Review: “The Strength of his Heart” by Victoria Sue

TITLE: The Strength of his Heart
AUTHOR: Victoria Sue
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer
GENRE: Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 214 pages
RELEASE DATE: Dec 11, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

To protect and serve…. All Vance Connelly ever wanted to do was continue his family’s tradition and join the Tampa Police Department, but his dreams were crushed the day he woke with the enhanced mark on his face. After years of struggling to adjust to life as an enhanced human, by a stroke of luck, he met Talon Valdez and became a proud member of the FBI’s Human Enhanced Rescue Organization.
Samuel “Angel” Piper is eager to leave his DEA undercover work behind as he joins the HERO team as Vance’s regular human partner. But Sam’s painful past is ever present, just below the surface of the life he has built for himself as an ambitious young agent. When the team investigates rumors of a new drug using enhanced blood, the case’s mysterious connection to Sam threatens not just his life but Vance’s.
Trust doesn’t come easy for Sam, but Vance is willing to fight to convince his partner that the strength of his heart might be the salvation they both need.


Vance Connelly had one big dream in his life…being like his dad. A cop, a husband, a father. Everything crashed when at thirteen he woke up with the mark, the mark that showed the world that Vance is enhanced. Growing up in a loving family, being the baby of 5 kids, Vance was loved and had been supported, not only from his family but also with the TPD, but something was missing, and Vance always knew that he couldn’t have what he dreamed of for his all life. Until he joins the FBI, becomes a member of the H.E.R.O Team and was partnered with Sam “Angel” Piper…

Sam is a former DEA agent who joins the FBI and the H.E.R.O team after meeting them during their last investigation (Beneath this Mask, book 3). He has a troubled past, traumatic memories and the last thing that he wants is to start a romantic relationship with his partner…his giant partner.

Vance’s book is finally here, and I devoured his story with Sam in one night, sleep is overrated when it comes to Victoria Sue’s books.
Since book 1, we perceived Vance as the sweet guy. The sheltered baby of his family. We didn’t suspect that Vance has, like everyone in the team, his own fears. Because he has this wonderful family behind him, we didn’t think that Vance suffers by being Enhanced. During my read, I discovered another side of Vance. He broke my heart; I was outraged on his behalf. I loved the fact he kept this little part of childhood sometimes, just like I loved when he stood up for himself. I wanted to protect him when really he doesn’t need it. From the beginning of the series, Vance was one of my favorites in the team, and this book just confirmed my crush…

Sam “Angel” Piper is an ex-DEA agent, who passed so much time undercover that he asked to join the H.E.R.O Team just to get away from his former partner Ramirez. The Sam we met during the previous book (Beneath this Mask) has nothing to do with the one we met here. I wanted to slap him. Yes, I admit it, I wanted to slap him. He pissed me off a lot of the time, but I understood where he comes from so I kind of excuse him. Sam has a darker past than any of the other members of the team…without counting Eli, I think. He wore the stigmata of his fears and traumatic childhood on him, and if it saved his life more than once, it could also cut him from his real chance of happiness…until Vance barged into his life.

The story and the plot were super good. It was divided between the main investigation about two dead enhanced men and the relationship between Sam and Vance. I was hooked. The story was told from both Sam and Vance’s point of views, and it has a lot of different feelings: Angst, Fears, Frustration, Love, Hope. I felt all of them.

This book is probably the one in this series with the most angst I think, but with those two Mcs, it was necessary. Vance and Sam may look different, but they’re exactly similar with the same fears, like in a mirror effect. I liked to say that they’re similar in the exact opposite way.

We also learn more about the next couple in the series, about Eli and…

Read the book and you’ll find out.

I highly recommend this book, and the series if you didn’t read it yet.

5 OptimuMM’s for Vance and Sam!

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Season to Shimmer” by Kim Katil

TITLE: Season to Shimmer
AUTHOR: Kim Katil
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 45 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2018
PRICE: $1.99 – e-book

BLURB:

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar
One morning close to the holidays, Nolan wakes up to two surprises: a distress call from his younger brother and a beautiful man in his bed. Nolan, an art gallery owner, has always been discreet about his sexuality, but when his baby brother plans to come out at the annual family gala, Nolan wants to have his back—and that means showing up with a man of his own on his arm. Nolan knows just the man for the job.
Skylar, who owns a karate studio in St. Augustine, can’t get his one-night stand out of his mind. When he runs into Nolan at his gallery he is more than happy to volunteer his services as arm candy. Out-and-proud himself with his striking blue/green hair, Skylar is all in. Their adventure means a fancy salon, family drama, lots of sex, a ninja hippo, and palm trees lit up in a very suggestive way. By the end of it, what started as a hookup might become much more.


Season to Shimmer by Kim Katil is one of the short stories in the 2018 Advent Calendar—Warmest Wishes. This is my first story by Kim Katil, but it sure won’t be the last. I loved this short story. It had everything that I was hoping for when I read the blurb. It has a heat level of 5 mixed in with some family drama and Christmas cheer. This story had great flow, and I loved the author’s writing style. The characters had depth and were lovable. And with the amount of heat that the author managed to pack into 45 pages, I can’t wait to see what a full-length book is going to be like.

I loved Nolan. He wakes up one holiday morning to two surprises—a distress call from his young brother and a beautiful man in his bed. Nolan is an art gallery owner, and he’s always been discreet about his sexuality. His stepfather is homophobic, and he knew that if he wanted to continue to see and have a relationship with his two younger brothers that he would have to keep his sexuality discreet. When his baby brother plans to come out at the annual family gala, Nolan wants to have his back, and that means showing up with a man of his own on his arm. Nolan knows just the man for the job. I loved how he stands up to his stepfather and is there for his brothers when they need him.

I also loved Skylar. He owns a karate studio in St. Augustine, and he can’t get his one-night stand out of his mind. When he runs into Nolan at his gallery, he is more than happy to volunteer his services as arm candy. Out and proud himself with his striking blue/green hair, Skylar is all in. I loved how their adventure means a fancy salon, family drama, lots of sex, a ninja hippo, and palm trees lit up in a very suggestive way. By the end of it, what started as a hookup might become much more. I loved how vibrant and energetic Skylar is and how Nolan calls him Shimmer.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Slow Summer Heat” by Renae Kaye

TITLE: Slow Summer Heat
AUTHOR: Renae Kaye
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 54 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book

BLURB:

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar
Geoffrey Saxon is in his forties, a bit plump, a lot fuzzy, and rather boring in bed—and thanks to a very public breakup, everyone in his street knows it. However, what they don’t know is that Geoffrey sometimes watches his hot young neighbor, Vaughn, in the pool. Vaughn has invited Geoffrey to join his pool parties, but Geoffrey knows it’s only pity.
As if things can’t get worse, Geoffrey’s air conditioner breaks during a heat wave in Western Australia—and just before Christmas. In search of some relief, he camps out in his backyard, where he also has a prime view of Vaughn swimming… naked. When Geoffrey’s injured falling from his spying post, Vaughn comes to his rescue and Geoffrey doesn’t think he can be more horrified.
But he could be in for a sweet holiday surprise. Is he ready to take the dive?


Slow Summer Heat by Renae Kaye is one of the short stories out of the 2018 Advent Calendar—Warmest Wishes. I liked this short story by Renae Kaye. From the blurb I was expecting just a little bit more explicit content but it turned out to be a slow burn and with all of Geoffrey’s insecurities that he is battling from his ex, it makes sense that it would be a slow burn and ends up having just the right amount of passion to it. I thought this was a cute story and it had me laughing over some of the things that happened in the book. I will be reading more books by Ranae Kaye.

I liked Geoffrey Saxon. He’s in his forties, a bit plump, a lot fuzzy, and rather boring in bed. And thanks to a very public breakup, everyone on his street knows it. However, what they don’t know is that Geoffrey sometimes watches his hot young neighbor, Vaughn, in the pool. He has been invited to join the parties by Vaughn, but Geoffrey knows it’s only out of pity. To make things worse, Geoffrey’s air conditioner breaks during a heat wave in Western Australia, just before Christmas. Searching for some relief, he camps out in his backyard, where he also has a prime view of Vaughn swimming in the buff. When Geoffrey’s injured falling from his spying post, Vaughn comes to his rescue and Geoffrey doesn’t think he can be more horrified. Geoffrey could be in for a sweet holiday surprise. But is Geoffrey ready to take the dive. I loved the personal growth that is shown in this short story by Geoffrey. I also loved how Geoffrey and Vaughn complement each other.

I loved Vaughn. He’s young, carefree, and just what Geoffrey needs to get him out of his rut. I also loved that Geoffrey is just Vaughn’s type and that Vaughn has had a crush on him which is why he was always inviting him to the pool parties.

This was a cute story with a slow burn romance that I’m sure that I will be reading again.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The First Noel” by Joe Cosentino

TITLE: The First Noel
AUTHOR: Joe Cosentino
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 72 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 7, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book

BLURB:

Each Christmas has marked a milestone in Bobby and Paolo’s love story. But will this year be their last noel?
It’s no surprise Bobby isn’t feeling much holiday spirit—not when he suspects his husband, Paolo, might be interested in his new business associate, the incredibly handsome Noel. On top of that, Bobby’s father is hanging up his Santa suit at the department store due to health issues; and worst of all, Geoffrey’s birth mother, funded by antigay extremists, is threatening their family. She’s trying to take away Bobby and Paolo’s adopted son, but she’ll have to face their supportive friends, family, and pastor before she can tear Geoffrey from the only real home he’s ever known.
With so many challenges in their path, the December grooms will need an extra helping of holiday magic this year. Rumor has it Santa’s on his way to spread some holiday cheer


The First Noel is the third book in the Bobby and Paolo’s Holiday Stories. I really liked the blurb, and even though I hadn’t read the first two books in the series I figured I would give it a try, and I’m so glad that I did. I loved the story. The writing was wonderful with a great flow to it, and the characters were lovable and relatable and dealt with everyday issues and problems. I can’t wait to read the first two book to see what adventures I missed as their relationship grew. I also loved Noel and David. David is the attorney for the Adam and Eve Forever Organization—antigay extremists. David had been through a conversion camp to cure his gayness, and I loved how every time he had a gay thought he would snap the rubber band on his wrist. He sure did have a dirty mind every time he saw Noel. That rubber band sure did get a workout. I would love for Noel and David to get their own story. I would love to read more about them.

I loved Bobby. He’s feeling down and misses his husband, Paolo, because he is working such long hours and having to take clients to dinner to schmooze them. Because of all of the late nights, Bobby is feeling insecure and thinks that Paolo might be thinking about having an affair. Like I said, real everyday issues and problems and worrying about if your husband is cheating is definitely a real everyday issue between couples. He also has to deal with his father retiring as the department store Santa although I really loved the couple that replaced him as Santa and his elf—naughty Santa and his elf. The department store will never be the same, but everybody at the store just loves them. I loved them too.

I loved Paolo. He’s swamped at work and isn’t getting the credit and recognition that he should be, and so he decides to get his own clothing line with the help of a new celebrity sports client. But it all has to be done in secret since neither his work or his husband know that the work he has been doing isn’t for his job but so that he can go into business with the client he’s stealing away from work.
And if that isn’t enough drama for Bobby and Paolo, a woman shows up that says that she’s Geoffrey’s birth mother and that she wants him back. That she’s gotten her life together with the help of the Adam and Eve Forever Organization and that they’re going to help her get her son back. It sounded like Geoffrey had been through a lot and didn’t want anything to do with his mom. But with the help of some good friends like Noel, who’s supposed to distract the Adam and Eve’s attorney, David, and a little holiday magic their holiday wishes do come true.

This holiday novella is full of twists and turns, and it was a joy to read. I can’t wait to read more book by Joe Cosentino.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Christmas Kitsch” by Amy Lane

TITLE: Christmas Kitsch
AUTHOR: Amy Lane
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Alexandria Corza
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Dec 7, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99-paperback

BLURB:

Sometimes the best Christmas gift is knowing what you really want.
Rusty Baker is a rich, entitled, oblivious jock, and he might have stayed that way if he hadn’t become friends with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. When Oliver kisses him goodbye before Rusty leaves for college, Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
But nothing can help Rusty survive a semester at Stanford, and he returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. But with Oliver’s love and the help of Oliver’s amazing family, Rusty realizes that failing college doesn’t mean he can’t pass real life with flying rainbow colors.
Second Edition — First Edition published by Riptide Publishing, December 2013. (less)


Rusty Baker is 18 years old, a freshman at Stanford and in love with Oliver Campbell. But Rusty hates Stanford, hates to live with his parents’ expectations and dreams, and wanted just to be himself and love Oliver. When he comes back for Thanksgiving, he didn’t expect to end up homeless, jobless and alone, except he wasn’t alone, and Oliver and his family take Rusty in their life and love.

Christmas Kitsch by Amy lane was a sweet Christmas story about love, family and acceptance but something was off while reading it.
Rusty is the archetype of the white, blond, American boy coming from a good family and money. He’s the archetype of the football player not dumb but not smart either who hangs out with a bunch of bullies even if he disapproved but didn’t really act against them. He’s just an average guy who wants to work with his hands rather than his head. He thinks of himself as dumb or slow, and actually, the author made sure that the reader thinks that Rusty is a dumb, white, rich guy who hangs out with racist, homophobic bullies. Rusty changed his view of his friends and family when he meets Oliver.

Oliver is poor (in comparison to Rusty’s family), he’s American-Venezuelan, he has brown skin, with brown eyes, brown hair. He’s brown. Not my word, the author’s word. Actually, the whole “brown person” is a thing in this book. It’s how Rusty presented Oliver and his family to the reader, how Oliver can sometimes talk about himself, how the author made sure that the reader perfectly understood that Oliver is “brown” and despite it, he’s a good person, better than Rusty and his family.

It doesn’t sit well with me. I won’t talk about racism because I don’t want to throw out the accusation in the air. So I will talk about a poor choice of wording and vocabulary. I will talk about the lack of creativity and vocabulary from the author, the writer. I will talk about the inability of the author to write a book about a mixed-race couple and not being able to do it properly. I will talk about maladroitness of an author who tried to give a message of love and acceptance and failed. It’s not my first book about a mixed-race couple. I’m kind of fond of these books actually because the world is full of diversity and I liked to have it in my books. However, it’s the first time I’ve read a book where the skin color of a MC was so often referred to. For example when Rusty thinks about how lonely he would be if Oliver wasn’t in his life … “…. How alone I would be if it wasn’t for the little brown person sitting in my living room….”

It was a weird read for me because I loved those characters, they are adorable, beautiful inside and outside, I read between the lines and could see how beautiful and smart Rusty was. How this lost kid found his path with Oliver’s love. This book could have been wonderful, but all these weird vibes about skin color ruined it for me.

It could have been a 5 stars, but it’s just a 2.5 stars.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis