Tag Archives: low steam

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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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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Dreamy delight about falling for your best friend

bffBFF by K.C. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this for the story itself, which is beautifully told and filled with emotion. I loved it even more knowing that it’s loosely based on a real couple who one day realised they were in love with each other.

I know this has had a mixed reception because of the earliest exchanges between the boys but I personally didn’t find them to be too outlandish.

My son had to grow up pretty fast when I nearly died back when he was just six years old, and his vocabulary has always been way advanced for his age as we’ve always read with him and to him.

He started talking relatively late when he was almost four, but once he started, he never stopped and he’s always been an advanced reader (he takes after his mum in that, I could read before I started school).

So, for me anyway, the way David and Matt talked in their younger days, didn’t seem too far beyond reality and, given the story was being narrated as flashback type recollection, I just took it as David embellishing it a bit 🙂

As this is a Dreamspinner release, it’s relatively low angst and no real steam to talk about up until the final 10% and it works for the setting. The whole book felt, for me, as if I was being given a peak into these two men’s lives as they waited until they were young adults before their eyes were opened to the love they had. It’s a truly sweet read.

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

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Good follow up to the fabulous Femme

Masc_ebook-web

Masc by Marshall Thornton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a lot longer to get into this one than I did the original Femme, but Lionel and Dog are still crazy fun together and still trying to navigate their way through life.

Lionel is panicking that him and Doug have nothing in common, Doug is trying to avoid the attentions of a creepy hospital colleague and the rest of the gang are alternatively chasing their happy ending or getting caught up in the muddle of already finding one.

I didn’t find this one as funny as Femme, although it still has its moments, but it does carry the same great message about being true to yourself and being the best person you can be.

It ends on an open note once again so I don’t know if more is yet to come for Lionel and Dog but they are very definitely starting a long term HEA.

#ARC kindly provided by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Wonderfully surprised by this new to me author’s hockey romance

On the Ice (Stick Side, #1)On the Ice by Amy Aislin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well this was an utter surprise and a very pleasant one. I’ve never read Amy Aislin before but I shall definitely be keeping an eye out for more of this series.

I absolutely adored it. This is slow burn but with a difference because NHL defensive lineman Alex is demisexual and he needs to be emotionally connected to someone before he even thinks about having feelings of sexual attraction.

Mitch, on the other hand, is younger and, on the face of it, way more confident. He’s bold and brash but hiding a lot of hurt and loss underneath his veneer of self-assurance. He’s been putting a brave face on for so long, he’s lost the ability to be himself. But, if he wants Alex, that’s what he’s got to be.

The slow, slow burn in this is beautifully written. Alex is repulsed at first by Mitch’s open come ons and he doesn’t want to get involved. But once he sees that the visible Mitch isn’t the real one, he’s intrigued and, as he begins to tutor him for a class he can’t afford to fail while out on an injury leave, Alex starts to to get that emotional connection.

I have to say, the only aspect of this one that didn’t quite work for me was the background to why Mitch was on his own and struggling so much and, while it was thoroughly explained and was a perfectly reasonable reason, I think I needed maybe a tiny bit more interaction with his mother for it to be sold perfectly. Especially the bits with his brother.

There’s a great bunch of secondary characters in this one and a very visual setting which was well described and I’m hoping there’s going to be more involving the guys from Mitch’s college team and some of Alex’s Tampa teammates.

I loved that there was a long time period over which this story was told as well, running from 2008 through to 2015 and the final chapter/epilogue was so ridiculously sweet it had me tearing up – which doesn’t happen often!

Sports romances are one of my favourite tropes because they provide me with hope that, eventually, the toxic masculinity present in so many of the “big name” games will fade away and it won’t matter about someone’s sexuality – just how well they can play.

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

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Lots of fun to be had in the first of this new Dreamspinner series

Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1)Out of the Ashes by Ari McKay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was super sweet and had a lot of world building for a relatively short book.

I liked the setting, the paranormal elements were treated as just part of the world where werewolves, vampires, Fae, wizards, witches, diviners and other magic creatures lived alongside humans but separated off from them.

The threat was built up nicely, as was the sexual tension between alpha pack leader Eli and his half-elf mate Arden. Because this is a Dreamspun Beyond romance, there was just the one on page sex scene but it was worth the wait. Arden and Eli are perfect mates and blew the sheets off!

As this is an ongoing series (and I’ll be reviewing Book Two shortly as well), there was a sort of cliffhanger. The plot narrative for this book was wrapped up but the overall story arc is still be concluded and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

There’s plenty going on in Out of the Ashes and lots of potential for where the story is going next but it’s Whimsy the mage up next in Forged In Fire!

#ARC kindly provided by the publishers Dreamspinner in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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The length of this one may put readers off but the slow burn is worth it

Untouchable

Untouchable by Ruthie Luhnow & Kay Simone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a 4* for me simply because of the length, I felt the same situation arose over and over (the internal monologuing and second guessing of the other person’s thoughts and feelings just got a bit wearing for me personally).

But, that aside, the rest of this book is a beautifully written exploration of how two completely different and disparate people can actually turn out to be perfect for each other and just “understand” how the other one ticks and know how to comfort and support them.

Both Kay Simone and Ruthie Luhnow have written books I’ve previously 5*ed and thoroughly enjoyed and I thought this collaboration between the two of them highlighted and showcased each of their great writing skills for both a sense of place and in the beautiful language used.

It’s written in first person present, which can be a little difficult to get your head around and is one of the reasons for me that the first quarter of the book just felt like it was going on forever with very little happening.

However, once Harp and Parker actually admit to their blossoming feelings, the pace kicks up a gear and we start to see some real character development as Harp gets over his insular nature and Parker begins to stand up for himself and not feel quite so unworthy. Both men have suffered from the slings and arrows of life so it’s joyful to see them start to open up to each other.

There are hurdles along the way though, and this means there’s a lot of angsty and only a little steam – which actually makes sense given the unique natures of each individual man.

I love a good May to December and Harp is almost two decades older than Parker (who is 26), which again leads to a whole other level of anxiety and insecurities and what I liked about this story is that the relationship didn’t all of a sudden remove all those characteristics.

Both men remained anxious at times, insecure at times, fearful and with all their hang ups, but they also grow and adapt, learn to be flexible and rely on the other.

I think this will appeal to readers who enjoy a slow burn, it is glacial at times, but because of the quality of the writing, it’s something you (generic) can live with as it marches on to what’s a bit of a swoony epilogue.

#ARC kindly received from the authors in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

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