Cephalopod Coffeehouse Sept 2017: THE LIST, A Review

0ed81-coffeehouseHi 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.

This month I’m featuring a post-apocalyptic YA adventure from Patricia Forde. THE LIST is a newly-republished novel, originally called THE WORDSMITH. I’ve only read this version, but I liked it bunches.

About the book:
In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

My Review:
Letta is the teenaged apprentice wordsmith of Ark, a community of survivors on post-apocalytic Earth. The ice caps melted and the seas rose and John Noa built a fortified town where some of humanity would survive. Letta’s parents, residents of Ark, disappeared when she was a small child, bound to search for more survivors. Letta was raised by the wordsmith, Benjamin, to treasure words, though the people of Arc are only given license to use the 500 words on their List as their language.

Benjamin isn’t pleased when he’s told to cut the List to 300 words, and Letta isn’t any happier. She’s in love with language, and words are her trade. She relishes knowing more words than most of Ark’s residents, and does her duty to keep making List words for the school children and apprentices of Ark when Benjamin goes on an extended journey.

John Noa’s theory that deceitful words of untrustworthy politicians destroyed the world has warped his mind, and he wants language eradicated and man to return to that of beasts, is pretty out there. Benjamin fought against him, and lost, which Letta discovers before it’s too late. She meets Marlo, a “Desecrator” or person who creates are or music and lives in the banished forest outside of Ark. Letta helps him recover from an attack by the Ark policing agents, and his family helps her track down the fate of Benjamin, and others who’d gotten in John Noa’s way.

This is an adventure that’s filled with intrigue and peril as Letta endeavors to find truth that’s been well hidden in ignorance. Her worldview is opened by her experiences with the Desecrators, and in witnessing the callousness of John Noa’s agents. They banish the old and infirm as well as the young. Their idyllic world is a shell game, and Letta’s blinders have been removed. She does her best to save the day, but it’s not over when it’s over. Letta, Marlo and the Desecrators need to find a way to help their fellow humans find a new direction, and it’ll take another book to get us there. Really interesting look at a totalitarian regime, and a censored society, from a teen’s point of view, and the plot kept moving along nicely as Letta made truth her mission.

Looking forward to the next adventure on this journey.

Interested? You can find THE LIST on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. You can also likely find it in your local library–may be cross-listed as The Wordsmith. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in and be sure to visit my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers as they share reviews of their fave books for this month.


Growing Into THE HALF WOLF–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand-new M/M contemporary paranormal romance from Jay Northcote. THE HALF WOLF is a new adult shifter romance, and I really enjoyed it. Not that I’m surprised. I’ve adored all Jay’s books to-date including SUMMER HEAT, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, and THE LAW OF ATTRACTION, and TOPS DOWN BOTTOMS UP. THE HALF-WOLF is another stellar story about getting over prejudices and accepting love at the right time, and had really fantastic anti-racism messages that warmed me up as much as the sexytimes.

About the book:
Mate, family, pack, home… can Quinn and Kellan have it all?
Quinn grew up feeling out of place in the small town he calls home. Yearning for something he can’t name, he’s always felt different but never known why.

Kellan is part of a nomadic shifter pack. When they set up camp in the woods near Quinn’s town, the humans are unwelcoming and suspicious of the newcomers. The moment Kellan catches sight—and scent—of Quinn, he knows Quinn is special. But for the first time in his life, Kellan can’t trust his instincts. Quinn is human, and Kellan is a wolf shifter, so how can they ever be mates?

Their bond is instant and exhilarating. It breaks Quinn’s heart to know their relationship can only be temporary. Love isn’t enough when pack law forbids shifters to mate with humans. Tension explodes between pack and humans, and when Quinn discovers a shocking truth about himself that changes everything, he fears he’ll have to choose between the only life he’s ever known and the man he loves.

My Review:
This book is set in an alternate reality where shifters are known to exist but are unwelcome members of society in general. They are often transient enclaves that travel from area to area subsisting off the land and whatever work they can find before being chased off by the locals.

Quinn grew up in a small town in Wales. His coming out back in school was a big scandal and he feels like an outsider, having been raised by his aunt since birth, essentially. It’s mid-summer ans super hot, and a shifter group has come to camp outside of town near the quarry where locals tend to like to swim. Quinn’s aunt has been very pro-shifter all his life, and he’s been fascinated by their experience, too, having read and watched all the roods/movies he could about shifters while growing up. And, he decides it’s important to see the shifters in their native state once he hears there are some close enough to observe. So, he spies on them. Once. And, it’s enough to recognize that one of them is supremely attractive.

Kellan, the blond god he’d seen swimming nude in the quarry, appears at Quinn’s workplace the next day. It’s a news and magazine shop owned by his aunt, and Quinn is baffled more by Kellan’s beauty up close. The confusion is mutual, because Kellan’s keen sense of smell tells him that Quinn is human, but something else. Something very intriguing. And, he’s grateful that Quinn gives him good advice about seeking a job. The two keep connecting, and the sexual chemistry is astronomical–but neither wants to give in, because shifters aren’t supposed to mate humans, and they could build a bond that’s only going to ache once Kellan’s pack moves on.

The townsfolk aren’t happy about the shifter camp, but they’re downright enraged when it becomes clear a shifter is killing farmers’ livestock for sport. The shifters claim it must be a rogue, but the humans don’t believe. And, it’s all getting muddled for Quinn who’s fallen deep for Kellan–which sparks a whole new series of changes that Quinn never anticipated.

I’m not going to chat much more about the book except that it’s a fabulously-told book of self exploration and coming to terms with who you are. Quinn isn’t who he’d grown up believing he was, and his love for Kellan, a mate match, reveals all his hidden secrets. The prejudice of the townspeople is frightening–is a mob action that’s only barely leashed. Finding the rogue shifter added a ticking clock on Quinn and Kellan’s relationship, but also turned the anti-shifter tide in many ways. The resolution is awesome, and the ending is happy. Also, some yummy sexytimes. Expect Kellan to make Quinn’s first time something to remember.

Interested? You can find THE HALF WOLF on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK).

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

signal boost

Building Something TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary romance from Tessa Bailey. TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK is the fourth, and final, book in her Romancing the Clarkson’s series. I’ve read the first three books, TOO HOT TO HANDLE, TOO WILD TO TAME, and TOO HARD TO FORGET, and really enjoyed them so I couldn’t wait to read this last one…especially as it features shy, reserved Belmont finally opening up emotionally and sexually to shy, reserved Sage!

Catch and excerpt below and be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for one of 10 paperback copies of TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK, too!

About the book:
The third book in New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarksons series about four siblings on a cross-country road trip, perfect for fans of Gena Showalter and Julie James!

A love of a lifetime . . .

Leaving Belmont Clarkson is the hardest thing Sage Alexander has ever done. From the moment they met, she knew Belmont was the one, and getting up close and personal with him on his family’s epic road trip has taken her desire to a new, even hotter level. But there’s no way she can go there—not without revealing secrets that could devastate them both.

Losing Sage is not an option. Belmont’s heart is hers, has always been hers. He knows she’s hiding something from him, but nothing will stand in his way of telling her just how much she means to him. Finding her is easy—saving her from her past could cost him everything.

How about a little taste?

“You don’t have to leave right away,” Sage said when Belmont turned, watching her from beneath his eyebrows. “Can you wait here while I take a quick shower?”

Maybe that hadn’t been the right thing to say. His big back heaved and the touch of his tongue in her mouth came crashing in like a behemoth wave. They had crossed an unspoken boundary on the train platform. There was no going back to before, to when they stopped at rough, crushing embraces. As if that hadn’t been…more than sexual somehow.

“Yes, I’ll wait,” he said, his voice sounding like serrated metal. “I can light the fire for you.”

I’ll say. God, why did everything sound like an innuendo now? If her body weren’t flush and sweating beneath the jumpsuit, she would have laughed about it. But there was nothing funny about having Belmont looming mere yards away, looking like one word of encouragement would snap his chain and send him barreling toward her. “That would be perfect. I’ll just be…a few minutes.”

Sage all but dove into the itty-bitty bathroom, pressing her back up against the door and willing her racing heart to calm down. Why had she asked him to stay? Her resolve would weaken with every passing second. Biting down on her lower lip, she began the excruciating task of lowering the zipper of her jumpsuit, which kicked up a protest in her triceps and shoulder muscles. When she finally got it down, she gripped the hem of her T-shirt and attempted to lift it over her head.

Her arms wouldn’t cooperate. They flat out wouldn’t rise any higher than her ribs, leaving the T-shirt suspended in midair. Her muscles burned like someone had doused them in lighter fluid and held them above a flame. Sage’s agony must have escaped in the form of a whimper, because Belmont’s boots scraped just outside the door. And her stomach hollowed with awareness, lightning racing all over her skin.

“Sage.” His voice was deep, urgent. “Do you need help?”

No. Say no. She’d only gotten finished reminding him she didn’t need him. But in this case, it would be a lie and she’d done so much of that lately. With Belmont. The most truthful person she knew. “I can’t get my shirt off.” Her nose started to ache, the tip probably turning red. “My arms hurt.”

His growl was short and broken. A beat passed before the door opened and she felt Belmont filling the doorway behind her. She flicked a glance up to the ancient mirror and confirmed what she’d seen in her mind’s eyes. Belmont towering over her like an avenging angel, outlined by candlelight. He’d taken off his coat, leaving him in a black long-sleeved shirt, which he’d rolled up to the elbows. Every inch of visible skin was shot through with strained cords of muscle, as if his frustration were written on him like a road map.

Sage still had the shirt halfway lifted, so her lower back was visible. Not a big deal to most people. But Belmont had never seen anything below her neck. Or above her knees. With the jumpsuit peeled halfway down, the band of her underwear might even be peeking out.

Breathing grew difficult as Belmont took one step closer and took hold of the T-shirt, his knuckles grazing the small of her back. “You’re wearing”—his breath ghosted down her neck—“my shirt.”

Sage only realized she’d closed her eyes when they popped open. Oh God. In the shock of Belmont arriving, she’d forgotten. “I am?” Her mouth was parched. “L-look at that.”

“I am looking.” She jumped when Belmont reached over her shoulder with his left hand and turned on the shower, the sound of spray filling the room. Then the roughness of his knuckles returned, sliding up her spine along with the shirt. “I like knowing there was a layer of me standing between you and the earth.”

Her legs took on the consistency of Jell-O. His touch was a drug, making her languid, although it was different than the way he usually touched her. There was sex this time. So much of it. And it was that major difference that allowed Sage to accept the skimming of his fingers. Accept the part of herself that lusted. They were in a dark room and time had surely suspended anywhere outside this little plot of square footage. Words ached to leave her mouth, words that wouldn’t be suitable in the sunlight. This man, so warm and brave and large at her back, knew things about her no one else did. What was one more secret? “I stole it out of your suitcase. I broke a commandment and everything.”

“Why?” He breathed into her hair, sinking heat like an anchor in her belly. The shirt came off, her arms dropped to her sides, and she was left in nothing but a bra from the waist up. Inches from Belmont. “Why, sweetest girl?”

A light steam had begun curling in the air like beckoning fingers. Maybe this is a dream. It felt like one of the fevered fantasies she woke from on occasion, sweat slicking her breasts and neck. “Because I like the way you smell and it hadn’t been washed.”

His exhale was gravelly. “Sage.

“Yes.”

She thought he might not respond, but finally he asked a question that made her nipples turn to hard points. “Can you manage”—a long, windy inhale—“the bra?”

Sage tried. She really, truly did. Her arms felt as though they might break off and hit the floor, but she reached back until her muscles locked up, refusing to move farther. But Belmont was already there, pushing them back down, holding them at her hips.

Jesus. Please, stop. I can’t watch it.” His touch disappeared only for a second and then the cotton material of the bra tightened over her breasts. She could feel him working the back clasp with fingers she knew so well. They’d tunneled through her hair so many times, twisted in her clothing, but had never, ever, touched her with any kind of…intent. Intent to seduce. And that’s what he was doing, intentional or not. The inhibitions she’d held close forever, circled the drain, along with the shower water. “Your back is so beautiful.” A ghost of a fingertip traced down her spine. “But I need to leave before I—”

“What?”

“Before I turn you around.” They weren’t touching, but she could sense the shudder that ran through him. “Or look in that mirror.”

Right or wrong, the mine, their codependency aside, Sage knew if she let him leave just then, she would regret it for all time. Her body had been woken up. By one man. He’d kept her on the razor’s edge for thousands of miles, surrounding her with his power and taking it away. Over and over. And this fever wrapping around them in the tiny bathroom was completely different from easing his anxiety. Finally, she felt like a woman standing in front of him, instead of a calming device. This was mutual and alive and she couldn’t stand it to end. Tomorrow might be a different story, but this moment was the culmination of a thousand dreams and she could no more deny herself than she could forget his face.

“Belmont, do you think of the kiss?”

I never stop,” he groaned into her hair. “Never.”

She took a deep breath for courage. “Will you shower with me?”

My Review:
This is the final book in a four-part series about the Clarksons, adult siblings who began a road trip from San Diego to NYC at the behest of their late mother. They were meant to bond with each other–because this is a rather dysfunctional family–and all jump into the ocean on January 1st. While you can read this one on its own, I know I enjoyed it more for having read the first and second books already. As the books progress, one of the Clarksons find his/her soulmate and stops traveling with the promise of reuniting for the Big Plunge.

Now, with Rita, Aaron and Peggy building love and life with their soulmates, Belmont Clarkson and Sage, Peggy’s best friend and wedding planner, are in the big ol’ Suburban on their way to NYC. Or, not so much. Because Sage decides she’s leaving Belmont and the dysfunctional friendship they have built.

See, Belmont fell into a well when he was ten–and it took four days to rescue him. He’s been a reserved, “gentle giant” since that time. A silent protector to his younger siblings, and now Sage, whose presence quiets his mind. Sage, for her part, loves cuddling with Belmont, loves him, but can’t be his security blanket anymore. And, she’s got a family obligation to attend.

Sage comes form tiny Sibley, Louisiana. The main employer there is a salt mine–and the owner is Augie, a wealthy, lonely man who fell hard for Sage’s mother way back when. Her mom chose another man to marry, and Augie’s employed that man his whole life–and lent him money when needed, relishing sending Sage’s father into the worst areas of the mine. Now, Sage’s dad is (supposedly) only a couple months from retirement, but he’s physically unable to do his job. Sage bargains with Augie to take her daddy’s place, if only he’ll let her work the final couple of months, and her daddy will get his full pension.

Belmont’s fear of the dark, and of enclosed spaces has followed him since his descent into the well. He has some black memories of that experience, including the reason he was down there in the first place. But putting his Sage in the ground, working a mine, is an untenable situation. He is going to take her place no matter what.

So, this book is long on self-sacrifice, yet contains a good amount of communication for characters who’ve been so muted to this point. I liked how Sage and Belmont both acknowledged their co-dependency and worked to reveal more of themselves to one another–to banish the misconceptions between them. Sage believes that Belmont can’t see her as a woman–and Belmont’s stunned because so much of his reserve was keeping himself in check physically; he’s wanted Sage a long, hard time… Meanwhile, Belmont saw the polished Sage and thought she was perfection, an ideal she couldn’t hope to live up to–but it doesn’t mean he loves her any less upon seeing her faults.

I’ve learned that Tessa Bailey will include some outrageous sexy scene in each of her books, but the double-first in a house of god was a capper, hands down. The tentative loving was to be expected, and the unleashed passions was frosting on the cupcake. I loved how Belmont’s siblings came to support him in his hour of need, and how the judgemental townsfolk of Sibley stood up for what was right at just the right time. I bet Augie didn’t expect that, as he turned his Machiavellian screws.

Interested? You can find TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo Books-A-Million, and IndieBound. A review copy was provided by NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this giveaway link for your chance to win one of 10 paperback copies of TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

TOO HOT TO HANDLE - coverInterested in the first book, TOO HOT TO HANDLE? Watch shy Rita get wooed by a man working hard to turn his lady-killer reputation around.
It is both sweet and sexy…

And the second book of the series, TOO WILD TO TAME, was a surprisingly tender book that featured the jaded political analyst, Aaron, falling for a girl suffering years of PTSD. Catch my review for more deets.

And, the third book, TOO HARD TO FORGET features the youngest Clarkson–Peggy–finding her ‘one that got away’…and bringing him back. Peggy scores a touchdown wooing her widowed coach back to the land of the loving.

Tessa Bailey - headshotAbout the Author:
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

You can catch up to Tessa online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Out Today! THEIRS TO TAKE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review and giveaway for a BDSM erotic romance from Laura Kaye! THEIRS TO TAKE is a menage romance featuring two Masters who search for a woman to satisfy them both. O.O It’s the third novel in her Blasphemy series, which got a great start with the erotic novella HARD TO SERVE and the first novel, BOUND TO SUBMIT and secondly MASTERING HER SENSES. I really enjoyed this erotic new read!

Catch an excerpt, my review and enter the books and swag giveaway below.
About the book:
From the ruins of an abandoned church comes Baltimore’s hottest and most exclusive BDSM club. Twelve Masters. Infinite fantasies. Welcome to Blasphemy.

She’s the fantasy they’ve always wanted to share…
Best friends Jonathan Allen and Cruz Ramos share almost everything—a history in the Navy, their sailboat building and restoration business, and the desire to dominate a woman together, which they do at Baltimore’s exclusive club, Blasphemy. Now if they could find someone who wants to play for keeps…

All Hartley Farren has in the world is the charter sailing business she inherited from her beloved father. So when a storm damages her boat, she throws herself on the mercy of business acquaintances to do the repairs—stat. She never expected to find herself desiring the sexy, hard-bodied builders, but being around Jonathan and Cruz reminds Hartley of how much she longs for connection. If only she could decide which man she wants to pursue more…

As their attraction flashes hot, Jonathan and Cruz determine to have Hartley for their own. But the men’s erotic world is new and overwhelming, and Hartley’s unsure if she could really submit to being both of theirs to take…forever.

How about a yummy taste?

“Are they like you?” Hartley asked her friend, Scarlett, who’d recently joined the club called Blasphemy that she’d learned Jonathan and Cruz owned.

“A submissive, you mean?” When Hartley nodded, Scarlett said, “No. They’re Dominants. They like to control the scenes and their partners’ pleasure. Master Jonathan and Master Cruz are alphas through and through.” Scarlett gave her a teasing smirk.

“Master…” Hartley murmured, trying out the word. Aided by her friend’s commentary, her brain offered up all kinds of unhelpful imaginings. Her, on her knees, Jonathan standing over her. Or would it be Cruz? Being pulled over one of their laps, her ass in the air, hands stroking her. But whose hand? Gah. This was a full-on trip to crazytown. “Um, okay.”

Just then, the waiter arrived with their appetizer, but Hartley was too gobsmacked to think about food. As Scarlett forked a piece of mozzarella onto her plate, she looked like the cat that ate the canary. “There’s more.”

“How can there be more?” She almost didn’t want to know. No, scratch that, she really wanted to know. “What kind of more?”

“Take another sip,” Scarlett said, chuckling and tapping at the rim of her wine glass.

Hartley didn’t resist. She took a big drink, her heart racing, her head spinning, just a little, because she’d skipped breakfast this morning.

“Hartley, Jonathan and Cruz do scenes together.”

“Oh.” Her shoulders fell. “So they’re a couple?” Man, that was…kinda disappointing. She totally got it, though. They were beautiful men. Best friends. Had served in the military together and now were business partners. It made sense that they could be together romantically. But, damn, she’d read that flirtation all wrong, hadn’t she?

And hell if that disappointment she was feeling didn’t reveal a thing or two…

Scarlett shook her head. “No, well, maybe. I don’t know. There’s some speculation around the club that there might be something romantic between them. But what I mean is, they do scenes together. Both of them with the same submissive. At one time. You know, like, ménage à trois.”

It was a good thing Hartley had just swallowed, because otherwise she might’ve done a cartoon-like spit take. Heat roared through her body. Because those imaginings she’d just done…that question she’d just asked herself about which one would be starring in those fantasies with her…now she had her answer. They might not make her choose.

“That is the…hottest, craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life,” Hartley managed, her brain possibly shorting out at the thought. Both of them. Together. At the same time. Jonathan’s golden-boy good looks. Cruz’s dark, intensity. At. The. Same. Time.

My Review:
Hartley Farren is a emotionally devastated when her catamaran is damaged following a hurricane. She’d done all she could to batten it all down, but another boat broke free of its moorings and crashed into the hull. The extensive damage is going to be expensive and time-consuming to repair, and insurance won’t pay for her lost charters.

Jonathan Allen meets Hartley at the harbor master’s office. He sees her frustration over the delays in even getting an estimate on the repair, so he volunteers to take a look. Jonathan and his long-time friend, Cruz Ramos, own a repair and restoration business that rather new in the area. They are also Master Dominants at the BDSM club, Blasphemy, and they have a kink for sharing their women.

Cruz knows the look he’ll see on Jonathan’s face when he’s called for an impromptu inspection of Hartley’s boat. Jonathan always did love to rescue a lady–and Cruz fair aches to have that look of interest directed at himself…even if he can’t voice that desire to his best friend. Coming out as bi would cause his parents to shun him, and might make Jonathan pull away too. If the only way Cruz can be intimate with Jonathan is through Hartley, well, he’d take that option anytime, anyplace.

In order to make Hartley’s schedule deadline Jonathan and Cruz take on the job immediately, and pour in extra hours on the repair. Hartley’s got nothing else to do, and she’s attracted to both men–and thoroughly grateful for their willingness to help her–so she spends long hours in the cramped confines of the boat sweating out the work. And, teasing them, and being teased in return. Through a mutual friend Hartley learns about Jonathan and Cruz’s sexual kink, and she’s not averse. In fact, once they make their desire to take her between them known, she’s down for it. They don’t let fun get in the way of work, however there’s a christening of the repaired boat that might melt the touched up paint… O.O

The story is told from alternating points of view, with all three sharing the page. Its an erotic read, but a quick one; I wished to have a little more time with all the characters, and not just between the sheets, though that was some fun sexytimes. This is a MMF read, so expect Jonathan and Cruz to have some close encounters of the male kind with Hartley’s full consent and avid interest. It all goes pretty quickly, and a little more hesitation or scenes that involved Cruz’s struggle would have nicely rounded things out. We do get a little bit of Blasphemy here, and a set-up for another erotic romance–a tie-in to anther author’s (Jennifer Probst’s Steele Brothers) series, if that floats your catamaran.

For me, I liked it bunches, and if my only complaint is “I Want More!” well, that’s hardly a knock. Definitely a book that can be enjoyed one-handed. 😉

Interested? You can find THEIRS TO TAKE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Decadent… Sensual… Forbidden…

12 Masters. 12 Desires. 12 Fantasies Come to Life.
Meet the Masters of Blasphemy…

“A searingly sexy story with some of the hottest scenes I’ve read in a long, long time. Laura Kaye shows her mastery of the BDSM world. I’m eagerly anticipating more in this bold new series!”
~ Cherise Sinclair, NYT Bestselling Author of the Masters of the Shadowlands Series

“Smoldering and sexy, Laura Kaye’s Blasphemy series is everything I look for in a romance. Haunted heroes and strong heroines populate this one of a kind club and I can’t wait to see the big bad Doms fall one by one.”
~ Lexi Blake, NYT Bestselling Author of the Masters and Mercenaries Series

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a gift box filled with the first three books in the series and book swag.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Laura Kaye - author picAbout the Author:
Laura Kaye is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Catch up with Laura on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or her newsletter.

InkSlinger-Blogger-New

New Opportunities SPUN!–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M British romance from JL Merrow. I really enjoyed CAUGHT!, OUT! and PLAYED!, the three books in the Shamwell Tales series, so I was eager to jump into SPUN!. I actually finished it over a month ago, but I got busy and forgot to post the review. O.o

About the book:
With friends like these . . .
An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

My Review:
David Greenlake is a flamboyant gay man with a deep desire to find Mr. Right. He’s a romantic, but he always seem to get involved with men who plan to use him. His mother argues that he should look for a blazing passion, but David really only wants a cozy hearth fire. He gets mixed up with a dashing older man, Xav, at a company party, unaware the man is married…to his boss’ sister-in-law. So, he’s immediately sacked.

He flees to the country, and his friend, Mark–who was once his boss and his crush. Mark and his partner Patrick live in Shamwell, and were the love story described in OUT! Mark is a decent guy, and helps David out with a part-time job, and finding him a room to let with Rory, Patrick’s mother’s ex-boyfriend. Rory is a divorced man, kind and doting on his two young children, and ashamed his wife left him for a wealthier man. He’s a guy with a giant heart, and he wears it on his sleeve. He’s a postman, and his attention to life in Shamwell is nothing short of intense–he notices people, and he’s sure to be a friend to anyone in need. That includes David.

Living in their close-quarters home is sweet for both David and Rory–they like the quiet life, and vegging out with shows on the TV or computer. David’s got a special friend, hew childhood teddy Geoffrey, that he sews dapper outfits for, and takes with him places. It’s charming to Rory’s children, Lucy and Leo. Especially Leo, who speaks to David as if they are old friends, when he doesn’t normally speak to anyone but Lucy, and certainly never to his overbearing stepfather. Rory has a decent relationship with his ex-wife, and wants more time with his kids, so he’s particularly happy to see that David gets on with them.

This is a slow-burn odd couple romance with Rory spending a lot of time pondering his unexpected attraction to David. David adores the closeness he feels with Rory, and his kids, and it’s almost like an instant family, without all the sexytimes. But, he wants the sexytimes, bad. It’s also problematic when Mark admits he doesn’t really have enough work to keep David employed long, and the alternative seems to be an offer from Xav to be his ‘kept boy’ as a piece on the side in London. It’s hardly a burning passion, and not even a shadow of the tenderness David experiences in the platonic hearth fires of Rory’s humble abode.

I loved the ending of this one, as it’s so happy on so many fronts. David and Rory find a way toward intimacy, and their little family is united in love. David makes changes that allow him to stay employed, and in Shamwell, without selling his body to a higher bidder, and he’s wiser and happier with Rory at his side. David has a bit of a child-like manner, what with Geoffrey Bear and his relating to all the kids he meets, but he’s a smart man whose childhood wasn’t complete and that leaves him sweetly vulnerable. Rory’s sure he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s smart about how to act in a relationship, and while it takes him some time to come to terms about his new attraction, he’s honest and unwilling to hide his love for David.

Interested? You can find SPUN! on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Life Out of Tune BAD BOY’S BARD–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M contemporary paranormal romance from EJ Russell. BAD BOY’S BARD is the final book in the Fae Out of Water trilogy, and connects the last true bard of the Seelie court with his long-lost love. Each book follows the love story of one of the three Kendrick brothers, high-ranking Fae of the Seelie court. It all started with CUTIE AND THE BEAST and THE DRUID NEXT DOOR

About the book:
As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.

Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.

Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.

My Review:
Gareth Kendrick is the last true bard of the Seelie. His voice has the power to command people to fall in love, heal, or commit themselves to their doom. He’s always been wary of his power, and scared of the voices of the dead that haunt him ever since his tutelage by the ghost of Gwyddion, the most recently deceased bard before Gareth.

Gareth loved only one man in his long-spanning life: Niall. Niall was a human, or so Gareth thought and they met “by chance” nearly two hundred years ago in the human realm where Gareth chose to live the bulk of his life. For Gareth, Niall was all and everything, and he dispaired greatly when he saw an Unseelie escort Niall through the realms to Faerie. HE was sure Niall was lost to him forever.

The true was much different. Niall was a half-Fae Unseelie prince sent to kill Gareth, but he fell in love with the man instead. His brother learned of the situation and escorted Niall back to their father as a favor, so Niall could plead his love and ask a boon to be released from his oath. Their father refused and sent Niall into one of the hells of their realm, Govannon’s forge, to toil for the past two hundred years in retribution for his treachery. Niall endured the punishment because it ensured that Gareth would not be murdered by another of his father’s minions.

Fast-forward: Faerie is dying and a powerful Mage is planning to rescue it with a remaking spell, but it requires all of the Fae to be present. This includes Niall, whose brother–now the King of the Unseelie–has rescued from Govannon’s forge. And, when Niall sees Gareth he knows he can’t tell the truth. Gareth, instead of performing his part in the new magic, steals Niall away from the ceremony, sure that a “human” could not withstand the magic of the rite.

Unfortunately, when they flee Faerie they upset the balance and the spell to fix Faerie goes awry. Oh, and it’s not cool when Gareth learns his ‘dead Human’ lover is really a living Unseelie Prince. It’s hard going for a bit, but a reconciliation is brokered by David and Bryce, the non-Seelie mates of Gareth’s brothers. By connecting with those men, Gareth sees the folly of condemning interspecies mating, and Niall is able to win his heart back. Oh, and save all the realms from the power-mad Mage who had a whole different plan in mind. Expect high stakes, mad love and healed hearts by the end. There’s a wee bit of sexytimes, but it’s more emotion than motion.

This is the end of the trilogy, which I think is best read in order, but there’s a window to new adventures left open, where Niall and Mal can hit the road to find lost Fae in the human realm. I’d tag along for that…

Interested? You can find BAD BOY’S BARD on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

There’s a three-tour wide giveaway of a $50 GC to Riptide Publishing, and you just need to head on over to my friends at Boy Meets Boys Reviews and comment on their post in order to be entered!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Historically Sexy HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand “spanking” new historical BDSM mystery/romance from Sorcha Mowbray. HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS is the first book in a new Lustful Lords series and features an unexpected earl and the danger he faces, as well as his late-brother’s fiance, whom he is expected to marry–now that he’s inherited the title.

About the book:
His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…
Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife?

How about a little taste?

London, May 1860

Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

My Review:
This is not a tame historical. If you want that, I have lots to recommend. This, instead, is a lusty, sexy read with a pair of seemingly mismatched lovers who find quite some common ground in the bedchamber–and out of it.

It’s 1860s London, and the newly minted Earl of Stonemere, Achilles Denton (called Stone for the entirety of the book), is loathe to assume his inherited title and responsibilities. He’s a war veteran who suffers night terrors, and also the leader of a social group known as the Lustful Lords–Stone and his four chums who enjoy a good kinky orgy at The Market, a brothel. Stone doesn’t want to give up his carefree ways, but his mother insists that he take a wife and produce an heir. As he’s got no designs on anyone, he decides to marry his late-brother’s fiance, Lady Theodora Lawton, who seems demure and retiring, despite her age advanced age…of twenty-one.

Theo is nothing like what Stone would want, or so he thinks. A fiery spitfire of a woman who could match his lusty ways is nothing that he could have expected considering her excellent manners and superior breeding. ‘Theo’ is, in fact, superiorly headstrong, and doesn’t want a man meddling in her affairs–and she has affairs. She owns both a china factory and an orphanage which she purchased and manages with her own funds. And, she doesn’t want some overbearing man coming in and taking over, ruining her projects. Theo mourned the loss of her fiance, because they were good friends and she sensed he’d allow her leave to live her life as she saw fit, but Stone is another matter entirely. His reputation as a randy rake piques her interest, and the activities of her marriage bed bears no resemblance to the quiet compliance her mother advised. When Stone goes off “on business” two days into their honeymoon, Theo’s sure it’s because he’s after a lover and she’s not equal to the task of bedpartner. So she seeks assistance from the madame who rund The Market to school her in ways to seduce her husband properly.

Oh Theo! Stone is onto her, and it’s a fun bit of a romp that ends with Theo receiving her first, of many, spankings as Stone schools her himself, and quite lustfully. Expect a light bit of BDSM as Stone and Theo work the kinks into their marriage. The book begins with an orgy in The Market and includes public indecency, the (im)proper defiling of a countess, and loads and loads of…sated, happy endings. There’s a side plot of who keeps trying (and failing!) to kill Stone as he’s off on his daily errands. Being knocked into cart paths, and attacked by hooligans, Stone’s life is in certain jeopardy–and it’s down to Theo to make sure her lustful husband lives to greet their firstborn.

The tone of the book is erotic from the outset, and it’s a fun, sexy read. In many ways it’s an historical rom-com which includes elements of BDSM and some suspense. There’s no doubt I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, and I expect it will steam up my ereader in quite the same delicious fashion.

Interested? You can find HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS on Goodreads, Amazon (US, UK, CA and AU) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and GooglePlay.

About the Author:
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers.