Review: “Block and Strike” by Kelly Jensen

TITLE: Block and Strike
AUTHOR: Kelly Jensen
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreampinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Garrett Leigh
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 266 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 6, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.


Fresh out of prison, Jake Kendrick’s find himself in an emotional struggle. Coming home to find a homeless man on his doorstep is not something he wants to deal with, ever. As Jake soon discovers, the man taking space on his stoop isn’t a bum but his neighbor bloody and unconscious. As Jake helps his neighbor heal from his assault, an unlikely friendship evolves into something neither man is willing to lose their friendship over. Jake’s past comes back to haunt him, and he’s in danger of losing not only the man he’s come to love but the most important person in his life.

Jake’s temper has always been an issue for him. He has a hair-trigger temper, and that’s what landed him in prison. Once out he’s determined to turn his life around and do whatever he can to get to spend time with his daughter. The friendship he has with his neighbor, Max, is the best thing that’s happened to him since before his imprisonment. They have this easygoing camaraderie. Jake knows Max is straight. Jake, being bisexual, can’t help that he starts to develop feelings for the other man, but he has a lot of secrets. If Max found out, it would destroy the friendship he cherishes and any chance of anything more.

Max has been bullied most of his life. In school, his dad told him that the beatings would toughen him up. As time went on, he learned that if he just layed there and took it, the beatings wouldn’t be so bad. He has no idea why he was targeted by a group of men in the alley near his little downstairs apartment. His next-door neighbo’rs sister, also Max’s nurse, insists that her brother will help him once he’s released from the hospital and given no choice, he accepts the sexy, mysterious man’s help. He’s undeniably attracted to Jake, but Jake is straight. Max hides that he’s gay in fear of being even more victimized.

These two guys are what I like to call a hot mess. The story was absolutely heartwarming and emotionally exhausting. I loved every page turning moment. The facets of not only the story but the characters made for one excellent read. Jake and Max taking strength from one another was beautiful. The development from a hesitant sort of acquaintances to friends then ultimately lovers was what I loved most about this book. The author didn’t stick with the status quo, they blew it out of the water. One of the best books I’ve read to date.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Calculated Magic” by SJD Peterson

TITLE: Calculated Magic
AUTHOR: SJD Peterson
SERIES: Dreamspun Beyond
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Alexandria Corza
GENRE: Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 230 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 16, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Never too late for love.
Three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old warlock Tikron must find his true love or forfeit his immortality. But if he hasn’t found his ideal mate in all these centuries, the prospects don’t look too bright.
That is, until he sees mathematician Richard Beaumont. It’s love at first sight and Tikron’s future just go a whole lot brighter.
Except Richard doesn’t believe in love at first sight. He doesn’t believe in love at all. He certainly doesn’t believe in magic. His life is ruled by statistics and logic, and they tell him a relationship with Tikron has only a 10 percent chance of success. That’s unacceptable—even if the attraction between them is off the charts.
With his powers waning and the clock ticking down, Tikron’s last hope is showing Richard the true meaning of magic.


This Dreamspun Beyond novel is a unique tale of romance between two men who are complete opposites. In this tale of sexy warlocks and nerdy mathematicians, time is not a luxury the sexy warlock can afford. Being immortal isn’t what it’s cracked up to be when the coven leader puts a spell on Tikron. He either finds his true love by his three hundred and fiftieth birthday or he dies. It’s either that or his mother has to wed the coven leader. With help from his best friend Ryxium, the two try everything to break the curse but nothing works until Tikron sets his eyes on an introverted math genius at the local coffee shop.

Richard doesn’t believe in anything that he can’t see and touch. Magic is nonsense, and he’s not going to be persuaded even if the one doing the persuading is a sexy Adonis. He has everything he needs or wants, he has his math, and his dog. He doesn’t need or want anything else. So when the perky waitress at the coffee shop he frequents like clockwork sits across from him, he’s instantly annoyed. He doesn’t do people. She’s only conversing with the prickly man because the Adonis at the counter won’t stop looking at Richard like he wants to consume him. That confuses Richard, and now he’s even more determined to not deal with all this crazy nonsense. As he leaves, he runs into his admirer, and I wish I could say sparks fly but nope. Richard has to believe in Tikron, and everything Tikron is before these two can have any chance.

Tikron would rather die than let his mom be miserable for the rest of her life. His mother had one true love in Tikron’s father before he passed away. When the coven leader cursed Tikron, it was for purely selfish reasons. Tikron doesn’t want to die but as him and his best friend Ry discover, only true love can break the curse. Tikron never thought he’d find his soul mate until he spots a ordinary looking man in a coffee shop. He can’t believe he actually found his soul mate, but now he has to convince the grumpy, standoffish man that magic is real and that Tikron is his fated mate. Easy right? Ha. Richard thwarts his advances and isn’t falling for the brute that easily. He and Ry have to get creative if Tikron ever wants the surly man for himself. Shenanigans ensue. A sassy squirrel, a missing dog collar and a best friend uninvitingly popping in while definitely not using Richard’s front door.

I really enjoyed this. The characters were fantastically written, and the plot was interesting. Definitely nothing I’ve read before. I loved Richard’s change throughout the book as he discovers love and magic. Tikron and Ryxium were hilarious when they got going. I’m really hoping for Ry to get his own book. All in all, this was a fantastic paranormal, and I definitely recommend it.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Billy’s Bones” by Jamie Fessenden

TITLE: Billy’s Bones
AUTHOR: Jamie Fessenden
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Lou Harper
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 254 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2013
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Kevin Derocher was thirty-two when he walked into Tom’s office, newly married, a baby on the way, and the collar of his red flannel shirt pulled up to hide the bruises around his throat from when he hanged himself in his garage. After his initial consult, therapist Tom Langois believes he’ll never see Kevin again—but Kevin turns up three years later to make repairs on Tom’s new house.
Kevin and Tom become fast friends, and Tom begins to suspect Kevin may be interested in more than friendship. However, Kevin remains haunted by something from his childhood—something so terrible he blocked it from his mind. These suppressed memories make it impossible for Kevin to get close to anyone without panicking and lashing out, sometimes violently. But as his past begins to surface, it becomes apparent that Kevin may hold the key to a twenty-five-year-old mystery: what happened to Billy?


A failed suicide attempt is all it takes to change a man’s life. After being hospitalized, upon conditional release he sees a therapist that only wants to help him but knows he’ll never see the man that intrigues him beyond that one visit. When the therapist moves to a small town and buys a house with a hot tub that doesn’t work, he’s advised to call a local handyman that can fix anything. When the handyman shows up, it’s none other than the intriguing man from three years ago who he never thought he’d see again.

Tom wanted a quiet life away from the city. He bought a house that needed some repairs, but because of its charm and the alluring hot tub on the porch, he was sold. Soon after moving in, the hot tub decided it needed some repairs or Tom needed to just buy a new one. A local handyman was referred. When it ends up being the man that he’s thought of often over the past three years, the last thing he thought would happen was a budding friendship. As the two got closer, Tom had to reign in the urge to analyze the other man. He wanted to help him, but he also wanted his friendship. Tom didn’t expect to start having deep feelings for the man, and when he learns the feelings are reciprocated, all he wants to do is help the other man by sending him to his colleague to face his past…but at what cost?

Kevin uses his quick wit and quiet demeanor to keep people at a distance. He has no idea why he attempted suicide. He just did. There’s a lot about his childhood he’s kept hidden so well that even he doesn’t know what happened. He’s open sexually, at least he’ll talk about it, but the act of doing it does nothing for him. His aversion to any kind of intimacy has left him alone after his wife left him. When he becomes friends with Tom, he knows he likes the man, probably more so than anyone else. But he doesn’t know what it means. When Kevin and Tom become more than friends, Kevin wants to do anything that will make Tom happy including seeing his friend and therapist colleague. When a therapy session brings Kevin’s memories to the surface, Kevin has no choice but face the demons that have haunted him for most of his life.

This book killed me. It is not a fairytale and definitely not for the faint of heart. Jamie Fessenden has a unique writing style that was fascinating. He pulled me into this story, and it was days before I could pick up another book. I was emotionally wrecked by the end. Every single thing about this book was so thought out and written so eloquently that I was spellbound. I can’t say enough good things about it.

This book is one I will read again and again for many years to come.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The Protector” by Cooper West

TITLE: The Protector
AUTHOR: Cooper West
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense; Shapeshifter
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2014
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler—until Alex Taylor.
Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grief with no hope for happiness in the future. When he unexpectedly bonds with the young and vibrant Handler Marcus Stephanek, Alex is angry and unwilling to leave the memory of his former Handler behind. He pushes Marcus away and tries to distance himself from their bond. But then a mysterious villain who has been secretly shadowing Alex for years sets his plan in motion. Alex and Marcus must learn to trust their bond and love each other, or risk not only their own lives but the lives of those closest to them


In a world where a bonded pair is rare and if the human dies, the weredog shifter soon follows is the norm, until now. The Guardsmen consist of a human known as the Handler and a weredog known as the Protector. A bonded pair is extremely rare, and with the abilities they possess, the pair are also highly feared. When a weredog Protector loses his bonded mate and doesn’t follow suit it, creates a lot of questions and the length some will go through to find the answers leads the characters in a quest to find answers that ultimately leads them in a fight for their lives.

An investigation gone wrong leaves Alex not just alone but without the other half of his soul. Alex is a Protector. He’s always been unique, and the Guradsman scientists have been poking and prodding him since he was a kid. When he found his bonded mate and Handler, Theo, he fell in love, and that love ran soul deep. Every day after Theo died Alex wanted to follow. Being a Protector without a Handler meant that he was treated as a pariah and most disturbingly, useless. Being a guinea pig for the Guardsmen scientists is all he knows now. When he’s scheduled back at the lab something unexpected happens that leads to an entirely new set of problems that Alex isn’t even remotely interested in dealing with.

Marcus has done everything right his entire life. He has more certifications and qualifications than any other Handler. All he’s ever wanted was to soul bond and finally follow his dreams. At Marcus’s age, most Handlers have already found their mate. As Marcus begins to lose hope of ever finding his Protector, the impossible happens. Marcus knows all about what happened to Alex and Theo, everyone knows. So when a certain smell has him following his nose to the widowed Protector, Alex, he’s in for a world of surprise. Marcus wants Alex, but Alex is still grieving and loathes the idea of Marcus being his Handler. The pain of being rejected takes it toll, and Marcus has to find a way to break through the wall Alex has built around his heart.

This book is insane. In the best way. I absolutely loved it. It was fast-paced and emotionally jarring. I don’t have any nail beds left after reading this. I couldn’t even contemplate putting it down. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. Alex had me crying from the beginning. Poor Marcus had me just as emotionally invested. The plot was gripping, and I was actually surprised at the villain and how deep the deception went. I highly recommend this book. I want more. I need more. This author has made a fan out of me.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Beautiful Boy” by Grace R Duncan

TITLE: Beautiful Boy
AUTHOR: Grace R Duncan
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: BDSM
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 280 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 20, 2015
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Malcolm Tate hung up his flogger when his submissive sought out another Dom and landed in the hands of a serial killer. Convinced his lack of dominance sent his sub away, Mal has spent two years blaming himself for what happened. But when his best friend finally convinces him to go back to the local dungeon, Mal’s grateful. Especially when he wins beautiful, submissive, firmly closeted Kyle Bingham in a charity slave auction.
College grad Kyle hasn’t earned enough to move out of the loft his conservative, homophobic parents bought, much less to buy any of the other things still in their name. When he’s won at auction by the hot, amazing Mal, he’s shocked that anyone would want him. No one else seemed to—not his parents, his former Doms, or any of his disastrous dates.
But Mal does want him and Kyle lets his guard down, only to be outed to his parents. With his world crashing down, he must find a way to trust Mal—and their developing relationship—or risk losing everything.


One Dom out of the game, and a Sub in the closet. When a Dom couldn’t give his sub the pain he wanted, he found it in the hands of a serial killer. After two years of blaming himself for not being the Dom his former sub needed, he’s finally ready to hit the scene again if only to get his friends off his back. What he doesn’t expect to find is a beautiful sub that has him wanting to pick up his flogger, and make the beautiful boy his. A sub in the closet to keep his wealthy family from making him homeless can’t help but want the sexy older Dom. No other Dom has made him fly. After being rejected so many times without any explanation, he starts to doubt that he’ll ever find his perfect Dom let alone the perfect man. Until now.

Malcolm Tate has never doubted himself as a Dom until his former sub died at the hands of a sadistic serial killer. Mal has questioned every decision he’s ever made as a Dom and starts to believe he shouldn’t be one. His charismatic best friend who happens to be a sub finally talks some sense into him, so Mal heads to the dungeon to see if he can finally reconnect with his inner Dom. He didn’t expect to find his future posed beautifully in a cage waiting to be auctioned. Gosh, I loved this part. After one scene Mal knows he’ll never be able to let this sub walk away unless he’s wearing his collar and marks.

Kyle lives in a condo paid for by his wealthy parents. He can’t come out to them as gay in fear of becoming homeless and disowned. All Kyle wants is to find a Dom that won’t reject him and give him what he needs. The Dom that trained him was straight and the Doms that he played with after rejected him after one scene. Why would Mal be any different? Except he is. He not only makes Kyle fly as a sub, he also makes falling for the man a temptation he doesn’t think he can refuse, despite the consequences. He wants the Dom’s collar and the man’s heart. He just has to learn to trust that he’s worthy of both.

I loved this book. The characters were fantastic. Mal, the poor guy, is a swoon-worthy man that had me wanting to kneel saying yes, sir. I love when authors of BDSM show that a Dom can be just as vulnerable as a sub. Kyle growing more confident with the help of Mal throughout the book was some of the most emotional moments for me. I was cheering that cutie on. This was my first book by Grace Duncan, but it certainly won’t be my last.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis