Category Archives: Ariel

TWO 5 Star Reviews for Deck the Dire Wolves (Dire Pack Reborn #2) by Stephani Hecht #MM #Paranormal

1.5

Title: Deck the Dire Wolves (Dire Pack Reborn #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Stephani Hecht (MLR Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 4, 2015 – 64 pgs

Synopsis

Love is like the flower you’ve got to let grow-John Lennon.

Already reeling from being forced to flee his old home town, the last thing that Dire Wolf Clark needs is to find himself attracted to his new Alpha, Bishop. More surprising, is that Bishop seems to return Clark’s feelings. However, Clark has been hurt in the past and the last thing he needs is to find himself in another relationship. So, Clark withdraws and rebuffs Bishop. The last thing Clark expects is for Bishop to continue his chase of the Omega. Will Clark be able to let go and trust again or is he doomed to be alone forever?

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Review

FiveStars

Clark was hurt very badly by his pack for being gay. His cousin helps him escape and they end up in a new pack which is where he meets Bishop and there is a instant attraction between these two men. Which is the last thing Clark wants right now..

I loved the way this author wrote these characters and this story! There was a lot of action in this story along with some sweet too.

Being that this was such a short story and I really do not want to spoil this book for anyone I will leave this review with…. I really loved this holiday novella and would recommend it!

Kara

FiveStars

I love Stephani Hecht.  She’s one of my favorite authors and all her books are great. This one is another one to add to my list of favorites.

Clark is a really great character. He has a sad beginning but he pulls through. You automatically start rooting for Clark, to come out on top after his ordeal. I loved his strength of determination to stand back on his own two feet. His sense of humor comes out even under such dire circumstances. I really liked Clark.

The Alpha, Bishop, is an alpha who rules with his heart. I instantly grew to like Bishop and could immediately tell that he’s a good alpha. He also takes care of his brothers who we are introduced to. From our introduction we can tell they are a real handful. Poor Bishop.

The ending was action packed and great. I loved it. I’m not going to say any more about it cause I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. But it was awesome.

I highly recommend this story. If you like wolf shifter stories with an alpha who is full of heart and love and who finds his mate then you will love this one.

Ariel

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THREE 4 and 3.5 Stars for A Gentle Kind of Strength by Kendall McKenna #MM #Romance @MLRPress

1.5

Title: A Gentle Kind of Strength
Author Name & Publisher: Kendall McKenna (MLR Press)
Publication Date & Length: November 5, 2015 – 286 pgs

Synopsis

A police K9 handler believes he’s lucky when a romance starts with the local veterinarian, but then his canine partner is injured in the line of duty.

Sergeant Ray Lerner is a veteran sheriff’s department K9 handler. Damien Federov is the veterinarian caring for Harley – Ray’s canine partner. When taking a man as a lover, Ray’s always been confident. Around Damien, Ray becomes uncharacteristically shy and tongue-tied. When Damien begins their romance, Ray knows he’s lucky.

His obsession with a past tragedy blinds Ray to everything he has with Damien. When Harley is injured on duty, his life is in Damien’s hands. As Ray sits vigil, he has one final chance to allow Damien in all the way, or risk losing everything important, in a single night.

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Review

FourStars

So with this book you get Ray who is a K-9 handler for the sheriff’s department. He has a crush on the vet who looks after his German Shepard partner.

Damien is the vet that treats Ray’s dog Harley and who Ray has feelings for but will not admit to them due to what happened to him in the past.

This was definitely a slow burn.. Maybe a little too much for me. There were parts that sort of dragged for me and had me wishing they would just admit how they felt about each other already. But when they do they are just so good together I ended up loving them as a couple!
I did love the authors pretense of this story and the characters she wrote in this book! You get the sweet and steam with this book but not much angst.

So all together I really liked this book!
I would recommend this book!

~Kara

FourStars

This was a good book. As an animal lover, having a dog as a central character was one of the items that drew me in to this story.

I loved the plot line of the K9 Handler for the Sheriff’s Dept. and the vet meeting over the dog. It was very sweet. The sheriff, so big and burly, being so scared and insecure was very touching.

The only issue for me, was not enough dialogue and interaction between the characters and too much explanation. I feel communication is key in a relationship, so dialogue, for me, is significant. Otherwise, the story was really good.

I would recommend this book for animal lovers, dog lovers, and law enforcement lovers of m/m stories.

Ariel

ThreeandHalfStars

While I can appreciate the sentiment in this story, I felt that something was missing.  I have not read McKenna before, so I didn’t really have any expectations going in.

This was a gentle story about loss, strength and a little bit of love thrown in, but mostly, this book was about the training that goes in to a dog certification for police and military pups.

The main characters Ray and Damien were somewhat clueless when it came to the signals they both thought they were giving off, so right away, there was miscommunication.  Then, as they figured out that they were attracted to each other, their romance was just kind of ho-hum.  Nothing gave off a great burst of chemistry or lust – it was kind of a dry romance.

The conflict in the story was hard to take, but in the end, I felt that it and the competition overpowered what I thought would be a love story.  The love aspect was not bad, just not overly well done.

AvidReader

 FourStars

I enjoyed this book. I’ve read a few books by this author and always found them to be an easy read. The writing style makes it easy. I never completely connected with Ray or Damien but absolutely love Harley. What can I say I love dogs, lol. This book was basically a sweet romance, which is not what I expect from Kendall McKenna, but I do love a sweet romance. Overall this book was good and I enjoyed it I just didn’t love it.

~Lynn

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5 and 3 Stars for The Unicorn Said Yes by T.A. Chase #MM #Paranormal

1.5

Title: The Unicorn Said Yes
Author Name & Publisher: T.A. Chase (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: December 29, 2015 – 64 pgs

Synopsis

When an innocent human virgin meets the king of the unicorn herd, it’s not just legends that come true.

Ivan Brusilov goes to Unconventional to get a drink and let off some steam. Little does he realize he’ll be meeting his destiny when he walks in.

Carney Ferguson goes to the paranormal bar to celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday. Maybe he’s looking for some fun as well, considering he’s still a virgin. He doesn’t like admitting it, but when he meets Ivan, he discovers that being a virgin can bring opportunities that being experienced might not.

As the unicorn king and the virgin begin to fall in love, there are darker forces working behind the scenes to take advantage of the unicorn legends for their own evil purpose. Neither Ivan nor Carney are safe alone, but together, they just might be strong enough to keep Ivan alive.

Publisher’s Note: This book has been previously released as part of the Unconventional in San Diego anthology by Pride Publishing.

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Review

FiveStars

I loved this book. I couldn’t stop reading it, but I did have to go to bed at some time.

I’ve read a lot of shifter books, but never one with a unicorn. That was a brilliant idea from the author. This was a sweet and action-packed story. Can both be in one book? The author proves that it can.

The story starts out with the sweet. The main characters meet in a bar which Carney has no business being in since he is an innocent virgin. He was homeschooled and hardly interacted with the world let alone other people. They meet, and I think, fell instantly in love. Ivan was so sweet and kind to him they just hit it off immediately. I loved it.

Halfway through the book starts the action. The main characters go into theforest for their second date and here comes trouble. I won’t tell you about it because I don’t want to spoil the fun but it was awesome. Carney also sees Ivan shift for the first time.

For a short story the main characters were very well developed. I loved Carney’s innocence and gullibility and he was so accepting and kind. I love Ivan’s strength and protectiveness, his sweetness and nobility. They were a perfect match for each other. The author couldn’t have done better. The side characters were also really good. The bartender was very sisterly and Carney’s family was perfectly written as well.

I highly recommend this book. It was everything you want in a story. It was sweet, it had action, it had a surprise with an HEA. Especially those who’ve never read a story about a unicorn this is perfect for you. I wish the story was longer though.

Ariel

ThreeStar

With this Novella we get Ivan who is the King of his unicorn shifter pack.
Then there was Carney who is a virgin and is at the paranormal bar when Ivan walks in to get a drink.

Now I loved this authors premise of this story but this was just honestly to rushed for me.
You just start getting into it when everything gets resolved so quickly that your left with your head spinning and thinking really that was it!!
I also loved the way this author wrote these characters but I really did not get enough of them together so I am not really sure how I feel about them being together as a couple.

So I did like where this story was going and what this author did with this shifter world but really everything was just way to rushed to me and I was just left feeling like I needed a little more to keep my head from spinning and feeling like these two men fit together.

Kara

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TWO 5 and 3 Stars for Brothers by Ralph Josiah Bardsley #MM#Family

1.5

Title: Brothers
Author Name & Publisher: Ralph Josiah Bardsley (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: December 14, 2015 – 254 pgs

Synopsis

At twenty-three, Jamus Cork’s plans are simple—graduate college, stay in New York City, and write. But those plans change when his parents are suddenly killed and he finds himself the guardian of his little brother, Nick. Jamus ends up back in the Boston neighborhood where he grew up, with a crying toddler on his knee and the challenge of building a new life for himself and the boy. Jamus somehow finds a way to navigate the ups and downs of single parenting, but over a decade of raising Nick, Jamus never truly overcomes his struggles with loneliness and the guilt he feels as the sole survivor of the crash that killed his parents. That changes when he meets bookishly handsome Sean Malloy. There’s a spark between the two men, but both must face down their own private demons to find love in the Irish enclave of South Boston.

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Review

FiveStars

This book was amazing! It was so painful but yet beautiful at the same time too!

This was a story about loss.. About Jamus losing his parents and becoming a parent to his little brother. About learning to not blame yourself for something that was beyond your control.

There was a little bit of romance in this book but it was mostly about learning through things that happen in life and for Sean about admitting to himself and his family who is really his and how he really feels.

I loved the way this author wrote these characters and this story! You could really feel what these characters go through while reading this book and you can’t help rooting for them and hoping for these two MC’s to find happiness with themselves and each other.

All together I really loved this book!
I would recommend this book!
Kara
ThreeStar

This book was not what I expected. The book was too slow for me. They didn’t even have their first date until 61% into the book.

The plot line, though, was great as well as the characters. The characters became very real and you could really feel for them and their situations. Sean’s family is awesome. The family dynamic made you want to be part of that family.  Nick and Jamus’s relationship as brothers is very sweet and they’re very close which is great. I love that. Jamus’s sacrifices that he had to make raising Nick was very admirable.

If you don’t mind a slow beginning and you like the story of an author raising a child and finding love then this book is for you. Like I said, it’s a great book, but the first half is very slow.  If I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars because it was pretty good

Ariel
FiveStars

This is one of the best books I’ve read, and I’m so glad I picked it up. I chose it for the setting (I love Boston) and the theme of family. It exceeded my expectations.

Mr. Bardsley’s writing style is flawless and elegant. There is no fast-paced action in the story, yet it didn’t drag. I couldn’t put it down because I was so absorbed in the intricate relationships between these sets of brothers.

I loved the all the characters, even prickly teenage Nick (who is about as dead-on as any adolescent I’ve read in a novel aimed at adults). Kevin really surprised me, as did Sean’s would-be girlfriend, Grace. Some of Sean’s interactions with his family broke my heart, but there was also a seed of hope buried in their complicated relationship.

Although the story touched on a lot of heavy themes, it never felt bogged down or preachy. These were just people trying to navigate their messy life circumstances the best they knew how.

At it’s core, this is not really a romance, even though there is a growing relationship between Jamus and Sean. This is a love story between brothers and between friends. For me, this was absolutely perfect, and the way all the threads tied up at the end could not have been better.

What a wonderful and moving story, worth every minute.

~Amy

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THREE 5 and 4 Stars for Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) by Avon Gale #MM #Sports @Avongalewrites

1.5

Title: Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Avon Gale (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: November 27, 2015 – 240 pgs

Synopsis

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He’s put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

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Review

FiveStars

I loved this.  A hockey story about a barely professional league in the American Deep South was always going to be funny.  What I didn’t expect were the complex characters, a passionate love story and a completely angst-free m/m romance.   

At the start of the story, Lane is a talented, arrogant new NHL draft pick starting his career with a farm team two divisions below the NHL.  Socially awkward verbal diarrhea doesn’t exactly endear him to his teammates.  Jared is a washed up goon at the end of his career.  He’s still playing hockey because someone pays him and he doesn’t know anything else to do.  They meet when Lane decides to win over his team by picking a fight with Jared.

These are two wonderful, perfectly developed characters.  I love Lane’s awkwardness and his growth over the course of his first professional season.  His relationship with Zoe and his relationship with his parents add warmth and depth to a brilliant story.  The author doesn’t devote quite as much time to Jared, but his past and his relationship with his family are beautifully developed.  I love the deft descriptions of the men Lane and Jared play with.  And I really love Zoe.  Not many m/m writers add well developed unique female characters, but I had a massive girl crush on Zoe from the first moment we meet her.  

As the author points out, Hockey is a serious religion in Canada and I thoroughly enjoyed the clash of cultures between the Canadian and Northern American players and their new Southern home.  So much is lost in cultural translation.  I’m not sure if you need to be Canadian to understand the humour, but it helps.  

I loved how the author circumvented the tired coming out angst common to most m/m professional sports stories. This author just acknowledges that most of the players are Canadian and they’ve had gay marriage and social justice stuff for years up there.  So instead of the usual secrets, lies and stress, we get a really fun sports story.  It feels modern and realistic.  

Sarah

FiveStars

I’m not a sports fan. Never have been. Imagine my surprise when after reading a few pages I found myself liking this book.

One of the things I really liked about this book is that it did not contain a lot of pages describing a hockey game or hockey players talking about hockey. I really appreciated that. This book is more about the relationship between the main characters and Lane and his friend Zoe.

I loved the main characters in this story, I especially loved Lane. He is a character with so many facets to his personality. He is hilarious and quirky and, like, has his own language, which made him really entertaining.

Below is one of my favorite quotes. Zoe and Lane are talking and Zoe says,

“What the hell are you doing?”
He looked up at her. “Looking for the button that turns on your closed captioning, because your accent is really thick when you’re mad.”

I really liked the budding relationship of the main characters. How the strange way that Lane speaks is what drew Jared in. That was so unique and funny.

I do recommend this book. This is a great story for sport lovers and ones who don’t care for sports. Don’t let the hockey scare you. Its not loaded with it. You will love the relationship between the main characters and the way Lane talks is so hilarious it makes the book a really fun read.

Ariel

FiveStarsLane has just been drafted to the NHL Sea Storms. Jared plays for the opposing team the Savannah Renegades. He also happens to be bi so when he meets Lane there is a instant attraction between these two men.
So I have to say it did take me awhile to warm up to Lane.. The way he acted and talked to everyone took a little bit to get used.Other than that I did like these two men together and thought this was a sweet, but very steamy book filled with a lot of hockey and two men who grow closer together as the time goes by. The way they talked to each other was honestly so funny but at the same time so sweet. Then there was also the ending which I loved.

I really liked the authors pretense of this story and the way these characters were written even Lane who took a little bit to get used to and eventually grew on me so much that by the end of this book I ended up loving his character!

All together I really liked this story!
I would recommend this book!

~Kara

FourStars

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this book thoroughly.  I liked that the main characters had supporting characters throughout the story and that those secondary characters added to the story rather than took away from it.
Then, I would also like to add that this book had much more about hockey and the ins and outs of a team than the romance of the main characters, despite their chemistry being very hot.
Lane is a somewhat awkward hockey player – he knows how to play, knows how to relate to his teammates, as long as the game is involved, but other than that, he is incredibly naive and immature.  The narration that went on in this story was sometimes over the top and Lane easily got on my nerves.  While I appreciated his innocence at times, during other sections, I just wanted to roll my eyes and shake my head.
Then you have Jared.  All I can say is yum.  He is a hockey player through and through and knows that his life, while not in the pros, has been full of the game he loves.  I really enjoyed how Gale was able to create the magic again for Jared’s character – he was able to reinvent himself and I loved that he wasn’t afraid to take that chance.
While their romance is not typical, Gale was able to write a story that encompassed both love of the game of hockey as well as finding your true partner in crime.  The connection between Lane and Jarod is both instantaneous and explosive both on and off the ice.
I am so very looking forward to Riley’s story, because he is both intriguing and mysterious all wrapped in to an awesome goal keeper.
AvidReader

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5 Stars for Not Every Time by Alexa Milne #MM #Holiday @Alexa_Milne

1.5

Title: Not Every Time
Author Name & Publisher: Alexa Milne (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: December 15, 2015 – 54 pgs

Synopsis

What would you give up for love?

Raziel Slade and Jack Hastings have been best friends since Raz saved Jack’s life twelve years ago. Jack has spent years searching for the perfect woman with the help of his wingman, Raz, the man he thinks of as his guardian angel. At a company Christmas party, the world Jack thought he knew turns on its axis, and feelings he didn’t know he had punch him right between the eyes. Can Jack learn to see his friend in an entirely different way?

Openly gay, Raz loves his best friend and has given up more than Jack will ever know to be with him, but he’s never dared to tell Jack how he truly feels, or to reveal his true identity. For twelve years, he has waited in the wings.

Now, with Jack’s sudden epiphany, can these two best friends work out if they have a future together?

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Review

FiveStars

This book starts off with a bang with great dialogue between two best friends who are getting ready for a party. From the first page the story grabbed me and pulled me in; I felt like I was standing in the room with them.

The scene at the party built a wonderful tension and created a mystery that kept you on the edge of your seat. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened.

When the story reached its crescendo and the main characters declared their love for each other it felt like the timing was perfect. Their love story is so sweet.

Since this was a short story I was expecting more of a rush in the plot line, but I was pleasantly surprised that everything happened at just the right time. There was no rush and there was no lagging. The author timed everything perfectly.

The only criticism I would have is that the story hints about who Raz really is but the story never gives any explanation or really says anything about it. Just hints here and there and the one line that is said at the end. I wish the story would have delved into this more.

I would recommend this story because the plot line flows really well, the story is so great, the characters are so believable and the love story is very sweet. It even has kittens.

Ariel

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4 and 3 Stars for Melbourne Heat by Elizabeth Lapthorne #MM #Shifter @PridePublishing

1.5

Title: Melbourne Heat
Author Name & Publisher: Elizabeth Lapthorne (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: December 8, 2015 – 108 pgs

Synopsis

In the steamy Melbourne summer nights, two men meet by chance in the Botanical Gardens.

Spencer, against his better judgment, agrees to meet a new client in the Botanical Gardens. While waiting, he bumps into Charles, who is out paintballing with some mates. Spencer agrees to have a quick bite to eat with Charles, not knowing the sequence of events that will unfold from such a simple action.

Charles is a shifter with plenty of secrets and Spencer has unwittingly brought someone else into the mix—another shifter, eager to stake his claim. Even after such a short time, Charles can’t imagine giving Spencer up. He’s willing to fight for what’s his. Spencer has also found himself falling in love with Charles, despite the secrets that surround him. Passion and danger collide and soon both men will have decisions to make. Ones with serious consequences.

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Review

ThreeStar

I was so hopeful for this story.  I like the nerdy, shy bookworm getting to catch the eye of the hunky shifter.  That being said, this book could have been so much more.
Despite Charles hanging out with his friends when he runs in to Spencer, we never get to see much about Charles’ life.  It is this strange mish-mash compilation of inferences and suggestions that could be his life, but we never truly know much of anything other than he is a blue-collar worker who belongs to a smallish pack.
Then, you have Spencer who caught the eye of a stalkerish client – when he meets Charles, he’s caught off guard and allows himself to indulge in Charles.  Again, we don’t know much about Spencer – only that he has submissive tendencies.
Overall, this was a disappointing story – the potential was there, but it was not executed well.
AvidReader
FourStarsI love shifter stories. I’ve read a lot of them over the years. This one, though, is a bit different.

Typically, shifter stories are about predestined mates. There’s only one mate for each shifter and he knows his mate instantly when he sees him.  One mate for life.  This story, though, there is no one predestined mate – there is a potential mate. This potential mate also has a choice of accepting being the shifters mate or not. This was a different idea. I like my predestined mates, but I didn’t mind reading about ‘potential mates’.

It’s not mentioned in the book description, but this is a BDSM story. I’m not a big fan of them, but this story was written very nicely. The plot leads me to believe that Spencer is a beginner at being a submissive, so Charles takes him under his wing. It’s written very sweetly and discreetly, so I didn’t mind this aspect of the story. However, I think this took over the shifter part of the story. I would have rather there been more balance.

The little mystery  In the story was great. Your introduced to it in the beginning and a little while later we’re at escalates to the big finished for the end of the book. I loved this interlude.

I would recommend this book to those who like shifter stories and who are beginners in the BDSM genre. This book will give you a good beginner is taste of it.

~Ariel

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