Review: “Crocus” by Amy Lane

TITLE: Crocus
AUTHOR: Amy Lane
SERIES: Bonfires
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 244 pages
RELEASE DATE: Apr 17, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.
High School Principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sherriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.
But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.
Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart?


Larx and Aaron are together, in love, happy and try to make their life, work, and children work.
Between 3 teenagers, 1 pregnant daughter which is not okay, 1 daughter who is a queen B***, 2 teenagers in danger, 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 young adult with PTSD and Aaron’s dangerous job, Larx and Aaron have more in their lives and plates than they can deal with.

When their worst fears come true, Larx and Aaron will have to rethink everything from their love for each other to their kids’ lives.
Is love the only thing that counts? That’s what Larx and Aaron will have to find out.
Crocus is book two of the series Bonfire. The story takes place a few weeks after the end of Bonfire.
Amy lane did a great job with this book, as good as book 1 in my opinion. I was really happy to have Aaron and Larx back with their menagerie.

Larx and Aaron live and raise their children together, they also work together in order to help two teenagers in danger, but when Aaron is hurt, Larx has to deal with all the aftermath alone. And he’s angry and hurt. I loved Larx and Aaron’s relationship; they are so human, so real. How they try to have a “normal” relationship in the chaos of their life. How they have to deal with all the problems that life throws at them and how they try each time to reach each other, to fight for each other but also for others, and to stand united no matter what. They are two grown men with a lot of responsibilities, but at the same time, they are also like two teenagers trying to sneak into each other pants. I soooo love those guys.

In this book, a new POV is added, the one of Olivia, Larx’s daughter who’s pregnant. Having her POV was interesting. It wasn’t all the book, it starts at almost the end, but it was a good thing, at least for me, because until I had her POV, I wanted to slap her, like really slap her very hard until she wakes up.

We also meet two new characters, Jamie and his big brother Roberto. I totally swing for the brothers, they touched me at my first meeting with them, and it was also a good thing to get to know more of Tane, Toshi’s boyfriend. I only wanted to get to know those two brothers more, especially Roberto, this one completely got my heart.

This book is a super addition to the series. Amy lane touches a lot of subjects here, but she was able to make them all so real, not simple, but cruelly real.
It was a super read, I loved each word, and Larx and Aaron are magnificent, I so want to be adopted by them.
I highly recommend this book, you will love it as much as Bonfire (for the ones who had read this one), and if you didn’t read Bonfire, you could read this book easily as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the series.

And I will just add to the author, thank you for this super book, and please, write a Bonfire #3 OR Roberto’s book.

It’s 5 OptimuMMs for the Principal, The Deputy, and their menagerie.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Ten Mile Bottom” by Teodora Kostova

TITLE: Ten Mile Bottom
AUTHOR: Teodora Kostova
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: self
COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 240 pages
RELEASE DATE: Mar 22, 2018
PRICE: 3.99 -e-book / 10.99 -paperback

BLURB:

Hitting rock bottom is just the beginning…
I’m a son, a brother, a friend.
A writer.
An addict.
Dead.
Cardiac arrest isn’t enough to keep me dead, though. The doctors brought me back, but for what?
At twenty four I’ve already achieved what most people do in a life time. I’m a successful author, own a flat in the heart of London and drive my dream sports car.
Or at least that’s what people see.
Once the spotlight fades, I’m left alone with my overactive mind, alcohol and drugs the only way to quiet down the noise.
Until an overdose nearly kills me and drags everyone I love down with me.
With the help of my best friend, I leave London and its toxic influence behind, moving to a small town in the outskirts of Cambridge to try and put my life back together again.
If only it were that easy.


Finn is 24 years old, a successful writer and a junkie.
When he overdosed in the toilet of a club, Finn, with the help of his sister and his best friend, decides to start over, for good, and for the fourth time.

After his rehab, Finn moves to Ten Mile Bottom, a small town near Cambridge, where he meets Ben, a handsome young mechanic.
This time, Finn wants to succeed at getting his life back, to be in control again, but nothing is easy when his demons still haunt him.
I had a real pleasure with this book.

Finn is maybe 24 years old, but he sounds like an old soul. He’s a self-destructive man, addict of hard drugs and alcohol and it took an OD, the heart attack of his best friend and his sister having a miscarriage because of him for Finn to understand that he needs to change. I loved Finn, not at the beginning of the book, I found him too selfish until I understood that he’s an addict, and because of that, he couldn’t understand the pain he inflicted on others. But when he finally understands that he can’t live like that, risking his life but also his best friend’s life, he makes a real change. Finn doesn’t try to find excuses for himself, and he’s lucid about his condition. I really loved him. I found him touchy and funny sometimes.

Ben is a young, hot mechanic. He’s 21 years old but very mature, calm and kind. He supports Finn in his rehab, he tries to understand him, and his fears, and because of that, Finn succeed in his rehabilitation. I really loved Ben, how calm, confident and kind he is, and hot, really hot.

I really love this book. It was a sweet love story, but not only that, it was also a book about a second chance (or in this case fourth). How sometimes a decision like moving to a small town at the bottom of England can change your life, or how inviting an almost stranger to dinner can be the beginning of the most beautiful story of your life. I liked it, I like this kind of book, when the Mc has to start over from scratch.

It was my first time with Teodora Kostova. I never read her before, and it was a good surprise. I loved her writing, simple, fluid and dynamic. I loved how she built her plot around Finn and the aftermath of his OD. It was an exceptional book that I read easily. I was hooked into the story and was surprised when I finished it. I’ll definitely read more books from her.

It’s 4 OptimuMMs for me.

***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: “Santori: Reborn” by Maris Black

TITLE: Santori: Reborn
AUTHOR: Maris Black
SERIES: Santori Trilogy
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Maris Black
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Mystery / Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 254 pages
RELEASE DATE: Mar 31, 2018
PRICE: $5.99 -e-book / $12.99 – paperback

BLURB:

MICHAEL KAGE SANTORI doesn’t think his life can get any more complicated. Juggling a new business, a fledgling UFC career, and the only real relationship he’s ever had is taking a toll on him both mentally and physically. After being attacked for daring to question the inner workings of his own business, he is left broken and confused. The discovery of his uncle’s journals has brought him face-to-face with a past he never understood, and the new perspective has him reeling. Add to that the fact that he hasn’t been totally honest with the love of his life, and you have a recipe for a serious nervous breakdown.
When an old friend resurfaces with new information, Kage discovers things are only going to get worse before they get better. If he ever hopes to free himself from the chains of his uncle’s dark legacy, he’s going to have to become something he never wanted to be.
And risk losing the only person he’s ever truly loved.
JAMIE ATWOOD is in over his head. Instead of the happily ever after he’d envisioned, moving in with Kage has only been one disappointment after another. Kage has come out to the entire world and still managed to keep his reputation and his UFC contract intact, but mysterious forces Jamie has yet to discover are transforming his sexy alpha fighter into someone he doesn’t recognize anymore.
If Kage doesn’t come clean soon, Jamie fears he’s going to have to leave. With his journalism degree and a newly-flourishing MMA blog, he knows he’s got what it takes to make it on his own financially. It’s his heart he’s worried about.
Because without Kage by his side, what is there to live for?


MEANWHILE IN ANOTHER LIFETIME…
PETER SANTORI has found his bliss. Being Gio’s boy is a dream come true for a guy who thought he was doomed to a life of abuse and poverty. His confidence and sense of security are flourishing in the warm glow of Gio’s love, and he has started to believe that maybe he can have the fairytale after all.
Never mind that he’s got to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret. Never mind that one of Gio’s associates seems to have something against him. And never mind that sometimes he gets the feeling that there’s a lot more to Gio than meets the eye. All that matters is that he and Gio are together.
4 EVER & EVER…


Kage is still trying to figure out what’s happening in his uncle’s business that he inherited.
After the beating he’d taken from Theo Brown’s goons and the discovery of his uncle’s journal, Kage has to make a choice between Jamie and their future together or finding out the truth.
Jamie wants to be the man Kage needs, but how can he help him without knowing the truth?
They are in a very difficult situation with lots of secrets and lies, only their love for each other can help them…but is it enough?

Santori: Reborn is book two of the Santori trilogy.  The story starts at the end of book 1, and we keep following Kage and Jamie in their new life together.

Kage tries to understand what really happens with the Alcazar and the inheritance from his uncle, and the only way is to be close to Theo Brown. His uncle’s best friend, his right hand, and the man who seems to control the “under business” of Peter’s, the illegal ones. So Kage, without really wanting it, and forced by Aaron (the bodyguard who helps them) must work with Theo, even if it means losing Jamie and himself in the process.
I wanted to beat Kage more than he already was. He pissed me off to no end, really, the fact he accepts being manipulated by Theo and Aaron (don’t let me start about Aaron) and plays their game, pissed me off. I do believe that Kage is stronger with Jamie by his side. But I also understand why he’s ready to do anything to protect Jamie. So I refused to beat him and try to understand him.

Jamie is lost, at first, but when he understood what Kage was intending to do and that he can’t change his mind, he did the most difficult thing he can…he protects himself first. I admire him for that, and I was proud of him. Jamie starts to be more mature than the young student he was in “Kage: Trilogy”.
Then comes Peter, young Peter. I love this one. I’m still trying to understand how Young-Emo-Peter becomes Old-Coldness-Peter. His story is interesting to read along with his journal with Kage. For now, we’re still with young innocent Peter, in love with the handsome Gio Rivera.

I couldn’t help but make a parallel between Emo-Peter and Jamie, they’re the same, this same innocence and kindness, while Kage is a kind of mini Gio Rivera. It’s completely brilliant from the author to create this parallel between her characters from 2 different timelines.
I really loved this book, how the author put her characters in an area where nothing is black or white, when no one is really good or bad, it’s a universe of grey areas, when bad actions can be explaining by good motivation.

I don’t know how it will end, how Jamie and Kage will still be together, but I’m sure that I’ll read it until the end, because knowing Maris Black, she reserving more surprises.

It’s 5 brilliant OptimuMMs …. I want a fedora!

***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: “Redeeming the Stepbrother” by Andrew Grey

TITLE: Redeeming the Stepbrother
AUTHOR: Andrew Grey
SERIES: Tales from St. Giles
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

A Tale from St. Giles
Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.
As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.
When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.
But he isn’t the only one with a secret.
At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.


Redeeming the Stepbrother is the second book in the Tales of St. Giles series by Andrew Grey. I loved the first book in the series, Taming the Beast, which was a play on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.
The second book is a play on the Cinderella fairy tale, but Andrew Grey has made it his own because the story isn’t about Cinderella, which would be the stepsister, it’s about one of the stepbrothers, who wants to protect his stepsister. There is still the evil stepmother and the rotten stepbrother, but there is only one rotten stepbrother instead of two. The good stepbrother, Florian, is old enough and makes enough to be on his own instead of still living at home but that would leave his underage stepsister at the mercy of his selfish and self-absorbed mother, who treats his stepsister like her own personal servant. So Florian stays to play mediator. I loved how he stands up to his mom and his brother ‘cause they are both a piece of work.

Florian and his brother both work at the Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, however, Florian is loved by his design team and everybody at the company, and his brother is hated by his co-workers. So when his brother gets passed over for a supervisor’s promotion, it has to be his brother’s fault since he’s been seen talking to the owners and the German representative that is there to present an award that the company has won.

I loved Florian. He’s kind and sweet and doesn’t take shit from his family but there isn’t a lot of gay people in their little town, and he’s kind of lonely. And he may have had a crush on his boss, Dante for the longest time, although he’s had to give that up when his boss got married, and he can see how in love they are and how they complete each other. Florian is a chief designer and specializes in painting birds. He’s won numerous awards, and it’s because of his work that they have won another award. He also loves to watch the birds in the wild to help with design ideas, and it’s in the marshes that he first meets Dieter von Hollenbach. And he falls for him fast and hard. But he knows that a relationship between them is not realistic since Dieter is only going to be in town for two weeks before going back home. Will Florian go with him when he goes and if he does what will happen to his stepsister?

Count Dieter von Hollenbach is in town to visit his friend Dante and award his company with an award. When he gets into town, he goes to the local hotspot for seeing birds and gets stuck in the mud and is lucky that Florian is there to save him. He didn’t come looking for love, but that didn’t stop it from happening. But is Florian really as wonderful as he seems and how will he react when Dieter tells him that he’s a count?

I liked how Dieter and Florian interacted together, and I loved getting to see more of Dante and Beau from the first book. I especially liked how the book ended, and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “A Dom & His Artist” by Xenia Melzer

TITLE: A Dom & His Artist
AUTHOR: Xenia Melzer
SERIES: Club Whisper
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Erotic; BDSM
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 10,2018
PRICE: $4.89 -e-book

BLURB:

A Club Whisper Novel


Sometimes the perfect man can be found in the most unexpected place….
Martin Carmichael owns a security firm and is part owner of Club Whisper. He’s a Dom in search of the right guy, and when his car breaks down on a lonely stretch of road, he thinks he might have found him.
Artist Collin Malloy is talented, easygoing, but somewhat insecure. Still, he has a big heart and is quick to offer help when he sees Martin in need. To thank him, Martin invites Collin to dinner, where the attraction between them becomes harder to resist.
But what will become of their budding relationship when Martin reveals that he likes his men bound, submissive, and in pain? Is it something Collin can accept… and possibly enjoy exploring? Even if he can, Collin has a secret of his own—a secret he doesn’t even realize he’s keeping.


I have become such a fan of this series. This is the second book and, as it can be read as a stand-alone, I suggest reading A Dom and His Writer. It will give you the background of the characters and the Club Whisper. This author has really captured what it’s like to be a Dom that falls in love. A good Dom in love doesn’t have to be a hardnose but can get all squishy and loving. A Dom in the bedroom is one thing, but a Sub that has captured his heart out of the bedroom is a whole other aspect.

Martin is a successful business owner of a security firm and part owner of the BDSM club known as Club Whisper. Dean, the other owner and best friend, has found his perfect soulmate. Martin wants the same but doesn’t think he will ever find his. His brand-new car breaks down on him, and no one will stop to help him. When he is about to give up, a man in a beat up old pickup truck stops to help him.

Collin sees this mafia looking man broke down on the side of the road and pulled over to help him. He sees right through the mafia persona and tells the man exactly what he sees. Collin has this ability of talking so fast and about so many things in a single breath, it’s hard to grasp everything he’s saying. He gives Martin a ride, and Martin promises to call for dinner to pay Collin back for stopping. When he doesn’t call, Collin gets insecure and knows he won’t. The next morning, Martin calls and sparks fly from their first dinner.

It’s soon learned that Collin is an amazing artist and his best friend from childhood, Jude, helps sell his work. Jude took Collin in when his parents kicked him out, of course for being gay, but Jude has protected Collin from the world and how successful of an artist he really is.

I really enjoyed watching Martin go from Dom that loved inflicting pain to a squishy man that loved cuddling with his Sub. But Martin doesn’t mess around when you mess with the love of his life. This book has a little bit of everything. I fell in love with Collin and his innocence. He’s just so adorable, and the speed of his brain was something to be in awe of. I can’t wait for the next book.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis