Author Archives: Heller

About Heller

In the United Nations of Book Pushers I represent the Canadian contingent. I've known Has, Lou, E and Minn for a few years now and I've discovered many a new author from them for which I will be forever grateful. New to me often translates to "Where has this book been all my life?" and leads to endless re-reads. The majority of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book (not that it's any different now) and I always carried at least one with me wherever I went no matter whatever trouble I was up to. My e-reader is something I could never give up now, despite my initial resistance to it. I love my books but carrying around a library in a small electronic device is a thrill that never gets old. I read anything and everything that strikes my fancy: Regency, Retro-Romance, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Urban Fantasy, Post-Apoc...the list is pretty much endless. I tend to cycle through interests so it really just depends on my mood at the time. I would say that right now M/M books have me firmly in their grasp and they've been the majority of my reads for the past couple of years. I think there's nothing better than headjacking into a story and characters created by an author, I'm always up for a ride to a place I've never been before.

Review – An Ace in the Tiebreak by T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes

Review: An Ace in the Tiebreak by T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes

Publisher: Totally Bound
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Publisher
Release Date: October 10, 2014

International Men of Sports #8

22939151“When Robin has to choose between two very different men, he has to try not to double-fault…while hoping for an ace. Professional tennis player Robin Keller has a love/hate relationship with most everything in his life—his game, his tennis rival and sometimes hook-up Danie Coetzee, the pills and alcohol he uses to get through his days. Nothing seems to be going right anymore, and when he hits rock bottom after the French Open, drastic changes are the only option.

Quinn Damaris has a well-earned reputation for turning around the careers of the athletes he acts as chef for, and he can tell from the first meeting that Robin is going to be a challenge. But as a double amputee, he’s not a man to back down just because the road is rough.He didn’t count on anything starting between them, especially when the way he realizes Robin is gay when he sees him with Danie. Robin will have to make a choice. Is Quinn kidding himself to think that a tennis star could fall for a man who isn’t whole?”

Robin is a top seed tennis player who isn’t anywhere near the top of his game. He’s drinking far too much and abusing pain medication. On top of it all he’s in a love/hate relationship with his biggest rival on the courts. After he loses in the first round of the French Open to a relative newcomer his coaches feel he needs to go back to basics and they hire a chef/life coach in former extreme athlete, Quinn. Quinn lost both legs below the knees in a rock climbing accident and his life which was going in one direction veered off into a new path helping clients find their way back from difficult situations.

Things start out very tense between the men and although they’re attracted to each other it’s not something that they pursue until much later in the read. I liked that they had a working relationship in place before they moved into a more physical one. They got to know each other and appreciate both the good things and the flaws that they have. Quinn is Robin’s first stable, healthy adult relationship and it’s reflected in how his life turns around. He’s appreciates himself more and treating himself better. I liked that he felt he deserved better for himself.

Quinn has his own struggles. It hasn’t been easy re-learning to walk and start a new career but he’s a determined goal driven man. I really enjoyed his relationship with his older brother Morgan here as well, he’s an intriguing man in his own right.

After I finished this book I immediately went and purchased the first seven books in the series and then marathon read them. I can’t really give a higher compliment or a better recommendation than that. I don’t know how the two authors managed to work together so well but the style of writing in all the books came across as seamless and they meshed so well together that the reads all came across as one strong voice.

I love the concept that the authors have here as these books travel the world showcasing different types of sports and the men who play them. The series is made up of standalone stories except for #7 which revisits characters first met in #3 but even then I feel you could enjoy it on its own. I was impressed with the sports research done in all the books as well as the international settings, I loved that we traveled around the world. Most of the stories I read tend to take place in North America (with a few exceptions) so this was so unique and fun for me to go on a vacation from my usual settings.

One of the things that I adored with these books was that there were secondary characters introduced that I want to know more about, so much so that I went to the authors’ website to see where the series was going next. I was thrilled to see that all the upcoming stories will focus on these men that I was so taken with during my marathon. I’m so excited for the next books!

Even though I was only supposed to review the 8th book in this series, which I’m giving a B+ I’ve rated them all and I’m giving the series as a whole a B+

IMoS #1: A Sticky Wicket in Bollywood — C+
IMoS #2: Chasing the King of the Mountains — B+
IMoS #3: At First Touch — B
IMoS #4: Blindsided — B
IMoS #5: Burning Up the Ice — B+
IMoS #6: Serving Love At Carnival — B
IMoS #7: A Grand Prix Romance — B+
IMos #8: An Ace in the Tiebreak — B+

Review – The Half of Us by Cardeno C

Review: The Half of Us by Cardeno C.

Publisher: Dreamspinner
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Author
Release Date: Out Now

23197965 (3)“Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it’s a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun. Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn’t dimmed Abe Green’s optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present—one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.

For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.”

I loved this story.

Jason never sleeps with a man more than once but he’s drawn to Abe over and over again. After his divorce he’s been playing the field and he never thought he could have a stable relationship with a man but he’s willing to try because he wants Abe in his life. Abe is patience personified. He’s not one for casual sex but there was something about Jason that caused him to break that rule. The more time the men spend together the more Abe is seeing a future with Jason and he can’t help but feel he’s setting himself up for a big fall.

This is a sexually and emotionally charged story about two men who have what they think is a one time encounter and then they have another and then another. They’re drawn to each other time and again and while the sex is off the charts there’s an attraction that exists beyond the physical.

Reading about these two men falling in love was so enjoyable for me. On the surface they’re very opposites attract but at their core the men are so similar in their desires and in what they want out of a relationship. It was just such a moving and passionate read that I know I’ll go back to it again and again.

I’m giving “The Half of Us” an A

Review – Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt

Review: Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt

Publisher: Dreamspinner
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Publisher
Release Date: Out Now

23110418“The death of his wife four years earlier left Travis Bennett a shell of the man he used to be. With his dog by his side, Travis raises his three children, manages his business, and works as a ranch hand. But every day, every minute, is an aching emptiness. Wesley Ryan has fond memories of the small Ozark town of El Dorado. Seeing it as a safe place to put his failed relationships behind him, Wesley moves into his grandparents’ old home and takes over the local veterinary clinic. An early morning visit from Travis and his dog stirs feelings that Wesley seeks to push away—the last thing he needs is to fall for a man with baggage and three kids as part of the package.

Life, it seems, has other plans.”

This read was, at times, uncomfortable for me to the point where I had to set it down and think about if I wanted to continue reading. It’s wonderfully written, very real and down to earth but there were characters, main ones included, that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how they acted and I didn’t like what they thought. They made me angry and they pissed me off, then they’d turn around and do something so incredibly kind or loving that I forgave them and continued on. You see what I mean? Far too real.

It deals with heavy issues and sometimes things don’t turn out well. In some things people are so rigid in their ideals that nothing you can say will sway them from their course. There’s ugliness here but there’s also beauty. There’s love and loyalty and family you’re born with and that you surround yourselves with. The book has me torn but it made me think about things that I didn’t want to so I can appreciate that. There’s also a prequel of sorts, The Shattered Door, that focuses on different characters in the same small town. I’m curious enough and drawn into the author’s work enough to read it some time down the line. I’m giving “Then the Stars Fall” B-

Review – The Luckiest by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea

Review: The Luckiest by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea

Publisher: Dreamspinner 2nd Edition
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Publisher
Release Date: Out Now

Lucky Moon #2

22890973 (2)“Rock star Nick Ventura has finally hit rock bottom. Jealous of his brother’s new love, he starts overindulging in his usual vices and winds up crashing his car into a department store in a drunken haze. Publicly humiliated and on the verge of jail time, he enters into a court-ordered rehabilitation program.

Nutritionist Luka Novak is flamboyant, effeminate, the type of gay man that bisexual Nick would normally sneer at. His sunny nature hides a deep hurt from a previous relationship. Luka knows he should be wary of Nick’s reputation, but he’s drawn to Nick despite himself. Their tentative
friendship turns into romance, but Luka soon comes to realize that Nick’s fear of losing his bad boy reputation means he’ll probably never go public with their relationship.

Nick never thought he needed anyone, until Luka Novak came into his life. Now he has to reconcile his carefree past with the future he suddenly wants more than anything. And the first lesson he has to learn is how to become the man that both he and Luka need him to be, rather than stay the boy he always was. Alone.”

Nick Ventura is a rock god bad-boy in one of the world’s hottest bands. His life of too many groupies, too much alcohol and drugs have landed him in the hospital after he blacks out and rams his Viper through a department store window. Instead of being tossed in jail he’s packed off to rehab for three months to dry out and get healthy.

Nick has always come across as a troubled character in the Lucky Moon series. The questionnaire that he fills out when in rehab only reinforces that conclusion, it was so sad to see what he wrote down. He feels betrayed by his older brother and thinks because Shane got married that he’ll abandon Nick. It’s this fear that leads Nick to turn more and more to the dark side of rock and roll.

He comes into rehab very resistant to all the things and people that are there to help him get better and that includes Luka, the facility’s nutritionist. I loved Luka. He has his own issues but at his core he’s a sunny spirit with a zest for life. What I really liked about his character is that he respected himself enough to demand he be respected in turn. He definitely wasn’t afraid to call Nick on his diva actions and pushed him in an attempt to get him out of his dangerous rut and onto the road to recovery.

Nick is equal parts naive young man mixed with a cynical rock god who has seen and done far too much. He was a frustration for me for much of the read because let’s face it…he’s a bit of asshole and he hurt Luka so badly several times that it needed an epic grovel to make right. Still there’s a sweetness to him that drew me in and made me care and want to see him succeed in finding himself. He and Luka were adorable together.

These two men have a lot of chemistry and I found this to be a sweet romance that was somber but never depressing. I loved the cameos with Shane and Jesse as well as Dre. I’m a fan the Lucky Moon series and I’d definitely recommend it, I’ll be looking for the next book as well. It was a pleasure to see Nick finally grow up.

I’m giving The Luckiest a B

Review: Another Place in Time by Various

Publisher: Self Published
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Publisher
Release Date: Out Now

23158673A stellar collection of historical short stories. Stellar.

I’ve always been reluctant to read historical M/M stories, mostly because I’m a coward. I get afraid for the characters in historical settings and I tend to worry about them and their safety which is kind of ridiculous, I know, when each and every historical book that I’ve read I’ve enjoyed tremendously. If you’re like me and hesitant for whatever reason, don’t be, I can’t recommend this anthology enough. This is, without a lie, the best of the best and a fantastic opportunity to try out a few of these authors if they’re new to you and, in addition, you can support an amazing cause. All proceeds from the purchase of the anthology will be donated to AllOut.org in celebration of LGBT History Month, October 2014.

I’ve rated each story (including the foreword, because it’s awesome!), and I’m giving the collection an A

Foreword by Alex Beecroft A+

Alex really made me think and reevaluate my reasons for hesitating when I come across historical queer fiction. Thanks, Alex!

Office Romance by Tamara Allen B+

The post-war economy is at a standstill, much like Foster Wetherly?s life until he?s forced to do battle with irritatingly confident?and competent?fellow ex-doughboy Casey Gladwin for a position in their shrinking department at Manhattan Security Mutual.

I’ve been a big fan of Tamara Allen’s ability to immerse the reader into earlier time periods. The setting and dialogue always feels authentic and never jarring. The office battle between Casey and Foster and how the men come to learn about each other is subtle. I loved the ending.

Introducing Mr. Winterbourne by Joanna Chambers A

Lysander Winterbourne appears to lead a charmed life. Handsome, amiable, and a renowned sportsman, he is the darling of London society. As far as Adam Freeman is concerned though, Lysander is just another spoiled aristocrat.

A wealthy mill owner, Adam has no time for the frivolous world of the ton, but when his younger brother becomes engaged to Althea Winterbourne, he reluctantly agrees to be introduced to society?with the Winterbourne clan?s golden boy as his guide.

Resigning himself to a few days of boredom, Adam is surprised to learn that there is much more to Lysander than his perfect surface. But will Adam have the courage to introduce Lysander Winterbourne to his own secret self?

I’ve never read a Chambers book before. I’ll be reading many more after this one. I loved this story and the characters. I’m kind of hoping that we’ll see more about happens next because this feels like the beginning of a great adventure for Adam and Lysander.

The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh by KJ Charles A+

Lord Gabriel Ashleigh is a ruined man. Last night he lost everything at the card tables to his brother?s worst enemy, notorious gambler Francis Webster. Tonight, he?s going back for one more game. Ash thinks he has nothing left to lose. But Francis sets the stakes, and they?re higher than Ash could have imagined?

Two Regency bucks. One game of cards. Everything to play for.

Charles has the ability to create characters and situations that beg for sequels. No exception here. This story was magic for me.

Unfair in Love and War by Kaje Harper B+

Many men lost brothers overseas in the summer of 1944. Warren Burch was one of them. For months he still clung to his big city life in Philadelphia, but finally he’s made the difficult choice to return to his home town. Warren’s polio-stricken leg won’t let him serve, so the least he can do is be there for his mother, when brother Charlie never again will. Arriving home means a whole new life, constrained by the rhythms and prejudices of a small town. Fortunately, it’s made more interesting by the mysterious and attractive young man next door.

Harper is another author with that ability to make you feel like you’re in another time. This is a deeply emotional story between the two men and the historical events that surround them.

Carousel by Jordan L Hawk B

When a child goes missing, is it a simple case of a young runaway, or are more sinister forces at work?

Carousel is part of the Whyborne & Griffin series and takes place between the events of Stormhaven and Necropolis. It can be read as a standalone.

This was actually a fantastic October/Halloween type story. The carousel was eerie and disturbing. Although this is a standalone, I think knowing the characters would give it another layer of understanding their characters and motivations.

Deliverance by Aleksandr Voinov B

This is a re-vamped, re-edited, improved version of “Deliverance”. It’s about William Raven, a templar, who thought he’d escaped his past. (Same character as in The Lion of Kent.)

Knights Templar and the Crusades. There’s a lot of call back to a previous story but everything was explained very well so I’d consider it a standalone. William is such a tortured character, I love that Guy pursued him and called him on his actions.

Review – Kiss Yesterday Goodbye by Cassidy Ryan

Review: Kiss Yesterday Goodbye by Cassidy Ryan

Publisher: Totally Bound
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Publisher
Release Date: Out now

22913797For their future, he must let go of his past.

“Aidan has a huge crush on Jon, but not only is Jon his boss, albeit temporarily, he is also recovering from a bad break-up. On his final day at Jon’s publishing company, Aidan finds the courage to make his move. It results in what should be a solitary evening of mind-blowing sex before they go back to their own lives. But when a confrontation with his landlord leaves Aidan bruised, bleeding and homeless, Jon and his friends come to his aid.Jon is smitten by Aidan, and utterly terrified. His last relationship has left him with some pretty deep emotional scars and he has no wish to get back in the game. But the more time he spends with Aidan, the less time he wants to give to the past.However, Aidan has something in common with Jon’s ex that could spoil any chance they have of making a life together.”

Aidan Shaw is a temp working for Jonathan Ballard’s publishing company. The men are attracted to each other but Jon is reluctant to pursue anything with Aidan because of how his last relationship ended. Aidan holds back any attempts to pursue the man he’s been attracted to since he was first hired until his last day when he confronts Jon, who finally agrees after a weak moment to one night only affair.

The men head to Aidan’s rental and share an explosive night of sex after which Jon leaves knowing he should stay. After he leaves Aidan’s homophobic landlord confuses him with a rent boy, kicks him out of his apartment, beating him up and leaving him injured and unconscious. Authorities contact Jon’s business partner, Dan, who was Aidan’s direct supervisor and the men come into contact once again.

This had the makings of interesting story. I liked the side characters of Dan and Lorenzo and have to wonder if they had their own book. I also liked the main characters but for me the length of this one caused their story to suffer. It felt rushed especially near the end with all the reveals and the introduction of Jon’s villainous ex-lover. The chemistry did really work for me though despite the issues I had with pacing and the rather jumbled story line. A decent read but not one of my favourites from this author, I’m giving it a C+