Review: “The Protector” by Cooper West

TITLE: The Protector
AUTHOR: Cooper West
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense; Shapeshifter
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2014
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler—until Alex Taylor.
Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grief with no hope for happiness in the future. When he unexpectedly bonds with the young and vibrant Handler Marcus Stephanek, Alex is angry and unwilling to leave the memory of his former Handler behind. He pushes Marcus away and tries to distance himself from their bond. But then a mysterious villain who has been secretly shadowing Alex for years sets his plan in motion. Alex and Marcus must learn to trust their bond and love each other, or risk not only their own lives but the lives of those closest to them


In a world where a bonded pair is rare and if the human dies, the weredog shifter soon follows is the norm, until now. The Guardsmen consist of a human known as the Handler and a weredog known as the Protector. A bonded pair is extremely rare, and with the abilities they possess, the pair are also highly feared. When a weredog Protector loses his bonded mate and doesn’t follow suit it, creates a lot of questions and the length some will go through to find the answers leads the characters in a quest to find answers that ultimately leads them in a fight for their lives.

An investigation gone wrong leaves Alex not just alone but without the other half of his soul. Alex is a Protector. He’s always been unique, and the Guradsman scientists have been poking and prodding him since he was a kid. When he found his bonded mate and Handler, Theo, he fell in love, and that love ran soul deep. Every day after Theo died Alex wanted to follow. Being a Protector without a Handler meant that he was treated as a pariah and most disturbingly, useless. Being a guinea pig for the Guardsmen scientists is all he knows now. When he’s scheduled back at the lab something unexpected happens that leads to an entirely new set of problems that Alex isn’t even remotely interested in dealing with.

Marcus has done everything right his entire life. He has more certifications and qualifications than any other Handler. All he’s ever wanted was to soul bond and finally follow his dreams. At Marcus’s age, most Handlers have already found their mate. As Marcus begins to lose hope of ever finding his Protector, the impossible happens. Marcus knows all about what happened to Alex and Theo, everyone knows. So when a certain smell has him following his nose to the widowed Protector, Alex, he’s in for a world of surprise. Marcus wants Alex, but Alex is still grieving and loathes the idea of Marcus being his Handler. The pain of being rejected takes it toll, and Marcus has to find a way to break through the wall Alex has built around his heart.

This book is insane. In the best way. I absolutely loved it. It was fast-paced and emotionally jarring. I don’t have any nail beds left after reading this. I couldn’t even contemplate putting it down. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. Alex had me crying from the beginning. Poor Marcus had me just as emotionally invested. The plot was gripping, and I was actually surprised at the villain and how deep the deception went. I highly recommend this book. I want more. I need more. This author has made a fan out of me.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The Mystery of the Moving Image” by C.S. Poe

TITLE: The Mystery of the Moving Image
AUTHOR: C.S. Poe
SERIES: Snow & Winter
PUBLISHER: DSP Publications
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 214 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 11, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

It’s summer in New York City, and antique shop owner Sebastian Snow is taking the next big step in his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter: they’re moving in together. What should have been a wonderful week of playing house and celebrating Calvin’s birthday comes to an abrupt end when a mysterious package arrives at the Emporium.
Inside is a Thomas Edison Kinetoscope, a movie viewer from the nineteenth century, invented by the grandfather of modern cinema, W. K. L. Dickson. And along with it, footage of a murder that took place over a hundred years ago.
Sebastian resists the urge to start sleuthing, even if the culprit is long dead and there’s no apparent danger. But break-ins at the Emporium, a robbery, and dead bodies aren’t as easy to ignore, and Sebastian soon realizes that the century-old murder will lead him to a modern-day killer.
However, even with Sebastian’s vast knowledge of Victorian America and his unrelenting perseverance in the face of danger, this may be the one mystery he won’t survive.


Sleuthing is the name of the game, and Mr. Sebastian Snow is the reigning champion. Despite his NYPD detective boyfriend Calvin Winter vehemently urging Sebastian to do the exact opposite. Who knew owning an oddities store would be so exciting? Just as these two start settling into their life together, Sebastian receives a mysterious package that sets off a series of unfortunate events that Sebastian can’t help but put himself right in the thick of.

Sebastian is so quirky and lovable. He’s got a quick wit and a brilliant mind. He’s also as surly as an old grandpa and doesn’t let many people into his personal bubble. He’s definitely an acquired taste. Once again, he finds himself in a spot of trouble when he starts investigating the murder of a man from the 1800’s from a film reel that isn’t supposed to exist. As he goes off to gather more information about the film and the men involved, he also has to learn to open up to Calvin about his insecurities. He hides behind his sharp tongue and unassuming nature, so people don’t see how insecure he actually is.

Detective Calvin Winter, sexy redhead, ex-military badass is just as swoony in this book as he is in the others. He’s used to Sebastian and his curious nature, but it doesn’t keep him from worrying and stressing out about his boyfriend’s nosy by nature tendencies. As he’s getting the couple settled into their new apartment, his beloved calls him when he watches a murder on an old-timey film reel. He expresses that there isn’t much to be done, but he knows that isn’t going to deter Snow. When Sebastian calls him later from the emporium after receiving word that his business had been broken into, he knows its back to work at his second full-time job of keeping his boyfriend out of trouble.

Love this series more and more with every book. Definitely one of the best mystery series out there. It has such a good balance between the characters’ relationship and the storyline plot. They weave together perfectly.

I highly recommend this series, and I do not advise reading them as a stand-alone or out of order.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean” by Tara Lain

TITLE: The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean
AUTHOR: Tara Lain
SERIES: The Middlemark Mysteries
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Kanaxa
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 204 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 31, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Dr. Llewellyn Lewis leads a double life, as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and the more flamboyant Ramon Rondell, infamous writer of sensational historical theories. It’s Ramon who first sets eyes on a gorgeous young man dancing in a club, but Llewellyn who meets teaching assistant Blaise Arthur formally at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford-who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim, even though many have tried and failed. And she’s willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds.
It also means a chance for Llewellyn to get to know Blaise much better.
Not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case-or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work… and one of them is willing to kill to do it.
When Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise…


The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean is the first book in the Middlemark Mysteries series by Tara Lain. I liked it very much. I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but when I do, I like to try to guess who done it, and I have to say that by the end of the book I wasn’t even close to right in my guess. I was even surprised by who Blaise was related to, nope wouldn’t have guessed that at all. And that’s why I liked this book. The writing is just what you would expect from Tara Lain with plenty of details and an easy reading style. There was angst when there needed to be and characters that were complex, and it still had the chemistry that I’ve come to look forward to from the author’s books.

I liked Dr. Llewellyn Lewis and how he leads a double life as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and as the flamboyant Roman Rondell, an infamous writer of sensational historical theories. As Llewellyn, he is a little stuffy, introverted, and reclusive and has an adorable stutter. As his alter ego Ramon Rondell, he’s flamboyant, confident, and an outgoing person who isn’t afraid to go to gay clubs and dance and pick up a one-night stand, and he doesn’t have a stutter when he’s Ramon. I kind of wished that we would have gotten to see just a little bit more of Ramon in the book because he was a fun character.

I liked Blaise Arthur. I liked the chemistry between him and Llewellyn. We first meet him at a gay club that Ramon’s at and Ramon can’t take his eyes off of him. Imagine Llewellyn’s surprise when he later meets him again at the university where he teaches as Llewellyn. Blaise doesn’t know that he’s already met him since Ramon doesn’t look anything like Llewellyn. I liked how Blaise is a teaching assistant and how the author teases us with little tidbits about him that keeps us guessing as we read the book.

When they officially meet at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, a descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim even though many have tried and failed. She’s even willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds. The department head assigns Blaise and Llewellyn to work together to research if they can prove that Anne’s defendant was the real Shakespear, which means Llewellyn will get the chance to know Blaise that much better. But not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work, and one of them’s willing to kill to do it. And when Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe that Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Blyd And Pearce” by Kim Fielding

TITLE: Blyd And Pearce
AUTHOR: Kim Fielding
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: High Fantasy; Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 210 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2018
PRICE: $ 6.99– e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Born into poverty and orphaned young, Daveth Blyd had one chance for success when his fighting prowess earned him a place in the Tangye city guard—a place he lost to false accusations of theft. Now he scrapes out a living searching for wayward spouses and missing children. When a nobleman offers him a small fortune to find an entertainer who’s stolen a ring, Daveth takes the case.
While Jory Pearce may or may not be a thief, he certainly can’t be trusted. But, enchanted by Jory’s beauty and haunting voice, Daveth soon finds himself caught in the middle of a conspiracy. As he searches desperately for answers, he realizes that he’s also falling for Jory. The two men face river wraiths, assassins, a necromancer, and a talking head that could be Daveth’s salvation on their quest for the truth. But with everyone’s integrity in question and Death eager to dance, Daveth will need more than sorcery to survive.


Kim Fielding is one of my favorite authors. She has a way with words that is absolutely unique. With her previous writing that I enjoyed it captured my attention from the very beginning. This book didn’t quite get me as enthralled. It started off fine, but then the story started to kind of lag. Her description of the time period and the world around the characters were very detailed, and I didn’t have a hard time following the story even with as much detail as she uses. The characters were quite intriguing even the secondary ones. She definitely does her research and puts an immense amount of time and effort into her stories.

Daveth Blyth is from the impoverished side of town known as the Low Quarter. He was orphaned young but was determined to get out of the Low and make something of himself. Because of his talent as a swordsman, he was able to join the ranks of the royal guard. We soon learn that he was relieved of his duties because he was accused of theft. Instead of facing death, his Captain Myghal Tren has him spared. I’m not sure how I feel about Daveth. He just seems like he’s given up. He doesn’t fight the accusations against him, and he just sort of ghosts through life. As a character, he’s alright. I would have liked to see a little more passion and fire from him instead of so much woe is me.

Jory Pearce was definitely an interesting character. He was mysterious and pretty likable from the beginning. He was born nobility, but somewhere down the line, his parents had disowned him. I felt bad for his character. He does what he has to in order to survive, and sometimes that means doing things he isn’t proud of. I like how he isn’t a pushover and doesn’t just cower when Daveth shows up to interrogate him and fulfill the deal he made to a Lord. Jory is in some trouble as he gets caught up in a crazy spiral of conspiracies.

It all unwinds slowly in the beginning. It took some patience to not just skim through to find out what was really going on and where the book was eventually going. That’s also why I like Kim Fielding. If you can just have a little bit of patience and follow her creative mind through the book, you’ll never be disappointed. I definitely was not disappointed in this book. It just lagged far too much for me. I wanted more from the characters and plot and not so much filler.

I do recommend this book and other work done by Kim Fielding. Brute was absolutely fabulous. A definite must-read.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Neon Darkness” by Skot Harris

TITLE: Neon Darkness
AUTHOR: Skot Harris
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Bazil Yatez
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 202 pages
RELEASE DATE: Jun 11, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 e-book / $12 paperback

BLURB:

In 1994, high school seniors Oliver and Grant defied the odds and fell in love. But after a shocking murder shattered their sleepy small town, Grant disappeared without a trace. Now, ten years later, Oliver attends their class reunion, desperate to see him again. But Oliver soon discovers the past brings more than happy memories… It brings secrets too.


In 1994, Oliver Foster and Grant Carver fell in love. They’re young, full of hope, their lives are waiting for them, but after a horrible crime in their small town, everything changes and Grant leaves.

Ten years later, they met again at their class reunion and behind the scenes of their love story, the truth waits to be discovered.
Neon Darkness is the first book I’ve read from Skot Harris.
I loved this book because it was a great mystery novel.

Oliver is eighteen when he met Grant in 1994. He’s gay and didn’t care about what people thought about him. He has his parent with unconditional love, and Char’s support, his best friend. When he meets Grant, he didn’t expect to fall in love and to be loved back. During his senior year, Oliver discovered love with a big L. I loved Oliver. He’s so young, so sweet so innocent, I melted completely for him.
Grant Carver is the typical bad boy. He had his own car, smoked, fought and he has this James-Dean attitude that didn’t let people in.

Grant is completely in love with Oliver and very protective. For the first time in his life, Grant had found someone who really cared for him. I loved Grant too, and my heart broke for him. He seemed so lost and sad, but in the meantime, he was confident and protective. He had this duality in him that intrigued me the entire book. I loved him, but I also hated him a little.

The plot was very good, and behind the story of the first love of these two kids, an awful murder is committed, and nothing will be the same for them. The story is told from Oliver’s point of view. There’s a lot of references to the 90’s culture; I loved it a lot, it reminded me of my teenage years. But what I loved the most in this book, was the author’s style. His writing was good and fluid. He wanted to take us somewhere through the book. He gave us clues throughout the book, and at the end, we have the big revelation… and what a revelation! I screamed… I literally screamed (ok, it was more a squealing than a scream), just like when I watch an episode of Games of Thrones or The Walking Dead, when I didn’t see things coming. That was totally the case here.

He was brilliant because even if he gave us enough clues to figure it out by ourselves, it’s impossible to really do it … see how twisted it was? FREACKING BRILLANT!
I just wanted to warn you that suicide is involved and it can be a trigger for some of you, so if you’re sensitive to this subject, don’t read this book.

But if, like me, you love a good mystery/murder book with a huge twist that makes you scream (or squeal) in shock, go for it. You’ll love this book as much as I did.

4 OptimuMM’s for The mini-James Dean and his mini-Paul Newman

***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