Monday, October 24, 2016

Open House by Mickie B. Ashling

By the time Seth Wilder and Bryce McFarland return to Chicago after their UK cruise, they’re halfway in love. They decide to move in together to see if their feelings can survive in the real world.

Seth receives word that a mandatory autopsy was performed on his late partner because his death was a suicide. The medical examiner’s findings are disturbing and leave some doubt as to the underlying cause of death.

Because of the suicide clause, life insurance benefits had been denied, but in light of these new findings, Seth’s lawyer advises him to appeal. The insurance investigator turns out to be the man who broke Bryce’s heart twenty-five years ago. The guy has fallen on hard times, and when he sees how successful Bryce has become—and how large Seth’s potential payout might be—he decides he wants a piece of the pie. Bryce and Seth’s new relationship is severely tested in this second novel in the Open Series.

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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆☆
4.5 stars
M/M Romance – Cliffhanger
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Bryce and Seth have been through a lot in their short relationship. While Seth is just now starting to learn about how Mark was controlling and somewhat manipulative, Seth knows that Bryce is going to take care of him. Despite it being soon after Mark's death, Seth has found something real with Bryce and he'll be dead before he gives that up.

Bryce is a level-headed, loving man. He saw something in Seth and has loved watching Seth come out of his shell. But Bryce's past is about to bite them both in the rear.

Owen is a sadistic sociopath who is hellbent on figuring out a way to survive. If he has to go through Seth and Bryce to do so, then so be it.

I loved all of the secondary characters – they helped to show who each character was and added a depth to the story that would have been missed.

I can't wait to see where this story goes, because Ashling definitely leaves the readers wondering.

MICKIE B. ASHLING is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Open House (Open #2) by Mickie B. Ashling to read and review.

Change of Address by Jordan S. Brock

Air Force sergeant Michael Baldwin wanted nothing more than to escape his family’s political ambitions, but his dream of freedom was shattered by an enemy bullet to the head. Two years later, he and his service dog, Kaylee, resist his father’s demand to join him on the campaign trail—where a photogenic “wounded warrior” is always an asset—and instead return to the family’s summer home on Hartsbridge Island.

There Michael and his beautiful German shepherd capture the attention of Josh Goldberg, co-owner of the local bagel shop. Josh has a knack for business and a killer repertoire of his bubbe’s recipes. But lack of education undermines his confidence, and Josh’s father doesn’t share his ambition for the restaurant’s future.

Chicken soup and bacon might be the way to Michael’s heart, but he and Josh need time to learn about everything that comes after—lessons that Governor Baldwin and his relentless ambition will do anything to thwart. Letting someone in is a tall order for two men who can’t trust themselves, but if they have any hope of a future together, that’s exactly what they’ll need to do.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a tooth achingly sweet romance. A wounded soldier hiding from his wealthy and powerful family finds comfort in a local bagel shop and forges a gentle friendship with the shop owner.

A bullet to the head has left Michael with lasting brain damage and frightening PTSD. He lives in isolation with his service dog. The whole scenario – complete with faithful dog – felt slightly like a cheap play for readers’ emotions. How could anyone not love him? It took most of the book to learn Michael’s full story, but ultimately, I loved his complicated past and his courage as he started living again. But then again, the man is perfect – and perfect is always slightly annoying.

Josh is more interesting. He is talented at his business but he’s hiding his illiteracy, which is a huge barrier to his success. He is an adult living with his father. Where Michael is running from his family, Josh is nearly smothered by his huge Jewish extended family and their expectations.

These two are both nearly perfect and they are perfect for each other. The romance unravels slowly. The connection between these two men is awkward, gentle, and ultimately comforting. I’m not a huge slow and sweet romance fan, but there are some days I absolutely need to read something where good things happen to good people and it all ends happily ever after. And this is the perfect book for one of those days.

Coffee-fueled author Jordan Brock writes engaging contemporary romance with a deliciously pan-romantic sensibility and an emphasis on consent, respect, and, of course, love. Her characters are constantly surprised by the way love’s slow burn sneaks up on them.

Jordan’s children are all four-legged and furry. They love to be oh-so-helpful with her writing. She can usually be found hiding from the sun with her service dog and her puppy-in-training. (She tried the training thing with cats first, since cats are so much smarter, but it was a no-go.)

Before she was published, Jordan worked as a tech writer in the semiconductor industry. She’s also created labs and learning materials for auto, diesel, and motorcycle mechanics. The technology was the easy part; the hard part was trying not to slip in pop-culture snark.

Jordan lives in the desert outside Phoenix, Arizona, despite the fact she turns into gray goo and blue hair dye when exposed to heat. For fun, she hunts scorpions in the backyard, with a blowtorch, and a crowbar. She’s chronically unavailable for at least a month after new game releases from Blizzard. She’s an unapologetic fangirl and has been known to write an occasional fanfic to prove Bucky Barnes is not a villain. Oh, and she crochets the cutest amigurumi ever.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Change of Address (Hartsbridge Island #1) by Jordan S. Brock to read and review.

Tempting Tristan by Melissa Foster Blog Tour

Fresh off the heels of yet another bad relationship, Tristan Brewer is taking a break from men to try to figure out where he keeps going wrong. He knows his biggest fault—he leads with his heart, not his head—and that’s never going to change. But after several introspective weeks, he’s beginning to get a handle on things. That is, until badass heartthrob Alex Wells walks into his bar...

Alex has spent eight years in the army, months in a hospital bed, and far too long hiding his sexual identity. He’s guilt-ridden, damaged, pissed off, and up for a Silver Star for the incident that nearly cost him his life—and kept him from his grandmother’s funeral. But all he wants to do is live the life he’s always dreamed of and forget his stint with the institution that allows but doesn’t necessarily accept.

The chemistry between Tristan and Alex ignites from the moment they meet, and the more time they spend together, the hotter the flames burn. But the closer they become, the more Alex's walls go up, and when the two walk onto a military base, Tristan finds out Alex’s physical scars aren’t the ones that run the deepest.

Tempting Tristan is a stand-alone M/M romance featuring two sexy, lovable alpha heroes.

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We step forward at the same time, and he presses his rough hand to my cheek. “I don’t know what kind of pussies you went out with before, but I wanted to fucking claim you in there.”

He slides a hand around my waist, tugging our bodies together. I feel every hard inch of him, and he’s got me so hot I’m sure we’re going to combust.

“I’ve spent almost nine years hiding who I am, and I’m not willing to do it anymore,” he says through clenched teeth. “Not here, where I came to start over. Where I came to live on my terms without the goddamn military hanging over my head.”

“I have no interest in hiding,” I assure him.

“You’re sure? Because I really want to kiss you right now, and I don’t care who sees us.”

I respond by pulling his mouth to mine, my break from men long forgotten. We stumble backward, crashing into the railing, fighting for dominance as we did yesterday morning. The passion between us has a life of its own. My hands claw over his ass, up his back. I want to strip him down and take all of him. I want to discover why he’s so rough and learn what about those shadows that are lurking behind his gorgeous eyes. Instead I take, and give, and take more of the angry kisses. When we finally tear our mouths apart, my body’s still reeling, and we both curse under our breaths.

“Okay?” he pants out.

I nod, knowing if I open my mouth, I want to fuck you, is going to come out.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

It’s hard to resist tall, dark, and handsome, especially when he’s an injured soldier. I loved Alex from the moment he walked into Tristan’s bar and I loved him more when Alex revealed his connection to Tristan through his grandmother.

I think the initial descriptions of both Tristan and Alex were my favourite parts of this story. These men are incredibly sexy, broken, loveable… I did struggle with the insta-love in this story. Tristan and Alex move from strangers to life partners almost immediately and then spend the rest of the book trying to help each other deal with their issues. The result is a book that is more about an established relationship than about the heady romance of a new connection.

Fortunately, both men’s issues are interesting. Alex is self-conscious about his injuries. He is still suffering from PTSD and he is struggling to say goodbye to his grandmother. Tristan’s life is temporary and he struggles to trust Alex because of bad past relationships. I enjoyed watching these men heal and build a life together.

Surrounding Alex and Tristan are a community of characters that have been introduced in earlier books. This is my first book by the author and while I enjoyed the colourful characters and the close-knit community, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything in this story – it worked well as a standalone.

This is a sweet and sexy story. The angst isn’t overwhelming and there is a lovely sense of hope that weaves through the book. I look forward to reading more by this author.

This is the third in the series – and I would recommend that you read them all. That said, this book could be read as a standalone, if you are impatient. Ms. Foster assured us at the beginning that the series would contain differing relationship themes, and has been true to her word, so I was looking out with interest in this book for hints of future directions. With such a good cast of friends, there are plenty of opportunities.

Here the faithful, but unlucky in love, barman Tristan is the lead in the story – and very soon we meet Alex, who will be his leading man. The only problem is that Tristan has sworn off any relationship, even though Alex is gorgeous enough to have the whole bar interested... As we learn more about Alex, and we are reminded of just what a caring, generous guy Tristan is, it is difficult not to want things to work out. I liked the creative elements, and the references tying the past to the present. Alex's story was moving, and reminded the reader that not everything is as it seems on the outside. There are some wonderful moments of humour, as well as very warm and caring scenes which brought tears to my eyes. They have some great sexual chemistry, which is somehow fun as well as hot. These men deserve the feelings they find they have for each other, and I am looking forward to watching them succeed in their lives together in future stories.

Once again Ms. Foster has given us a loving, sexy, and satisfying read.

I haven’t read any of the other books in the series but I really enjoyed this book. While there was instant love, the characters also took the time to get to know each other and I liked the chemistry between them. The secondary characters were wonderful as well and I can’t wait to read Brandon’s book. I hope we see Tristan and Alex in future books, just to see how much more they grow. I really enjoyed them.

Characters: Well written and easy to relate to
Sex: Yes
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Yes
More than one book in the series: Yes
Genre: M/M
Would I read more by this author: Yes

Also Available in the Harborside Night Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Catching Cassidy Blog Tour.

Book 2
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For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Discovering Delilah Blog Tour.

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance, and women's fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa's emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Tempting Tristan (Harborside Night #3) by Melissa Foster to read and review for this tour.

Romanus by Mary Calmes Audiobook Review

Stopping to offer help one sultry summer night, Mason James is unprepared for the change that this simple act of kindness will bring. After giving an old man a ride home, Mason discovers a new, magical, and even dangerous world he cannot hope to understand. But he also finds Luc Toussaint and is intoxicated at first sight... and even the secret Luc protects won't be enough to keep Mason away from the truth of his heritage and their love.

Length: 1 hr, 57 mins
Narrator: Greg Tremblay

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I am absolutely addicted to this audiobook. There is something about the combination of the story that Calmes has penned and Tremblay’s narration that has resulted in me listening to it every day for a week, sometimes twice a day. The fact that it’s just under two hours long makes it possible to listen to it daily, yet I’ve refrained from writing my review just so I had a semi-plausible excuse to listen to it again and again and again. I’ve always been fascinated by gargoyles, yet I think this is the first M/M gargoyle romance I’ve read (or listened to, in this case) and that has probably contributed to my addiction as well. You’re likely laughing at me or scoffing at my claim of repeated listening, but it’s so true that I received the Silver Repeat Listener badge from Audible, which is earned for listening to the same audiobook at least 10 times. Obviously, I have a problem and were it not for the fact that I want to get Romanus and its sequel, Chevalier, blogged this week in the leadup to Halloween, I’d probably still be putting off writing this review.

Of course, the problem with addiction is that oftentimes it’s difficult to explain why you enjoy the thing you’re addicted to so much. In the case of Romanus, that is only partly true for me because while there is an elusive quality to it that keeps me coming back for another listen, there are several specifics I can readily identify. Calmes manages to pack a lot of story into a novella and through the events that take place, builds the world that Mason has suddenly found himself a part of. From Mason’s first interaction with Fabron, we learn much about the kind of man Mason is – kind, patient, and possessing an honest concern for his fellow man – and the author continues to use Mason’s interactions with others, including his friends, roommates, and the gargoyles to show us his character. I found it to be a clever way to both develop his character and move the storyline along. The author also drops bits of information that help to explain Mason’s instant attraction to Luc Toussaint, although the extent of their connection isn’t revealed until the end of the book and is still left up to the reader to ponder just how strong their connection will be. Calmes uses an opposing faction within the gargoyles’ champ (the downside of audiobooks is not knowing how to spell unfamiliar words, which bothers me a lot) to add an element of suspense and action to the storyline that felt natural instead of forced for the sake of drama, which can happen when an author tries to put too much in a novella. Being as Romanus is a novella, there was not a lot of character development for Luc, so I hope that we will see that take place in Chevalier because I loved the chemistry between him and Mason and I’m looking forward to seeing that relationship progress further. Romanus was a sexy gargoyle romance that sunk its talons into me so thoroughly that I didn’t want to leave, while at the same time made anxious to begin Chevalier so that I can find out what will happen to Mason and Luc next.

P.S. – As an aside, I did take issue with Eli’s attitude that it was acceptable for him to stroke Luc’s back while Luc was asleep in Mason’s bed. Mason shouldn’t have had to tell him not to do it in the first place, but then for Eli to do it anyway, that just irked the heck out of me.

MARY CALMES lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and two children and loves all the seasons except summer. She graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and believes without question in happily ever afters, and writes those for each and every one of her characters.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Romanus (Romanus #1) by Mary Calmes, Narrated by Greg Tremblay to listen to and review.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ethan by Ryan Loveless

Carter Stevenson is looking forward to a fresh start in a new high school on the other side of the country. It’ll give him a chance to escape his reputation for twitching and stuttering. He’ll have the summer to himself in his new home in California, and in the fall, he won’t get involved in any activity that puts his Tourette’s center stage. He won’t stand out as different.

But his new neighbor, Ethan, isn’t just going to change his plans. He’s going to change Carter’s life.

Ethan Hart is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm or love for life. As soon as he sees Carter, who moves like the music Ethan sees between the clouds and the grass, he’s determined to become his friend, and then his boyfriend. And even if his parents say their romance can’t get physical, Ethan won’t let it stand in the way of falling in love.

Stepping into the spotlight was the last thing Carter ever wanted, but Ethan, along with a group of friends who like him just the way he is—tics and all—starts to change his mind.

Adapted as a YA edition of the award-winning novel Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless.

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Harmony Ink

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4 Lovely Stars.

Ryan Loveless is a new-to-me author, and I found her writing style to be endearing, drawing out the important emotions in her character development, and life-centric, without any bells and whistles and unnecessary shock-value.

I had requested this book a few weeks ago – truthfully, I read it next as my reviewing schedule dictated, going in blind, not even knowing what genre Ethan belonged to, totally forgetting the blurb and whatnot. So it was a surprise from the start for me. Until two minutes ago, I didn't even realize this was a reinterpretation of sorts to Ethan, Who Loved Carter. So I'll have to check that book out in the future.

Ethan is narrated by Carter and Ethan. Carter is suffering with Tourette's Syndrome, and is bullied and mocked at school. He doesn't have many friends, all of them older, and mainly keeps to himself. Carter and his family move from the Midwest to California to start a new life, or maybe it's more like Carter decides to start living life and finally accepts who he truly is.

Ethan is Carter's neighbor, suffering from brain damage. There is a sense of grief surrounding Ethan's family over what they lost, as Ethan was destined to be a bright star. But Ethan isn't the same guy as Before – together, Ethan and Carter prove they're who they are now, and that's just as good, if not better.

Truth be told, seeing life through the lens of two boys suffering with their brains not functioning properly was a new perspective, one the author handled with compassion and plenty of research for accuracy.

The story itself revolves around both boys coming to terms with who they are, while Ethan deals with past demons. I don't want to give the plot away, but it's 100% focused on our narrators, heavy on the character development. The entire cast of characters are in a supportive role, realistically written, patient and understanding, and lend a feel-good vibe to the book.

I do need to point out something that may make some uncomfortable. While Ethan is 18, and Carter is a newly 16, some may find the sexual content difficult to swallow. At 15, Ethan had an accident that left him brain-damaged, no longer with a filter. He has needs, and he speaks freely about such needs. I have no doubt this is a common issue with this type of injury, but some readers may not be comfortable when they perceive Ethan to be a grown man with a child's mind (he doesn't truly have a child's mind – he just thinks differently than the societal norm). Some readers may see this as Ethan being taken advantage of, but I need to stress that Ethan is 18, and these are his decisions, and he is the initiator. Even I, who could wrap my mind around it, had a difficult time with this portion of the storyline – I understood it, tried to empathize with it, but still had a tough time. So just be warned.

Recommended to MM romance fans, particularly those who enjoy a story featuring characters outside of what society considers 'their' normal, with a hurt-comfort vibe. This is a young adult, coming-of-age storyline, with a supportive unit of family and friends, focusing more on overcoming/accepting mental disabilities rather than LGBTQ issues.

Young Adult age-range: 14+ but with parental discretion, as the novel does involve minimal sexual content/suggestions, and topics include past violence leading to disabilities, and bullying.

About six months ago, I listened to the audiobook edition of Ethan, Who Loved Carter, the adult M/M contemporary romance upon which Ethan is based. Having worked with persons with stutters and tics similar to those of Tourette’s Syndrome and individuals who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I recall thinking were it not for the sexual interactions, that Ethan, Who Loved Carter would have been a wonderful book for teens to read because it was not only a sweet romance, it was also a much needed lesson in diversity that’s often overlooked. While it’s a fictional tale of two men who find love because of their differences and not despite them, Loveless does a wonderful job of portraying Ethan’s Tourette’s and Carter’s TBI in a realistic fashion, thus providing the reader invaluable information in an entertaining way, making it more likely they’ll retain it. I applaud Loveless in reworking the story to make it appropriate for young adult readers and Harmony Ink for making such a beautiful tale available to them.

Ethan opens with one of Carter’s most embarrassing moments – his tic-riddled performance in a school-wide talent show. Carter considered the incident humiliating because singing and playing his guitar was one of the few times his tics were somewhat controlled, yet having the entire student body as the audience put more stress on him than he expected and resulted in an increased level of tics that interfered with his performance. Needless to say, he’s not all that upset when he learns that he and his parents will be moving in two weeks, as soon as he finishes out the school year. While getting to know new people is difficult for Carter, especially when his tics cause him to stutter, he sees a light at the end of the tunnel when he learns that his next door neighbor isn’t “normal” either – and he’s cute. Despite getting off on the wrong foot by inadvertently offending his neighbor, Carter befriends Ethan and soon finds himself caught up in Ethan and his family’s life. And what was intended to be a summer spent adjusting to a new place becomes so much more as Carter is quickly absorbed into Ethan’s life, introduced to Ethan’s music, introduced to Ethan’s friends and forming bonds with them, and learns that what he thought was love before, wasn’t even a pale imitation of what he feels for Ethan.

I absolutely loved Ethan. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Loveless has done an outstanding job in reworking Ethan and Carter’s story into a young adult romance. The issues of sexuality are still addressed, but done so in way that is appropriate for 16-year-old Carter – the dreaded sex talk with his father (hysterically awkward, by the way). Even better is that conversations about sex between Ethan and Carter are very open because that’s how Ethan is, straightforward and honest about what he wants, yet willing to listen to and respect Carter’s feelings about it, despite his lack of impulse control. One of the things that really struck me about Ethan is how the maturity level between Carter and Elliot (Ethan’s younger brother) were so different even though they were only a few months apart in age. Although Elliot has his moments of understanding beyond his years because of adjustments he had to make after Ethan’s TBI, he still has more of a teen mindset than Carter, whose Tourette’s has likely forced him to grow up quicker and develop a thicker skin so that most of the taunts and insults can be ignored. Even though I’d already experienced parts of their journey before, I loved being able to take this journey again with a young Carter and young Ethan as theirs is a beautiful story, no matter the intended audience.

Young adult age recommendation: 12 and up. As someone who has worked with people with TBI and tics and stutters similar to Tourette’s, I’d love to see teens read this book sooner rather than later. There are a couple of instances of bigotry, but the most severe occurs off the page and is relayed as a memory several years after the fact. As for sexual content, it’s limited to kissing, one scene of mutual masturbation, and some rather frank talk about bodily functions because of Ethan’s inability to recognize social mores.

RYAN LOVELESS is a farmer’s daughter. She has a BA in English from a private college in Illinois and a master’s degree in library and information science with an archival certificate from a university in New York. Raised in a conservative family, she was shocked and relieved when her coming out was largely uneventful. She has been writing since she could read and has always drifted toward M/M because she enjoys the relationship dynamics. It’s possible that her first story was about GI Joe. She wishes she still had that story.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Ethan by Ryan Loveless to read and review.

Pride Before the Fall by Devon Rhodes

When Brady was given a free pass to sow his wild oats, as long as he’s back with the pride before fall, he never dreamed he’d meet his mate…or that his mate would be a man.

As the pride’s alpha heir, Brady knows the weight of responsibility. He’s expected to settle down, find a mate and have an heir of his own. But first he’s given the opportunity to travel and visit other prides, an unspoken opportunity to get his attraction to men out of his system before he comes home and does his duty.

Mason has his hands full fostering Jonah, an abandoned teen soon to have his first shift. He doesn’t have time to babysit a visiting alpha heir, but duty calls. As the second son of the alpha, he knows his place and when he’s given a task, he does it.

Brady and Mason realize almost instantly that they are mates…and both also know that it can never come to pass. With the expectations they need to fulfil, this short time together will be the only chance they have to taste what could be. But they are tied together by more than just instinct—old crimes and hidden connections come to light and they are forced to make hard choices between duty and love.

Publisher's Note: This book is the sequel to Pride & Joey.

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Pride Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This follows on from Pride & Joey, and you would be advised to read it first to get the full effects of this story. Many of the characteristics of the pride and the importance of family are explained there in a way that could affect your views in this story.

I am loathed to say too much, as many of the features I would comment about are key to the plot, and I am not going to spoil that for you. Suffice it to say that things unfold in an unexpected but satisfactory manner. At times I was confused by the changes in pace, and levels of drama, but overall this is a clever and entertaining read for a novella.

I'm a fan of Devon Rhodes' writing, and enjoyed the previous book in this series. But, sadly, this edition didn't work for me. I need to state, I'm a huge fan of well-written novellas, because I don't have a lot of time to take several days to read a long book, but I still want the entertainment of reading a whole story.

I won't go into detail on the premise of the story, or the characters themselves, as this is a novella and it would spoil the entertainment-value for the reader. I will state that this shouldn't be read as a standalone, as the previous book sets up the events that occur in this installment.

While I enjoyed the story and the characters Devon Rhodes had created, the issue was with the transition from one part of the story to the next. The first 25% had me hooked with its fast pacing, thorough characterization, and story building. But then it transitioned so abruptly, way before was necessary, removing the tension and angst that were built so deliciously in the first quarter of the book. I was so annoyed at how quickly the characters 'connected,' ruining the angst and tension, that I had to give myself a pep-talk to continue reading the novella. I was able to fall back into the story, and enjoy it for the most part. But I felt the transitions from one scene to the next, one time frame to the next, and a few timeline dependencies, made the reading experience choppy.

Overall, I am glad I read the story, as this series has brought back my love of shifter stories, and I am looking forward to reading more of the series and more by the author. I do recommend this installment, issues aside, as it is a worthy, important part of the series itself.

Also Available in the Series

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Pride Publishing

For reviews & more info, check out our Pride & Joey post.

DEVON RHODES started reading and writing at a young age and never looked back. After a creatively sapping career in the business world, she gratefully took some time off to be at home. At thirty-nine and holding, Devon finally figured out the best way to channel her midlife crisis was to morph from mild-mannered stay-at-home mom to erotic romance writer. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two girls, who are (mostly) understanding of all the time she spends on her laptop, aka the black hole.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Pride Before the Fall by Devon Rhodes to read and review.

Love Comes in Darkness by Andrew Grey in Senses Vol. 1

Howard Justinian has always had to fight for his freedom. Because he was born blind, everyone is always trying to shelter him, but he’s determined to live his life on his own terms.

When an argument with his boyfriend over that hard-won self-reliance leaves Howard stranded by the side of the road, assistance arrives in the form of Gordy Jarrett. Gordy is a missionary’s son, so helping others is second nature—and he does it in such an unassuming manner that Howard can’t say no.

Life is barely back on track when Howard receives shocking news: his sister died, leaving him her daughter to care for. Howard now faces his greatest challenge yet: for Sophia’s safety, he’ll need to accept help, but will he learn to accept it from Gordy, the one man who will not curb his independence?

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Book 2
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Also Available in Senses Vol. 1

Books 1 – 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/M Romance
Triggers: Physical Abuse, death

This is the second book in this series and I really enjoyed the first one. This one was enjoyable, but was a little more forced in the relationship department.

I really enjoyed Howard. I thought that he had a great outlook on his own abilities and life, but I also think that he allowed himself to be used, simply because he doubted he was good enough. That phrase, "good enough," was used a lot throughout this story and began to become annoying. That was my biggest complaint in this story – both main characters had this self-doubt that detracted from their story.

Howard wants to be independent – he wants to be treated like everyone else. The problem with that is he's not like everyone else. Once he learns to accept that, his life becomes much easier. I loved when he received Token. I want Token for myself!

Then you have Gordy. Despite being successful, Gordy's past gives him a complex. He worries that someone will find a flaw in him – that he's also, not good enough. While his attraction to Howard was almost instant, the development of the relationship from Gordy's perspective was slow and methodical. I liked how he was much more open with his emotions and how he just told Howard how it was.

The relationship aspect between Howard and Gordy was somewhat forced and because of the twists in the story, not as organic as I would have liked. While everything worked out well for the couple, I think that this book would have been better if their relationship had taken longer. Too insta-love for me. Despite that, I did enjoy the dynamics of both main characters and the secondary characters.

Also Available in the Senses Series

Book 1
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Dreamspinner  Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Love Comes Silently post.

Book 6
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Dreamspinner Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Love Comes to Light post.

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Connect with Andrew

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Love Comes in Darkness (Senses #2) by Andrew Grey in Senses Vol. 1 to read and review.