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: “Make the Yuletide Gay” by Addison Albright, Nell Iris, Amy Tasukada, Nicky Spencer, Stephen Hoppa

TITLE: Make the Yuletide Gay
AUTHOR: Addison Albright, Nell Iris, Amy Tasukada,
Nicky Spencer, Stephen Hoppa
GENRE: Anthology
LENGTH: 126 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 15, 2017
PRICE: $0.99 – e-book


Sleigh bells ring—are you listening?
It’s that time of year again, and we have the perfect way to get you in the mood: A free anthology! Five holiday stories that are guaranteed to warm your heart, heat up your cold nights, and most importantly: Make your yuletide gay.

A Christmas Party to Remember by Nicky Spencer
Last Christmas, Cory and Wes made a connection that left them both thanking Santa. But when Cory doesn’t show up for their first date, Wes swears he won’t make that mistake again. This year, can Santa’s magic find a way to bring them back together?

Let’s Not Go Crazy by Stephen Hoppa
The holidays are stressful enough without Ethan’s boyfriend Nate trying to kill him with Christmas cheer. But Nate’s found a whole new way to torture Ethan when he reveals that he wants kids. Will their conflicting desires tear their relationship apart, or will they find a way to ring in the new year stronger than ever?

Captain Jack and the Snack Attack by Addison Albright
Two men determined to win the same treasure at a charity silent auction, a wayward kitten, grumbling tummies, and a dilemma: what’s the correct gift-giving etiquette for a first date that’s mere days before Christmas, and what could possibly go awry with this merry combination?

The Christmas Day Date by Nell Iris
One rainbow Christmas tree in harm’s way and an afternoon spent eating far too many cookies, equals two men with changed holiday plans. But how does that translate into a date?

The Year of the Monkey by Amy Tasukada
The last thing Aoi wants to do for New Year’s is spend it with his boyfriend’s parents. They were far from thrilled when their son came out. Can Aoi warm their hearts making traditional mochi or will they end up in an even stickier situation?

Authors Note: This anthology is FREE! Do not buy it for $0.99 at Amazon – we are working on fixing that! Currently available for free at Smashwords and soon at all other retailers.

Make the Yuletide Gay is a collection of five short holiday stories by some of my favorite authors and to make it even better the collection is free. So why not take a chance on this cute collection of holiday stories and enjoy the holiday happy feelings that they inspire. I especially liked how this collection was put together. At the beginning of each story is the blurb and at the end, there is a little bit about the author and a few links to some of their other books or social media. It makes it very easy to find more books by the authors if you liked the story that you read or if they had other books with the same main characters like Stephen Hoppa and Amy Tasukada’s stories. They both have multiple books with the same characters that are in the short stories here.

A Christmas Party to Remember by Nicky Spencer – This was a cute story about Cory and Wes who meet at a Christmas party and plan to meet up later for drinks. However, Cory never shows up or responds to Wes’ text messages. Wes vows not to let that happen again. So when Cory shows up again at the same Christmas party and wants to explain what happened the year before, Wes doesn’t want to hear it, but his best friend convinces him to listen to him. How was he supposed to know that Cory had been in an accident on the way to meet him and his phone had been destroyed leaving him no way to contact Wes since he didn’t know his last name or where he worked? There wasn’t a lot of depth or background, but the characters were entertaining and loveable. I would read a longer book about them. 4 OptimuMMs

Let’s Not Go Crazy by Stephen Hoppa – This Christmas story was cute. I haven’t read the other three installments of Nate and Ethan’s relationship yet, but it’s on my to-do list since I found them to be an interesting set of characters. I loved the addition of Ethan’s puppies, but I have only one thing to say, and that’s puppy training classes for the destructive but loveable mutts. 3 OptimuMMs

Captain Jack and the Snack Attack by Addison Albright – Another cute short Christmas story about Kenton and Gordie and the ornery kitten, Captain Jack. Kenton and Gordie don’t get off to the best start when they both bid on a signed Captain Jack Sparrow movie poster at a silent auction at a charity ball fundraiser. And even though Gordie was outbid in the end by Kenton, when they run into each other again it won’t stop Gordie from going out on a date with him. However, when their first date is derailed by the disappearance of Kenton’s kitten, aptly named Captain Jack, the men make the best of a silly situation and have a night in at Kenton’s place while they look for the kitten. 3 OptimuMMs

The Christmas Day Date by Nell Iris – Awe, I loved this short holiday story about Julius and Lenny. I would love to read more about them and their next date. I loved how bubbly and emotional Julius is and how honest Lenny is about his past. And the make-out scene was hot! 5 OptimuMMs

The Year of the Monkey by Amy Tasukada – I enjoyed getting to see Aio and Sato as they celebrated New Year’s Day with Sato’s family. Aio is a mess of anxiety and nerves over Sato’s parents not liking him, and so he decides to make homemade mochi. I loved getting to see how they make mochi and how much work it is. 4 OptimuMMs

***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: “The Storm’s Gift” by A.D. Ellis

TITLE: The Storm’s Gift
AUTHOR: A.D. Ellis
SERIES: Advent Calendar “Stocking Stuffer.”
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Paul Richmond
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 34 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2017
PRICE: $1.99 – e-book/ $64.99 – paperback


Snowed in together in their college dorm, two men share a quick connection that creates enough heat to spar with the blizzard outside.
Rory Blackwell plans to rejuvenate his mind and repair his battered heart after his world is shaken by an unexpected breakup. James Austin’s freshman-year plans of improving his social life crashed and burned, leaving him feeling as alone and outcast as he did back home.
One man is hurting while the other is eager to provide comfort. One is a virgin, the other experienced with other men. Both are looking forward to Winter Break, but can they take full advantage of their situation—or will the passion ignited between them fizzle out with the storm?

The Storm’s Gift by A.D. Ellis is a story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advert Calendar “Stocking Stuffer.” This is a cute Christmas short story. It has just enough storyline and background on the two main characters, Rory and James, to make them interesting. There is definitely an instant love feel to the story. I liked the virgin freshman and the experienced senior storyline. I would be interested in reading more about these two and what happens to them after winter break and when Rory graduates and James is still only a sophomore.

Rory Blackwell is the Resident Advisor for the freshman dorm. He’s recovering from an unexpected breakup. He doesn’t have any plans to go anywhere over the winter break. He just has to wait until all of his charges have left before his vacation can begin.

James Austin’s plans for improving his social life crashed and burned so far for his freshman year. He tends to stick to his room, studying, instead of socializing. Hence the reason that he is still a virgin. He wasn’t able to make it home for Thanksgiving due to lack of finances, but he is determined to make it home for winter break. But a huge winter storm has other ideas, and the blizzard has closed all of the major highways home. But James isn’t at all happy about having to stay in the dorms for winter break. Although getting to stay with the RA that he’s been crushing on does have its benefits. And one of them is having to share body heat for warmth.

Rory also isn’t too disappointed that he’s going to have to spend his winter break with James. Truth to be told, he’s also had a crush on the cute freshman, who spends all of his time studying. He can’t believe that James is still single and he’s more than happy to help him get rid of his virginity.

I liked the happy for now ending, but I would love to read more about these two characters and what happens to them next.

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


Review: “Homemade from the Heart” by Bru Baker

TITLE: Homemade from the Heart
AUTHOR: Bru Baker
SERIES: Advert Calendar “Stocking Stuffers”
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 52 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2017
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book/ $64.99 – paperback


Craft store owner Grant has always been a sucker for a pretty face, and that goes double for a pretty face with an adorable sidekick. When seven-year-old Aubrey has her heart set on taking Grant’s already-full holiday craft series, he caves and gives up his one day off a week so she (and her hot guardian, Josh) can take private lessons. Their flirting ramps up week after week, and even though Josh isn’t with Aubrey’s mother, Grant can’t be sure the man isn’t straight. Maybe he’s just being friendly. And Josh, who most definitely is not straight, is afraid of being the creepy guy hitting on the teacher.
Frustrated by their stubbornness and cluelessness, Aubrey takes matters into her own hands. She decides the best gift to give Josh is something homemade and from the heart—a boyfriend they’ll both love.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar “Stocking Stuffers.”

I adored Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker. This is a story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advert Calendar “Stocking Stuffers.” The story was well written, and it was full of feel-good holiday cheer.

This story is about a seven-year-old Aubrey that has her heart set on taking Grant’s already full holiday craft series. However, the craft store owner Grant caves and gives up his one day off a week so she and her guardian Josh can take private lessons. As their weekly flirting ramps up, Grant is still trying to decide if Josh is straight or not, and Josh isn’t straight, but he doesn’t want to come across as the creepy guy hitting on the teacher. With the help of a seven-year-old matchmaker, Josh will get the best gift that she can give him; a homemade from the heart one in the form of a boyfriend.

I loved the storyline, and Aubrey was the cutest seven-year-old matchmaker. She had so much energy and love to pass around. Aubrey had me laughing on more than one occasion. I loved that she wanted to make homemade gifts for her family members. I also loved her hot guardian, Josh. I liked how he will do anything to make her happy even if it means having to pay for private lessons on a Sunday. Grant had a heart of gold for being selfless enough to come in on his day off and allow Aubrey and Josh to take private lessons since the holiday craft series is already full. Of course, he isn’t completely selfless since his primary reason for doing it is because he thinks Josh is hot and he wants to get to know him more even if he’s pretty sure that Josh is straight.

But that doesn’t stop Grant from teaching Aubrey how to make the best holiday projects for her family. My favorite holiday project that they did was the cross stitch pillow for her mom and how Grant helped her modify the pattern to match a pillow that her mother had when she was younger. I loved the innuendos that were passed back and forth between Grant and Josh. My only complaint was that the make-out scene was interrupted and then not finished. I really wanted it to be finished. Otherwise, a truly enjoyable Christmas short story.

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


Review: “Undercover Star” By Jackie Keswick

TITLE: Undercover Star
AUTHOR: Jackie Keswick
COVER ARTIST: Emma Griffin
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 130 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 22, 2017
PRICE: $3.93 – e-book


It sounds like the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas. Detective Inspector Josh Ingram wants to find a deadly medieval locket and through it, a murderer. So why does his boss decide to team him up with Matisse Vervein, a pop idol many consider just a pretty face… and expect the two of them to hunt down an art thief?
Marissa Godwin, Matisse’s no-nonsense manager, isn’t stupid. Neither is her brother-in-law, Detective Superintendent Tim Montgomery. Each is looking out for a lonely man on the verge of quitting what he does best, and both believe that their charges would make a great team.
The attraction sizzling between Josh and Matisse is hard to miss, but there’s plenty of resentment, too. Focussed on pushing Josh and Matisse towards each other, Marissa and Tim haven’t imagined the kind of trouble a music star and a detective can find when they ditch their prejudices and accept that the attraction between them is mutual. Or how far each is prepared to go to prove it to the other.
A standalone, feel-good, action adventure romance set in England and Scotland, featuring a reluctant pop star who’s not out, a detective trying his hand at being a bodyguard, plenty of adventure, and a happy ending.

There’s not much more that I can say about this book that the blurb hasn’t already covered. Josh and Matisse are forced to work together to try and find an art and jewellery thief who commits his crimes at high profile fundraisers and promotional events, but who also murdered Josh’s detective partner when he stumbled across the sale of one of the items that had been stolen in Rome. Josh’s boss thinks that using Matisse as a way in to these events will help them get closer to the culprit, and give them a bigger opportunity to catch him, something they wouldn’t be able to do just going into the event as police. Josh will act as one of Matisse’s bodyguards and will be able to move in and arrest the suspect if he shows up while they’re there.

Josh is openly gay, but for the past few years, his love life has been put on the back-burner as all of his attention has been on catching the person who murdered his friend, and who keeps slipping through his fingers. Matisse knows he’s gay, but he’s in the closet and afraid to come out because he doesn’t think his fans will accept it, and all he really wants to do is make sure his fans are happy, even when it means putting his own wants and happiness aside. When Josh and Matisse meet, there is an attraction, but both men don’t want to admit to it and keep skirting around each other, even though having to spend a lot of time together makes it difficult to down-play the sneaking glances and flirty comments.

When Josh finally gets a break on the case with the help of Matisse, it leads the two men on an unexpected journey to Scotland, where Josh discovers there is much more to Matisse than his pop star persona, and Josh can’t help but fall for the man in front of him.

This book was enjoyable and entertaining and kept me hooked from start to finish, but at times I felt as if it lost it’s way a little. It almost felt like catching the killer/thief was pushed to the side, and all of the focus was on the developing relationship between Josh and Matisse. It was almost like two separate storylines. But don’t get me wrong, I really did like the story and the characters, and the author actually made my jaw completely drop and gave me goosebumps at one point when she mentioned the name of the town in Scotland they were heading to. Either the author knows the west coast of Scotland pretty well, or she’s done some really decent research, because the town name she used, Greenock, is kind of obscure and relatively unknown unless you know the area. I know this because I live in the very next town to it, and even some people who only live about 20 miles away probably couldn’t really tell you where it is. She also mentioned Josh and Matisse crossing the Erskine Bridge, which is the same bridge I have to cross every day to get to work. It just makes the story feel much more realistic when the places used are places you personally know.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and another that I’d happily recommend. A great little book to read on an afternoon while sitting with your feet up and coffee in hand.

***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 ***