Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Family Man by Devyn Morgan

Title: Family Man
Author: Devyn Morgan
Cover artist: not mentioned
Genre: contemporary
Buy or borrow (KU) at Amazon
Formats: Mobi, print, audio
Length: 38k est  146 pages

Back in the heartland town he escaped years ago, Van Farley finds the occasional beer and eye candy at the one and only local gay bar, catering to the Stetson set. Everyone’s got eyes for the new man, but Van must keep his head down and not risk his job as a teacher. That’s fine, until hot-and-doesn’t-know-it Jacob Strickland walks in.

Jacob grew up fast, settling down to give his pregnant, teenaged sister some stability. He doesn’t date, dedicating himself to being a suitable father figure for both his sister and his nephew, now old enough to start school.

When Jacob gets dragged out to a local club, a sex-on-legs stranger gives him a night to remember.

One night only. No repeats. They’ll never see each other again.

Until the first day of school.

Family Man is a standalone novella with hot guys, a cute kid, and an HEA.


When Devyn Morgan gets it right, he gets it really, really right. Like here.

Part of the fun of Family Man is readers know something the characters don’t know, and we get lots of opportunities to groan and smile and groan again for the near misses and could have beens. Mistaken identity on one side and a whole lot of assumptions on the other make for a couple that can hop in bed once and then have a lot to figure out before they can do it again.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Why all the high ratings?

I don't throw high ratings around like rice at a wedding. I'm actually not doing it here either.  Even if you're seeing a lot of 4 and 4.5 and 5 ratings.

Since I haven't posted about anything in a long time, there's a backlog of good books to talk about. With that much good stuff, not a lot of need to talk about the books I didn't like. If I can't recall what they were about at this point, why bother writing a review?

Once I catch up, back to business as usual. I haven't really lost my marbles, I'm giving them to good books.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Blacksmith Prince from Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

Title: The Blacksmith Prince
Authors: Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
Cover artist: Anna Tiferet Sikorska
Genre: Fantasy romance
Buy at Amazon
Length: 260 pages
Formats available: mobi, print, epub

17th century Perigord is a county of sun-drenched villages and dark forests, languid rivers and moonlit lakes. It is a corner of France teeming with spirits, dryads and nymphs, and like everywhere else, witches are burned at the stake.

Born with the second sight, young fisherman Jehan wants nothing but to keep his head down, work hard, and stay out of trouble. Which works well enough until a suspicious string of bad luck befalls the village smith and his wife. Their adoptive son Giraud is everybody’s dashing darling, who behind his sooty smile and swashbuckling manners has buried a painful connection to the supernatural himself. Fearing that some evil is afoot, Giraud turns to the only other man in town who knows about the hidden world around them - Jehan.

Before long, they are embroiled in a quest involving brigands, witches and noble fey, while their friendship and attraction gradually shifts into something deeper. If they manage to survive ancient feuds and everyday prejudice, they might even have a chance to forge a Happily Ever After all of their own...

Lauded with a 2017 Rainbow Book Award for Best Gay Fantasy Romance, ‘The Blacksmith Prince’ is an old-fashioned, swoon-worthy historical fantasy romance about tender love in a time when history and fairy-tales were one and the same.


I expect great characterizations and superb storytelling from the this writing pair, and the Blacksmith Prince was exactly that. Once a book wins a Rainbow Award I don’t know what else I can tell you besides I loved this book. And why.

Sense of place: the story sucks you right back in time. It’s vivid and immersive: but thankfully without the true slog of preindustrial life (with the occasional anachronism). The language makes you believe in the small magics and the large ones: Fey belong here.

“Like the afterimage of a lightning bolt, Jehan now saw antlers over his head in ghostly shapes, leaves on his shoulders and storm in his hair.” 

Sense of character: Jehan has magic and no desire to take on the duties his wisewoman grandmother is about to leave behind. We get to watch his understanding of how he is needed grow, and how he rises to the need. Even in the face of angry foes, he manages to parlay his small but growing skills into triumph, and the occasional punch in the nose.

Giraud too grows in his power and acceptance of power. He's willing to bust heads and take names doing it, even when it wars with his sense of fitting in. 

Sense of story: what started as a small quest becomes a large one, even as the characters grow into themselves.

What started as a lark and a way to enlist Jehan’s help, becomes much more than that for Giraud: you can feel the bond growing between the two young men. They aren’t taking much time for romance: they have grave matters to unravel, and they meet magical creatures along the way, whose help they must have in their quest, or that they must somehow defeat.

The history here is woven into the fantasy, just as boldness is woven into healthy caution, and magic into the everyday. It’s a lovely tale, with the sweetness of love to leaven the adventure.

If you're looking for sexytimes, this is the wrong place to look: it's all adventure and love, and I promise, you won't feel anything is missing. Because nothing is.  5 marbles

Friday, April 13, 2018

A picture is worth...

Remember Thousand Word Thursday? I give you a pic and whoever feels the urge can send me a ficlet or an except to post. 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot.

This rebel might have a cause. I'd go for a ride to find out. Directions here.   Yummy!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Syncopation by Anna Zabo

Title: Syncopation
Author: Anna Zabo
Cover Artist: uncredited
Publisher: Carina
Buy at Amazon
Genre: contemporary, rock star
Length: 102k
Formats available: mobi, epub

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.


What drew me to this rock band story was the history Ray and Zavier had, and wanting to know why things went so badly wrong the first time around and if they could navigate around it.

Well, probably not. Their history wasn’t entirely sexual but musical, and in a way to create a huge gap. And that gap still looms, and might be the biggest reason Zavier wouldn’t stick around. Self-taught and struggling vs classically trained and Juilliard-bound don’t make an easy pairing then, and even if Zavier wants to go slumming in rock and roll for a while, there’d need to be a reason to stay, and for him, love isn’t it.

This book was a fascinating look into a relationship with unexpected dynamics. Aromanticism is an unobvious choice for a book that was, in the end, romantic, but in a way that made perfect sense to Zavier, who was up front about not understanding hearts and flowers and declarations of love. And there’s none of that, but there is putting someone else’s wellbeing essential to one’s own, and isn’t that what love is in the end?

The BDSM part made me think I hadn’t checked the blurb thoroughly enough, because it’s not something I usually read. Even to a non-BDSM aficionado, what went on between Zavier and Ray was caring, and Ray’s surrendering of power and control to gain peace was beautifully done. Take this as highest praise, because most BDSM is automatic back button stuff for me, and if I hadn’t already been so invested in the story and the characters, I would have closed the book.

I’m glad I didn’t though, because Ray and Zavier became stronger together, enough to overcome the outside pressure.

The source of that pressure though—talk about working against one’s own best interests. I will say that Carl’s ultimate motives needed three readings and I still don’t buy it. But he’s a darned good source of day to day stress and antagonism, and the kind of pressure topnotch performers put on themselves only got a hundred times worse with his help. Young, inexperienced, and hungry for success Ray was easy meat for him, to the point of me shouting advice at my Kindle for Ray. (Which he took, but later, and I wanted to hug one of the characters for it.)

This was an excellent reading of what could be a lot of tropes, from second chances to antagonists to lovers, and rock band pressures, with the unusual aspect of aromanticism, and it all worked out. This book deserves to go gold.    4.75 marbles

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Hi again

For those of you who noticed I was gone, thank you. I'm back, sort of. Making no promises about consistency, because I just can't, but I have kept reading and having opinions and thinking about the stories and loving to find love in them. It's been sort of scarce IRL, and that is all I am going to say about being away.

But hey, let's talk about books cause books are always wonderful, and MM books are extra wonderful, and HEAs are the best.

Tell me what you've been reading.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017