Review: “Murder, Romance and two Shootings” by Todd Smith

TITLE: Murder, Romance and two Shootings
AUTHOR: Todd Smith
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Ninestar Press
COVER ARTIST: Natacha Snow
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 320 pages
RELEASE DATE: Jun 15, 2018
PRICE: $6.49 e-book

BLURB:

The scent of his own blood shakes away the disbelief of the gunman entering the city council room. Jeremy remembers that smell and can’t deny that he is once more the target of a gunman’s bullet.
Healing from his physical wounds is the easy part, grounded in gratitude for his very survival. Rebuilding his life will be the hard part. But he is reminded he is luckier than others whenever he thinks of his friend Rick.
Surviving means learning how to do everything again—from walking to love—but having Daniel in his life might make it easier this time.


Murder, Romance and two shooting isn’t the typical book that I’m used to reading.
It’s not a fiction, it’s not a romance novel, it’s not a mystery novel either. It’s real facts, it’s an autobiography, it’s a testimony…. And I loved it.

I must emphasize that I read the ARC version, and the main character was named Todd.
The book starts in 1997, 21 years ago, when Todd, a young man—freshly graduated from college and with a broken heart—moves in Delaware with his best friend, Kevin, who already lives there. A few days after moving in, Todd was shot in the leg by two guys who tried to rob him. That starts a long and painful process of recovering. Months after being shot, Todd moves back to his hometown. Life starts to get back to normal. He found a job, a boyfriend and was able to have time with Rick (his other best friend) until Rick was brutally murdered in a gay bashing. Todd lost his best friend, his boyfriend and his job approximately at the same time. Years later, he was back to St Louis and met David. When Todd thought life was finally good, he was shot again, and then the long, painful process of recovering starts over with all that it implies.

This book is the real life of Todd Smith, the author and it’s his first book.
When I started the book, I was perplexed about the writing. It was well written, with good editing, but I was surprised by the way the story was told. It was a succession of facts. The author doesn’t try to make us cry or smile, he doesn’t try to force feelings on us. He just told his truth, his life and what he’d been through. He relates facts exactly like a journalist relates events…. It’s the same process here, and it works for me, I cried with him and for him.

I’m impressed by his courage to stand naked in front of us, telling us what it really is to be shot (nothing glamourous like in the TV), to come out to his family, what it is to lose a friend brutally in such an awful manner. How he met the love of his life, what they’d been through together, how his PTSD and depression had put the couple in danger, and how they almost lost each other.

The author gives us a piece of himself. He isn’t a superhero, just a normal guy that life put through hell. I respect him more for that.
This book deserves to be read. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to Todd story, even if you weren’t shot, you can understand how it feels to be lost, to lose your mind, and not know who you are anymore.

It’s 4 OptimuMMs… Because Rick!

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Dog Days” by TA Moore

TITLE: Dog Days
AUTHOR: TA Moore
SERIES: Wolf Winter
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Anne Cain
GENRE: Urban Fantasy; Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 9, 2016
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

The world ends not with a bang, but with a downpour. Tornadoes spin through the heart of London, New York cooks in a heat wave that melts tarmac, and Russia freezes under an ever-thickening layer of permafrost. People rally at first—organizing aid drops and evacuating populations—but the weather is only getting worse.
In Durham, mild-mannered academic Danny Fennick has battened down to sit out the storm. He grew up in the Scottish Highlands, so he’s seen harsh winters before. Besides, he has an advantage. He’s a werewolf. Or, to be precise, a weredog. Less impressive, but still useful.
Except the other werewolves don’t believe this is any ordinary winter, and they’re coming down over the Wall to mark their new territory. Including Danny’s ex, Jack—the Crown Prince Pup of the Numitor’s pack—and the prince’s brother, who wants to kill him.
A wolf winter isn’t white. It’s red as blood.


Dog Days is the first book in the Wolf Winter series by TA Moore. I put in a request to review the second book in the series Stone the Crows, but I figured that I should read the first book in the series first. I love the cover of the book. It’s beautiful, and the cover artist did a fabulous job. I would have bought the book based just on the cover without even reading the blurb; however, after reading the book, there should definitely be blood somewhere on the cover.
The cover is misleading. This book is not a romance. There is sex in the book, but it’s more of—we used to have a relationship, but we broke up, but I’m still attracted to you, so we have sex occasionally type of thing. The story does have twist and turns, some I could see coming and some I didn’t. I was kind of hoping for an urban fantasy romance, and I got an urban fantasy horror story. I was also disappointed in the editing of the book. I don’t normally find errors in books published by Dreamspinner Press, but I found a few and even a wrong name used.

Danny left his pack because to him it felt confining, clannish, and frequently cruel. Danny is a weredog and in the hierarchy of a werewolf pack that puts him at the very bottom. Also by being a dog, he doesn’t feel the wild the same way that the wolves do and doesn’t need or desire a pack the same way that they do. Danny would rather live in the human world with the humans, dating humans, teaching humans, basically acting human. He’s a teacher and lives in the same apartment building as his ex-girlfriend, Jenny, and her new boyfriend that she cheated on him with. Despite that, they are still good friends. I liked Danny, but I was a bit confused by how his character was portrayed. Multiple times Danny says that he’s really good at running, away from his pack, his problems, and more. The whole book all he does is refuse to run away and runs after his ex, pulling her out of situations, helping her when Jack wants him to do something else, pretty much putting her first in every situation. And it seems like his whole motivation is out of not being able to love her as he should have and having hurt her when they broke up, which is odd since she was cheating on him, but whatever.
He was like a dog with a bone, the world is freezing over and ending, the monsters are coming, you can’t travel anywhere, there is limited food, no heating, but his whole focus is around Jenny. In my opinion, if Jack had been smart, he would have killed her when he saw how Danny was around her the first time. It would have saved them a lot of trouble. But you know hindsight…

Jack is the prince pup of the Numitor. They are the be all end all of werewolf packs. They are so purebred that they would rather breed with real wolves than dilute their blood by breeding with humans. So obviously they have a superior attitude to humans. Jack has an identical twin, Gregor, that was born twelve minutes after him. The Numitor, their father, has to pick an heir and Gregor gets it by default, not because of his fighting ability or leadership but because Jack refused to sleep with females and a male that refuses to breed can’t be the next Numitor. And so he is exiled. The story jumps a period of time, and suddenly Jack is in the same town as Danny, who supposedly had a sexual thing with Jack while they were in the pack together. I kind of wish the author had put up a timeline a month date type of thing at the top of the chapter to help with figuring out how much time had passed since Jack had gotten exiled and found Danny. It would have been helpful. I didn’t really like Jack. He treats Danny like a pet/possession. He refuses to tell Danny why he’s there or what he wants. I just couldn’t connect with him or how he interacts with Danny. I liked how he interacted with his twin though, even if his twin is trying to kill him, although that is mutual.

I did like the description of the prophet and the monsters. I didn’t have any problem getting a visual picture of them. The author also did a good job of describing the town and how the weather affects the characters. Although with how cold and miserable it was I was surprised how easily the humans were able to move around without freezing.

Overall if I was looking for an urban fantasy horror story than this would have hit the spot but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
I’m hoping that I will like the next book in the series better since it’s about Gregor, Jack’s twin.

 

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Natural Beauty” by Meraki P. Lyhne

TITLE: Natural Beauty
AUTHOR: Meraki P. Lyhne
SERIES: Cubi Series
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer
GENRE: MMM; Paranormal; Erotica
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 312 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 –e-book

BLURB:

The Cubi people have lived a secluded and quiet existence since they arrived in America. A shipment of new breeders brought two changes with it: Their next King and a mutated breeder. Those two changes set off a chain of events that the Cubi are far from ready to deal with.
Daniel aspires and works hard to find his future place as the sovereign ruler of his people. Seldon fights to rise to his new station and level of responsibilities as the right-hand Lord to a King, but the fight is also with himself. The breeders, who were freed during the upheaval in the Great House of Dahlidin, return to the human society, but not everybody finds it easy to acclimatize.
Although forced into action, Daniel’s hands are tied. Tough decisions that will either end their war or step it up have to be made. The only question is whether a Kingdom that young is even ready for that.


This is the fifth installment of the Cubi series. Meraki world of Cubi’ sharing the nation with humans continues with Daniel growing into his role as King Beaudin, that comes with responsibilities he doesn’t think he’s capable all of the time.

After the attack on the Grand House, some of the breeders were set free. One of those is Alex. We met Alex in previous books. Being home again with his radical parents and having dreams that he’s back with the Cubi’s again, confuses him to no end. It seems he’s going through of a dose of withdrawal along with the sexual fantasy that he’s taken hard. Having a homophobic faternal conditioning that a man is the penetrator, he goes into a state of depression. That state pushes him to search for the Cubi that he feels are out there.

Seldon feels insecure. After being raped, the fever slowly leaves his body, but that doesn’t mean that his mind has healed. But he is not alone…he has Daniel and Caledon who take care of their dear lover.

The Kingdom of Daniel is expanding. The coronation is near, and there is a lot of empowering going on. Daniel must dose Marca, his Fountain several times a day. They are developing a very close friendship.
There is a lot going on. Cubi are coming in for the ceremony, new natural beauties are arriving and Daniel’s goal to change the Cubi point of view on breeders who now are called feeders.

I like how their society is changing. They become more open, and we start to see that feeders are more appreciated than we thought.

I specialy loved Alex’s POV. Almost half of the book is about him searching and finding his place after the attack. He’s experimenting with his desire without being dosed, and that creats pure energy.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

***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: “The Music of Love” by Sandine Tomas

TITLE:The Music of Love
AUTHOR: Sandine Tomas
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Bree Archer
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

Sometimes the music of love skips a beat….
Paralegal by day, musician by night, Julian has an expiration date stamped on his forehead when it comes to love. No relationship has made it past a year, so Julian avoids romance like the plague and concentrates on his music instead.
Which works fine until gorgeous, smart, and funny Zachary joins Julian’s firm. One look at the man and Julian knows he’s dangerous. No matter what, he can’t fall for Zachary. He has to spare Zachary the pain of dumping Julian at the one-year mark. His brilliant plan? Ask a straight friend to pose as his significant other to keep Zachary away. Not surprisingly, his scheme does little to dampen the attraction—on either side.
When Zachary gives Julian a second chance despite his deception, Julian thinks his curse might be broken. But then he’s faced with the impossible choice between a life with Zachary and living his dream of touring with the band….


The Music of Love by Sandine Tomas was a very good Contemporary romance. There were a few things that I could have done without, but there were also things I enjoyed. This story is told from Julian’s POV. Julian works as a paralegal to pay the bills and is a songwriter and musician by night. His true passion is his music, but he finds himself working sixty-plus hours a week doing a job that he doesn’t necessarily enjoy but is very good at. Julian grew up in Texas. However, three disastrous relationships ending after a year have all had him running away to three different cities which eventually lands him in Washington D.C. He’s convinced that no man will ever love him past the one-year mark and he’s decided to give up on finding love. Plus the fact that he doesn’t want to move again has him set on avoiding any type of relationship outside of his two best friends and bandmates. The problem with this is that we don’t always know what fate has in store for us and sometimes love happens when you least expect it.

Zachary who also hails from the great state of Texas joins the same firm Julian works at as a paralegal while studying to become a lawyer. He decided at an early age that he wanted to become a lawyer so he can valiantly help out the poor and underprivileged while owning his own firm some day. When his new boss sends him to meet his new partner on a lawsuit case, he’s immediately charmed by the hungover and oddly endearing hot mess that is Julian. He’s instantly smitten and wants this man to be his.

Sparks fly from both sides, and even though Julian wants nothing more than to take the handsome and charming Zachary to bed, he decides that would be a mistake as he has a tendency to fall hard and fall fast. Which of course had led to disaster in the past and he’d rather just avoid it. He’s not willing to let history repeat itself. His heart can’t take another break.

The storyline was good. I really thought the description of the characters’ surroundings were very spot on. I could picture where they were, and that was definitely pleasing. The secondary characters were very well thought out as well as their places in the story. They were a little infuriating at times when they decided to meddle, but that added realism to the story. The chemistry Julian and Zachary shared was very well written and beautifully expressed. The conflict would happen, and then it was over, which we all know is never that easy, and then all is well with the lovebirds. Some of the conflicts were more juvenile than what I’d expect from two grown men. It was almost a little too cliché on the main characters’ conflicts. I’ve definitely seen this all done before.

I wish there was more depth to the storyline and not so much focus on having so many various conflicts. They fell head over heels pretty fast in the book and then it was like the focus became just entirely one drama after the next. The editing was great which I’ve come to expect of a Dreamspinner novel.

***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

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