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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (September 30, 2020)

    Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (July 22, 2020)

    Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

    Original Rules

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago.
    • Find a book that will be published THIS year.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT year.

    Some slight revision of the rules:

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago
    • Find a book that will be published THIS month.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
  • Uncategorized

    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (April 1, 2020)

    I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

  • Uncategorized

    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: The Rebellion or the Empire?

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

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    MY TOP 10 READS OF 2019

    1. Game Changers: Heated Rivalry – Rachel Reid

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    The ultimate enemies-to-lovers, sports rivalry book. Changed the way I felt about sports romance.

    Review here.

    2. Green Creek: Heartsong – T.J. Klune

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    “I see you.

    Review here.

    3. Leo Loves Aries – Anyta Sunday

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    Slow-burn at its finest. The zing nearly killed me.

    Review here.

    4. Mnevermind Trilogy – Jordan Castillo Price

    Gritty realism. Rollercoaster feels. One of JCP’s best works.

    Review here.

    5. The Vampire’s Club Books 3 & 4 – X. Aratare

    Vampire romance of my dreams.

    Review here.

    6. Left Hand of Calvus – L.A. Witt/Ann Gallagher

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    I said it before, I’ll say it again. INTENSE.

    Review here.

    7. Song of the Navigator – Astrid Amara

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    To say this is a gutwrenching, highly emotional sci-fi love story is an understatement.

    Review here.

    8. Falling Sky – L.A. Witt

    Gritty, unforgettable, cyberpunk romance between a human and a vampire.

    Review here.

    9. Flesh and Bone: Bleed – Joel Abernathy

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    Another shifter romance that tore my heart to pieces.

    Review here.

    10. Soulbound: All Souls Near and Nigh – Hailey Turner

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    Epic! Because this series doesn’t do low-key.

    Review here.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Christmas Homecoming by L.A. Witt

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    The Christmas Angel: Christmas Homecoming by L.A. Witt

    August 1939. Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien have been close since childhood. By the time they realize there’s more between them than friendship, Jack is leaving their sleepy Iowa town for college. But they console themselves knowing he’ll be home for Christmas. Right?

    It is Christmas before they see each other again, but that Christmas comes six years and a world war later. Aged, beaten, and shaken by combat, they’re not the boys they were back then, but their feelings for each other are stronger than ever.

    Neither know the words to say everything they’ve carried since that peacetime summer kiss, though. Even as they stand in the same room, there’s a thousand miles between them.

    But maybe that’s some distance the little angel in Roger’s rucksack can cross.

    The Christmas Angel series books are standalones and can be read in any order.


    I love historical MM stories set during the wartime periods. They are especially poignant and bittersweet usually ending with me blinking back tears.

    Christmas Homecoming is part of The Christmas Angel series, where a carved wooden angel worked its magic to bring people together throughout the years. This novella is the only one in the series I’ve read so far.

    The story starts in 1939 when Germany was about to invade Poland. Roger and Jack were two childhood friends. Jack was about to leave town for the city. Roger was doesn’t know what to do with his life yet but he is sure that he doesn’t want to be a farmer and marry a girl.

    On the day before Jack was about to leave, the two friends decided to take a swim together for the last time. That was when they realized the feelings between the two of them evolved into something else. They shared a kiss. They didn’t see each other again for 6 years.

    This is a beautiful love story between two men at a time when such love was not yet accepted. It is full of yearnings and sweet stolen moments made more precious because it’s taboo. I wanted to hug them and give them their safe space.

    The war tore the two men apart. L.A. Witt deftly inserted details that portrayed the life of soldiers at war-time and after. It made what would otherwise be a sweet but simplistic fairytale more complex and nuanced. The survivors had to deal with PTSD. Roger and Jack were not spared. They each carry with them complicated memories of bombs and the men who kept them company in the lonely nights. My heart went out to Oskar, the spy and Floyd, the pilot. The story did a good job drawing me to these two secondary characters who existed only in memories. I wanted their stories too.

    Admittedly, the middle part did drag a bit but as the story slowly eased its way to the resolution I found myself enjoying it even more. I liked how the author gave Roger a way out of the prescribed path his parents laid out for him. I liked how they found a way to be together. I even found myself interested in the two old codgers who inspired the boys that it’s possible.

    Christmas Homecoming is a touching holiday story I recommend. For a book its length, it’s filled with many interesting characters and intense emotions. It captured the small-town atmosphere, the post-war melancholy and the fervent longings of forbidden lovers. It didn’t make me cry but it did warm my heart.

    P.S.

    L.A. Witt books here

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
    Artist: Dinah Shore
    Album:

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

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    Is It Over Yet? – L.A. Witt

    Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

    But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

    And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

    Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?


    Most romance novels I’ve read go out of their way to avoid cheating. I automatically DNF a book when there’s cheating involving the main couple. So a story that revolved around the issue of cheating and divorce? I don’t think so.

    But this is L.A. Witt we’re talking about here and she specializes in making her MCs go through rings of fire before giving them their HEAs. This is as tough a hurdle as it can get. Despite myself, I was really intrigued. How is she going to convincingly pull off a happy ending for a premise like this?

    Is It Over yet? is about two married men about to split up but hesitated to tell their daughter because they don’t want to ruin her upcoming wedding. The cheating part is off-page and happened months before the story started. I appreciated that the author spared us the details. We only know that this happened when Rhys was at a low point and their marriage was on a rocky patch at that time.

    My knee-jerk reaction to this was to hate the cheater. I was even prepared to do so. But I couldn’t hate Rhys. He didn’t justify his actions. Derek didn’t catch him or even suspected. He confessed voluntarily. Since then, he was beating himself up for his mistake. It was very significantly pointed out that he was sorry for what he did, not because he was caught. I knew his heartfelt apologies were sincere.

    Derek was hurt and angry as to be expected but it was pretty obvious that they still love each other. The ‘romance’ here is certainly different. The USTs have a different vibe from what I’m used to. Not exactly love/hate because I didn’t feel they hated each other. So how do you describe that thing where you want nothing more than to separate from your cheating husband because if not you will end up killing each other but you still find him attractive as fuck?

    The story is a journey to forgiveness. Witt takes us on this very bumpy, highly emotional road trip complete with a playlist and drunken motel sex. I liked both MCs and I was rooting hard for them. They didn’t make it easy for themselves though. They tried truces after truces but always end up at each other’s throats.

    How they finally reach their destination, that of forgiveness and a new beginning, was satisfying and more importantly, convincingly done. I liked that the epilogue was a realistic portrayal of lessons learned and making it work.

    Cheating is still a hard line for me but Is It Over Yet? did a great job making me not only read a book about a broken relationship but also making me enjoy the story. It made me sympathized with the characters. I felt each heightened emotion. I was cheering when they finally danced at the wedding. I have no doubts Rhys and Derek will eventually have their HEA.

    I wouldn’t say I recommend this because this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but do give it a try if you are looking for a second chance romance where the head wants to go but the heart wants to stay.

    P.S.

    L.A. Witt books here

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
    Artist: Bombay Bicycle Club
    Album: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

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    Hostile Ground – L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

    After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club’s security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave.

    To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires-including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he’s a cop-and before they both grow too close to betray one another.

    As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there’s much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet. 

    Two of my favorite authors collaborating in what promised to be explosive and intense. I know many people gave high ratings and loved it but this one falls between like and love for me.

    There are many elements present that I have come to expect from LAW and Voinov so that might be one reason why some parts were predictable such as Kinza’s involvement, Ridley’s real name, what happened to the boys they used as couriers, etc. This was probably one of the few LAW stories where the surprises were not so surprising. What I was surprised with was that the connection between Mahir and Kinza was not utilized to the max. That was something the authors would normally do to up the ante. I thought Lombardi would recognize those gazelle eyes anywhere OR maybe he just thought all Middle Eastern people look the same. Still, he should have known, he was supposed to be astute. Also, there were too many sex scenes that didn’t do anything to the story and we can only hope Ridley’s office was sound proof what with all their conspiratorial talks and out of control moments in there.

    Those niggles aside, I greatly enjoyed Hostile Ground. Mahir is a detective, assigned to an undercover mission in Lombardi’s strip club which was a front for something more sinister. Mahir who went by Saeed in this mission, is a muslim which makes him a target of racists jokes while his family grudgingly accepts the fact that he is gay. There were many derogatory terms in the story, so be warned but I liked the way Mahir handled these issues like a boss.

    His nephew Kinza was recently outed which caused some conflict with his family. The boy ran away to live with Mahir, who was his favorite uncle. This couldn’t have come at the worst time, the detective was in the middle of his undercover work. Things got even more dangerous when the boy followed him to the club one day and was recruited by Lombardi. The interactions between Mahir and Kinza were some of the best parts of the story. Mahir adored his nephew and would do anything to keep him safe. He nearly panicked and blew the case when he saw his nephew walking inside the club but fortunately, Ridley talked some sense into him AND Kinza was awesome! Boy got nerves of steel. And super smart too! Where other boys would have broken down and panicked, he kept his head. He’ll make a great FBI agent one day.

    Ridley is a man of many personalities. There’s the ice-cold psycho bastard, the man who made sure Mahir got home safe after making him inhale cocaine, the one who who can’t resist fucking the new recruit and more. The more time Mahir spends with the man, the more layers he uncover, even after the case was over.

    The guy with the icy stare behind the dark sunglasses- he could shoot a cop and not blink. The one who’d left Mahir aching all over, and who had seemed just as unhappy as Mahir that they couldn’t continue things, wasn’t murderer. He couldn’t be. Could he? 

    Theirs was a romance between two men in a high stressed environment. It started with insta-lust where they used each other to blow off steam and it gradually evolved into something deeper, solid and more meaningful. The way the romance developed was convincingly executed and the authors happily provided an epilogue.

    The case was a bitch to crack and the whole set-up reminded me of the HongKong movie, Infernal Affairs, where an undercover cop goes so deep he almost didn’t get out. Even though I knew what was coming, I could still feel the suspense. Every goon was keeping an eye on Ridley and Mahir, waiting for them to slip up. Lombardi got Kinza in his clutches. There’s more at stake than Mahir had bargained for. Things begin to escalate and then one day, the goons showed up at Mahir’s doorstep. Shit really hit the fan! Bullets flew, covers blown, and close calls that were too close as the story builds into to its heart-stopping climax. It was, overall, a fun ride with a satisfying conclusion. And although I want to keep them all safe, Mahir isn’t ready to retire just yet. As we speak, they’re preparing for another mission because as Ridley said

    “I like it dangerous.”

    So, a sequel please!

    P.S.

    L.A. Witt books here
    Aleksandr Voinov books here

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Acid Fight
    Artist: Deaf Scene
    Album: Chimera

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Left Hand Of Calvus by Ann Gallagher

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    Former gladiator Saevius is certain Fortune’s smiling on him when a Pompeiian politician buys him to be his bodyguard. That is until his new master, Laurea Calvus, orders Saevius to discover the gladiator with whom his wife is having a sordid affair. In order to do that, Saevius must return to the arena, training alongside the very men on whom he’s spying. Worse, he’s now under the command of Drusus, a notoriously cruel—and yet strangely intriguing—lanista.

    But Saevius’s ruse is the least of his worries. There’s more to the affair than a wife humiliating her prominent husband, and now Saevius is part of a dangerous game between dangerous men. He isn’t the only gladiator out to expose the Lady Verina’s transgressions, and her husband wants more than just the guilty man’s name.

    When Saevius learns the truth about the affair, he’s left with no choice but to betray a master: one he’s come to fear, one he’s come to respect, and either of whom could have him killed without repercussion.

    For the first time in his life, the most dangerous place for this gladiator isn’t the arena.

    This novel has been previously published under the pseudonym L.A. Witt, and has been lightly revised.

    INTENSE!

    The Left Hand of Calvus is an extremely well-written and tightly woven story of a gladiator involved in “a dangerous game between dangerous men” against his will. Authored by Ann Gallagher, also known as L.A. Witt, it oozes USTs without the MC, Saevius, fully understanding what was happening and with nary a sex scene in sight. People might complain about the lack of steam but I am the type who can happily live off USTs alone so this novel is totally my jam.

    And it’s not just tension of the sexual kind that is tight. There is constant threat to life and limb and Saevius was perpetually walking on razor’s edge. As a gladiator and essentially a slave, he had no choice but do anything his masters tell him to do. He was told to spy on his fellow gladiators both by Calvus and Drusus, albeit for different reasons. A slight misstep could get him killed by either masters and/or his fellow gladiators and he had to survive on fighting skills and wits. As a veteran fighter, Saevius was nothing if not a survivor and I enjoyed seeing him outwit and outlast hostile elements from his first person perspective.

    The author did a great job with the historical aspect giving many interesting details about gladiator life in and out of the arena, one of which was that it’s okay for rich married women to bed these fighters but it’s a big no no for them to sleep with a citizen or free man. This fact was cleverly utilized in the story. I also liked how 78 AD Pompeii came alive without overwhelming the reader with tons of info.

    The mystery sounds simple but executed with enough suspense and surprises to keep me glued to the book. Calvus suspects his wife was sleeping with somebody from Drusus’ ludus (house), who might or might not be a gladiator, and wants to put an end to the affair to save his reputation. Drusus, on the other hand, wants to find out who might potentially be another Spartacus. With both masters demanding complete loyalty, it was Saevius’ strange attraction to Drusus that tipped the scales.

    Seen through the eyes of the gladiator, Drusus was, for the most part, a mystery but damn was he intriguing! He’s cold, cruel, calculating and something else. I totally get why Saevius was drawn to him without actually knowing much about the person. And while the book is not really about romance, the romance kind of sneaks up on you in that delightful slow burn way. Then BAM! came that big twist which I never saw coming. The best part of it all was that Saevius was super cool about the whole thing. What a sweetheart! The only problem with twists like this is that the hashtag is a spoiler so I’m not putting a tag on it.

    I haven’t read that many gladiator stories but I think The Left Hand of Calvus is one of the best ones out there. The story is short, gripping and fast-paced. It just grabs you from the start and keeps you enthralled. If you like twisty historical stories about battle-scarred warriors grappling with impossible situations, this one’s for you.

    P.S.

    Other L.A. Witt books here

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Escape
    Artist: 30 Seconds To Mars
    Album: This Is War