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2016 Yearbook – Part 1

My Yearbook of Awesome Books has come around again. I hope you find some favourites or some potential next reads.

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AWARD - Special Mention

Vinyl Tiger - Dave Di Vito

Vinyl Tiger by Dave Di Vito

Sometimes stars aren’t born. They’re made.
It’s the end of the disco era and London is burning. But queer, underground act Alekzandr is determined to make it even if his musical shortcomings are obvious to everyone.
Talent is a noble thing, but what Alekzandr quickly learns is that a willingness to do just about anything is what it takes to make it in the music industry. Whatever the obstacles.
Because the best pop stars don’t just make music. They make waves.

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Review

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AWARD - Fairytale

The Winter Prince - R. Cooper

The Winter Prince by R. Cooper

His heart stolen by a powerful pari’s magic, a young prince’s veins slowly fill with ice. That is what the stories say. Three years have passed since, and all efforts to save Kisin have failed. He won’t survive another winter. To save the prince’s life, Razin, the court wizard and Kisin’s childhood friend, plans to seek out the pari. But unbeknownst to Razin, Kisin’s heart was never stolen; he gave it freely to escape the pain of impossible love—his love for Razin.
Razin won’t accept Kisin’s fate, for reasons obvious to anyone who knows anything of love. Kisin agrees to the desperate quest, out of duty and a need to protect Razin. But it isn’t long before Razin realizes saving his prince will require more than simply retrieving his heart. Razin will have to convince him to want it.

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Review

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AWARD - Fantasy

His Master's Summons, Azgarth's Chose Book 1, Cassie Sweet (2)

His Master’s Summons (Azgarth’s Chosen #1) by Cassie Sweet

At the chasm between life and death lurks the art of reanimation.
When world-famous violinist Andres Valentine is pushed from a window to his death by Herr Maestro Wilhelm Kering, he is snatched back from the abyss by a doctor well-versed in reanimation. Contrary to popular belief, Andres’s life up to this point has not been filled with opulent soirees and adoring fans, but is controlled by a hellish force, a being of the dark fae—Azgarth.
Henri Vauss is a medical student who works for a man capable of raising the dead. Even though the practice is controversial, Henri sees the revolutionary side of the science and enjoys the challenges he finds in Dr. Stanslovich’s lab. Ever since taking on the case of Valentine, though, odd occurrences have infected the manor, making Henri question everything he believes about science and the world.
When Valentine confides to Henri that he wants to be rid of Azgarth’s bonds, Henri vows to find a way to free him, never expecting to get caught in the snare of the fae master.

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Review

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AWARD - Ghost

For Never and Always - Ana J. Phoenix

For Never and Always by Ana J. Phoenix

Seth finds himself alone at an abandoned train station, with no idea what happened, or how he got there. He boards a train, only to discover it’s a special express transporting the recently deceased to their final destination. The conductor tells him he’s having a near-death experience. Seth wonders if it has something to do with his violent boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the hell off the train before he actually dies. But when he spots his best friend and secret crush among the traveling dead, the urge to leave fades…

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Review

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AWARD - Music

Anthem1_1024x1024

Anthem by A.M. Leibowitz

Trevor Davidson has everything going for him. He’s just moved out on his own with three friends, and he’s landed a job as music director at a large Boston church. He has high hopes for marrying his long-term girlfriend and settling into a comfortable, devout lifestyle.
Andre Cole has spent the past few years throwing himself into a dead-end job at a Cape Cod-based call center. When an opportunity to move back to Boston arises, Andre believes it will be the do-over he needs to put his past behind him.
A chance meeting in a club on New Year’s Eve brings Trevor and Andre together for a brief but steamy encounter. Both assuming that’s the end of it, they are unexpectedly thrown back into each other’s lives when Trevor’s church hires Andre for their website design. While Andre is content at first to move on, Trevor’s conflicted feelings bubble over into his songwriting. Before he can stop it, his ode to Andre becomes an inadvertent Christian radio hit.
Unfortunately for Trevor, he isn’t the only one who knows the song’s hidden meaning. Someone has leaked the story and upended Trevor’s life. In order to put the pieces back together, he needs to learn to be honest with his girlfriend, with Andre, and especially with himself.

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Review

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AWARD - Series #1

Caitlin Ricci - A Planet Called Wish #1 - To the Highest Bidder Caitlin Ricci - A Planet Called Wish #2 - Fantasy for a Gentleman

To the Highest Bidder (A Planet Called Wish, #1)
by Caitlin Ricci

The Intergalactic Star Pilot Academy has accepted Thierry Leroux into the elite class of sky year 2231. But the academy comes with a hefty price tag, and there’s no way he, a poor Sythe orphan, has the credits the academy requires. Thierry’s brother, Corbin, a high-class companion, suggests Thierry sell his virginity for the cost of tuition. It seems like a ridiculous idea, but it may be Thierry’s only shot, so Thierry asks Corbin to arrange a meeting on the pleasure planet of Wish.
On Wish, Thierry meets Corbin’s boss, Monroe, and they agree to auction off Thierry’s virginity. Thierry is grateful to the masked buyer he knows only as “Dragonfly,” and Dragonfly is gentle, making Thierry’s first time a good memory. When Dragonfly requests to see him again, and pay for the pleasure, Thierry returns to Wish. But in this game, falling in love is dangerous for the heart, and Thierry might not like the man behind the mask.

Fantasy for a Gentleman (A Planet Called Wish, #2)
by Caitlin Ricci

For two decades Corbin Leroux has worked on the planet Wish as a high-priced companion. He loves his life where physical pleasure is encouraged and has no intention of quitting it. Corbin sees his clients almost as part of his family. Not even when bounty hunter Emmanuel Leoniste comes to kill him will Corbin roll over and give up his lifestyle.
Despite being a hired killer, Emmanuel lives by a strict moral code. Killing whores is acceptable, and easy. Or it was until he met up with Corbin. Worn down by the pesky Corbin’s resolve, Emmanuel accepts Corbin’s bribe and calls off the hit. But the truce might not last. Emmanuel’s mounting desires for Corbin cause problems. He refuses to allow anyone close enough to become intimate with him, especially someone like Corbin. Yet with each smile and soft kiss, Emmanuel’s emotional shield is dismantled piece by piece.

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Review

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AWARD - MM Historical

The Innocent Auction. Cover.

The Innocent Auction by Victoria Sue

London 1810.
Their love was a death sentence.
Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, was aware of the slums and gin-lanes of London. Just as he was aware of the underground traffic that furnished the brothels and bath houses with human innocents. He was also aware that the so-called justice system would hang the accused without much of an attempt at a defense, unless the unfortunate had deep pockets to pay for it.
He just hadn’t expected to be directly involved in any of it.
It started with a plea for help and ended with forbidden love, the love between a Viscount and a stable-boy. An impossible love and a guarantee of the hangman’s noose.
Will Deacon fight for Tom? Will he risk the death sentence and take that fight from the stately halls of his English mansion to the horrors of Newgate Prison and the slums of London?
Or will he realize that if he doesn’t, death will be a welcome end to the loneliness of the sentence he is already living?

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Review

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AWARD - Yaoi

Protagonist's Antagonist

Protagonist’s Antagonist by G. Streator

Marshall Blue arrests a young and snippy gun runner named Ricky Doyle. When Doyle refuses to give up information about his boss, Isaac Horne, Marshall interrogates and tortures Doyle for the information. In the process, Marshall admires Doyle for his determination and strength, but fails to convince Doyle to join the agency that employs him.
Five years after he tortured and interrogated Doyle, Marshall Blue finds himself captured and under the thumb of Isaac Horne, Doyle’s boss. Doyle, who learned from his experiences with Marshall, now interrogates Marshall in between Isaac’s relentless torture. However, Doyle’s interrogation of Marshall appears as kindness when contrasted against Isaac’s treatment, and as he slowly loses his mind and memories, he begins to become infatuated with him. Doyle, in the meantime, grows tired of Isaac’s treatment of Marshall and finds his feelings for him growing.
In this romance, Marshall tries to survive his toxic and brutal environment while Doyle struggles with whether or not he should do the right thing despite his fading feelings for Horne and his loyalty to his organization.

This book contains explicit gay sex and some scenes of non-consensual sex.

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Review

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AWARD - Shifter

Devotion - Grace R. Duncan Patience - Grace R. Duncan 2 Acceptance (Forbes Mates, #3)

Devotion (Forbes Mates #1) by Grace R. Duncan

Will Tanner realize he’s wrong and claim his mate before Finley’s devotion is gone?

Finley Cooper is tired of waiting for his destined mate to be ready to claim him. In deference to human laws, he’s already agreed to wait until he’s eighteen. But now his birthday has come and gone—and his mate has a new set of excuses. Finley doesn’t understand it any more than his wolf does, and he’s beginning to wonder if fate made a mistake.

Tanner Pearce wants nothing more than to claim his mate, but he worries that Finley is too young. Tanner will never forget what happened when his best friend mated at Finley’s age, only to have that mate end up feeling trapped and breaking their bond. While rare, it can happen, and the fallout Tanner witnessed as his best friend tried to deal with the break has haunted him for years.

When Finley finally has enough, he threatens to find someone who will claim him if Tanner doesn’t, and Tanner realizes he needs to come to terms with his fears or risk losing his mate forever.

Patience (Forbes Mates #2) by Grace R. Duncan

Jamie Ryan was almost ready to accept he’d never find his destined mate. They’re uncommon to begin with and same-sex versions downright rare. Since his gay best friend found a destined mate, Jamie figured he was out of luck. Until end of semester stress forces him to go through the full-moon shift early. Stuck in wolf form, he runs into none other than his destined mate. Who’s human.

Chad Sutton has always had good instincts. They served him well as a detective and continued on when he went private. Those instincts tell him there’s something about the dog that comes up to him while running away from animal control that isn’t quite right. He works to put the pieces together, but is unsuccessful until his dog turns into a human before his eyes.

Jamie has no idea what a shifter mate bite will do to a human. He’s terrified to try—and possibly kill his mate. They hunt together for answers while working together on a case for Chad. It’s easy to see they belong together, but Jamie fears the gods gave him someone he can’t keep.

Acceptance (Forbes Mates #3) by Grace R. Duncan

Dr. Miles Grant acknowledges that his destined mate could be either gender even though his bisexuality cost him his family and his pack. Luckily he found the Forbes Pack, who happily accepts him just as he is. What he never counted on was finding his mate in Pittsburgh or for his mate to be another species entirely—a cat!

Quincy Archer isn’t just any jaguar shifter. He is the heir to the leadership of his pride. Destined mates are nothing but legend to the nearly extinct and generally solitary jaguars, and Quincy certainly never expected to find one for himself, much less a male… or a wolf.

However, finding each other and coming to terms with their species is the least of their worries. Quincy is expected to select a proper female mate, father a cub, and take his place as heir to the pride. Except Quincy refuses, having no interest in women or leadership and knowing he isn’t right for it. But his father will stop at nothing—not even attempting to kill Miles—to get his way. Quincy and Miles must overcome many obstacles to stay together as the destined mates they’re meant to be.

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Reviews for Books 1-2

Review for Book 3

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AWARD - Historical

Branded - Clare London

Branded (Gold Warrior #1-2) by Clare London

Maen is a Gold Warrior, an elite defender of Aza City, respected by his fellow soldiers and favored by his imperious Mistress for services both in and out of the bedchamber. His loyalty and commitment are unwavering until he recruits Dax, a captivating and challenging Bronzeman who, despite his youth and inexperience, seduces Maen with his fierce hero worship. When they’re captured by enemies of the City, Maen risks everything to save Dax: his position, his faith, and even his life. But he loses his lover to the rebels and upon his return to the City is stripped of his rank.
In Aza, where a soldier’s only lawful devotion is to the City and his Mistress’s pleasure, the disgraced Maen is placed under the watchful guard of the arrogant Gold Warrior Zander and relegated to preparing a Royal History for the new Queen. But his discoveries cast a new and shocking light on the past and threaten to stir revolution in both citizens and rebels. With the help of the lively and inquisitive scribe Kiel, Maen initiates a chain of events that will change their world forever—and offer him the chance to regain both his honor and his heart’s desire.

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Review

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AWARD - Best M-preg

Mending the Rift - Chris T. Kat

Mending the Rift, by Chris T. Kat

In a future where man’s ability to reproduce is severely compromised, humanity has adapted to survive. Breeders—male and female—have become precious commodities, and they are strictly guarded and subject to limitations.

Luca Walker is a breeder. Though he knows what’s expected of him as the youngest son of the Northern Confederacy’s vice president, he’s held out against the pressures of an arranged marriage because he longs to marry for love, not duty. But he’s been promised to Colonel Liam Smith and there’s little he can do about it, no matter that Luca is secretly in love with his bodyguard, Marcus Gray.

When Luca finds himself pregnant with Marcus’s baby, Smith is furious and vows to take what is his—by force, if necessary. Now Luca must fight for his life and the life of his unborn child… as well as the love of Marcus and the happily ever after he’s always dreamed of.

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Review

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AWARD - Emotional Rollercoaster

A Good Enough Reason 2

A Good Enough Reason, by C.M. Lievens

High school seniors Ellis and Dale are as different as day and night, or so Ellis believes. Ellis loves to write, while Dale loves soccer. Ellis has only a handful of friends, and Dale is Mr. Popularity. But when they’re partnered up for an AP English project, Ellis learns different can be good. Really good.
Dale Stephens has it all: friends, a hot girlfriend, mad soccer skills—and a secret. He’s bisexual, but because he’s never been in love with a boy, it’s always been easier to keep that part of himself hidden. Until Ellis changes everything.
As their love grows, Dale realizes it’s Ellis he wants to be with—only he’s not ready for the world to know about them, especially after the way his mom reacts to the news.
But when they are outed by a bully who has made a career out of tormenting Ellis, Dale and Ellis must face down their fears and try to stay together. What will happen when the bully goes too far? Will Ellis come out of it unscathed?

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Review

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AWARD - Series

chronicles-of-tournai-1-4

The Prince’s Consort (Chronicles of Tournai, #1) by Antonia Aquilante

Legends tell of large cats defending the principality of Tournai, but such creatures have been lost to time.

Or have they?

Prince Philip inherited the throne at a young age, and since then, his life has centered around ruling his country and resisting those pressuring him to take a wife and conceive an heir—forcing him to hide his attraction to men. When kind-hearted Amory is offered to the prince in exchange for more time for Amory’s father to complete a commission, both Philip and Amory are horrified. But Philip agrees to keep Amory at the palace, where they gradually become friends, then lovers. For the first time in his life, Philip is free to share not only his heart, but the magical shape-shifting ability that runs in the royal bloodline.

Neither Amory nor Philip imagined falling in love, and they certainly don’t expect the lengths those who oppose their relationship will go to keep them apart—maybe even resorting to murder.

The Artist’s Masquerade (Chronicles of Tournai, #2) by Antonia Aquilante

As the first-born son of the Duke of Tournai and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always tried to fulfill his duty to family and country, including following through with an arranged marriage to Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal. Cathal doesn’t know that Flavia is really Flavian, a man masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive place in which Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.

Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s true gender, he cannot fight his attraction to him. Flavian is intrigued by Cathal, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries Cathal is more taken with his feminine illusion than the man beneath it. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent that allows him to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—a skill invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.

The Scholar’s Heart (Chronicles of Tournai, #3) by Antonia Aquilante

Youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart who juggles his work for the prince with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, something of particular interest to him because he shares the magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. Etan’s peaceful world turns upside down when his best friend—the man he secretly loves—unexpectedly marries a woman. Though Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, he is a dutiful son, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family.

A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quickly—something Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together, and even as they succumb to the desires they’ve always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside again. When Tristan’s daughter is kidnapped, Etan and Tristan must come together to find her, find the person responsible, and support each other through the ordeal… and maybe beyond.

The Sorcerer’s Guardian (Chronicles of Tournai #4) by Antonia Aquilante

Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, has honed his Talent through years of study and made magic his life. Among the wealthy and noble circles he moves in, no one would suspect the handsome, refined, and arrogant sorcerer’s humble beginnings, which is how Savarin prefers it. Tournai’s princes task Savarin with studying and strengthening the spells that protect the principality from magical attack. They are complex, centuries old, and exactly the type of puzzle Savarin is eager to solve. To his annoyance, the princes insist Loriot accompanies him.

Loriot worked his way up the ranks of the royal guard to captain and takes pride in his service. He must obey the princes’ orders to protect Savarin, despite believing his skills would be best used elsewhere. And despite his wariness of magic. UnTalented himself, he has learned not only the benefits of magic but also its potential for harm—and how to counter it. Loriot and Savarin clash during their journey, but there’s another reason for the tension between them, and passion develops into feelings neither expected. But Savarin must still fortify Tournai’s magical barrier, and his only solution endangers both him and the royal family.

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Reviews for Books 1-3

Review for Book 4

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award-mystery

Blood Divine by Greg Howard

Cooper Causey spent a lifetime eluding the demons of his youth and suppressing the destructive power inside him. But a disconcerting voicemail lures Cooper back home to the coast of South Carolina and to Warfield—the deserted plantation where his darkness first awakened. While searching for his missing grandmother, Cooper uncovers the truth about his ancestry and becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural races. In order to protect the only man he’s ever loved, Cooper must embrace the dark power threatening to consume him and choose sides in a deadly war between the righteous and the fallen.

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Review

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award-ya-series

Key of Behliseth (The Sun Child Chronicles #1)

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

Wraith Queen’s Veil (The Sun Child Chronicles #2)

Lucky expected his arrival in Ethra, the world of his birth, to be a happy occasion. Unfortunately, something is awry at the Sisterhold—his home—especially in his mother’s insincere smiles. The Sisterhold is soon immersed in battle plans and magical emergencies, and Lucky’s confidants, like the wizard Thurlock, often disappear. His mother grows more secretive, and even Han Shieth, the warrior uncle Lucky thought he could always depend upon, becomes increasingly aloof.

Hurt, confused, and left to his own devices, Lucky makes unfortunate choices that put him and his friends, L’Aria and Zhevi, in dire peril. With threats around every corner, not even Han is safe from the growing evil. It falls to Lucky—on his own—to find the answers, but he doesn’t even know what questions to ask. Over the course of his journey, clues to Lucky’s destiny are revealed, and his power increases. Armed with knowledge and strength, he sets out to ensure the safety of those he cares about, now and in the future. But his efforts may come too late.

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Review for Book 1

Review for Book 2

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award-thriller-suspense

The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias

A nun commits suicide in front of thousands in Spain. In Australia, Siobhan Russo recognises that nun as her mother, Denise Russo, who disappeared six years ago.
In search of answers, Siobhan travels to the isolated convent where her mother once lived. Here she discovers Denise’s final confession, a book that details a heinous betrayal that left her crippled and mute, and Denise’s subsequent deal with the Devil to take revenge. In the desperate bargain Denise made with the Prince of Darkness, she wagered Siobhan’s soul.
As Siobhan discovers the fate of her soul, she learns that hidden within the pages of her mother’s confession is part of The Devil’s Prayer, an ancient text with the power to unleash apocalyptic horrors.
And now her mother’s enemies know Siobhan has it.
Can Siobhan escape an order of extremist monks determined to get the Prayer back? Can she save the world from its own destruction?

Explicit Content Warning: “The Devil’s Prayer” is a historical horror thriller that contains brutality, rape, sex, drug abuse and murder. Readers may find its content offensive and confronting.

You can view the video teaser for the book on https://vimeo.com/156061258.

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Review

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award-super

Hearts of Darkness by Andrea Speed

Kaede Hiyashi is sick and tired of living in the shadow of his father, supervillain Doctor Terror. Brilliant but crazy, Doctor Terror sends his son to Corwyn, California, for reasons Kaede can’t imagine. Sent to accompany and protect him is Ash, a genetically modified supersoldier raised and trained by an infamous death cult.

Corwyn is lousy with superheroes, led by the obnoxious Dark Justice. Kaede finds himself dancing around Dark Justice as he digs into his father’s mysterious business and teaches his socially awkward—but physically lethal—bodyguard to acclimate to “normal” life. Can these two wacky supervillains figure out what Doctor Terror wants them to do, solve the riddle of the villain known as Black Hand, and keep Dark Justice from raining on their bloody parade? The course of love—and world domination—never did run smooth.

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Review

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award-shapeshifter-short

The Soldati Prince (Soldati Hearts #1) by Charlie Cochet

One moment Riley Murrough is living a normal life working in a coffee shop, and the next he’s running for his life from demons, learns he bears the mark of a shape-shifter king from a magical realm, and—worst of all—he’s destined to become the mated prince to the arrogant tiger shifter he would rather strangle.

Khalon, the shifter king, is equally distraught at the idea of being bound to a human prince, and along with his Soldati warriors, he sets out to return Riley to his own world where he belongs. On their journey they might discover why the priestess brought them together—if they can escape the demons and make it to her alive.

First Edition published as The Soldati Prince in Charmed & Dangerous by JCP Books LLC, 2015.

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Review

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award-prison

Rebirth (Eternal Dungeon #1) by Dusk Peterson

“‘This prisoner deserves special treatment.’ The hooded man looked over at the young man again.”

Elsdon Taylor, a prisoner accused of committing a terrible murder. Layle Smith, a torturer with a terrible past. Their meeting in the Eternal Dungeon appears certain to bring out the worst in both men.

Yet neither man is quite what he appears. As the prisoner and his torturer begin to be drawn toward each other, the ripple effects of their meeting will have a powerful impact on other inhabitants of the Eternal Dungeon: Layle’s faithful guard, struggling to contain his doubts. A younger guard determined to take any shortcuts necessary to ensure that his life follows the path he has already chosen. An old love from Layle’s past, still sorrowing. And most of all, a prisoner who has not yet arrived at the Eternal Dungeon, but whose fate will depend on how Layle handles Elsdon Taylor . . . and on how Elsdon handles Layle Smith.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards (within the “Eternal Dungeon” omnibus), this tale of love and adventure can be read on its own or as the first volume in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael’s House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

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Review

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