Review: “The 17-Year-Old Itch” by MJ O’Shea

TITLE: The 17 Year Old Itch
SERIES: Coconut Cove
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 80 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book


An old conflict boils up behind the scenes of Coconut Cove.
The popular show is about to start filming its second season, and Tony Adams is happy to return to sunny Key West and his role as innocent Joey… mostly. Being back on set also means facing Casey. They had indulged in a scorching behind-the-scenes tryst during season one, but it ended in heartache for Tony. It still hurts.
When they return to Key West, nothing has changed. Casey takes his role as hot dad a little too far and can’t seem to remember that Tony isn’t the teenager he plays on TV. Tony’s tired of being Casey’s dirty little secret—he’s more than man enough for a real adult romance—and draws a line in the sand. Either Casey acknowledges him and their relationship publicly, or he’s calling it off between them.

Book four in the Coconut Cove series is the story of Tony and Casey. We’ve seen them throughout the series in various parts, and the authors have hinted at some turmoil between the two, but now we finally get their book. The book is once again set in Key West, Florida and is taking place during the filming of the second season of the television show Coconut Cove that both characters star in.

With Tony’s character, I had to go back and try to get a feel for him because this book was a little difficult to grasp in terms of who Tony actually is. I know by now he’s tired of being labeled as adorable and cute. His attitude in the book was of a scorned lover, so there wasn’t much else about his personality that I really saw.

Casey is the older man in this book. He’s told Tony that he can’t be with him but never explained why. Casey wants Tony but doesn’t want Tony. He has reasons, but it takes to the end of the book before we find out and then it was pretty anticlimactic.

The heat was good in the book during the moment. I wish I got more from the characters. I’m not sure why we needed the scenes from the show in this book. They didn’t tie anything together or really add anything to the entirety of the book. As a couple, these weren’t my favorite, but I am looking forward to reading more of the series.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Don’t let Go” by Andrew Grey

TITLE: Don’t let Go
AUTHOR: Andrew Grey
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Aug 7, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback


Avery Rivers is a country music sensation, selling records by the millions and playing to sold-out crowds. But behind that persona is Robert, a burned-out musician cracking under the pressure. He’s unable to write any new songs, and he wants out of the business—at least for a while. He changes his appearance and finds honest, hard work in Jackson, Wyoming. Maybe getting to be a regular guy for a while will get him past his block.
Hy Whitely was a championship bull rider until he watched his best friend thrown in the arena and decided the rodeo circuit was no longer the place for him. He wants to be plain old Zeke for a while, and when he returns to his family ranch, he bumps right into Robert—a one-night stand from his last rodeo appearance who is now working there as a ranch hand.
The heat between the men could sear the grass off the range, but each one is hiding a secret. Robert and Zeke, the men behind the public images, fall in love, but can they hold on when Avery and Hy are pulled back into the spotlight?

Andy Rivers is one of the most famous and talenedt country’s singers of his generation. After months on the road, Andy Rivers wants to disappear away from the spotlight and just be Robert.

Hy Withly is a bull rider who, after seeing his best friend Carson die in the Arena, wants to take a pause, and just being Zeke a ranch farmer.
When Robert and Zeke meet, everything is simple and natural between them, but what will happen when Zeke meets Andy and Robert meets Hy? Could what they start as Robert and Zeke, two anonymous men survive the spotlight, press, and fans?

Don’t let Go is a beautiful ballad written by Andrew Grey.

Robert is exhausted by his life, being on the road, being constantly pressed for more by his agent, managers, and fans. It burned him out, and he needs a break. He needs to find his creativity—to find himself. When he meets Zeke, Robert finds more than his creativity, but he doesn’t know how to deal with it without losing Zeke.

Zeke had always wanted to be a bull rider champion, it was his dream since he was a kid, but when he loses his best friend in the arena, Zeke re-thinks everything and goes back to his home, hoping to find answers at his questions. Meeting Robert wasn’t in his schedule, but maybe he will help him to find his path.

I loved both men, they’re honest, simple, and don’t play games. Even, if at first, both men don’t reveal their alter-ego, it wasn’t manipulative, they just wanted to be loved for the men they were, not the artist or champion. I really liked this about them, just like I loved how they connect, with simplicity, like it was meant to be. It was well written, and I could feel it in my read.
The plot was good, easy to follow and consistent without too much angst. The secondary characters are lovable and give a good a dynamic to the book.

I gladly recommend this book. It was a beautiful ballad, the kind you hummed with a secret smile on your lips.
4 OptimuMM’s for the rider and his artist.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The Missing Ingredient” by Brian Lancaster

TITLE: The Missing Ingredient
AUTHOR: Brian Lancaster
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Gay for You
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: Aug 7, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 e-book / $9.99 paperback


It can take losing everything to realize what you had all along.
Up-and-coming London chef Marcus Vine is poised on the edge of success, but the only men courting him are investors. That leaves Marcus with some free time—which is fortunate, because his godchildren need him.
A year ago, a horrible accident killed Marcus’s best friend, Raine, leaving her children without a mother and her husband, Tom, without a partner. Consumed by grief, Tom has been going it alone, refusing help, but when Marcus sees him out with the children, it’s obvious that Tom and his two daughters need someone. His persistent caring finally wears Tom down, allowing him to accept the comfort Marcus offers. Soon Marcus is up to his elbows in homework, home-cooked meals, and after-school activities. Over time he helps them rebuild their world, until soon their lives are approaching normal.
Then the unexpected happens: Tom confesses he has romantic feelings for Marcus, and nothing can ever be the same.

Marcus is a famous and successful Chef who after a horrible car accident, lost his best friend, Raine. As the godfather to her daughters, Marcus tries to help Tom, her husband, but Tom refuses and wants to be alone with his girls.

1 year later, when Marcus sees Tom and the girls at a restaurant, Marcus realizes that Tom is overwhelmed and completely lost. Without giving him a choice, Marcus decides to come back and helps Tom to have his life back and helps with the girls. But Marcus has always been attracted to Tom since the first day he met him, and when Tom starts to develop feelings for him, Marcus is ready to be more for Tom even if he might lose everything in the process.

The Missing Ingredient is the first book I’ve read written by Brian Lancaster and won’t be my last.

Marcus and Tom are beautiful and adorable together. Marcus is gay and out. He tries his best to help Tom with the girls while managing his restaurants. Even if Marcus had always had a crush on Tom, he never acts on it. First Tom was married to his best friend Lorraine, and second Tom is super straight. But when Tom confesses his feelings to Marcus, he doesn’t back down and agrees to try to love this man more than he already does. I completely melted for Marcus. He really tries to be what Tom needs, he accepts a lot of crap from him, but Marcus stays, even if he’s hurt. But when Tom clearly messed up with him, Marcus fights back. I loved the fact that Marcus wasn’t the poor victim who’s treated badly and never fought back, not here, he wants to be loved and respected, and won’t accept anything else.

I’m a sucker for GFY books, and here I had what I liked. It wasn’t too much or not enough, Tom didn’t transform in a super gay man just because he loves Marcus. He still had doubts, fears, and tries to deal with them, or not.
The writing was good, not boring or too repetitive, the story is written in the third person, and it focused on Marcus. There’s a lot of interesting secondary characters that I would love to know a little bit more about them, especially Daniel.

All in all, I had a good time with this book, the plot, the story, the characters, everything pleased me.

It’s 4 OptimuMM for the Chef and his Hunk.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Shades of Darkness” by Nicky James

TITLE: Shades of Darkness
AUTHOR: Nicky James
SERIES: Trials of Fear
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: July 27, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book/ $12.99 – paperback


Six years ago, an unforeseen incident turned Rory Gallagher’s life upside down. Now, he lives in darkness, fearing the sun, fearing light altogether. Rory has developed Heliophobia. As a creature of the night, Rory has learned to adapt to his unusual lifestyle. He draws comfort from shadows and safety from the nighttime hour. Unfortunately, his mind is the darkest place of all, and the one place he can’t seem to escape.
Finding help isn’t easy, but when Rory registers with a local, twenty-four-hour counseling center, the man he meets surprises him in more ways than one. Young psychology student, Adrian Anderson, is Rory’s complete opposite. How will this smart, preppy, do-gooder ever get through to the man with a chip on his shoulder who has learned to hate the world?
It doesn’t take long for Rory to discover they have something horrific in common. Despite rules and regulations, this sad detail helps them form a bond neither of them expected. Could Adrian be the shining light Rory needs to dispel the darkness for good?

Phobia, an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Heliophobia, a fear of the sun, sunlight, or any other form of bright light. This is the second book in the Trials of Fear series, and it can be read as a complete stand-alone. The interesting thing about these books as well as most of Mrs. James books is the uniqueness of the story-lines. She writes about topics that are so intriguing and are so unlike any other books I’ve ever read in this genre. In this series, we meet characters with extremely difficult phobias. Phobias that affect the characters everyday lives to a point of being debilitating. These are phobias that actual people suffer from, and some of us have never even heard of them. In this book, the topic is heliophobia, the fear of the sun, sunlight, or any other form or aversion of bright light.

Rory Gallagher’s phobia stems from a traumatic event that left him not only broken and scarred but unable to tolerate any form of bright light. He’s relegated himself to his home, and darkness with very little contact with the outside world. His trust issues that formed as child have become so ingrained that he’s only had one friend in the past six years since the incident that took his freedom. Rory had my heart from the very beginning. He had so much depth to his character that I felt at times I was reading a biography instead of a fiction. I felt his frustrations, and even his triumphs. He’s a character that will most definitely stay in your heart. I loved how he never took crap from anyone. Even though his phobia wouldn’t allow him any real normalcy, he never whined or played the victim card. He was also so stubborn at times that I wanted to smack him. With a not so gentle push from his best friend, Krew, Rory finally decides it’s time to seek help for his disorder.

I don’t normally write about secondary characters in my reviews, but I have to give a shout out to Krew. Krew is Rory’s best friend/coital companion. I love his character. He has so much personality, and he really brings so much life to the book. He’s so sassy and confident. He really loves Rory as a friend, and he’s been Rory’s rock and support system for as long as Rory has known him. I’m dying for Krew to get his HEA. He deserves so much love and happiness.

Adrian Anderson comes from a well-to-do family, his father is a neurosurgeon, and he had expected Adrian to follow in his footsteps. Adrian decided to study psychology instead. After getting his bachelors in psychology, he gets a job as a mental health counselor for a government-run mental health center. Because of Rory’s unique circumstances, Adrian is assigned his case. After a couple of mishaps, these two soon learn that they have more in common than they originally thought. Adrian is such a loveable character. He’s in such a crappy living situation, and yet he stands tall, and pushes forward. He knows who he is, and what he wants in life, and he’s not letting anyone or anything stand in his way. When he meets Rory, it’s not the typical insta-love, well not between him and Rory anyways.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were so dynamic and absolutely intriguing. The entire storyline was so exceptional I couldn’t put the book down. Each character brought something so unique to the story. They all came from diverse backgrounds, and each faced adversity, but they never made me feel like they were whining or being overly dramatic. Mental health disorders are such a taboo subject in many genres. You don’t see many fiction books that touch on the subject let alone go in depth as much as Nicky James’ books do. She has a way of telling a story while also bringing awareness to these disorders that always has me googling the subject afterward, and sometimes even during the book.

I highly recommend this book as well as her Healing Hearts series and Love Me Whole. Each book is unique and so heartfelt. I always say her guys have a special place in my heart, and they always will.

***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: “Meet Me in Shanghai” by Luca Domani

TITLE: Meet Me in Shanghai
AUTHOR: Luca Domani
SERIES: World of Love
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 62 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 3, 2018
PRICE: $ 3.99– e-book


What are the odds of meeting your perfect match in a city of twenty-four million people—halfway around the world?
Software engineer Jeff has never set foot outside North America when his company sends him to Shanghai. It’s daunting to say the least, and Jeff is soon lost. He’s rescued by Chinese American banker Greg—a man who immediately sparks Jeff’s desire. But in a city so large and chaotic, what are the chances that they’ll bump into each other again?
When they do, a vigorous friendship forms despite Greg’s devotion to his high-powered—and high-stress—career. Both men want more, but Greg never takes things further, and Jeff’s time in China is running out. Soon he has only one night left. Will it be a last night together as friends… or the beginning of something that can last despite the distance between them?

This book is part of Dreamspinner Press’s World of Love series. It’s a short Contemporary romance that takes place in Shanghai, China. It is written from one character’s point of view. I’ve never read any books from this series, so I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t very moved by it. The storyline was good. I really did love all the descriptions as the characters explored the city. The problem I had most with the story was the characters.

Jeff is heading to Shanghai, China for his job. He’s never left the US before, and his coworker that was set to accompany him backed out at the last minute. When he arrives in Shanghai, he’s definitely way out of his depth. He has a crazy taxi ride on his way to the hotel that I could definitely relate too. His first day heading to his temporary office, he gets turned around. Luckily, he’s saved by a fellow American, and businessman Greg. Jeff is a very complicated character. I really liked him until he met Greg. Jeff is only in Shanghai for two weeks, and as soon as he meets Greg, he becomes a love-struck teenager. He was extremely difficult to read at times.

Greg is a businessman from California who has been living in Shanghai for the past ten years. He knows he works too much, and relationships are pretty nonexistent. His parents have put a lot of pressure on him to settle down and have a family. He hasn’t come out to them in fear of their reaction. He runs into a fellow American when the man seems lost. He sets the man on the right course. There wasn’t much depth to Greg as a character. He was more like a secondary character instead of a main character.

This book was a short, so I understand that there’s only so much depth an author to dive into. However, this book focused more on the descriptions and the life happening around the main characters than what was actually going on with the characters as a whole.

I would really like to read some of this author’s more extensive work.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis