Book Title: A Secret to Keep
Author: Railyn Stone
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Blurb: Keeping secrets is a horrible way to live. Sloane Davis should know.
She’s kept her son a secret from his father for almost a year.
Now, her worst nightmare is coming true. Her ex is re-entering her professional life in the midst of the biggest project of her career. She’s about to come face to face with the only man she’s ever loved – her son’s father.
Gates McCall is a brash man. He hasn’t always been this way, but when Sloane walked out on him, something inside him broke. When his company’s newest acquisition brings the two of them together once more, little does he know seeing her will bring back a flood of memories, feelings, and an unexpected surprise.
My Review: The first thing I have to say is that this book made me angry. Like, homicidal angry. I also have a few things to declare, before I go into my review:
1 – Railyn Stone is a new-to-me author
2 – If I hadn’t agreed to review this book for the blog tour, it would have been a DNF by Chapter 5
3 – The more I read of the book, the more I gain an appreciation – if not quite an understanding – of the story
The story had so much potential, but the execution of the plot and the personality of the MC ‘Sloane’ don’t show off this great story to the potential it could be.
Book Title: My Man Declan
Author: Amber Kell
My Rating: ★★★★★
Blurb: Phoenix Moorhaven liked things just so. He likes his house running in perfect order, his coffee with a bit of blood and his manservant untouched by anyone—ever. When Declan decides to start dating Moor scrambles to intercede. After all messing with Declan could upset the pristine organization of his household.
Declan has pined for Moor long enough. Determined to have a life of his own Declan accepts a meeting with a blind date. However vampire masters and dating don’t mix and at the end of the night he’ll see a side of Moorhaven he never expected.
My Review: This was so yummy that once I started, I just ate it up.
First off, I could feel the electricity between Declan and Phoenix right from the start. There’s such a sizzle between them. It’s also the first book I’ve ever read, outside of Harry Potter, that’s taken on the house-elf angle and it worked brilliantly.
Such an engaging, dynamic book with an original plot and some real laugh out loud, cringe worthy, cutesy moments. I couldn’t have asked for more. I read it in one sitting, which might have been a mistakes, because now it’s over far too soon. I could happily read more of these characters, over and over again.
Worth every penny!
Book Title: The Riddle in Stone
Author: Robert Evert
My Ratings: ★★★★★ (for all 3 books)
1. Riddle in Stone
Long after the last of the great heroes of old has died, the Undead King is stirring again, amassing a goblin horde ready to sweep out of the mountains and destroy all of humanity. The only thing preventing utter annihilation is Edmund—a stuttering librarian who knows a secret, a secret that every thief, assassin, and king would kill to have. Fleeing from relentless peril, Edmund wages a solitary battle against an ancient evil. But how can one man succeed when so many before him have failed?
2. Betrayal in the Highlands
Pursued relentlessly by goblin hunters for the ancient secret he knows, Edmund the stuttering librarian fights back in the fast-paced sequel to the epic fantasy novel, RIDDLE IN STONE.
Edmund’s old, boring life is gone forever. Knowing the answer to a cryptic riddle that, if in the wrong hands, could destroy all of humanity, Edmund is hiding in a sleepy coastal town as far from the frozen mountains of the Undead King as possible. For a moment, he believes he’s finally safe. Then he learns that Molly, the woman he’s loved since childhood, is telling stories about him—stories that will get him and his friends killed. Edmund is forced to embark on a perilous journey home to confront the woman who broke his heart. If he fails, all will be lost.
3. Blood in Snow
The third installment in the epic RIDDLE IN STONE saga.
Having committed treason by claiming the Highlands for his own kingdom, Edmund—the one-eyed, stuttering former librarian—decides to stop running and make his final stand. Along with his best friend, Pond Scum, and his manic dog, Becky, he must fight off goblins, magic users, and King Lionel’s entire army in order to protect what he loves. However, his deadliest adversary is the approaching winter, and neither Edmund nor his men have the supplies they need to survive.
1. Riddle in Stone
Overall an excellent read. It has everything you could ever want in a good story: fantasy, torture, love, adversity, suffering, courage, mines, goblins, elves, riddles…I could go on. It’s a long book, but it is well worth the read. Trust me, if you pick it up and start reading, you will find yourself sitting for hours, getting engrossed in the story, no matter what your plans are.
2. Betrayal in the Highlands
The entire development of the plot is exciting. Not only do we know that the past is going to clash with Ed’s present and possibly haunt him to the very last page, but it’s made clear that he’d got new struggles to face, too. He and Pond stick together through it all, fighting every fight, facing every foe and discussing each adventure together, as equal partners.
The adventure is riveting and so different to book 1. While I loved Edmund’s experience in the pits, the experiences of this book – travelling, Dardenello, Long Ravine and Rood – are so well plotted and experienced, that it felt almost as if I was there. I love the detail of the world, further explored by Edmund’s adventures and the danger of each adventure.
I also love the events that happen in Rood, near the end of the book. I love the way that everything seems to come together and it becomes really exciting to see how that’s going to lead into book 3. The cliffhanger of the last few pages was just incredible and exciting. I didn’t see it coming.
3. Blood in Snow
This series is logged as a trilogy, however I expect we’ll find that there are more trilogies or just one more, to come. The story is not finished. There are loose ends, hints at more trouble to come and I know that the author is planning a novel about Kravel, which will be great.
I know that Ellie is going to have a really big part and that it won’t be pretty. I know that Ed will have some harsh truths to face, at one point in the future, if he lives that long, and that Abby’s going on a new adventure for him. I also know that the story of Iliandor’s diary and the formula is not over.
Honestly, I’ll be first in line for any book that continues this series, especially if Ed in the main character. I can’t get enough of him, as a hero. Maybe he could even have a real love interest, next time? Who knows. With Ed – in Rood – anything is possible. And I want to be there, to see what’s next in his story.
Book Title: Blue Ruin
Author: Katrina Strauss
My Ratings: All books, bar #4 – ★★★★☆, Book 4 – ★★★★★
1. Some Kind of Stranger
Derek Graves’s desire for the perfect sexual “prisoner” has left him with a dark reputation and a string of jilted lovers. He needs a partner who wants the pleasure and the pain he can give. After his search lands him on the wrong end of the fantasy at the hands of ruthless predator, Derek returns to his accustomed hunting ground of Blue Ruin with one purpose in mind: revenge.
He gets it, but he also ends up rescuing the predator’s next intended victim, a homeless blue-haired waif who is just Derek’s type. He brings the incoherent young man home, needing to find out what he saw, and ensure he won’t tell anyone. The scenario couldn’t be more perfect to service Derek’s dominant fantasies —
Shane “Blue” McGowan wakes up groggy, blindfolded, and chained to a stranger’s bed. Upon finding himself in luxurious surroundings, the cunning Blue realizes two things: he has no desire to return to a life on the streets, and his handsome captor stirs strange and unfulfilled longings in him.
Manipulating the terms of his own “imprisonment,” Blue swings a place to stay in exchange for his silence about a second stranger left beaten and unconscious behind Blue Ruin. To sweeten the deal, Blue agrees to become Derek’s submissive. But as their relationship progresses, Derek finds himself wondering whether Blue is truly at Derek’s mercy, or is Derek at his?
2. Close to Me
Blue finds pleasure in playing pet to Derek, but is eager to pursue goals outside of their relationship. When Blue starts GED classes and expands his social circle, Derek affords him room to grow, trusting love is enough to keep his restless pet in line.
That love is put to the test when Cameron Carter reappears in Blue’s life. A hurtful crush from Blue’s school days, Cameron is a reformed adult now and seeks absolution for old wrongs. While Blue must find it in his heart to forgive Cameron, the greater challenge lies in keeping his unrequited desire for the former bully at bay.
Derek finds himself torn between enforcing boundaries and allowing Blue closure to heal old wounds. Meanwhile, Cameron struggles to forgive himself for the pain he once caused the boy he secretly loved. As Cameron and Blue begin the road to recovery, the sizzling chemistry between them can no longer be ignored. Caught between two strong-willed men, can Blue prove his loyalty to one while denying his attraction for the other?
Or, is it possible that Blue can have them both? Katrina Strauss tests the boundaries of faith, loyalty, forgiveness, and love in Close to Me, the second installment of her BDSM yaoi romance series, Blue Ruin.
3. Chains of Love
As Blue’s master, Derek has plenty of toys and ingenuity at his disposal, but his high-priced loft isn’t the best environment for raising Blue’s BDSM training to the next level. If only he had a basement and the proper “hardware…” Blue has other worries. Still conflicted between his love for Derek and his feelings for Cameron, he’s due to face a killer in court and the accompanying publicity storm once the press connects the star witness to his powerful father. Seeking a break from the real world, he expresses his darker fantasies to his master. Blue should be careful what he wishes for. Blue lands himself in the clutches of the Balkan mob, and Derek must negotiate his freedom. The highly dangerous, very sexy Sasha offers the couple playtime in his private dungeon during Blue’s stay. The catch? In exchange for Blue’s release, Sasha gets to supervise.
4. Need You Tonight
Blue’s summer is heating up in more ways than one. When he befriends Dusty Sterling, he sees the opportunity to give his master Derek their first true threesome. But first, Blue must meet a requirement issued by Derek.
Derek is content with Blue as his exclusive lover, but when offered the chance to bring the beautiful Dusty into their bedroom, Derek can’t resist. He agrees to Blue’s idea under one condition — it’s Blue who must seduce Dusty.
Blind since birth, Dusty is proud, independent, and knows what he wants. In need of temporary shelter, he accepts an offer to stay with Derek and Blue. The fact that he finds them both attractive doesn’t hurt, but Dusty must let his hosts in on a secret – his unique and sometimes frightening way of seeing.
When Dusty’s nightmares reflect a pair of real life murders, Blue uses his connections with the police to bring Dusty in on the case. The friends grow closer both in and out of the bedroom, but their bond will truly be tested by the evil that lurks in plain sight.
5. Only You
Derek and Blue are settling down after their first eventful year together. To Derek’s relief, Blue’s managed to avoid kidnappers, mobsters, and murderers, not to mention he’s stopped suggesting those hot but complicated threesomes. Their love is strong, the BDSM play kinkier than ever, but the couple is learning the normal, everyday world comes with trials of its own.
Derek faces the crunch as finances grow strained. Blue struggles to accept his best friend Jodi’s new relationship with a sexy but questionable boyfriend. And then there’s their parents. Between a visit from Derek’s estranged mother, and a looming scandal with Blue’s high profile father, simmering tensions threaten to erupt.
When Derek takes an out of town job, he faces temptation in the form of the attractive young man “who might have been.” Meanwhile, Blue is left home to weather the brewing storm alone, and when a lie comes to light, it may well be unforgivable. As the distance between Master and servant grows by more than just miles, can their hard-earned love endure? Katrina Strauss concludes the Blue Ruin series with the fifth and final installment, Only You.
1. Some Kind of Stranger
I loved this!
By the time I’d got to know Blue and Derek, I’d fallen in love with them. Make no mistake, this is no light and fluffy, sugary sweet romance. This is a hard core BDSM Dom/Sub relationship that was sometimes just a little uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. But the relationship and character development were gold! So well written, well plotted and presented that I literally couldn’t put it down.
I also kind of love that both boys are damaged, in quite a bit way, because they come together and heal each other, over time. It’s not rushed, it’s not love at first sight. It’s an instant attraction that blossoms into something intense and overpowering.
2. Close to Me
Okay, so I have mixed feelings about this story. Really, it’s a 3.5, but I’m marking it up to 4, because I love Derek and Blue so much.
I’m not a fan of cheating in books. Especially not in developed relationships that I’ve invested time and emotions into, like here with Derek and Blue. I also don’t like characters justifying kissing or anything more than that, but less than sex, as not cheating. It is. At least, it is to me.
I was kind of disappointed in Blue, in this story. The disappointment came from not knowing or understanding his previous relationship with Cameron well enough. In book 1, we had a flashback mentioned, never shown and we never really found out all the details about it. That didn’t bother me, when I thought it wasn’t that important. Well, it’s important to this story and we still don’t get all the details.
Also, the ‘crime’ element, which I’m guessing is a theme throughout the series, is a little weird. I love a crime element and I love how it was done in book 1. I had no clue what was going on there or who to suspect. Unfortunately, I did suspect the person in this book, though it was a little…shall we say ridiculous? I’m really not sure what other word to use. Far-fetched might be better. It made no sense and there was no logic or history behind it, other than one mentioned event in the past that was downplayed. That didn’t made any sense to me, either.
But, saying all of that, the relationship between Derek and Blue is just as great as before.
3. Chains of Love
Okay, so this one made me love Blue a little more, since the last book had me questioning his loyalty to Derek. This one made sense of all of that. I really began to understand that what Blue was looking for with Cameron was closure, while in this book, he gets a little snuggly with Sasha, looking for someone who will push his boundaries, the way Derek isn’t willing to.
That totally makes sense to me.
I love that we get both sides of the story; that we see how conflicted Blue is and Derek’s struggles. I know what the whole supermarket scene is about and where that’s going to lead, which is exciting, and I think if it goes well, it will make Sasha very happy, too. 😉
The ending was well done, but I had a few niggles with believability. The crime element was also a little incredulous, towards the end, but it’s fiction, so I’m going with it.
The niggles are what take this down to 4 stars instead of 5. This one, of all the series, had the most potential for a 5 star, but it did leave me scratching my head at moments, wondering how they was possible.
Saying that, I’m really looking forward to the next two books.
4. Need You Tonight
This one was the perfection I’ve been hoping for, since I started this series. It hurts my heart to leave it behind and move on to the last book. This one actually made me cry.
Dusty is exactly what Blue says he is – something special. He’s strong, resilient and lightens the intensity between Derek and Blue, but it was nice to see all three of them together, as well.
This time, the crime element made total sense, Blue wasn’t a slut and everything just came together perfectly. There isn’t much I can say without giving it all away, but I was disappointed to see that Dusty didn’t end up with Sasha; that was my preferred solution for that situation, ever since I finished the last book and read this one’s blurb. But I do believe Dusty will love living in a little hick town, in a cute little house with a certain someone.
By far the best book of the series, so far.
5. Only You
This is a 3.5 for me. The story definitely needed any ending, for the series, but this wasn’t the one I wanted or expected. I’m afraid that I also don’t think it did the series justice.
Blue was pretty innocent this time, acting his age and letting the stress get on top of him. Derek was his usual charming self and I like that the story revisited the whole Adrian in incident. I also like that Sasha, Dusty and Cam made an appearance, for however long. It, unfortunately, felt more like the author was trying to answer all the unanswered questions of the series in one go and it just didn’t work for me. It didn’t feel natural for the story.
There was no crime element this time, as there was in every previous book, which might be why it read differently than the others. Sadly, though I still love Blue and Derek, their relationship sort of crumbles in this book, with a hasty patch up job in the last chapter.
I was disappointed, after the perfection of book 4, that this one couldn’t carry that torch a little further. I rounded up my rating to a 4, purely because of how much I love the Derek and Blue pairing, their dynamic and the way they seem to understand each other, even when the rest of the world doesn’t.
Book Title: Something Like A Love Song
Author: Becca Burton
My Rating: ★★★★★
Blurb: One tragic night left Landon and Dylan’s dreams of happily ever after in apparent ruin. Forced to overcome physical and emotional trauma, the young lovers turn to a network of family and friends as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Can their one constant—their love—survive the changes both undergo on the road to recovery?
My Review: Overall, I just really want to congratulate Becca Burton on a fantastic first novel. This is the kind of debut that should and will win awards and accolades of the highest degree. There’s something special and meaningful in these words that, although the story is fiction, will resonate with so many people. Whether it’s Dylan, Adele, Landon or Helen’s story that touches you – or someone else entirely – the way these characters are crafted and the way the story is told makes this a painful, emotional, heart-wrenching read that is a must for anyone who loves the M/M genre.
I promise you won’t be disappointed.
This is a story of hope, of overcoming fears and a reminder that not all love is fleeting. Sometimes the strongest thing about a couple is their love for one another and how it can get them through anything. Just like Dylan and Landon.
This is, in no way, a Happily Ever After. But neither is life. And that makes this even more perfect.
Book Title: Close Protection
Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge
My Rating: ★★★★★
Blurb: A bodyguard’s life is turned upside down by his intriguing new charge. After three consecutive expulsions for sexual misconduct, Luca D’Amato has no choice but to return to America. Jacob Ryder is the man charged with protecting him from his family’s many enemies – but who will protect Ryder from Luca?
My Review: There’s an excellent balance of danger, romance and humour throughout the entire story. The characterisation, plot, romance, D/s element, storytelling and the criminal aspects of the story were all so perfectly weaved together that there’s not much I could say, in a negative way.
The sex is explosive – no matter who it’s with. There are regular, very hot, sex scenes, but the most touching, intimate moments are between Ryder and Luca. And, most importantly, they happen when they’re not touching or being overtly sexual. That’s what makes this so incredible.
I cried a few times, because I was emotionally invested in these characters and their lives, right from the story. My interest never wavered/faltered, despite the length and I’m still trying to think of how to express what this book made me feel, although I finished the book hours ago.
However, I would have liked an Epilogue of some sort, because I feel it stopped a little short. Considering the book was so long, so that it could cover the complexity of their relationship, I would have liked a little chapter at the end, maybe a year or two later. I’m not sure what I want it to say, but I feel that it’s not quite finished.
Honestly, however perfect this story was, I felt a bit of a dip in the last few chapters, that told us more than it showed. There seemed to be a little rush to get to the end and it limited the impact of some of the scenes.
Book Title: Class Mate, parts #1 and #2
Author: Yamila Abraham
My Ratings: ★★★★★ (for both books)
A magical oracle forces the austere Mr. Taggert to fall in love with his capricious student Duncan.
Duncan’s numerous absences caused him to be held back three times. At age 19 his last chance to graduate is in Mr. Taggert’s class. He’s happy to be there since he’s had a crush on the sophisticated disciplinarian for a while. Taggert is shocked when the boy flirts with him. No one’s ever looked at the stern man that way before. At first he thinks Duncan is teasing him, but the boy soon makes his feelings clear.
Taggert isn’t about to have his career destroyed by a lovesick schoolboy—even one as lovely as Duncan. When Duncan prays to the oracle to intervene the flustered teacher is put in an even more compromising situation!
Part #2 – Conclusion
Teacher Mr. Taggert and student Duncan struggle to keep their love a secret at Chambridge Academy. Duncan refuses to wait until graduation to be with him. With the malevolent Ms. Gray hawking their every move Taggert is at his wits end.
Layer upon layer of complications beset the two lovers. They find they aren’t just separated by age, but by class. This is a reflection of their community. While the poor burn in a foundry accident the wealthy gossip and judge. Taggert and Duncan know their union will either become a bridge between the two worlds—or they’ll be run out of town.
I really enjoyed this. Other than some fan-fic I’ve read, it’s the first Yaoi for me and I’ll be reading more, because of this.
Yes, there were a few small issues with missing words or spelling, but I loved the story that much that it really deserves a 5. Funny, intriguing, kept me reading and had me laughing out loud and squirming at the risks Duncan took. I just love his character. I can’t wait for more of these characters and to delve into this genre.
Just as good, if not better than the first one. LOVED every minute of it. Some really laugh out loud moments, some Aww, lovey-dovey stuff. I could just read this series forever.