Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Men of Gilead by @DeannaWadsworth @dreamspinners #SERIESSUNDAY #REVIEW

The Rhubarb Patch, Deanna Wadsworth, Dreamspinner PressThe Men of Gilead #1
City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed whacker away from the rhubarb patch.

Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.

Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.

The Rhubarb Patch is the first book in a new series from Deanna Wadsworth, I went into this book thinking it was going to be a cute May-December romance, and it was, but it was also so much more.

This book comes out of the gate with lighthearted fun but quickly becomes more serious. I experienced the gamut of emotions reading this book. I literally laughed, cried, got pissed and went awww while reading. Both MC's are strong characters but they are both flawed and dealing with some very significant things.

The relationship between Scott and Phin develops slowly and is interspersed with some interesting details about the town of Gilead and gardening/canning,so much so that they become characters in their own right. This gave the book a more rounded, full feeling and added so much to the story line.

Be prepared to sit and read for several hours, because once I got started I did not want to put this book down. The characters are real and likeable and I want to visit Gilead again and again.

Please tell me Davis is getting a love story of his own??


RATING: 4 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by the author.

Welcome Home Soldier, Deanna Wadsworth, Dreamspinner Press
This story is part of the 2017 Advent Calendar but is set in the Men of Gilead World.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar collection Stocking Stuffers.

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride.

The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

WOW, so much emotion in just over 70 pages.

I am a huge fan of second chance romances and this one hit all of my buttons. Not only do you have two MC's who are getting the opportunity to come together again, but you have snow and a cabin and the magic of Christmas.

Daniel and Clay were hot, sexy and completely irresistible!


RATING: 4 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by the author.

La Famiglia, Deanna Wadsworth, Dreamspinner Press
Men of Gilead #2
Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

The faded sign above the door read Galaxy Comics, with a cartoonish spaceship painted underneath. Galaxy bought, sold, and traded both vintage and new comic books. Though modern kids were more into gaming, the purists like Forrester kept the place in business. With online sales and the collectibles, the store didn’t hurt for business. And now that Gilead was becoming so popular, they were busier than ever.
“I haven’t been in here,” Kyle told him. “I’ve seen it, but I’ve never been into comics.”
The excitement of sharing the place with his boyfriend made Forrester giddy. He held open the door and gestured him inside. “That’s about to change.”
“Is it okay for Jasper to come in?”
“Yeah, Benny won’t care.”
“Greetings, Forrester,” the fat man behind the counter said. “I thought you might have been assimilated into the Borg. Where have you been hiding?”
Forrester was pleased that Kyle grinned at the strange greeting. “Nowhere particular. Just working.”
So fat his wrinkles barely showed, Benny looked almost the same as he had the day Forrester met him. Just fatter and grayer.
“Benny, this is Kyle.”
“Greetings, Kyle.” Benny rolled off his stool and came out from behind the counter.
Kyle shook his hand. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Are you the boyfriend we’ve been hearing about?”
Kyle arched his brows suspiciously at Forrester. “I think so.”
Forrester nudged him. “You know you are.”
“Who’s this?” Benny asked, seeing Jasper. He reached over his counter and produced a little green dog bone. Unable to really bend, he held it out and Jasper propped his front paws on Benny’s knees when he spied the treat.
“Jasper,” Kyle said.
“Greetings, little Jasper.” Benny gave him the biscuit.
“Get down.” Kyle tugged lightly on the leash. Jasper obeyed, then began crunching and making a mess.
“That’s okay,” Benny assured him. “Dogs are my favorite people.”
Kyle grinned, then looked around. Forrester’s smile widened when he saw his lover’s appreciation.
“What comics are you into?” Benny asked Kyle.
“I’ve never really read comics before.”
Benny gaped and stared.
Before Forrester could defend him, Kyle raised his hands. “Hey, I played D and D in college. I see all the superhero movies. I’ve just never read comics. But I could easily be brought to the dark side.”
Benny nodded his approval. “Come with me, Jasper. And bring your human. I’ll show you guys what we got.”
Kyle threw a backward glance at Forrester as Benny led him to the section of the store with the bins of Marvels. It was awesome being able to share this place with a lover who’d appreciate it. Most people bitched that the place smelled musty, and they would be right. The place did have a funk after the numerous floodings that had struck downtown Gilead.
But that was part of its charm.
“Hey, Forrester.”
Startled, he turned from browsing the bins of plastic-sleeved comics to find Lucas standing behind him, wearing X-ray glasses. Freckles had popped out on his face from all the Florida sunshine, and the tip of his nose peeled a bit from a healing sunburn.
“What the hell do you have on, Lucas?”
Lucas gave him a defensive look. “You said to keep a low profile when you brought your boyfriend in. Benny had these in the back.”
“Jeez, that’s not what I meant, ya meathead.”
“How was I supposed to know?” His brown hair had been highlighted copper from the sun, and the big grin he sported betrayed the innocent act. “You’ve never brought a guy in here before.”
True, he never had. Not only because most of the idiots he’d dated would’ve thought the old place was gross, but Forrester had too many private memories with Lucas he hadn’t wanted anyone else to be a part of. Lucas still worked at Galaxy every other Tuesday, and since Kyle had taken to using vacation days during the week when Forrester was off, his BFF and boyfriend could finally meet.
“How was Disney with the mothers?” Forrester asked.
“It’s a Small World in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, you know, the usual,” he said as he eyed Kyle up and down lecherously, still wearing the X-ray specs. “You lucky bastard.”
Forrester grinned, admiring his boyfriend.
“He’s kinda preppy,” Lucas observed. “You look like a dork next to him.”
He glared at Lucas. “Thanks a lot.”
“I’m surprised he hasn’t started redressing you.”
“Maybe he likes me just how I am.” Forrester began riffling through a stack of Superman comics. Maybe he should get some grown-up clothes, instead of looking like a teenage geek too lazy to wear real shoes.
Lucas regarded him, and then a huge grin spread across his face. “Well, fist-fuck me on a Tuesday! You’re in love with him.”
Forrester threw a brotherly arm over his shoulder and pulled him into a half nelson before kissing the top of his head. “Shut up, freak. Now take off those ridiculous glasses and come meet him.” Lucas had been home from Florida for a few weeks, but working crazier hours than Forrester due to his extended time off. They hadn’t seen each other in a month.
He kissed Lucas on the cheek and grinned. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too, Frankie.”
Forrester shook his head at his teasing.
Benny had disappeared into the back room, leaving Jasper to sniff the smelly carpet and Kyle to thumb through the pages of a comic book appreciatively. He looked up and caught Forrester’s eye as they approached.
Forrester flipped a thumb at Dork Boy. “Kyle, this is Lucas.”
“Hi, Lucas.” Kyle smiled, extending his hand. “Nice to finally meet you. Forrester’s told me so much about you.”
Lucas knelt to pet Jasper, saying seriously, “If he told you about those letters from NASA, he lied. I didn’t do any of the stuff they accused me of.”
Forrester rolled his eyes, but Kyle laughed. “Nope, nothing about NASA.”
Seeming pleased, Lucas stood, and Jasper kept jumping on his legs.
“Settle it, would ya?” Forrester gently nudged Jasper down.
“Your uncle thought I should check out Alan Moore’s Watchmen.” He looked at Forrester. “You think I’ll like it?”
“Duh, it won a Hugo Award,” Lucas said before Forrester could reply, as if that explained everything.
Kyle looked at Lucas. “I hope it’s better than the movie.”
“Isn’t everything?” Lucas said.
“Speaking of movies, Forrester and I went to see the original The Day the Earth Stood Still. Have you ever seen it?” Kyle asked.
Lucas’s jaw dropped, and he glared at Forrester. “You took Kyle without me?”
“Well…,” Forrester hedged.
Lucas threw up his hands. “Unbelievable. You probably told him about the strings holding up Patricia Neal and Gort’s zipper showing too.”
“So I take it you’ve seen the movie,” Kyle said.
“Only a hundred times. And Forrester was supposed to go with me for a hundred and one.”
“Why? You’d just talk through the whole movie,” Forrester countered as his phone sounded in his pocket.
“Guess the only people you take to movies are the ones that suck your dick,” Lucas said petulantly.
Forrester looked at his phone, not recognizing the number.
“Whose dick are you sucking now?” Benny wanted to know, startling them as he came out of the back room. Jasper hurried over to him, hoping for another biscuit.
Kyle laughed, and three guys and one girl at another bin started giggling, eyes wide at Benny’s words.
“Jeez, Benny,” Forrester said as he swiped his phone to answer. “Hello, this is Forrester. What’s up?”
“May I speak with a Forrester Giordano?” a woman said.
“That’s me.” He rolled his eyes at Kyle, mouthing, “Telemarketer.”

“This is Shiloh General Hospital. We’re calling about your mother.”

The best in the far!

 I fell in love with Forrester and Kyle because I totally geeked out on their book conversations. You can feel the chemistry between the two men right from the beginning and it just builds from there.

Forrester comes from a big Italian family and all that that entails. He is not out to his family and that fact creates one of the many plot lines through out this story.

Kyle, an only child who has lost his parents and had to deal with being deaf in an audible world. And while being deaf is not a deterrent for Kyle in his everyday life, it did lead to his having trust issues.

The two men would like nothing more than to hole up, read and play with Kyle's rambunctious dog Jasper, but real life keeps getting in the way. Between the secrets, health issues, and Forresters little brother Joey possibly ending up being prosecuted by Kyle, the two have their hands full.

Ms. Wadsworth does a fantastic job representing a big Italian family without making them seem like caricatures. Every scene with Forresters family felt so very real and authentic. I fell in love with them as much as I did Forrester and Kyle.

Each book in this series has dealt with some very difficult, emotional, subject matter and the author does a wonderful job touching on the issues and weaving them into the story but not letting it take away from the building of the relationships. Their is a strong sense of family and love and community through out the stories.

I am loving the Men of Gilead and can't wait to see where Ms Wadsworth takes us next!


RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by the author.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Five Minutes Longer by @Vickysuewrites @dreamspinners #REVIEW #AUDIOBOOK

Five Minutes Longer, Victoria Sue, Dreamspinner Press
Enhanced #1
Talon Valdez knew when he transformed into an enhanced human, his life and his dreams were finished. Reviled, mistrusted, and often locked away, the enhanced were viewed as monsters, despised by the public, and never trusted to serve in the military or any law enforcement agency.

Years later he gets a chance to set up a task force of enhanced to serve in the FBI, but with one proviso: each enhanced must partner with a regular human.

Finn Mayer dreamed of joining the FBI from the time he was fourteen and made every possible sacrifice to make it happen, including living with his selfish mother and bullying, homophobic brother and never having a boyfriend. But his undiagnosed dyslexia stopped his aspirations dead in their tracks. His last chance is to partner with Talon, an enhanced with deadly abilities who doesn’t trust regular humans with their secrets and wants Finn to fail.

Four weeks to prove himself to the team. Four weeks for the team to prove itself to the public. And when another group threatens their success—and their lives are at stake—four weeks for them to survive.

Intriguing start to a new series and definitely left me wanting more. In the world that Ms. Sue has created there is a new species of humans....enhanced with abilities that normal humans don't have, and not trusted by even their own families. 

Finn Mayer just wants out of his small hometown and away from his mother and brother. He has been working at chance with the FBI but knows it's a long shot. When he gets a call for an opportunity with a new team filled with enhanced humans he knows this may be his only way in. He has four weeks and everything working against him.

Talon is an enhanced human with the ability to slow or stop human organs. And even coming from a prominent family he knows he will never have a  normal life. Until the FBI decides to create a team of enhanced and Talon is tapped as the team leader. The only draw back is they have to work with non-enhanced humans as well.

This story line is fast paced with so much happening on both sides. It's politically morally charged. Then you throw the romance in there and that just pushes it over the edge to non stop action.

Nick J. Russo's narration does a great job at bringing these men to life and pacing the story to heighten the drama to it's maximum level. They story is strong on its own but Russo adds life to it.

I am excited to see how this world develops and want to know more about how the enhanced came to be.

RATING: 4 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by Dreamspinner Press.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Palisade by @rosalind_abel #REVIEW #AUDIOBOOK

The Palisade, Rosalind Abel
Lavender Shores #1
Confident businessman Joel Rhodes sees the small California town of Lavender Shores as nothing more than a business opportunity and a final stepping stone to the position he’s been working toward his entire life. It was supposed to be just one night in town to close the deal, and sleeping with one of the local men, no matter how gorgeous, meant nothing more than a few hours of fun.

Andrew Kelly is perfectly content with the life he has in his hometown. So much so that the only thing missing is someone to share it with. Going to bed with a tourist was never meant to be the answer to his dreams, just a beautiful distraction. He could get back to looking for Mr. Right the next day.
Both Andrew’s and Joel’s worlds are turned upside down when a few hours of pleasure get extended to a couple of days. Even that shouldn’t have been a big deal. You can’t fall in love in that amount of time. That isn’t how it works. However, if destinies collide, a few short days may be all it takes to find your soul mate. Even so, when secrets and motivations get tangled, fate may do nothing more than leave two hearts in pieces.

Add Lavender Shores to the list of fictional towns, alongside Cattle Valley and Petal, GA, that I wish were real places I could live in.

I am hooked on this series not just because of the incredible chemistry between the main characters but because of the extended cast. Andrew's parents and their best friends were some of my favorite scenes to read, especially Andrew's dad. I want to know more about the town and it's people.

For as much as Andrew is content in his small hometown he is also a dreamer. His dream just happens to center around the town and his longing for his picket fence.

Joel needed someone to love him so badly this need jumped off the pages. His thought process made me want to shake him at times and made me mad on Andrews behalf. You can see the train wreck about to happen, but you can't do anything to stop it.

The attraction between the MC's is off the charts from the very beginning and things happen fast, but I didn't mind, because I was so into "them".

Kirt Graves does a wonderful job with the narration, bringing the characters to life and quickly pulling me into the story. His voice is smooth and he keeps the story going at a great pace.

I for one cannot wait to go back to Lavender Shores!

RATING: 4 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries for both the story and narration.  This book was given to us by the author.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Smitty's Sheriff by @CardenoC #REVIEW #AUDIOBOOK

Smitty's Sheriff, Cardeno C 
Hope #3
Todd is too flakey. Richard is too stubborn. Together, they're perfect. A May-December couple get a second chance at love.

Retired soldier Richard Davis wants a stable life in a quiet town with a forever man. Becoming the sheriff of Hope, Arizona, accomplishes two of his three goals, but instead of finding a serious partner, he falls for too-young-to-be-committed and too-flakey-to-be-serious Todd Smitty. Richard won’t find the right man if he’s obsessed with the wrong one, so he walks away from Todd.

It’s lust at first sight when Todd meets his sister’s army friend. He sets his sights on the worldly, strong, stable older man, and the more time he spends with Richard, the harder he falls. But after three years together, Richard cuts off all contact with no explanation.

When a mutual obligation requires Todd to move into Richard’s house, he’s thrilled at the opportunity to earn a second chance. Ignoring Todd from across town was hard enough. Can Richard resist temptation under his own roof?

Todd is young, youngest by several years in his family and young in actions. He just needs a little direction in his life and he thinks he finds that with much older Richard. And then Richard dumps he and won't speak to him about anything.

Richard is ready to settle down and he is incredibly attracted to Todd but he just can't handle sharing, so he has to let him go.

While this book is very well written I just did not connect to the MC's, especially Richard. I felt the way that he treated Todd was unfair, he never came right out and told him what he wanted, so I was annoyed with him through out the book.

The narration is very good at conveying Todd's confusion and desperation to understand what Richard wanted. I felt that Mr. Robinson brought the authors characters to life and captured their personalities perfectly.

RATING: 3 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries for the story and 4 for the narration. This book was given to us by the author.

Friday, January 12, 2018

To Touch You by @CardenoC #REVIEW #AUDIOBOOK

To Touch You, Cardeno C
Mates #4
“His name is Salvatore Rossi. He’s a vampire. And he’s my true mate.”

By not relying on anyone except himself, Salvatore Rossi escaped a dead-end existence and reached the height of corporate success. But just when he has everything he always wanted, fate throws Salvatore a challenge he can’t solve alone and a young wolf shifter comes to his rescue.

Since childhood, Yoram Smith’s family was certain he would grow to become Alpha and save their beloved pack from its slow demise. When the time comes for a new leader, Yoram is forced to juggle his duty to care for a splintering pack with his duty to care for an absent mate, and his own strength suffers.

Being turned into a vampire didn’t alter Salvatore’s life philosophy: if you don’t rely on anyone, nobody can let you down. But when the boy who saved his life becomes a man who needs his help, the icy vampire must find his humanity.

Audio Review:
I am a fan of this series, and appreciate the way the author has connected each story. She has a way of pulling you into the story and making you forget about the world around you. Add in Charlie David's narration and I was completely taken away.

The meeting between Yoram and Salvatore is almost as cute as Zev and Jonah's from Wake Me Up Inside. Yoram knows at 7 that Salvatore is his, but human Salvatore doesn't understand why the strange boy insists they are friends. It may take 20 years before the couple actually come together but when they do it makes for the best kind of AWWWW moment.

This world that Cardeno C has created is as flawed as real life, but she finds a way to make it a better place.

Charlie David's voice is mesmerizing and adds depth to the story. You can feel Yoram's need to care for his mate and his pack, and the confusion that Salvatore is feeling about the situation in which he finds himself.

A great listen to warm you up during the colds days.

RATING: 4 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by the author.
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