Reading Highlights – March 2015 Part 5

Axel's Pup by Kim DareAxel’s Pup
(Werewolves & Dragons #1)

by Kim Dare
Published: March 11th 2015
by Kim Dare

LYLBTB 50 star

Blurb:

As the landlord of The Dragon’s Lair and leader of The Black Dragons Motorcycle Club, Axel Carmichael has seen it all and done it all. He’s a respected and experienced dom. Nothing shocks him any more, and nobody catches him off guard.

When Bayden rides up to The Dragon’s Lair on a bike worth more than most men earn in a year, and immediately demonstrates that he has far more attitude than sense, it’s easy for Axel to write him off as a silly little rich boy who’s about to get himself killed.

But, there’s more to Bayden than meets the eye. He’s no silly little boy, rich or otherwise, and werewolves aren’t easy to kill.

Review:

This is one of those books that I could not get out of my head. I thought about the characters, I re-read chapters, I was not ready to move on.

I have a few genres I love and a few not so much. I enjoy contemporary, BDSM and paranormal – not exclusively, just as examples. I tend to not like the sub-genre of shifters. Kim Dare has taken this sub-genre and given it a twist. Axel’s Pup has a contemporary setting with added wolf shifters, which I normally avoid because it just isn’t my flavor, and she made me love it.

In Axel’s Pup, wolf shifters are a minority with extreme limitations on their lives due to laws that keep them from forming packs by allowing no more than two adult wolves to live together. The pack hierarchy is still in their mindset but there is equality in how dominance is viewed. Dominance is not just because one is male. I loved this. The parallels to prejudice and persecution of people or groups in the real world are similar and I felt like this made the plight of wolves more real than other shifter stories I have read.

When Bayden enters Axel’s pub, The Dragon’s Lair, he is looking for a fight. It is not at all what one would expect but because of Brayden’s pride, natural distrust of humans, tendency to not communicate and situations he puts himself in, he gives everyone the impression of being a brash, rich kid looking for trouble. Axel sees something else and is intrigued and patient enough to try and get to know Brayden better.

I adored Bayden. He has taken the oppressive laws and worked within a mindset that allows him to feel like he is making choices about what happens to him. He considers himself a free wolf even though no human in this world would consider his choices as one that a free person would make. He is a very strong wolf that is also submissive, but this is as complicated as everything else we find out about Bayden. He needs an Alpha, someone he feels deserves his respect and submission. When he meets Axel he senses this, but how could he ever submit to a human? Bayden wants to believe that Axel is not like all the other humans he has encountered.

Axel is a wonderful character. He owns a biker bar/BDSM club. He is a strong alpha male without coming across as the stereotypical Alpha male. He is comfortable with who he is and he is able to look past what Bayden is presenting to everyone and see more. He does not just see a wolf, although he works hard to understand the differences in the way Bayden views the world as a wolf compared to humans.

This was a difficult review for me as I felt I would not be able to do the story justice. It is very much a contemporary paranormal romance heavy on the D/s theme with subjects that touch a nerve in the real world, with its portrayal of inequality and injustice for a group of people out of fear of that group.

The story is well written and pulled me in. I loved watching Axel and Bayden’s relationship evolve. The secondary characters are intriguing and I am looking forward to more of their story in future books.

Happy Reading,

Melyna

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Reading Highlights – March 2015 Part 4

Pop Goes the weasel by Stephen OsbornePop Goes the Weasel
(Pop Goes the Weasel #1)
by Stephen Osborne
Paperback, 200 pages
Published: August 10th 2012
by Dreamspinner Press

4-star

 

Blurb:
Patrick Weasley, aka Weasel, is a fun-loving college student with a wealthy homophobic jerk stepfather and a best friend, Jake Winston, who’s just as gay as Weasel. When Jake’s aunt dies, many from the publishing world-including Jasper, Weasel’s weasel of a stepfather-gather at Winston Manor for the reading of the will, and Weasel is obligated to tag along.

Turns out all he has to do is three things: 1) swap the wills so Jake’s uncle inherits the house instead of the gardener, who’s also an old enemy of Weasel’s; 2) secure a publishing contract from author Cecily Talbot; and 3) hook Jake up with his deceased aunt’s male nurse. But what he ends up doing is 1) falling for Tony, one of the food servers; 2) accidentally affiancing himself to Cecily; and 3) fighting with Jake, who thinks he was making a play for the nurse.

To make matters worse, every time Weasel and Tony start to get intimate, Jasper is right around the corner. So when burglars come to steal a valuable piece of art, Weasel must 1) use all his ingenuity to keep the painting safe; 2) dis-engage himself from Cecily; 3) unite Jake with the nurse; and most importantly, 4) pursue Tony to an elusive happy ending.

Review:
I am not sure where to start. This was the most over the top comedic book I have read in a long time. I have read laugh out loud funny before but not with this particular delivery, it’s almost slapstick, not to say that is a bad thing. It had me laughing quite a bit.
Patrick Weasley is a carefree college student, looking for a good time, ready to harass his step-monster (step father) at any opportunity yet not enough to lose his Corvette. He is gay but his parents do not know and he plans on keeping it that way, at least until he graduates.
His best friend’s grandmother dies and he is to be there for the reading of the will with his step-father and as support for his best friend Jake. Jake wants Patrick to set him up with his grandmother’s gay male nurse, his step-father wants him to get a book contract secured with a young woman who is determined to marry Patrick, gay or not. There is also a plot to change out the will so the Uncle is secure in his inheritance and keeps the gardener/policeman/Patrick’s nightmare bully from high school from inheriting anything. And there is a very sexy young man named Tony who is on staff during the weekend activities that catches Patrick’s eye. Whew! Unfortunately, Patrick attracts trouble where ever he goes and nothing goes as planned. It is a comedy of errors and a fun romp of a story.
If you are looking for something light, humorous and a bit over the top with fun likeable characters, this is for you.

Happy Reading,

Melyna

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Reading Highlights – March 2015 Part 3

Loved this book!

The Shearing Gun The Shearing Gun
by Renae Kaye
ebook, 214 pages
Published September 19th 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

LYLBTB 50 star

 

Blurb:
At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace Shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.

Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for anything permanent. As if the constant threat of being caught isn’t enough, Elliot’s contract runs out after only a year.

Review:
This one came highly recommended to me. I love books set in Australia so I was excited to read it before I ever opened the cover. (Love the cover too) I was not disappointed. This is a wonderful romance with a wealth of information about the life and work involved in raising and shearing sheep and living in a rural Australian village. It is rather detailed regarding the shearing and instead of it being tedious, I was completely intrigued. The author made me feel like I was experiencing it right alongside of Hank and Elliot.
Hank is a great character, humorous, hardworking, and very likeable. His fear of coming out is completely understandable after the reaction he gets from his father when he came out to him and what his uncle endured because he is gay. His Uncle and his partner are lovely characters and I enjoyed the role they play in the story.
Hank makes sure he fits in Dumbleyung. No dating, no local hook ups – No fishing in one’s backyard – (I love the fishing analogies he uses, several good chuckles there) He also plays football, which brings him to the local clinic after an injury, and under the care of Elliot, the new doctor in Dumbleyung. When Elliot gets caught checking Hank out during his exam, Elliot goes to Hank’s farm to apologize, Hank assures him that it is no problem, he won’t let on to anyone and that he is ok with Elliot being gay.
Elliot is a wonderful character; he is from the city and was out and proud until he came to Dumbleyung. He is a brilliant doctor and a sweet man who enjoys the small things in life even though he comes from a wealthy family. Thinking he was going to have to be in the closet and have no close friends or companions until his contract is up, the unexpected friendship with Hank changes all of that. Even more so as they get to know one another and he learns Hank is more like him than he was led to believe. Oh, this scene is priceless.
The story has many humorous moments, wonderful secondary characters and some beautiful, tender moments between Hank and Elliot. This has to be one of my favorite books that I have read this year. Don’t be intimidated but the Australian vernacular, there is a glossary in the front of the book, but the author does a great job giving enough information to be able to figure out the words or phrases from context.
After reading this book, I can see why it was highly recommended and I completely agree.

Happy Reading

Melyna

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Reading Highlights – March 2015. Part 2

A Reason to Believe cover A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland

ebook, 217 pages
Published October 22, 2012
Publisher:  Carina Press
M/M, mystery, paranormal thriller, romance
4-star

Blurb:
Detective Matthew Bennett doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he’s shaken to the core–and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan’s claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.

Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan’s been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he’s willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees–but love offers a reason to believe…
Review:
Wow, where to start. This book was recommended to me by a friend and we tend to overlap a lot on the books we enjoy. I bought it and the companion audio without even reading the blurb.
The first chapter gave me chills. If you read the blurb, you already know that detective Matt Bennett finds the body of a murdered child with the help of the victim’s ghost. Very creepy. When he tells his fellow officers about it, they react exactly as one would expect. He is put on administrative leave under the guise of vacation due to stress.
Matt’s sister in law and best friend, Sheila, takes Matt to see a medium named Kiernan Fitzpatrick in hopes that it will help Matt come to terms with the child’s murder and may shed some light on what he experienced. The skeptical detective still has doubts when Kiernan approaches him after the event, but the attraction between them is immediate. Reluctant, but needing someone who understands, especially when the little girl’s spirit continues to reach out to Matt, they form an alliance, especially when it becomes clear someone is trying to steer the direction the case in the wrong direction.
The mystery is good. The details of the murder are a bit gruesome. The identity of the murderer is not obvious and we get clues as the main characters do. I really liked Matt and Kiernan. I loved Kiernan’s t-shirts and his outlook on life was positive for all he had experienced growing up, his failed relationships and what he has to experience as a result of his being able to communicate with the dead. The romance developing while working on the murder case together was not unreasonable and for me, it gave balance to the sadness and tragedy that surrounded the little girl’s death.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It is a mystery, paranormal thriller, romance. I would love to see a sequel and revisit Matt and Kieran. I have been told that the audiobook is really good too. As I tend to listen to books that I have read, this one is up in the top of my tblt (to be listened to) list.

Happy Reading,

Melyna

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Reading Highlights for March 2015. Part 1

March was filled with the typical daily routines: work, school, kids, household/yard chores, pets, taking photos (which I admit is relaxing, not part of the mad rush) plus the extra things that pop up unexpectedly to throw one off kilter.  You know, the usual.   I managed to work some reading and listening time into the mix and that is what evens it out for me.  The trade off is not much sleep and I decided to keep reading  rather than stop and write the reviews.  Reading is relaxing.  A lovely escape into another place, another persons perspective, and it why I pretty much have to have a happy ending.  Unhappy is not relaxing.

So why write reviews? Because I read some really great books and I want to share that and maybe you will find something that you enjoy too.

So… I am posting the Reading Highlights from March in several parts while I catch up.

First up is Jackdaw.  It is part of the  K.J. Charles A Charm of Magpies world.  If you have not read the series, I highly recommend it.  Historical, paranormal, m/m romance.

  Jackdaw
by K.J. Charles
Kindle Edition, 189 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

LYLBTB 50 star

Blurb:
If you stop running, you fall.

Jonah Pastern is a magician, a liar, a windwalker, a professional thief…and for six months, he was the love of police constable Ben Spenser’s life. Until his betrayal left Ben jailed, ruined, alone, and looking for revenge.

Ben is determined to make Jonah pay. But he can’t seem to forget what they once shared, and Jonah refuses to let him. Soon Ben is entangled in Jonah’s chaotic existence all over again, and they’re running together—from the police, the justiciary, and some dangerous people with a lethal grudge against them.

Threatened on all sides by betrayals, secrets, and the laws of the land, can they find a way to live and love before the past catches up with them?

This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.

Warning: Contains a policeman who should know better, a thief who may never learn, Victorian morals, heated encounters, and a very annoyed Stephen Day.

Review:
Do you ever have a book that you really want to read, but are afraid it may not be right for you? I have read every K.J. Charles book that she has published. I have adored them all. Yet, Jackdaw, I hesitated. Jonah is the character from the last Magpie book that was a villain. He lied and stole and in the end it appeared he had no regard for others when he had Cranes picture and what he did with it before he disappeared.
He was a bad guy. We are not supposed to like him. There was no background on him, it was all in the present tense of the last book and he thoroughly ruffled Stephen Days feathers. Not a man you want as your enemy.
So, here I am hesitating and finally take that leap and K.J. Charles does wondrous things. This book spun everything around and I would not have believed where we would end up.
I highly recommend reading the A Charm of Magpie series before reading Jackdaw. You will appreciate having the background on the characters. K.J. Charles does not just give the background of Jonah and tell us he is not a bad guy. He is not an honest man, his moral compass is a bit skewed, but when he meets Constable Ben Spenser, his life changes, at least for a while. With Jonah’s magical abilities, he is sought after and not by reputable people. With his background, we can see why he is swayed but then nothing is simple. This book is filled with gray areas. No one is good or bad. Unfortunately, the group that Jonah is working with makes it where he has no choice but to leave Ben and the aftermath ruins Ben’s life.
It is much more angst filled than the previous books and I admit I had moments that I sat it down. I wanted to grumble at one of the characters, but what he lost and endured, I could not have done it, and so I set the book down, took a breath, and then continued. I knew K.J. Charles would not let me down but it was tough for a while.
During the last third of the book, the winds change for our two protagonist. I love the gradual process in which Jonah redeems himself. The setting in this section is completely different and I held my breath to see if it would last. The lovely thing about this book is how it made me look at all of the characters, even those I know and loved from the previous books, and see another facet of their personalities. It was wonderful. I was surprised by my reactions, I loved it
The writing is superb, the way the author pulled me in and held my attention (even in those moments I had to step back a moment) is something I have come to expect from Ms Charles writing. The world in which these books are set in is fascinating, colorful and at times, gritty and raw.
Coming from a person who used to claim to not like historical settings, I highly recommend K.J. Charles and the A Charm of Magpie series and of course Jackdaw.

https://www.goodreads.com/series/show/105370-a-charm-of-magpies