Imaginary Lover: Beyond the Realm: Remember Book 8, Morgan Brice


I adore both this author and the town of Fox Hollow they've created and am extremely pleased to be returning there.  This story was full of magic, mystery, and the men who find love in the midst of it all.  Light on steam, this was a romance based on story and discovery rather than merely lust.

This was a shorter story and it still felt quite complete for both the men coming together and the mystery that caused their circumstances.  It was a really great read on its own, though I would recommend reading the rest of the Fox Hollow books as the townspeople carry more weight when you get a bit more of a chance to get to know them.

Both men are interesting on their own and when they come together you can see why they are meant to be, in addition to finding a family of choice with wonderful side characters.  Even though the focus was on the story itself rather than the romance I felt a good balance was found and the story truly worked overall.  A great addition to interesting series, both in Beyond the Realm and Fox Hollow Zodiac, Morgan Brice brings together paranormal and romance in a memorable way that makes me want more.

*$2.99 on Amazon



“There’s no time. Remember your imaginary lover....”

Cory Caldwell woke up by the side of the road with no memory of how he got there. He pieces together who he is but has no idea what happened to him.

Dark visions haunt him—flashes of blood, magic, and a brutal fight. Scorching dreams of a faceless lover offer no clues. His gut warns that something urgent is eluding him, and that time is running out. Worse is the sense of bone-deep grief, as if Cory is missing part of his soul.

Desperate for answers, he hops a bus for Fox Hollow, a town famous for psychics, mediums, and those with supernatural abilities. Then a stranger calls Cory by name and casts a furtive glance around him. “There’s no time,” the man says. “I need your help. Remember...” Can Cory unlock his missing memories and rescue the stranger before it’s too late?

Imaginary Lover is full of dangerous magic, hurt/comfort, brave monster hunters, dark curses, sincere psychics, found family, and forever love.


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Bear Essentials: Bear Lake Chronicles Book 1, Rain Carrington



Self-discovery is something very moving, very powerful, and when written well it can allow us to search within ourselves to discover something new on our own.  For Ked it's a journey to seeing who and what he needed to find his center.  For Sean it's finding the one person who could understand and yearn for everything he is and could be.  They both needed exactly what each could be and I loved that they found their ultimate happiness with one another.

But I had serious issues with a lot that happened.  My first and largest frustration is the issue of trust.  I totally get that in outlining rules between the two there were certain expectations Sean had for Ked, but demanding trust from the sub while giving no such assurances as the Dom, having double standards are what led to the huge blow up and separation.  And then for the apologies and the guilt and the restitution to come from the one person who was left questioning, vulnerable, and hurt by the omissions...I felt I truly didn't want to finish the book, except a good portion of the book was left and I can't stand to leave a book unfinished.

While the ending kind of made up for the biggest missteps, I still felt quite sour about a few things and don't think it fully redeemed itself.  The book was fair overall, but really didn't work for me in enough ways to engender a recommendation.  There were some gems, the potential as with the town and some side characters that could persuade me to revisit the series.  The excerpt from book two featured one person who intrigued me and one who needs a bit of redemption; both need to find courage.  I hope the series progresses and improves.

*$4.99 on Amazon

A sleepy little town doesn’t know what, or whom, is about to hit it when Ked, Kaden Edmond Donegal, comes there to live.

Hyper and determined, Ked longs to be a great forest ranger, taking care of the land, watching over it like its protector. What he didn’t count on is falling in love with the people there nearly as much as the land, and one in particular that doesn’t give him the time of day.

Sean Ashby moved to Bear Lake to hide away from the world after he nearly died while serving in the army. A local artist, he makes his living bringing pieces of wood to life with stories of their own. When he sees Ked, he sees someone who needs tamed, but he doesn’t feel as if he’s up to the job.

Not giving up on the bearded ginger bear, Ked does everything he can to get in the way of the man, and he finally gets what he wants. Or, at least, what he thought he wanted. Sean is a dominant who needs a submissive, and Ked never thought of himself that way. With Ked’s rambling voice hushed and his hyper movements slowed, Sean leads him into a new life he didn’t realize he needs so badly.

The townspeople take him in as family, a man loves him unconditionally, and poachers are in need of catching. Is Ked up for his new life? Can he be a part of a community that is quirky and quiet, or will his own quirks and rarely silent voice make him permanently an outsider?

About Rain

 
I love writing, it's been my dream for many years, and in October of 2013, when my first book went live on Amazon, that dream came true.

Writing love stories that are centered on flawed but lovable characters is my passion. Finding love between people is't easy, nor should it be. Even in a book, there have to be obstacles for the story to feel real.

I am a mother of three amazing people, and three adorable fur babies. I live in Colorado but love many other places besides my home. One state in particular is New Mexico, the state where I was born has always held a place in my heart.

People and places make my stories what they are. Each character I've written is a part of me in some way. Each place I write is as well. Adventures come in many ways, and each of my stories has taken me on an adventure that I treasure.

Come with me on my adventures and fall in love with my characters, as I have. I promise, you will love the ride.

Follow Rain...

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A Flighty Fake Boyfriend: Men of St. Nacho's Book 2, Z.A. Maxfield


These men were a total surprise for me, a fantastic one, in fact.  I went into this thinking it would be pleasant, one of my favorite tropes, with a side of well-written cliched scenario that works out in the end with feels and a touch of humor.  I was both right and so very, very wrong.  This was most of that and yet so much more.

Ryan was ultimately an emotional wreck with a defeated heart and unhealthy habits that could only lead to destruction, well, maybe just an insane ulcer with a side of cancer.  There was an incredible sadness inside him that he hadn't processed until Epic.  The beautifully deceptive Epic.  Under his insightful tenderness and incredible passion he unlocked the grief Ryan had been burying.  With that freedom came fear.

Epic was way more than merely a waiter.  He was vivacious and bubbly and had a zest for life, for experience.  He came across as perceptive and also very young and flighty.  But quite quickly his youthful silliness was shattered as we learned just how much depth there was to this young man.  Being so much more than initially perceived lent a distinct weight to his observations and his care of Ryan.  And his rescue of Ryan not only at the end, but during one particularly messed up scene in the garden at the resort...such a strength and determination in someone still in his early 20's.  He's still young though, so his reactions to Ryan's fear were predictably immature.

The emails.  Damn.  The emails began with hardness, vulnerability, sarcasm, and regret, but bloomed with so much honesty and heartfelt pleas that it was heartbreaking and also the perfect place from which to grow.  Their reconciliation was earned though it was also kept brief.  And then the epilogue sealed their happiness in a way that was so solid and sweet.  It could have packed more of a punch, but it was subtle and not altogether unpleasant.

I was surprised by the story, by the men, and truly enjoyed reading this story.  Epic and Ryan work so well together and their interactions were quietly funny and also very illuminating into who they were individually.  The work Ryan did and the level of intelligence from both men added something extra to this story that made them a little extra special.

*$3.99 on Amazon

All Ryan Winslow needs is a fake date for his ex's wedding. What happens when a fake date turns into real, but impossible, love?

Ryan Winslow has everything he needs to attend his billionaire aristocrat ex's wedding. He's got an out and proud A-list celebrity date, reservations at an exclusive resort in Santa Barbara, and two weeks to enjoy a vacation—his first in six years.

The drive down gives him a chance to visit old friends in tiny St. Nacho's, but that's where things start to go wrong. His workaholic, driven lifestyle takes its toll, and his date calls to say he can't make it. How will he ever find a substitute date for a formal wedding in time?

Epic Alsop waits tables, but that's not all he does. He pays special attention to people, and responds to their needs accordingly. When he meets an overworked, underfed Ryan, he offers him a healing smoothie and a little extra care. When Ryan's date for a wedding cancels, Epic offers to be his fake boyfriend.

What Epic doesn't expect is Ryan's kindness, or the amazing resort vacation he offers. He doesn't expect Ryan's patience, his wit, or his passion.

But they live in different countries, and Ryan's job leaves no room for a social life. The hunger and weariness that drew Epic to Ryan in the first place is only a symptom of the reason they can't be together.

Can fake lovers who fall in genuine love find a way to make their relationship work? Or are they destined to be alone forever?



The Prince and the Pencil Pusher: Royal Powers Book 7, Kenzie Blades


Series: Royal Powers #7
Author: Kenzie Blades
Length: 30,000

Add to your Goodreads TBR list!

Bad things happen when supos go unchecked. That's why Abarra needs The Ministry: to keep tabs on royals with powers run amok. Queen Maialen has entrusted the safety of her subjects to her nephew, Prince Xabier, placing the agency in his capable hands.

Only, the Prince would rather spend his days putting his own power to good use in the 
vineyards than to wither away on the bureaucratic vine. Tired of policing perpetrators and babysitting bean-counters, he schemes to groom his first lieutenant (and second cousin) the Duke of Shrubs. After months spent moving chess pieces, he is poised to convince the Queen to assign his cousin to his post.

But an unlikely pawn still stands in his way: the sexy Zain Otxoa is the pushiest pencil-pusher in 
all of The Ministry and head of internal affairs. Prince Xabier has plotted to have him fired at least thrice. Zain's influence over the Queen—his only saving grace—is baffling.

When a master maneuver to have Zain reassigned exposes a shocking imbroglio, Prince Xabier 
learns The Ministry isn't what it seems. And Zain isn't a pawn at all.

*$3.99 on Amazon

Review

This was a cute story that held the right note of seriousness and boasted a slower burn romance.  Most short stories focus on the relationship at the peril of the surrounding plot, but this was a bit opposite in that it focused on the reality of the situation as well as its gravity, the growth of the prince, and the necessity for the roles carried out by both men.  Adding in the training element and I was doubly impressed.  It took a while to find its footing and its traction, but once things got moving the story really grew on me.  Similarly with the Prince and his Pencil Pusher, their chemistry was subtle and less visceral, a more timid animal that took time to warm up before becoming comfortable.  Overall this was a good story for the series and a nice introduction to the author.



Excerpt
Not so fast.

My heels clicked in rapid succession as I walked down the centerline of the grand executive hall. It was far afield of the offices on lower floors. It took minutes to get all the way up there, which was why I’d needed to make haste. Left unattended on nights when he would rather have been any place but at his post, the Prince had a tendency to disappear.

The floors were made of marble and their design was quite ornate—a wide white border off to each side, with an elaborate design forming a runway down the middle. It wasn’t a pattern, but a work of art, its geometric pieces reminiscent of stained glass. It gave the sense of walking on a rug made of stone.

Hues from garnet, to ruby, to tawny, to rose made up elements of a palette that swirled and faded to ambers and golds. They complemented magnificent oil paintings of Abarran countryside that lined the grand corridor’s high walls. Spaced-out sitting benches rendered the space worthy of entertaining. Yet, he kept it to himself, and spent most of his time alone.

The downstairs offices were another story. They were filled with six-by-six-foot cubicles configured en masse for the Ministry’s rank and file. Enclosed offices here and there were reserved for mid-level managers: MLMs, as we liked to call them. I inhabited one of the better of these offices—a space in the corner on a higher floor with a not-bad view—though an MLM I was not.

Ostensibly, I was the Head of Internal Affairs, which was exactly her intention—a gross understatement considering my deep involvement with the covert side. Not making that last fact public was by design. My list of responsibilities was too long to name—too long for me to remember most days. Yet, the highest of my duties was to babysit him.

He was Prince Xabier Garrastazu, third in line to the South Abarran throne, son of Prince Frantzisco, nephew to the Queen, and Duke of Brix. He was also the Minister of Powers—the highest-ranking official at this agency and—despite my charge to keep him from making too big a mess out of things, he was—technically—my boss.

“Is he in?” I asked Eusebio, more for his benefit than mine. I knew the Prince’s comings and goings. I had eyes on him at all times. I tried not to roll my eyes as Eusebio made a production of picking up the phone to announce my arrival. The Prince enjoyed forcing me to wait to be let in.

Good.

The more ridiculously childish and infuriatingly vain Prince Xabier, Duke of Brix, chose to be wherever I was concerned, the easier it was to ignore his ridiculous appeal.

“Your Grace.” As usual, I greeted his back, the part of him that always seemed to face me when I walked into his suite. Even from behind, the man was magnificent. Broad shoulders filled out a perfectly tailored button-down made of fine fabric and subtle herringbone design. Today’s shirt—white if you weren’t paying attention—was the faintest of lilac. He was the epitome of a dashing prince.

To be clear, I was paying attention, not only to the way its snug fit showed the definition in his shoulders—to the place where the fabric stopped and his rolled-up sleeves gave way to skin. For all the hard work he didn’t do, there needn’t have been any rolling up of sleeves. In my most outlandish of theories, he did it to torment me.

“Mr. Otxoa,” the Prince greeted blithely, not turning toward me just yet. He stood on a rug in the sitting area with his gaze remained fixed on the fire. His office was a projection of the man himself—pleasantly fragrant, clean to a fault and dripping with style. Tufted wingback chairs with ottomans flanked a matching Chesterfield, all three in a dark teal. Fire glow warmed his features, casting appeal on the planes of his face, flattering the smooth line of his nose and cutting shadows from his diamond jaw.

I stopped at the edge of the rug next to the drink trolley that carried only wine. Its twin at the other end of the Chesterfield was all crystal decanters and spirits. When he turned, I was meant to bow out of deference. This was always the most difficult moment—the one when he first cast his gaze upon me. I faltered at the devastating beauty of his eyes.

“And what have you for me tonight? More documents to sign, no doubt. More supos with powers run rampage?”

He made no secret of the fact that my presence vexed him. Unencumbered by the burden of common birth, the Prince was under no obligation to feign politesse. Logic dictated that his resentment stemmed from me holding him to task. Instinct told me that the sport he made of pushing my buttons was something more.

The Prince finally cast his sapphire gaze upon me and I did bow then, thankful that the deep hue of my skin made it easy to hide my flush. Blood that he could not see rushed to my cheeks and prickled my nose and burned the tops of my ears. If he resented me, I, too, resented him. Training the Prince was not supposed to be so difficult as this.


About Kenzie

Kenzie Blades is a queer author of romantic LGBTQ+ fiction and is the alter ego of a multi-award 
winning author who writes other fiction under a different name. Kenzie lives in San Francisco and enjoys lots of things that start with the letter B, like bacon, bourbon and books.

Follow Kenzie...
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Off-Balance: Peachtree Series Book 1, Brigham Vaughn


A sexy older man, a hot younger man, a world of differences to keep them apart, but willing hearts and a release of pride are what they need to forge the kind of future each of them yearn for.  Stephen is the kind of devoted, caring, sexy, and domineering man I love reading about.  Russ is enthusiastic, young, determined, and incredibly stubborn.  Both of them suffer from the weight of past experiences and it bleeds into how they treat one another and think of themselves.  If they hope to have a bright future they'll have to put both of those things to rest.

This wasn't as stunning a story as I had hoped.  I adore this author and the stories they weave.  With such a great premise and men who are flawed and yet so redeemable I has really high expectations.  What worked for me was the passion these men both had for one another, the moments of genuine care and concern, and Stephen's utter devotion despite his fear and insecurities.  The things that didn't sit as well with me was the incredible stubbornness from Russ and how he handled that stubbornness.  Falling back into his immaturity and petulance was more bothersome than it was tolerable.  He was wonderful when he finally stepped up to the plate, it just took a really long time for him to get there.

There were enough gems and quite a lot of moments that showed growth and potential so anyone beginning the Peachtree series will likely want to read all the way through.  Russ has a lot of growing up to do, Stephen will have to learn to compromise, and both men will have to continue nourishing their budding love to solidify the HEA they both deserve.

*$4.99 on Amazon

Love doesn’t always add up.

Russell Bishop is a rising star at Vantage Marketing, but when he slips on a coffee spill, he never expects to land in the lap of luxury—and the chief financial officer's bed.

Russ has worked hard to get where he is and doesn’t need Stephen Parker to take care of him. But as they wrestle to balance love and finances, the tables are turned when Stephen's father dies.

It's Russ's turn to take care of Stephen, opening his eyes to the true depth of his feelings—and what he can bring to the relationship. If Russ can find the strength, he can be Stephen's support, his heart, and his hope for the future.