The Foxling Soldati by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Foxling Toka has served the Soldati king for centuries, and now he attends to the kingdom’s cherished Soldati prince. It’s a position of honor, and as Toka helps the once-human prince adapt to their magical realm, he finds joy in their friendship. He also grows bolder in his encounters with Rayner, Soldati warrior and the king’s second. But the laws are clear: servants and Soldati are not permitted to mate. It doesn’t matter that Toka lost his heart to the dashing cad long ago.

Rayner never imagined he would fall in love with a servant, but the clever and beautiful foxling has ensnared him, and he resents the regulations keeping them apart. When an arrogant and spiteful king visits from a neighboring realm, Rayner is in danger of losing everything. But Soldati warriors don’t surrender, and he intends to fight all the harder to keep Toka where he belongs—in Rayner’s arms.

Title: The Foxling Soldati
Series: Soldati Hearts: Book Two
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: August 16, 2017
Category: Fantasy: Urban Fantasy; Paranomal: Angels & Demons; Paranormal: Werewolves/Shapeshifters
Pages: TBD (Novella)

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon UK

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

Welp, that didn’t turn out like I thought it would.

Let me explain. I tend to shy away from fantasy books in general and shifter stories specifically. I’m not sure why. But this is an m/m and has a historical feel, so I gave it a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Toka is a playful shape-shifting foxling who lives in the Soldati realm which is ruled by tiger shifters. It’s a nice place, actually: everyone seems to be happy and gets along, the king, Khalon, is easy going with a sense of humor, humility and since finding his fated mate, Riley, is pretty much in honeymoon mode 24/7. Toka’s lot in life is to be a servant, but the Soldati treat their servants (though let’s be honest, they’re slaves) kindly and respectfully. Rayner is the king’s sexy, tiger-shifting right-hand man whose (mutual) interest in Toka goes from flirtation in Book 1 (The Soldati Prince) to physical almost right away here. Pair up a tiger-shifting warrior with a lean twink-like foxling and you’re going to have some sexy times.

Toka and Rayner’s flirtations grow more heated and draw them closer together, physically and emotionally. Toka is just… so sweet, and I always like to see a big, tough alpha like Rayner show his soft, gooey center trying to please his little fox. There’s a bit of angst about whether this coupling is a fun distraction or true love — but it hardly matters because there’s a stupid ancient rule on the books that forbids Soldati and servants to mate. So, while the two can fool around all they want, they can never legally, officially, or openly pledge themselves to each other. Doesn’t that make you so mad? Me too.

The real trouble starts when the Soldati are visited by the king of a neighboring realm who is, essentially, a bear-shifting bully whose desire for revenge against Rayner fuels an uproar amongst the Soldatis and pits long-time friends — and new lovers — against each other. Toka finds himself in an intolerable situation and Rayner has to decide how far he will go, how much he will give up to keep Toka with him.

This is a short, sweet read and the short format naturally requires a sped-up lust-to-love-to-angst-to-resolution timeline and that may not be for everyone. Cochet’s writing is quick and to the point, and the plot flows smoothly. There are light hearted moments, the characters are drawn well and I’m mad, sad and a bit angsty along with them at times. There’s threat of rape and a couple of beatings that take place. Still, things may be a little too happy-happy for some, but I think it worked here for me because of the short-length format (Do not give me 800 pages of happy-happy). I liked Riley, the king’s husband, a lot and while you don’t need to read his book (The Soldati Prince) first, you do need to read it. DO IT. I knew I would get an HEA (because otherwise I would break things) but a little detail at the end made me even happier. So, while I shy away from shape shifting books in general, I was pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoyed this book and the series. Looking forward to reading more Charlie Cochet.

3.75 pieces of eye candy!


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Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne: Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

FBI agents Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker can’t get a moment’s peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie’s life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take.

Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie’s been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan’s late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him.

But the explosions are far from over. Aidan’s cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist’s conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

A heart-pounding, romantic conclusion to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.”

Barrel Proof

Layla Reyne

Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey #3

Publisher: Carina Press (HQN)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): August 7, 2017 (Ebook and Audiobook)

(Audiobooks of Single Malt (AIW1) and Cask Strength (AIW2) also releasing August 7, 2017)

Length (Print & Ebook): 189 Pages (Ebook); 6hr, 30mins (Audio)

Subgenre: M/M Romantic Suspense 

This book features: Book 3/Trilogy Conclusion. Angst, Action, Romance, HEA

Carina

Amazon

Nook/B&N

iBooks

Google Play

Kobo

Audiobooks

 

Quotes about the book (or others in the series):

From Single Malt:

“Sexy, smart and suspenseful – this book has it all.” –HelenKay Dimon, author of Mr. & Mr. Smith

“With sharp writing, compelling characters, and an engaging plot, Single Malt is the M/M romantic suspense series I’ve been waiting for.” – Santino Hassell, award-winning author of the FIVE BOROUGHS series

“Single Malt is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!” — Megan Erickson, USA Today Bestselling author

Early reviews about Barrel Proof:

RT Magazine – 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Barrel Proof is the third and final book in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. After two books that follow the formation of a heated M/M romantic relationship, Barrel Proof starts off with a climax as secrets are revealed and the romance is tested. … Fans of the series will be equally challenged and delighted by the twists and turns Reyne takes. The book flows into a more action-oriented focus as the plot progresses, but Reyne ends the romance with just the right amount of heft to keep any reader of romantic suspense and M/M romance delighted. 

Night Owl Reviews – 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Layla Reyne finishes her trilogy with an absolute bang! As sorry as I am to say goodbye to this fabulous pair I couldn’t have enjoyed their ending more.

The Romance Reviews – 5 Stars, Top Pick:

BARREL PROOF is the emotional, high impact, AMAZING finale to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.

Heart-breaking and heart-fulfilling, this book is the perfect finale to the series, and Layla Reyne now has a brand new reader completely addicted to her work. Without a doubt, absolutely recommended by me.

 

Aidan put one knee to the bed, swung the other over Jamie’s lap, and cupped his cheeks in his hands, drawing him in. It wasn’t the lip smashing, teeth clashing kiss Jamie was used to from Aidan. It was slow, devouring, and tinged with the unmistakable taste of goodbye.

Afraid ratcheted up to terrified.

“Baby,” he murmured against Aidan’s lips, the one word trembling.

“Shh, Whiskey.” Aidan pulled back enough to yank off his shirt, then started back in for another kiss. Jamie stopped him, holding his face slightly away and forcing his gaze.

Goodbye was in his eyes too.

Jamie shot past terrified to devastated. “No,” he breathed, barely a whisper.

Aidan shook off the hold and drove a hand into his hair, pulling Jamie in for another melancholy-laced kiss. So little light, so much darkness, and as Jamie ran his tongue along Aidan’s, the tang of tequila and whiskey.

Slow, like the kiss, Aidan’s hands began to rove, as if he were memorizing the texture of his hair, the scruff covering his jaw, the breadth and width of his shoulders. A cool palm flattened over his tattoo, over his heart. The touch was gentle, not the usual digging pressure of Aidan’s fingers.

Bidding farewell.

A whimper escaped Jamie’s lips. His heart was at war with itself. He needed to retreat, to beg and plead with Aidan to stay and give him another chance, but if his partner’s mind was made up, there’d be no changing it now. And if he tried, if he argued, he might not get this last kiss, this last chance to make love to the man who would forever carry his heart, wherever his life went.

Without him.

Conceding the inevitable and accepting the disaster of his own creation, Jamie admitted defeat and surrendered.

Barrel Proof is the final installment in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series by Layla Reyne. This is not a standalone book, so you’ll forgive me if I delve a bit into the first two books, Single Malt and Cask Strength. You can’t read book 3 without having read books 1 & 2 and only a sadist would read 1 & 2 and not read this — amirite?

Book 1 establishes a bit of the background of Irish and Whiskey themselves, their mutual, growing attraction and the subsequent consummation of their relationship as they work on their first case together. I love when two heroes cannot stop thinking about each other and succumb to their out-of-control physical desire. Book 2 continues their FBI partnership and romance as Irish insists on them being “casual” as he tries to fend off his growing feelings for his partner. They’re both concerned with breaking Bureau rules by entering into a romantic relationship, but Irish in particular is afraid of falling in love and being widowed again, something he doesn’t think he could live through a second time. But a case involving Whiskey’s past as a college basketball star brings up jealousies on both hero’s parts. I know, I know. “Jealousy”, as a rule is, yanno, bad, but … love me some angst — and its resolution! To see Irish come around from their status as casual is very *sigh* worthy.

There’s also the overall arc of the action part of the series, that being terrorist Renaud whose anger at being thwarted in Book 1 has put Irish and his friends, family and coworkers in the cross hairs as Renaud takes his revenge. But there’s more, isn’t there? Irish and Whiskey’s boss, Mel, has discovered that Renaud’s plans started long before any of them ever thought, and his list of victims — past, present, and future — grows. Mel has also enlisted Whiskey’s help in uncovering details of the death of Irish’s husband (Mel’s brother) and his partner, an investigation that is being kept from Irish.  I’m sure that won’t come to bite him in the ass anytime soon.

Book 3 continues the action just about where Book 2 left off, with the guys heading to retrieve their boss Mel from a secret mission she’s on in Cuba. A mission which ultimately leads back to Renaud and, that secret I mentioned before? Yea, that gets out of the bag and throws another road block in the still-budding relationship between our two heroes. Can our guys work this out? Probably… Assuming they can live out the week because in the meantime, Renaud is upping his game: Bombs, kidnappings, destruction of world markets, systems hacking, mistrust and betrayal — it’s all on tap here.

This book does not drag, it’s action, action, action — of all kinds. The financial and tech plots are satisfying and thorough; Layla Reyne did some research that’s for sure. For me, though, it’s always about the ‘ship! At this point in the series, our guys are established and we know how they feel about each other. While the revelation of the secret does take our guys down different paths for a while, they don’t hurt each other with cruel words or actions. They own how they feel about each other and I never doubt these feelings, even if they have to step away from each other for a while. I feel very satisfied at leaving these two at the end on the new path their personal and professional lives have taken.

I liked the secondary characters a lot here: Mel, Danny, Irish’s brother, Whiskey’s best friend Cam and even an ex from Irish’s casual period in Book 2 turns out to be a good, likable guy. The writing is solid, action packed and the romance is a nice balance of angst, feels and hot, hot, hot. I hadn’t read the first two books when I decided to review this book, so I did a mini-marathon read. These books are about 62,000 words, so novella length. For fans of the Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban, you’ll feel at home in this series; it’s what drew me to these books in the first place. There were similarities between Irish and Whiskey’s world and Ty and Zane’s. FBI agents, check. Two alphas, one slightly older, check, check. Widower, check. A cyber guy, check. Little bit of a rocky start. But is that all a turn off? No way. These two guys, their histories and the trouble they find themselves in are unique and really only once in a while did I make a note and go “Aww…Ty!” So, if you love T&Z (me!) you might find a new book boyfriend couple to hang out with for a spell.

4 pieces of eye candy for this book and the series.

 

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Author Tagline:

Adrenaline-Fueled Romance

Author links:

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Prizes: (2) HUGE Agents Irish & Whiskey Gift Packs including: 1 Kindle Fire Tablet, 1 Agents Irish & Whiskey mug, and surprise swag! (Ships to US/Canada only; international winners will receive Amazon Gift Card: $35)

 

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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.