are. And the best part is I get to take you home afterwards.”

The true intent of his words was unmistakeable. Wilkes’ heart missed a beat. Warmth flooded his face, then the blood started to flow somewhere much lower down. He managed to engage his brain enough to reply, “Carry on saying things like that and we won’t even make it to the bloody restaurant.”

Chuckling, Balkhi reached out and took Wilkes’ hand again. “Yes, we will. We have made it this far, and we are doing well. Let’s see this through. Spending the evening with other gay men will be good for us. We will be able to see how it is done.”

“I don’t think it’s as simple as that, Rustam. We can’t just copy everything they do.”

“I know. I simply mean that being in their company may relax us, remind us that it is perfectly normal, and perfectly okay, for two men to be affectionate towards each other in public. I am not proposing we start kissing in front of an audience, or fucking on the restaurant table. I am just saying we may learn something from them. Or we may not. But they seem like nice people, so it cannot hurt to find out, can it?”

“Now you’re the one who’s absolutely right. Though I’m glad you don’t want to kiss or fuck in public.”


“Because,” he growled, pulling Balkhi closer and speaking quietly into his ear, “I don’t want to share you with anyone else, that’s why.”

A small smile crept over Balkhi’s lips. “And I do not want to be shared. We may not have any idea what we are doing here, but make no mistake, Hugh. I am yours, and yours alone.”

Wilkes felt an urge to lean over and give Balkhi a quick kiss, but his bravery didn’t stretch quite that far. Not yet. They were still holding hands, which was a great start, but perhaps it would be better to get used to that before doing anything else.

Internally, he shook his head. Why the hell was this so hard for them? Why couldn’t they just throw caution to the wind and show affection however they wanted?

Because, he reminded himself sternly, they couldn’t break long-standing habits in the blink of an eye. They’d get there, he was sure of it. It would take time, but they’d get there.

Realising he hadn’t replied to Balkhi, he squeezed his hand. “And I am yours, Rustam. For as long as you’ll have me.”

teaser_nativetongue copyMy Review:
This is the second book in a series; it is best read in sequence.
4.5 stars for this happy sequel.

Hugh Wilkes is home for Afghanistan and looking forward to reconnecting with his lover/translator Rustam Balkhi–an Afghan native who has returned to London to continue his medical schooling. These two had an illicit relationship while stationed together at a British base camp, but, in England, they have the opportunity to be out and proud with each other.

Over the course of a few weeks, they meet on weekends and practice being out together in public. It is a big adjustment to come out of the closet. They have lots of sexytimes and some small misadventures, but they tackle them together–not least of which is Hugh coming out to his family.

There is some mild angst, but the book is short and the pace is brisk. The bulk of the book is highly positive, with a story centered on two men building a positive, loving relationship. It is sweet and tender, with a good dash of heat.

Interested? You can find NATIVE TONGUE on Goodreads and Amazon (UK, US, AU, CA and DE), All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, iBooks UK, iBooks US, and Kobo, and Smashwords.

For those of you that haven’t yet read Desert Heat (which is recommended before picking up this book), there’s a great value two book bundle available exclusively on Amazon, and is FREE to Kindle Unlimited members.


Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win an Amazon gift card.  Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Lucy_Felthouse (2)About the Author:
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.

She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at her website, join her on Facebook and Twitter, or even subscribe to her newsletter.

Presenting MOON RISE!

Moon Rise Release Day BannerHi there! Today I get to wish a very Happy Book Birthday to:

Moon Rise

MoonRise cover

About the book:
Just because the battle was won does not mean the war is over.

Aein, Lars, and Finn are sent back to the swamps to protect the one object which may save their pack. But in the recent turmoil, the border has been left unguarded and nightmarish creatures are slipping through. There is a reason why two people must always be there to hold the boundary, a lesson which Aein, Lars, and Finn are about to learn.

And then, without a word of warning, Finn bent down and pressed his lips against Aein’s, his stubble rough upon her mouth. His arms engulfed her, wrapping her so tight, she wasn’t sure where her body ended and his began. She felt herself melting, the heat chasing away all the horrors of the swamp. The kiss was desperate and urgent. It devoured her whole. It was as if he needed to fit a lifetime of regrets and passion into that one moment. It was as if he didn’t trust she would be there for him ever to touch again. When they parted, he rested this forehead against hers so he was still just a whisper away.

“Don’t you dare die on me. Don’t you dare be the one I find in a heap, slaughtered by some monster because I wasn’t fast enough getting back. Don’t you dare. Live.”

Interested? You can find MOON RISE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

kate danleyAbout the Author:
Kate Danley began her writing career as an indie author in 2010. Since then, she spent five weeks on the USA Today bestseller list, has been honored with various awards, including the Garcia Award for Best Fiction Book of the Year, and her Maggie MacKay series has been optioned for film and television development. Her plays have been produced in London, New York, Seattle, Baltimore, and Los Angeles. She has over 300+ film, television, and theatre credits to her name, and specializes in sketch, improv, and Shakespeare. She wrote sketch for a weekly show in Hollywood and has performed her original stand-up at various clubs in LA. She learned on-camera puppetry from Mr. Snuffleupagus and played the head of a 20-foot dinosaur on an NBC pilot. She lost on Hollywood Squares.

You can find Kate online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.


Double Feature of Charlie Cochet Shifter Books

Hi there! Today I’m highlighting two shifter books from Charlie Cochet that I reviewed over on Joyfully Jay Reviews. You know I’m mad for the THIRDS books, (See reviews of Books one & two, three and four) but this other series is less police procedural and more shifter males finding love.

This new novella series centers around some husky and wolf shifters in eastern Canada just trying to be with their true mates. And, I’m a sucker for fated love…

You can check out BOTH full reviews in one simple click over to Joyfully Jay.

An Intrepid Trip to LoveThe first book in the series, AN INTREPID TRIP TO LOVE, is a sweet tale about two men who have been separated by duty, even though they have known they were true mates for 20 years, and even though they work side-by-side every day. There is some delicious humor and fun sexytimes, though I will tell you it ends on a bittersweet note.

I totally enjoyed it, and it’s totally free, on AllRomance.

Healing Hunter's Heart by Charlie Cochet eBookBook Two, HEALING HUNTER’S HEART, is a little more in terms of both plot, and plotting.

Without spoiling too much, you should know that there has been a rift in the husky pack, and Hunter’s true mate had been left behind. While Hunter recoups from and injury, he plans his revenge–and how to get his delicate Ari free and safe with him.

There are many players here, allies and enemies alike, but the strong characterization comes through. It’s not as humorous and the first book, but the action and drama are intense. I really liked.

You can find HEALING HUNTER’S HEART on Amazon, All Romance, Dreamspinner Press and Barnes & Noble.

Want to read my full reviews? They’re waiting on Joyfully Jay, just for you!

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!


Drama and Love at CENTER ICE–Review and Giveaway

center ice tour banner
Hi there! Today, I’m joining the blog tour for CENTER ICE, a contemporary YA romance featuring a hockey phenom and the girl who could not care less… 😉
I love sports romance, and Cate Cameron has nailed this one! Check out other stops on the tour here, and don’t forget to enter the Amazon Gift Card giveaway below.

Center IceAbout the book:
The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him…

Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.

But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.

Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…

My Review:
Karen’s a 16 y/o girl from Toronto who has just moved into her father’s plush home in Corrigan Falls, a small town filled with gossips. Is it her fault she was conceived by a man cheating on his then-pregnant wife? Nope. Was it her fault her mother died in a car wreck, forcing her to move in with her dad–whom she had never met–his wife and their three kids? Nope. But, not being to blame doesn’t make living with them any easier.

Tyler’s weeks away from his 18th birthday and high on the prospect ladder for the NHL draft. He plays for the Corrigan Falls Raiders, a team well-known for producing excellent players, and has lived with host families for the past three years, sacrificing his own family time to give everything to hockey. He’s on the cusp of realizing all his (father’s) dreams and this all seems beyond his reach. No matter how good he does, his helicopter father–and his agent–are ringside waiting to tell him how he needs to step up, work harder, do this, do that. Meeting Karen while on his morning runs is a breath of ultra-fresh air. Here’s a girl who just is. She wants nothing from him–not even his attention. It’s catnip for Tyler, who has, for the past three years, been aggressively pursued by “puck bunnies” girls (and women) who want to bag a rising star for a bit of horizontal distraction. Tyler loves just being a “normal” guy with Karen, but that mystique wears off quick–especially so when Karen finds out one of the horde of Tyler’s sexual partners is her own half-sister, and mean girl extraordinaire, Miranda.

While Tyler and Karen take fledgling steps toward coupledom, the complicated plot gets murkier. Her parents are finally acknowledging the serious problems in their marriage. There had long been rumors of infidelity, but Karen is a physical testament to them. Clashes between Karen and Miranda aren’t just verbal cattiness–blows get thrown! Tyler’s parents are pressuring him to take out loans to support them–and his agent is working every angle to box Tyler into a contract that is not in his best interest.

I liked the plot dynamics, and Karen’s stepmother, Natalie, is a really great character. Her life is no picnic, raising four kids with a skirt chasing husband has to be really trying, yet she makes good decision for her kids, and her family. I wanted to kick Karen’s father right in the neck, on several occasions, but he is extremely human, and is kind and attentive to his children, and even to Natalie–despite his infidelities. Karen is likable, if a bit impulsive. She owns up to her frailties, and makes more good choices than bad. Tyler is a great guy, one I think readers will enjoy. This is a redemptive story for him, and he succeeds at being honest and decent.

The growing pains in both families felt very real, and approachable. This is an upper teen read, perhaps, due to frank discussions about sex, and the MC’s do have a physical relationship. The descriptions are all very soft and off-the-page, however. I did like this one, for its realism and its honesty. A solid YA romance.

Interested? You can find CENTER ICE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and iBooks. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.


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About the Author:
Cate Cameron grew up in the city but moved to the country in her mid-twenties and isn’t looking back. Most of her writing deals with people living and loving in small towns or right out in the sticks – when there aren’t entertainment options on every corner, other people get a lot more interesting!

She likes to write stories about real people struggling with real issues. YA, NA, or contemporary romance, her books are connected by their emphasis on subtle humor and characters who are trying to do the right thing, even when it would be a lot easier to do something wrong.

You can find Cate online on her website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.


Tough Love With the SACRATI–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for the newly-released M/M fantasy novel SACRATI by Kate Sherwood. I really loved her contemporary M/M romance, MARK OF CAIN, and was eager to see how Ms. Sherwood wrote fantasy. I stepped into a richly-textured world of war and strategy, with a delicious slow burning romance.

SacratiAbout the book:
As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.

Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.

For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.

My Review:
4.5 stars for this intriguing M/M fantasy romance.

Theos is a Sacrati, the fiercest of warriors in the Torian army. Torian society is communal–the men fight and conquer new lands, and protect the women and children who live within sheltered cities in a collection of valleys in this world. Men and women do not marry in Torian society, they meet rarely for procreation, but otherwise are separate. The prized warriors, like Theos, have many invitations to copulate with women, to produce offspring, but most of the time, the men are game to take care of their sexual needs with their comrades (as do the women!).

As a sacrati, Theos is above a lot of the menial army business. His warlord, however, has been acting mighty shady. Under Theos’ command, a band of Elkati men are captured well within the Torian borde. It is clear they were attempting to return to neighboring Elkat valley, but Theos knows the value of a good captive–his men will all get a cut for selling them as slaves. And, Theos has the right, as commander, to choose a slave of his own from the captured. Not that he plans to, however. Keeping a slave is expensive and he would do better to claim the slave’s selling price for himself.

Only, it doesn’t go that way. The leader of the Elkati, a fair man called Finnvid, is a healer and a scholar. Theos is especially wary of the strange way his warlord watches Finnvid, and desires him. His suspicions are further augmented when the warlord is enraged by Theos’ decision to keep Finnvid, rather than let him be transported through a mountain pass for sale at the onset of winter. Finnvid is not like the men Theos knows. He is verbally opposed to the idea of men having sex with each other–in Elkat such a thing is despised. Moreover, Elkati have monogamous marriages, and this seemingly random copulation within Torian society is as foreign to him as Chinese is to me. It turn out that Theos has 46 children, with more than a dozen women in the city–and more on the way. Finnvid = Mind Blown.

Still, Finnvid is a secret keeper of the highest order, and the most significant is his BROTHER is the Elkati King. Returning him to Elkat is imperative, but there are so many secrets and lies, that the politics is nearly as dangerous as the winter mountain passage.

There are double crosses, and double standards and murder most foul. Throughout, Finnvid must come to terms with the most hated part of himself–the part that desires men sexually, and Theos in particular. I was fully engaged in this fantastic world. I felt like I was taking icy steps through the snowy mountains, or sweating in the ice huts and soaping up in the bath house. All the secondary characters are beautifully detailed, having real experiences that impact the story. The political machinations were fascinating, and I really found myself drawn into the story–hoping that Finnvid and Theos would find themselves alive, and together, when the final page came.

While this is not a traditional romance, and not even a traditional ‘slave’ romance, there is a constant expectation that Finnvid and Theos will work things out between them. In the meantime, I was rather relieved with how decent Theos was–he had no dearth of sex partners, and he never forced Finnvid to become one of them. They spend a significant amount of time together, and the rapport that develops is quite natural feeling, as are the experiences of regret and loss when they are separated. Still, I had to laugh at how stubborn they both were.

The book ended in such a way that I don’t anticipate a sequel, but man! I’d like to see how all change in Torian society shakes out…

Interested? You can find SACRATI on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!


Hi there! Today I’m sharing in the blog tour of JA McLachlan’s THE OCCASIONAL DIAMOND THIEF. This YA SciFi adventure is a well-written tale about a girl who makes the best of the worst in her life–her lack of family and love. You can check out other stops on the tour here for even more good stuff including excerpts, reviews, vlogs and author and character insights. Make sure to drop down and get in on the giveaway!

The Occasional Diamond ThiefAbout the Book:
What if you learned your father was a thief? Would you follow in his footsteps, learn his “trade”? If you were the only one who knew, would you keep his secret?

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a universal translator, she is co-opted into traveling as a translator to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be—it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him—but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks – Kia unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner.

But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her? And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend?

Kia is quirky, with an ironic sense of humor, and a loner. Her sidekick, Agatha, is hopeless in languages and naive to the point of idiocy in Kia’s opinion, but possesses the wisdom and compassion Kia needs.

My Review:
This an interesting SciFi YA adventure, and I loved that it features a MC of color. The worldbuilding is cool, too. Kia is a native of the dry arid planet Saffara. He father owns a tradeship, and has mastered many languages in his role as captain, but he’s been ill since he returned form a far-flung rescue mission to Melam, twelve years ago. In his fever dreams he speaks Melamese, and Kia learns this language in order to help her father–only it has the opposite effect: hearing the language makes him distraught and on his death bed he confesses the location of a rare treasure–a Melamese diamond he is forbidden to possess. On Melam the diamonds are a personal treasure, passed only to an infant from his/her parents. An Off-worlder caught with one would be executed.

Kia believes her father stole this diamond, and she begins to “steal” other jewelry to pawn for money to go to language school. She is determined to get the heck away from her emotionally-distant mother, but ends up stealing more in order to provide for her mom when a medical emergency arises–which puts Kia smack into the grasp of the religious Order of Universal Benevolence. Agatha, a Select of the OUB, is a confidante and peacemaker of this intergalactic organization, one charged with brokering and assisting peace. She is also trained to seek the truth in all situations.

Agatha encounters Kia in the midst of a theft, and encourages her…to make more benevolent choices. Still, it is Kia who is chosen to accompany Agatha to Melam, site of her father’s illness and the planet where she will undoubtedly be killed if they discover her father’s Melamese diamond. Oh, and the Melamese are supremely distrustful of Off-worlders ever since factions from a neighboring planet deliberately unleashed a virus that decimated their population–the same virus that afflicted Kia’s father.

Melam is a cold, wet, gray world–nothing like sunny Saffara–and Kia never plans to stay with Agatha when they arrive. I really enjoyed the banter between Agatha and Kia. Agatha’s a bumbling language learner, and Kia’s desperate not to be killed by her faulty phrasing. Observing the Friday afternoon Justice on their second day on Melam–including a mutilation for theft and a beheading for treason–Kia is even MORE freaked out. But the queen has taken notice of her, and the High Priest has taken notice of the the queen’s notice. Yep. We got a classic power struggle on Melam.

While Agatha seeks to guide the Melamese past their grief, Kia is the girl in the middle–and often in the middle of a cozy cell. She does manage to make some important friends who help her get free, and Kia directs the bulk of the action, which was great. She’s not the most likable character, but she is honest…for a thief. Her skills as a safecraker/lock picker come in handy quite often especially while saving sick children, and the daring Agatha.

The pace of the book was a bit slow, at first, but really picked up steam as the ship landed on Melam and both Agatha and Kia were embroiled in the political stew. There are elements of a romance, but no love story. Expect double-crossing priests, courageous Melamese, a bitter queen, and a stalwart Select whose skill at interplanetary relations far outshines her fluency in Melamese. Kia was great, and I did enjoy her. She is comfortable in her outsider role, yet broke through and made lasting connections to people who believe she matters. The story ends, but it’s clear the door is open to another Kia-Agatha buddy tale.

Interested? You can find THE OCCASIONAL DIAMOND THIEF on Goodreads and Amazon. EDGE Publishing has a Thank You gift for anyone who buys the print version of the book. If they send an email to events@hadespublications.com with their Amazon receipt, they will receive a copy of a short story that features Kia.

More praise for The Occasional Diamond Thief by J. A. McLachlan
“J. A. McLachlan is a terrific writer — wry and witty, with a keen eye for detail. I’ve been following her work with interest and delight since 2003. In a world where young-adult fiction is booming, The Occasional Diamond Thief propels McLachlan to the front of the pack.”
Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of FlashForward

“The story is full of humor, danger, fun, and adventure. This is Science Fiction anyone would love.” — J. Jones, VINE VOICE

“Flawless–The Occasional Diamond Thief was one of those rare stories where I found myself hanging onto every word. McLachlan delivers a fast-paced, unpredictable story with perfectly-executed twists. Descriptions were succinct and epigrammatic with no room for boredom. It felt so real, it was almost like being in the theater with a surprise treat at the end. Much like the theater, once the credits have started to roll and the crowd starts to thin, there was a snippet at the end that you do not want to miss.” — BittenbyBooks.com

“Loved it! I haven’t read a heroine I loved this much since Katniss Everdeen. McLachlan’s Kia is smart, tough and hilarious, and pairing her with serene, forgiving Agatha left me laughing long after I finished the story. The settings were vivid, the plot raced along, and the themes kept me turning pages. McLachlan combines her love of science fiction, ethics and good, old-fashioned storytelling in The Occasional Diamond Thief, and the results couldn’t be better. I loved every page.” — < b>Amanda Darling, Screenwriter

“J. A. McLachlan is a remarkable creator of worlds, a remarkable creator of character, a master of suspense. In short, a remarkable storyteller. You don’t have to be a young adult to love this book.” –
Sheryl Loeffler, Writer, A Land in the Storytelling Sea


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About the Author

J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics. But speculative fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and The Occasional Diamond Thief is her second in that genre, a young adult science fiction novel, published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. After over a decade as a college teacher, she is happy to work from home as a full-time author now.

You can find Jane online on her website Goodreadstwitter, and Facebook.