Review: “The Night Owl and the Insomniac” by J. Leigh Bailey

TITLE: The Night Owl and the Insomniac
AUTHOR: J. Leigh Bailey
SERIES: Shifter U
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: New Adult; Shapeshifter; Paranormal;
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 240 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback

BLURB:

A Shifter U Tale
Long nights lead to intrigue… and infatuation.
Chronically ill with a mysterious condition, Yusuf “Joey” Franke escapes his smothering family and doctors by moving halfway across the country to enroll in Cody College. Not long after arriving on campus, some of his symptoms disappear, only to be replaced by debilitating insomnia. Joey spends his nights wandering the halls of his dormitory and hanging out with gregarious and affable Owen, who works the night shift.
When he suddenly shifts from a sick college kid to a massive Asiatic lion, Joey discovers another side to Cody College—it’s a haven for shifters like himself… and like Owen, a part-time great horned owl. And being a shifter is hereditary, which means his parents have some explaining to do.
When Joey and Owen investigate, they discover more than they bargained for—a family deception, a dangerous enemy with international connections, and a love that might be too new to survive the backlash.


The Night Owl and the Insomniac by J. Leigh Bailey is the third book in the Shifter U series and the twenty-third book in the Dreamspun Beyond series. I have read the other books in the Shifter U series, and this book while taking place at Cody College like the rest of the series, is a standalone book. There are cameos of Simon and Ford from the second book Chasing Thunderbird, but you do not need to have read the other books to understand what’s happening in this book. The Night Owl and the Insomniac is well written. I enjoyed the plot and that all of my questions were tied up by the end of the book. And I loved that Yusuf and Owen get their happy ending.

I like the attention to detail that the author gave to her characters. Both Yusuf and Owen’s characters fit the animal half of their personalities. Owen is a great horned owl and is both intelligent and extroverted. He loves to talk and also loves to mother hen people. Yusuf, on the other hand, is an Asiatic lion. Because of health conditions, he’s grown up isolated from society, which has resulted in him being introverted and socially awkward and figuring out his sexuality.

I really liked Yusuf “Joey” Franke. He has grown up being chronically ill with ever-changing symptoms, which has resulted in him being a Guinea pig for all kinds of test and treatments. Finally, fed up with it he escapes by enrolling in a college halfway across the country and moving there. Not long after arriving on campus, some of his symptoms disappear, only to be replaced by debilitating insomnia. With nothing else to do, he spends his nights wandering the halls of his dormitory and hanging out and playing chess with Owen, who works the night shift.

I also liked Owen. He was such a happy, upbeat person. Always including Joey in his activities like getting lunch with the guys and just hanging out. And forcing him to try new food combinations. I loved all of the little things he does each day to remind Joey that he’s thinking of him and there for him while they are apart. I also like how Owen has a grounding influence on Joey’s lion and is able to keep him calm and collected so that he doesn’t shift when he gets stressed. I liked how Owen was there for Joey when he shifted for the first time and helped him uncover his past to find the answers that he needs. I like how he complements Joey. They are just perfect together.
Overall, another great book in the Shifter U series and so far my favorite of the series. And another book in the Dreamspun Beyond series that hasn’t let me down. They are fast becoming a favorite of mine to review.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Bloody Love Spats” by Valentina Heart

TITLE: Bloody Love Spats
AUTHOR: Valentina Heart
SERIES: Among Wolves
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Maria Fanning
GENRE: Paranormal; Shapeshifter
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Oct 21, 2013
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99

BLURB:

Tomislav Vugrin doesn’t think himself much of a vampire—not that others are tripping over themselves to dispute it. Despite descending from one of the most powerful vampire lines and having a coven queen for a sister, he’s far from a stuck-up royal and even farther from a force to be reckoned with.
That’s when fate puts her spiteful fingers to use and places him right in the path of Stone Marik, the new Alpha werewolf of the East Pack. Add a bit of teasing scent of a mate, and the attraction is stronger than any lack of information about bonding that might stand in their way.
But changing allegiance might be more than Tomi can handle, even if he has the best of intentions. Centuries of prejudice divide their two species, secrets and lack of time work against them, and soon even their desperate need for each other might not be enough to keep them alive.


As you know already, with the approval of Dreamspinner Press, we’re reviewing previously published books. We continue with Valentina Heart’s the Among Wolves, paranormal series
Well, I loved this book even more than the first one. This is a sequel of the first book, and you can read as a standalone too. The story is in the same universe as the first one, and we continue with Stone, the new pack Alpha of the Eastern Pack.
What I liked most about this book is the little ”introduction” of every chapter, they let you into some personal thoughts.
One year has passed since Stone took over the Eastern Pack, but the previous alpha’s cruel behavior still has his shadow in the pack. Together with his brother Tait who serves as his beta also, he tries to loosen the tension and fear that rules the pack. Tait is unsubordinated, funny and full of mischief. They are mostly at each other throats than not, but the love between the brothers is unquestionable.
Tim is a vampire prince, only 150 years old, a child in vampiric measures, and he was just cheated on by his ex-boyfriend. You will love him! I definitely did. First, he’s funny and a has a bit of a naive side, loving Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. And second, the actions of his ex makes him withdraw to the forest to have some alone time when fate decides he needs to meet his mate.
That wouldn’t be a problem, but vampires and shifters don’t mix. The old laws prohibits these two species to even socialize. But once Tim was sniffed everything else lost its meaning. For Tim it’s only just sex but after he was bitten, all hell breaks loose.
Danger awaits for them, a danger that’s bringing the whole pack to reunite to save Stone’s bloodsucker mate.
You will love our MC’s, their pack, the need for comfort and closeness. There was a special scene when I would wanted to be one of the pack members. It was when Stone decided the pack needed to trust each other again and for that they need more contact. He orders the pack to get rid of their clothes, as much as they’re comfortable with. There was nothing sexual in it. It was the intimacy of the touch, the comfort of belonging. It was beautifully described, and my heart ached to be a part of the unity.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Sebastian’s Wolves” by Valentina Heart

TITLE: Sebastian’s Wolves
AUTHOR: Valentina Heart
SERIES: Among Wolves
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Justin James
GENRE: Paranormal; Shapeshifter
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 168 pages
RELEASE DATE: Feb 23, 2011
PRICE: $5.99 -e-book

BLURB:

Sebastian Vory was quite happy with his decision to leave his shifter pack to build a life with his mate Tim. But when an accident takes Tim from Sebastian, the lone wolf is thrown into aimless wandering that leads him to a new pack—and another shifter, Eshan Low. But Eshan has a troubled past, and despite his hopes and wishes, that past has a steel grip. Embroiled in a fight for justice, Sebastian is willing to do anything not to lose another mate, and just this once, luck might smile his way.


As you know already, with the approval of Dreamspinner Press, we’re reviewing previously published books. We continue with Valentina Heart’s the Among Wolves, paranormal series.

This is a different kind of shifter book.

In this universe, shifters are acting more on the animal instinct than the human one.
Wolf shifters are one of my favorite sub-genre in MM genre. I read a lot of wolf shifter books, but this is a kind of a first read with these special characteristics.

If we think of it, wolves in their natural habitat are living on their instinct. They’re ruled by animalistic needs.
In this book, we witness the rawness of this instinct with shifters in their human form.
When they love, they love with unconditional love, but when they’re angry there is blood and hurt and bruises.
If you have experience with domestic abuse than please don’t read it because it may trigger you. But know this, in these scenarios we don’t talk about domestic abuse, not really because they give as hard as they get.

The power between mates is balanced. There is a dominant and a dominated, but they act upon that just the first time to set dominance. The predator and the prey.

Sebastian loves his mate Tim. But Tim was in an accident, and he can’t stand the pain, so he shifts and remains as a wolf for a long time. After a time, Sebastian finds himself in a new territory forced by the ruling alpha to shift and ask for permission to stay. For the very first time, he feels the Western packhouse as his real home. When one day a striking vision appears in front of the packhouse, he knows he found his new mate.

Eshan came to ask the western pack alpha’s help to end the killing in his pack by his alpha. Finding Sebastian, his mate is a surprise for both. Their mating is pure animalistic dominance. Pain and Pleasure, both welcomed and enjoyed.

I liked this book! It pushed my limits and helped me to go out of well-used terms when we read shifter sub-genre. I highly recommend it. You will be taken by the rawness the pure animalistic behavior and the tenderness that follows.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Under a Blue Moon” by Bru Baker

TITLE: Under a Blue Moon
AUTHOR: Bru Baker
SERIES: Camp H.O.W. L.
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Shapeshifters; Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 228 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.
Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.
Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of his private practice patients threatens Drew’s life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?


I really liked Under a Blue Moon by Bru Baker. It’s the second book in the Camp H.O.W.L. series and the twenty-second book in the Dreamspun Beyond series. This book is well written and nicely edited. The characters were developed, and I loved the Catch Me If You Can part of the book. That part and the part where Nick and Drew have to take the classes that the camp offers and they turn it into a competition of who can do it better, the human raised by werewolves or the werewolf. I loved how it helped show Nick that just because Drew is human that having been raised by werewolves and having werewolf stepbrothers has taught him how to use what he’s got to survive and thrive around werewolves and that he would be worthy of being in a relationship. I did like the little detail about them having their one-night stand while under a blue moon and that Drew’s mom and stepdad met and fell in love under a blue moon also and that they were proof that a human/werewolf relationship could last and flourish.

Poor Nick Perry is a psychologist and is tired of helping people with their marriages. So when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. Nick has seen too many relationships ruined by secrets, and this is just between people of the same species since he primarily sees humans. So he’s a big believer that an interspecies relationship doesn’t stand a chance of working and has a firm no dating humans rule. They are perfectly fine for one-night stands but absolutely not for dating. I can understand where he is coming from with that rule since they aren’t supposed to be telling humans what they are to protect the community, so yes dating a human that doesn’t know that you’re a werewolf would be hard on the relationship especially with how they wolf out on the full moon. But he is so stubborn about his attraction to the new camp doctor who, although human, was raised with werewolves so not quite the same scenario as dating a human that doesn’t know about the paranormal community.

I admit to wanting to hit Nick upside the head on more than one occasion for being so stubborn and forcing Drew to constantly prove that he’s just as good as a werewolf and more than a match for Nick. But he was still a loveable character, and the chemistry between him and Drew is hot.

Drew is a human and a doctor, but he’s been part of the Were community all of his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp as their new doctor. Except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans and forcing him to constantly prove that he’s just as good as a Were. And he’s just as good because his stepbrothers have seen to that.

I really liked how happy-go-lucky Drew is and how he wants to help the patients that he sees in his little private practice in town. It doesn’t matter to him whether they are human or paranormal. When he gets a case that he’s sure is an ongoing domestic abuse case, he asks Nick for his advice and to see if the woman will talk to him and try to get her some help. When the boyfriend shows up, it all goes to hell.

But will the close call be enough to help Nick see that a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of? You’re just going to have to read the book to find out. I’m not going to tell you. But it was definitely worth reading. And I can’t wait until 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: “A King and a Pawn” by Liv Olteano

TITLE: A King and a Pawn
AUTHOR: Liv Olteano
SERIES: Leader Murders
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: AngstyG
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense; Paranormal; Shapeshifters
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 234 pages
RELEASE DATE: Jun 17, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99 –paperback

BLURB:

Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….
When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.
Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.


We at OptimuMM, with the approval of Dreamspinner Press, decided that we will review some previously published books. Our first choice was Liv Olteano’s Leader Murders series.

This is the third installment of the series. I come to like this series so much, and I would be thrilled if this series will continue.
My resentment from the first book it’s totally gone by now. I love the characters, the setting, and this universe of Liv’s. The alphas are still assholes, but as we learned from the second book, maybe their behavior comes from their insecurities.

This book is the story of Bert, Weiss’ beta. We learn little about him in the previous books, but I was eager to get to know him.
Well, this book was a wonderful read.

Bert feels guilty for his sister’s behavior. He feels that not knowing Tricia’s plan all along, makes him not suitable for his role as a beta. These feelings push him to accept the role of the first ambassador in the Fey Court.

He knows that arriving there he could be killed on sight. But the need to prove himself to Weiss is even higher. Going into fey territory is his last chance to prove himself. Or is this what he thinks.

Will Sims is the Interrogator of the Fey Court. That means there is no one with stronger magical power than him. Except the combination of magic of the High Council. Will is present as Bert’s driver then later on, he arranges for Bert to be close to him, as close as possible.
Bert is cautious. His life is in danger, but he can’t really ignore the chemistry between him and Will. Will being the most powerful magic user, he can do anything, but Bert fears his heart. And when he learns about Will’s ulterior motives, the doubt takes root in his mind. A mind that is so confused about everything at that moment in his life.

I loved it! All of it! I couldn’t put it down. I loved Bert. His dedication to his emotions and everything about him. Will is a sweetheart, a strong man who knows what he wants. And he wants Bert. But will he be able to pass through Bert’s defense mechanisms and earn his trust and love? Khmm khmmm … of course not *wink-wink.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis