Claire Thompson-Castaways

You remember how I said that I would be featuring more Claire Thompson? Well, here you go. Castaways isn’t out for Kindle yet, but it is in paperback and the Kindle version is on pre-order and it will show up on your Kindle 2/3. This is different from the other stuff I’ve blogged about from Claire, because this one is vanilla-ish. Yes, she does write vanilla. I qualify it with the -ish because there is some fairly mild power exchange stuff going on, but that could just be because of the nature of the relationship between the guys.

So, here’s the story. Sam is an up and coming artist from NYC. He’s been working really hard to get ready for a big show, and his last one was wildly successful. His friend, Tim, who is also the gallery owner has given him a ticket for a Caribbean cruise. Sam has been spending a lot of time looking at the ocean and taking pictures so that he can remember the light.

Donovan is two years out of law school. He’s an associate at a high powered law firm. His father is a lawyer who helped him get this place, and he’s always pushed Donovan to do better, be better, yadda, yadda, yadda. He’s getting ready for his first big case, but he’s decided that he needs a vacation before his big case because he’s fighting burnout. One night, he bumps into Sam on deck as Sam is looking at the sea.

That chance meeting doesn’t seem like it would be anything, and it probably woudn’t be, if the ship they were on didn’t catch fire and sink that night. Donovan gets swept overboard by a huge wave and the current catches him and sweeps him away from everyone else. Sam gets knocked down and ends up a little out of it and all the lifeboats leave without him. Luckily he finds one last life raft, but he goes the same way as Donovan and fortuitously picks him up, where they find themselves floating further and further away from everyone else and on to their very own deserted island.

Now, this could be considered a first time gay novel, but I think to classify it that way would be a disservice to the book. There is so much more to it than just one guy finding out that he’s attracted to another guy and trying to deal with it. For one thing, Sam doesn’t identify as gay. He doesn’t identify with any label, really. There is a really beautiful passage where he talks about liking men and women and what attracts him to either. He says that he’s attracted to people, but that he emotionally connects with men. I love that whole section because it shows how much time and thought that Sam has put into who he is. It’s not easy to figure all that stuff out at the best of times and being alive is a continuity and you aren’t going to be the same person today as you are a year from now or you were a year ago, so putting a lot of time and energy into figuring yourself out is totally awesome. I love that Claire gives Sam the space to be that person. You don’t see a lot of characters like that, and I really would like to. Donovan is really interesting. He is really confused about what’s going on and his feelings. Sam is right there with him though.


I know no one wants to think that a disaster like a shipwreck could be good for someone, but I think that I could argue a case that it was almost a good thing for Donovan. He’d never had time to just be or to just connect with anyone, and the month spent on a deserted island with someone like Sam would give him the time to just be and to figure out who he is. Sam is a total superstar throughout the thing, and really sort of guides Donovan through the whole process, but not by taking his hand and leading him, more by just being there. Like I said, totally awesome.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one today. When it releases on 2/3 go check it out or put it on preorder now. Happy reading!

Natasha Knight-Torn

A few days ago, I reviewed the first book of this series, Taken, here. Today, we have the second book in the duet, Torn. Because this is the second book of a duet, there are going to be spoilers for the first book here. I will try to avoid them as much as possible, because you know I don’t want to spoil anyone, but it’s the nature of the beast. If you haven’t read Taken yet, I highly recommend it, especially now that we have the second book out. So, if you have read the story, and you are ready for my review, take a leap off my cliff with me.


OK, if you’ve come down here, you are either ready to read my review or you like spoilers. Either way, you were warned.

We left off with Lucinda shooting Sebastian and Ethan capturing Helena, after Lucinda set her up. This does not bode well for either of them because we all know that Lucinda is a psycho. I mean, she should totally be diagnosed, because damn.

Lucinda takes Helena and puts her in a stone room somewhere underground in Venice. It’s dark, it’s dank, it’s cold, and Helena is there all alone. Well, all alone except for Lucinda and Ethan. Lucinda takes her hate out on Helena and tries to get Ethan to rape her, after all, she’s a Willow Girl, and that’s what they are there for, right? Only Ethan isn’t willing to go there because he’s still afraid of Sebastian. Which he totally should be. Then Lucinda leaves Helena down, in the dark, really all alone this time. Helena keeps counting on Sebastian to save her, but the longer she’s in the cold dark, the less hope she has of him coming for her.

Natasha has done an excellent job with this book and with the duet in general. The way that her characters interact with each other, in whatever combination, is great. She really shows the tension between Gregory and Sebastian, and how hard everything happening is on both of them. She also does a fantastic job with Lucinda. Lucinda is a predator, plain and simple. She has taken poor Ethan and groomed him into what he is. I mean, it’s not her fault that he acquired brain damage, but she’s taken advantage of that and turned him into her puppet. Of course, he could’ve tried to go against her, and we saw that he can make decisions that Lucinda doesn’t like, but still, she has twisted and groomed him. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. I said elsewhere that there was nothing that Natasha could do to redeem Lucinda for me. I mean, Lucinda could find god, become a nun, and spend the rest of her life working in a leper colony, and I would still totally hate the bitch. And that still holds true.

I can totally see more books coming out of this world, and I really hope that Natasha writes them.

FHR Dexter Chapel Mausoleum

I find the death of Sebastian’s mother to be a little too serendipitous for Lucinda. I think that she had her hand in at least his mother’s death, and possibly his father’s death as well. It’s nasty as hell that she might have killed Seb’s mom, considering that they were sisters.

I want to know who Helena’s sister Amy is mixed up with. Since she’s in the same general area as Ethan, I really want to say that it’s him, but I don’t know.

I hope we get stories for both Ethan and Gregory, because I can see how Natasha may have set them up for both.

That’s all I have to say on this one. If you like dark, go check this out. Happy reading!

Skye Warren-Evolution of Man

So, Skye Warren has this town called Tanglewood where a great many of her stories take place. And Tanglewood is one fucked up town. There is all kinds of crime, intrigue, and total craziness. And it’s into the total craziness that Skye has taken us with Evolution of Man. This book is the second of a duology, with the first being Survival of the Richest. If you haven’t read Survival, then you should immediately put down this review and read it. You won’t have any clue as to what is going on in Evolution. There are going to be spoilers to Survival in this post. There’s just no way around it.

So, Evolution starts up 6 months after Survival ended. Christopher and Sutton have both walked away from Harper, and she now has control of her trust fund. Her protest against the destruction of the library kind of worked, in that it stopped the library from being completely destroyed, but it’s in terrible shape right now. Harper has bought a home in Tanglewood for her and her mother to live in while her mother is dying, and she has spent $2 billion on buying the library. Harper negotiated with Christopher who raised the price insanely high.

Now Harper is trying to get the library restored, but Christopher has talked to all the construction companies in the area and no one will go for it. So she turns to Sutton, who tells her that he’ll take a look at it for her, but he only wants to be her business partner, nothing else. No sex, no relationship, no nothing.

Harper is also having to deal with her mother’s life coming to an end. Since her mother refused any treatment, she’s been getting weaker and weaker. She has signed up with a hospice service, but Harper is trying to avoid the Death Plan or any discussions of her death. Harper works very hard at staying positive for her mother, but it isn’t always possible.

There is a whole lot going on in this story. It’s very emotion laden, I mean, how can it not be? Just the fact that Harper is losing her beloved mother is more than enough to sink a lot of emotion in it. But then you have the whole Christopher/Sutton/Harper triangle. That’s even more of a load of intensity, and it’s that intensity that Skye does so well. I thought that Evolution was a good finish to the duology and it managed to carry the emotion from Survival over really nicely. It was also nice to peek in on old friends like Aubrey and Gabriel, Bea and Hugo, Damon, and Blue. It’s really nice how Skye weaves old friends in through the new stories. It doesn’t feel like it’s a forced kind of thing, just woven in nicely.


I’m happy that Harper ended up with Christopher and not Sutton, but I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t have been almost as happy if we had ended up with an MMF menage. We came close to having an MMF sex scene, and it was really hot.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. I think I’m going to have to go reread all of the Tanglewood books this weekend. Happy reading!

Vanessa Vale-Montana Wild

This is the 2nd or 3rd Vanessa Vale book I’ve read, but only the first one I’ve blogged about. This is a rather sweet and light romance with a touch of funny and more than a touch of meddling sex shop owner. Montana Wild is the 4th of the Small Town Romance books that all take place around Bozeman, Montana. I haven’t read the other three, and while there are recurring characters, like Goldie and George the Gnome, I didn’t feel like I was lost or anything. The book was complete in and of itself, so no worries there.

Violet is a 1st grade teacher. Now that school’s out for the summer, she’s subbing for her twin sister at Goldilocks, Bozeman’s best sex shop. OK, Bozeman’s ONLY sex shop. She has to deal with Goldie, who, while a lovely woman, is nosy and pushy. And among other things, she has pushed Violet into writing word porn, or as we might call it, a smutty novel. Yay for smutty novels! But Violet is sort of maybe ashamed and embarrassed about it, but Goldie isn’t. So Goldie’s getting a cover made for it.

One day, the phone rings at Goldilocks, and it turns out to be Mike. Mike the podiatrist. Mike who was so close to Violet when they were younger. She and Mike lost their virginity together, then he left and didn’t come back for 10 years. Violet was pretty sure that showed her exactly where her place in Mike’s life was, and she’s been hurt and maybe just a little bit bitter about it ever since. But now, Mike needs her. Or rather, her twin sister, who is off on a road trip with her new man. So, Violet it is. You see, Mike is in Alaska at a family reunion at his uncle’s house, along with his mother and father, some cousins and their kids, and a pair of identical male twins who only speak French. And there is a crazy next neighbor who is recently divorced and who is just positive that she is Mike’s soulmate. So Mike needs a girlfriend, and Violet fits the description, namely female and available. Only when she gets to Alaska, she finds out that she’s not just his girlfriend, she’s now his fiancee, complete with a hideously ugly ring.

I both felt sorry for Mike and Violet and laughed at some of the things that happened. It seemed like everything that just started to spiral out of control. They were being pushed together but they were having their own issues that kept pushing them apart. Violet had a hard time letting go old hurt but Mike wasn’t really helping all that much either. All in all, I really enjoyed this one, and it was a nice light change of pace.


Who knew that the way to a woman’s heart was going fishing for salmon?

Mike should’ve stopped and thought about how his actions would’ve hurt Violet a long time before he actually did.

I would probably strangle a whole lot of people were I Mike and Violet. I get why they did what they did, but seriously, that’s almost mean.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one! Go check it and the rest of the series out. Happy reading!

Sara Wylde-Truth or Dare

I don’t often read new adult books. Mostly because I have a 23-year-old son, and if I want drama and angst, I’ll just go talk to him. The drama llama often resides in my house. But, when I saw the series name, the ’80s child in me perked right up. The series title is Fast Times at Ridgemont Hall. Yeah, see why I had to read Sara Wylde’s Truth or Dare?

Our major players are Asher Warren & Huntingdon Dane III. He calls her Cinder Girl, she calls him The Bane of My Existence ™, so you can tell, they get along just like best buds, right? They’ve known each other for years, having both been children of rich parents and having gone through the same schools. And now that they are in college, they happen to share a dorm pod. That’s 4 bedrooms around a common room. And oh yeah, Asher’s father left her and her mom broke and ran off with his secretary, never to be seen in these parts again. She’s now on scholarship and drives a mop in the cafeteria to help with her expenses.

One day, Asher wrote a list of qualities she was seeking in a boyfriend. I think there are probably a lot of people who have written or at least come up with a list that they are looking for when it comes to a significant other. That’s not the problem. The problem is that Dane found it. Asher’s been expecting Dane to take the piss about it for days now, so when he walks up to her and tells her that he will help her to find a boyfriend if it will get her out of their pod now and again, she’s surprised and doesn’t quite trust him. But when she sees the name that Dane wrote down, she’s more than willing to try, and tells him that she will stay out of the rooms until graduation if he can help her get that guy.

Huntingdon Dane III has no emotions. At least, he doesn’t confess to any. His father has taught him that emotions are a weakness and that they should be excised because weakness is evil. The one thing that Dane wants the most is for his father to respect and be proud of him. Dane will do just about anything he can to turn himself into his father. So when Cinder Girl is part of his dorm pod, he knows that he has to do what he can to excise the weakness he feels around her. Getting her to leave the rooms often and to have a boyfriend will do that. So, he invites her to a party where he knows that the guy she wants to date is going to be at. It’s a weekend party at a cabin at a lake, and he knows that Barclay will want Asher because she’s with him.

The one thing that Hunt Dane does love to do is to stir the pot and play games. He’s going to play truth and dare and make things happen. His group takes truth and dare seriously. So, while it’s a game, it’s a very serious game.

I was surprised by how mature the young people in this book are. They are pretty wise, considering how young they are. And they behave better than some of the so-called adults in this. All the characters are enjoyable, and there are set-ups for the next books. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this one, and will likely read more of the series as it comes out.


Dane is definitely a good game player. He outplayed his dad. He’ll definitely be a force to be reckoned with when he gets older, especially since he’ll have Asher there on his side, and she will cut a bitch. I definitely wouldn’t want to get on her bad side at all.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Jade Cary-First a Lady

Jade is another first-timer to the blog. One of the things I love about blogging, outside of getting to read all the books, is getting to read authors that I wouldn’t otherwise have read. I’ve picked up several authors that are now on my must-read list because of that. But, enough of that, let’s talk about Jade Cary’s book, First a Lady.

The story goes thusly. Lady Grace Aston was the daughter of a duke. Her mother was American, so she spent a lot of time in the US. While in the US, she met Matt Coolidge, fell in love, and married him. Then, the politicking started. First Matt went into Congress, then he became POTUS. He was a 3rd party president, a Libertarian, the person that no one expected to be president, but there he was. He had a good 1st term, and was running for his second term. On a campaign stop in New Orleans, after having just been introduced by a speech given by Grace, he is killed by two men who were in his Secret Service detail. John Marin, who was also part of the detail, saw what was going to happen milliseconds before it happened, and he tackled Grace while the shooting was happening, and then grabbed her and carried her away from the building, into a limo, and drove her away from the scene. He was, of course, keeping her safe. But he had to be questioned to make sure that he wasn’t in on it.

Fast forward a year, and Grace is living in London. She has turned down the Secret Service’s protection, which I totally would too. But, she’s about to participate in an event at the US Embassy in London and then fly to the US for a memorial service for her husband. The current president has decided to force her hand and told her that she has to have protection. She said fine, she would get her own security. That’s when she turned in John Marin.

For his part, John has spent the last year hip-deep in a bottle of rum on a boat in the Caribean. When Grace’s private secretary called to ask him if he would protect Grace, he turned the man down. But when Grace showed up on the pier outside his boat, it was harder to turn her down, so he didn’t. But he told her that she would have to do whatever he told her to and that she wasn’t to keep anything from him. Of course, if it were that easy, we wouldn’t have a book, now would we?

So, I love John and Grace together. They very much drive each other crazy, both in a sexual way and in a purely frustrated way. I think that’s awesome. They are both strong, stubborn people who butt heads like a pair of rams looking at a pretty ewe. Overall, I do  like the book. However, it danced a fine line with some conspiracy theories going on and nearly crossed over, at least for my liking. But, it didn’t mess with my enjoyment of the book, so it’s all good.


I’m really not going to put anything down here, except for this. I don’t know that I would be worried about the conspiracies going on in this one if the US political scene wasn’t what it is now. I don’t have to have total escapism when I read a book, but that’s my thought on the matter. If I read this 2 years ago? I don’t know if the line would be where it is currently, but it isn’t, so I can’t tell you for sure. Anyway, I liked the book and had a hard time putting it down, one way or the other, so I guess it wasn’t that much of a problem.

That’s all I have to say about this one. Go on over to the Almighty Zon and check it out. Remember, if you do read it and you like it, make sure to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be a long one, it can be as simple as saying that you like something, but leaving reviews helps out authors. Happy reading!

Soraya Naomi-The Man in Black

I may not like a lot of country-western music, but I like Johnny Cash. So what does Johnny Cash have to do with Soraya Naomi’s new mafia book? Well, Johnny was known as The Man in Black, and the whole time I was reading this, I imagined Michael looking like a devilishly handsome younger Johnny Cash.

This one is part of a series, but it is a standalone. I think that the series is more of an interconnected series about a lot of friends who are getting their relationships and then showing up as side characters in other books more than it is as a serial kind of series that builds on each book and if you miss one, you’re kind of SOL. I haven’t read the other books, so don’t quote me on that, but I had no problem with wondering what had gone on before and there didn’t seem to be a lot of overall story that I had to work up to understanding.

So, let’s talk about Michael and Brielle.  Brielle moved to Chicago when she was 18 in order to go to school, and because she needed a change from New York after her parents died. Now she’s the new pastry chef at the hot new upscale restaurant, Palermo. She’s thrilled about that because it’s her first job out of culinary school and she got a great starting wage and her desserts are already making a big splash. One night, after everyone else has left and she’s just about to leave, she hears a strange noise. When she turns around and looks, she finds a gun, just sitting on a counter that she knows was empty just a minute ago. When someone walks into the kitchen, she raises the gun and points it at him, at which point Michael asks her to not point his own gun at him.

Michael was the former boss of the Syndicate in New York, but after his finace was gunned down, he moved back to Chicago to work with his friends. Now he’s a high up in the Syndicate and is working as security director for the restaurant. He tells Brielle that’s why he carries a gun. Now, she’s tweaked his radar, because of the bracelet she wears. it’s related to his past, and he needs to know what she knows or if it’s just some weird coincidence and cosmic joke that she’s working at the Palermo. He’s going to have to get closer to her in order to find out.

OK, and this is why I wanted to smack Michael for a lot of the book. He really pushed and pulled at Brielle. One minute he’s kissing her, the next he’s literally pushing her away and telling her that nothing can happen between them. He gives her a ride home and fixes her door, but wants to have nothing to do with her. It’s confusing as hell, especially since when he’s pulling her towards him, he’s doing things that men interested in a relationship would do. Of course, he’s doing it all for his own motives, but he’s so far into his grief that he can’t really see what it looks like from the other side. Brielle just ends up reacting like any reasonable person would. When he flirts with her, she flirts back. When he pays attention to her, she basks in it. When he pushes her away, she gets mad and hurt, and then he pulls her back in. How the fuck is anyone supposed to feel when that is going on? Michael makes a point of emphasizing that he’s 12 years older than Brielle, but there’s a lot of the time I think that she’s the more mature one.


See, young Johnny Cash was pretty hot.

OK, I overall enjoyed the book, but one thing that I wasn’t a big fan off is the fact that it appears to have only been 4 months from when Michael’s fiance died to the start of the book. That’s not my problem. My problem is that people kept acting like he should be totally over everything and that he’s closing himself off because he’s still grieving. Grief takes a while, and if it has only been 4 months, then he still has a lot of things to work through. If, on the other hand, it has been 4 years, I could see that he was stuck. But that’s just me, and I may have the time period off. It wasn’t enough for me to not read the book or to dislike it, but it was just one of those things that caught my attention.

If Michael had just asked Brielle about her bracelet at the beginning, things would’ve been much easier on everyone, especially Brielle. I do think he really kind of drug her through hell with the way that he was acting. She really forgave him a whole hell of a lot faster than I would’ve. Then again, I’ve been known to hold a grudge.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!