Review: “Holding Out for a Fairy Tale” by AJ Thomas

TITLE: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale
AUTHOR: AJ Thomas
SERIES: Least Likely Partnership
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 09, 2014
PRICE: 6.99 e-book/ 17.99 paperback

BLURB:

When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.
Special Agent Elliot Belkamp spent his entire life jumping from one place to another, but his new assignment assisting a FBI task force offers him a chance to settle down. When Elliot catches a missing person’s case as his first assignment, the last person he expects to find poking around the victim’s dorm room is Ray, a one-time hookup he’s more inclined to punch in the face than kiss hello. After discovering Sophia’s disappearance is linked to a massive computer-based theft that has two powerful crime families ready to declare war, Elliot focuses on his investigation and tries to ignore Ray. As the search for Sophia turns dangerous, Elliot and Ray discover that tackling organized crime might be easier than resisting the urge to tackle each other.


After a late-night hook-up, Ray Delgado gets a visit from his cousin, Alejandro. It’s not exactly a friendly one. Ray’s family makes up one of the major crime syndicates in California. His cousin Alejandro is the new boss. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister before the FBI starts digging too far into the disappearance and the family business. Ray, working alone since his old partner is shacking up with his new boyfriend in Montana, gets more than he’s bargained for when FBI agent Elliot Belkamp shows up at his cousin’s dorm room. Elliot just wants a place to settle down. He’s moved from place to place most of his life and he’s tired. The FBI is investigating a cyber-crime that involves Ray’s cousin, the exact one Ray is searching for.

Ray Delgado is a hard man to love. Heck even like. He has certain expectations and few have ever met them. Coming from a crime family, at work, he knows he has to do things above reproach. He’s torn between the love he still has for the family he was raised around and the job. Ray doesn’t do long-term. In fact, he’s a one-time off kind of guy and doesn’t make apologies. His playboy ways almost lost him his best friend and former partner, and now he’s risking losing his future.

Elliot Belkamp has never stayed in one place for long and now he’s ready to settle down. While Ray is the main character of the story, Elliot has a lot of his own mystery and intrigue going on. He’s a no-nonsense FBI agent. He knows he has this crazy chemistry with Ray, but they didn’t have a favorable experience. Elliot wants Ray but he’s already been burned by the man once before.

This series is fantastic. I had so much fun reading it. The guys have so much depth and the storyline is unique and fast-paced. Ray is complicated and frustrating at times. Elliot is a powerhouse and beautiful man. These two together have a chemistry that just scorched the pages.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Hawaii Five Uh-Oh” by Z.A. Maxfield

TITLE: Hawaii Five Uh-Oh
AUTHOR: Z.A Maxfield
SERIES: Plummet to Soar
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: L.C. Chase
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Nov 13, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

Sarcastic cop Theo Hsu returns home to Hawai’i after realizing he wants more from his life… and also less. He hopes to reconnect with his past and make amends with his mother, who’s remarried to a cool, distant man, leaving Theo unsure where he stands.
It doesn’t take him long to figure out where he wants to stand, though: right next to his childhood best friend, tattooed detective Koa Palapiti. Theo would like to upgrade their relationship, but Koa is putting out some seriously mixed signals. It’s a mystery Theo can’t let go, but just as they start to connect, kidnapping, murder, and a deadly game with international stakes get in the way. Koa wants to keep Theo out of it, and if it comes to a choice between him and Koa’s partner, Freddie Ortiz, Theo doesn’t like his chances.
But even if Koa wants to push him out of the investigation, and his life, Theo still has a few tricks up his sleeve. It’ll take all his special gifts, ingenuity, risk-taking, family ties—and even some kinky undercover work—to save the day… and the man he never should’ve let get away.


Theo Hsu comes back to Hawaii, his home, after twenty years on the mainland. He doesn’t know where he stands with his mother and her new husband. He doesn’t know where to stands with his job, his life. But he knows one thing: he wants Koa Palapiti, his childhood best friend, his first (if not only) love.

Koa Palapiti is a dark, tattooed intense detective. With his best friend and partner Freddie Ortiz, they are the hot bad boys of the precinct. But Koa seems to have a lot of secrets and sends a lot of mixed signals to Theo.
Theo doesn’t know what to do? Can he pursue his dream to be with the man he loves? Does he have to move the past behind him and go on with his present? That’s what he’ll have to find out.

Hawaii Five Uh-Oh by Z.A Maxfield is book two in the Plummet to Soar series, but it can be read as a standalone.
I was happy to read this book, and I enjoyed a lot Plummet to Soar (https://optimumm.blog/2018/05/08/review-plummet-to-soar-by-z-a-maxfield/) where I met Theo the first time.

Theo Hsu is a cop, and after twenty years on the mainland, he’s come back to Hawaii. Theo is disconnected from his island, his people, his family. He walks on eggshells around his mother, his step-father, and his new colleagues. He tries to forget his past and move on with his present, like a good plummetee, but it’s easier said than done. Everything gets complicated when he reconnects with Koa, his childhood best friend and first love. Koa is trouble, with a big T. Something is wrong with him, and Theo knows it, but he doesn’t know how to help him, and Koa sends him a lot of mixed signasl, like a looooooooooot.

I adored Theo. I completely melted for him. He’s funny with a little tendency for craziness, but he’s also very smart and kind with a good heart. Even if he has a lot of doubt about Koa, he doesn’t give up on him, and until the last minute, the last moment, Theo tries to save them, to save their relationship and maybe their future. I really adored him, he’s so funny and smoking hot especially with Koa.

The story was told from only Theo point of view. We make this journey with him between his past and present. In my opinion, there were two plots. The first one is about how Theo can reconnect with his past and make up for the lost time. The second one focuses on Theo and Koa’s relationship and Koa’s secrets. The author was brilliant with her writing because through all the books we alternated between plot 1 and plot 2 until she makes them merge. It was very well done.

If you want to read a good contemporary romance, with suspense, mystery cops, some dirty secrets with kinky-crazy situations like only Z.A Maxfield can do, Hawaii Five Uh-Oh is for you.
I gladly recommend this book, it was fun, kinky and fresh.

4 OptimuMM’s for Te and Woody

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “First Son of the Mound” by Meraki P. Lyhne

TITLE: First Son of the Mound
AUTHOR: Meraki P. Lyhne
SERIES: Chronicles of an Earned
PUBLISHER: eXtasy Books
COVER ARTIST: Angela Waters
GENRE: MM Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 365 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 26th
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book / $11.50 -paperback

BLURB:

Kaleb and Jeff are working on their budding friendship and on earning the trust of their new and potential allies. In the attempt to secure his ally, Kaleb runs into new magic. Or rather, very old magic. That mistake leads to more, and not only on Kaleb’s part.
With planning a wedding, the Enki fest, the opening reception of the auction house, and the art exhibition, the Earned are stretched thin serving. Edward strikes gold when he stumbles upon a young artist with a secret. He reminds Edward of a cycles-old love—one he’s going to need to focus on as his youngest son is once again thrust into unknown kinds of magic.
The two powerful Captains and their new allegiance are put to the test. So is their friendship as Jeff continues to work on saving his marriage.


When it comes to occult things, I always find my entire being on edge. It was like this from my very early childhood. There are a lot of books out there in this genre, but when I say that the Chronicles of an Earned is one of the most genuine, I’m not exaggerating.

I fell in love with this series from the very first book. The amount of information it contains amazes me evenl now. As often with this type of book, you may find the romance aspect is lacking or “dry” but the paranormal parts make up for it!
I love Kaleb and Alex’s POVs the best. They come to into themselves gradually, and I’m happy to to witness their growth.
This book is more focused on Kaleb and Jeff. Meraki enlightens us on Jeff’s state of mind and heart. He is one of the kindest characters in the series after Edward of course. And talking about Edward…

We know from the previous books that Edward feels useless when it comes to aiding his son Kaleb. That feeling grows when Kaleb gets in more a troubled situation. But Edwards finds a way to take away his mind for a short period of time and also his past getting the better of him.
Kaleb learns more about the elements. He discovers more about who he can serve. And with that, he gains more power, but he still feels like a child doubting himself. Thanks to the Gods for the people around him who are supporting and encouraging him. He finds a strong friendship in Jeff…

Jeff takes mentoring Kaleb with all his abilities. Also, he can’t ignore his Fay part, and when he and Kaleb come across of a Fay situation, he fears the Fays repulsiveness toward him as The Abomination.

This book is full of new information regarding Meraki’s universe of ancient creatures. It’s a slow build up. It’s not easy getting into that mind space, but once you’re caught up, it sucks you in and you just want to never part from it.

I’m restlessly awaiting the next one!

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Master Braden’s Houseboy” by Brina Brady

TITLE: Master Braden’s Houseboy
AUTHOR: Brina Brady
SERIES: The Irish Runaway Series
PUBLISHER: –
COVER ARTIST: Brina Brady
GENRE: BDSM
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 285 pages
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 -e-book / $13.99 -paperback

BLURB:

Reece was a guitar player and a singer at his grandfather’s pub in Dublin until someone betrays his secret. Once he was a happy and carefree young man, who finds himself on the streets and homeless.
He meets a handsome stranger, who gives him hope that the world still has people with compassion, until he discovers the man may have compassion, but he is no softie. Conner hires Reece as his houseboy.
Much to his shock, Conner Braden isn’t only a garda (Irish police officer), but he is also a Dom! The two men are complete opposites, but that doesn’t stop Reece from wanting to win his heart.
What happens when Master Braden blurs the lines between employer and Dom when Reece is his employee?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book contains mild BDSM elements including restraints, blindfolds, and spanking. While the story uses characters from The Irish Runaway Series, you can read this book as a standalone.


This is such a fun series that has BDSM but shows how love can soften the toughest of Doms. I enjoy this author very much and her ability to make me fall in love with her characters. This can be read as a standalone, but I always suggest reading the first ones so that you can relate to the other characters. I always love catching up on previous characters and see how they appear and help the new characters.

Reece has left his hometown to start over. His dad found out he was gay and kicked him out. Reece also left his last Dom because he wants a Dom to himself and Master James only trained subs so that they were ready for a permanent Dom. Reece doesn’t like sharing, so he left everything behind. The problem was that he’s homeless and it’s been raining. He’s sleeping under a box when someone kicks his box off of him.

Connor sees a box in the park and kicks it and is surprised by the most adorable face he’s ever seen. He immediately wants to help this young man and takes him to lunch. Connor decides he needs Reece to work for him as his houseboy. Connor hasn’t had a permanent sub since Patrick left him a year ago. He just has weekend subs, and that’s worked for him.

Reece has trouble following the house rules from day one where he and Finney go into his playroom after being told not to. Connor is most upset about this because he wanted to show Reece his playroom himself. Reece has awakened Master Braden’s need to Dom Reece but isn’t sure he’s ready. At least not until another Dom shows interest in Reece. He literally removes his belt and collars Reece right in the restaurant. Reece couldn’t be any happier except he wonders if he will be enough for Master Braden.

When Patrick shows up back in town, Master Braden isn’t sure how to feel. Patrick makes Reece believe that Connor is going to collar him again and that Reece will have to share until he finds Reece another Dom. Reece leaves because he wants Master Braden to himself. Will Master Braden find Reece in time to tell him he loves him and not Patrick? Will Reece ever have his own Dom and be able to trust one? Will either of these two have their happily ever after? I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Personal Best 2” by Sean Michael

TITLE: Personal Best 2
AUTHOR: Sean Michael
SERIES: Personal Best
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Alexandria Corza
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; BDSM
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 9, 2018
PRICE: $5.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Swimmer Mike Gauliet and coach Jessy Turner are back in this second book in the Personal Best series! Mike is moving up in the elite ranks of the American swim team, despite his repetitive stress injuries. He’s hiding his pain from Jessy, not wanting to give in to it or let his coach down, and by the time he gets treatment, it’s almost too late. Jessy helps Mike recover, both in an out of bed, and their need for each other grows as quickly as Mike’s career. They’re scorching hot and ready to go to the top competitions when another injury forces Mike to the sidelines. Jessy thinks this one is no accident, and Mike has to work hard to recover the lost ground. Jessy takes Mike away from the hustle and bustle of the training center, living on the coast while the two of them struggle with adversity. Mike gets back into competition form and his success is also Jessy’s. Can they keep everything together and keep their relationship from getting in the way of Mike’s Personal Best? Sean Michael triumphs with another sexy, captivating read! Look for book three of the Personal Best series to debut in 2008!


Personal Best 2 is the second book in the Personal Best series by Sean Michael. I loved this book. It’s packed full of sexy times, and I do mean packed full. Whether they were playing in the water, their playroom, the elevator, the hotel rooms after a swim meet, or their bedroom, these two had lots of stamina, and I loved the occasional dominate/submissive play to help Mike clear his head and focus his excess energy.

I loved the dynamic between Mike and Jessy. They flow beautifully from swimmer and coach to lovers. Jessy goes from being a complete hard-ass coach to being a protective dominate taking care of his submissive. And Mike needs somebody to tell him what to do. Otherwise, he would be in the pool twenty-four-seven and back to eating foods that would make him sick. I love how much he wants a Dr. Pepper and how he says it just get a reaction out of Jessy. I also liked that when push did come to shove that Jessy is willing to compromise and Mike is willing to compromise too.

I also liked when Jessy is there to help Mike recover from his injury, that is, after he gets over how furious he is with himself and Mike for keeping the injury to himself and his determination to continue to compete instead of taking a break and resting the injury. When he finally gets better from that injury and gets back up to competing again, he gets injured by another competitor. And he’s back to where he was before but with a longer recovery time.

But the book isn’t just pure sex. It does have a great plot also. The book does continue from book one, so I do recommend that you read Personal Best first before reading Personal Best 2 and the book does end in a happy for now ending, so I am looking forward to Personal Best 3 to come out and see how Mike does in his quest to win an Olympic medal.

I recommend this book to people that have enjoyed reading Sean Michael’s Iron Eagle Gym series.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis