Heartsong

Heartsong (Green Creek #3) by TJ Klune: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Heartsong (Green Creek, #3)

Blurb:

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine.

Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home.

But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told. Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed?

More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate.

The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.

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5 Million Stars… Totally a thing!

Ohhhhhhh, TJ… How have we gone from pinecones and epic and awesomeness to… this? I’m not mad at it. At all… but I could have used some pinecone moments when I was getting my ass kicked by your creative genius.

Not gonna lie, I started, Heartsong and had zero clue what was happening until…

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And then it was all GASP. WtAF. And Rawwwwr. And more incoherent thoughts as I began piecing things together. Which turned into…

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Then actual footage of me coping…

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A lot happens in book #3 and giving spoilers or too much information would absolutely ruin the crazy ass (and totally amazing) dysfunctional, and horrific events that take place in Heartsong.

The love story between Robbie and Kelly is bittersweet and beautiful. I couldn’t help but feel ALL the feels while trying to calm the face leaking. Kelly is asexual and their love is sooooo pure and sweet. Don’t get all comfy cozy based on that description thinking that it’s smooth sailing. They get dragged through Hell and at the end of the day when that happens, you want your person with you through it all. Robbie and Kelly are just… so much green and then the deepest of blue and then green. packpackpack

TJ outdid himself with the horror creativity on this one. It’s a freaking rollercoaster of events/emotions that left me hanging on for dear life and unable to put it down. With all the heaviness, heartbreak, hellacious moments, and holy-shit-gory-AF, there’s comic relief with the Bennett pack that lets us catch our breath right when we are desperate for some air. Every. time.

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With the direction of the series, everything in this book is necessary and masterfully crafted with the past and the future in mind. Definitely recommended while I figure out how to get a head start on Carter’s story… like yesterday.

 Copy provided for honest review.

The Reluctant Husband

The Reluctant Husband (Goddess-Blessed, #2) by Eliot Grayson:
Review by Lost in a Book

The Reluctant Husband

Blurb:

Disowned, disgraced, and with nowhere to turn, Tom Drake is willing to barter anything — even himself — for a reprieve from starvation and despair. Years spent lying to protect his secrets have left him longing for someone to value him, even if it’s only for his body and the blessing of his patron goddess.

Mal Leighton’s cousin and heir is dying. Only a miracle can save him — and if a miracle doesn’t appear, Mal’s damn well going to create one. Marrying Tom for his blessing is his last desperate hope to preserve his family. And if Tom happens to be as irresistibly seductive as he is untrustworthy? Well, Mal can focus on more than one goal at a time.

Tom doesn’t fall in love, and Mal knows better than to believe he’s the exception. But when Tom’s blessing doesn’t provide the quick cure they’d hoped, it’s clear that the goddess expects them to have a marriage in more than name. To save Mal’s family and find their own happiness, they will both need to sacrifice their pride and risk their hearts.

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4.25 Stars

How the hell was my heart breaking for Tom??? Tom?? The poor, kicked out on his conniving ass VILLAN in the last book of this series, The Replacement Husband

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Somehow Tom ends up Goddess-blessed AND redeemed and now I’m converted to his side while waving my Team Tom t-shirt. Color me impressed, Eliot Grayson. Random note but as any voracious reader, I used to stay up all hours of the night to read *before* having a kid. Work the next day was tiring but I could hack it. Now, I try not to lose sleep over reading unless the book has it’s hooks in because ultimately my daughter is going to wake up at the ass crack of dawn if I stay up. BUT… I gave up sleep for this book. *gasp*

The premise for this Goddess-Blessed series is intriguing and I’m here for it. The Reluctant Husband is a historical fantasy where it’s completely acceptable for men to love men when they’re blessed by a goddess. The first book did a great job of laying down the foundation for this world while this one adds depth. It’s captivating from the very beginning when Tom and growly Mal have their initial interactions. As mentioned, Tom is blessed and Mal needs to marry someone that’s blessed for important reasons. Unfortunately, both men are stubborn and have their own hangups from the past that affect their relationship. They have a very bumpy road full of dysfunction while trying to form a complete bond that meets the goddess’ requirements.

Tom and Mal are hawt together once they can stomach being near for more than a few minutes. Slowly, Tom reveals his true self and Mal can’t help but draw near even though he’s an ass and I wanted strangle him for how he talked to and treated my oft misunderstood Tom. (Oh how far we’ve come that I’m calling him mine!!) I wanted to throw my Kindle a couple times throughout though. Tom stands his ground for a bit but gives in wayyyyyyyyy too fast for my liking at the end. They get their HEA but I wanted Mal to grovel and show his remorse. *sigh*

Anywho, Grayson’s writing and storytelling has always been enjoyable but both have come a long way since the debut novel. I will absolutely continue to devour any other books in this series. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Not Dead Yet (Not Dead Yet #1)

Blurb:

Dying isn’t what it used to be. 

Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.

His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.

As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.

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4 Stars

Not Dead Yet is a pleasant surprise with a unique feel amidst the overwhelming monotony of many paranormal romances. Don’t get me wrong, there are ghosts and some other paranormal elements that appear throughout the genre. However, this one felt different and held my attention throughout.

This is a paranormal mystery with a lot of dark things happening. It’s almost impossible to provide tidbits without revealing spoilers because so much happens and it all interconnects. Wes has the ability be alive and enter the plane of the dead. He embraces this ability as it provides a way to live without drawing attention to the fact that he never ages. Wes allows very few people in his inner circle and when he witnesses a murder while on the other plane, he ends up working with the one man who held his heart 30 years ago, Detective Hudson Rojas.

Wes is loveable and full of life (minus the dead plane parts) while Rojas’ is growly, cranky, and analytical. Rojas’ is also one of the very few people Wes has ever felt sexual attraction with (*cheers* some ACE representation). They have baggage from the past but their feelings after 30 years apart are still there even if Growly McGrowlerson runs hot/cold with Wes on the regular.

“My heart hurt and I wanted you. Not just in a sex way, but in a heart way.”

The characters are well connected and fleshed out. They have chemistry and heat but sex isn’t and doesn’t have to be the main attraction to their relationship. As both men work together to solve these murders, their chemistry, humor, and feelings sneak through without their approval. The plot is engaging, the secondary characters are entertaining and utterly endearing (🥰 Evan), and the suspense had me guessing along the way.

Towards the end, the events started becoming too OTT for my taste. Also, Rojas is a detective and he broke the CARDINAL rule (If it’s not, it should be). Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it but he did a certain something and I was left scratching my head.

There should be a trigger warning for mentions of suicide. I enjoyed Not Dead Yet and I’m hoping Evan gets his story next. Recommended.

 Copy provided for honest review.

Strange the Dreamer Series

Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: Incoherent Ramblings by Lost in a Book

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Blurb:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)

Blurb:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

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5 Million Stars (probably not enough)

I’ve decided that I’m completely unable to do either of these books justice in full reviews. Impossible. The storytelling is exquisite. The world creation is impeccable. The audio is one of the best I’ve heard and Steve West (narrator) completely delivers. I love both books so hard (with book #1 slightly more) that along with the audio, I bought the hard copies to have on my nightstand. So, because I’m unable to live up to the books, I’ll be giving my breakdown of feels with gifs. You’re welcome. 😉

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now…

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both stories…

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the cliffhanger at the end of book #1…

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the wrap up of book #2…

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the audio…

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Laini Taylor…

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Over all feelings…

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Release Blitz: A Love Like Fire

RELEASE BLITZ
Book Title: A Love Like Fire
Author: Tricia Owens
Publisher: Self-Published
Cover Artist: Tricia Owens
Genre/s: Fantasy, M/M Romance
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 50 000 words
Release Date: March 14, 2019
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

 

 

Blurb

When the mercenary Caledon meets a young man named Hadrian, he falls instantly, hopelessly in love with him. Black-haired and silver-eyed, Hadrian is unlike any man Caledon has seen before. His uncertain responses to Caledon’s advances only make the mercenary more determined to pursue and win him.

But Hadrian is a mystery, and harbors untold secrets. He hails from an island inhabited by sorcerers and has come to Caledon’s city to recruit the mercenaries for a well-paying job offered by Hadrian’s father. Except the job is a lie. Hadrian is far more dangerous than his disposition suggests, and what he wants with Caledon and the mercenaries of Rhiad will forever change the land and set in motion a prophecy that will bind two men together in love, lust, and hatred…until death.

A previous version of this book was published as The Sorcerer’s Betrayal. 
This book has been re-written and re-edited.

Excerpt

He could see now that he had erred when he had first tried to label Hadrian.

Caledon had been fascinated by the other man’s apparent inexperience and naiveté. But the truth seemed more incredible. Hadrian was untouched―untouched by affection, untouched by desire. How this had come to be, Caledon couldn’t imagine. But he knew it to be true. He felt it in his bones.

Nothing else could explain why Hadrian literally melted beneath his caresses. Every touch Caledon made upon the younger man’s skin left Hadrian trembling and breathless. Why has no one done this before me?Caledon wondered as he eased open the stall door with his free arm wrapped firmly about Hadrian’s back.

He should simply be grateful that it was he who had been the one to find Hadrian first. That was what his self-serving side told him. But a deeper, more empathetic part of him was saddened by the discovery. Everyone deserved the comforts of touch, of affection. Why hadn’t anyone offered those things to Hadrian?

Caledon’s body urged him to ignore the mystery. He wasn’t trying to develop a permanent relationship with the other man. Hadrian would be gone in a few days. This would be but an interlude for them both.

Even so, Caledon vowed to make it something worth remembering.

About the Author 
Tricia Owens has been writing m/m fiction since 2000, after stumbling onto the term ‘slash’ and thinking it referred to horror stories. She is the author of the Sin City, A Pirate’s Life for Me, and Juxtapose City series, among several others. She lives in Las Vegas.
Author Links
Blog/Website      Facebook      Twitter      Newsletter

 

 

Release Blitz: Apple Boy by Isobel Starling out NOW!

New Release OUT NOW!!

Book Title:  Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1)

Author: Isobel Starling

Publisher: Decent Fellows Press

Cover Artist: Valentine Pascadian (Lennel)

Genre/s:  Fantasy, M/M Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length:103 600 words/ 556 pages

Release Date:  February 15, 2019

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Blurb

After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick.  He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.  

As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer.  The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.

Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm.  The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it.  He also cannot take his eyes off the farmer’s son, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!

Excerpt

“Apple Boy” by Isobel Starling

CHAPTER 1

MARKET SQUARE

“You boy, aye, YOU.  Ain’t never seen ye round ‘ere before,” The farmer directed his bellow at me.  

It was sunrise, and at last, I’d found the courage to step out of my hiding place and join the common laborers who gathered in Mallowick market square.  We were waiting for the farmers’ carts to come by and choose their day workers.  I’d watched this ritual each morning for the past three days, peeking out from shadowed doorways, or while crouching behind barrels.  

It was harvest time, and it appeared to be routine for peasants to walk from the surrounding hamlets before dawn and assemble in the square to seek work on the farms.  There was wheat, barley, root vegetables, and tree fruits to be gathered before the weather turned. I was informed by a ruddy looking fellow in the tavern that anyone could get work on the harvest, and so, with my pride cut to ribbons and my pockets empty, I’d stepped out of the safety of my hiding place and joined the commoners.

“Does ye wants work or no’?  Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ye.  What’s yer name?” The burley farmer roared.  I looked up, stunned to be singled out from among all of these strapping men and hardy looking women, for I felt invisible.  Four carts had already passed and taken their pick of the young, strong peasants, but none of those farmers gave me a second glance.  I should have known something was afoot, for when this particular wagon turned up the women in the square shrank back into doorways, and men sidled away to lean against buildings.  On the side of the wagon, writ-large in bold off-white letters were the words BLACKDOWN FARM. There were around thirty of us left on view, like cattle.

I had never partaken in manual labor or any kind of work before.  I was a gentleman and far more familiar with spending my days relaxing, reading, attending social events in the city, or taking a horse for a gallop in the country.  But my life had changed since I’d become stranded here in the Pasturelands provincial town of Mallowick two weeks earlier.  Now I was living on my wits.  Each day was a fight for my life, and I’d sold all of my fine belongings, intending to pay for passage on the stagecoach from Mallowick to the city of Serein.  But I had not thought things through, and it did not happen that way.  My body’s needs took precedent. I’d become so ravenous, and therefore the meager coin I’d gathered from selling my finery was spent on what I could afford—basic rough barley bread and ale, just enough to stave off the gnawing pangs of hunger in my belly each day.  Now, I had no belongings, and the money was all but gone. I was no thief, and the only thing I had left to sell was my body. Looking like a wretch, I did not believe I could earn even a copper that way! Before I left on my travels, I was warned that the province of Erias had strict rules about men bedding other men and I did not want to tempt fate.  I was at a loss—hard labor or starvation were the only choices available to me. Gods, if my father could see how far I’d fallen in such a short time, he would be thoroughly ashamed.  I was living hand-to-mouth, and if I dared to seek out my reflection and observe my disreputable state of dress, I was sure I would see I was no longer a gentleman at all.

I assured myself that all would be well as soon as I could get to the city of Serein.  There I would attend my father’s depository and obtain funds from his account—as had been arranged, and then, I could find my way to my uncle’s residence and attend to a much grimmer business.  

So, with no other choice, I was here, standing in Mallowick market square with a bunch of rough-looking fellows and ruddy-faced women with just the ragged clothes I stood in to my name.  I wondered if my visage had taken on the same gaunt, starved, haunted look some of them wore.

“WELL?”  The farmer roared.

“Leave him be Pa; I think he’s a mute.  P… p… please don’t—” A swarthy young man urged, stepping to the farmers’ side.  The man appeared to be in his early twenties, with broad angular shoulders, slim hips, and wavy jaw-length hair that longingly reminded me of Montestein tea.  When the morning sunlight broke through the clouds and caressed him, the strands of his hair revealed all the shades of autumn.  It was beautiful.  His eyes were bright emerald green, and his skin bore the wind-burned tan of a man who spent his days working the land.  I met his gaze for a second that seemed to stop time, and I felt a flutter of longing erupt in my gut. I found myself mesmerized by him.  He appeared a little embarrassed, for himself or for me, I wasn’t quite sure. The farmer turned to his son.

“Shut that filthy mouth o’ yours, apple boy!” he spat.  His large meaty hands twitched.  He sneered and glared at his son in such a wicked way I knew it should have been followed up by a sharp slap.  I worried that the young man would endure further public humiliation at the hands of his father, but the farmer moved his disdainful glare back to me.  I shuddered with fear. I had a feeling that he was saving his son’s punishment for later—away from the prying eyes of the townsfolk. I did not like that thought, not one bit.  I did not know why the farmer was drawn to me, but he sized me up with a sweeping glance of consideration, then wrinkled his nose as if he’d sniffed a revolting stench—I hadn’t bathed in two weeks, so maybe I did smell a tad ripe!

“Is ye a mute?”

I shook my head.  I would say, if anything, I was deeply traumatized by the unfortunate circumstance I’d found myself in, but no, I was certainly not a mute.  I just wasn’t used to a lowly man speaking to me so roughly. Generally, men who dared to address me knew their betters and behaved appropriately.  But here in Mallowick, in the province of Erias, I was no better than a beggar on the street.  There was no one I could call on for favors, no one who, on hearing my family name, would loan me coin for the stagecoach or a horse to ride to the city and send word to my father.  

When I’d first arrived in Mallowick, telling the truth of my station had gotten me dragged down an alley where my finger and earrings were stolen, and I’d received a beating.  This farmer from Blackdown Farm had no idea who I was, and I would not make the same mistake again.

I took a breath and stepped out of line.  “Master Irwin Harding, sir. You may call me Win.”  I winced at hearing my own soft, well-spoken voice, with my accent, the clipped tongue of Thorn.  I had not used my real name and wished I had not used my true voice either.  The fact that I was the son of the Duke of Thorn meant nothing here.  Thorn was west of Erias, on the other side of the Silua Montis Mountain range, and I doubted any of these illiterate souls in Mallowick knew anything other than that folklore passed around by storytellers.

The farmer stepped to stand in front of me.  He was a big, bulky bastard of a man and stank of stale sweat and baccy.  He had a grizzled podgy face and thick dark hair shot with strands of silver pulled into an untidy tail.  The tension grew between us, and I worried I’d spoken out of turn. I looked down and watched my bare, filthy feet as if they held endless fascination.  I’d seen men like him before. He had hands like shovels, and I’m sure they’d done damage in their time. My father would have used a man like him well, probably as muscle to intimidate the city folk while the Royal Chancellor did the rounds collecting taxes.  

Afraid and sweating with anxiety, I glanced up and away, unable to look at the farmer directly and meet his fierce piggy eyes.  Instead, I looked left and caught the eye of his son. I felt another flutter of attraction. I was grateful for it because it dampened my fear a little.  The glance the farmers’ son sent me back was sheepish, apologetic. He shrugged and put a finger to his lips, signaling for me to hush. I’m sure now he knew what was coming.

Master, is it?”  The farmer gave a raspy malevolent chuckle.  “Well, well, well aren’t ye an uppity little scrote.  Such a pretty voice an’ all. Have your balls dropped yet, lad?”  

The townsmen men standing around me shuffled on their feet and snickered uncomfortably.  I could tell from the tentative laughter they were afraid of this man too. My chest tightened with fury, and I felt the flare of heat rush to color my cheeks.  If in Thorn I would have put this fellow in his place, but as directed by the farmers’ handsome son, I held my tongue.  

I dared to look up as the farmer scratched his grizzled chin and consider me.  It was then I saw it. A chill iced my bones. On his chubby right index finger, he wore a gold ring set with a large red gemstone that I was aghast to see held the intaglio engraving of a rose thorn—my family’s seal.  How had this disgusting Pasturelands farmer come upon my family’s ring?  Anger curdled my gut, but I forced myself to focus and fixed my features so as not to alert the man to what I was looking at.  That ring was more precious than I could say. It was not set with any common gemstone, oh no, the setting was Star-fall.  The legend was that mortal tools could not cut the rich-red Star-fall stone.  The gemstone was shaped by sorcery, and the power that carved into the gem was stored inside it as if the Star-fall was a reservoir for the magic.  It was illegal for any other than the Twin Kings of Osia to own Star-fall.  The king’s men had scoured the Empire to remove all traces of the priceless gem from common and aristocratic hands and possessing it was a death sentence.  Did this ruffian have any idea what he wore?

Not getting a rise from me, the farmer stepped yet closer and found out for himself if my balls had dropped.  He reached for my privates and squeezed.

Ahh, ye got some big stones de’re al’right, boy,” he said with a filthy sneer.

“Done any labourin’ before, lad?”  My eyes watered.  I shook my head and winced as the pressure on my most sensitive parts rose.  I wanted to shout and push him away, punch him in that bristly pug face. I’d trained in hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, but that was of little use to me now that I had no sword and was cast as naught but a commoner myself.  I stood frozen to the spot with fear, my cock, and balls in the hand of this brutish man. I was sure that clutching my nethers was not the best way to test if I would be a good apple picker.  

The farmer let go, stepped back, and looked me over again like he was sizing up a prize pig.  I wanted to keel over, hold my sensitive parts and howl, but, with my eyes watering, I kept my back ramrod straight and looked past the farmer, using his son’s regretful, pretty green eyes as my focus.  

I appeared to be a boy, but I am nineteen and about to make my majority.  I have a tall, willowy frame, and little muscle to show for my near twenty summers.  Weeks before, I was clothed in the silken garb of a lordling, but all I wore now were my stinky silk britches and a once-white linen shirt.  I’d even had to sell my fine leather boots. My flaxen hair hung loosely to my shoulders and was bedraggled. My mother had always told me my hair shone like a golden halo.  I guessed that was no longer the case. I had not seen my reflection in two weeks so I could only imagine how frightful I appeared to onlookers. My circumstance was terrible, but I refused to let it defeat me.  I was a son of Thorn, I was a gentleman, damn it, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to do to find my way to my destination and seek justice for all the ill-luck that had befallen me.  

“Right, scrote, up on the wagon,” the farmer declared.  “We can always do wit a few extra scurrier’s fer the windfalls.”

I had no idea what that actually meant, but strangely relieved to be selected, I nodded subserviently and then, ducking my head to avoid the farmers’ glare, I scurried to the wagon where I surreptitiously gave my aching intimate parts a gentle rub.  

I’d heard from a fellow in the tavern that harvesting wheat at Robinswood Farm was backbreaking, as was digging root vegetables at Windy Oakes Farm.  He advised that apple picking was easy work and if I could get employment at Weatherby’s or Blackdown Farm, they paid good coin.  He said the mistress at Blackdown was particularly well-liked and always gave laborers a bread and cheese luncheon with last season’s cider.  I was so hungry that bread and cheese sounded like a banquet. The fellow had neglected to tell me that the farmer was a brute!

The farmers’ son met me by the wagon and offered to help me aboard.  For a moment, from the look of consideration in his eyes, I thought he could see past the disheveled state of me to the gentleman I’d once been.  But that was ridiculous. The farmers’ son hopped up onto the back of the wagon with dexterous athleticism, and then offered me his hands. I took them without a thought.  His warm touch and the strength in those work-roughened fingers twisted my gut into uncomfortable knots. He fixed my gaze as he gripped both of my hands and tugged me up as easily as if he were lifting feather down.  He pulled me closed and pressed me to his hard chest.

“Don’t back chat him or it’ll be the worst fer you,” he whispered the warning to my ear.  Alarmed, I eased back from him and cautiously met his eye for a split second. In the look he gave me I saw that the warning was well-meant.  Bewildered, I nodded in thanks and understanding. I had no idea why this stranger was looking out for me, but the fact he was warmed my heart.  I choked back a tear. No one had looked out for me over these past weeks, and I had been so terribly lonely. I’d learned some hard life lessons on this leg of my journey, and I’d come to understand that here my title was irrelevant, and without money I was suddenly invisible; therefore small kindnesses meant more than I could say.

My adventure into the provinces had been made to appease my father for my supposed ‘lack of direction.’  I’d become bored with my easy life in Thorn, and not intending to marry; I’d told my father that in-light of my upcoming twentieth Bloomsday I wanted to tour the Empire.  If I were to one-day become Duke of Thorn, I needed to know a little of the politics of each province and so, pleased with my initiative and happy to be rid of me for a while, he’d set me on my way.  I’d toured the provinces of Terria, Corvay, and Reuss and then continued to the province of Osia, spending time in the capital city Altea, at the court of the Twin Kings, Kristoff, and Fabian Von Harte.  With this journey to Erias, I was to have the full set of provinces under my belt.  But fate was not on my side.

On benches affixed to either side of the farmers’ wagon sat fourteen men morosely staring at their bare, filthy feet, not a word of chatter between them.  They each owned a small pack of belongings and a wrapped blanket that each had stowed beneath the bench. At this moment they were better-off than me, for I did not even have a blanket to my name.  There was space for me and five more, totaling twenty men. The farmer chose from the remaining laborers with less consideration than I had been afforded.

“Right…  I’ll take Allin, Jed, Arthur, Bartram, and Matty, that’ll do me fer the week,” he hollered decisively.

The week?  I thought I’d promised myself for a hard day’s labor?  But then again, I considered the harvesters who were sitting in the wagon, and yes, they appeared to have prepared for an overnight stay.  Confused, I sat down as the other laborers were pulled up onto the wagon by their comrades, and then we shuffled along the benches until we were all seated.  I noticed the shoulders of the remaining men in the market square sag a little in apparent relief as if some mighty weight had lifted from them. I didn’t understand it.  I thought they’d wanted to work?

The farmers’ son clambered over into the front of the wagon.  His father climbed on, the man’s bulk shaking the timbers of the rickety wagon as he settled on the bench beside him.  The son handed his father the ribbons, which the farmer greedily snatched up, and then with a fearsome bellow of “Geddup” and a thunderous whip crack, the large mottled grey workhorse began its cumbersome trot down the main street and onto the dusty road to Blackdown Farm.

About the Author

Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

Isobel is currently working on her nineteenth book.  

“As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond#1) narrated by Gary Furlong won the Audiobook Reviewer Award for Romance 2018.  It is the first M/M Romance audiobook to win a mainstream audiobook award.

Author Links

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Amazon Author Page

Decent Fellows Press

The Replacement Husband

The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson: Review by Lost in a Book

The Replacement Husband

Blurb:

Goddess-blessed Owen Honeyfield is destined to enjoy perfect good fortune, and the arrival of handsome and eligible Tom Drake in his country town appears to be just the latest manifestation. Tom’s proposal is the fulfillment of Owen’s desires, but Owen is left heartbroken and at the mercy of Arthur, Tom’s disapproving elder brother, when his betrothal takes a disastrous turn. His reputation ruined and his bright future shattered, Owen must choose between loneliness and practicality.

Arthur Drake has taken responsibility for Tom’s scandalous behavior all their lives. He doesn’t think much of his brother’s engagement, knowing that even Owen’s sweetness won’t be enough to influence Tom for the better. When Tom’s impulsive selfishness threatens to ruin the lives of everyone involved, Arthur has only one honorable choice. He’ll need to repair the damage Tom has done and fight for his own happiness, knowing all the while he may never be able to take Tom’s place in Owen’s heart.

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4 Stars

This is the second M/M historical I’ve read by Eliot Grayson (I believe the second book they have released, too) and I’m a fan. The Replacement Husband isn’t a cookie cutter historical with having its goddess element and the ability for these main characters to be open about their relationship. The unique approach may be a negative for historical romance sticklers who prefer the secrecy and the heightened angst from societal and criminal implications when two men fall in love. However, all the readers that stay away from M/M for those very reasons may appreciate a historicalish romance where not only can two men be together, it’s accepted and celebrated.

As the blurb mentions, Owen is blessed by the goddess with great fortune, blessings, and a husband to live happily ever after with. He lives at home with his parents and waits to meet the one. The wrong one comes in the form of Tom Drake, a charming man with dazzling eyes and the inability to follow through. After Tom becomes engaged to Owen, a series of events take place and Tom’s brother Arthur has to pick up the pieces or Owen’s reputation is ruined.

Arthur, being nothing like his brother, begins to immediately fix the problems. Owen and Arthur’s tentative relationship grows into much more as they navigate their new life. There’s a lot of heat between the blushing virgin and growly Arthur. I adored Arthur with his commanding presence and his sweet nature towards those he loves. Owen is somewhat likable but also very much a pushover. I’m happy he finds his place with Arthur but wish he had more of a backbone when it comes to the other characters and the situations he falls in.

I was engaged throughout the story and appreciate that the goddess element isn’t a heavy focus. I wish the epilogue gave us more because we didn’t get a lot of time with Owen and Arthur together together on page outside of sex. Still, I felt warm and fuzzy at this lighthearted *historical* where love is love and men can marry men. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

A Trust to Follow

A Trust to Follow by Diana Waters: Review by Lost in a Book

A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1)

Blurb:

Daymon is the second prince of a kingdom in which Evokers—those who possess intuitive magical abilities—have long since been treated with fear and mistrust. Marked as an Evoker himself, Daymon is captured by those who wish to take advantage of these powers. Now, the prince must put his faith in Rhyder, the captain of his guards—and the man Daymon has claimed as his own—to free him.

 

 

 

 

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3.5 Stars

Thinking about my rating and review for A Trust to Follow had me spinning around in circles. I liked it, really liked it and yet I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a story and what I really wanted was like a dangled carrot I could never quite reach.

Prince Daymon and the Captain of his guard, Rhyder are long time lovers. Prince Daymon claimed him for himself and they spend their days trying to change the prejudice and fear surrounding those with magical abilities (Evokers). Prince Daymon is an Evoker and gets into many dicey situations trying to change perceptions and thwart harmful acts against other Evokers. This lands him in trouble as he tries to save a fellow mage from an attack and gets himself captured.

We follow along in Daymon’s mind as he lives through his captivity and the enormous faith he has in Captain Rhyder.

As I mentioned above, I liked it. The writing kept me connected, the ‘story’ was interesting, and at the same time I wanted more. This seemed more like an extended scene rather than a full story. I want the story of how Daymon and Rhyder met, became friends, allies, and then eventual lovers. I want the parts of them fighting off evil acts to make a better name for Evokers as they fall in love. Instead, we are dropped in when there was already a claiming, most of the scene/story they are separated, and we are provided very little flashbacks on how they came to be.

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I’m not sure if this should be the start to a series but it does a decent job of explaining Evokers and the trials they face to make it in a world that’s set to hate them for merely existing. I think if Daymon and Rhyder got their story, this would be a nice bonus addition. Still, it worked in its own way. Recommended.

Copy provided by author in exchange for honest review.

Release Blitz & Giveaway- Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 78,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.

When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

***

“Magic, folklore, dark deeds, and hot romance combine in this wildly enjoyable, inventive story set in a lovely alt-Victorian Gothic world. More please!”

—KJ Charles, RITA™-nominated author of THE MAGPIE LORD and SPECTRED ISLE

“Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch is the sort of book you want to read again the moment you reach the end. Beautifully written, with a romance that is by turns sweet and scorching, it belongs on the keeper shelf of any lover of paranormal historical.”

—Jordan L. Hawk, author of the WHYBORNE AND GRIFFIN and HEXWORLD series

 

Excerpt

Thornby was walking along the moorland path, calm as you please, nose in the air, apparently admiring the autumn colours in the distant oaks in the park.

“Stop, Lord Thornby! I want to talk to you.”

Thornby walked faster, slight limp becoming more pronounced.

“Stop, I say!”

John felt in his pockets for his vials and pouches, then changed his mind and simply put on speed. He’d come to this remote part of the grounds in the hope of a rest. He’d not slept much last night with the walls of Raskelf muttering and whispering, and the antiquities from Egypt shrieking muffled curses from the other side of the corridor.

The thought of Thornby had kept him awake as well; so resistant to the Judas Voice—that had given John an unpleasant moment—and so unapproachable, with that aristocratic hauteur you could never breach. And so strange. Why did the man wear such peculiar clothes? Today it was tight black pantaloons and a high stock that would have been fashionable forty years ago. And over this bizarre Regency costume was a rusty black greatcoat with wide cuffs, and a tricorn hat that would have looked well in the previous century.

And, yes, Thornby was handsome—heart-stoppingly so—with arrogant grey eyes, a mane of brown hair that almost reached his collar, and a preposterous red mouth. He was tall and thin and carried himself like a fencer. There was, too, something whip-taut about him, some unbearable tension that made you feel he might lash out. Or suddenly kiss you. Thornby had looked John up and down when he was introduced, finally unbending so far as to give John a slight inclination of the head. And John’s mouth had gone as dry as if Thornby had extended one of those elegant white hands and given his balls a gentle squeeze.

It was tiresome, really. It made it so much harder to concentrate. He must make sure he didn’t allow his attraction to the man to cloud his judgement. Possibly Thornby was using a glamour spell. John couldn’t sense one, but sometimes by their very nature they were difficult to detect.

So, he mustn’t think about how good it would be to slide his fingers inside Thornby’s old black pantaloons, how good it would be to taste his lovely mouth, and wipe that damned snooty expression off his face. If John had been in London, he would have gone to one of the houses that catered to men of his taste, and tried to forget about it. Here in the middle of rural Yorkshire it was far too dangerous to approach anyone, and in any case, farm lads were not his type. He’d simply leave as soon as he could tell Catterall he’d done his best.

They walked in single file for perhaps five minutes. The path smelt of rotting leaves, and a biting wind began to make its presence felt as they crossed into an open piece of moorland. Splashes of muddy water were spotting the back of Thornby’s coat. John used the close proximity to feel for magic. Like last night at dinner, he could sense nothing emanating from Thornby. There was certainly no demon reek, so Thornby probably wasn’t a theurgist, or if he was, he was a very fastidious one.

But then Thornby didn’t feel like a materials man either, and John could generally recognise his own kind. So, how had Thornby broken those charms? Now John was closer, and had longer to concentrate on Thornby alone, he thought there might be something magical, at the very edge of his awareness, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Most magicians used demons or materials, but there were other ways, so perhaps Thornby used some unfamiliar method.

John charged his ward stone, and put it back in his pocket. He patted his bag of salt and checked his Gelomorous twine and the demon trap, just in case. Whatever spells Thornby cared to throw at him, he was ready. In fact, he was almost looking forward to a fight.

They reached an open place a hundred yards from a small pine spinney. The dark trees were contorted sideways as if fleeing the icy wind. The sun, behind its grey pall of cloud, was beginning to set. Thornby suddenly stopped and swung around.

“Well, Mr Blake? I suppose you’d like to explain yourself?” Thornby’s chin was up, beautiful mouth curved in disdain.

 
Author Bio
 

Lee Welch wrote her first book aged seven (a pastiche of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and first had an idea for an m/m romance aged twelve. She loves books and comics, and when she’s not writing, she’ll probably be reading. Her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Graham Greene, Linda Medley, Dylan Horrocks and KJ Charles. By day, Lee works as an editor and business communications adviser, mainly persuading people not to say ‘utilise’ when they mean ‘use’. Her job has led her to work in areas as diverse as mental health, nursing, accident prevention and the criminal justice sector.

Lee loves to hear from readers. You can find her at:

Website      Twitter       Facebook

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The Sumage Solution

The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger: Review by Lost in a Book

The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1)

Blurb:

Everything you wanted from a sexy gay werewolf but were afraid to read. 

Max fails at magic, relationships, and life. So he works as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something irresistible about the sexy muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date.

Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

The San Andreas Shifter books stand alone and do not have to be read in any particular order.

Delicate Sensibilities?

This story contains M/M sexitimes and horrible puns. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The San Andreas Shifter stories include blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart/mouth/tongue…

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4 Stars

I’m really glad I FINALLY got this off my TBR. It’s been carrying one of the top spots since it came out last year. Hopefully, prior to cracking this open, you have realized there’s a prequel. I didn’t pay too much attention to that little tidbit when I dove in and was thoroughly confused. Especially because I was listening to the audio and all these names were dropping like I should know them. So, I *highly* recommend you read the prequel first (it provided a lot of clarity once I read it and restarted this one).

What happens when you get a Beta werewolf and a mage with a huge chip on his shoulder? Epic one-liners, snark galore, new levels of sassiness, and some smokin’ smexy times.

“Really, Max? Fizzy jizz?” “I see werewolves do have a heightened sense of taste. It’s a mage thing.” “The champagne of cocks?” “See how I spoil you?”

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“You got all that from prostate wand?” Alec smiled stiffly, no canines. “It’s like a tarot deck. You can tell a lot about a man from his toy collection.”

Bryan is calm, loyal, large, and protective of those in his life. He’s the perfect blend to balance out Max’s snarky, outwardly fuck-it attitude. Max has a lot of baggage from his childhood and Bryan helps soothe his hurts. I really enjoyed them together, appreciated the growth Max made, and swooned over Bryan’s solidness. They did some work to get a HEA and the journey was believable.

This book has a diverse and entertaining cast of secondary characters from drag queens to fiery kitsunes. I’m eager to read other stories about the werewolves in Bryan’s pack and see how they possibly pair up with others that were introduced. They’ve built a patchwork family with love, humor, and lots of feels.

For some reason (besides the prequel issue, which I sorted within the first 5%), it took some time to get into this book and hit my stride. I’ll chalk it up to some RL craziness and once 50% hit, the pace picked up. There are some missing explanations about different elements that were mentioned throughout. Towards the end, I was happily chugging along getting all warm and gooey and then I turned the page, gasped and went all “where’s my damn epilogue?” That’s more my fault and reading preferences with being greedy and wanting to *see* the HEA.

The Sumage Solution is an enjoyable and unique take on shifters and mages. The snark alone makes it worth reading. Recommended.

”Why fight it just for what the world thinks we should be? I’d rather fight the world.”

Note about the narration: I started out doing audio only, but had to switch to reading for a bit and then returned to audio. I recently listened to Kirt Graves read another shifter book which was almost 19 hours long and I couldn’t stop hearing the voices from the other pack. The narration for this one was done well, the characters differentiated, and I was eventually able to hear Bryan and Max through *their* voices. The audio is recommended.