Tag Archives: Prime’s Reviews

Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony

Shira Anthony - Forgotten Paradise CoverTitle: Forgotten Paradise

Series: Dreamspun Desires 32

Author: Shira Anthony

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (238 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (15 April 2017)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: It’s dangerous diving for secrets.

When a megacompany threatens to take over his family-owned business, programming prodigy Adam Preston escapes the stress with a much-needed vacation in the Dominican Republic. There he meets attractive, intelligent, insightful Jonah James, a scuba dive instructor, and what starts as a holiday fling soon blossoms into much more.

But Jonah has a secret: ten years ago he woke up on an island beach with no idea how he got there… or even who he is. Their paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. When Jonah’s memories come crashing back like waves on the sand, will it be Adam clinging to the proverbial life raft, or will the two men find a safe harbor to ride out the storm?

ISBN: 978-1-63533-203-2

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/forgotten-paradise-by-shira-anthony-8323-b

Reviewer:  Prime

Review: Here I go, picking up the newest Dreamspun Desires and happily getting lost in the contrived soap opera that is what I have come to expect from these stories. Seriously, if you want something a bit more serious and heavy on the sickly sweet love plotlines and not like watching Neighbours or Days of Our Lives, then probably best to stay away. This warning cannot be any more relevant to Forgotten Paradise, which uses the predictable amnesia storyline.

But I get ahead of myself. Our two main players are Adam Preston and Jonah James (or is that his name? Hmm…) Adam runs the family company and programming whiz, he is now dealing with the stress of some massive corporation wanting to overtake the company which he holds so dearly. And so what does Adam do – he’s off on a short break to forget his troubles in the Dominican Republic. On holiday he meets sexy scuba instructor, Jonah James, who is a lot more than a simple dive instructor in paradise. He has no idea about whom or what he is. I won’t say anything else in case I give it away, but seriously, I’d wager that most readers will figure out Jonah’s identity within the first few chapters.

Of the two characters, I found Adam much more than relatable than Jonah. I wonder if it’s because Jonah seems to be in a constant loop of questioning himself and trying to figure out his true identity. For me the set up was to the novel was rather slow. I don’t know if that’s because a rather predictable storyline or if Shira Anthony just explains everything in exceptional detail which I don’t have the attention span for. I found that I had to persevere with the first half of the book and then once the pace picked up I really got into things.

Too Stupid To Live by Anne Tenino ~ Audiobook

Anne Tenino - Too Stupid To Live Cover AudioTitle: Too Stupid To Live

Series:  Romancelandia 01

Author: Anne Tenino

Narrator: Tobias Silversmith

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs 19 mins

Publisher: Riptide Publishing (25th March 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: It isn’t true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His one true love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now – possibly – ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong…can they?

Product Link: Audible US | Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Too Stupid To Live is book 1 in Anne Tenino’s Romancelandia series. The title of the book lends to main character, Sam, being an avid romance fan and can identify all the main characters by their stereotype. Sam just happens to identify with the “Too Stupid To Live” or “TSTL” personality – i.e. the quiet, nice guy who just lets the world pass him by until Mr Right comes along.

Sam wants to find his one and only love, though he has grown up mentally and is not a naïve boy. He is fairly sure he has the strength to say no to the next man that comes into his life who is not willing to make the same commitment as he is. But then at a friend’s party he meets Ian. Ian is the cousin of Sam’s friend. Ian’s been in an accident but he too is ready to start over, which means it’s time to open up to the possibility of a real relationship. These guys are still learning, despite their best efforts in the past. So their romance seems to stop and start every time they see each other. There is also a large bit of “it’s not you, it’s me”.

The narration of this book by Tobias Silversmith is absolutely on point. His voice and tone conveyed Sam to perfection and did a pretty damn good job on Ian as well.

I really found this a difficult listen, even though I listen while on the train or doing my housework. The problem for me was that there were too many filler parts. The set up and execution of the plot lines is great, I love the start and I love the end. But there were just so many times where I sped up the audio so that I get to the next chapter faster. I really am loathed to skip chapters, no matter how tempting it is.

There Has To Be A Reason by Kate McMurray

Kate McMurray - There Has To Be A Reason CoverTitle: There Has to Be a Reason

Author:  Kate McMurray

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

Length: Novel (206 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (9 Jan 2017)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5

Blurb: Dave is enjoying his junior year at a big New England university, even if none of his relationships have been especially satisfying. He plans to hang around with his best friend Joe and focus on his studies until he graduates, and then he’ll figure out the rest. 

Meeting Noel changes his plans.

Noel is strikingly beautiful and unlike anyone Dave knows. Something about Noel draws Dave to him—an attraction Dave doesn’t feel ready to label. And even if he was, why would Noel be interested in Dave? And what about Joe? He hates Noel and everything he represents, and he might hate Dave if he finds out about Dave’s secret desires. So Dave will have to keep those feelings hidden—along with his relationship with Noel.

But Noel has fought too hard for his identity to be Dave’s dirty secret. Will Dave tell the truth and risk the life he’s always known… or live a lie and risk losing the love of his life?

ISBN: 978-1-63533-212-4

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/there-has-to-be-a-reason-by-kate-mcmurray-8010-b

Reviewer: Prime

Review: I usually love reading Kate McMurray’s stories. Her characters are well developed, same with the plot, with a number of likable characters and generally well written. This can all be said about There Has to Be a Reason.

This book is a coming of age story where two students at Western Massachusetts University – Dave and Noel. Noel is out and proud and the type of student that doesn’t choose to particularly stand out from the crowd. Dave, the character narrating the story, thought that he was a straight guy, although he never felt any real attraction to girls. In fact, most of his behavior where girls are concerned appear to be because it is what he thinks his friends and society expect him to do. Then in an English Lit class he reads a book that changes his life. It makes him wonder about the strange feelings he had tried to brush to the side when he met fellow student, Noel.

This is a wonderfully sweet coming of age story, with a set of good characters and a lot of well meaning friends who are totally realistic for their ages. The only issue have is the angst. I am not a fan of angst, even in young adult stories. So if you’re like me, I don’t recommend straight out staying away from the story, but instead I recommend going in with an open mind because the characters and the plot are what make this story beautiful.

Dating in Retrospect by Lila Leigh Hunter

Lila Leigh Hunter - Dating In Retrospect CoverTitle: Dating in Retrospect

Series: States of Love 15: Iowa

Author: Lila Leigh Hunter

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (107 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (15 Feb 2017)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Giving the commencement speech at his alma mater doesn’t fit Clay Keller’s meticulous schedule. As Chief Executive Officer of Travel Mogul—the largest travel connoisseur company on the West Coast—he has no time to get back in touch with his country roots. He left fifteen years ago without a second look, but a medical scare makes him change his mind about the speech and brings him face-to-face with his only regret.

Time always moves slower in Southeastern Iowa, and Aaron Grant loves it. He’s added solar farms to the Grant Lanes portfolio and has been teaching at the local university for a decade. The last thing he needs is to have his tenure application compromised by the return of his ex-boyfriend. If he had known who the commencement speaker would be, he would never have volunteered to be the administration liaison.

A proposal—to date for a year—will help them discover that time changes a person, even when everything else stays the same.

ISBN: 978-1-63533-305-3

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dating-in-retrospect-by-lila-leigh-hunter-8137-b

Reviewer:  Prime

Review: Dating in Retrospect is a completely charming tale of two men that were together as young men, only to be split apart by time (and the usual miscommunication and asshole moves by one or both of the men). Now Clay Keller has a way to fix things with the one person that he has loved, Aaron Grant. Clay left after college for the big city, where he knew that his chance to find the perfect job would be. Unlike Clay, Grant stayed in their small Iowa town hometown where he teaches at the local college (he has a PhD) and works on the family farm.

It all starts when Clay accepts to give the speech at graduation at his alma mater, where he is literally thrown together with his ex. Clay sees his opportunity and takes it – he proposes to date Aaron for a year. He is certain that they should be together, whereas Aaron is much more skeptical. It’s a really simple set up. As the story moves along we learn things about the men when they were younger, as well as finding out about the men that they have grown into.

In essence, this novel is the novel of Clay’s redemption. He’s a guy who has it all, except for the love of his life. Let’s face it; it was his selfishness that ended the relationship years back when he moved to LA. When Aaron made the only decision he could – stay in Iowa to help his dad with the farm – Clay ignored Aaron’s efforts to keep in contact. He really needed to grow up and face up to his mistakes. Whereas Aaron is the good son, the one who stayed behind and found his maturity years ahead of the man he loves.

Love in the Time of Hurricanes by C.C. Bridges

C.C. Bridges - Love In The Time of Hurricanes Cover sTitle: Love in the Time of Hurricanes

Series: States of Love 17: New Jersey

Author: CC Bridges

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (87 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (8 Mar 2017)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.

When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.

ISBN: 978-1-63533-333-6

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/love-in-the-time-of-hurricanes-by-cc-bridges-8262-b

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Love in the Time of Hurricanes is part of Dreamspinner Press’ States of Love series. It’s fairly obvious from the title that this one (and predictable if you haven’t read the blurb yet) that we are looking at New Jersey around the time of Hurricane Sandy (though I suppose it could have been New Orleans during Katrina, whatever).

This is a charming tale of two young men and in some ways I think of this as something of a coming to age story. The story is largely narrated by main character Nick Henderson. He moved to New Jersey to get away from his family and the degree that he didn’t enjoy at Rutger’s University. He is getting weary from living up to his parent’s expectations – specifically his father’s. So he goes to Jersey, rents a friend’s place and enrolls in to classes that he would enjoy at the nearby Shore Community College. Clearly he comes from some money, so at first it comes across as Nick’s attempt at rebellion – but Nick is so damn sweet and adorable and lovable that you cannot help but cheer him on and sigh over his crush for the local pizza guy.

Lou Martelli works at the family pizzeria on the Jersey Shore. He’s a sweet guy from a traditional Italian family. The stereotype of all that entails makes life or Lou difficult. Then Hurricane Sandy arrives and things just got even more complicated for the pair. Ultimately, though, these guys share one common problem – they are both too scared to face up to their high handed fathers.

Micah Johnson Goes West by Sean Kennedy

Sean Kennedy - Micah Johnson Goes West CoverTitle:  Micah Johnson Goes West

Series: Get Out 02

Author: Sean Kennedy

Genre: Contemporary, Young adult, Sports

Length: Novel (186 pages)

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (Dreamspinner Press) (4 April 2017)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Micah Johnson is living two separate lives. On the field he’s making a name for himself as a rookie with the AFL football team the Fremantle Dockers—at just eighteen. But when he steps off the field, Micah is a mess: confused, away from home for the first time, and feeling isolated from family and friends three thousand kilometres away. The foster family he’s staying with is nice, but Micah isn’t ready to open up to them about what he’s going through. Distracting himself with hookups and partying seems like a good idea until a friend’s life is changed by misfortune and Micah’s own health is threatened by his behavior. Micah knows he has to make a change, that he can’t do it alone, and that maybe there’s no shame in reaching out to others. 

ISBN: 978-1-63533-364-0

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/micah-johnson-goes-west-by-sean-kennedy-8209-b

Reviewer:  Prime

Review: I’m just putting it out there – I love reading anything by Sean Kennedy and I especially love reading anything in the Tigers and Devils, and the related series Get Out (which this title is part of). However, something important to note is that the Get Out series needs to be read in order, starting with The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson. I will admit that I have a particular soft spot for this series because I love reading sports books with sportsmen who are out of the closet. The fact that this series, like Tigers and Devils, is set in Australia and as an Aussie this is just way too many levels of awesome.

Micah Johnson Goes West picks at where we left off. Micah was a troubled teen who was helped by a program run by an ex-football (AFL) player who was outed towards the end of his playing career (See Tigers and Devils, though not necessary to read to understand). He is mostly reformed but since being drafted into the AFL and having to move from Melbourne to Perth is difficult for him to cope. He tries not to depend on his now ex boyfriend as an anchor to sanity, but that only leads him down a path of self destruction once more until he gets to know his roommate/team foster family Sam and Dane. Micah is struggling as the first openly gay footy player but he is still on the path of “growing up” and becoming the football player he wants to be.

This book strikes me on a number of levels. 1) As I said, I’m Aussie and I love the fact there is stories being written about gay men in football, it’s something that we need in real life. 2) I totally relate to Micah’s difficulty in moving from Melbourne to Perth since I made the move in the opposite direction between Adelaide and Sydney for work. And 3) It reminds me of something cool that hasn’t been overly talked about (I wonder if it’s because it’s about 2 women and not 2 men, whatever). Ok, so a bit of back story, in Australia this year was the first year that the women’s AFL was played at a professional level. The Co-captain of the Adelaide Crows – who won the grand final just the other week – is a woman who started her professional career playing state and national level basketball. She also happens to have a wife, who she married in the States, and adorable twins who were pictured seated in the AFLW grand final trophy with their sporty mama.

One other thing I love about this book – it almost has a soundtrack, with the song by the Village People, Go West – although to me it is was the version by Pet Shop Boys which was popular during my childhood. The themes of the song, as stated by Micah’s ex, perfectly sum up the themes surrounding Micah’s life. I love the concept of books having soundtracks, although I often construct my own playlists and often use Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Pete Murray songs for romances.

So in short – this is one fantastically written and totally down to earth, coming of age in professional sport in the world of the Australian Football League. I love Sean Kennedy’s wit and humor and the development of the characters so far have me looking forward to more.

Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

Bru Baker - Tall, Dark, and Deported CoverTitle:  Tall, Dark and Deported

Series: Dreamspun Desires 31

Author: Bru Baker

Genre: Contemporary

Length:  Novel (236 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (1 April 2017)

Heat Level:  Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts

Blurb: Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

ISBN: 978-1-63477-684-4

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/tall-dark-and-deported-by-bru-baker-8257-b

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Get ready to suspend your disbelief for Bru Baker’s contribution to Dreamspinner Press’s Dreamspun Desires series. The title of the book, Tall, Dark and Deported, gives you most of the information that you need to know about the type of story you’re about to read – so if you keep on going despite being deterred by the title then it’s your own fault! 😉

What you see is definitely what you get with the blurb. We got one hot South American (sorry, can’t think of his country of origin from the top of my head) side-eyes Prime *cough* Portugal, so European ~Pixie~), Mateus. He’s done something rather silly and used the internet to get answers about how to “reset” his visa. He wants to stay with his brother and sister in law longer now that they are setting up their own orchard and his sister in law is about to have a baby. He’s excited about being an uncle and wants to be there. That’s why, at the airport, he meets Crawfard. Crawford is a businessman and after meeting Mateus, he is willing to help the guy, which of course means marriage!

Despite being a predictable plot, this is totally enjoyable as way as to just lose yourself. As I said in the opening sentence, you will need to suspend your disbelief but that don’t let that deter you from the sweet romance (well, insta-love romance) that unfolds between the two men.

Diary Dates by T.J. Masters

T.J. Masters - Diary Dates Cover sTitle: Diary Dates

Author: TJ Masters

Genre: Contemporary, May-September

Length: Novella (52 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (23 July 2016)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4 Hearts

Blurb: Postgraduate student Andrew Chin arrives in London not only to study, but to explore life away from his traditional family in Singapore. His adventure begins at the airport, where he finds the diary of a wealthy British businessman and endeavors to return it.

James Howard is twice Andrew’s age, and he’s not used to selfless youngsters. Despite a rocky first meeting, the two develop an unlikely friendship as James introduces Andrew to the city. James is looking forward to the festivities leading up to Christmas in London and maybe a celebration with Andrew. But will a nasty bout of the flu ruin their romantic holiday?

Not if Andrew has anything to say about it.

ISBN: 978-1-63477-031-3

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/diary-dates-by-tj-masters-7305-b

Reviewer: Prime

Review: This is a lovely, sweet story by TJ Masters which rests on the simple premise of a misplaced diary in a busy airport. I can’t recall reading anything by the author before, so like I do with any new author I like to go in with an open mind and no expectations.

The story itself was enjoyable and fun but there was something missing which didn’t reach out and grab me while I was reading. The story follows Andrew Chin, he’s moved to London from Singapore to complete his Masters degree. Barely stepping foot in the airport, Andrew finds a lost diary and when he returns the diary he meets the owner, older businessman James Howard.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, I think the only barrier to your enjoyment is two things 1) no real drama or event to develop the plot or the characters, and 2) you need to be on board with reading a love story between a 20-something and a 40-something.

Like A Love Story by Frey Ortega

Frey Ortega - Like A Love Story CoverTitle: Like A Love Story

Series: Camden Cove 01

Author: Frey Ortega

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (39K words)

Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand (26th January 2017)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Seth Stanford has had a pretty easy life for the past quarter of a century. But he’s never quite fallen out of love with Hunter Rodriguez, his first crush—and his older brother’s best friend.

Seth isn’t idealizing a picture-perfect version of Hunter in his head. Seth knows all about the pros and cons of dating Hunter. But all of that changes when, one day, Hunter asks him out.

Maybe it has to do with the people around them meddling in their love life. Maybe it was Fate.

Seth just knows that whatever is happening between him and Hunter feels too much like a love story, and he’s just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The fact is, this all feels just a little bit too fast and too much for him, and he doesn’t know what to do.

Will he accept his happily ever after, or will Seth’s worrying ruin his chance at happiness? 

ISBN: 978-1-68295-821-6

Product Link: http://www.bookstrand.com/book/like-a-love-story

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Like A Love Story is a super sweet story that would have you going into a diabetic coma – and totally the type of sappy story that I love to read. Number one, Frey Ortega is a go-to on my Siren Publishing authors list. I like the writing – the style and the pace of all the author’s books is definitely an attraction. However, secondly, and most importantly this is the type of story which has a massive draw to me because I can’t resist a love story between a guy and his brother’s best friend, who in this case had left their small town home.

The story is about Seth Standford. His life appears to be in a bit of a slump, though he doesn’t see it that way. Seth lives in his parent’s basement playing games in his spare time. He’s become a bit of a hermit, something that everyone around him worries about more than himself. Seth enjoys his online friends and his family is enough contact he needs at the moment. But then he hears the news that his secret crush – Hunter Rodriguez – his brother’s best friend, is coming back to visit their small town of Camden Cove.

The Standford’s and the Rodriguez’s seem to be well to do upper crust of the local society, and add in the fact that Seth’s brother is the mayor, it’s the start of a clique group. When Seth’s brother is sent to hospital after being hit by a drunk driver, this clique gets planning when they discover that Seth doesn’t hate Hunter, but likes him. When Hunter does return he doesn’t need much pushing in Seth’s direction – at first it felt a bit shallow but it does quickly develop into something more.

There is a small dose of drama, which I have to admit that I saw coming a mile away. Nonetheless, it gave the story the little bit of a kick it needed to get Seth and Hunter to the end of HEA. Seriously can’t wait for the next installment! Here’s me hoping to read the story of Seth’s brother (the town mayor) and Hunter’s boss (a millionaire looking to invest in the town).

Where We Belong by Tia Fielding

tia-fielding-where-we-belong-cover-sTitle: Where We Belong

Series: States of Love 09: Colorado

Author: Tia Fielding

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (77 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (30 Nov 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: It all starts at a concert at the Red Rock Amphitheater in 2004. Blake just finished high school, Dusty is a college sophomore, and as soon as they meet, they know—they belong together. With Blake living in Nebraska and Dusty in Colorado, distance does its best to keep them apart.

For two years, it succeeds.

Then Blake flees his bigoted—and even dangerous—hometown.

Two years later, Blake and Dusty are getting their lives off the ground, with Blake trying to grow his computer repair business and Dusty working with kindergarteners. Dusty thinks there’s room in their hearts and their lives for their family to grow… he just has to figure out how to express that to Blake.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

ISBN: 978-1-63477-797-1

Product Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/where-we-belong-by-tia-fielding-7833-b

Reviewer:  Prime

Review: Where We Belong is a sweet romance between two guys, spanning over 12 years – starting from the moment when the two MCs first meet at an Incubus concert. From memory I’ve enjoyed the sweetness and cuteness of Tia Fielding’s writing, and so I was looking forward to reading this novella. Luckily, I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the straight forward manner in which the story was written. We get the POV of both MCs at key points in their relationship – sharp and to the point, just how I like my stories.

The story is about couple Dusty and Blake. They met at an Incubus concert in Colorado, which they were attending with their respective female BFFs. From this first meeting romance blossoms and we start the journey which spans 12 years starts. These guys are down to earth and totally relatable, which I think is the key to my enjoyment of the story.

As the Incubus song (and the only one I know from the top of my head), Drive says: “So whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, with open arms and open eyes.”That seems to describe the story pretty damn well.

Sinders and Ash by Tara Lain ~ Audiobook

Tara Lain - Sinders and Ash Cover AudioTitle: Sinders and Ash

Series:  Pennymaker Tales 1

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Kale Williams

Genre: Contemporary, Urban Fantasy

Length: 4 hrs, 52 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (29th February 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Housekeeper Mark Sintorella (Sinders) works diligently at a resort hotel while designing clothes anonymously, hoping to get into fashion school. Then his carefully planned life is upended with the arrival of Ashton Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America – and the most beautiful guy Mark has ever seen. Ash must find a wife or he’ll lose his grandfather’s inheritance, and he settles on Bitsy Fanderel. But secretly Ash is gay, and the guy who cleans the fireplaces sets his heart ablaze.

Further stirring the pot is the little elf of a man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who has Mark wearing his own designs and masquerading as a girl to impress the fashion investors in the hotel. When the clock strikes 12, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding – but one isn’t a woman. Will the slipper fit? Only Mr. Pennymaker knows for sure.

Product Link: Audible US |  Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Sinders and Ash is, as you can tell from the title, a modern reimagining of the Cinderella. I was totally and completely charmed by this story. I loved it all, from the actual storyline, to the characters and the excellent narration by Kale Williams, who brought every emotion to life fantastically.

Mark Sintorella (Sinders) is a poor housekeeper who does his best to keep his head down and not make any waves at the resort he works at. He’s had a hard life mainly because he was rejected by his family for being gay. Now at the resort his bosses are not kind to him, a sleazy cook constantly hits on him and other workers who whisper words about him behind his back. Everything changes for him when he meets mysterious guest, Carstairs Pennymaker, which also happens to be the day that he meets the son of one of the richest men in the country, Ashton Armitage.

I suppose there are a number of aspects of this story which force you to suspend your disbelief for the entirety of the book. I think the biggest one for me to wrap my head around was Mark’s continuing to appaear as a female when dressing in the clothes he makes – which are, like in any fairytale, are runway worthy, I think. I think it just got to the point where at the end I was thinking “why?”

All in all, I loved this fairytale of poor boy meets rich boy and they fall in love. Carstairs Pennymaker, the whimsical elven guy (seriously, wtf is he??) is as lovable as the two main characters. A real satisfying read and I can’t wait to get to book 2!

Driven Snow by Tara Lain ~ Audiobook

Tara Lain - Driven Snow Cover AudioTitle: Driven Snow

Series:  Pennymaker Tales 2

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: Kale Williams

Genre: Contemporary, Urban Fantasy

Length: 6 hr, 45 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (23rd June 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Young Snowden “Snow” Reynaldi is brilliant, beautiful, and alone. Though he’s shy, weird, and tolerated by the NorCal University students because he’s a renowned whiz at chess and helps put the school on the map, that doesn’t keep him from dreaming of the object of his desires: Riley Prince, championship quarterback.

When Riley needs a physics tutor, Snow jumps at the chance, and their relationship heats up – but Riley has to come out of the jock closet to get anywhere. Meanwhile, Snow’s one true friend and mentor, Professor Kingsley, marries a woman who secretly wants the chess tournament glory and money for herself. Soon after, the professor collapses and Snow finds himself underwater – literally. In a car!

Seven frat brothers from Grimm College rescue Snow just in time for his life to get even worse, and Snow discovers the one relationship he always wanted slipping away. With evil looming at every turn, Snow must survive if only to prove he’s the fairest of them all and regain the trust of his handsome prince.

Product Link: Audible US |  Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Everything about Driven Snow is absolutely awesome! This is a reimagining of the Snow White fairytale, so luckily you don’t need to read book 1 (based on Cinderella) to get all the characters. Once again the narration by Kale Williams just tops off a most wonderful and whimsical tale which takes us into the world of college and grand chess masters.

Snowden Reynaldi, aka Snow, is a champion chess player and a feather in the cap to his college because he is basically unbeatable. He’s shy and super smart and basically the type of nerd everyone can love, especially if you can relate to him. His Prince Charming is the popular jock, Riley Prince. The problem being for any romance is that Riley is deep inside the closet. With a beloved teacher/chess mentor/father figure in addition to a conniving witch who doesn’t want Snow to succeed at the chess championships, all our players are in place.

Well most of them – after all the traditional story is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. I have to admit, I was really curious about how this part was going to play out, although the blurb does tell us it’s seven frat brothers from nearby Grimm College but that was only enough information to pique my curiosity. Plus, you know, that whole glass coffin thing – I was really wondering if there was more to that too than we see in the blurb. I have to say that I loved the frat guys, they were all funny and at one point they definitely had more brains than Prince Charming!

Of course being a Pennymaker tale, I was looking forward to the appearance of the fairy godfather elven man himself (I still don’t know what he is). He isn’t in the story as much as I would have liked but he definitely has a helper in the guise of Riley’s friendly neighbor, a kind old lady who is something of a fairy godmother. And now I want to get into book 3 because I am totally charmed by the worlds that Tara Lain has woven using the modern world and fairytales!

My Hometown by S.J.D. Peterson ~ Audiobook

S.J.D. Peterson - My Hometown Cover AudioTitle: My Hometown

Author: SJD Peterson

Narrator: Ronald Ray Strickland

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs, 14 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (11th July 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4 Hearts

Blurb: Jimmy Brink and Eric Halter grew up together in a small country town. While Eric has always been content with life as a rancher, Jimmy wanted more and moved to Chicago early on to pursue a medical career.

Life has a way of coming back around. When Jimmy’s parents decide to retire in Florida, Jimmy returns to his hometown to finish his residency at a local hospital. Flamboyant boyfriend Oliver in tow, Jimmy bumps into his old friend. Eric quickly takes a disliking to Oliver, though, and for good reason. Oliver proves he’s not only self-centered but also a cheater.

To complicate matters, Eric finds it more and more difficult to hide his attraction to his best friend. When the opportunity arises, he needs to decide whether to risk their friendship to pursue his feelings, but maybe Jimmy will see there’s more for him now than ever before in his hometown.

Product Link: Audible US |  Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: My Hometown is your usual Gay-for-you type trope, right down to two childhood besties harboring lifelong crushes on each other but never able to admit the truth to each other. In all honesty, the only reason I didn’t rate this one a 5/5 was because I found that aspect a little too tiring at times and I just wanted the guys to get a move on.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

The two best friends in question are Jimmy and Eric. They grew up in a small town, working on their parents’ farms, but once they finished high school, Jimmy went off into the big bad city where he studied to become a doctor. That was when things started to go bad for their friendship. Jimmy is a bit of a lazy friend, as in he is hopeless in keeping in contact with Eric, though Eric could have also tried as well (but that’s beside the point).

But then Jimmy moves back to take over management of his family’s farm when his parents retire. He doesn’t plan on taking over operations completely as he will be there to manage things while also completing his residency at the local hospital. So, what we got essentially is 2 best friends that love each other and a rift that is only made worse by Jimmy’s cheating (for lack of a better word) boyfriend.

That’s the bare bones of the story. As I said, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from this type of story. Its fun and I liked the country twang that the narrator uses, I got no idea if the accent is accurate but I loved it and thought that it was perfectly charming.

Scenes from Adelaide Road by Helena Stone

Helena Stone - Scenes From Adelaide Road CoverTitle: Scenes from Adelaide Road

Author: Helena Stone

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (164 pages)

Publisher: Pride Publishing (1 Dec 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4 Hearts

Blurb: Can a young man find the courage he never knew he had when faced with losing everything he holds dear?

A few months before his final exams in secondary school, nineteen-year-old Lennart Kelly discovers he’s inherited a house on Adelaide Road in Dublin from a grandfather he never knew. Having been ignored, bullied and abused for as long as he can remember, Lennart can’t wait to leave behind his father and the small town he grew up in. Moving away as soon as he finishes his exams doesn’t cure his deep-rooted insecurities though.

Meeting twenty-three-year-old Aidan Cassidy in a gay club on his second night in Dublin, scares Lennart. Used to being ignored and ridiculed, he doesn’t trust the attention he receives and can’t believe a man like Aidan could possibly be interested in him. It takes infinite patience and understanding from Aidan to slowly coax Lennart out of his shell.

But the past refuses to stay where it belongs and Lennart’s father is determined to take the house in Dublin off his son by whatever means necessary. Just when Lennart is learning to trust and embrace life, a violent attack threatens everything he holds dear. Suddenly Lennart is in danger of losing his house, the man he’s grown to love and maybe even his life. If Lennart wants to protect Aidan and safeguard his future, he’ll have to find the courage he never knew he had.

ISBN: 978-1-78430-867-4

Product Link: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/scenes-from-adelaide-road

Reviewer: Prime

Review: I have to admit, I was a little shallow when it came to actually choosing to read this book – I chose it because I live in Adelaide and if I can’t read about my own city I can at least read about a road that goes by the same name in Dublin. That aside, Scenes from Adelaide Road is a fantastic book that is really a coming of age for a couple of Irish lads who are trying to break free from their pasts and make their way in the world.

Lennart is from the West Country and moves to Dublin after finding out that he inherited a house from a grandfather he had never known was alive. He grows up the victim of bullies and no matter how much he tried to blend in, he was always a target. With only his father left to raise him, the man makes no effort to hide the fact that he hates his own son and expects Lennart to fail at everything. After only a couple days in Dublin, Lennart plucks up the courage to go to a gay bar where he meets Aidan. Aidan’s upbringing has been completely opposite. While he has been the victim of some bullying he has a loving and supporting family who would do anything for them.

Out of home and living together in Lennart’s inherited house, there is an element of self discovery. In addition to learning about each other and exploring a relationship, they also learn about the grandfather that Lennart had never been able to meet because of his selfish and horrible father. In some ways Lennart’s grandfather is the heart of the story and the heart of the drama, because Lennart’s father comes back in his life in a really horrible way. I love the attraction between the guys and the development of the characters, especially Lennart who learns to stand up for himself.

This is the type of story that appeals to many types. Although, almost in the realm of young adult it does not feel like one, instead this more about breaking free of the horrors of bullying and learning to stand up for yourself. Lennart is a strong character that I think is universally relatable and very appealing despite being so broken.

Lovers, Losers and You by Skylar M. Cates ~ Audiobook

Skylar M. Cates - Lovers, Losers and You Cover AudioTitle: Lovers, Losers and You

Series:  Sunshine and Happiness 2

Author: Skylar M Cates

Narrator: Hugh Bradley

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 8hrs, 7 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (12th September 2016)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: How can you lose one dream and still find another?

Owen King is a lonely history teacher who wants to be braver. So when Owen learns about the deceased brother he never met, he breaks free of his safety net and risks answers. Despite his loving, adopted family, Owen wonders if there are missing pieces inside of him. Visiting the seaside town of Ocean Vista, where his brother lived and died, will be no vacation.

Andrew Teagan wants to be a winner. After being dumped by his last boyfriend, Andrew is through letting others dictate his life. To prove that dreams are possible, he’s going after his ambitions full force. Having signed on for a cooking reality show, Andrew’s ready to make his small café into a sizzling success.

When Andrew aids Owen on the beach, what starts off as an act of kindness turns into a hot temptation. But can a sweet budding romance survive when the time comes for Owen to leave town? Both men must learn to trust each other if their love will conquer the miles between them.

Product Link: Audible US | Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: Lovers, Losers and You is the second book in Skylar M Cates Sunshine and Happiness. You don’t need to have prior knowledge or to have read/heard the first book, but if you have all power to you. If you haven’t, like me you probably want to go back as well as going forward to the third book. Which taking into mind that this is also the first book I’ve read by Cates, then I am quite happy to recommend this book and author – as well as being totally keen on seeing more.

The story itself is really one that tugs at the heart strings.

Owen King is lonely, mostly because the prestigious school where he teaches history – the very same school he attended as a child – means that he can’t have anything more than the random hook up with a strange man. He’s also the adopted son of a famous ex-baseball player and his sporty wife, but despite the unconditional love he has wanted to know about his biological family.

Unfortunately, he never knew about his brother until his brother’s untimely death. After constant communication with one of his brother’s friends, he finally makes the decision to go to Ocean Vista, where his brother had lived to find out more. It’s a difficult journey, for him and his adoptive parents, who have their hands full with his handicapped adopted sister. It’s complicated I know, but this is a superbly written book with a lot of depth to plot and characters.

In his quest to learn more about his brother and live in the house with the same friends his brother lived with, we meet Andrew. He’s also lonely in his own way and shoulders the burden of being the grown up for his younger half brother and sister, as well as his emotionally needy mother. But he also takes pride in the café which he owns and runs in Ocean Vista. He moved into the house where Owen’s brother had lived after another housemate had left to be with his boyfriend (the plot of book 1). Now he has entered a reality TV show contest in an attempt to make money to expand his café more. He wants to show his siblings that dreams are possible. It is he meets Owen he is the only one able to see him for himself, not as the replacement of a dead man.

I really love these two guys together. Andrew and Owen make a wonderful couple and it just so easy to not only relate to them but to also empathize with them. Not only that, there are so many details that come from all the minor characters in the house. This is a group of friends whose story are told through tragedy. One got his HEA, we are reading the current HEA and there is the couple of book 3 (Mark and Tomas).