Review: “Holding Out for a Fairy Tale” by AJ Thomas

TITLE: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale
AUTHOR: AJ Thomas
SERIES: Least Likely Partnership
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 09, 2014
PRICE: 6.99 e-book/ 17.99 paperback

BLURB:

When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.
Special Agent Elliot Belkamp spent his entire life jumping from one place to another, but his new assignment assisting a FBI task force offers him a chance to settle down. When Elliot catches a missing person’s case as his first assignment, the last person he expects to find poking around the victim’s dorm room is Ray, a one-time hookup he’s more inclined to punch in the face than kiss hello. After discovering Sophia’s disappearance is linked to a massive computer-based theft that has two powerful crime families ready to declare war, Elliot focuses on his investigation and tries to ignore Ray. As the search for Sophia turns dangerous, Elliot and Ray discover that tackling organized crime might be easier than resisting the urge to tackle each other.


After a late-night hook-up, Ray Delgado gets a visit from his cousin, Alejandro. It’s not exactly a friendly one. Ray’s family makes up one of the major crime syndicates in California. His cousin Alejandro is the new boss. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister before the FBI starts digging too far into the disappearance and the family business. Ray, working alone since his old partner is shacking up with his new boyfriend in Montana, gets more than he’s bargained for when FBI agent Elliot Belkamp shows up at his cousin’s dorm room. Elliot just wants a place to settle down. He’s moved from place to place most of his life and he’s tired. The FBI is investigating a cyber-crime that involves Ray’s cousin, the exact one Ray is searching for.

Ray Delgado is a hard man to love. Heck even like. He has certain expectations and few have ever met them. Coming from a crime family, at work, he knows he has to do things above reproach. He’s torn between the love he still has for the family he was raised around and the job. Ray doesn’t do long-term. In fact, he’s a one-time off kind of guy and doesn’t make apologies. His playboy ways almost lost him his best friend and former partner, and now he’s risking losing his future.

Elliot Belkamp has never stayed in one place for long and now he’s ready to settle down. While Ray is the main character of the story, Elliot has a lot of his own mystery and intrigue going on. He’s a no-nonsense FBI agent. He knows he has this crazy chemistry with Ray, but they didn’t have a favorable experience. Elliot wants Ray but he’s already been burned by the man once before.

This series is fantastic. I had so much fun reading it. The guys have so much depth and the storyline is unique and fast-paced. Ray is complicated and frustrating at times. Elliot is a powerhouse and beautiful man. These two together have a chemistry that just scorched the pages.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “A Casual Weekend Thing” by AJ Thomas

TITLE: A Casual Weekend Thing
AUTHOR: AJ Thomas
SERIES: Least Likely Partnership
PUBLISHER: Dreampinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Mystery/ Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 310 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 13, 2013
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $17.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Doug Heavy Runner left the life of an openly gay Miami police officer and returned to his home on the Salish-Kootenai Indian Reservation when his mother got sick. In the two years since she passed, he’s carved out an empty life as a small-town deputy, relying on out-of-town one-night stands to keep him sane. Then he meets Detective Christopher Hayes, and they share a wild night so incredible Doug breaks his own rule and allows a one-night stand to grow into a weekend of amazing sex.
When Christopher travels from San Diego to Montana to deal with his abusive brother’s suicide, he doesn’t expect to find the man he spent the weekend with to be handling his brother’s case. He certainly doesn’t mind spending more time with Doug—but then an arsonist destroys the house Christopher inherited from his brother, and Christopher and Doug discover they are the primary suspects.
As they investigate, they discover Christopher’s dead brother has set them on the trail of a psychotic pedophile who will stop at nothing to silence his last victim. However, the search for the victim goes horribly wrong, leaving Doug hospitalized and Christopher at the mercy of the killer….


Doug Heavy Runner and Christopher Hayes only intended to spend one night satisfying their libidos. That night turned into a weekend neither of them wanted to end. Real life came calling, and they went their separate ways. When Doug returned back to the small town he reluctantly called home, and where he was also a sheriff’s deputy, things started to quickly spiral out of control. Doug was begrudgingly tasked with escorting a family member of a deceased local man through the coroner’s office. And when he sees the man he spent last weekend in bed with step out of his rental car outside the coroner’s office, he knew his life was fixing to get complicated. Understatement of the century. Soon the two discover that nothing and nobody in the town is quite what they seem. Disturbing truths are fixing to be revealed, and the story is just beginning.

Detective Christopher Hayes has done everything his entire adult life to try and separate himself from his past. Now his past has caught up to him, and the only thing he can do is face it head-on. Getting shot, finding out that his brother died, and then having his partner that he’s secretly been in love with for years kiss him after making it clear that he was straight and would never be interested in Christopher beyond friendship, is just the beginning of this crazy roller coaster. All Christopher wants to do is get away from San Diego and his partner’s betrayal, get his deceased brother squared away and be done. Of course nothing happens like he planned.

Deputy Doug Heavy Runner has spent his life trying to get away from Montana and the bigots in the small town he’s from. When he can longer stay in Miami, he returns to Montana and begins a life he never wanted. Due to the prejudices of the small-town locals, he has to live his life above reproach. He has to hide his sexuality and especially his past. His past is part of why he feels he deserves the lonely and mundane life he’s become accustomed to. Doug is part of a volunteer search and rescue team. Being tasked with the recovery a dead body hanging off the side of a cliff is strange enough but it’s what’s discovered after that that has him questioning everything and everyone.
This is the first book in the series, and I was hooked. This series has everything.

A well thought-out mystery suspense with breath-catching hotness. I was on the edge of my seat for this entire read. The books just get better and better as they continue. This is a must-read.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

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