Riding Red (Tales from Beyond the Veil #1) by Amos Cassidy

RidingRedScarlett lives with fear and disappointment – fear of what her step father wants from her, and disappointment in her mother for failing to see it. Her life is lonely and filled with darkness, her only sanctuary is the forest behind her small cottage. It is here that she finally steps off the path and encounters Red. 

Red is larger than life, solid and real and enticing. He is a man of little words, preferring action to speech and she is instantly drawn to him. 

In a small shack in a clearing in the forest Scarlett will find a new home, a passion unlike any other and a secret that will change her world forever.

Scarlett will never be the same again.

I love finding a new genre to fall in love with. My latest to add to the constantly growing list falls under twisted fairy tales. I haven’t read many, but the ones that I have read I’ve really enjoyed. When I found out that the Amos Cassidy duo were putting out a series of novellas based on these timeless tales I couldn’t wait to get their spin on them.

You probably guessed that Riding Red got its name from Little Red Riding Hood. The tale spun here is nothing like the one that you remember from your childhood though, and that’s the point. In this adult version there’s no grandmother, but a alcoholic mother, a pure evil step-father, a town full of judgmental people and more than enough reason for Scarlett to want to run away from home.

The forest is full of magic and Scarlett finds more than she bargained for when she runs into Red. Secrets are revealed, things aren’t always what they seem and the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ isn’t necessarily the scariest thing in the forest. There were a couple of twists that I didn’t expect but I totally loved.

The only complaint I have about Riding Red is that I wanted more. It worked great as a novella, but it would have been even better if it would have been a little bit longer. I know, I’m greedy. *sigh* I guess I can’t complain too much because the authors have already given us titles for the next 3 in the Tales from Beyond the Veil series. Tainted Snow is next, followed by Sleeping with Beauty and Beastly Heart.

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The Current Between Us by Kindle Alexander

CurrentBetweenUsGage Synclair, international, hard-hitting investigative photojournalist, is preparing for the final special report of his career…a story of deception and murder six long years in the making. And after ten years in some of the worst parts of the world, he’s ready to settle life down and open an art gallery in his hometown of Chicago. The only thing getting in his way, he needs to find a competent electrician to finish the job before his grand opening.

Trent Cooper, electrical contractor, is surprised by the last minute request for a fast-paced electrical remodel, wanting nothing more than to get his foot in the door with Layne Construction. Being gay in the construction industry isn’t easy, nor is being father to his two young adopted children. Trent keeps his life in separate zones to avoid a short circuit. But when the gallery owner propositions him on the first day, Trent can’t help but think his worlds are a little too close for comfort.

Will their high-voltage passion spark everlasting love or will their lives break the circuit between them forever?

The Current Between Us marks my first Kindle Alexander book. Crazy, right? Especially considering how many M/M Romances I have under my belt. Regardless of how long it’s taken me to finally pick one up, I can promise you that it won’t be my last.

I should also let you know going into this review that I am a sucker for kids being a part of the story. There are a lot of authors that just add kids for the sake of having them there. Those aren’t the stories I’m talking about. I’m referring to the ones that include the kids and make them an integral part of the story. I’m drawn in when the kids have personality and add to the dialogue. I’m not a ‘children should be seen and not heard’ kind of person in real life and it carries over into my reading life too. Kindle Alexander did a great job with Em and Hunter. They won me over in the first chapter.

As for the romance? I have to be honest. There were times that I felt that Gage was a little over the top. I understood him though. His reaction to Trent was totally unexpected and he was totally unprepared. He was a man who always got what he wanted. The thing that really won me over as far as he was concerned was the response that came from his parents. Their reaction to Gage’s relationship to Trent pretty much said it all.

And then there was Trent. He won me over in that first chapter right along with Em and Hunter. He was honest and totally dedicated to the well-being of his kids. Make no mistake, regardless of how they came into his life, Em and Hunter were his. Gage won major brownie points with Trent with his interactions with Em and Hunter. He wormed his way into my heart at about the same time that he did with Trent.

The supporting characters were great. Besides Gage’s parents he also had a very close family full of siblings and nieces and nephews. Rhonny and Aunt Crazy rounded out the cast. I pretty much loved them all.

Then there was the twist…. I knew it was coming. Well not exactly ‘it’ but something. From the bits and pieces of reviews that I read I knew it was something major that readers either loved or hated. I have to admit that I was scared for this couple. I had a slight inkling but I was still totally unprepared. It was one of those things that you aren’t quite sure exactly how the characters can recover from. *sigh*

All in all I consider my time reading The Current Between Us to have been well spent. Yeah, Gage was a little over the top at times but since he had no idea how to handle the raw attraction he felt toward Trent I can forgive him for it. The story, the suspense, the romance and the well written family dynamic more than make up for it. ;)

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Gerard’s Beauty (Kingdom #2) by Marie Hall

GerardsBeautyA not so classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, as seen through the eyes of the villain…

Betty Hart has had it with men. Jilted in love, her life now consists of shelving books by day, watching too much Anime by night, and occasionally dressing up like a superhero on the weekends with her fellow ‘Bleeding Heart’ nerds. Men are not welcome and very much unwanted. Especially the sexy Frenchman who saunters into her library reeking of alcohol and looking like he went one too many rounds in the ring.

Gerard Caron is in trouble. Again. Caught with his pants down (literally) he’s forced to seek asylum on Earth while his fairy godmother tries to keep Prince Charming from going all ‘Off with his head’. Maybe, messing around with the King’s daughter hadn’t been such a great idea after all, not that Gerard knew the silly redhead was a princess. But his fairy godmother knows the only way to save his life is to finally pair Gerard with his perfect mate, whether he’s willing or not.

From the moment Gerard lays eyes on the nerdy librarian he knows he must have her, but Betty is unlike any woman he’s ever known. He thought Betty would come as willingly to his bed as every other woman before her, but she is a woman who demands respect and even… horror of all horrors… love. Is it possible for a self-proclaimed Casanova to change his ways?

It’s official. I can’t get enough of these Kingdom bad boys. I’ve kind of skipped around a little, but I’m back on track. At least I started with Her Mad Hatter… then I skipped ahead to Rumpel’s Prize, which is actually the 3rd book in the Dark Princess Kingdom series, but the 8th book in the Kingdom series and it involves the daughter of…. never mind. This is another ‘do as I say, not as I do’ moment. *sigh*

Gerard was a definite bad boy and his Fairy God Mother Danika had her hands full. As frustrating and exasperating as he was, he actually had a good heart. As everyone should know there are two sides to every story and Gerard’s Beauty proves it. Seems that Disney may have had it all wrong. Well, mostly wrong. He wasn’t totally innocent, but he wasn’t totally bad either. Turns out all he needed was the right woman to turn him around.

That’s basically the gist of all these Kingdom stories. Even the baddest of the bad can be tamed… well mostly tamed. No one wants them totally tamed, right? Gerard’s Beauty was funny, sweet and introduced readers to characters who had more to offer than they first appeared. I love it when that happens.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00003]Red and Her Wolf are up next and I can’t wait to see how this twist on the familiar story turns out. I picked up the first three books in a set, so as soon as I finish the 3rd book, I’ll have to pick up the rest. ;)

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By creativedeeds

Running Wild (Havoc #1) by S.E. Jakes Virtual Book Tour

RunningWild_TourBanner(1)

Thanks so much to Creative Deeds for hosting me on the tour for Running Wild: Havoc Book 1.  This is the start of a brand new series, with different heroes for each book and HEAs at the end of each book.  Sean Rush and Ryker stole my heart a long time ago, and I’m excited for you guys to meet all of them.

***

Here’s a snippet from a scene toward the middle of the book. Ryker has just proved to Sean that he doesn’t mind his MC knowing they’re together — by kissing the hell out of him in front of everyone. And then he tells Sean to get on the back of his bike, so he can take Sean home. Sean has objections…

***

Still, I kept my voice down so no one could hear when I told him, “I’m not riding in the bitch seat.”

He was trying not to grin, but failing. “Why not?”

“I know exactly what it means when you ride on the back of a guy’s bike.”

“Really?”

“It means you fucking own me, Ryker.”

“Don’t I?”

His words were a low rumble that shot straight to my dick and holy fuck . . . I had no answer. Well, obviously I did, but I refused to put voice to it.

I was out—that wasn’t the issue. And obviously being out wasn’t an issue for him either. But the MC shit, we’d never talked about it, what it meant for us. All these men knew about our relationship, knew he was looking out for me. Knew he considered me his.

I swear I had to remind myself to breathe.

“Get on the bike, Sean.”

This time, Ryker’s tone left no room for argument. If anything, it made me harder. I stopped thinking—par for the course when I was around Ryker—and I got on the bike behind him.

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RunningWild_400x600RUNNING WILD:  Havoc Book 1

Embrace the danger…

Sean Rush is an adrenaline junkie. That’s why he was in the Army, why he steals and races classic muscle cars . . . and why he can’t stay away from bad boy Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant. Fortunately, Ryker can’t seem to stay away from Sean—he’s spent the last eight months breaking into Sean’s apartment and stealing into his bed, leaving Sean physically satisfied but increasingly restless.

Sean has always avoided relationships. He likes to come and go without being controlled. And Ryker is possibly the most controlling man he’s ever known. Still, he finds that he wants more from Ryker than their silent nighttime encounters.

Then one of Sean’s thefts goes bad, and Ryker’s protective instincts kick into overdrive. He takes Sean to the Havoc compound, determined to keep him safe. But Sean’s past threatens the safety of Havoc—and everything Ryker holds dear. Worse, Ryker’s hiding secrets of his own. Soon it’s obvious that the adrenaline rush can’t keep them together anymore. But maybe love can.

*Read an excerpt

*Order Running Wild

***

FYI, I’m also writing a m/f MC series under the Steph Tyler name—the first book of that series, Vipers Run is out now as well.  And there’s a very light crossover in that you’ll see names of MCs that are main characters in my Vipers series—namely Vipers MC, along with the Heathens.  Havoc’s friendly with Vipers, not so much with Heathens (they seem to be everyone’s enemy at the moment).

***

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

You can contact her the following ways:

She spends most of her time writing but she loves to hear from readers!

SE Jakes is the pen-name of New York Times Bestselling author Stephanie Tyler (and half of Sydney Croft) — please go to my media kit to learn more!

 

 

By creativedeeds

Running Wild (Havoc #1) by S.E. Jakes

RunningWild_400x600Embrace the danger.

Sean Rush is an adrenaline junkie. That’s why he was in the Army, why he steals and races classic muscle cars . . . and why he can’t stay away from bad boy Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant. Fortunately, Ryker can’t seem to stay away from Sean—he’s spent the last eight months breaking into Sean’s apartment and stealing into his bed, leaving Sean physically satisfied but increasingly restless.

Sean has always avoided relationships. He likes to come and go without being controlled. And Ryker is possibly the most controlling man he’s ever known. Still, he finds that he wants more from Ryker than their silent nighttime encounters.

Then one of Sean’s thefts goes bad, and Ryker’s protective instincts kick into overdrive. He takes Sean to the Havoc compound, determined to keep him safe. But Sean’s past threatens the safety of Havoc—and everything Ryker holds dear. Worse, Ryker’s hiding secrets of his own. Soon it’s obvious that the adrenaline rush can’t keep them together anymore. But maybe love can.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Bad boys… you either love them or hate them. I have to admit that it took me a while to decide which way I was going to be swayed with either Ryker or Sean. To be honest I wasn’t feeling a strong connection to either one of them. I kept seeing how everyone was swooning over Ryker on Facebook and I just didn’t get it. I was actually getting kind of nervous. S.E. Jakes’ bad boys usually grab me from the beginning and don’t let go. Sean was okay, but I didn’t feel a strong  connection and Ryker was just a guy that seemed to be playing Sean for the first couple of chapters. What was it that all these swooning guys and girls were seeing in him?

I should have known better. Ryker snuck up on me the same way he got to Sean. Actually, the more I got to know both men the more attached I became. It took me awhile, but I finally got it. Ryker was more than swoon worthy. There was a lot more to him than just being a big, bad biker. Family meant everything to him and he would protect it at all costs. There was more to Sean too. He was broken in ways that went beyond the PTSD he suffered from. The way Ryker just knew how to reach him and his determination to help him heal but not change him is what really won me over.

Since this is a new series a lot of characters were introduced. Havoc is an interesting place that goes beyond just being a MC. There was also just a little bit of a mystical vibe to it that I totally didn’t expect but was intrigued by. I’m hoping that we see more of it as the series continues. Ryker and Sean got their HEA, but there’s more to come. I’m hoping we see more of them, but I’m looking forward to see which big, bad biker S.E. Jakes plans to win our hearts over next. ;)

DragonFlyRating4Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out more about Sean and Ryker
during my stop on the Running Wild Virtual Book Tour. 

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Wolf Hunger (Dragon Heat #3) by Ella J. Phoenix

WolfHungerWhen the last box of deadly bullets is stolen, the hunt is on and the Vampire King’s band of fighters is set for the challenge of recovering it. But Yara, the shifter-witch, has other problems to face. She must help her leader to overcome the strange illness that has befallen her before it’s too late. For that, she must go back to the only place she swore never to return – her home land.

Rafe is a typical lone wolf who spends his nights earning his bucks in the fighting ring. When he was offered a pardon for his debts in exchange for the Vampire King’s head, he didn’t even blink, thinking it would be a hard mission but not impossible. He just wasn’t expecting the saucy shifter-witch to cross his path and ruin his plans. Now, he can’t get her out of his mind and the clock is ticking for him to make good on his word. 

This is the third novel of the Dragon Heat series – a paranormal lover’s delight with vampires, shifters, dragons, witches and much more. 

This is one series that I can honestly say gets just a little bit better with each CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1installment. Dragon Heat introduced the series, the characters and the world of Dragon Heat. Zoricah and Tardieh were also the most obvious place to begin. Sam and Hikuro were next in Vampire Thirst and their story continued the momentum. Wolf Hunger not only brings more players in but builds up the suspense. Even though the previous characters aren’t front and center, their story continues and they’re developing right along with the plot. I love it when that happens. ;)

I have to admit that there were times that I wasn’t quite sure about Rafe. I knew he had good intentions, but I also understood why Yara didn’t quite trust him. Mostly because I didn’t for a good portion of the book. Yes, he had his reasons for doing what he did and he also had his reasons for not caring one way or another what happened to Tardieh. The problem was that I did so therefore Rafe had a lot of work to do to finally win me over.

The banter and interactions between these characters is one of the things that I like most about this series. These ‘families’ have melded together in a unique way. In a short amount of time Zoricah’s ‘family’ and Tardieh’s ‘family’ have become one. I love the way that they have come to both love, respect and support each other. One character in particular tugged at my heart in this book and it wasn’t Rafe or Yara. Their heart wasn’t simply broken, but pretty much crushed and I want them to get their HEA sooner rather than later. *sigh*

There was a lot more going on in Wolf Hunger than the hunt for the bullets and who was targeting the King. Some pretty amazing stuff actually, which unfortunately, in the interest of keeping my review spoiler free, I can’t talk about. This story is far from over… for any of the characters. The story arc between Rafe and Yara came to a satisfying close but readers were left with a lot of unanswered questions. For a lot of reasons I can’t wait for the next book in the Dragon Heat series.

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Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane

Old kitchen table rural cottage morningStuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?

Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.

This one was short and sweet. The jury’s still out on whether 140 pages was enough to tell the story that needed to be told.

Second Helpings was a story of love and loss. It was also a story of trust. Stuart had lost the love of his life and Paul was desperately searching for his. I have to CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1admit that I got aggravated with both of these characters at times. Neither one of them seemed to have the ability to see what was right in front of them. Both of them almost blew any chances that they had to even try to start a relationship of any kind. Yet, there were things that I admired about both of them too. I loved Stuart’s easy relationship with his father. They were more than just father and son and it was obvious in the way that they interacted with each other. As for Paul, I loved his protectiveness over his mother. Their relationship had come full circle and his leeriness of anyone getting close to her was understandable.

Then there were the parents themselves. I loved them both. They were wise, the way parents should be, without being pushy or overbearing. Both men having supportive parents made the turmoil that they were putting each other through a little bit easier.

If the story were a little bit longer it would have given me time to get to know the characters and be a little more invested in their relationship. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the story though, or like the characters. Spending a little more time with them would have just made me like them more. ;)

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Hotter than Helltown (Preternatural Affairs #3) by S.M. Reine

HotterThanHellTownA killer is mutilating bodies in Los Angeles. Agent Cèsar Hawke is on the case, but the murderer is ahead of him–way ahead of him.

Wiping the memories of the dead so that the team’s necrocognitive can’t talk to them? Done. Preventing magical reconstruction of the crime scenes? Oh yeah. And the murders keep getting more brutal while Cèsar struggles to catch up.

The best way to heat up a cold case is to go to Helltown, where Los Angeles’s most powerful evil hides out, but even those demons are afraid of the murderer. Their fear adds one more question to the growing pile of unknowns:

What kind of bad guy is too hot for Helltown?

I honestly can’t explain it. I love everything about this world that S.M. Reine has created. I fell in love with her unique take on werewolves in Seasons of the Moon. I love the rough edge to the characters in the Descent series. The Ascension series knit the characters of both these series together brilliantly. The Preternatural Affairs series is yet another layer (or pre-layer really) of CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1the same world. As much as I love Rylie, Seth, Abel, Elise, James and everyone else in this crazy, mixed-up world, if I had to choose right now, Cèsar would be my hands down favorite.

Hotter Than Helltown finds Cèsar stressing over more than just the magical crimes that he has to investigate. He also has an impossible test to pass that he is totally not ready for. The case that he’s on becomes as much of a diversion as it is a challenge.

I think what I liked most about Hotter Than Helltown was the fact that readers got to know characters a lot better. At least it felt that way to me. For some reason, in the previous books I didn’t really feel connected to Fritz. I didn’t dislike him, I just didn’t know how to feel about him I guess. His interactions with Cèsar in Hotter Than Helltown changed that for me I think. There’s a lot of things about being inside Cèsar’s head that change my perspective.

Some of the other things that I’ve liked about this series so far are the vague references to characters that we already know from the previous series. One character in particular was mentioned in passing and if I wasn’t paying attention I might have missed it. It kinda made me chuckle.

Basically, these books keep you on your toes – in more ways than one. The characters are smart, witty and the interactions between them are more of the same. There’s action, danger, mystery and the world building never ceases to amaze me. There’s definitely more in store for these characters and I have a feeling that there will be even more cross overs, which is fine by me. I can’t wait to see what layers are added next.

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Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5) by Lori Foster

HardKnocksPower. Brute strength. Unforgettable moves. It’s no wonder Harper Gates hasn’t been able to get her fling with Gage “Savage” Ringer out of her head. Months have passed since she laid eyes—or any other body parts—on him. Months without a word of contact… until, sidelined by injury, he comes back to town.

Staying focused on his training seemed like a smart move to Gage, even if he thought about Harper every day. Seeing her again only makes it clear how much is at stake. He’s got one night to earn back her trust. One night to show her that behind his breathtaking skill and ripped body is a man who’ll give her everything she needs.

Have you ever picked up a book just because of the author? I know, that’s a really silly question, of course you have. That’s one of the main reasons why I picked up Hard Knocks. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this little novella was the beginning of a series that I’ve been looking forward to. I knew it was coming, I just wasn’t paying attention when I picked it up.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Hard Knocks is the prequel novella to Lori Foster’s Ultimate series. It’s an excellent opening even though it only mentions the characters that I’m most looking forward to seeing more of…namely Cannon. That’s okay though because Hard Knocks gave readers a lot to look forward to in the series. New characters as well as the promise of cameos from Foster’s Love Undercover series, which is where Cannon was first introduced.  Gage and Harper give you just a taste of this world, but it wasn’t lacking. There was plenty of heat between these two. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for not only the characters that readers already know, but the new ones that we’re sure to become just as inevitably attached.

Cannon’s book, the first official book in the series, No Limits, is due to be released near the end of August. You can get a feel for the series a little bit sooner when Hard Knocks is released on August 4.

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Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

NobleMetalsEver since Robert Belton gambled away the money to stake his claim in the Klondike gold fields, he’s been stranded in Seattle working as a prostitute. When an attractive customer needs help hauling provisions to the frozen north, Robert eagerly volunteers.

Dr. John Fauth is only searching for one thing, and it isn’t gold. He needs platinum for the prototypes of his revolutionary inventions, and if he doesn’t find it in the Klondike, his university career—and his research—is over.

Getting to the Klondike is a grueling, dangerous journey, and just hours after leaving Seattle, John and Robert find themselves in over their heads. John is carrying an invaluable device that his competitors will do anything to get their hands on. And as the cold nights and mutual desire pull John and Robert closer together, they discover that they have much more to lose than gold or platinum.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You know the saying ‘It’s not you, it’s me?” Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not breaking up with anyone. I’m just trying to give you a frame of reference. I honestly love both steampunk and historical fiction/romance, it just takes me a while to get into. Kind of like dystopian worlds. Once I get my head wrapped around it and get comfortable in the world, I’m good. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to the review.

Robert was definitely my favorite character in this couple. He was a little bit broken and pretty much resigned to the fact that he was stuck with the hand he’d been dealt. That didn’t stop him from looking for a way out. Robert was pretty much an open book from the time he was introduced. He had one deep dark secret, but it wasn’t much of a surprise, at least not to me.

John was a different story. Even though the story was told from Robert’s POV, John thoughts and feelings were revealed in his journal entries. I kind of liked that approach, but I still didn’t feel nearly as connected to John as I did to Robert. These men were both driven by entirely different forces and I think I admired Robert’s drive more than John’s.

Regardless, I liked the story. There was danger, action, a new world to get used to and it was all laced with a sweet, yet hot romance. The best part is by the end John won me over. It took him a while though ;)

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