Review: “Ascendent” by Tal Bauer

TITLE: Ascendent
AUTHOR: Tal Bauer
SERIES: Executive Power
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Ron Perry
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 276 pages
RELEASE DATE: Aug 23, 2018
PRICE: $5.99 -e-book

BLURB:

Sasha Andreyev grew up on the wrong side of nowhere, dreaming of starlight as he strangled a secret. He fled, enlisting in the Russian Army, and worked his way up the ranks. Years later, after surviving a beating and being left for dead, he found a new life in Moscow, working with President Sergey Puchkov.
And then, he fell in love.
Desperate to avoid his runaway heart, crippled with a shame that infected his soul, and ravaged by demons haunting his memories, Sasha ran.
But he could never escape Sergey, or the gravitational pull of their love.
Nightmares trail behind his every step and weary ghosts live in the hollow chambers of his soul. He’s spent a lifetime brutally eviscerating the parts of himself he despises, and he’s an empty, shattered shell, struggling to be the man worthy of Sergey’s love.
The pieces of his soul he cut out are the very ones he needs in order to become the man he yearns to be. He’ll need to face himself, and his past, on a journey into the frozen heart of Russia, and into the midnight depths of the dead lands.
Only then can he ascend from the darkness, and be the man Sergey needs at his side.


Ever since I read the blurb of Enemies of State, I knew I had to get my hands on that book. That happened when all three books of the series were out. I knew it would be a good read, but I didn’t know that would discover an amazing author … Tal Bauer.

He has a talent for playing with words, words that you’re connected with and become part of you, installing their meaning deep inside the reader. I fell in love with Ethan from the very beginning. Their story captured thousands and thousands of readers, of whom I wasn’t an exception either.

Reading the series, I first met Sergey, the strong Russian President, who plays games with Jack but later they become close friends. And then Sasha appears and my attention switches from JATHAN (Jack/Ethan) to Sergey and Sasha. They become my favorite couple. I could relate to both of them, maybe because I, myself, grew up under a communist regime, and I knew exactly the deep meaning of their every thought. Honestly, until and unless you had the same experience with a dictatorial government, it’s really hard to identify with some of the things thees two marvelous characters go through.

And now finally I get to read their story. I was anxious at the end of Enemy Within because I didn’t get my fair share of Sasha and Sergey. Later on, I learned that Tal planned to release a book dedicated only to my favorite guys.

Ascendant is very Russian-like literature. If you had the opportunity to read Tolstoy, it would compare on some level with the feeling that this book gives away. The shadow of communism, the always-lacking, the carved out path of the future, to not having the option of choice, it all comes back in the book. The brooding Russian-love, the self-doubt, the not-good-enough.

Sasha suffers. His self-hatred of being gay and his love for Sergey are slowly killing him. The Arctic chill of Siberia freezes his insides and the only source of heat seems to be his sun, Sergey. But that’s not enough. He knows that for him to truly be able to love Sergey, he must find the part of his soul that he buried deep under the ice of Siberia.

Sergey is happy to have Sasha at his side, even though he knows that Sasha must leave again to be trained by NASA and become the future of the Russian space program, the only astronaut. Thier love must remain hidden because the future of Russia depends on it.

This book will make you love Russia. I always had a strange attraction to Russia. The hugeness of her history, culture, and art is ever-present in European culture. We learned it in school, and we talk in private gatherings. Ascendant also touches the Meta of the life. I’m not shocked that Tal talks about it in his book. Russian scientist are very much open for meta-science being that biology or physics. Also, they have a large amount of alternative healers who use bio-energy for curing. I witnessed many causes where these alternative bio-energetic treatment have a positive effect.

The journey of Sasha to find his lost self is amazingly written. Thanks to Tal’s genius-ness, you can really get a real feel of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnicity of Russia, and Tal’s utopian vision—that I deeply share—will put a smile on your face.

 

Spasibo, moy dorogoy Tal’!

***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: “Love and Payne” by Charlie Cochet

TITLE: Love and Payne
AUTHOR: Charlie Cochet
SERIES: THIRDS
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: L.C. Chase
GENRE: Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Sep 4, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 –e-book /$14.99 -paperback

BLURB:

Austen Payne, THIRDS Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta and TIN operative, has seen the worst the world has to offer, faced lethal killers, and helped bring down dangerous organizations. But nothing terrifies him more than falling in love. After years of undercover work, Austen is a master at defending himself and protecting his heart… until he meets Osmond Zachary.
THIRDS Defense Agent Osmond Zachary has a huge, doting family, yet something is missing in his life. After meeting grumpy, foul-mouthed, jittery cheetah Therian Austen Payne, Zach knows exactly what that something—or someone—is. Unfortunately Austen seems determined to avoid Zach at all costs.
When Zach foils an assassination attempt, he ends up in the killer’s crosshairs, and Austen is Zach’s best chance at staying alive. Zach hopes the crisis will bring them closer, but Austen has every intention of walking away as soon as the danger is over.
Happily ever after isn’t for guys like Austen, but Zach is determined to show him it can be….


From the very first time, actually as I remember well, it was in the first book, Zack was one of the characters that I would have liked to know more about.
And after years and years, finally, I got the chance to know not only Zack but Austen too.

If you’ve read the series up until now, you know that Dex likes to torment Zach, the bear THERIAN shifter, by snatching up the last Cheese Doodles, a snack that both Dex and Zack are crazy about.
We didn’t read much about Zack up until now, but we get some glimpses in the other books of the growing “something” between Zack and Austen the TIN agent.

I think when I say that Austen is one of our favorites, I don’t think I exaggerate. We know Austen from the previous books as the mysterious TIN agent who pops up out of nowhere and always at the right time. He’s a resourceful cheetah THERIAN shifter, with a strength that comes from his dedication and his utter cleverness.

What we didn’t know was that Austen kept tabs on Zack, a very detailed tab that is. Austen knows Zack’s family (all ninety-six of them) by name. He knows everything there is to know about Zachary, he just can’t help himself when it comes to Zack. He knows that in his line of work—about what we learn more in this book—being in love and be loved in return, is not an option.

But when Zack’s life is in danger, thanks to his caring, soft heart, Austen does everything in his power to keep the man who means so much to him safe, even if he has to face all of Zachary’s clan one by one.

I loved Zach’s family, their caring for each other. They are close, and there are no secrets. Zach knows that obsessing on Austen will lead him to heartbreak and he decided that he’s going to take as much time as he can to be near Austen, because after all it’s done, Austen will leave, and they will never meet again…as was promised by his Austen.

This is a very good sequel of the series! Angst, love and many funny times thanks to Austen being near to Zack’s family. You will laugh a lot, as we used by now when it comes to THIRDS. And one more thing…I can’t wait for the next book when Austen must manage…Well I shouldn’t say more! Just read the book!

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The Englor Affair” by J.L. Langley

 

TITLE: The Englor Affair
AUTHOR: J.L. Langley
SERIES: Sci-Regency
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: Sci-Fi
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 254 pages
RELEASE DATE: Aug 28, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 –e-book /$16.99 -paperback

BLURB:

A Sci-Regency Novel: sequel to My Fair Captain
Anxious to escape the confines of Regelence society, if only for a little while, Prince Payton Townsend poses as an admiral’s aide to further investigate a dangerous conspiracy. Payton plans only to use his computer skills to help navigate the tangled web of mystery and deceit on planet Englor, then return home, but he finds himself drawn to the charismatic Colonel Simon Hollister.
Simon, however, is no mere soldier—he is heir to the throne of Englor, and his life is meticulously planned to include a bride and heir. Unlike Regelence, the Regency society on Englor disapproves of same-sex relationships, and Payton and Simon’s attraction plays out in a daring secret affair, one Simon never expected would grow into love.
Risking scandal and certain ruin if they are discovered, Payton and Simon uncover more about a common enemy and a deadly plot that imperils both their worlds. But in this game of interplanetary intrigue, love might be the ultimate casualty….


This is the second installment in Sci-Regency series. Actually, this series is a re-read for me, but I couldn’t pass up on the possibility to review this series on OptimuMM as well. So be prepared for the next review of the sequel as well.
I remember the feeling I had when I first read this series. It was soon after I discovered MM. Back then, I was struggling to accept myself openly as a gay man. These books were a big help to overcome the guilt and all the struggle.

Me being a bit conservative romantic-wise and a hopeless romantic also and a bit of sci-fi nerd this series hit home like nothing else. If you were reading the first of the series (and I highly recommend you do) you know already that Regelence is a regency planet were man marries man. I will be honest with you, if that planet had been real, I would be already on my way. I love how young men’s virtues are guarded. We read about this mainly in MF, when the young, noble lady must remain virgin till marriage. In this series, the young lords have the same faith.

Payton aka Lord Plague was raised in the same manner. So when his brother-in-law, the Admiral of the battleship Lady Anna of IN, brings him along as his aid to Englor where they continue to investigate Aiden’s and Jeremy’s kidnapping, he finds himself in scandalous situations. I’ll just tell you one thing …gym locker room…

Englor is not so open for same-sex couples, and by that, I mean they’re quite homophobic. Si, being the next in line to become the king of Englor, must hide his homosexuality. Then he meets Pay, the Admiral’s aide and all his precautions are blown away.

I love this series with all my heart. Pay’s insecurity and Si’s doubtlessness doesn’t seems to get along. I had some difficulty with some parts of the book, because being raised in our society, for me, it seemed that Payton was given a feminine role. But then I schooled myself for being so narrow-minded and I put myself in Payton’s shoes, remembering that Payton was brought up to be a Consort of another man.

I hope you’ll enjoy it as I did!

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Q*pid” by Xavier Mayne

TITLE: Q*pid
AUTHOR: Xavier Mayne
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 282 pages
RELEASE DATE: Aug 28, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 –e-book / $16.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Can a computer program understand love better than the human heart?
Archer, the AI at the dating service Q*pid, realizes humans don’t always make the best choices, so it begins making some unconventional choices for them.
Fox Kincade is the last of his group of friends to be single, so he’s delighted when he discovers a new match in his Q*pid app—one that, according to the new AI wizardry, should be the love of his life. Instead of the woman he’s expecting, he’s paired with Drew Larsen, a shy, somewhat nerdy PhD student who has also grown discouraged with romance.
Drew and Fox have little in common—aside from the fact that they’re both straight. Or so they thought. But as the guys get to know each other, they realize Archer might have the right idea. Their path isn’t smooth, because both need to overcome every idea they have about themselves and what true love might look like. But with the help of Archer—and some friends who have stuck with Fox and Drew through the thick and thin of their relationship trials—they might find their way into each other’s hearts.


We know dating apps, right? In one way or another, they’re just for a quick hook-up or searching for our eternal soul-mate. What? You don’t know? Well then, maybe it’s time for you to give it a try.

Q*pid is a dating service, and Veera is one of its developers. They are ready to launch the new algorithm, an algorithm controlled by Archie, an A.I. developed by Veera. They send out a message for their top users to give Archie a try. But to do that they must give access to their social-media file and facial analysis through their cameras. It’s a high risk for exposure, but our MCs are desperate enough to find their true love, so they accept the terms and conditions and all the privacy settings. Curiously it seems that Archie’s algorithm works just fine, until one Sunday morning, where by accident, he ignores one tiny little fact to consider, and that would be gender preference…

Fox is the ultimate analyst. He has a spreadsheet to rate all his dating. A system with what he eliminates the women he’s not compatible with. After every date, he and his bro-buddy Chad analyse the last night’s events together. Fox is convinced he’s a straight man, who never questioned his sexuality. He has a very clear idea in his mind: to meet the one and marry her.

Drew is writing his Ph.D. and living the life of a poor student. He also had many unsuccessful dates behind him. While he’s checking Q*pid at least 3 times a day, waiting for the big connection, he’s selected to try out the AI of Q*pid, but he ony hesitates few minutes. So imagine his shock when after a few days, he gets a 99.5% match. He’s eager to finally see the woman of his dreams, but that woman turns out to be a man.

This book is an amazing read!!! I couldn’t put it down until I finished it! Maybe the first half of the book is a bit boring, but then things get active. It’s humorous, syrupy-romantic, and full of confusion on the part of the MCs who try to enlarge the horizon when it comes to their sexuality.

The intimate scenes were genuine. Being a man, I know what a real quickie means, and it’s reflected in this book. Maybe some of you will not agree, but my fellow men readers will be able to relate to it.

All in all, it’s a good read! I wouldn’t mind that this would turn into a series, or read a bit more about Fox and Drew!

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Ravensong” by T.J. Klune

TITLE: Ravensong
AUTHOR: T.J. Klune
SERIES: Green Creek
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 400 pages
RELEASE DATE: Jul 31, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $17.99 paperback

BLURB:

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.
It should have been enough.
And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack…and won.
Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.
But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.
Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.


Ravensong…I was waiting so long for this book. I was anxious to read it and a bit afraid because I remember what Wolfsong was doing to me.

When it comes to TJ Klune’s universes, there is not enough words to describe his genious. He handles words to cut right into your feelings. Ravensong is no exception.

Do you remember pinecones and candy canes and epic and awesome? If you are a Klune fan of course you do…

Ravensong continues with the story of Gordon and Mark, one year later to what happened to Ox (if you read Wolfsong, you know what I’m talking about). We learned about Gordo’s childhood, him growing up with the Benetts. After an unfortunate event (no, I’m not telling you that!), he feels betrayed by those he loved. He grows angry with the Benetts but mostly with Mark.
We all know about those stone wolves and what that means when one is given, right? Gordon gives that wolf back to Mark (yes, you will cry like a baby, don’t try to fight it).
The story is from Gordon’s POV. The first part of the book, Klune gives us glances of what went down when the Bennett boys went after the man who took so much from them. But also Gordon’s memories of his childhood. I promise you it’s nothing you don’t want to read in those chapters!

Then we are in the now, where the singing of Mark getting louder and louder, and ignoring it is not an option. His raven screams for its mate.

Than…hunters…omegas…hurts…

I don’t want to spoil the book for you. But I can assure you that this is exactly what you were waiting for! This is the story that kept you anticipating.

Yes, I’m in book hangover. But that’s not new when it comes to TJ Klune is it? While Wolfsong reduced me to a crybaby, well Ravensong did it too, but in this book, the plot was more angsty…and no…this is not the end…

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis