Thursday, 23 April 2015

HUSBANDS by Brigham Vaughn - a pre-release review

HUSBANDS by Brigham Vaughn
Pages: 143
Date: 19/04/2015
Details: No. 4 Equals
ARC / Kindle

The blurb:

“Russ is ready to make a lifelong commitment to his partner. That means marriage to him, but Stephen grew up believing that was out of the question. With marriage equality still not recognized in Georgia, Stephen is only concerned about the legal protection available to them. 

Someone from Stephen’s past reappears and drives a wedge between them as Russ and Stephen struggle to agree on their future. Russ tries to understand Stephen’s complex feelings about marriage, but the differences in their background stresses the relationship further. Can the relationship they've built overcome the issues they face?”

My thoughts:

Husbands starts with a bang and throws you straight into the angst. We are with Russ as he deals with the devastation he feels when Stephen doesn’t enthusiastically accept his marriage proposal. To say it pulled me straight back into Stephen and Russ’s world would be a gross understatement.

I’ve come to love Stephen and Russ while reading Equals, Partners and Family (click the titles for my thoughts on those books) and couldn’t wait for them to achieve their official happy ever after. They didn’t make it easy on themselves or on me.

After the prologue we see Stephen and Russ happy together and I have to admit this threw me for a little while. For some reason I assumed chapter one would take up the story where the prologue ended and it took me a chapter or two to figure out we had actually moved back to an earlier time in their relationship. But, on reflection, I’m glad the story was told the way it was. Seeing Stephen and Russ’s journey to that heartbreaking moment in full detail meant both men’s reactions made perfect sense.

What I really like about these books, and what makes me admire Brigham Vaughn’s writing so much, is that she writes about realistic and recognisable relationships in which the partners go through issues we can all recognise and relate to. There’s nothing contrived about the issues Stephen and Russ run into and that means their problems and the way they deal with pull all the harder on the reader’s heartstrings.

Husbands deals with every question the previous three books may have left the reader with- there’s no lose thread left by the end of the book. Stephen's fifteen year old issues with Jeremy are dealt with, Russ faces the mother who deserted him and both men have to come to terms with what commitment means to them and how they view the future, especially taking into account the age difference between them.

Like the previous three books, Husbands is at times rather hot too. Being together for over a year hasn’t diminished the physical attraction between Russ and Stephen; if anything, the strengthening of their relationship has also improved their sex life. The scene where Russ introduces Stephen to the delights of phone sex was as charming as it was scorching. But, if I’m honest, the physical contact that really got to me were the tiny touches, the quick squeeze of a hand or thigh to show support or acknowledge the other’s presence. They, more than anything, showed how well matched this couple is.

No, their journey to wedded bliss was anything but a smooth ride. It was a fascinating, at times heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting story though. Having become rather attached to these two men I am very grateful that Husbands, while the last book in the series, isn’t quite the end of their fictional life. They are set to make an appearance in Connection; a spin-off novel to be published later this year. All I can say is; bring it on.

Amazon buy links: Husbands    Equals    Partners    Family

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

SLAYING ISIDORE'S DRAGONS by Cody Kennedy: Blog Tour with Exclusive Excerpt and a Review

About Slaying Isidore’s Dragons

5 Best friends
4 Vicious brothers
3 STD tests
2 Guys in love
1 Car bombing
Nowhere to run

Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.

5 Weeks of hell
4 Attempts on their lives
3 Law enforcement agencies
2 Dead high school seniors
1 Jealous friend
A love that won’t be denied

Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.

5 New family members
4 BFF’s
3 Countries
2 Extraordinary Psychologists
1 Courageous Mother
A new beginning for two young men in love

Thanks for hosting me today, Helena, it's great to be here! Congratulations on your newest book, Strangers in the Night!

Following is an exclusive excerpt and it shows how Declan and Isidore find out that Mason Brassington attempted suicide. Following, Isidore and Declan are asked sensitive personal questions by their friends and they both step up to support each other and answer honestly.

ON TUESDAY morning, Declan retrieved what he needed from his locker, closed the door, and reminded himself that having a hard-on at school was a living nightmare. Be easy, dick. Don’t wreck my day. Great, now I’m talking to my dick.
He didn’t want to see Mason and dreaded going to homeroom. Isidore at his side, his warmth, his comforting scent, all helped him remain steady and calm.
“Declan,” Isidore whispered.
“Look. They look upset.”
Declan followed Isidore’s gaze. Caleb and Ethan approached, worry all over their faces. What now?
“What do you think it is?” Isidore asked.
“We’ll find out.”
“Do you wish me to leave?”
“Absolutely not,” Declan whispered before turning to greet them. “Hey.”
“Did you hear what happened?” Caleb asked.
“About what?”
“Mason tried to kill himself last night. He’s in a coma. They don’t think he’ll make it,” Ethan said.
Declan’s nerve endings ignited like a fist full of Fourth of July sparklers. “What?”
Caleb lowered his voice to a near whisper. “Ethan and I got calls from him right before he did it. He apologized for…. Well, you know, and said you made him see the light.”
Declan was rendered momentarily speechless. “I told him to get help and gave him the number of my shrink. He’s gay, and I thought he could help Mason out.”
“You have a gay shrink?” Ethan asked, incredulous.
Caleb turned to Isidore. “Is it true?”
“Is what true?” Isidore asked.
“That you tried to kill yourself and got sent away to a mental hospital.” Sincerity radiated from Caleb as he asked the question.
Isidore searched Caleb’s eyes, and he nodded once. “Yes, after my mother died.”
“Not ’cause, ah, well, ’cause of—you know? We heard what Pierre said during the fight,” Ethan said.
“It was a combination of things,” Declan interjected. “What’s your real question?”
Ethan’s voice dropped to a whisper again. “There’s an investigation, and the police are here at the school talking to people. Caleb and I want to know how much trouble we’re in if we say what Mason did to us.”
Declan guided them into a nearby alcove. “Why would you be in trouble?”
“Look what happened to him. He was sent away.” Caleb gestured to Isidore.
“His circumstances were totally different. You guys have good parents. Talk to them.”
“We can’t. Our dads are attorneys, and they’ll sue everybody. Everything will come out,” Caleb said.
Declan shook his head more to himself than to anyone. “Just because Mason did what he did doesn’t make you gay or anything. You’re victims.”
“I’m gay,” Caleb said quietly.
Though Isidore had supposed this, it still surprised Declan.
“I’m not,” Ethan said. “Well, maybe I’m bi, but my parents will think I’m gay if they find out what Mason did.”
“Does your mom know about you guys?” Caleb asked gesturing to Isidore again.
“My mum has no problem with me being gay, but she doesn’t want it public knowledge,” Declan answered honestly.
“She knows?” Ethan was aghast.
“Yeah, she knows. I told her and Dad last year before Dad died.”
“Did your dad freak?” Caleb asked.
“For about half an hour.”
“That’s it?”
Isidore explained. “Madame de Quirke explains it like this. A man blames himself if his son is not like him. She said Declan’s father was disappointed in himself at first, and Madame de Quirke told him Declan was like him and was not excused from grandchildren. After that, all was well. This is the story.”
Declan stared at Isidore. “You know more about it than I do.”
Isidore gave a small shrug.

Enjoy Slaying Isidore’s Dragons!

Now available in print and ebook at Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press
Amazon   Barnes & Noble   OmniLit/ARe

About Cody Kennedy

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary. 

Stop by Cody’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind.
Find Cody on Facebook, Twitter @CodyKAuthor, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+,

Ello, Goodreads, & read Cody’s free serial story, Fairy

My thoughts:

I’m not entirely sure what to say about this amazing book. Slaying Isidore’s Dragons took me for a wild ride and forced me to experience every single emotion in my arsenal in rapid succession. I found myself going from broken hearted to laughing out loud in the space of one paragraph. The danger the characters faced would make my heart race only for my breath to be taken away by the love story half a page later. Rollercoaster doesn’t begin to describe the reading experience this book gave me and it’s going to take me a while before I settle down again. It’s going to take me a lot longer to stop obsessing about the story.

I have to be honest. Reading about Isidore - his past and his present - nearly broke me. There were sections of this book I wanted to read with my eyes closed. That’s on me, not on the author. I don’t deal well with stories of abuse, especially when it involves kids. They make me angry and leave me feeling frustrated and helpless. But, I took my cue from Isidore and kept my eyes open and the pages turning.

Tiny tendrils of courage brushed his heart, causing fear and courage to war within.”

I have to admit though that despite the addictive storytelling, wonderful characters and suspenseful plot I was continuously tempted to skip to the end. From the moment I started reading, ALL I wanted was a happy ending for Isidore. No, that’s not entirely right. What I wanted to do was dive into the book, wrap him in my arms, and keep him safe from the world. Thank God for Declan and Sorcha, who did just that and—for a long time—were the main reasons I was able to continue turning the pages. Just as they were also the reasons Isidore was able to continue living at first and start to trust again later on.

I think Cody Kennedy has done something amazing with this book. Not only has he given a realistic but hope-filled book about abuse and its consequences for those who are suffering or have suffered it themselves, he’s also written a story that might give other youngsters, those lucky enough to grow up in stable surroundings, an insight into the pain and consequences of abuse. You may say I’m a dreamer...but I’d like to hope that as a result, real-life Declans may emerge.

Isidore’s journey in this book was anything but magical and all the more beautiful for it. There are no miracle cures and none are promised for the future either. And yet, the Isidore we leave with Declan when the story ends, is miles away from the Isidore we meet when the story starts. It may have been a case of—as Declan says—two steps forward, one step back, but Isidore is growing and slowly starting to trust again. Trust Declan and Sorcha to love and look after him; trust that maybe he isn’t completely ruined by what he’s suffered and trust that things can get better. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, because Declan beholds him with love and admiration in his eyes, Isidore has to at least consider that he’s not worthless.

I must apologize. I’ve written a rambling collection of thoughts rather than a review so I’ll try to summarize my thoughts. 

Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is an action-filled thriller dealing with important and difficult issues. It is a story filled with emotion and humour, pain and love, danger and domesticity. It broke my heart and put it back together. Slaying Isidore’s Dragons gave me a reading experience I treasure and a story I won’t forget any time soon. 

Monday, 20 April 2015

TEACH ME by K.C. Wells

TEACH ME by K.C. Wells
Pages: 84
Date: April 20, 2015
Details: No. 1 Lightning Tales
ARC / Kindle

The blurb:

“Nick Tremantle has had a rough ten months. His professional life took a nosedive, and then his mom's health took a turn for the worse. In a short space of time, everything changed. So when he spies the young man hitchhiking, Nick pulls over - he needs all the Karma he can lay his hands on. But when the identity of the young man is revealed, it sets in motion a chain of events that unfold quickly, changing Nick's life completely.

Alex Nordmann's life has definitely not gone the way he'd planned. Gone are his dreams of an education and living his life 'his' way. He'd thought the worst was over, until the morning he decided to come out to his parents. It just goes to show, people will surprise you every time. For instance, who could have foreseen that the man who gives him a ride - and an unexpected lifeline - would have been Alex's first crush all those years ago?

Alex has no idea what's coming at him....

My thoughts:

What can I say? I don’t think K.C. Wells is capable of writing a boring sentence, never mind a less than gripping story, and Teach Me was no exception to that rule.

Teach Me is a charming story and full of surprises. I got completely caught up in Nick and Alex’s stories. Both men have been through a personal hell when the story starts, both men have had a crush on each other for years, and neither man has the confidence to verbalise the attraction or act on it.

It was wonderful to read a story in which the two main characters take the time to really get to know each other before the relationship starts. Life stories and secrets are gradually revealed as they grow closer. I liked that I never had the feeling they were circling each other. They both needed time to get to grips with their lives while the attraction grew stronger. By the time Nick and Alex do come together there’s no doubt in their or in the reader’s mind that’s where they should be.

Like I said, this book holds a few surprises. The title might suggest one thing; the story may well give you another. And the same is true for the characters and their role in the developing relationship.

While Teach Me deals with real and difficult issues it was overall a delightful and uplifting read. I adored the gentleness of this story and the characters in it. And, as always, I lost myself in K.C. Wells’s writing from the very first sentence. I can’t put my finger on why it happens, but this author always manages to draw me in and hold me captive with her words. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

THE MARRYING KIND by Jay Northcote: All the Info, an Excerpt and a Review

About the book:

Title: The Marrying Kind
Series: Owen & Nathan – part 2
Author: Jay Northcote
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: 35,000 words approx
Release date: Friday 17th April 2015
Publisher: self-published (Jaybird Press)
Editor: Sue Adams
Cover artist: Garrett Leigh

Buy links:

Series info:

The Marrying Kind is a sequel to The Dating Game. It continues Owen and Nathan's story, so I recommend you read The Dating Gamefirst. I have no firm plans for more stories about Owen and Nathan. The Marrying Kind has a definite happy ending, so please consider their story complete for now.


Nathan wants to put a ring on it, but is Owen the marrying kind?

Two years on from their first date, Owen and Nathan are living together and life is good—except they’re not on the same page about marriage.

A traditionalist at heart, Nathan wants it all: the wedding, the vows, and a pair of matching rings. Owen, on the other hand, believes marriage is old-fashioned and unnecessary. They don’t need a wedding to prove their commitment to each other. Love should be enough on its own.

All it takes is one moment of weakness on a night out to force the issue. Owen finds himself engaged after a half-drunk proposal, and Nathan’s enthusiasm sweeps him along. But as the big day approaches, the mounting tension finally combusts.

If he’s going to save their relationship, Owen will need to decide once and for all if he’s truly the marrying kind.


Nathan glanced surreptitiously at Owen sitting beside him as Jack and Simon spoke their vows. Jack’s voice was quiet but sure, and Simon’s rang out clearly over the assembled crowd.

Owen’s gaze was fixed on the couple, and his eyes were suspiciously bright. As Nathan watched, Owen cleared his throat and wiped what Nathan assumed was a tear out of the corner of his eye.

Nathan suppressed a smile and turned his attention back to the groom and groom. So much for Owen’s protests that he didn’t see the point in weddings and that they were outdated, pointless events that were stupid even for straight couples unless they were religious. Even if he didn’t believe in the principle of marriage—gay or otherwise—it was nice to see he wasn’t totally immune to the emotion of the occasion. Nathan was going to enjoy taking the piss out of Owen later. But in the meantime, he reached for Owen’s hand and squeezed. Owen squeezed back.

Nathan’s eyes were moist too by the time they’d finished. The part where the celebrant said “I now pronounce you husband and husband” really set him off. Simon looked so utterly radiant after he and Jack finally stopped kissing and turned to face the wedding guests, hand in hand. Jack was flushed and awkward compared to Simon. He obviously wasn’t happy being the centre of attention, unlike his new husband, but his smile was genuine and the joy rolled off both of them, touching everyone in the room.

Nathan sighed. Owen’s hand was still in his. Their fingers were tangled together casually—just like their lives. They’d been in a relationship for over two years now, living together for half of that, and Nathan had never been happier. But looking at Simon and Jack, he wanted more. He wanted that. But he was afraid to ask Owen, because he was pretty sure what his answer would be, and it wouldn’t be the one Nathan hoped for.

Author Bio:

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

My thoughts:

The Marrying Kind is Jay Northcote’s second novella featuring Nathan and Owen. The first book, The Dating Game, tells the story of how these two men ended up together and if you haven’t read it yet you really need to do that first. As my review of that book indicates, reading The Dating Game won’t be a hardship at all.

I enjoyed every minute of my second encounter with Nathan and Owen. Two years after their first date they’re still as into each other as they’ve ever been and neither has any doubts about their commitment to each other. Nathan wants to take the final step and marry the man he loves.  Owen on the other hand is happy with the status quo and doesn’t really trust himself to be suited to married life. It takes a minor disaster to make both men realize that being together is far more important than the presence or absence of a ring on their fingers.

I had a wry smile on my face during a lot of this story. I couldn’t help thinking that the things that separate us are nothing compared to everything that connects us. Show me almost any couple about to be married and I show you a couple going through many of the fights and much of the nervous tension Owen and Nathan put themselves and each other through.

As always Jay Northcote managed to take an everyday situation and turn it into a magical tale. It is impossible to read Jay’s books and not get caught up in her character’s lives. The Marrying Kind is a gentle tale describing the sort of situation most, if not all, of us can relate to as experienced by two men it’s impossible not to like. As such it is a one-sitting read; you won’t want to put your E-reader down until Owen and Nathan have reached the happy ending they so richly deserve.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

DRAGONS by Jaycee Edward: Announcing the Blog Tour and a Review

The blurb:

“A chance encounter in a hospital waiting room between twenty-two year old Will Messina and sixteen year old Josiah Pinkerton ends with a gift of a stuffed dragon off the hospital gift cart and a memory neither of them can shake.

Five years later, when a lonely, buttoned-up Will ventures into a gay club, he spots a pale, leather-clad specter with violet eyes tracking his every move. Will realizes he’s being watched by the grown version of the boy who’s haunted his thoughts for years.

Joey recognizes Will, but he’s no longer the sweet, brown-eyed boy worthy of Will’s attention. He’s damaged and defective and lives in a different world than Will now. When his childhood crush makes his way across the bar, Joey doesn’t have time to decide whether to be enchanted or dismayed because, unless he turns and runs, those worlds are about to collide.”

About the book:

Title: Dragons
Author: Jaycee Edward
Genre: M/M, Contemporary
Category: Romance On The Go / Novella
Length: 10,900 words / 42 pages

ISBN: 978-1-77233-289-6
Release Date: April 15, 2015

About Jaycee Edward:

Jaycee Edward is no longer seventeen years old but don’t tell her that. She’s actually a tad older and lives in northeast Ohio with her handsome husband and one, big gorgeous dog. She has two grown stepdaughters and is proud to be the ultra-cool Nana to two amazingly incredible grand-teens. Jaycee loves pistol shooting and is has earned her Bar 7 Sharpshooter status in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program and hopes to someday reach the level of Expert Marksman. She is proud to be the token liberal at her gun range. Jaycee knows way too much about the inner workings of Walt Disney World and anything related to One Direction. She’d love to pull you into the rabbit hole with her. All you have to do is ask. Find her there or contact her through social media.

About the blog tour:


During the official blog tour Jaycee Edward will be giving a way a $15 Evernight gift card so make sure you don't miss a single stop.

My thoughts:

I don’t usually mention the cover of a book when I write my thoughts on the story down. In general, I’m not much of a cover girl and I guess I’m even less so now that I get most of my books in e-format. Dragons, however, is the exception that proves the rule. Not only is this one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen, it is also the perfect cover for this book. The young man on the left is exactly – and I mean exactly – how I imagined Joey. The cover artist, Jay Aheer, did the most amazing job when she created the cover for Dragons.

And talking about Joey; I wanted to wrap him up in my arms and keep him safe from the very first moment I met him in that hospital waiting room. Will is ‘just’ this amazingly wonderful man right from the start and that never changes. Joey is adorable, he touched my heart the first time he appeared on the page and stayed there, sometimes making the beats skip and sometimes making my heart swell in my breast. He had me captivated.

Jaycee has a knack for heart-rending stories. She manages to draw her readers in to her character’s lives to such an extend it is impossible not to get emotionally involved. And some of her sentences and descriptions are pure jewels.

Joey’s description of Will when he sees him in the bar brought Will to life for me.

“...Will stood out in his crisp, white shirt like an awkward angel.”

And the description of the toy dragon in the middle of Joey’s big bed evoked emotions far beyond just a visual image.

“The little purple warrior held his ground in an obvious last ditch effort to fight off its bleak surroundings and the onslaught of adulthood.”

And the following sentence is simply a thing of beauty, and a very accurate description of the Joey I’d fallen in love with by that stage of the story.

“Joey was fragile. That was blatantly obvious, but Will suspected inside his porcelain shell raged the heart of a warrior.”

I would love to also quote my favourite line in this book but I resist the temptation. That’s something you’ll have to discover for yourself and appreciate in the right context. I bet it will leave you with as big a grin on your face as had.

To summarise: Dragons is a short but fully formed story about two adorable characters. The story strikes an almost perfect balance between sweet, touching and angsty. And I have to say that for a sex free tale, Dragons is rather hot. If you’ve got about an hour to spare and are looking for a thoroughly enjoyable read, you can’t go wrong with Dragons.