Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LAVENDER ROSE by Theo Fenraven

Publisher:               Voodoo Lily Press                       
Published:               June 28, 2014        
ASIN:                    B00LDEWOK6
Genre:                   Romance, M/M
Book Format:          E-book
Obtained via:          Reviewers personal copy
Reviewed by:          Helena Stone,

Rating:                   4.5

Malcolm Hale has fled his old life. After curiosity sparked an unexpected but eye-opening encounter with another man, he’s left his no longer fitting marriage and soul-destroying job. When his car breaks down near Naples, Florida, Malcolm stumbles towards the first place he sees only to find himself on the grounds of a luxury gay resort called Lavender Rose.

The beautiful man behind the reception desk, Tristan Bellers, offers Malcolm a job as his assistance almost immediately. With nothing to go back to and no plans for the future Malcolm accepts and soon finds himself relaxing into the seductive and private world filled with beautiful men and tantalizing sexuality.

Tristan and Malcolm become closer and the future looks promising until a hurricane blows in and a killer, out to fulfil his selfish desires, decides it is the perfect opportunity to strike.

I’ve said it before and you’ll just have to bear with me while I say it again; Theo Fenraven weaves magic with his words. I wish I knew how he does it; how he manages to convey so much with so few, carefully chosen and beautifully positioned words. The pacing in this book is just about perfect. The reader learns everything they need to know about the characters and the resort if and when it becomes relevant. No huge chunks of back story ruin the reading rhythm in this book and I didn’t encounter a single instance of ‘where the hell did that come from’ either.

Both Tristan and Malcolm piqued my interest from the moment they were introduced. And then they grew. Neither is exactly what he appears to be at first glance and both of them show their deeper layers as the story progresses. Tristan may initially come across as camp and over the top, but he soon reveals himself to be a sensitive and very perceptive individual. And I loved how Malcolm seemed to grow into himself as the story progressed, surprising himself once or twice as he finally embraces his true nature and follows his desires. For that I can even forgive him his hate of black licorice.

On a side-note, the various references to Voodoo Lily throughout the story made me smile. It could have been cheesy or self-indulgent but somehow seemed to fit, especially given the resort’s name.

Lavender Rose contained one paragraph that made me stop, blink and sigh. I read it, read it again and knew I had to highlight it and put it in my review because the image it created just blew me away.

“Heaving a mental sigh, he again wondered when he would meet someone he could give his heart to forever. While he’d loaned it out plenty, he’d always gotten it back, sometimes much faster that he preferred and in worse shape than when it had gone out.”

Lavender Rose’ has it all; a beautiful love story, engaging characters and a thrilling threat in the background. This is a relatively short yet perfectly formed and ultimately very satisfying story. 

It is almost exactly six months since I first read a book by Theo Fenraven. ‘Blue River’ gave me a wonderful introduction to his writing and made me hungry for more. When I read ‘Transgression’ shortly afterwards I knew I had stumbled across one of those rarities; an author who can transport me to whatever world they feel like and make me at home there. ‘Wolf Bound’ confirmed that versatility and Lavender Rose proves once and for all that a good author can write across genres without losing any of their voice or storytelling qualities. I count myself lucky there are still several books I haven’t read. And while I’m tempted to just devour all of those back to back I’ve decided to pace myself. I guess I’m going to keep those remaining stories for times when I need a very special reading treat. I have absolutely no doubt they will prove to be exactly that.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OLD HAUNTS by E.J. Cooperman

Publisher:  Berkley
Published:   February 7, 2012
ISBN:  978-0425246207
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Renovations are Alison’s house are going along pretty well.  Now that she’s decided the best way to provide safety, security and a modicum of privacy for her pre-teen daughter Melissa is to turn the attic into a comfy bedroom the problem is what to do about the pull down stairs.  As she works on the room, debating just what to do, one of the residence ghosts, Maxie advises her that a really good looking guy has just arrived downstairs.  Wishing she was hot and sweaty for other reasons than work Alison heads downstairs to find that the Swine, aka her ex-husband, has returned.  Seeing him hugging their daughter doesn’t give her the happiest of thoughts, but there he is, once again, in her home.  True to form The Swine won’t give her a straight answer why he is in town and Alison doesn’t quite believe it’s because he missed their daughter.

Before she can deal with her ex, however, her other resident ghost, Paul tells her he needs to talk to her.  In no time flat both Paul and Maxie have requests for her – Maxie wants to find out who killed her ex-husband and Paul wants her to find the gal that got away.  Alison’s agreement with the ghosts was that she’d take on investigations as long as they wouldn’t endanger Melissa.  And really, how dangerous can a cold case murder be? 

And then to top it off a rather intriguing biker comes along and wants to hire her to investigate just what happened to a friend of his…a friend who turns out to be Maxie’s ex.  Now isn’t that a curious coincidence?  Or is it?

I enjoyed book one of E.J. Cooperman’s Haunted Guesthouse series, Night of the Living Deed.  Book 2 had what I call “secondbookitis” and was pretty disappointing. Book 3, OLD HAUNTS has Alison, Maxie and Paul back in the saddle, so to speak.  It was a fun and entertaining read.  Cooperman caught me completely off guard with not just who done it at the end, but the clever way the killer is caught. 

Cooperman does a nice job of moving along in a credible time line from book to book as well as how the characters’ relationships change and develop along the way.  Book 3 was a far more believable read, more down to earth, if possible, when ghosts are some of the main characters.  While Melissa takes them at not just face value but understands Paul and Maxie for who and what they are, there is some nice development in how Alison deals with her newfound talent and the fact that two ghosts are now friends and part of her life.

I had a few chuckles around the Swine’s attempts to lure Alison back into his life. 

I do like this series and recommend you check it out.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


Monday, July 28, 2014

LIKE A WOLF’S HOWL by Marcy Jacks

Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc.
Date published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62741-404-3
Paranormal erotica
Reviewed by Gabrielle
Obtained via Publisher

Rating: 4

While running from vampires Jimmy Torren never thought he would make it out alive let alone find his mate. Ryan may be working as a healer but he is still a prisoner of the vampires. He longs for escape but must work off the rest of his contract or else the vampires will take it out on his family. The two men are thrown together by circumstance and find themselves more than just attracted to one another, but will misconceptions and lies ruin what they could have together?

I really liked meeting Ryan and Jimmy. The two make a great couple. Both are strong men who want to do what is right and are more than ready to fight for those that they care for. Watching Jimmy and Ryan’s relationship begin to blossom made for a good read. Their emotions are strong and trust is gained as well as lost in this story. It was nice to see the two men find a way to fight for their love. Jimmy must find the truth and decide if he will go after what he longs for or if he will let happiness slip through his fingers. Ryan is such a stand-up guy. Willing to lose everything to save his family, Ryan gives up on his dreams and takes what the vampires dish out. He never gives up on his love and gives with all his heart.

This is a fast paced and engaging story that will pull on your heartstrings at times and have you believing in love.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.




Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date published: May 28, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62798-641-0
MM, Western Historical
Reviewed by Helen
Obtained via publisher
Rating: 2

Everett Blake Coleman and Jeremiah Blanchard (JB) Sanderson lived all their lives in a tiny conservative town in Texas. From their teens they maintained a noisy and dramatic feud with each other. Both became wealthy and neither ever married. Blake, nephew of Everett, discovered his late great-uncle’s diary and the entire story.

This is a good idea for an MM romance set before gay relationships were widely accepted. The historical background and setting is good and the idea captured my attention. Unfortunately pretty much the entire plot is explained in the blurb. In case the reader missed anything, the prologue to the book gives away almost anything else that’s left. The book itself just fleshes out what is effectively a synopsis instead of a blurb.

The two main characters are seen through Blake’s eyes and from dialogue between them that he makes up after reading his great-uncle’s diaries. But somehow their characters are shallow. They almost seem like the same character twice over in places. I understand that they were brought up and lived in the same small town, and were very close to each other throughout life, but they don’t leap off the page to me. Also a lot of the story seems repetitive simply because far too much was given away at the beginning. As events happen it’s almost a sense of déjà vu, with the reader thinking, “I already know all this.”

Even the sex is more hinted at and skimmed over than described, which means it’s nowhere near as hot as secretive, stolen moments sex should have been. I would also have preferred a more detailed description of this small conservative town, or at least some of the key places in it.

The basic premise was a good idea with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, to me, the book didn’t live up to my expectations of it.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.