Review: “Exodus” by CC Bridges

TITLE: Exodus
AUTHOR: CC Bridges
SERIES: Heaven Corp
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback


The truth could lead to war.
Henry “Hank” Abraham enjoys being one of the most sought-after personalities in Heaven. Life is good in the floating city for someone born to one of the wealthy and influential Founding Families. Hank parties with the privileged and beds someone different every night, flouting the morality laws that control the lives of the common people on the city’s lower levels. Then someone tries to kill him—repeatedly. Terrorists have Hank in their crosshairs, and his long disinterest in politics has come home to roost.
Ian Caldwell has been a security guard for the Abraham family for years. He survives the hypocrisy by sneaking away to the BDSM clubs on Earth to feed his baser desires. When he’s assigned to protect Hank, Ian pushes his attraction for his client aside. That kind of thing could get him reprogrammed. But he doesn’t count on actually falling for a man who isn’t as shallow and self-absorbed as he seems. Neither of them is prepared for the truth behind the attacks. Their journey will take them from Heaven to hell and beyond… and it might bring the tension between the classes to a violent head at last.
Second Edition
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, March 2014.

If you’ve read the first book in this series, then you’ll already be familiar with Ian and Hank. However, you don’t have to read the first book to be able to read this one as it’s written as a complete stand-alone. Although we do get to meet some of the characters from book one, this story is about how Ian and Hank first met and how their relationship began, so when we come across the other characters, it’s like meeting them for the first time.

Hank Abraham is a privileged socialite who lives with his family in Heaven. Hank is a rule breaker and likes to see how far he can push boundaries. He’s known for being a bit of a playboy, and whether it’s a man or woman in his bed, it’s all the same to him. As he’s the youngest child and not the heir to the family’s business, whatever he does, no matter how wrong, is usually ignored by everyone around him, even those in power. When Hank wakes up after a one-night stand with a woman he met in a club the night before, he tries to do his usual, which is sneak out before the other person notices. But as he goes to leave, his family security guard, Ian, is waiting outside the window in a vehicle for him. Again, Ian is the only member of security to successfully track down Hank when he was trying not to be found. As they pull away from the building, there’s a large explosion in the room Hank has just left from, which leaves him shaken up and confused. Ian is then assigned as Hank’s personal security by Hank’s mother, as he’s the only person that Hank seems to listen to. When another couple of incidents occur, Hank realises that it’s not just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that someone is actually trying to kill him. With the help and expertise of Ian, they just need to try and figure out who and why?

Ian Caldwell grew up in Heaven, although in the lower levels of the 360’s. So although his life has been hard at times, it’s definitely not been as bad as the people from down below. Ian has always known that he was attracted to men, and in Heaven, this goes against all of their morality laws. The fact that Ian is also into BDSM and a Dom means that no one around him can ever find out about his personal life or he’d be taken to get his memories wiped and reprogrammed by the angels. Ian has worked for the Abraham family for many years, and although the youngest, Hank, can be hard to deal with, Ian always seems to be able to outsmart him, it’s an added bonus that Ian also finds him to be very attractive. And more often than not, his thoughts when around Hank turn to how he would like to have him over his knee, punishing him for flouting the rules. When Ian and Hank are forced to be together for an extended period of time due to attempts on Hank’s life, Ian finds himself becoming more and more attracted to Hank and the person he is behind his public persona. When Ian is unwittingly followed by Hank to the Downside and his BDSM club, and is then framed for something he didn’t do, he realises that to save both their lives and reputations, he’s going to have to make deals with the enemy and give up his valued privacy.

I really liked this book, even though I found it to be a little slow to start. I enjoyed getting to know the back-story of Hank and Ian, as I really liked them in book one. But it was quite strange to almost go backward from the first book instead of forwards. And from where they’re at as a couple at the end of this book and where we see them in book one, it still seems like there’s a lot missing. Even so, it was a very well written and entertaining story, that kept my full attention the whole way through. At the end of the book, there’s a little sneak peak of book three in the series, and I’m going to fully admit, I didn’t read it. I prefer the experience of finding out the storyline/plot of a book when I pick it up for the first time.

Personally, I don’t want to see the first few pages or chapter of the next book at the end of the one I’m reading, to me, it spoils it a little. But I will definitely be reading book three when it becomes available because this series has been so much better than I could have ever imagined. Also, if like me, you’ve recently watched and enjoyed Altered Carbon on Netflix, then this book will be right up your street.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Lander” by J. Scott Coatsworth

TITLE: Lander
AUTHOR: J. Scott Coatsworth
SERIES: The Oberon Cycle
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Sci-fi
LENGTH: 294 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 13, 2018
PRICE: $6.99– e-book/ $16.99 – paperback


Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?.

We, at OptimuMM,  decide to host time to time a guest reviewer.
So please welcome KristyAnne Norton and her amazing review of Lander by J. Scott Coatsworth:

I have only read a hand full of Sci-Fi books. I tend to lean more toward the paranormal genre. So I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Skythane. I took a chance and requested an ARC copy. I was completely hooked. I had some questions at the end of the book and was glad that I had the next one to follow it up with.

In the first book, we meet Quince. I love her strength and tenacity. It thrills me beyond belief when authors write strong female characters. That woman has a plan and the brass to accomplish it. She brings two men together against all the odds and fights to keep them on the path to save the two halves of a world.

Xander is a stubborn man who’s had a nasty past and is trying to survive with his head and heart intact. He does not trust easily and getting him to open his heart is an almost painful thing to watch. Jameson is fighting to find his true self and find his strength amongst his own people. He knows he has to give up everything that made him Jameson in order to be the king he’s destined to be.

There are a few characters that surfaced at the end of Skythane that you will meet in Lander. The Queens strength will be tested as she and Quince are reunited. Alix will have to put aside his feelings for Xander and help Jameson save his people. The story does have multiple points of view, and some readers do have a problem with that, but it honestly did not bother me. The book flowed, and with a book that has so many pieces moving and characters facing their own challenges, it was necessary.

I did have a problem with so many side characters coming and going as the book moved along. I would forget who was who and how they came to be. But I think that had more to do with me being so engrossed in the plot that if a character wasn’t screaming for attention, I would overlook them. The ending of Lander leaves us with another cliffhanger, and I do wish I had more answers than questions when leaving a book.

I highly recommend this book to any Sci-Fi lover and to anyone who wants to be swept away into a fantastical world of flying angels and those willing to help them bring peace and beauty to a world worth fighting for.

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

Review edited by :  Laura McNellis

Review: “Skythane” by J. Scott Coatsworth

TITLE: Skythane
AUTHOR: J. Scott Coatsworth
SERIES: The Oberon Cycle
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Sci Fi; Fantasy
LENGTH: 244 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99 -paperback


Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.
Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.
Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together.

As many men, I’m also a big fan of Sci-fi genre. So when I read the blurb of this book I was thrilled to get my hands on it…although the story is great it didn’t quite reach my expectations.
When we talk about Sci-Fi, we don’t really have ground rules, so you can’t really compare one book to another. But you may still have some expectations, so that’s why it’s really hard to rate Sci-Fi, because no matter what, you will never satisfy everyone.

Skythane is a multiple point of view story. Probably that’s why I couldn’t enjoy it too much. I was genuinely curious of the past and culture of Oberon, it habitants, but when I was thinking that here comes some details about Oberon, the point of view changed and never got back to the previous line of thought. I’m not saying that there is no information about Oberon, I’m saying I would have liked to read more about it. It that planet fascinated me!

Skythane can’t fit in your typical Romance category. For starters, there is no sex scenes in it, well I know not all romance has sex scenes but Jameson being heterosexual, or he likes to thinks he is, again, I would have enjoyed a little bit of intimacy description between him and Xander.

I really enjoyed the plot, and the book contains some angst, but again the multiple point of view didn’t really let me enjoy that too. I loved the parallel universe, the half planet, the wings, and the pith. We don’t really learn about pith either…is it a drug? Is it aphrodisiac? Is it harmless? So there are few a questions remaining without answers.

There were a few things that just felt off, but as I told you at the beginning of my review, you can’t really rate a Sci-Fi so, and this is just my opinion, I would say it’s a 3.5 rating.
I hope you will enjoy more than I did!

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


Review: “Raise the Red Flag” by Eric Del Carlo

TITLE: Raise the Red Flag
AUTHOR: Eric Del Carlo
PUBLISHER: DSP Publications
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: Science Fiction
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 23, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback


In an 1867 that never was, the American colonies are finally gearing up to revolt against oppressive British rule enforced by advanced technology. British airship captain Hamilton Arkwright is captured by the rebels when his vessel is commandeered. The insurgents are also aided—reluctantly—by young Jonny Callahan, a thief and ne’er-do-well who would rather carouse on the streets of New Orleans than fight for independence. When the two seemingly opposite men are thrown together on a harrowing journey across the war-torn colonies, they must grudgingly rely on each other for survival. Despite their efforts to resist, the attraction between them threatens to throw a wrench in their plans to remain enemies.
They battle their way through American guerrillas and a demolition-derby-type highway to reach the decimated streets of Chicago, where British forces are preparing to commit a war crime of enormous magnitude. Though affection has grown between them during their mission, they are still on conflicting sides, and they may have to choose between loyalty to their causes and their love.

Raise the Red Flag is an alternative history fiction story mixed with a little bit of steampunk. From reading the blurb, this book seemed to cover a few of the sub-genres that I love, so I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, for me, this book just didn’t quite live up to the expectation.

Hamilton Arkwright is the twenty-eight-year-old captain of an airship in the British Navy’s Royal Airborne Fleet. Hamilton was born to a British military family in America, but due to him being “American” he will never progress far up the ranks. Even though he knows that people look at him like he’s an outsider, he’s fiercely loyal to his position and the Crown. Hamilton has known for years that he was attracted to men, but he’s only ever had the occasional hook-up as it’s too dangerous to pursue/risk anything else. When Hamilton arrives in New Orleans, he hears the other men talking of bars that should be avoided, but these are exactly the bars Hamilton is interested in going to. At the bar, he meets Jonny or J.C. as he’s calling himself, and the two men decide to take their night further and head to Jonny’s room. As they head out, Hamilton and Jonny are met with a group of three men who attack Hamilton and bundle him into their vehicle. Too late, Hamilton realises that Jonny isn’t the man he thought he was, and that he was part of the attack plan the whole time.

Jonny Callahan is a twenty-one-year-old petty criminal and member of a street gang in New Orleans. Jonny was born in New York, but due to his criminal activity, he never sticks around in one place for any amount of time. Since arriving in New Orleans, Jonny has been with a few men, most importantly, Kane, the boss of the street gang he’s part of, but Kane discovered that Jonny was also seeing other men too, so now he’s keeping his head down and trying to stay away from all of the places that he knows Kane may go. When one of the members of the gang talk Jonny into helping lure a British airborne captain away so as they can capture him and his ship, Jonny doesn’t realise what he’s got himself involved in until the act has been carried out and there’s no going back.

While on the ship together, Hamilton and Jonny find that they are very attracted to each other, even after everything that’s happened. They agree to work together to get out of the situation that they’ve found themselves in, but will go their separate ways afterwards without taking things further between them. That plan seems like a good idea until their situation takes another unexpected turn, and the two men are forced to stick together for safety’s sake. Along the journey, they grow closer and feelings develop that neither man expected. But when Hamilton finds out about a plan that the British are going to implement, for the first time in his life, he’s conflicted about where his loyalty stands. Is it with his job and the British, or with the man he’s come to care about and the Americans they’ve met along their way?

I have to admit, I did really struggle with this story/book. I found it very hard to get into when I started reading, and the main reason was due to the vocabulary that was used. Now, I’m far from being a literary genius, but I’m not brainless, and I found it difficult to put some of the words into context to understand the meaning. I’m British, English is my first language, yet I had to really concentrate on what I was reading a lot of the time, which took away from me being able to enjoy the storyline. I think someone who doesn’t have English as their first language will have issues with this book and the writing. I also didn’t really feel like the relationship between Hamilton and Jonny came across as realistic. I mean they had only known each other a couple of days, and part of that was under false pretences, and Hamilton was thinking that he had fallen in love with Jonny. There’s insta-love, and then there’s forcing something to make a plot work, on this occasion it felt forced and insincere. Don’t get me wrong, the longer the book went on, the better it got. And from around seventy-odd percent, I started to really like what was happening plot-wise, and found myself liking the characters too. It’s just a shame that it took so long to get to that point.

For me, this book was more of a miss than a hit, but maybe that was due to not being able to enjoy it right from the start. There’s nothing to say that you won’t love it from the very first paragraph. As they say, each to their own.

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


Review: “Beneath This Mask” by Victoria Sue

TITLE: Beneath This Mask
AUTHOR: Victoria Sue
SERIES: Enhanced World
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Paranormal; Sci-fi
LENGTH: 206 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback


Gael Peterson has spent years hiding behind the enhanced abilities he wears like a mask, even though he is an important, confident member of the FBI’s exclusive H.E.R.O. team. The hurt and betrayal of his mom’s abandonment and his father’s fists are secrets buried deep beneath the ugly scars on his face, and he doesn’t trust Jake, his new regular human partner, with any of them. In a world where those with special abilities like Gael’s are regarded as freaks and monsters, it won’t be easy for him to rely on Jake to have his back, especially when the abilities of a vulnerable, enhanced, nonspeaking child make that child a murder suspect.
Tempers rise and loyalties are challenged, and when the serial killer targeting the enhanced finally sets his sights on Gael, not only will Gael have to trust Jake with his secrets, he might have to trust him to save his life.

Gael Peterson is an enhanced. He’s a member of the first enhanced team H.E.R.O. He’s confident…on the surface. Deep down, Gael is hurt, traumatized and alone.

Jake Riley is the new member of the H.E.R.O team, and he’s partnered with Gael. Jake tries his best to be part of the team and earn their respect. Nothing is simple between Gael and Jake, and their team investigation on a series of murders inside the enhanced community doesn’t help them much.
What Gael and Jake need is to take off their masks and trust each other.

Wow. Victoria Sue did a great job with this book.
I knew I’d love Gael’s book, but I didn’t know I’ll love it so much.

Gael is perfect, absolutely perfect. He seems confident and strong, but inside he’s still the little boy who was abandoned by his mom. He sees himself as an ugly man who can’t be loved. My heart broke for him and with him so many times in my read. I found him so beautiful.
Jake is what Gael needs—he’s sensitive, strong and honest. He loves to take care of Gael, loves to be there for him and give him comfort. And together they are so good, lovely and beautiful.
And then comes Derrick. I cried all the time for Derrick, happy tears, sad tears, all the tears that can exist in the human emotions, I give them to Derrick. I’m team Derrick.
The plot and the story were good and well-built with a good twist.

I loved how the author wrote about them, how she did the exact opposite of what people must have thought or expect of Gael or Jake. I loved how she presented Gael to us, just a human. And yes, it’s not because he’s huge, an enhanced, with an incredible gift and an amazing strength that he has to be like that all the time. What we see outside isn’t always what we can find inside. It’s easy to wear a mask and pretend to be someone else. It’s harder to be one’s self.

I can only recommend you for to read the two previous books of the series first, it’s better to have the full ride and you’ll enjoy it a lot.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cry again, because I have to wait I don’t know how much time for the next book with Vance, I hope it’s Vance.

It’s 5 OptimuMMs for Gael, Jake, and Derrick.

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