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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Love Me Louder

Love Me Louder by Christina Lee: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Love Me Louder

Blurb:

Noah Dixon is damaged goods. After an accident leaves him physically scarred and emotionally vulnerable, dating isn’t in the cards, so he throws himself head-first into his retail job. When he’s obligated to attend his best friend’s engagement party on Fire Island, it dawns on him he’s about to spend yet another weekend feeling totally invisible and alone among a swarm of gorgeous men.

That’s when the idea of an escort comes in.

After Will Crossen was forced to put his theater major on hold in favor of two jobs to tackle his ailing mother’s hospital bills, he tells himself becoming an escort isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just another form of acting, right? He doesn’t expect his newest customer to be the cheery, overconfident sales associate he avoids like the plague at his day job. Talk about awkward.

But what happens on Fire Island stays on Fire Island…especially when a smoldering attraction sparks into flames. Will doesn’t feel so alone anymore, and for the first time, Noah realizes someone is seeing him behind all the scars. But between their jobs, Will’s massive familial responsibilities, and Noah’s vulnerabilities, they don’t stand a chance unless they find a way to let love speak louder than their demons.

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3.75 Stars

Holy fishnets Batman!!

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I’m in the minority with my rating but the fishnets, the way Will rocked them, and how much Noah got off on them brought out my happy face.

Noah works at a home furnishings store with the quiet and stand-offish Will. Noah is happiest at work where he is able to transform spaces for customers. In his private life he’s lonely, insecure about his scars, and distancing himself from the friends and family that love him. This distance from his helicopter parents and physically “beautiful” friends works until he has to go back to Fire Island for a birthday party and secret engagement for his friends. Unable to stomach a trip back alone with everyone hooking up except him, he spots a bat signal in the form of a card his co-worker Will accidentally drops.

Gotham City Escorts.

Will works multiple jobs to help support his mother and her medical bills. He meets up with his next client to prepare for a weekend away at a coffee shop and is taken aback to find Noah waiting. After a rocky start, Will agrees to escort Noah for the Fire Island trip.

Will and Noah’s agreement begins a tentative friendship where they spend time getting to know each other. They definitely can’t show up for the weekend acting like they’ve never spent a minute together. Outside of work, they realize they have things in common and that their assumptions about the other were way off base. A connection is made and then at Fire Island their chemistry comes alive. Except, they don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. Noah doesn’t understand how anyone can be attracted to him beyond a hook-up and believes that Will is just doing what he is paid to do; which is to act like he’s a devoted boyfriend. Will can’t see past his need for money and what that means in caring for his mom. There are some mild curve balls thrown in to make decisions more complicated but low to medium angst overall with a HEA.

The first 50-60% of the book dragged for me. I wasn’t even sure I would hit 3 stars for a rating because I wasn’t having a very enjoyable time. The insecurities and self-doubt were understandable but Noah grated on my patience. Assumptions in high quantities were being spewed on both sides. The back and forth does he/doesn’t he or he’s only interested because I’m paying him drove me cray-cray after a while. I was extremely relieved that everything picked up and my sanity/enjoyment was restored as I finished out the story. Clearly this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

A warning for readers that like their MCs to only have *ahem* interactions between themselves: There are other… escorty type situations while Noah and Will find their place together. They’re minor but bills gotta be paid and all. *shrugs*

Recommended.

”Show me, fuck me, hire me again just so we can pretend to pretend.”

Copy provided for honest review.

Psssst…New Series from Anyta Sunday

First 3 books in Anyta Sunday’s new series OUT TODAY!

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Admiring Ash

Series:  Love Letters #1
Publisher: Anyta Sunday (self-published)
Release Date (Print & Ebook): July 31st, 2018
Length (Print & Ebook): 41600 words / 222 pages
Subgenre: Light-hearted, sexy gay romance
Direct Link: https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/admiring-ash

Book blurb:

A is for Ash Heartford.

Adorable, strong, and independent.

Abandoned by his parents and attached to only one person—his little sister.

Attracted to River, the sultry man who saunters onto his doorstep with startling news.

Always yearning for more River, yet afraid to let him in.

Should he play it safe, or claim his legacy and risk losing his heart?

A is for Admiring Ash.

Tropes: Slow burn, virgin, one true love, happily ever after, related but not, hurt/comfort, forbidden love
Themes: Sudden inheritance, broken family, insta-dad
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

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Begging Ben

Series: Love Letters #2
Publisher: Anyta Sunday (self-published)
Release Date (Print & Ebook): July 31st, 2018
Length (Print & Ebook): 41000 words / 220 pages
Subgenre: Light-hearted, sexy gay romance
Direct Link:
https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/begging-ben

Book blurb:

B is for Ben Spengler.

Brilliant. Bashful. Burned.

Brimming with desire for his BFF Landon, who is beyond compare.

But they aren’t the same Ben and Landon anymore. Not after what Landon did. And didn’t do.

Bitter about his unrequited love.

Bound by a night of drunken promises.

Will the chemistry between them change, or will Ben break first?

B is for Begging Ben.

Tropes: Pretend boyfriend, friends to lovers, virgin, brother-like, jealousy
Themes: Science, geek, alcohol induced oblivion
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

 

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Challenging Chance

Series: Love Letters #3
Publisher: Anyta Sunday (self-published)
Release Date (Print & Ebook): July 31st, 2018
Length (Print & Ebook): 32000 words / 182 pages
Subgenre: Light-hearted, sexy gay romance
Direct Link: https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/challenging-chance

Book blurb:

C is for Chance Roosevelt-Sutton.

Chiseled jaw. Smug attitude. Wild ways.

Chained to his ego—or so everyone thinks. Except his personal assistant, Brook. He knows better.

Chance is challenged to make his father happy for once, but he needs Brook’s help.

Choosing honesty is too risky, so instead they choose secrecy.

Choked by their pasts, they dream of a better life . . . and

Charm each other into submission.

Will their pasts ruin what they have, or will they grow together?

C is for Challenging Chance.

Tropes: Alpha male, millionaire bad boy, athlete, help/comfort
Themes: Basketball, coming out
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

 

 

 

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Series blurb:

Feisty. Nerdy. Sexy. Secretive.

Greenville has them all.

A small town with big hearts, Greenville awakens at the mercy of Millionaire Row, the wealthy neighborhood across the tracks from Poplar Low.

Bad-tempered boys meet cheeky lovers.

Colliding worlds spark a fire of emotion. Heat rages. Hearts mend. Love is lost. And found.

Love Letters are playful, sexy, contemporary M/M stories that can be read as standalones.

Welcome to Greenville. Come for the sexy boys. Stay for the HEA.

Excerpts:

Admiring Ash Teaser #1:

Who was this River? What was he doing here, unless . . .

Ash narrowed his eyes. Attractive and charming. Hadn’t his sister mentioned she was crushing on a local college guy? “Oh, fuck me. You’ve knocked up my sister, haven’t you?”

All playfulness evaporated as Ash catalogued River from head to toe. Would Ash be spending the next twenty years raising a kid that resembled this man? Would that kid grow up—like all the Heartfords—addicted to love? Raising fatherless children? Obsessed with falling for men, believing, every time that this one was the one?

He’d hoped he and Danielle would kick the tradition. 

He almost punched the stunningly sculpted man in the mouth. 

Admiring Ash Teaser #2:

“You have deft fingers.”

Ash’s voice vibrated through him, urging River to make a move. The playful twitch of those lips begged to be kissed as much as River’s lips begged to do the kissing. 

He wanted to slide his hands into Ash’s tangled hair and let their lips collide.

He wanted Ash under him, mapping every inch of his skin with his mouth. 

He wanted Ash not to be off-limits . . .

But he was.

Begging Ben Teaser #1:

Waking up after a night of drinking? Fun times.

Ben’s pulse rang in his ear. He shifted slightly, foot moving the sheets and funneling air over his body—

An arm tightened around him, and Ben froze.

What. The. Hell.

Release Blitz: Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine

RELEASE BLITZ

Title: Curl Around My Heart

Author: Londra Laine

Editor: Jae Ashley

Cover Art: Aria Tan

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: July 24, 2018

Rating: 18+

Page Count: 168

Word Count: 61,923

Themes: California, single dad, beauty shop, contemporary, neighbor romance, African-American, drug addiction

Add on Goodreads 

BUY LINKS – AVAILABLE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

Amazon US        Amazon UK 

Blurb

At Pearl’s Hair and Nails, no one questions Tate Robinson about his high heels, crop tops, and lipstick, because he’s the boss and he can wear what he damn well pleases. The shop is his life, and he doesn’t need anything more. Until a man walks in with his adorable daughter, and Tate has to untangle her helmet-hair…and his growing feelings for the single dad.

Reece Evans has been on his job for years, has his own place, and now has custody of his eight-year-old daughter. But he doesn’t trust himself to avoid screwing up. Adulting is not his strong suit—or so he’s been told.And now a sexy beautician, who also happens to be his new downstairs neighbor, has Reece wanting and reaching for more than he thinks he’s capable of.

As Tate and Reece move past their own fears about relationships, Reece’s ex issues a threat that could destroy everything. Will Reece’s worries about other people judging him undermine his budding romance? And will Tate’s fear of rejection make him push Reece away? Or have the sweet single dad and his precocious daughter curled too tightly around his heart to give them up?

***Please be aware that this book contains references to drug addiction.***

Excerpt 

Eventually they eased away from each other, their lips pressing briefly against a cheek, an eyelid, the corner of a mouth, until their foreheads were touching as they shared slightly labored breaths.

“I like you, Tate.” The words spilled from Reece as though Tate had wrung them from him. Tate pulled back, forcing Reece to disentangle their legs. Tate was in profile to Reece now, his head dropped against the back of the couch. His stomach seized and his confidence drained, waiting to hear Tate’s response.

“I like you too, Reece,” the other man mumbled.

Oh, thank fuck.

Reece sighed in relief as Tate shifted to meet his gaze.

“I’m crazy attracted to you. Obviously. But, I’m just nervous because guys like you⎯”

Reece’s hackles rose. “Guys like me?”

Tate closed his eyes briefly then opened them. “Yeah. Guys like you. Stereotypically male. Not so obviously queer. Well, they’ve been attracted to me, dated me. But inevitably break things off, because they think I’m too femme. Too flamboyant.” Tate’s shine flickered, and a well of heat raced up Reece’s chest.

“Well, fuck those dudes,” Reece said, throwing himself back on the couch. “And don’t ever compare me to them. I see you, Tate.” He turned his head and waited until Tate met his gaze. “I like what I see. All of it. All of you. You look good to me in heels,kicks, tight-ass ladies’ jeans, and sweats too. I just like you, man.” He ended his little tirade on a shaky breath and then leaned over to brush his lips against Tate’s.

As he went to pull back, Tate trapped Reece against him, gliding his tongue across the seam of Reece’s lips, coaxing Reece to open then luring him into an urgent kiss. Their lips and noses smashed, teeth bit and clacked as they clutched at each other before Tate pulled back abruptly.

“What am I doing?” Tate whispered, resting his head against Reece’s. “You have a kid. You’re my client. My neighbor.” He pulled back, his face serious, eyes searching Reece’s. “And I like to top. Mostly. Like seventy-thirty.” Tate lifted his chin as though waiting for Reece to object.

Reece just smiled, his dick twitching at the thought of Tate topping him, bending him over the couch and making him wail. He brushed his lips against Tate’s. “Well, lucky for both of us then that I like to bottom, mostly. I’d say about sixty-forty. I figure we can meet somewhere in the middle. As far as the other stuff goes… What? You discriminating against me?”

Tate shook his head. “No, it’s just that I’ve been here before, okay. With the straight guys, the bi guys, even the gay ones, and most of them just wanted to fuck and didn’t even want to take me out on a date because I was too effeminate for them.” Tate waved his hand. “Too whatever, too…me, and I just…” He trailed off.

“You expect me to be like them,” Reece finished.

Tate groaned then covered his face briefly. “No, okay? Maybe. Ugh. It’s hard not to expect this to be the same, you know?” Tate grimaced.

Disappointment surged through Reece but then quickly dissipated. Tate didn’tthink Reece would personally fuckup whatever this was that was starting between them. No, this had nothing to do with Reece. Tate had been burned, and Reece could relate.He couldn’t make any promises about the outcome of their budding whatever it was, but he damn sure wanted to try. He didn’t want to be to Tate what all the other men who’d come before had been.

Reece grabbed Tate’s hand, turning to face the man. “Well, how about we do the unexpected? Can I take you out next Friday after work?” Reece held his breath.

About the Author 

Londra Laine

A forever-man for every man

Londra has loved to read since she discovered The Baby-Sitters Club. As a child, her parents would ground her by taking all the books out of her room for several days. Londra began reading romance in 2008 and fell in love with the M/M romance genre after purchasing a book by accident several years later.

After decades of daydreaming, and jotting down story ideas, Londra decided to give life to the characters in her head. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.

During the day, Londra is a communications manager for a consulting firm. She is a recovering journalist. Londra loves the New York Yankees, Seinfeld reruns, tacos, and Friday nights on the couch with wine and a new book.

In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lived in Harlem for nearly eight years. In early 2018 she relocated to Seattle with her husband

Social Media Links

Londra on Twitter       Londra on Amazon       Londra on QueeRomance Ink

Londra on Goodreads        Londra on Facebook       Amazon        Goodreads

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The Werewolf’s Fae Mate

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate by Liv Rider: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR.

The Werewolf's Fae Mate

Blurb:

He never expected his mate to be fae. Now he has to choose between his heart and his pack.

When mixed-blood werewolf Mahon comes across powerful fae magic in a nightclub, dealing with the threat is a chance to prove to his new pack where his loyalties lie. But the threat turns out to be a gorgeous, wide-eyed college student who’s never heard of the supernatural world. After they’re attacked by bloodsucking vampire bats, he takes Oscar and his small, angry cat home for their own protection. He’ll definitely tell his pack about Oscar…later.

Abandoned as an infant, Oscar’s always wondered where he came from—he just never expected the answer to include pointy ears, magical powers, and evil forces trying to kill him. Oscar knows he shouldn’t rely on Mahon for help, but it’s hard to resist when a six-foot-six werewolf literally sweeps you off your feet. The key to Oscar’s past might lie with the local fae court—where werewolves aren’t welcome.

Oscar and Mahon are mates—but how can they be together when it might cost them both everything?

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate is an m/m paranormal werewolf/fae romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers.

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3 Stars

The Werewolf’s Fae Mate is a short, straight forward paranormal read with heat and action.

As the blurb states, Oscar is a normal college student, until he realizes he’s anything but a normal college student. Unfortunately for Oscar, that realization happens right around the time a vampire and vampire bats come calling. Luckily for him, Mahon (a werewolf) also comes calling and Oscar is thrust into a world that he once believed was only in storybooks.

With the danger lurking around Oscar, he ends up staying with Mahon as they try to figure out the specifics about his missing past. One thing leads to another quickly and it’s all growly, mine, mates, sex, thinking about sex, and more sex. Oscar is clueless, goofy, and endearing. I wish we had more of his personality without being clouded by lust and overshadowed by the main drama of miscommunication. There is insta-love as usual in a mates situation and they ride that train all the way to an HEA.

While Mahon and Oscar are cute together, the relationship and world building is lacking IMO. I liked the premise and the characters but everything felt so rushed. Oscar has a cat named Marshmallow and I didn’t understand why there was so much emphasis placed on her. I kept waiting for *something* to happen. It didn’t. Still, I’ll definitely keep Marshmallow on the table for my future pet’s name.

If you’re new to m/m paranormal, this could be a good starting point for you. Hopefully the world building comes together in the next book. I’ll give Aidan (Mahon’s brother) a shot if he gets a book. Recommended if you’re looking for a quick and easy paranormal.

Copy provided for honest review.

The Weight of It All

The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker: Audio Book Review by Lost in a Book

The Weight of It All

Blurb:

After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.

He joins a gym.

Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.

As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.

Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.

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4.5 Stars

Ok, Why did I wait SOOOOO long to “read” this? I adored The Weight of It All and the narration by Joel Leslie is everything needed to bring Henry and Reed to life. I’m not sure I can go any further without mentioning the epic Harry Potter references. AND. ANDDDDDD, Joel Leslie’s impressions while doing them is on point. *happy dance*

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the story.

Henry- gets dumped by his ex for aging and looking like he’s aging. He’s desperate to get his ex life back and heads to the gym where he meets Reed.

Reed- large, muscular, abs for miles, never misses a leg day… you get the point. He’s jaded from dating typical gym rats who would rather talk about gym things instead of getting to know him. Reed is also Henry’s new trainer.

Henry and Reed’s interactions are hilarious. They begin as Trainer/trainee and slowly morph into friends on top of their professional gym relationship. A lot of time is spent getting to know each other and they develop a solid foundation that steadily grows into a relationship deeper friendship. Henry has huge insecurities with the battle scars left from his ex that blind him about Reeds affections. His thoughts on how can Mr. Perfect ever want me were understandable but went on for a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng time. They communicated about so much and yet Henry was evasive about his inner dialogue from the one person who *truly* would understand his perspective.

Outside of Henry’s feelings of being inferior, The Weight of It All is a low drama read with tons of humor, great secondary characters, and MCs that complement each other perfectly all the way to an HEA.

As I mentioned before, Joel Leslie killed it on the narration. I was LMAO at his delivery and enjoyed every part of the story.

Definitely recommended. Especially the audio.

The Henchmen of Zenda

The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles: Reviewed by Lost in a Book.
Also reviewed on @BMBR.

Tag team with Adam

The Henchmen of Zenda

Blurb:

Swordfights, lust, betrayal, murder: just another day for a henchman.

Jasper Detchard is a disgraced British officer, now selling his blade to the highest bidder. Currently that’s Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. Michael wants the throne for himself, and Jasper is one of the scoundrels he hires to help him take it. But when Michael makes his move, things don’t go entirely to plan—and the penalty for treason is death.

Rupert of Hentzau is Michael’s newest addition to his sinister band of henchmen. Charming, lethal, and intolerably handsome, Rupert is out for his own ends—which seem to include getting Jasper into bed. But Jasper needs to work out what Rupert’s really up to amid a maelstrom of plots, swordfights, scheming, impersonation, desire, betrayal, and murder.

Nobody can be trusted. Everyone has a secret. And love is the worst mistake you can make.

A retelling of the swashbuckling classic The Prisoner of Zenda from a very different point of view.

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3.75 Stars

It’s official, I’ll absolutely read it if KJC writes it. The Henchmen of Zenda is an intriguing, snarky, ever changing ride with a psychopathic Duke, his hired swords, and never ending betrayals.

Please check out the warning KJC has issued on this book. It isn’t a romance but there are romantic-ish elements. There are smexy times and a very compatible pairing between the MCs. However, the romantic-ish elements should be classified as more of mutual understanding with open communication and a fond unconventional companionship.

Jasper Detchard and Rupert of Hentzau are working side by side as hired swords for Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. They immediately dislike each other as Hentzau is social with a zest for life that Jasper finds infuriating. Their wit and challenges soon turn to a partnership with benefits as they work under Elphberg and around the schemes to unseat a future king.

The plot shifts constantly throughout as circumstances change and alliances are made. I’ve never read The Prisoner of Zenda and will say that this version is definitely not for the squeamish. There is a trigger warning for abuse of a secondary character. There are also many murders that take place in detail.

The beginning and end of the story are fast paced and captivating. There was a lull throughout the middle that took a bit longer to get through but the quality of writing never falters. I appreciate the strong representation with the women characters and the support of them by the MCs. Obviously I would have liked more romantic elements because I like a side of *swoon* with my reads. However, that’s on me since we are clearly warned. I’m glad I took a chance and recommend it for those that love historical adventure.

Slide (Roads #1)

Slide by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Slide (Roads, #1)

Blurb:

Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…

Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.

Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.

Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.

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4.25 Stars

Ok, I knew this book was going to hurt. With the dramatic cover, the blurb, and the fact that it’s Garrett Leigh, I knew I wasn’t in for a big ball of fluff. But, when we got this from Ash at 4%…

“Waking up was a crappy way to start the day.”

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I had to start preparing for face leaking and some strong feels coming my way. Slide is riddled with trigger warnings as Ash deals with the fall out of past drug use, self-harm, PTSD, anxiety, and prior abuse. He’s trying to get his life together and finally has a job as a tattoo artist. His new roommate Pete has a soothing personality and kind brown eyes that provide a respite from the nightmares plaguing his daily life.

Pete’s a paramedic in Chicago and drawn to his new roommate who is more skittish than a cat. The men are tentative around each other and little by little they form a solid friendship that transforms into a intimate relationship. Pete’s warmth and kindness doesn’t give Ash the opportunity to build walls.

”He smiles, and for the first time in my life I believed that, for him, I could be more than I’d ever dreamed.”

Pete’s job is full of challenges and the stress of them doesn’t stay within his clocked in hours. The issues follow him home which affects Ash and their relationship in ways neither of them can predict until everything hits rock bottom. I love the balance between Pete and Ash. Pete is strong, kind, and completely human in his mistakes. They are both understanding and provide something that calls to the other man. Ash has the most to overcome and I love that Pete doesn’t fly onto the scene with his Mr. Perfect cape and magic penis to “fix” Ash. I just wanted to hug Ash. The hardships they have in their relationship weren’t glossed over and left me with zero choice but to feel what they were experiencing. Pete and Ash have mountains to climb, cliffs to scale, and stormy peaks to reach on the way to their eventual HEA.

Along the way there were some time lapses that left me a little confused. This story spans years and the jumps in time just popped up. I did listen the audio which might have made them more obvious. I also didn’t understand one of the story lines that was vaguely mentioned a couple of times and then BAM! surpriiiiiiiiiise at the end. What a coincidence. *gasp* It seemed unnecessary to the overall story IMO. *shrugs*

As I mentioned above, I listened to the audio which is narrated by Michael Lesley. I’m a huge fan of his ability to bring characters to life. The voices for Pete and Ash fit perfectly with their personalities. The emotional turmoil and also the peace their presence brought each other is conveyed through the narration.

I love Ash and Pete, I love the secondary characters and the support system they provide, and I love the kick in the gut Garrett Leigh provides that makes me beg for more with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.
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Definitely recommended.

Riven

Riven by Roan Parrish: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis: Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes—it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else . . . until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie—and one night with him won’t be enough.

Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside-down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

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4.25 Stars

*Stage Whispers*

This was my first time reading Roan Parrish.

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Initially the cover caught my attention but my interest transformed into enjoyment with Roan’s unique story telling about a terrified addict afraid to fully live and a reluctantly famous rock star that just wants to do what he loves- making music.

Theo Decker is lead singer and song writer for the band, Riven. He’s lonely without ever being alone while craving acceptance from those around him. To have a tether in his world that saw him and not his fame. He’s a mercurial introvert that struggles with everything that comes with being in a band and being famous. He has insecurities stemming from his childhood that creep up and desperately wants to be wanted. To be enough. For Theo, music makes his world go round and gives him the ability to lose himself.

”I could lose myself in a way I’d never known, and by losing myself I found pieces I could live with.”

While walking on a quiet night, the sound of music brought Theo to a hole in the wall bar to find the creator of such a beautifully broken song.

Lost in his music,  Caleb Whitman hunched over his guitar while shutting the world out. He’s a recovering addict after his latest stint in rehab. Caleb has cut all ties to his former life as a musician and seeks solace in the country. He’s terrified to trust his decisions, instincts, and actions in fear of heading back down the same drug filled road he came from. Then he meets Theo.

Caleb and Theo initially bond over their passion for music. After meeting in the bar, they spend the night talking about music and then getting lost in each other until the morning light… until Theo wakes up alone.

Their connection is instant and tangible on that first night which terrified Caleb and left them both craving the other for weeks after. Luckily, their story doesn’t end there. We are treated to an angsty ride as Caleb tries to piece back together a clean life that’s worth living and not merely existing. ”This was no natural circle of life, but a desperate resurrection. I had to put one self to death before it could kill the one I hoped to create.” He has to navigate triggers and landmines surrounding each decision he makes which causes heavy angst and relational rollercoasters for him and Theo.

Theo and Caleb have a lot of turmoil to wade through with potential landmines at every corner. I love them, their connection, their passion about music and each other, their struggles and the authentic way they are portrayed and fleshed out. This is an angsty read that lacks sugar coating but is woven together with a thread of hope for second chances, redemption, love, and their HEA.

They have some smokin’ hot chemistry. There was an element of slow burn after their initial night but once the seal was broken, DAYUMMMM. Delicious stuff was happening on those pages… until I started skimming the sex scenes. *Gasp again* About 2/3 of the way through, things started to drag for me a bit and I was over-sexed. That feeling didn’t last too long and once my Kindle cooled down, I was able to reconnect with Theo and Caleb.

I absolutely adore the secondary characters of Huey and Rhys. They have major love for Caleb and provide a pillar of strength when he can’t hold himself up any longer. I was a tad confused about Rhys and his husband Matt. IMO, they were written as if I should have already known them from a previous book but I couldn’t find them in her (author) backlog. *If you know which book they hail from (if they are previous characters), please let me know and I’ll read that one, too.*

Warning: There should be a trigger warning for past drug/alcohol use as well as the struggles Caleb faces each day to stay clean. There are also separation periods in this book which I know can be a deal breaker for some. They were well written and helped add authenticity to the MC circumstances but I felt it’s worth noting.

I enjoyed and appreciated this unique take on rock star romance. Instead of the typical antics rock stars get into, this book highlights men where music forms the essence of who they are, men that are far from perfect, and men that struggle to become better versions of themselves while loving each other deeply. Definitely recommended and will not be my last read from this author.

“pieces were shuffling into place: in my head, in my gut, in my chest—all of it forming me into a different man. A man who had been ruined and remade so many times he should have been dust, but instead was luminescence.”

Copy provided from publisher via NetGalley for honest review.

 

Kidnapped by the Pirate

Kidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews: Review by Lost in a Book

Kidnapped by the Pirate

Blurb:

Will a virgin captive surrender to this pirate’s sinful touch?

Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.

Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.

Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…

Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.

This May-December gay romance from Keira Andrews features classic tropes including: a tough alpha pirate too afraid to love, a plucky virgin captive half his age, enemies to lovers, first-time sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending. 85,000 words.

 

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4.25 stars

There’s just something about pirates that make me want to sail away on the open seas with my very own badass, sword swinging side piece. I’ll just have to settle for being a fly on the wall as Captain Hawk and Nathaniel come together and then come together.

Please check out the blurb because it does a great job explaining the premise of the story in detail about Captain Hawk, the score he wants the settle, and how it relates to Nathaniel.

I really enjoyed this story about a Captain that secretly wants peace and a sheltered Nathaniel that has only ever known what it’s like to be deemed a failure. The men are drawn to each other from the very beginning even though Nathaniel is treated as a prisoner. He has a sweet and eager demeanor that slowly breaks down the hardened Captain.

Kidnapped by the Pirate is entertaining, enthralling, and has a list of elements that would make me one-click. Bonus is that it’s all very well delivered. We have pirates, submission, an age-gap, sexual discovery, historical setting (FYI- not historically accurate), angst, and enemies to lovers all within the pages of incredible world building and well fleshed primary and secondary characters. Let’s not forget the sexy times.

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Captain Hawk and Nathaniel’s transition from enemies to lovers is realistic and the HEA is hard fought and well deserved. The epilogue is sugary sweet but still left me giddy AF.

I listened the audio version of this and was very happy with the narration. Cornell Collins did a great job bringing all the characters to life and I would definitely listen to another audio narrated by him.

Definitely recommended.