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: “Alpha Unit One, New York” by Chris T.Kat

TITLE: Alpha Unit One, New York
AUTHOR: Chris T.Kat
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Cate Ashwood
GENRE: Shapeshifter; Paranrmal; Fantasy
LENGTH: 161 pages
RELEASE DATE: Jul 27, 2018
PRICE: $5.99 e-book


The cat’s out of the bag….
In a world that accepts shifters as normal and thinks nothing of human/shifter couples, baby shifters and small shifters are treated as subpar. They are not allowed into the more dangerous professions, and their mates have legal control over what they can and cannot do.
Nicholas Reed is about to challenge the established rules. At twenty-eight, Nick has just been accepted into New York’s Alpha Unit One—an elite law enforcement team, composed equally of humans and shifters, that specializes in drug crimes. It is Nick’s dream job. But if they find out what he’s hiding, his career could be destroyed.
Enter a huge complication in the form of Sam Black, an older lion shifter who is the leader of the unit… and Nick’s mate. Nick wants Sam, and he wants to keep his job, but he can’t have them both. He also can’t choose between them.

Nicholas Reese is 28 years-old. He dreams to be a cop and especially a member of the Alpha Unit One. It’s a unit where humans and shifters work together. Nicholas decides to enter this unit as human and does everything in his power to keep his secret safe, but he didn’t plan to meet his true mate in the person of Sam Black an alpha lion shifter and his boss.
They will have to decide what they really want if they want a chance of a future together.

Alpha Unit One, New York is my first book by the author Chris T Kat. I liked this book.

In a world where humans and shifters are equals and live together, the baby shifters aren’t really free to do what they want. Baby-shifters are humans who can shift into the baby’s form of their animal, no matter their ages or sizes. When they’re in this form, they act like little child, so humans and shifters (the adult ones) decided that the baby-shifters can’t have dangerous work (like being a cop) and when they mate, their mates have all power, decisions and responsibilities over them.

Nicholas is an adult, he’s 28 years old. But when he shifts, he becomes a baby snow leopard and that’s where the problem is. He’s a good cop, strong, and mature, but because of his shifted form, people think he’s a kid who needs to be protected. Mating Sam scares him because he refuses to lose his job, but he can’t resist his pull for Sam too. I adore Nick, he’s strong, mature, very smart and super cute. When he shifts he’s just so cute. His shifted form, named Tiny, is so adooooooorable I wanted to put him in my pocket and never let him go.

Sam is an older Lion shifter. He’s strong, fierce, loyal, very protective and hot, like super-hot and I want to do things to him that I can’t really write right now! Sam doesn’t freak out about Nick’s secret, but all his protective instincts kick in, and he tried to protect his baby-mate, even if he’d be hurting him in the process. I sooo love Sam.

I really liked this book. I was afraid when I read the blurb that the book would be a copy of the “Thirds” series by Charlie Cochet, but it wasn’t at all. Yes, it’s a world where shifters and humans live together, and yes, it’s about a unit where shifters and humans are partners, but it ends there. The plot, the characters, the particularities of this universe, are different from the other series, and it was original and pretty good in Alpha Unit One, New York.

I don’t know if it’s the beginning of a series, so I’m torn, let me explain. If it’s the beginning of a series, this book put just all the ingredients for a good series. The main characters, the plot and subplot, and the background are all introduced in the book but not thoroughly, and it’s okay for me because it mean I will learn more about Sam and Nick, their dynamics, their world in the next books. If it’s just a standalone, well, it was good but too superficial for me.

Anyway, if you like a good universe with shifters and humans, I recommend this book, it’s a pleasurable read. And I do hope to have another one (me? greedy? … Naan)

3.5 Stars for The King Lion and his baby prince!

***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

Review: “Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings” by Joe Cosentino

TITLE: Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings
AUTHOR: Joe Cosentino
SERIES: Cozzi Cove
PUBLISHER: Joe Cosentino
COVER ARTIST: Fred Wolinsky
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 225 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book $4.99 / $14.99 -paperback


It’s summertime, the perfect season for another trip to Cozzi Cove: the magical place where nothing is what it seems, and romance is always in the sea air.
Welcome back to hunky Cal Cozzi’s seven guest bungalows on the New Jersey Shore. This summer Cal is visited by Kevin Donovan, a handsome man from his past who makes Cal a tempting offer to buy Cozzi Cove and provide financial security to Cal and Michael’s baby. Cal’s Wall Street sister, Taylor, has hopped aboard Kevin’s green wagon. However, Cal’s husband, Michael, and Taylor’s wife, Carla, sense something much deeper in Kevin’s offer than meets the roving eye. Cal’s exhibitionist new houseboy, Carlos, is smitten with Cal’s sweet-faced nanny, Alfred, who carries a shocking secret in his magic Mormon underwear. Middle-aged Matchmaker Gilead has matched guests Marine Master Sergeant Matt Pummel and much younger businessman Keone Paoa to the chagrin of cute young lawyer Luis Lui. As skeletons come out of their closets, the bears and cubs search for their true honey. Woodsy guest Nyx Oberon meets a sexy werewolf at the cove and they share a howling moonlit night. Nyx believes his newfound lover could be part of a much larger plan that would change his life and the world forever.
Will Cal, his family, and his guests have happy endings? It’s Cozzi Cove after all.

This book takes place in Cozzi Cove on the New Jersey shore. It has quite a few different characters that all have their time in the spotlight. With so many different characters it’s hard to keep up with them all at times. The chapters are also told from different character’s POVs. There’s a little bit of everything in this book, and normally I wouldn’t find this to be a problem, but with this book, it’s a little overwhelming.

The story takes place at Cal Cozzi and his husband Michael Rodgers’ vacation bungalows on the Jersey Shore. Cal and Michael are the main characters of the series, and even though I’ve not read any of the other books in this series, I do find this couple delightful. Together they have a one-year-old son, C.J. I enjoyed the flirting back and forth and how they engaged with their son. When the summer starts, they bring in a nanny to assist with the toddler while Cal runs the retreat. They also have a “houseboy” who is something else. When the guests start arriving that’s where things get a bit overwhelming.

Before we get into the guests, I’d like to tackle a couple of things first. I have a few issues with the descriptions of the characters. The descriptions are very basic and more about esthetics than who the person actually is. It’s important to describe how a person looks, but it is also important to go beyond that. I didn’t feel as though I knew the characters beyond the vague outside appearance and a description of their jobs, and where they’re from like a dating site checklist.

Like I mentioned above, quite a few characters are contending for the spotlight in this book. There are a few who are coming together in hopes of finding their match from this self-imposed love guru. He swears by his methods, but things become awkward rather quickly. Along with the looking for love cast, there are a couple guests thrown together by fate for lack of a better term. A few more characters are thrown in for good measure, and they all have a part to play in this fantasy soap opera.

I did enjoy this book. The author has some great storylines and characters, but I just found this to be a little overwhelming. Too many things going on and it didn’t quite come full circle for me. I ended it with more questions than answers. I found a few of the characters endearing. I do recommend that you read the other books in the series before tackling this one. I definitely plan on it in the future. If you like a dysfunctional cast of misfits and a little paranormal mystery thrown in, then you will definitely appreciate this story.

***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