Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe

Title: The Puritan Pirate
Author: Jules Radcliffe
Cover artist: Valerie Tibbs
Genre: Historical, pirate
Length: 239 pages
Buy at Amazon, through May 7, 2018, and hopefully again in the future


The Caribbean, 1664

An uptight naval lieutenant. A free-living buccaneer. Enemies from the first.

It all changes the night Quinn reluctantly rescues Lieutenant Peregrine from the consequences of his folly. Their tentative truce leads to a wild tryst and the thrilling discovery that their unconventional desires are perfectly matched.

Perry is the most delightfully submissive lover Quinn has ever had, and he wants Perry by his side for good. But such an affair would not only end Perry’s career, he may never be able to return to England and his family. Fearful of discovering Perry’s desire for respectability is stronger than his love, Quinn leaves him behind in Port Royal.

But in his darkest hour, Quinn discovers that Perry will risk his life for them to be together.

*****

Part of a series regarding a swashbuckling crew of openly gay buccaneers, The Puritan Pirate is my favorite so far. Set during the heyday of raiding the Spanish Main, and while England and Spain were duking it out for naval supremacy in the Caribbean, this story has a lot going on.

Poor Perry! It isn’t enough to be assigned to a pirate ship as punishment by his horrible captain, he has to be hugely attracted to one of the pirates. This was another case of me getting some surprise BDSM, because duh, bought the book because PIRATES and didn’t read the blurb at all. Going to admit to some skimming on these parts, because it’s not my jam, but that Perry wanted to submit made a lot of sense given the rest of his characterization, and he and Quinn were really good together.

I was reading for the adventures, and I wasn’t disappointed. One thing led to another, and then to terrible danger and life or death stakes. I think this was based on a real incident or a couple of incidents mashed together, and it was written to be spine tingling and dancing on the edge of disaster.

There was also a spectacular Fuck you to someone who really needed to be told off. Loved it.

A lot was made of Perry’s religious attitudes, very straightlaced and proper, and how much that was at odds with his sexual self. It made for a very conflicted character. But not a character who would have and use a rosary, that’s Popish. It was a jarring note, in an otherwise wonderful story.

Note, because of Loose Id’s closing soon, this book will only be available until May 7, until the author makes other arrangements for the whole series. I sincerely hope Jules has plans to keep this book and its companions in print, it’s a good read.
4.5 marbles

Thursday, April 26, 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.

Tell us about this beautiful reader, in  a drabble or a ficlet, 100 to 1000 words. Details here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blind Man's Wolf by Amelia Faulkner

Title: Blind Man’s Wolf
Author: Amelia Faulkner
Cover artist: Scarlet Cox
Genre: paranormal
Buy at Amazon
Length: 70k est, 239 pages
Formats available: Mobi
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A night-blind vampire. A werewolf with lousy self-confidence. And a whole hell of a lot of danger…

Tooth & Claw, Book 1.

Ellis O’Neill is an art dealer with too many problems: his eyesight has deteriorated to the point of night-blindness; he’s estranged from his family, to whom he owes a considerable sum of money; and his guide dog went right off him the night Ellis died. Without his dog, Ellis is trapped in a life bouncing between home and work, dependent on his personal assistant.

Werewolf Randall Carter has problems of his own. He loves his pack, he really does, but as their Omega he’s always the one to bear the brunt of their rage. It’s a role he can’t avoid, and Randall isn't sure he can take it for much longer, so he buries himself in his day job. Randall’s the best dog trainer in the city, and when he’s offered a client who needs him to work evenings he’d be a fool to turn it down.

Soon Randall is falling for someone he should despise. Everything about the undead is anathema to his kind, but Ellis is exactly the kind of guy Randall would want to ask out on a date – if he were still breathing. Worse, they may not have too long to figure their feelings out. Someone or something is gunning for Ellis and anyone else who gets in the way; they won’t rest until the vampire is destroyed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I loved this take on the vampire and werewolf pairing, because both characters had the weaknesses of their kind, and were having a hard time getting to their strengths. In Amelia Faulkner’s hands, this means storytelling with terrific character arcs, and since it’s book one of a series, I expect it’s going to take a while to get to the kick ass and take names stage. Which is fine: good stuff to read!

Between blindness and being a vampire, Ellis has a lot to contend with. He manages fine with his guide dog, but when the dog becomes erratic, he needs to fix that right away. And Randall has the perfect qualifications for being a good trainer: gentleness, firmness, and being a wolf.

Poor Randall’s stuck in a pack that has some really awful ideas about how to be a pack. Seems they don’t understand being werewolves any more than Ellis understands being a vampire. It made me want someone to take them in hand and teach them manners.

Between figuring out what each the other is, and how to work together while identifying and dealing with the danger to Ellis, these guys have a lot on their plates. I loved how they learned to work with each other’s abilities, and if you ever wondered how a werewolf would do as a guide dog with all that intelligence, here’s how.

Sensory issues are front and center: Ellis isn’t completely blind, but very low vision when conditions are completely right, which isn’t often. He depends on all his other senses, which are well developed and portrayed. The reader isn’t bonked over the head with blindblindblind, but is invited to live in Ellis’s world and depend on other senses. Randall is a creature of scent on four feet.

Dealing with Ellis’s malevolent stalker leaves more problems behind, so I’m off to read more! The author has very thoughtfully priced this book at 99 cents, and it’ll be the best buck you spend all day. 5 marbles

Friday, April 20, 2018

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters by Angel Martinez

Title: Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters (Book 1 of Offbeat Crimes)
Author: Angel Martinez
Cover artist: Posh Gosh
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Paranormal
Buy at Amazon
Formats available: Mobi, epub
Length: 40k est.


Kyle Monroe, his irritating new partner and their fellow freaks at the 77th Precinct must learn to work together to stop a vicious murderer that might not even be human.

Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange, gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.

Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I just put the next five books of this series into my “to buy” queue because Kyle and Vikash are just that good together. The next books follow the other members of the 77th Precinct, in charge of paranormal crime, and we get to meet the whole gang in this first story. And what a gang they are! A vampire who needs skim blood, a teleporter who can only hurl fruit, a wolf cursed to be a human sortof, whose partner has a tail and a temper, and more. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, April 19, 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.

So what's cooking for dinner? Tell us  in  a drabble or a ficlet, 100 to 1000 words. Directions here. 

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.