Mandated Disclaimer / Explanation of Ratings

The books (television series and films) that I review here are usually purchased by me, won in a giveaway, or provided free of charge by the authors or publishers in exchange for a fair, honest review.  I am NOT paid for a review by anyone, author or publisher.  Nothing will affect my review and/or rating, not even friendships with the authors.  Obviously these reviews are my own opinion and doesn't have to be agreed to by anyone else.  That is the fun of opinions, we all have them.

Rating System

1 - Severely flawed.  Not worth the paper it is printed on. Might be DNF (Did Not Finish).
2 - Problematic.  A struggle to finish.
2.5 - Still a struggle to finish, but the potential is there.
3 - Enjoyable, a pleasant read.
3.5 - Perfectly lovely to read.  Well worth the time.
4 - Something special that has captured my interest/attention. Compelling, good enough to recommend to others.
4.5 - As close as you can get to perfect, but still may have missed a spot. It can be something jarring, something that pulled me out of the story. It is unexplainable, but just isn't the perfect score.
5 - As perfect as perfect can get for me. It hits all my buttons, emotional and otherwise. These are the keepers.

Erotic means the heat factor is beyond graphic, very explicit descriptions.
Hot is just below erotic.  While there may be some invention involved in the lovemaking, it is mostly normal with some additional descriptive factors.
Sweet can be little or no sex, general descriptions.

Story Review: The Eye That Saw Death by Tennessee Williams

Losing his eyesight from a mysterious disease, the unnamed protagonist has done everything to stop it without success.  Then he's contacted by a renowned oculist who has a solution, an eye transplant.  Although refused, the doctor overpowers him and does the surgery anyway.  Our poor protagonist finds the operation was a success, but he soon suffers hallucinations of a most horrible nature.

Very horrific tale, much different than Williams' usual style.  Yet it does reflect his dislike and distrust of doctors out for themselves rather than their patients.  This is a previous unpublished story written around 1926.  Very Poe style in this one.  This story was in The Strand magazine, Feb.-May 2015 issue.  3.5 out of 5. 

Book Review: The Young Widow by Cassandra Chan

Phillip Bethancourt & Jack Gibbons 1

Annette Berwone is the logical suspect for the murder of her much older, wealthy husband.  After all, this is the third time she's been widowed, all three of her husbands much older than her and all wealthy.  Although not a pretty woman, Mrs. Berowne seems able to charm men, including normally astute police officers such as Jack Gibbons.  Friend and civilian consultant Phillip Bethancourt isn't so easily taken in by her wiles.

Although set in modern times, there is almost a period feel to the story, in the best possible way.  The investigation is based on the people involved, not just forensics or computers, helpful those are.  The friendship between Jack and Phillip is a strong one, but hits a serious bump when Jack becomes attracted to one of the chief suspects.  An absolutely glorious mystery with suspects galore!  4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Lady Sophia's Rescue by Cheryl Bolen

Lady Sophia is a runaway bride, having decided at the very last minute that she made a horrible mistake.  Mistaken by William Birmingham for a woman named Isadore, Sophia decides this has to be better than what she left behind.  Too bad her husband wasn’t inclined to let her leave.

I am a huge Regency fan, have been for as long as I’ve read romances.  I bought the Signet Regencies without fail every month and rarely was disappointed.  I wish I could say that about this story.  I struggled to complete this novella.  I just couldn’t connect with either character, although William had potential.  Maybe it was due to Sophia being a married woman, maybe it was just the rushed, yet choppy flow of the story.  All I know is that I was very disappointed at something I love to read being so blah.  2 out of 5.

Book Review: Bare Studs (collection)

This collection was received free of charge in exchange for a fair, honest review.
There are ten m/m stories ranging from contemporary to science fiction to historical to paranormal.  All the stories contain at least one main character who works with their hands, from stonemasons to plumbers to electricians and more.  I honestly loved this collection and definitely recommend it to m/m romance fans.  I would also recommend it to anyone who is new to m/m romance as this isn't overly graphic.  My overall rating would be 4 out of 5.
"Coffee Run" by Jess Roth.
Alex is covering for his ill mother as cleaner in the office building where Emmett works.  Emmett is cute, easily flustered, and a serious science fiction fan.  The story is short, and so very sweet.  Emmett is earnest, awkward, and adorkable.  Alex is, as Emmett observes, hot.  He's also a good man.  4 out of 5.
"The Last Snow Globe Repairman" by Allan Jay.
Tom watched as a new man moved into his neighborhood, his van announcing he repairs snow globes.  They run into each other again at a horror film at the local theater.  Matt is more than just a repairman, but how will Tom deal with the reveal?  I was a little worried at first when Tom grabbed Matt's wrist, invading his personal space.  Luckily my concerns were baseless.  There's so much going on in this story, so many threads to explore.  Missing parents, spirit catching, gay ghost, a lake full of spirits.  It deserved a much longer format, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.  3.5 out of 5.
"Of Scribes and Kings" by Bryl R. Tyne.
Ken called his apartment complex's maintenance man to repair some minor items.  But he has an ulterior motive.  Okay, this relationship really is beyond creepy. Ken traced the other man's IP address to move near him.  He sabotages things to get Carr to come to his apartment and stay longer.  This is more a slasher stalker porn flick setup than a true romance.  We don't even know the first name of Ken's stalkerish affection, only that of his father and his gamer name.  Then there are Ken's other issues, such as he never leaves his apartment, even to shop.  He downs three beers in rapid succession to fuel his courage.  When they do have sex, it is as their gaming alter egos.  This isn't healthy, it isn't romantic, it is dangerous.  Role play is fine, but not until after a couple has already connected.  2.5 out of 5.
"Executive Decision" by Alice Archer.
Dar Riley saw the offworlder watching him build the wall, day after day.  Pierre Catalan is a busy man, one who is fiercely in control of himself and his environment.  That changes when he receives bad news while with Dar.  What a contrast between our two heroes.  Dar is unable to control much in his life.  Pierre is too much in control.  He needs someone like Dar who can take over the reins, give him permission to step back.  I'm always in favor of good science fiction romances, whether m/f or m/m.  Science fiction isn't all monsters and space ships.  Subtle touches make a good story into satisfying sci-fi and Archer knows just how to paint the scenes.  4.5 out of 5.
"Flat Packed" by Henrietta Clarke.
David Porter, in town for his sister's wedding, is enjoying teasing Louis King, the man of honor and Hayley's best friend.  But Louis has the wrong take on David's travels, one that causes friction between them.  Both men are good guys, I'm sure that the sex was fantastic.  But I worry that there is too much against them as a couple.  Still I hope for the best for both of them.  And that, dear readers, will always be the mark of a good writer, when you care about the characters.  3.5 out of 5.
"Moonshine" by Charlie Tannen.
It was an unusual request.  Charles wants a fast car, all in black, lightweight to help increase the speed, but with a large storage compartment.  Oscar is intrigued, not only by the machine that he's building, but by Charles himself.  Set during Prohibition, this may be my favorite of the collection.  It is a period that isn't seen often in romances, but one I enjoy.  Oscar's worry about Charles' criminal activities is well thought out.  The attraction and love between the two men jumps off the page.  And the ending?  Exquisite!  5 out of 5.
"Love on the Tarmac" by Quinn Dressler.
Captain Matt Bowman rescued Cooper Austin from his homophobic First Officer.  Coop, like most everyone else, has a crush on the handsome pilot, but didn't think he had any chance.  Until Matt joins him for a burger.  Another favorite setting of mine, airports and flight personnel.  There's a heroic pilot, a cretin First Officer, and an alert rampie who saves the day.  I almost got a combination CABIN PRESSURE and WINGS vibe from this tale, in all the best ways.  4.5 out of 5.
"The Stonemason" by Terry Rissen.
Russell Grant had run from his once all encompassing art when it dried up on him.  A new job, a new name, a new life, yet still dealing with the art he loved, only this time as a custodian in a small art museum.  Then one night something extraordinary occurs.  Sad and exciting and heartbreaking and wonderful.  Thank heavens for the epilogue or I don't know if I could've survived the story.  Even knowing that art, good art, art that pulls at your soul, can be born out of pain, I wanted Russ to have his happily ever after.  4.5 out of 5.
"Hot Cross Buns" by Ginger Streusel.
After a rough resuce, firefighter Cole is wandering the streets at night when Johnny invites him into his family's diner for some hot chocolate.  Cole is blaming himself for not being fast enough, believing that the child he rescued wouldn't be struggling in the hospital otherwise.  Johnny seems to help lift the weight off his shoulders.  A sweet little tale of fire and food.  Cole will burn out if he doesn't learn to accept that all he can ever do is his best.  Luckily Johnny can help him through that.  3.5 out of 5.
"How to Build a Shed" by Kim Dias.
They met at the library and it was immediate attraction for both men.  Shawn, a librarian, was younger and, according to Gabe, too goodlooking to be for him.  Still Gabe wanted to see Shawn again, so he makes up a story about needing books to help him build a shed.  A desperate lie thought up on the fly as Gabe is actually a construction foreman.  Poor Gabe.  Poor Shawn.  Lies and misunderstandings play havoc on their fledgling relationship.  Adorable and beyond sweet.  3.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux

Cut & Run 1

FBI special agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are paired by Assistant Director Richard Burns to hunt a serial killer who has also killed two other agents.  The two men couldn't be more different.  Ty is scruffy, laidback, and smart-mouthed.  Zane is more uptight and rigid at first appearance, desperate to redeem himself with the Bureau after a meltdown of epic proportions.  Soon they are the targets of their killer, someone who may work for the FBI as well.

I wasn't sure about buying this book.  Based on reviews and social media chatter, readers either loved or hated it.  But I do have a weak spot for m/m lovers who are also cops or Feds, so I took a chance.  There's a lot of good here, yet to me it seemed to go too far.  Almost formula, but not properly mixed.  The snark went too far, the characters seemed to waiver in their differences, and the attraction bounced from there to too forced.  Maybe it was the bi/bi pairing?  Maybe it was the abrupt switches in POV?  I don't know, but when I expected to be enthralled, I found myself bored instead.  3 out of 5.

Book Review: In Fire Forged edited by David Weber

  In Fire Forged   edited by David Weber

Worlds of Honor 5

A collection of stories and articles set in the Honor Harrington universe.  Started out well with the first two stories, then fell flat with the rest of the book.  3.5 out of 5 simply due to Lindskold and Zahn.

“Ruthless”   by Jane Lindskold 
While speaking to a woman from Human Services outside her apartment, Judith Newland’s daughter disappears.  The child is being used as leverage against Prince Michael Winston.  Lindskold gives us a look at one of the more important refuges of Masada as well as advancing the relationship of Judith and Michael.  The search for Ruth also introduces Alice Ramsbottom, an intriguing new character with great potential.  4.5 out of 5.

“An Act of War”   by Timothy Zahn
Sequel to “With One Stone” from PROMISE OF THE SWORD.  Charles Dozewah, aka Charles Navarre, is on the People’s Republic of Haven to arrange a sale of something that could help with the war against Manticore.  Before he can complete the deal, Charles is arrested by State Security.  As even when Charles is involved, everything isn’t as it seems.  It was nice to see some of the back story that was happening when Honor Harrington first was revealed to be still alive.  Charles is truly an extraordinary person.  As most conmen and spies go, he’s definitely one of the best.  4 out of 5.

“Let’s Dance”   by David Weber
Commander Honor Harrington is contacted by John Brown Matheson of the Ballroom while visiting planet side.  The local Ballroom members believe Manpower has a hidden slave base in the Casimir system.  Sadly, this was the weakest story in the bunch (I don’t include the technical piece as, frankly, I usually skip them).  Set pre ON BASILISK STATION, I was so looking forward to early Honor, not to mention the involvement of the Ballroom.  It was terribly slow, even during the action scenes.  Definitely not a short story.  I was vastly disappointed.  3 out of 5.

“An Introduction to Modern Starship Design” by Andy Presby.
As I said, I don’t read these.  It isn’t my field and doesn’t interest me, so no rating. 

Book Review: Midnight's Kiss by Thea Harrison

Elder Races 8
Julian Regillus, the Nightkind King, is on the warpath after Justine tries to kill his second-in-command.  When Justine kidnaps Melisande Aindris, his unfaithful former lover, as leverage, Julian willingly gives himself up to free her.  Now the two must band together to survive and win the battle.

We start off slightly before the end of the last book, changing the point of view to Julian.  Julian becomes more likable once you know both his backstory and the pressure he is under with the rest of the council.  Considering how many volumes of stories and books we are in, it is amazing to me that Harrison can provide something fresh and intriguing.  Be warned as this book contains torture and intense violence towards Vampyres and humans, among others.  5 out of 5.

Book Review: Night's Honor by Thea Harrison

Elder Races 7

The Vampyre's Ball gives humans a chance to become an attendant.  Tess Graham considers them monsters, but needs the protection that comes with the position.  The one Vampyre who is willing to interview her is one of the most dangerous, Xavier del Torro, a hunter who is second-in-command to the Nightkind King himself, Julian Regillus.

Tess' fear, yet determination, makes this more than just a supernatural romance.  She is strong, stronger than she herself realizes.  The other characters we meet, from Raoul to Diego to the others who work for Xavier, are well drawn themselves, with intricate backstories and very multi-dimensional.  There are few writers who can keep a universe like this vibrant and attractive.  Harrison is definitely one of them.  5 out of 5.

Book Review: Wonderment in Death by J. D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)

Eve Dallas 41.5

Eve takes over the case when friends of Louis Dimotto are found dead in a suspected murder/suicide.  Everyone swears it isn't possible, so Eve delves deeper.  She soon discovers something connected to psychics and a very strange Alice in Wonderland connection.

One of the craziest bad guys in the series, a mediocre sensitive who manages to take in otherwise intelligent people.  Some mind control through a combination of hypnosis and drugs brings back memories of an earlier case.  4 out of 5.