Taming the Beast by Andrew Grey: New Release Review with Giveaway

The suspicious death of Dante Bartholomew’s wife changed him, especially in the eyes of the residents of St. Giles. They no longer see a successful businessman… only a monster they believe was involved. Dante’s horrific reputation eclipses the truth to the point that he sees no choice but to isolate himself and his heart.
The plan backfires when he meets counselor Beau Clarity and the children he works with. Beau and the kids see beyond the beastly reputation to the beautiful soul inside Dante, and Dante’s cold heart begins to thaw as they slip past his defenses. The warmth and hope Beau brings to Dante’s life help him see his entire existence—his trials and sorrows—in a brighter light.
But Dante’s secrets could rip happiness from their grasp… especially since someone isn’t above hurting those Dante has grown to love in order to bring him down.

Title: Taming the Beast
Author: Andrew Grey
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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Andrew Grey writes so prolifically that I think he must write a book a week. And where he gets his plot bunnies is only known to him. However, this book seems to have come from the Beauty and the Beast storyline, with a much more modern (and of course m/m) feel.

Dante’s past still haunted him even after meeting and falling for Beau. The guilt he carried for the death of his wife was so self inflicted that the town picked up on it, treating him as he felt he should be treated, as a killer. Moving past it would take more than the love of a single man, but forgiveness of himself.

I really liked that though Beau was the “Beauty” in this mix, he wasn’t a man to just sit there and do as his Beast told him. He was determined to make the situation work, as well as wanting to see beyond the distant exterior of Dante. He accepted that Dante could do things in the town he couldn’t but wanted to make sure that he didn’t take advantage of that.

They fell in love quickly but it did feel organic simply because Beau wouldn’t let Dante keep pushing him back. They worked together to figure out how to deal with the crises that came to them, yet didn’t try to solve the problem for the other (well okay Dante wanted to but he respected Beau’s wish to not have him solve it)

The epilogue worked well to complete their story, and gave the reader a glimpse into the full transition of Dante back into the world he had cut himself off from. I would have liked a little more informations on how his deceased wife’s parents handled everything but that wasn’t critical to the story. These two men with such distinct tragedies in their lives found a love and life together, bringing their HEA full circle. Definitely a book I enjoyed.

3.5 pieces of eye candy


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Of Gods and Monsters (2 and 3) by Wulf Francu Godgluck: Quick Reviews

OF Gods and Monsters Hades (#2)

Release date: January 22, 2016
Link: https://goo.gl/1RZgyF
Page count is: 347

******WARNING*******
This is not a story about a hero, or some bad boy-badass-antihero.
This is a love story between two monstrous villains and one valiant kid, held together by their entwined heartstrings.
It won’t be pretty.
It won’t be pleasant.
There’s no fluffy good feelings about it.
It will rip out your heart and never give it back.

Breno Hades el Oscuro took no bullshit from anyone. He ruled the crime world of the United States. When the King fell, what was left in the ashes was not the small boy that grew up without his father, not the same kid that chose a life of crime at seventeen, nor was it the King who had killed and clawed through a river of blood to stand at the top.

The King was dragged from his throne of bones into a deep dark pit, leaving only the raw flesh of a savage monster to crawl out of Hell.
One that knew love, but didn’t want it again.

Kemono Orochi was destined to inherit the legacy of his father, known as The Dragon’s Tongue. It was an inheritance he never wanted it, never desiring the power that came with the title of Dragon. Kemono ended it all by tearing off the Dragon’s head, watching the serpent’s remains be consumed in hellfire. Now tormented by the scars of his past inflicted by his father, he is struggling to come to terms with the Akuma he has become.

 

One that wants to devour everyone in his path to protect the only one that matters to him.

The only person that had ever made his icy heart beat.

His heart. His love. His beautiful pride.

Rex Hunter dreams of becoming a principal ballerino…all fierce, like a Phoenix. But this Phoenix has lost his wings and fallen prey, straight into the clutched claws and callus hands of two vicious beasts. Each bore the blackest of hearts, each desiring to keep him safe, cherished and loved unconditionally. Or was Rex just destined to be the goo that would stick two shattered souls together and prevent them from forever falling to pieces?

There will be blood, gore and nasty shit.

There will be watersports, crude, angry, sometimes sensual and other times just downright dirty and dysfunctional sex.

 

BUT…

There will always be LOVE…

Because even villains understand the tortured scars love leaves in her wake.

Amazon

 

“Fucker.” Hades spat, and sucked on the joint, the smoke dancing in his lungs while the weed had an orgy in his blood. He should have ripped his motherfuckin’ balls off. He should have taken his piece, pressed it to his sac and cock and blown the devils clean off in his own living room when he said he would take care of Rex. No problema. ‘Cause having a sexy little shit living with you could count as the same goddamn thing. Pride and loyalty to a dead man was fuckin’ him, royally in the ass.

Four years in the box was nothing compared to the hell Hades was going through. He was a dumb fuckin’ idiot. He squeezed his crotch, biting back the groan in his chest at the tender sting of his cock. The fucker was raw, yeah, motherfuckin’ raw, from jacking himself off so many times to relieve the fuckin’ pressure. And there wasn’t a fuckin’ moment he wasn’t reminded of the permanent semi sporting in his pants. His balls were constantly full, ready to birth a thousand mini Hades’ any fuckin’ moment.

Coming home to watch him sleep on the couch, finding the blanket had slid off, exposing his defined chest. Hades had pulled the blanket up, but hadn’t been able to resist the urge to swipe back a lock of the boy’s hair and run it between his fingers. All while imagining how those pink kissers would feel on his own lips, around his cock, and rimming his fuckin’ hairy old ass. He was a perverted fuck and needed to be shot for it. He’d carried the little thing to the bed and tucked him in, smiling, happy as a pig rolling in its own shit. ’Cause, sí, Daddy Hades always had to shove his two cents into it, and always got his goddamn way.

But that was a taste of the torment. Walking in and seeing that kid bent in half, ass tight as fuck, leggings a second skin on short muscular legs, Hades thought he’d burst a nut, seeing the little shit all-bendy-flexible like that. He’d spun and marched his shit right the fuck out of there. Pulled down his leathers in the hallway, took out his cock and stroked himself, watching the fucker belch translucent cum through the air, across the floor and onto the opposite wall.

The alcohol had helped, until two nights ago when everything had gone fuckin’ cosmic chaos as both sides of Hades, the primitive uncivilized King, el cucuy and the nurturing Daddy, had gone all motherfuckin’ batshit crazy. Not even Beo had touched the King this way, only petted el cucuy within. Rex had fuckin’ cuddled the monster, making it pant and wag its spiny tail.

 

OF Gods and Monsters Komainu (#3)

 

Release date: August 9, 2017
Link: https://goo.gl/eUCm7b

Page count is: 347

Hades

His innocence was the fire that blighted the deepest dark, but even he can’t save the King from a past stained so black, the devil won’t even touch it.

Years creep up on you, like a rotting hand: cold and wet, it will drag you down into your grave.

Life will hand you eternity only to rip it away from you.

Love will slaughter you in the most beautiful way and still manage to nail you in the ass, bareback, when you see him choose the heart of another man.

But Death… He is a patient soul. He waits, and he waits, and he waits.

‘Cause the bastard knows he will always have the last laugh when he knocks at the door.

Kemono

Memories were all I had, all I had clung to as my heart turned to stone and finally to dust.

Now he is mine and I will hold him, and I will kiss him. We will dance and we will laugh, and we will cry… We will be human together…

I did not know heaven until I knew him.

There is no greater power that can tear and rip your world apart as when their lips finally kiss yours again.

But being human comes at a fatal price.

Sometimes you have to let go of the hand you hold onto so tightly that it brought pain, because that is the only way you can save them from Death.

Rex

Why did she take them away, hand them back, then force me to choose?

Is love really that cruel, that she would enjoy tormenting you as you watch the two men you love with your whole heart, kill each other…?

And then, my worst fear, my deepest darkest nightmare became a living breathing thing.

Death had come to take from us what we could never replace.

Amazon

 

Kemono

He’d never had that, never even touched Rex other than that single instance when he had stroked Rex’s broken lip before the boy had hugged him, stealing a single febrile kiss. A memory so ancient, yet it held the power to hollow-out Kemono’s darkest nightmares and give him an ephemeral glimpse of nirvana. The thought of simply cuddling with the boy made acid guzzle through his veins, he didn’t know how…to hold Rex that close to him.

It was one thing to touch a man, fuck them while you held them down as they withered under you, or have their lips on your cock as you gripped them by the hair using their throat.
It was a ruinous sentiment to touch and hold close, for the first time in your life, the man who owned your heart and soul.

He was too terrified to even speak to him.

Because the words Kemono needed to say would never be enough to apologize, but not saying anything would be worse.

He was a large disturbing man, a strong, brutal monster, whose hands only knew annihilation, afraid to touch an angel, because Rex’s touch would be more fatal to Kemono than any cicatrix he had received.

 

 

This is Book 2 in the Of Gods and Monsters series, but it’s Book 1 of the story of Hades and Rex. **SPOILER** This is not an HEA, in my opinion. If non-HEAs that are just cruel make you want to throw things like they make me want to throw things, this is not the book for you. I’m still angry and I probably still need a cooling off period before I write this.

***several weeks later***

Hi, I’m back and I’m now more able to approach talking about this book in more than frustrated grunts and curses. I’ve put some distance between me and this book by reading some nice, true HEAs and in fact I had to review my notes to remember all the things that made me see red just a short few weeks ago.

Hades is first introduced in Book 1 of the series, Gods and Monsters: Menoetius, which tells the story of Beo and Colt. Now, Godgluck warns us that the story of Beo and Colt is rough and not for the faint of heart. Fine. That’s actually true, but I liked the book overall and was happy for their HEA. In that book we meet Hades, the president of the Cerberus Motorcycle Club. Hades is an angry, rough, unrepentant criminal who is so bad ass crazy, that Colt — himself a borderline nut job — quakes in fear when he comes around. Hades’ connection to Book 1 is through Beo, his ex-lover that he still cannot get over. Naturally this causes issues with Colt and these two never really get along; rather, they manage to not kill each other in deference to darling Beo, who cares for them both (though naturally has found his soul mate in Colt.)

Anyway, to say Hades is rough around the edges is an understatement. He’s violent, crude, and he always describes himself as physically ugly. But Hades does have some softness to him. Sure, he will kill someone who’s wronged him without thinking twice, but we know he still cares for Beo and would do anything to help him. We just need to find him his own soul mate that can love him through his faults. Enter Rex, a young ballet dancer whose connection to all of this is through his father, the MC club’s president when Hades was a teenager. Hades looked up to Dean Hunter and as the man lay dying after a shootout, he made young Hades promise to take care of Rex. But shortly after, Rex was sent to live in Japan as the ward of a powerful underworld boss. Hades doesn’t lay eyes on him again until maybe 15 years later and it’s lust at first sight for them both. This book should also have a warning, that it’s rough and gross and hard and sometimes funny. Hades is bat shit cray, but we still kind of like him. For instance, Beo has a kitten, and I love these big toughies who try to outlast a kitten that wants to make you their bed. Good luck, grumpy hero! There’s also a dom/sub aspect to their relationship, which honestly isn’t terrible (I’m not a huge fan and I’ve read worse). Though Rex calls him “Daddy Hades” and that causes my Squick-O-Meter to go off. I will warn you right now: the sex scenes are rough and hot, but include bodily fluid exchanges that, in my opinion, are beyond turn-off gross. I had to skip parts. Also, nearer the end of the book, Hades began displaying abusive relationship red flags that pissed me off, though it actually felt a bit out of left field. I think in Hades’ mind it’s part of the dom/sub culture, which is another reason I just can’t get into that whole scene. It’s a very thin line between abuse and dom/sub and that’s just too close for my comfort.

Hades ends on a cliffhanger, so don’t even bother to just try this book and walk away. I liked this one overall, and I wish I hadn’t because I may not have ventured into the next one. Man, that’s really where I got angry at this whole story.

Komainu picks up after the cliffhanger ending to Hades. I’m a little miffed at both Hades and Rex at this point and let me tell you something. When the author puts in an apology to readers as the dedication, asking for forgiveness, I want you to stop and think very carefully whether you want to go through with this. There’s a lot of crazy, pain and anger waiting for you. Kemono, Rex’s childhood, not-quite lover, has inherited his father’s underworld empire and is on a mission to find him — and kill any and all romantic rivals. Rex certainly has a type, doesn’t he?  Hades and Kemono hate each other instantly. But each are powerful leaders of their own empires, so they can’t just kill each other willy-nilly, opting instead to forge a temporary alliance in order to find Rex, who’s disappeared. They figure the only person that wants to find Rex safe and sound more than themselves is the other, so who better to work with? Once they find him, all bets will be off, of course, but in the meantime, the embark on a year-long, cross country search.

They finally find him and the three do the menage thing for a while. Threesome’s are also not really my thing as I don’t care what anyone says, someone will always be left out and that’s such a drag on my already low self-esteem. Everyone loves Rex. Hades grudgingly thinks Kemono is tolerable but is nothing compared to Rex; Kemono actually kind of falls in love with Hades. He’s a bit softer than Hades, but as I already told you, someone ALWAYS is odd man out, and Kemono is that guy. Which, I feel bad for him of course, but my ‘ship here is clearly Hades and Rex. Then because both Hades and Kemono are the kings of their respective empires, there’s always danger from one direction or other. That danger finally hits them, and Kemono is gone. And while initially he was as psycho as Hades, I didn’t hate him.

Rex loved Kemono in a way, but he realizes that Hades has his whole heart. And now Hades and Rex can be together, right? … Right …? RIGHT? Listen, don’t be angry. Don’t wail to yourself that it isn’t fair and curse the author’s name. It does no good. You were warned at the outset that this isn’t happy, and you were asked to be forgiven by the author 200 pages ago. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WAS? I won’t give you details but … it’s awful. And I’m angry at both Rex and Hades. Rex essentially tries to play psychologist with Hades and for God’s sake … it’s Hades. You KNOW what he’s like, he’s completely unhinged on a good day, you cannot try to manipulate him into admitting stuff that may not really be true and are really unimportant. God, I’m getting mad all over again about it, and honestly my heart hurts for Hades. Don’t get me wrong, Hades does some truly bad things afterwards, but it’s because he’s cracked. Completely and utterly broken. And? The book just ends, and you’re left blinking at your Kindle debating whether it’s worth finding out if smashing it on the ground will make you feel better (it won’t). I don’t feel like I’m spoiling, per se. I just want to give fair warning to those of us who go from “yay!” to “Hulk-smash” in .3 seconds to think about it before you start these books.

Godgluck’s writing style is frenzied, full of curses, gross out images and crude language. I don’t hate it necessarily, but in Komainu especially, my patience was short, wondering where the part comes that Godgluck apologizes for in the dedication. Don’t get me wrong, there are some funny light moments in both books, the way Hades speaks sometimes is kind of sweet and charming, in his gruff way. At the same time, there are some parts that are just not clearly written; where I didn’t know or realize what was going on and had to re-read a few times or give up altogether. Some of the words he uses are just so odd: “fuckpecker”, “disco stick”, “dick tears” and other oddities began to grate on my nerves. Various characters or things happen that are talked about as if we’re supposed to know all about them, but it seems that those are just threads to other stories that don’t have direct impact on this story.

So, this is either a crappy non-HEA or just a cliffhanger. I’m not sure which I’d prefer. On the one hand, I want to see what happens next, with these jerks ultimately being together. On the other hand, Hades has done stuff I’m not sure one can come back from. Rex has also betrayed Hades in a way that may not be forgivable. I get very angry when I feel an author is emotionally manipulating me; having Rex act completely out of character just to up the angst and rip the reader’s heart out and Hades reacting by going completely off the deep end. If there’s a sequel to the story of Hades and Rex, I may read it. I don’t know how this story makes it to a HEA, though. I honestly can’t tell if I liked Komainu or not.

Hades: 3.5 pieces of candy

Komainu: 3 confused pieces of candy

Wulf Francú Godgluck
They come to me in the night, creeping into my head. Their voices are all different, their stories all dissimilar, but they keep saying the same thing…

“Show us, tell us, bring us into your world, and make us known.”

Then I sit and they take over. They tell their tales of love, loss and sinister misfortune. Not all of them get a happy ending, but they are pleased when their part is written.

I sometimes find myself lost in my own mind; a world very similar to our own yet so different. Things don’t go bump in the night— they squeal and crawl under your skin, making you grind your teeth, and making your stomach turn over and putting your nerves on edge. Then there’s the drama. Oh, the drama!

Wulf Francú Godgluck hails from South Africa. His work is not for the faint-hearted! In his books you’ll find… all the beasties with their nasty claws and teeth, and some you didn’t even know existed.

But the monsters aren’t all real.

Some live inside us. Who knows what he will make you discover about yourself, lurking in your heart, behind the closed walls in the deep, black recesses where no light penetrates?

Wulf will steal your heart and never give it back. More than likely, he’ll pin it to the wall with a bobbypin and sit there sipping his tea while you writhe and squeal on the floor…

STILL sure you want to read a Wulf Godgluck book?

Proceed at your own peril.

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Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab: Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, New Release Review and Giveaway

London, 1845

It’s December, Alan “Aigee” Garmond’s favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren’t for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee’s book reviews.

But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop’s magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.

Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London’s most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?

Title: Yuletide Truce

Publisher: Sandra Schwab

Release Date (Print & Ebook): 22 September 2017

Length (Print & Ebook): 18,000 words

Subgenre: historical romance, Victorian romance, mm romance, holiday romance

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Cute quick little Holiday read. Aigee works in a bookshop where he writes book reviews for the shop’s magazine. Aigee’s thoughtful reviews reflect his deep love of not just the stories themselves but the artwork accompanying them. Handsome Christopher Foreman is a rival magzine’s book reviewer who seems to have it out not just for Aigee, but his magazine and book reviews as well.

There’s no hope for these two getting along until one night when Aigee saves Foreman from a beating and robbery by two street urchins. From there, things progress quickly where the two begin to want to know each other better and move on from past reciprocal hurts.

Like I said, super fast read, it’s really kind of a quick study of two people over a span of a week or so. In other words, there’s not going to be much character development here, but for the length, there were still a couple of nice love scenes.

3 pieces of eye candy

This was such a sweet solid story. Definitely showed the type of research this author did on everything from clothing to locations, even to vocations in England in 1845.

The author did a great job of character development of Aigee-the story is told from his point of view-in such a short amount of words. We learn about his childhood, his mother’s illness, even how he came to work in a bookstore. I also liked that he recognized that he was gay, and didn’t try to hide away how he felt from himself.

As he and Kit recognized their attraction for each other, and the story came to a close, they acknowledged that they would work to be friends, and perhaps more. It wasn’t a “I love only you, forever and ever”, which was perfect for the confident Aigee, and the fact that they had only really known each other a short time. It was a good way to continue their relationship, allowing it to grow.

I’d love to see how these two continue to build on that relationship, with an update at some point. This was well-written, with fantastic descriptions of locations. Recommended for those looking for a quick holiday read.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Even at this late hour, the streets were full of people, carts, and carriages, and the never-ending din of iron wheels and hooves made conversation impossible on the main thoroughfares. But they could walk side by side, and because the pavements were so crowded, nobody took any notice of two men walking close enough for their shoulders to brush. Indeed, close enough that they could occasionally link their little fingers or brush a thumb over the back of the other’s hand, each touch lasting no longer than a heartbeat. And yet it was enough to stoke Aigee’s desire until he felt he was burning up with it.

The walk to his lodgings had never seemed that long.

They didn’t meet anybody on the stairs, and then, finally, they were in Aigee’s room, and he could close the door behind them. He slid the bolt home and turned. “So—”

The next moment, he found himself pressed back against the wood, with Kit’s mouth on his in hot demand, Kit’s hands on his jaw, cupping his face.

Aigee made a sound of surprise, but then opened his lips quite willingly for Kit’s onslaught. With his hands on Kit’s slim hips, he drew the man further against himself until they touched chest to thigh.

“Hmm…”

One of his hands went to Kit’s arse, encouraging his hips to cant up against him, while Kit deepened their kiss. Greedily, Aigee swallowed his moans. He inserted a thigh between Kit’s, pressing upward, and was rewarded with more muffled moans and groans.

“You!” With a breathless laugh, Kit tore his mouth away and drew back a little. “You.” He trailed a hand that wasn’t quite steady down the side of Aigee’s face. “Calling me a wicked man and then proceeding to drive me insane with all those little touches on the way here.” He gave Aigee a short, hard kiss. “It would have served you right if I had started to rip off your clothes in the middle of the street.”

Aigee grinned, feeling ridiculously pleased with himself. “That would have caused a bit of a scandal,” he said mildly.

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favorite Victorian magazine).

She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

Connect with Sandra:

Website: http://www.sandraschwab.com

Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k4j3w6

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScribblingSandy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandraSchwab.Author/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scribblingsandy/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SandraSchwab


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The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews: Quick Review

If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years–everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

Amazon

You have to like figure skating to like this book. And I do like figure skating, and the behind the scenes training was interesting to read. But I felt like the book focused on the skating more than the romance. And I wanted more romance.

Alex is focused solely on getting to the Olympics. All of the time, training and money are for that moment. So even though he is gay, he has never acted on it. Training takes first place in his life always.

Matt is a pairs figure skater and Alex hates him. For pretty much no reason. They aren’t in competition with each other. They simply train at the same rink.

Matt and Alex are about polar opposites. Matt is Mr nice guy, Alex runs his mouth without filter and is definitely more average than hot. Naturally, a romance begins.

And the romance is nice and it is sweet. But I wanted more. There were a lot of side characters with stories that detracted a bit from the main story so that at times, although I did really enjoy Matt’s partner.

There were parts that I really really enjoyed. When Matt soothes the prickly Alex. When Alex comforts Matt. And when Alex so awkardly invites himself to do some brief sight seeing with Matt.

I am generally a fan of Ms Andrew’s work, but this wasn’t my favorite. But that is not saying I didn’t enjoy it because I did. You would probably enjoy it as well.

 

Pieces of Candy: 3 1/2

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I Heart Boston Terriers by Rick R. Reed: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Author’s Note: This edition has been extensively revised.

When Aaron finds Mavis, an emaciated and shy Boston terrier, at a pet adoption fair, his heart goes out to her—completely.

When Christian, manning the adoption fair for the Humane Society that autumn Saturday, finds Aaron, his heart goes out to him—completely.

This is a story about embracing love, whether it’s for someone who walks on four legs or on two. Mavis’s journey back to wholeness and finding her forever home parallels the story of two men discovering each other at the perfect moment—a moment that defies logic, propriety, and common sense. But when did love ever follow a rational course?

First edition published by Amber Allure, January 2012.

Title: I Heart Boston Terriers
Author: Rick R. Reed
Release Date: September 20, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 54

Amazon US

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This is a quick read. A short story you can read while waiting in line, or while dinner is in the oven. I do like those kinds of reads. Then you add in an animal? Well, you have me wanting to read it right away. 🙂

We could talk about Aaron and Christian, and the fact that Aaron was a little put off initially by Christian’s forwardness. Or about Aaron’s sister, who, honestly as an animal lover, and a shelter volunteer myself, I wanted to…well, let’s just say I didn’t want to take her to dinner.

But let’s talk about Mavis. Because…poor abused Mavis, she needed love more than anyone else in the story! What a sweet thing (take a look at the cover, that is a picture of the author’s own dog, Lily, being a star!) she was. Mavis was a challenge, for sure, especially for a man who had never owned a dog. She acted in ways that were difficult to understand, and which, if you are unfamiliar with animals, would be a challenge to try to figure out how to deal with. However, I loved that Aaron stood up for his dog, and his choices, and said that she was staying, period, and yet went looking for help with a situation he had no idea how to solve.

The approach the author took to the ending was actually perfect for this short story. Mavis was taken care of, and there wasn’t an impossible situation for the two men to deal with, as they worked through whether or not they wanted to pursue a relationship with each other. Sometimes in short stories, the insta-love leads to what would not be a realistic, long term relationship, which can make the reader feel like, it is an HFN, but will later be a “we are done”. And with a romance, we want to KNOW that they will get their HEA.

3.5 pieces of eye candy


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Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane: Blog Tour, Exclusive Author Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleWhitecott Manor

Author: Emma Jane

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65300

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, NineStar Press, LGBT, contemporary, British, paranormal, intrigue, family-drama, ghosts, friends to lovers, humor

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Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Read a lot. Join writing groups or writing forums online. Listen to other people when they tell you something you’ve written isn’t very good, even if you don’t agree with them.

 

If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

Maybe back to the 60s because I’m a massive fan of The Monkees! Or the 1920s because I love the fashion, but I wouldn’t want to stay in that time.

 

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter (does not need to be sexual) between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Does it have to be a novel? Probably Ash and Darian from Alexis Hall’s Glitterland.

 

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Half a tray of dog food. Almond milk. Apple juice. Some homegrown tomatoes from my uncle. Some fat balls I made for the wild birds. And not a lot else! Most of my food is either in the cupboards or the freezer.

 

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Telekinesis because I’m horribly lazy.

 

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Probably Arthur from Whitecott Manor. He’s quite well off and basically gets to do what he likes!

I loved the setting of this book, an old manor in England, beautiful gardens as far as the eye can see. It makes you think about old Harlequin romance novels, and traveling to these places to see them yourself. A great location to have a grand romance.

Alistair was kind of a mess emotionally, but in a sweet way. Concerned about his job, after his lover, the owner dies (and then “haunts” him), having a difficult time dealing with his father since the death of his mother, and navigating a world where he is gay in a very small English village. He meets Noah the dog groomer, who he is very taken with at first sight…except for the whole phobia of dogs thing. He also really seemed to care about those around him, going out of his way to help others, and even being open to his father finding a girlfriend.

I liked these two main characters, even with all of Alistair’s issues. However, I did think that there might have been too much going on in this book. There were quite a few different conflicts in this book that seemed to pop up, then would fade into the background while another would pop up, until one of the others came to the forefront again. It didn’t make the book confusing, it just made it very busy. It was hard to feel like the romance of Alistair and Noah was a focus when there were so many other conflicts that would become the focus.

The side characters were very well written, including Emmett (the dead lover/owner) who was all about his fashion choices. Those made me laugh every time!

A well written book and characters, but definitely a bit crowded in the story.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Whitecott Manor
Emma Jane © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Once I was aware of the cuts, they stung like a bitch. I should’ve worn gloves, really, but it’s so much easier not to. I was almost finished anyway, and the Harpers’ rose borders were nearly ready. They’d look beautiful when they flowered in the summer—they always did. White and red rose blooms flanked the path to the tennis court. I just had one last bush to prune and then I could stop for a cuppa. The cuts were itching now too, right where the thorns had snagged and ripped my skin. I sucked the flesh between my thumb and index finger, tasting blood and mud, and stood there, secateurs in hand, watching the house.

It was a fifteenth-century manor—a beautiful listed building made from warm-yellow stone. It’d been revamped inside, a strange mixture of modern and ancient, and was currently—unfortunately, in my opinion—on the market. I didn’t want it to sell; I didn’t want to lose my job. The Harpers assured me that whoever bought the place would keep me on but, well, it wasn’t down to them.

I took my hand from my mouth and watched as the estate agent led a middle-aged couple from their car—some sort of old classic; light blue with a soft-top—to the front of the manor. Even at this distance, I could see the look on their faces as they gazed up at the building before entering. They loved it already. Everybody did; it was such an impressive place. Bloody hell, I’d buy it if I had a spare eight million lying around.

I glowered to myself and turned back to the last bush, reaching into the branches to snip it into some sort of order. I cut myself on another thorn and swore impatiently.

“Language.”

I turned to see Mr Harper—Emmett—watching me. He stood there, smiling, his hands tucked in the pockets of his ridiculous purple corduroys. He always reminded me of Colin Firth, though he didn’t look particularly like him. He was a similar age, I suppose, and had that same clipped accent and no-nonsense manner.

I tossed rose clippings into my wheelbarrow. “Sorry. It’s these roses. They’re full of thorns.”

“Ah, the roses. Yes. I thought perhaps you’d spotted Mr Daniels showing the Scrantons around.”

“Scrantons?”

“Mr and Mrs Scranton. I don’t know their first names, and I don’t care. Lottery winners, apparently.”

I scratched at my cheek with the edge of my thumbnail and then wiped the back of my hand across my brow. “You really want Whitecott Manor bought by lottery winners?” I asked. It wasn’t really any of my business, but I didn’t want to see the place sold on yet again because the Scrantons squandered all their money and ended up bankrupt within a year.

Emmett shrugged. “My dear, I don’t care who buys it as long as they cough up the money. You know I can’t afford to keep the place.”

I knew. Emmett was swimming in debt. His daughters—all five of them—had now moved out and he had to pay for everything on his own since his wife had left. Old Mrs Harper, Emmett’s mother, lived in the house with him, but she was in her eighties and, I think, had about as much money as he did. They wanted to move to a little cottage somewhere, with a nice granny annex and a garden that didn’t require much attention. Certainly not enough attention to take me with them.

I hadn’t said anything. Emmett came and put his hand to the small of my back. “Whoever ends up here would be mad to let you go. They can see how beautiful the gardens are.”

I nodded and stared into the rose bush.

“And you’re beautiful,” he added. “Who would not want you around?”

“You don’t need to flatter me.” I snipped at the bush and tossed branches into my wheelbarrow.

Emmett chuckled and moved away. “Cheer up, Alistair! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. I’m off to take Mother her tea.”

I watched him stroll back to the house as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I’d miss him most of all. Well, maybe he wouldn’t move far. I’d probably still see him around—at the local fair or plant show perhaps. Besides, house sales took ages; I knew that from experience. If the Scrantons bought the place, it’d be a while yet before they moved in. And if they decided they didn’t want a gardener—if—then I had plenty of time to look for a new job. I could always audition for the X Factor and see where that got me—Emmett said I had a great singing voice, and I’d often dreamed of performing on stage.

I picked up the wheelbarrow and went to empty the clippings on the compost heap. I was just trundling back to the roses when I spotted the estate agent leading the Scrantons out into the gardens. I’d make myself scarce; I didn’t want to have to smile politely while they stood and gawked, so I downed tools and headed to the potting shed.

The cabbage seedlings were coming on nicely, I noticed, but my beetroots were depressingly small. I’d never had much luck with beetroot. They never grew much larger than rat testicles. I shrugged out of my overalls and tied the arms around my waist, singing an Elvis track softly beneath my breath.

I’d just reached for a watering can when an almighty bang made me jump out of my skin. The windows blew out the front of the manor, followed by tongues of fire licking the frames. I stared, heart frozen and mouth open. Then my heart started again, blood thumping in my ears. I threw open the shed door and ran.

“Emmett!”

I dashed towards the building, pulled open the door, and hurried down the hall to where the explosion had come from—the kitchen. Flames crackled in the room, red and angry and louder than I would’ve expected. Smoke and heat billowed outwards, and I coughed and covered my nose. My eyes watered.

“Emmett!” I yelled again.

Something crashed—maybe part of the ceiling falling—and I took a step to go after Emmett when somebody grabbed my arm and hauled me back.

“Mr Harper’s in there,” I shouted at the estate agent, fighting the man’s vice-like grip. “Emmett! Emmett!

The estate agent pulled me away, forcing me bodily back down the hall and outside. He was speaking—shouting, I think—but I yelled too, my voice hoarse, and I couldn’t hear him, couldn’t see, couldn’t… Emmett.

Sirens screamed in the distance, and then I saw the lights flashing through the trees that flanked the lane beside the manor. Fire engines arrived in a cacophony of noise and colour. The estate agent held me in a bear hug, and all I could do as firefighters jumped from their vehicles was stare at the flames roaring from the broken windows.

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Emma Jane has been writing stories since primary school, some of which still survive in notebooks in her dad’s attic, and wanted to be an author as soon as she realised it was a possible career choice and ‘Pony’ or ‘Ninja’ weren’t viable options.

Her first short story, Club Freak, about an anonymous woman’s determination to find her husband’s killer, was published by Park Publication’s Debut magazine in May 2009. Since then, she has gone on to write many short stories and poems for various small presses and has achieved an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Writers of the Future competition.

In 2014, writing as Emma Jane, she signed her first publishing contract for not one, but two novels. Otherworld formerly published by Torquere Press, and Shuttered by Dreamspinner Press.

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Calm by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn: Release Day Review

A love worth the wait.

When Riley Porter-Wright comes out as bisexual and confesses his feelings for Carter Hamilton, it severs their friendship. Carter’s rejection forces Riley to move on and he’s shocked to learn Carter’s marriage has fallen apart.

Overwhelmed by his failure as a husband and father, Carter misses Riley, but feels guilty for disappearing after Riley’s coming out. After Riley extends an olive branch, the former friends agree to repair their relationship.

Slowly, Carter pieces together a new life. He admits his attraction to men, and confesses his feelings for Riley. Leery of Carter’s initial rejection, Riley turns his focus on a new man, Will Martin.

Riley and Carter’s renewed rapport intensifies, and Will becomes insecure. Will’s resentment increases until he issues an ultimatum, forcing Riley to refocus his energies away from Carter.

Disappointed, Carter fosters new friendships with men like Jesse Murtagh. Aware of the changes in Carter’s life, Riley is uncomfortable knowing Carter has moved on.

Carter and his ex-wife, Kate, navigate new waters as their children learn their parents are dating other people. Will can’t deal with his jealousy and ends his relationship with Riley.

Unattached for the first time in years, Riley and Carter slowly transition their friendship into a relationship. Carter comes out and leaves his job, accepting the reality of being disowned.

Riley and Carter go public with their relationship, but worry the fallout will affect their families. Drawing strength from each other, they meet the challenges of being an out couple head on.

General Release Date: 12th September 2017

Pairing: MM Book Length: Super Plus Novel

Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gay

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I will be the first to tell you that when I read Wake, I did not give it a great rating. I was pretty upset at the fact that it basically had a cliffhanger, and there was no information in the ARC that there would be a book 2. (The author responded to my review post stating that there would be a follow up book.) I liked the MC’s, but that cliffhanger just threw me for a loop.

Calm, book 2, is the book that finishes the story for Carter and Riley, best friends from the first day of college, and definitely was a long road for these two to get to their HEA. Riley begins a relationship with a friend of Natalie’s. Meanwhile, Carter and his wife divorce, and work through the new and winding road of exes relearning to be friends, while still parenting two children.

As Carter and Riley drift back into each other’s orbits, they begin to be friends again. This is important for these two men, and honestly is what later is able to drive them into a romantic relationship. As they learn to be their own person without the other (and their ex-wives), they also learn to be friends again, who are there for the other when things become difficult. This was a crucial aspect of their relationship, and carries over later into the beginnings of their romance.

I will say that I was a bit disappointed how long it took to bring Carter and Riley to their romantic relationship. It felt like Riley’s relationship with Will, including sex scenes, was a larger portion of the book than his eventual relationship with Carter. Of course, in the end, after all the pain these two had been through, once the reader was there, it was heartwarming and satisfying, to see how they interacted with each other, as well as with Carter’s children.

The authors do a wonderful job showing us all the characteristics of the events and locations in the book. Their writing is seamless from one author to the next, and gives very rich descriptions that help the reader feel they are in the room with the MC’s.

On the whole, this is a satisfying completion to the epic journey of these two, from best friends to soul mates and future husbands. I will admit, I would love to see a book 3 with a certain secondary character with a snarky attitude, and an aversion to monogamy. 🙂

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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Family Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Sometimes family chooses you.

At forty, Vincent “Vinnie” Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay—even to himself. It’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it’s getting harder to ignore what he really wants.

Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence—though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.

It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie’s family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey’s mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important—their families’ or their own.

First edition published by Samhain Publishing, 2013.

Title: Family Man
Author: Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Release Date: September 11, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 206

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This is a super sweet book. Yes, there is hot sex, but I really enjoyed the romance.

Vince is from a big Chicago  Italian family. I live in the N.Y. tristate area.and, trust me, families like these are everywhere. Big, loud, in your business and completely loving. I think it bothered me a bit that Vince didn’t want to tell his family-  Because they are the type to not judge. Even with their heavy religious background.

Trey is a neighborhood kid who always noticed Vince, but Vince didn’t notice him. Until he did. And what started as an experiment of sorts turned into a slow burn romance as Vince came to terms with his sexuality and Trey dealt with his crazy home life, trying to hide his alcoholic mother from Vince.

Let me tell you, there is a scene in a jazz club that is so hot. And all of their clothes stayed on. I adore scenes like that. Hot and sexy is more than sex.

Even with the various family issues, the story is low angst. It boiled down to two neighborhood kids discovering each other and falling in love.

This one is far from perfect, but worth a read.

3.5 pieces of eye candy


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Midlife Crisis by Audra North: Blog Tour Spotlight, Release Day Review and Giveaway

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to fully embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

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Riptide Publishing

This book intrigued me from the beginning for several reasons. First, how often do we see an m/m romance with characters that are people of color, and then on top of it, they are over the age of 50?!?!?!? These are quite often anomalies in the romance genre, much less gay romance, and having them addressed so prominently in the story was fantastic. And the author did both of those sides of the main characters justice. Addressing all the aches and pains that come with aging, and even having one MC come from a town of all African Americans in Texas, made their journey seem more realistic, falling in love at an age where most people think that people are settled with a partner.

In fact, Dave HAD been settled with a partner, for a number of years, until that partner had his own midlife crisis, and moved on. Cam, meanwhile, was married for 35 years to a woman who died the previous year. He had always known he was gay, but never felt he could be in the tiny, all African American town he lived in. Falling in love was never in Cam’s plans, but finally kissing a man was, as we find in the opening scene. Cam went to Austin to find himself, or possibly to see what he could do to be who he wanted to be for a time.

I understood Cam’s hesitance to move forward with the life that he wanted to lead, but it was frustrating as a reader to understand his continued look at his “old life” as something he needed to get back to, and one he couldn’t move forward from. He’d spent his entire life in the closet, finally moves forward with finding a new love, then makes himself choose between (and this isn’t a surprise since she is called this by her brother) his selfish spoiled daughter who is appalled that her father is gay, versus the man who he fell in love with, and who had had nothing but undying patience for Cam’s slow coming out.  Cam had spent his entire life lying to everyone around him, making sure they all had their needs met, and finally his own were being met and he decided to give it up when his daughter threw a tantrum.

Of course, there is an HEA, so Cam gets his man back, and his children approve, but it still seemed like there needed to be more of a challenge on Dave’s side (although his sister Jacqui did a good job of pushing back on Cam).

One piece that was especially telling for how Cam continued to allow everyone to dictate his entire life was the short snippets of his life with LaVerne, through the years. Although it didn’t necessarily show growth of the character, it did show how he continued to be caught in the spiral he began in high school.

All in all, a sweet story, with a man who took care of everyone but himself first, who deserved a happy ending more than most people.

 

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series, the Hard Driving series, and the Pushing the Boundaries series. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

For more about Audra, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit audranorth.com.

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To celebrate the release of Midlife Crisis, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 2, 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.

Regret by Christina Lee: Quick Review

When Brian “Brin” Schubert’s condo floods, he takes his co-worker up on the offer to stay on his crappy futon for a while. The last thing he expects is for his friend’s roommate to be the one guy he despises the most. The same guy who stomped on his heart senior year of high school. And by the looks of the girl on his arm, the same man who’s still deep inside the closet.

Nicholas Dell never predicted that eleven years later, one of his greatest regrets would show up on his doorstep down on his luck. Nick has made some terrible mistakes—story of his life—and he’s been paying for them ever since. And if the guilt and shame aren’t enough, his first crush had to turn into one of the sexiest men he’s ever laid eyes on.

Nick and Brin have weeks to steer clear of each other. Weeks to avoid strangling each other. But when stubbornness leads to skyrocketing sexual tension, hate-sex doesn’t seem like such an awful way to work through their frustration. Except hate is a powerful emotion, especially when it’s turned inward. And in Nick’s case he’s been drowning in a sea of self-loathing for so long, he can’t see his way out.

As Brin reconnects with Nick, his perception of what really happened in their past begins to change. He’s finally ready to forgive him and take a second chance on the one guy who stirs him like no other. But Nick’s demons are complicated, heart-wrenching…demanding. So devastating, he might never allow himself true happiness—even with the one man who’s always owned his heart.

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I can pick up a Christina Lee book and know that it will be a good book. Enjoyable, sexy, not a ton of angst. I liken them to comfort reads. They are kind of a safe place, good stories that probably won’t make me cry and that is ok. And they will give me a happily ever after.

All of the above is true for Regret. A sort of second chance love but maybe more of an enemies to lovers story.

I started out really liking Brin. He seemed like a good guy. And faced with the guy from high school who not only blew him off, but set him up for ridicule, I felt badly for him. But then he became kind of bratty. Nick is who I really ended up feeling sorry for. He seemed contrite and wanting to make things right with Brin- but couldn’t get him to crack at all.

What I couldn’t understand was why Nick hated himself so much. Until the truth came out. Ugh, my heart. It was broken. And then Brin totally redeemed himself to me by being there for Nick. That was a twist I wasn’t expecting. I want to say more, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Ms Lee writes 20-something guys really well. They are current without being caricatures or stereotypes. They are just guys living life the best they can.

So yes, this was the comfort read I expected, with a bit of a twist that I didn’t expect and a happily ever after that left a smile on my face.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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