Bonfires by Amy Lane: Release Day Review with Giveaway

bonfiressynopsisTen years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Title: Bonfires
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: March 24, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 280

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denise review

I love Amy Lane’s books, although I haven’t been brave enough to read her really angsty stuff. I don’t want to end up in a fetal position on the floor in my house wondering how I will go on. 🙂 But Bonfires seemed like a good middle ground between Amy’s super angsty and her sweet and light-hearted works. A good middle ground it was.

It is very seldom that I get to read a book where the characters are about the same age as I am. Generally they are between 25 and 35, so this was a fantastic change of page. Both characters were mid to late 40s, with teenagers still in the house, and some kids having already left home. And for both men, this was a second chance at love.

I loved the fact that it wasn’t insta-love. These men had lived in the same town for years, seen and talked to each other at multiple events. It merely had become time for them to live their lives again, rather than having their lives ruled by their children. Don’t get me wrong, the kids definitely interfered. Finding the time or place to have adult sex was rather funny to read, because you could see that happening in your own life, with your own kids.

There were definitely some HUGE surprises in this book, some the reader doesn’t see coming, as Amy Lane books are often wont to do. In the end, though, it was about two men finding a second love, and figuring out how to manage time, their jobs and life in general. They found it, but they worked hard at it, knowing it wasn’t easy.

Amy also threw in one of my favorite things to find. To me, it is almost like an Easter Egg. She didn’t solve all the problems. There were still unresolved issues within this new family, and realistically that is exactly what happens in life. Too often with romance novels, everything is wrapped up neatly, no stone is left unturned, and all issues have been settled. Not here! She left a couple things unsettled, and that is okay with this reader!

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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Insight by Santino Hassell: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

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synopsis

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

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tco-author interview

  1. Insight is the beginning of a new series for you, The Community. Where do you see this series going? What is upcoming with it?

The Community is going to be very different from my contemporary romance series, Five Boroughs, in that it’s planned to wrap up as a trilogy. There will still be side characters who get their own points of view and romantic arc in the two sequels, but the over arcing plot and conflicts will resolve in book 3. I like to think of it as a three-act play—the first book is when the main character discovers the existence of this psychic community, the second book is when characters who’ve long since been in it confront the shady elements of it, and the third book is when everyone comes together to do something about it.

  1. One of the main character’s, Nate, is described as an outcast in a psychic family. Where did the idea for his story come from?

I really wanted to write about a clan of psychics who were eerily powerful, and the more I thought about the potential the more I realized how dysfunctional that would be. These people grew up together, afraid of the outside world and anyone who would find out about their gifts, while always being inside each other’s heads? Not to mention the various coping mechanisms they’d use to deal with all the power and dysfunction. In short, I decided to make my powerful psychic clan a mess in a small town where that reputation would attach to Nate. So, he tried to disassociate from them because of their reputation but also because he wanted to be far away from how twisted they all could be.

  1. According to the synopsis, Trent thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. How easy, or difficult, is it to develop a character who is exudes a sarcastic nature? How do you integrate that skepticism into the character’s personality?

Trent is an engineer, so he’s skeptical by nature. You can’t just tell him “psychics exist” or “I think my brother was murdered” without him picking apart your claim and trying to figure out how all the parts come together. He wants proof. He wants to figure out a way to make it real. And once he gets what he needs to believe it, he’ll put together an action plan to deal with it. That’s why he and Nate work so well together. Nate is very emotionally invested in the mystery, the existence of a psychic community, whereas Trent is a step back and can look at it all objectively. His sarcasm is just a part of who he is, and also a way for him to make light of how ludicrous he thinks it is even after he accepts the truth. So, you can expect a lot of X-Men jokes.

  1. What is one ritual you have to perform before, during or after writing that might surprise your readers?

This isn’t very interesting, but I tend to reread my draft a lot while I’m writing it. Sometimes I have to reassure myself that the pacing is good or that it’s compelling because once I’m knee deep in a draft, it all looks like junk to me. I also have an alpha reader who gives me feedback on that type of thing if I just can’t see it clearly.

  1. Always have to have a fun question to finish. 🙂 You and Megan Erickson are on opposite sides of a jail door. Who is behind lock and key, and why?

LOL I’m definitely behind the lock and key, and she’s smuggling me pizza and Nilla Wafers as I serve my time.

Insight_TourBanner

denise review

Having read quite a few of Santino‘s books, I was looking forward to this one, and seeing his writing from a different perspective. This was not going to be his normal snarky contemporary romance with dark tones and a gritty New York scene. Except, it kind of was.

Insight involves paranormal, which got me hooked in right away. Why would someone who had some sort of powers want to hide them, not use them, and even more, be in a dark hole in his life? How does that happen to someone who can see things, have an insight into others’ lives?

We do get some answers in Insight, but not the full picture yet, which I quite liked. I enjoyed knowing that there was more coming, layers that we will be uncovering in the next two books.

Poor Nate had just a crap life, and no prospects of it looking up when his twin brother dies, and after seeing it from his brother’s point of view, decides to go to NYC to investigate. Trent, meanwhile, an engineer at heart that needs to see proof of something before he will believe it, was the perfect snarky foil to down, but not out, Nate.

What made the story so compelling, in addition to all the intrigue and suspense, was the team that Nate and Trent made. Even with Nate’s concerns that he was using his empath abilities to have his feelings mirrored by Trent, they had each other’s backs, and knew that even with all the half-truths, questions and intensity, they could count on the other person to be there. How that was slowly built over the course of their drive across the country is one of Santino’s greatest gifts as a storyteller, his ability to build his characters into living, breathing people with varying interests, flaws, and personalities, yet be the puzzle piece the other character needs to complete the picture.

I’m looking forward to seeing how book 2, Oversight, brings the arc around to Holden, and somehow makes us want an HEA for him. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

 

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino:

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Insight, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

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

Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

TCO is super excited to have J.E. Birk here today. We asked her very last minute to throw us a bone (see what I did there? 🙂 ) and do a last minute Friday Five-ish Questions, because I found the book so timely. She was so generous and did it right away. So, thank you. Read up on Dating Ryan Alback, then run out and grab it! 

dating ryansynopsisRyan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.

Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.

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Guest Post

Greetings! I’m J.E. Birk, and right now I’m traversing the internets to discuss my new romantic comedy, DATING RYAN ALBACK. Follow along to learn more about an insecure movie star, a klutzy teacher, and the neurotic dog who loves them. Leave comments for a chance to win a $10 Riptide giftcard and copy of any book from my backlist!

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Five-ish Good Questions for Dating Ryan Alback author J.E. Birk. A sometimes feature on Two Chicks Obsessed.

Thank you to the author who agreed to do this interview very last minute. But I felt like these questions needed to be asked! 🙂

  1. The first question, and what could be the telling question as to your psychic abilities…how long ago was Dating Ryan Alback written? It was published on February 20, but I would imagine it’s been written for some time.

LOL! Great question. One of the main subplots of this book has Jason, the MC, starting a nonprofit to support families who’ve been split apart by deportation. Sadly, in the 2017 political climate, this subplot feels incredibly relevant. But you’re right—I first started drafting this book years ago, back in 2014. At the time we weren’t having the same national conversation about deportation that we are right now. But I was living and working in a community with a huge population of immigrants, and it was an enormous part of our local conversation.

  1. To say that there is a subplot in this story that is timely for current political events would be understating it. There is a portion of that subplot that I literally saw on the news a day after I read it in the book. How much of current events, or even your guess of what might happen in the political climate play into your book?

Ironically, there were points when I was revising this book and selling it when I wondered if I’d have to change Jason’s subplot—because the conversation around immigration was becoming more humane, and more people were starting to see what mass deportation does to families. But then the election cycle leading to the 2016 presidential race began, and that subplot began to feel highly, highly relevant again. Now I’m very glad I never changed it, because I think we need more books that look at how families—especially children—are affected by deportation.

  1. Without giving too much away, what was your inspiration for writing this subplot? Was it something you’ve seen before, or something that you saw coming?

Like Jason, I’m a teacher. And like Jason, I’ve had the horrible experience of watching my students’ families destroyed because of deportation. It’s so easy for people to make blanket statements like “Well, if someone came here illegally, they’ve gotta go.” Logically that’s an understandable statement. Law is law, right? But I suspect most people who say that have never hugged a twelve-year-old whose parents have just been taken away from them to another country. A country that they may have never even seen before. It’s all a very complicated issue, and I wish more nonprofits like Jason’s existed.

  1. How much research did you do for this book? Was it on anything in particular?

The interesting thing about this book is that it’s a romantic comedy. I wrote it as a romcom and I suspect the majority of readers who’ve enjoyed it are people who love romcoms. I’m been talking a lot about how it’s a book I wrote when I needed more comedy in my life…and it is largely very light and fluffy. Except for this one subplot.

So while I was writing this book I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about my favorite romantic comedies. Considering how the best ones stay true to their comedic roots while still allowing for more serious topics to play within the plot.  I hope Dating Ryan Alback is, at the end of the day, a book which gives people a sense of joy and escapism without shying away from real-world issues and topics.

  1. Always, number 5 is the fun one. You receive a genie in a bottle, and are given 1 wish. You can’t wish for more wishes, or world peace, or crap like that. J What would you wish for?

Awww, I wanted a million wishes! Right now I’d probably wish that everyone in the world would show more kindness and empathy. There’s a lot of fear and anger spreading right now. I suspect we’d be in a much better place if we all just spent more time putting ourselves in the shoes of others.

denise review

There is so much I want to say about this book. There were so many elements to it, that made it a surprise for me.

I had not read anything by J.E. Birk before Dating Ryan Alback, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked like a sweet, romantic book (and c’mon, look at that cover, doesn’t that say “sweet and cute” all over it?), with fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies falling all over the place. And it was (minus the bunnies and kittens, and with the dog being somewhat neurotic). This book made me laugh out loud at points. Case in point, this dialogue between Jason and Natalia (Jason’s best friend):

“Dramatic? Did you call me dramatic? My last date took me to a gyro place. Gryos, Jason!”

“I like gyros,” Jason answered mildly.

“Yes, yes, we all like gyros…”

I had several laugh out loud moments highlighted. Ones that I highlighted that later became a bigger part of the storyline. In the end, though, this was a fun, romantic comedy.

Until I realized that there was a sub-plot that made it so relevant to current day politics that I was shocked at the idea that this must have been written well before the U.S. presidency had even been decided. The author nailed the issue so hard, I was in awe at how accurate a portrayal of something that I hadn’t even realized was truly happening (and literally has increased exponentially in the last month). The author’s portrayal of this situation made it hit home even more. And as you read her interview, you’ll see this was deeply personal for her.

All in all this book was such a hit with me, and as I processed it over the next couple days, it felt even more like heaps of fun, with a side of reality thrown in, which I am hoping is how all the readers feel about it.

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or watching people run into each other on football fields and in hockey rinks. You can follow her ramblings on Twitter by looking for @jebirkwrites. She’s also been known to ramble on Facebook as J Elisabeth Birk.

Connect with J.E. Birk:

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Dating Ryan Alback, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide Publishing credit and their choice of ebook from J.E.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 25, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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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.

After the Romance Novel by Susan Laine: Release Day Review with Giveaway

after the romance

synopsis

Romance novels always end with a happy ever after. Right?

Evan and Adam are best friends, but they don’t know everything about each other. For one thing, Adam doesn’t know Evan writes and publishes gay romance novels until he discovers one while snooping on Evan’s laptop.

This revelation changes their relationship in ways neither could’ve imagined. Adam’s reaction to reading Evan’s stories is not what he expected, nor is the new way he’s looking at his lifelong pal. After all, Adam is straight, or so he’s always thought, and that is what Evan believes about Adam as well.

When Evan admits he might be bisexual, Adam suggests he try dating girls to find out for sure, but when Evan follows his advice, Adam is caught off guard by his feelings of jealousy. And when the date proves Evan isn’t bisexual, but gay, Evan’s request that Adam find him a guy might be the last straw.

How can Adam admit he wants that guy to be him? His epiphany will either end their relationship—or change it into something wonderful in their very own friends-to-lovers romance.

Title: After the Romance Novel
Series: Before… and After
Author: Susan Laine
Release Date: February 22, 2017
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 63

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denise review

I don’t normally read YA. There just seems to me to be something creepy about being a woman in her (cough, cough) middle 40’s to be reading about 17 year old kids falling in love, possibly having sex. However, the subject on this one intrigued me, so I gave it a shot. And I’m glad I did!

After the Romance Novel is the first thing I’ve read by Susan Laine, and I really enjoy her writing style. I enjoyed the alternating POV’s, and the mindset of these two young men. They’ve known each other for years, been best friends for years, and yet didn’t realize they could fall in love with each other.

There were a few things that seemed implausible to me. First, how introspective they seemed. These are 17 year old boys, with large vocabularies, introspective about what they wanted. Their mindsets in many ways felt as if they should have been 10 years older. In addition, when Adam finds out about Evan looking at his current work in progress, Evan has written his 12th story, and always writes Adam and Evan as the MC’s, then changes before he publishes, yet he didn’t ever once consider being in love, or attracted to Adam?

However, all that being said, I enjoyed their relationship. They didn’t take each other for granted, and even though they were dealing with uncomfortable, and heavy subjects with each other, they never wavered in their friendship. There were uncertainties as to how they would move forward, but they always felt they were best friends, and would always be.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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The Seventh Flower by Ingela Bohm: Guest Post, Release Day Review, includes Giveaway

The Seventh Flower_HIGHRESsynopsisChrister is too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Title: The Seventh Flower
Author: Ingela Bohm
Release Date: February 8, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: 76

Guest Post

Seven flowers

My new novella, The Seventh Flower, takes as its premise a local legend which says that if you pick seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve and put them under your pillow, you’ll dream of the person you will marry. Cute, sure, but where I come from it can be a challenge to actually find seven flowers in June, because it’s so far north. That sounds like I live on the tundra or something, but it’s just that the winter is very long and the seeds don’t have that much time to grow.

That said, there are some beautiful specimens to be found if you know where to look. In The Seventh Flower, Christer and Henrik first stumble on the arctic starflower. It’s a little gem, its perfect petals looking like they’re cut out from white paper. You can walk right past them and never notice, but once you do, they’re everywhere. Like tiny stars, they dot the shadowy forest floor, and they never fail to make me smile.

A more visible flower is the beaked parsley that you can gather in masses if you want. It lines every country road, and I think it would take over the entire world if given half a chance. It’s not very luxurious as flowers go, but in the soft light of the midnight sun, shrouded in mist, it’s not bad at all.

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Then of course there’s the buttercup, which is such a pretty name when you think about it. I used to think they contained actual butter – probably one of my older siblings fooled me, because they always found that an exceptionally rewarding hobby. But when you look at the petals of a buttercup, they glisten in the sun and look almost oily, so it’s not that much of a stretch.

Cranesbill is another classic around here, and together with beaked parsley and buttercups it gives the Swedish summer its typical colors: white, yellow, and purple. Everywhere you look, in ditches and fields and hedgerows, you’ll see the same three colors: white, yellow, and purple. I sometimes think our flag should be those colors instead of yellow and blue.

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In fact the county flower of my region is the heartsease, or wild pansy, which is made up of those exact colors, so that’s really fitting.

The marsh marigold was another favorite of mine when I was little. It was such an unexpected flower where it bloomed at the very edge of the riverbanks, shining golden against the dark water. Compared to the other small and unassuming flowers that we got early in the summer, it had the allure of a rare treasure.

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So that makes six flowers that you can find in the north of Sweden in June, and perhaps Christer and Henrik will never find more than that. Maybe the woods where they celebrate Midsummer’s Eve are just too barren, just too cold to yield that seventh flower. After all, what can you hope for in a man you meet once, as a fluke? Not marriage, surely.

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denise review

 

meet the author

Goodreads photoIngela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.

Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters.

Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 12 000 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.

To get updates on Ingela Bohm’s work, please sign up for her newsletter or connect at her

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Books by Ingela Bohm

The Pax Cymrica series:

Just Playing

The Road Taken

Release

Cutting Edge

 

Standalone novels:

Rival Poet

Not Safe For Work

Last Communion

All You Can Eat

 

Short stories:

Seven Thousand Minutes

Strings Attached

The Subjunctive Mood

Beneath The Mask

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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.

Thick & Thin by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review includes Giveaway

thick-and-thinsynopsisIn a matter of days, Dex has been kidnapped, tortured, killed, revived, become half Therian, offered the chance to become a spy, and accepted a proposal to marry his jaguar Therian boyfriend, Sloane Brodie. It’s been a lot to take in, and although Dex is still trying to wrap his head around everything that’s happened, he knows he has to move forward.

After the events of Smoke & Mirrors, Dex and Sloane find themselves in one of the most frightening situations of all: revealing the truth to their Destructive Delta family. When the dust settles, nothing will ever be the same, and it’s up to Dex to prove that in the face of change, the one thing that will always remain the same is family.

Title: Thick & Thin
Series: THIRDS: Book Eight
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: February 1, 2017
Category: Mystery/Suspense; Paranormal: Werewolves/Shifters, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 95

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denise review

Every time I read something by Charlie Cochet, I am so impressed. She continues to amaze me with the depth she adds to all her work, whether its a THIRDS novella or her holiday series. Thick & Thin is no exception. It isn’t just the depth of the characters or emotions that are so impressive. The depth of the stories are so multi-leveled that although these COULD be read as stand alone, a reader would miss so much of the setup for future, from beginning to end.

To start Hell & High Water with Dex, and learning quickly in that book that his parents were killed in the riots, when he was only 5 years old, to then come full circle to Thick & Thin, and get a better understanding of what actually happened takes planning, plotting and more planning. In book 2, you see set up that comes to fruition several books later, and so on.

With Thick & Thin, Charlie takes a short novella, packs a super punch, leaves the reader hanging (only slightly), and wanting more of what is ahead for the entire family of Destructive Delta. In addition, this was a necessary component to the series. Although people have been dying for the next book, this was needed to prepare the reader for what was coming. Her completion of one or two story arcs, in a 95 page novella, and setup for Seb and Hudson’s book is such a great balance of loving what you’re reading, and wanting what is ahead.

Sometimes in a book series with so many books, the reader can get bored, and move on, yet there is absolutely no chance this reader (or most) is moving on, and the second I get my hands on book 9, I will be hiding away from the world so that I can soak up every word of it.

Not a single spoiler! You NEED to read this! That is all. 🙂

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

Afraid to Fly_600x900
synopsis

Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.

Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.

Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.

It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.

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denise review

Did you ever finish a book and think to yourself “Wow, that touched me more than I thought it would”? Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt just did that to me. This book was not overly angst filled. It wasn’t filled with huge catastrophes that the MC’s had to get through in order for them to find their HEA. There were no bad guys getting in the way of the good guys seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

This was, at its core, a story about two men who had some of the darkest things happen to them, and trying to find a way to allow themselves to get past some of the intense pain and guilt and simply love again.

PTSD is no laughing matter, and having two main characters with PTSD brought on by their years in the military really helped open a tightly held door up, at least for this reader. PTSD is quite often portrayed as constant flashbacks, terror at every turn, being unable to hold down a job, and being unable to acclimate to society in general. These characters show you the quieter side (that was the best phrase I could think of) of PTSD. It is something people live their lives with every day. They go to school or work, they cook and clean, they make and keep friends, they fall in and out of love and hopefully find new love. Through all that, they cope in the best way they know, by trying to move forward, while still acknowledging what has molded them into the person they are today. Even down to the sex scenes, the representation of what life would really be like for these men spoke of realism.

I loved Clint and Travis together. They were a mess, to be sure. Even as they fell in love with each other, they couldn’t help but continually doubt themselves, and their ability to keep the other person engaged and excited to be with them. And really, isn’t that life, so often? We have fears, our self-confidence waivers, and we think there’s no way this other perfect person would want to stay with us. And yet, these two do, they find a way-with the help of lots of friends and family-to ignore the internal doubts and continue to forge ahead on their relationship.

These men trusted each other, even when they couldn’t trust themselves. When their own brains, emotions, or bodies said that what they were doing was going to fail, they trusted each other. With PTSD, that can’t be easy, yet Ms. Witt managed to portray the emotions of what was clearly a huge challenge to these men in a raw, honest way that hit you in the gut as you read it, and made you want to the book to be over right now, so they had their HEA, and continue on for pages and pages, so you could see how they would work through it.

Such a wonderful portrayal of two men just trying to make it through each day, and come out a little more happy, a little stronger, and loving one another even more.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GallagherWitt

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Afraid to Fly, one lucky winner will receive $10 in Riptide Publishing credit and two books of choice from L.A. Witt’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 21, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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Switched by N.R. Walker: Review

synopsis

 

Israel Ingham’s life has never been easy. He grew up in a house devoid of love and warmth. Nothing he ever did was good enough. The fact Israel is gay just added to the long list of his father’s disappointments.

Then a letter from Eastport Children’s Hospital changes everything.

A discovery is made, one of gross human error. Twenty-six years ago two baby boys were switched at birth and sent home with the wrong families.

Sam, Israel’s best friend, has been his only source of love and support. With Sam beside him every step of the way, Israel decides to meet his birth mother and her son, the man who lived the life Israel should have.

Israel and Sam become closer than ever, amidst the tumultuous emotions of meeting his birth family, and Sam finds himself questioning his feelings toward his best friend. As Israel embraces new possibilities, he needs to dissect his painful relationship with his parents in order to salvage what’s left.

Because sometimes it takes proof you’re not actually family to become one.

buy now

Amazon

 

denise review

Why do I continue to allow N.R. Walker to surprise me? There has not been one of this author’s books that I have been disappointed in, even ones that I would likely not have picked up if someone hadn’t said “read this!” And yet, I continue to be surprised by this author each and every time I read her books. She writes with such passion, and shows such character growth, that I wonder if she has a degree in human psychology, and if not, then she truly understands human emotion.

This book could have easily been a trope of “man finds he’s switched at birth, and falls in love with the man he was switched with”, which would have left me the feeling of a Hallmark movie. Instead, it was a story about family. It was about how one event, more than two decades before can determine family, how you see family, and what makes a family whole.

Switched was not your average male/male romance. It was a story focused on the growth of one character, Israel, after a circumstance that is almost impossible to understand all of the ramifications of. It also happened to have a hot, sexy lawyer who Israel realized he was in love with…and damn, those were some HAWT sex scenes.

In the end, though, to see how Israel found a way to love his parents, and to love himself, as well as letting in the love of another family, was heart warming. Israel worked hard to get there. It wasn’t a snap fix, as can sometimes happen in similar books. He was willing to put in the effort, and believe in what he could see of himself, and his family. The author gave the reader what they needed to really understand this character, time to learn where he came from, time to see where he was headed, and how he made himself get there. The journey the author brings you on sets you up from the beginning to understand how much change Israel needs in his life to feel whole, and to feel loved.

I cried several times in the book. Sometimes happy tears, sometimes tears of sadness, but as always the tears that N.R. Walker can so often bring to my eyes. She works magic in books that I only find with a few authors. I promise I will NEVER doubt again!!!! 🙂

5 pieces of eye candy!!!!

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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.

The Virgin Manny by Amy Lane: Release Day Review

virginsynopsisGrowing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver her premade Italian dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order to live his promising tomorrow?

Title: The Virgin Manny
Series: The Mannies
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 228

buy now

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

 

denise review

One of my favorite romance tropes is the virgin. It totally takes me back to the Harlequin romances I read as a teenager, that were “oh so dirty” at that time, and I had to read under the covers with a flashlight.

Amy Lane‘s version, the Virgin Manny is such a fantastic entry with this trope. Tino is such a family man, really doing everything he can to make his family proud of him, helping whenever he can, and graduating college was so important to him. Finding a way to do it debt free was not in his plans, but when Channing steps in to request help, Tino finds the offer to good to refuse.

Seeing their relationship grow, and seeing Tino realize that “life is what happens” when all your plans are just that, plans, allows him to become an even more solid presence for his family, as well as Channing and his nephew. Even as he sees plans for family members change, he wrestles with change, but still is able to focus on the important things in life.

Tino’s family was great. I loved them all. And the “bad person”…totally gets what is deserved. THAT is a happy ending. 😉

4 pieces of eye candy

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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.

The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

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Character Interview

Hello, all! Thank you so much for joining me for the last stop of The Soldati Prince blog tour. Today we have a special treat. We have Riley Murrough, our Soldati prince, and instead of me asking him a few questions, I decided I’d let Khalon’s best friend and second in command, Rayner, do the honors. Take it away fellas.

Rayner: *waves at Riley* Your highness, I’ll do my best to make this as painless as possible.

Riley: *narrows eyes* I don’t believe you for a second.

Rayner: *laughs* Why don’t we start off with an easy question? Who do you think is more handsome, me or Khalon?

Riley: Who do I think is more of a pain in the ass? The answer would be both. You are definitely both a pain in the ass.

Rayner: *looks amused* That’s not what I asked.

Riley: *arches an eyebrow* Really? Because that’s what I heard.

Rayner: I’ll admit, I can be a challenge, but as far as a pain in your backside, from what I heard coming from your bedchamber the other evening, I would say that Khalon—

Riley: Oh my God, shut up! *goes red in the face*

Rayner: *laughs* Very well. What was the first thought that crossed your mind when you saw Khalon?

Riley: I’m hallucinating.

Rayner: The second?

Riley: That’s a lot of leather.

Rayner: *chuckles* And when you were told who you were?

Riley: What did I think when I was told I was the intended mate and prince of some magical dude who changes into a tiger that lives in another world? Hm, let me think about that. *pretends to think* That someone is out of their damn minds, and it’s probably me. As you will recall, I was a little freaked out.

Rayner: *smiles* Perhaps a tad.

Riley: Sure. If a tad means flipping one’s mind. Then yes, a tad.

Rayner: And at precisely what point did you decide Khalon was not, in fact, a bastard?

Riley: I believe the word you’re looking for is “asshole”, and that took some time. *blushes* I don’t know exactly at what point. There was so much going on, what with the demons out to tear at my mortal flesh and harvest my soul, but at some point I realized that maybe he wasn’t such a jerk. That he was actually a good guy underneath all the growling and scowling.

Rayner: Are all humans that grumpy and inarticulate before coffee?

Riley: Yes. You have your magic, we have ours.

Rayner: *blinks* Coffee is magic?

Riley: Are you kidding? You yourself have witnessed its power to transform a zombie into a functioning human being. *points at himself*

Rayner: *laughs* Of course. And how do you feel about our illustrious king now?

Riley: *blushes* Um, he’s hot. Like, really hot. And his smile is pretty amazing. He’s pretty amazing. *shifts uncomfortably* He’s caring, and gentle, and sexy. Why am I telling you all this? Things are good between us. We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m looking forward to what happens next.

Rayner: As am I. *winks at Riley*

Riley: *rolls his eyes* I should get going.

Rayner: Left Khalon alone in bed, did you?

Riley: *stands up and narrows his eyes at Rayner* You know what, Rayner?

Rayner: Shut up?

Riley: *grumbles under his breath as he stalks away*

Rayner: *laughs* He is almost as easy to wind up as Khalon. *smiles wickedly* Almost.

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synopsis

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Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Gay Romance, Shifters, Demons
Series: Soldati Hearts
Length: Novella, 97 pages
Published: Nov 23rd, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781634775809

One moment, Riley Murrough is living a normal life working in a coffee shop, and the next, he’s running for his life from demons, learns he bears the mark of a shape-shifter king from a magical realm, and—worst of all—he’s destined to become the mated prince to the arrogant tiger-shifter he would rather strangle.

Khalon, the shifter king, is equally distraught at the idea of being bound to a human prince, and along with his Soldati warriors, he sets out to return Riley to his own world, where he belongs. On their journey, they might discover why the goddess brought them together—if they can escape the demons and make it to her alive.

First Edition short story published as The Soldati Prince in Charmed & Dangerous by JCP Books LLC, 2015. Second Edition has been re-edited and extended to novella length with new content.

ADD TO GOODREADS

READ CHAPTER ONE

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DREAMSPINNER PRESS :: AMAZON :: ARe :: BARNES & NOBLE

OUT NOW!

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denise review

I’ve always said that it is harder to write a novella than a full length novel. With a novella, the author has to make you care about the characters almost immediately, get to know them, and do all that in a limited amount of works. Charlie Cochet is a master at that, and The Soldati Prince is a perfect example of that.

I really enjoyed the storyline for this novella, even though as I’ve said many times before, I rarely read shifter books. But of course, when it is Charlie, I don’t hesitate. She has made me love shifters so much more than I ever expected (I’ll probably still never be a vampire or werewolf girl, but hey, its a start!), and she did that by creating characters with heart, and soul, and men that may be slightly broken in some way, but are made whole by the finding of their other half.

This novella does all that, and then adds in a ton of humor, which I was not expecting at all! Riley made me laugh out loud more than once. He did not take any crap from Khalon, no matter that he was King or not. The scene at the breakfast table, with the coffee (read it and you will get it) had me laughing and highlighting, and even going right back at the end of the scene and re-reading it. So funny!

These two circle each other, trying to figure out what being a mate with someone they didn’t expect (or even want) actually will mean for them, and its fun to see that Riley is Khalon’s equal in every way, despite Khalon’s best efforts to keep it from being so.

Another winner by Charlie, and of course, leaves me wanting more for a certain second in command. 😉

4.5 pieces of eye candy, for humor alone, not to mention the rest of the story!

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meet the author

Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Newsletter | DSP |Amazon |Goodreads

 

giveaway

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Nov 21st – The Novel Approach
Nov 22nd – Joyfully Jay
Nov 23rd – Man2Mantastic
Nov 24th – Dreamspinner Press Blog
Nov 25th – Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

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Check out the Soldati Hearts inspiration board on Pinterest.

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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.