Tag Archives: low steam

Excellent opener in this new small town hospital set trilogy from Heidi Cullinan

The Doctor's Secret (Copper Point Medical #1)The Doctor’s Secret by Heidi Cullinan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So many positive things to say about this new series from Heidi Cullinan, it’s ridiculously romantic, totally sweet, has a wonderfully detailed setting and fabulous secondary characters as well as multi-cultural representation.

My only ‘negative’ and its a minor one at that, is that on occasion it felt like the political awareness elements which Heidi is so good at incorporating into her stories were just dropped in like being hit over the head with a frying pan.

Her stories usually gently educate and inform but one particular passage in this one made me feel like I was being given a history lesson and a lecture on fair behaviour at the same time.

Now, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just felt a touch more heavy-handed than I’m used to from this author.

That said, in the whole this book is absolutely adorable, with two compelling and perfectly judged characters who are wonderful together. I loved Hong-Wei and I loved Simon.

The home town man and the Taiwanese doctor brought out the best in each other and the whole premise of personal liabilities and responsibilities married well into the wider plot about integration and the fight with an old-fashioned and controlling hospital board.

I’m not sure if it was because it’s a Dreamspinner publication or not, but this was way less steamy than I’d usually expect from Heidi, with only one on page encounter and then everything else off page or fade to black.

It was a slight disappointment only because of the very visceral feeling of love and emotion between the two men. I missed seeing more of it expressed physically on page.

Still, overall this delivers big time on great plot, wonderful characters and plenty of lead in for the next two in the trilogy. I’m dying to find out more about Owen and Erin (don’t worry, he’s a man even though his name is one I’d almost always associate with a woman) and their definite frenemies vibe.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Book releases April 23rd, pre-order your copy here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-doctors-secret-by-heidi-cullinan-10296-b

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Complex and intriguing introduction to this new fantasy series

apple boy cover finalApple Boy by Isobel Starling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s a lot going on here!

And it’s not concluded at the end of this first book in Isobel Starling’s new fantasy series either, but there is the start of a complex narrative which I’m eager to learn more of.

I believe the three books together will bring different characters’ backgrounds and stories so far into one over-reaching plot that will conclude once all is done.

First up was Adam and Winter and they’re very cute together and delightfully stumble their way not only into a relationship but also into an epic adventure.

It’s really hard to review this without giving the key parts away, which I’m not going to do, but let’s just say I was kept interested from start to finish even when it all got a little bit complicated.

The book itself is gorgeous, with internal illustrations and a stunning world map, there’s also a handy glossary at the start with a decent chunk of background information on each of the realms.

Like all good fantasy novels, it leaves as much unanswered as it does concluded so I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

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This is a wonderful exploration of just what makes people connect

Blue Umbrella SkyBlue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read a book written by Rick R. Reed, I never feel like I’m reading a story, he always transports me into a snippet of the lives of two – on the surface – ordinary men who together manage to find the right glue to hold them together.

In this one he gives us two vastly different men, different ages, different life experiences, different expectations and then he slowly, oh so slowly, brings them together into a glorious, but so very realistic, future.

There’s no real central plot to Blue Umbrella Sky, it’s more about accepting change, accepting you eventually will move on after loss, though the hurt will always remain, it’s about accepting your flaws and your frailties and learning how to live your best life with them.

It also has possibly one of the best representations of an alcoholic living in sobriety and the steps needed to remain in that state without it being overly dramatic, overly angsty or depressing.

I loved the characters of both Billy and Milt and even though this is low steam, all fade to black or off page, it didn’t annoy me as much as that often does because this story wasn’t about the passion of a sexual relationship, it was about finding a new place to call home.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review

Out March 19th, get your pre-order at Dreamspinner Press here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/blue-umbrella-sky-by-rick-r-reed-10315-b

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The suspense element just didn’t work for me with this one unfortunately

ReboundRebound by Andrew Grey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I usually enjoy Andrew Grey’s work but this one just didn’t mesh for me into a cohesive narrative at all.

The suspense element was out of place and I still don’t really think there was enough build up given to it or to the big reveal of who the bad guy was. It just made no sense to me at all.

The romance element also seemed subdued and the lack of sexual intimacy until right at the very end left me feeling disjointed and not really connected to the characters at all.

Individually though, Obie and Bri were nicely crafted and I liked the setting and the secondary characters helped flesh out the world.

Still, overall I would have loved more of them together as a couple and a little bit more depth to the suspect’s identity.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Get your copy here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rebound-by-andrew-grey-10185-b

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Release Blitz: In Case You Missed It by S. M. James

In Case You Missed It | S. M. James

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Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA, LGBT, romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Length: 98000 words/400 pages

It is a standalone story.

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Amazon AU

 

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Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy.

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret.

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment.

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable.

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?

All books in the #lovehim series are standalone. The series number is the recommended reading order.

Excerpt

We cross the front of the school, head past the football field, and into the courtyard. It’s eerily quiet, with filtered sunlight and a soft breeze breaching the concrete quad.

Darien heads for a bench that runs along the base of an enormous tree and flops down onto it. I sit next to him and silence settles gently over my shoulders. The courtyard is surrounded by buildings on three sides, and I vaguely remember one of them as the science wing.

“So this is where you’d eat at breaks on a nice day. Cameron and Chels sit there, and some of the others here, and over there.” He points to an opposite bench. “We’d sit right here, of course. Since you’d be in all the nerd classes, we’d be inseparable over break.” He grips the back of the bench and leans into his hands, grinning over at me.

I swing a leg over the back of the bench so I’m facing him. “And you’d be such a shameless flirt, I’d have to find new friends to save you the embarrassment.”

“No point.” He shrugs. “I’d just follow you there too.”

The thing is, I believe him. I don’t know how anyone can be so effortless about how they feel. He doesn’t try to hide it, but he doesn’t push me either, and the fact he can be so unashamedly into me, makes me want to give him more.

But he’ll get over it. And I have to help him.

I lean away from him a little. “So, is there anyone here who’s caught your eye?”

“There’s this one guy …”

His tone makes me arch my eyebrow. “He wouldn’t be me, would he?”

“See? You’re too damn smart.”

I duck my head as I hold back a laugh. “Seriously though. Nothing is going to happen between us, so it’s okay if you find someone else.”

“Yeah, we’re not doing this.”

I frown. “What do you mean?”

“We’ve been over this, like, a thousand times. Jesus, Brooks, I get it. I just want to spend time with you, as friends, and I don’t need you trying to push me onto someone else.”

“Darien …” I reach for his arm and he shrugs me away. “I’m sorry.”

“Good. Now no more mentioning that shit, okay? My memory is fine, I can make my own damn decisions.”

“You’re right.” But how does he make the right decision when I’m keeping a huge part of myself from him? I take a couple of short breaths, the very real possibility of telling him, looming at the front of my thoughts.

“Here.” Darien finally takes off his backpack and unzips it. He’s packed a heap of food, some I haven’t seen before, and he slides away from me on the bench to set it out between us. “Dig in.”

Lunch is delicious, and I try some of everything. Darien talks me through some of the foods his mom made, like zelnik and tulumba, and it’s so damn good, I’d hang out with him just for the food. After a week of barely eating I don’t hold back, but I didn’t bring my enzyme tablets with me, so it’s close to pointless.

Darien takes some more photos after lunch as we explore the school. He fills me in on little bits and pieces about his first two weeks, and we wind up under the bleachers. He dives into his bag again and pulls out two cigarettes.

I give him a flat look. “Fuck no.”

He smirks. “Goodie two shoes.”

“Nope.” I shake my head, trying to think of how I can get him to put those freaking things away. “I just don’t see the point in sucking on something that can fucking kill you.” My words come out way harsher than I mean, but if he starts on one of those things, I’m leaving him here.

His dark eyebrows furrow, and something goes on behind his eyes that I can’t quite make out, but he just shrugs and grinds the smokes into the ground. “Thank the lord. Don’t think I could have stomached it, even for you.”

I relax a little, though I’m not sure I really believe the words.

He steps closer. “You know, there are other things people do under the bleachers …”

It takes me a second to catch up, and my focus automatically drops to his lips. My stomach is a riot as I try not to focus on how good our first kiss was, all those months ago.

Darien smirks and steps back, breaking my runaway thoughts. He pulls a marker from his bag. “We have to mark we were here, otherwise it doesn’t count.”

“That, I can do.” I take the marker from him and uncap it with a click. Reaching above my head, I hesitate a second, trying to figure out what to write. In the end, I go simple.

BL + DM.

“Those letters look good together,” Darien says. His voice is low and warm and reminds me of summer. His fingers slide down mine as he takes the marker from me.

He reaches up and his shirt pulls higher on his back, leaving this smooth strip of brown skin exposed. The pull to touch him is so strong. I need to feel his skin under my fingertips. It’s a physical battle to hold back, and just as I’m about to fold,

To reach,

To touch,

To give in to him, Darien finishes up, and steps back to survey his work. I blink a few times to try and lessen the fog in my head, then turn my focus up.

He’s drawn a heart around our initials.

RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

About the Author

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

Author Links

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Cinematic feel to this Sci-Fi romance from Kelly Jensen

To See the SunTo See the Sun by Kelly Jensen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started with a slow and slightly confusing opening chapter but got better and better once Gael got off the original planet and hitched his destiny with Bram.

It wouldn’t have felt out of place for this narrative to have been a plot in an episode of Star Trek or perhaps Stargate – there was a very cinematic feel to the book and I had very clear visuals of both characters and setting.

There’s lots of slow and steady relationship growth too, nothing felt hurried or out of place, Gael and Bram were wonderfully realised characters who fit together well.
It’s a relatively low steam romance but there’s lots of genuine feelings and emotions on display.

The sci-fi was done well, the tensions arising from the planet’s elemental weather systems were enough to keep my interest throughout. The side plot came a bit out of left field and I’m not sure whether or not it was truly needed tbh, but it was handled with skill in the execution.

Lovely epilogue too. I’d like to read more in this setting and I really liked most of the secondary characters.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Release Day Blitz: Magic or Die by J.P. Jackson

Magic or Die | J.P. Jackson

Inner Demons #1

Magic or Die Banner

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 2, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 87300

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, demons, witches, magic

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Synopsis

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James is forced to return to the CMRD, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

Excerpt

Magic or Die
J.P. Jackson © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Call Back
“YES, MIRIAM. YES, I know. I know it’s been over a year. I’m not sure I’m ready.”

The knuckles on my hand cramped from clasping my cell phone in a death grip. I glanced at my watch. This conversation had gone on too long. In the span of two minutes, Miriam had managed to exhume memories and history I wanted buried and forgotten. I sucked in a short breath as nausea surged like a tsunami of fear. Its behemoth wave washed bile against the back of my throat.

I slumped down the stained and weathered wall of the coffin-sized studio apartment I reluctantly called a home. It wasn’t a bad place to live, except for the cockroaches I found on a daily basis. I’m sure they considered it a veritable paradise. Absentmindedly, I toed an old pizza box near my foot while listening to Miriam. One of the insects scampered across the matted Berber carpet.

Gross.

Cody. A pale ghostlike face flashed before me. His hair, the exact colour of fall fallowed fields, hung listlessly over one eye, as blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. His chapped lips parted, asking me, “Why?”

I ignored the vision. Well, ignored wasn’t the right word, more like boxed it up with a heavy rock and pitched it into the abyss of my mind with all the other terrifying nightmares.

“I know. I owe you, yes. I’m just not sure—” I crawled over to the upended crate being used as a coffee table, grasping for my last pack of smokes. I lit one, enjoying the soothing crackle of the tobacco as it ignited, and then inhaled deeply.

Ah, yes. Hello, nicotine, my demon friend.

Miriam continued blithering while I half-heartedly listened to her soul-sucking voice. She was demanding my presence.

“What? You mean, tomorrow? Miriam, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” I drew in another steady stream of the toxic smoke. It burned my lungs as the addictive chemicals flooded through my body. I really need to quit. Scraping together the smallest ounce of courage, I attempted to defy her. “No, I can’t.”

A wraithlike hand, desiccated and fragile, inched its way across my shoulder and gripped my tense neck muscle. Its sharp nails dug into my flesh. Its bite, a warning.

Cody’s lifeless lips brushed my ear, sending cold shivers skittering across my back. Eruptions of goose flesh covered my neck and shoulders. His voice was a memory and a sound I would never forget.

“Don’t do this. You’ll kill me again.” His icy breath whispered to me.

Another box, a bigger rock, another addition to the pit of despair in my head.

“No,” I replied to one of Miriam’s inane questions. “There’s an Arcane too? I’ve never been good with them. They creep me out. No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Shit.” Miriam had just described a scene for me. My flesh turned buggy, as if I had chiggers nesting and burrowing deep into my skin. “Oh god that’s gross. It’s also not a good sign.” I pointed uselessly at the wall, waving my finger, trying to make a point to the caller. “I never took the exam for the third class.” Miriam had asked if I’d kept up my licensing. I instantly felt guilty. I should have done it years ago. One thing was becoming evident from the conversation—she needed my help. Help only I could give.

“All right, maybe, I think I can. Consult only. Do you hear me, Miriam? Just a consult.” I had tried desperately to stay the hell out of this. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to go back there. “What time? Yes. I’m pretty sure. Miriam—” A thousand reservations ran through my mind, a wild stampede, unbridled, laced with dread and fear. “How many? How many in this class?”

The question sat like the world perched on my shoulders. The higher the number, the bigger the world, the more responsibility, an undeniable possibility of…

“Five! Are you kidding me? I can’t do five. No. No! It’s not possible.”

She was out of her mind.

“Yes, my sister is still on the streets. You know that’s close to blackmail, right?” I stubbed out the cigarette. The lacquer of smoke in my mouth tasted like I had just licked the bottom of an ashtray, and it was suddenly very hard to breathe. Why do I smoke again?

“Fine. Tomorrow. Yes. Ten a.m. Yes, I’ll be there. What do you mean dress appropriately?”

I looked at my cell phone, disgusted as the call ended.

I flipped the device onto the floor as if it had burst into flame and branded the conversation into my hand. I snorted. Like, I’d forget.

Stretching around to the other side of the crate, I grabbed blindly for a bottle I hoped was there. By all the gods’ great divine gifts, it was. And it still had liquid in it. In fact, it was surprisingly half-full.

I tipped the vodka bottle back, allowing its burn to strip away the cancer stick’s smoky film inside my mouth.

Swaying back and forth with my eyes closed, I tried to drown out the endless voices in my head. The words inundated my impending thoughts of doom and failure, and I could feel the chaos and panic mounting. Steadying myself and regaining my mental capacities, I gazed out the window. It was dark already and only six, early evening at best. Yay for daylight-savings time and late fall in Canada. Lights from the downtown cityscape lazily twinkled and danced before me. It should have been a pretty sight, but the darkness always seemed too oppressive, like a shroud. And I knew better. Things lived in the shadows.

I took another swig from the clear glass bottle. The burn hit my throat and disintegrated the bile that had crept up there.

Five very gifted students.

I rubbed the stubble covering my face and took yet another nip. Except it wasn’t a quick sip, it was a good one. A long one.

The window acted like a mirror, and my image reflected against the backdrop of the city skyline. I looked like shit. My short brown hair had cowlicks; thank god I kept it close. But the rest? No wonder Miriam instructed me to clean it up. The shirt I was sort of wearing was only half buttoned and stained in several spots. I had no pants on, but the pair of tighty-whities, which weren’t exactly white anymore, or tight, were ripped and showed more flesh than they were supposed to. Jesus.

How did my life get here?

Five young people had no control of their gifts.

And I had a sister who was lost out in the sparkle-light of downtown’s darkness, up to who knew what, and doing it with god only knew who, mired in her own addictions.

I glanced around my shit-hole apartment, wondering what the fuck I was going to do.

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NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Meet the Author

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement.

And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

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