Tag: Dreamspinner Press

TBR Challenge Review: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

Posted November 21, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 4 Comments

This month’s TBR Challenge book suggestion was “All About the Hype” – a book that created so much chatter it was inescapable.   Now if I remember correctly this book did create a bit of hype in the m/m reading world when it first came out in 2009, didn’t it? lol  I’m not sure, but it was definitely worth the read.

After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hit man known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won’t allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies. Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D’s cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was. As the day of Jack’s testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives… but also fighting for their future. A future together.

Jack is a surgeon leaving the hospital and minding his own business when he witnesses a murder. He agrees to testify but that means he leaves his life and his career behind in order to hide while waiting to testify – and then into the Witness Protection program. He’s not thrilled about any of it but he knows this is the right thing to do so he goes for it.

D is a contract killer who is blackmailed into taking the contract to kill Jack. D is very particular about who he kills and feels that the contracts he does take are people who deserve it. Obviously that’s up for debate but it’s how he lives with himself and what he does. He’s more than upset about the whole Jack sitch but he heads to Vegas to take care of it. Only when it comes down to it, he just can’t do it. Does he just walk away though? No, he doesn’t. He packs Jack up and takes him with him. D knows that the people who are after Jack aren’t gonna let sleeping dogs lie just because Jack didn’t do the killing and D needs to find out who’s out to get him and is willing to resort to blackmail to get to him.

With both men with their lives at stake they take off to try to hide themselves. They end up at a pretty secure location where Jack tries to get to know D and mostly hits a brick wall – but not entirely. Jack doesn’t quite know what to make of his growing feelings for someone who kills others for a living and D’s pretty sure he shouldn’t let Jack in but he seems to be telling him things (eventually) that he’s never told another.

The story takes us through Jack’s basic desire but D’s struggle to find out who he really is in the world. It took us through trials and errors of the couple as not everything was hunky dory just cuz they were sleeping together; it took us to the actual trial that Jack had to testify for and of course many other unexpected avenues. The book at times was incredibly exciting and other times it dragged for me but I loved seeing D and Jack finally moving toward each other. The ins and outs of D’s life, who he was connected to and who he knew was incredibly detailed which was wonderful as the author didn’t try to allude to things and make us figure it all out. We had enough of a time trying to figure out who was behind it all.

I really loved D. in this story. Yes, it was Jack and D.’s love story but I felt it was more D’s story than Jack’s. Yes, Jack has reservations at times about who he was involved with but at that point it almost seemed a little too late to be worrying about certain things. I was also pretty shocked at how well Jack accepted the fact that he couldn’t be a surgeon again after 14 years of schooling and training. If it was me, I woulda been raging mad. I was quite happy at the end of the last chapter and would have been thrilled had the books stopped there. The epilogue, imho, added almost nothing to the story and actually made me doubt the balance and longevity of their relationship when I hadn’t before.

In the end it was a very enjoyable book with a few hitches for me. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and hope to read more about D and Jack in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jane Seville

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DFRAT Review: Mind Magic by Poppy Dennison

Posted June 12, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 4 Comments

Magical species must never mix. According to the rules, Simon Osborne should ignore the children’s cries for help. After all, they’re werewolf cubs, and he’s an apprentice mage. But for once in his life, Simon breaks the rules and rescues the cubs, saving them from a demon intent on draining them of their magic.

Of course, all actions have consequences, and Simon’s bold move earns him the displeasure of his peers and the attention of the cubs’ alpha, a man named Gray Townsend.

The last thing Gray needs is a mage in his life, but Simon did save his son. Since Simon is now a friend of the pack, Gray doesn’t have much choice about it—or the forbidden attraction that goes along with it. Unfortunately for the alpha, he needs Simon’s help to track down the demon behind the kidnappings—before it strikes again. Simon and Gray must join forces to protect the pack, even as they struggle to resist the temptation that threatens to destroy them both.
Simon is an apprentice mage and one night hears children calling out in help. He knows he should mind his own business but he just can’t. He finds the children, who turn out to be werewolf children, in a home with 2 humans and what appears to be a demon. He manages to free the children and get them back to their pack. When he returns the children he meets their pack alpha, Gray. Almost instantly there is some sort of connection between Gray and Simon. Gray is especially grateful to Simon as one of the children that was saved was his son, Garon.
Gray is anxious to find out more about who took the children and why. Simon is a bit more leery to get involved as different paranormal entities are supposed to stay away from each other. Simon knows there will be some sort of reckoning with the mage high council but he knows he did something right so he isn’t too worried. One of the problems for Simon is that he can’t seem to stay away. He gets mentally contacted by Garon who Simon physically saves once again but by doing so he takes evil magic into his body. Gray and Simon are determined to find out how to get the evil out of Simon and keep the pack safe. They enlist the help of a vampire that was a friend of Simon’s family and they all work to discover who’s behind it all.
I really liked the different aspects of Mind Magic. The way that magic in general was described in this book as being almost like a triangle was incredibly interesting to me and a great take on it all. There was mind magic like a mage used, soul magic like a demon or vampire used and body magic like the were’s used. All three were represented in this story and I hope we’ll be reading more stories set in this world and reading more about he different types of magic.
Simon was a great character. I loved his inner strength as that’s what he used to beat the demon and get the kids back. He knew that he would get in trouble for mixing with other paranormals but he couldn’t let children just be tortured. He stood up for what he believed in and though a bit afraid he did what needed to be done – and that continued throughout the story.
Gray was an awesome alpha and a good father. He wanted what was best for his child and I loved that Dennison showed us the softer side of him with his son. He was still a stronger leader because he cared so much about his pack.
The story of the demon and eventually the other bad guy was a bit blurry in my mind. I know who all the characters were and what they did that was bad I just never really got a handle on why they did what they did. I thought that part of it could have been a bit stronger in the explanation but maybe that’s just me.
Overall I really liked the story and look forward to reading more from Dennison in the future.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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DFRAT Review: One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea

Posted June 8, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 4 Comments

“Daddy” is not a title Rue Murray wanted, but he never thought he’d have sex with a woman either. Now he’s the unwitting father of a newborn named Alice. Between bartending and cosmetology school, Rue doesn’t have time for babies, but he can’t give her up. What Rue needs is a babysitter, and he’s running out of options. He’s on the verge of quitting school to watch Alice himself when he remembers his reclusive new neighbor, Erik.

Erik Van Nuys is a sci-fi novelist with anxiety issues to spare. He doesn’t like people in general, and he likes babies even less. Still, with his royalties dwindling, he could use the extra cash. Reluctantly, he takes on the role of manny—and even more reluctantly, he finds himself falling for Alice and her flamboyant father.

Rue and Erik are as different as two people can be, and Alice is the unlikeliest of babies, but Rue has never been happier than when Alice and Erik are by his side. At least, not until he receives an offer that puts all his dreams within reach and he’s forced to choose: the future he’s always wanted, or the family he thought he never did.
Apparently Rue got so drunk one night that he decided that he was going to “test” his gayness and sleep with a woman. I’m not sure if they didn’t use a condom or if it ripped or what but a few months after that night the woman came to Rue and let him know that he was going to be a father and she doesn’t want to keep it after giving birth. Growing up without a steady home the last thing that Rue wanted was his child to be put up for adoption and not have a clue as to level of care the baby would receive. He immediately tells the woman that he will take the baby.
We then jump to Rue bringing the baby, Alice, home and the insanity of that. He did have a week off but basically had to go back to school and work almost immediately. He was desperate for a sitter and went to check out the local day cares. He was met with facilities that made him shudder with their lack of cleanliness to places that stuck their nose up at the fact that he was gay to places that would welcome him…when they had an opening in about 6 months. He is getting closer and closer to having to return to normal life and is completely frustrated. His best friend Dusty will watch Alice at night but he had no one for the day. He ends up asking his neighbor for help and is turned down flat. Rue then starts putting fliers around the apartment complex and slowly raising the amount he’d pay.
Let’s talk about the neighbor. Erik is a bit well, high strung. Ok, he’s more than that. Anxiety thy name is Erik. The guy had had to move out of his house of six years and that basically sent him in to a tailspin. He had never been good in crowds, had to have his groceries delivered so he wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store and watched the original Star War trilogy to calm himself down. The thought of having to take care of another person, especially one so small, made him practically have a panic attack. But, here’s the thing. He still had to pay the bills. Erick is an author of sci-fi novels and the royalty checks were getting smaller. He had submitted more work but it wasn’t getting picked up. In order to pay the bills he does some research on babies and decides that taking care of Alice in his own home would be better than having to face the world and get a job. *Shudder*
Erik starts to take care of Alice and Erik, Alice, Rue and Dusty all fall into a routine of sorts. They become friends and Erik slowly starts coming out of his shell. They all find common ground with Alice and eventually with each other. Erik, who’s never been attracted to anyone starts to have thoughts of him and Rue together and eventually falls in love with the other man. Rue’s not sure what’s happening with Erik but he’s afraid to make a move on him because he’s afraid of frightening him off. The pair finally come together and it’s awesome. The problem is that now that Rue is out of cosmetology school his friend in California (they’re in Delaware) has an awesome job for him but of course he would have to move to California. How can he even ask Erik to move with him when he knows how hard it is for Erik to accept change?
I’m not sure what I expected with this story but it definitely went above and beyond anything I might have imagined. Rue was an awesome character. He was thoughtful, kind, generous, loving and just an all around great guy. He was the fishnet & nail polish wearing kind of guy and I imagined him as one adorable twink who’d been around the block. As the story went on I admired Rue more and more. It started when he said he’d take Alice before she was even born without having to give it a second thought and it grew as the story went on and he took such care with her and his friends. He worked hard to provide for his little family and he did it well. He grew a lot in the book and I loved seeing that.
Erik was a mess. lol I loved him but he took a bit getting used to. I guess I’ve never spent a lot of time with someone who was that anxiety ridden so I was on the same mental level as he was at first. But then he became friends with Rue and Dusty and he came out of his shell. Talk about personal growth! He went from a medication taking hermit to a friend and a lover, a caretaker and a protector. He was amazing and I loved reading about him.
The story is very sweet and pretty angst free. It does have its moments but they were worked so well into the overall story that they never felt convoluted just to extend the page count. I felt that the book ended exactly where it should have but I have to say I would love (are you listening authors?) a short or a novella to tell a little about how Erik, Rue and Dusty are doing now. This one was definitely worth the read.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Guest Review: Ty’s Obsession by SJD Peterson

Posted May 18, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Ty’s Obsession (Whispering Pines Ranch #3)by SJD Peterson.

Ty Callahan knew Quinn Taylor was special the moment he first laid eyes on him. When the angry and heartbroken cowboy finally opens up, Ty sees the real man inside, and for the first time in years, Ty is ready to love again. There’s only one problem: Lorcan James. Although Lorcan has owned a piece of Quinn’s heart for some time, Ty is convinced he is the better man for Quinn and will stop at nothing to prove it.

Then Blake Henderson, a strong, dominant cowboy, strolls confidently into Ty’s life, offering an outlet for Ty’s anger, a chance to heal, and an option for his torn affections. Can Ty look beyond his feelings of rage and betrayal and find true peace, or will his obsession destroy them all?
Ty Callahan, a man who made his appearance in Book 2, Quinn’s Need, and a man who has been beaten down by life in every way possible. Now in this third book in the trilogy, Ty’s story become front and center and reader’s are given a more insightful treatment of his life as well as his deep hurt and frustration at losing his lover. Lorcan James has long been the focus of Quinn’s deepest caring, and it is understandable that Ty feels rejected and used now that Lorcan has returned to Quinn’s life and his bed.

There is a desperation and a sense of profound loss that is evident in Ty’s anger, in his need to find a way to hurt Lorcan for coming into Quinn’s life again and cheating Ty out of a chance to have real happiness, real joy, real sense of belonging. This story definitely has a strong BDSM content as that is the scenario in which Ty and Quinn originally met. In the lifestyle, Ty is called a “pain slut,” a person whose deep inner pain can only be tolerated if their physical pain helps them to express feelings they can’t express any other way. Ty was a man whose inner wounds were so profound that he couldn’t even name them–all he knew was that he was of no importance to anyone until he found Quinn. Now Blake has come into his life at a time when his anger is almost out of control, and it is as a strong and caring Dom that Blake is able to help Ty begin to feel cared for, feel that he has worth to someone other than Quinn, and to begin a love affair with someone who is not just using him.

There is an incredible amount of pain in all the books in this trilogy, but I think it reaches a peak with Ty’s great sense of loss and desperation. Where can he go now? Who really cares? How can he move on with his life with any sense of forward motion? For people who dislike BDSM or who have not read much about it, some of the actions of the characters will seem very negative. Yet there is an underlying balance that those who are kind and caring in their use of BDSM and Blake is one of those individuals. He is a man who is sort of misplaced as well–a man whose lover was beaten to death and it is that loss that has crushed his spirit for many months. As much as Ty receives from Blake’s caring and attention, there is most definitely a reverse giving that begins to heal Blake, to give him back his life and his ability to share genuine loving.

These books are all beautifully written and this third novel is filled with scenes that illustrate that overarching reality of sensitive and authentic love that these men share. As Quinn and Lorcan grow in their love for each other they become better able to reach out to some of the people who were “there ” for them as they were struggling to get back to each other. Lorcan’s old lover, Ty, the men who are an integral part of Quinn’s “family” at his ranch–all these begin to be graced with the deep love that Quinn and Lorcan make their own. Even with a HEA, there is also that reality that others in the story are moving forward in a positive way, that their story is an important part of Quinn and Lorcan’s story and will continue to be so. I don’t read a lot of M/M books, but this trilogy is wonderful, and I am so glad to have experienced all three books. This third novel just caps it off beautifully. Wonderfully written, edited, with a good use of language and good spelling–all the mechanics of a good novel are here. It’s just one really terrific read!!

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

The series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

.This book is available from Dreamspinner Press. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Hair of the Dog by Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James

Posted March 25, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Tracy’s review of Hair of the Dog by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James

It’s nine o’clock the morning after his father’s funeral, and Ezra Jones already knows it’s going to be a bad day. He wakes up hungover, sore, and covered in blood. Then it gets worse: the handsome and compelling Callum Dawson shows up on his doorstep claiming Ezra’s been turned into a werewolf. Ezra wants to be skeptical, but the evidence is hard to ignore.

Ezra doesn’t have a lot of time to get used to the rules Alpha Callum imposes—or the way his body responds to Callum’s dominance—as he’s busily working for the CDC to help uncover the origins of a lycan epidemic. When the sexual tension finally breaks, Ezra barely has time to enjoy it, because a new danger threatens. Someone wants Ezra for their own unscrupulous purposes and will do anything to get him.

Ezra feels like he’s been run over by a truck. His entire body aches and he has dried blood in his hair. As far as he can remember he was walking home from his father’s wake and he didn’t think he drank all that much. Why can’t he remember what happened.

When his doorbell rings Ezra is confronted with men in black – or at least that’s how he looks at it. He let’s the men in and they soon come up with a story that is beyond ridiculous…that he was bit by a sick werewolf – they prefer Lycan – and that he will soon turn into one as well. What? Really? He’s more than skeptical until the Alpha of the pack shows his teeth growing. Ezra follows directions and is soon ensconced in one of the pack members homes just waiting for the full moon. He’s bored and the hormones flying around – that he can now feel and almost taste on his tongue because of his heightened sense – are making him hornier than hell. Of course he wants nothing more than to take care of that issue with Callum but he was told that he wasn’t supposed to have sex until the full moon.

Ezra finally gets bored enough to force his way in to the Lycan side of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and offers to become Callum’s unpaid assistant. Callum is trying to figure out how the lycan that bit Ezra got sick. Callum thinks that it’s a disease but he’s not sure how to stop the hormones that are going crazy in the lycan’s system. Ezra helps and then in a twist of fate discovers that it’s not a disease at all but someone actually injecting the hormones into the lycans. Callum, Ezra and soon the FBI try to figure out who’s behind the atrocities before they can do any further damage.

Hair of the Dog is a decent suspense novel that I felt had a relationship in it. Can I call it a romance? Probably not but there are lust, sex and the I Love You’s involved.

The story of the hormone problem and the investigation that ensues really takes up the majority of the book. I really liked how the characters went about figuring things out and Ezra using his computer programming skills to help out. That part of the story worked really well for me.

Then there’s the relationship. We know from the get go that Ezra would jump Callum in a hot minute and that Callum pretty much feels the same but nothing can be done about it until the full moon. Once that moon rises Callum is all over Ezra and Ezra’s right there with him. From there Callum has Ezra in his bed and there’s no question that he will remain there. I liked that Callum finally made his move on Ezra but from that time we saw nothing of the daily ins and outs of the relationship as the men were caught up in the investigation. I understand that it was on their minds but I missed seeing the connection between the two men more clearly. I think the possessiveness was clear and present on Callum’s side and I could tell Ezra was getting more attached – I would have loved to have been shown the budding relationship more. The end I Love You scene just didn’t have the same punch as it would have had we had more insight.

The two female FBI agents were….interesting. I seriously didn’t know what to make of them when they first came on the scene. One talked like a tomboy surfer dude and the other was just odd. I honestly thought they weren’t really FBI and were playing Callum and Ezra until the book went on further. I kept thinking they were on the wrong side of the law. I was surprised when I realized they were on the up and up! lol

In the end it was a good book that I enjoyed reading but I did have some issues with it as you can see. I would definitely read more from these authors in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Dreamspinner Press. You can buy it here in e-format.

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