Review of: The Case of the Voracious Vintner by Tara Lain

TITLE: The Case of the Voracious Vintner
AUTHOR: Tara Lain
SERIES: The Middlemark Mysteries
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
RELEASE DATE: Jan 29, 2019

BLURB:

Where Bo Marchand comes from, gay men are just confirmed bachelors who never found the right girl. But now Bo’s a successful winemaker on the central coast of California, supporting his whole damned Georgia family, and all he really wants is the beautiful, slightly mysterious Jeremy Aames.
Jeremy’s vineyard is under threat from Ernest Ottersen, the voracious winemaker who seems to know all Jeremy’s blending secrets and manages to grab all his customers. Bo tries to help Jeremy and even provides a phony alibi for Jeremy when Ottersen turns up dead in Jeremy’s tasting room. But it’s clear Jeremy isn’t who he claims, and Bo must decide if it’s worth tossing over his established life for a man who doesn’t seem to trust anyone. When Jeremy gets kidnapped, some of the conservative winemakers turn out to be kinky sex fiends, and the list of murderers keeps dwindling down to Jeremy. Bo has to choose between hopping on his white horse or climbing back in his peach-pie-lined closet.


I loved everything about The Case of the Voracious Vintner by Tara Lain. This is the second book in The Middlemark Mysteries, and there are cameos of Dr. Llewellyn Lewis and Blaise from the first book in the series, The Case of the Sexy Shakespearian, who are planning to have their wedding at Bo Marchand’s winery and end up helping to solve this mystery also. I loved getting to see them again and how happy they are. The book is full of twists and turns and complex characters and details that have you looking one way and convinced of who the bad guy is going to be only to be completely blindsided by who the bad guy ends up being. I loved how I was kept guessing, and it made the book fly by. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the next book in the series.

I loved Bo Marchand. I didn’t particularly like his family, but he was a good son to take them all in when his father died, and their company went under. I liked that he held his ground about staying in California and continuing with his successful winery when his mom wanted him to take over the family business and stay in Georgia. Bo is one of the top winemakers on the central coast of California and has a soft spot for newcomer, beautiful and slightly mysterious, Jeremy Aames. Jeremy is a super talented winemaker, but his vineyard is under threat from Ernest Ottersen, the voracious winemaker who seems to know all of Jeremy’s blending secrets and manages to grab all of his customers.

I loved Jeremy. He’s surrounded in mystery, but he’s stubborn also. He is completely determined that Ernest Ottersen is out to get him and put his small vineyard out of business and he can’t figure out why he’s the only one being targeted. But even when the evidence shows that it couldn’t be Ernest, he’s still determined that it is. Who else could it be? You will have to read the book to find that out.

I also loved the chemistry between Bo and Jeremy and how they work together to figure out what is going on and who’s sabotaging Jeremy’s vineyard.

Overall, a lovely mystery/suspense book that I would recommend to everybody.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise by A.J. Thomas

TITLE: The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise
AUTHOR: A.J. Thomas
SERIES: Least Likely Partnership
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense
RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2015

BLURB:

Life in small-town Montana has become hell for former San Diego homicide detective Christopher Hayes. No one will hire him, he has made the seething racism his lover Doug Heavy Runner faces at work worse by adding homophobia to the mix, and his most recent jog through town ends when two gay-bashing teenagers hit him in the head with a rock. Deputy Sheriff Doug Heavy Runner has never overcome the abusive relationship that traumatized and shattered him as a young adult. The memories, the lingering shame, and the fear he has never acknowledged have left him resigned to endure the discrimination he faces in Elkin. But he can’t stand it when Christopher becomes a target for that same hatred.
When the mutilated body of one of the boys who assaulted Christopher is found in Doug’s garage, Christopher and Doug return from a vacation in San Diego and uncover a tangle of secrets, lies, and tragedy lurking beneath Elkin’s small-town façade. With their relationship at a crossroads, they’ll have to work together to catch the killer and maybe find a paradise of their own.


Christopher Hayes is living in purgatory. He’s in hell. Christopher finds himself living in nowhere Montana, and as if that’s not bad enough, he’s getting the accusatory side-eye from the people of the small nowhere town for the heinous crimes his brother committed. As if for some reason Christopher is just as guilty. He’s absolutely miserable. He shouldn’t have to hide who he is to Doug Heavy Runner in public, and he most certainly shouldn’t have to put up with the town’s bigotry. But he’s in love with Doug, and somewhere along the line, he’s decided that should be enough until it’s not.

Doug Heavy Runner is just trying to live his life albeit it’s now two separate lives as it were. He has his life on the ranch which is his love, and then he has the life as a small-town deputy. He thinks keeping them separate will make everyone happy, but the only people he’s satisfying are the small-minded townsfolk that he has a twisted sense of loyalty to. It’s a big mess. And if Doug doesn’t figure out what matters most, he’s going to lose everything.

Christopher is miserable. He’s lonely, bored and tired. Tired of the accusations no one will blatantly throw at him, but it’s all over the faces of the townspeople and the not-so-subtle way they avoid him. He’s not his brother, and he’s not in the closet, but somehow, he’s been branded as both. He loves Doug, but he’s not sure he can handle his life anymore. He gets the opportunity to go home, and he’s not sure he’ll be able to find it in himself to leave again. He wants his old life back, but he doesn’t want to lose Doug.

Doug Heavy Runner just wants to live in peace. He knows the small town in sucking the life out of Christopher, but he’s not willing to sacrifice anything to make Christopher happy. He’s actually a pretty selfish guy. He won’t sell the family farm because he feels like he’s a failure if he does. Nothing he does is ever right or enough. Yet, Christopher won’t call the ranch home. Doug knows he has Christopher’s heart, but he’s not sure it’s enough anymore.

Oh my gosh, this series! I loved it! Except for this book. Doug is a selfish self-centered twit and Christopher, where are the brass down belows he had in book one? Where did they go, Christopher? Who are you in this book? Doug makes me ragey. I still don’t understand his misguided sense of loyalty to this messed up backwater town. Ugh to both of them. Now the other characters that come back and a few new ones are fantastic. The actual plot was great, and I still loved the series despite these two crazy guys. It’s definitely worth a read.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale by A.J. Thomas

TITLE: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale
AUTHOR:  A.J. Thomas
SERIES: Least Likely Partnership
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense
RELEASE DATE: May 09, 2014

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 Bellkamp 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 Bel camp 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 of: The Spirit Key by Parker Williams

TITLE: The Spirit Key
AUTHOR: Parker Williams
SERIES: Lock and Key
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense; Paranormal
RELEASE DATE: Jan 15, 2019

BLURB:

When he was eight years old, Scott Fogel died. Paramedics revived him, but he came back changed. Ghosts and spirits tormented Scott for over a decade until, thinking he was going mad, he did the only thing he could.
He ran—leaving behind his best friend, Tim Jennesee.
Scott’s had five normal, ghost-free years in Chicago, when the spirit of Tim’s mother comes to him and begs him to go home because Tim’s in trouble and needs him.
He isn’t prepared for what he finds when he goes home—a taller and sexier Tim, but a Tim who hasn’t forgiven Scott for abandoning him… a Tim whose body is no longer his own. The ghost of a serial murderer has attached itself to Tim, and it’s whispering dark and evil things. It wants Tim to kill, and it’s becoming harder for Tim to resist. To free the man who has always meant so much to him, Scott must unravel the mystery of the destiny he shares with Tim.


Scott Fogel died. He was eight years old. He would never be the same again. Fast forward to his late teens and poor Scott is barely functioning. His life as he knew it has imploded and the only action he feels he can take to save what’s left of his loved ones is to disappear. Fate finds him five years later, and she’s in the guise of his best friend’s mother, one of the only two people who could ever handle Scott and his intricacies. The other being this lady’s son who she implores Scott to save. In order for him to honor her request, he has to go back to the place where his nightmares almost destroyed him.

Scott defies death only to find himself living in a nightmare. I had a hard time with his character only because he’s a kid when these horrible things happen to him, and as an adult, everyone he’s ever loved acts like he should pay a penance to them because he only wanted to find peace and give them some sort of life outside of him and his “issues”. Well cheese and crackers, get over it people. Poor guy.
Tim is whatever. I say that only because he’s a whatever kind of character. He doesn’t add much except making Scott feel like dirt. I just don’t like the guy. He’s supposed to be Scott’s best friend, but he’s just poor pitiful me.

The storyline was great. I enjoyed the premise even with some frustrating characters. There was a lot of information to digest. It didn’t seem thrown together as Williams would never do, it just seems rushed. Like here, take it. I wish there was more. I’m excited to see where the series goes.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: Fox and Wolf by Julia Talbot

TITLE: Fox and Wolf
AUTHOR: Julia Talbot
SERIES: Apex Investigations
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense, Shifters, Paranormal
RELEASE DATE: Dec 28, 2018

BLURB:

Werewolf PI Dylan Weems is a hired to solve the murder of a client’s customer. As an ex-cop, Dylan is the perfect man for the job, but he doesn’t expect the complication of alluring fox shifter Rey.
Ever since finding the dead body of one of his clients, Rey Mercier’s life is a mess, and he needs help desperately. He has no idea why he’s the target of some ruthless people or what he did to anger them. Hopefully Dylan and his motley crew of shifters at Apex Investigations can help him find out, but first Dylan and Rey have to deal with literal corporate tigers and dire crocodiles shifters… all while deciding what to do about the mate bond that’s becoming undeniable. And is that even possible between fox and wolf?


Dylan is PI at the Apex Investigations. As a former cop and a werewolf, he’s good at his job, but he didn’t expect Rey, the sexy fox shifter.

Rey is desperate and scared when he crosses Apex Investigations door. His client had been murdered, and his life threatened. Dylan is the PI in charge of his case, but Rey may find more than peace and safety with him.

Fox and Wolf by Julia Talbot is book one of the Apex Investigations.
I’m going to be very honest (like usual), I disliked the book. It was too confusing, the characters barely developed, and the plot full of holes and inconsistency. I was disappointed in the book.

Dylan and Rey are sweet and could have been wonderful, but the author completely missed them, and I found them empty instead.
The writing was confusing, the author tried to alternate between too much POV, and at the end, I didn’t know who was thinking what or who was talking to who.

I’m disappointed because it wasn’t my first book by Julia Talbot and I adored the ones I’ve read, but here she completely missed her mark.

2 Stars for me.

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

Review edited by : Amber Krogh