A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: Full Length (337 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

An interesting book that wasn’t what I expected, but worth the read.

Initially, I wasn’t fond of this book. I’ll admit it. Ove got on my nerves. I am not the very factual, very direct kind of person that Ove is. I have grey areas. He doesn’t. Honestly, two-thirds of the way through the book, I still wasn’t converted. I didn’t see the point. I kept expecting something nasty to happen to ‘cat’, too. I should note that the book takes place in Sweden and there are references to Sweden. It adds to the story, absolutely, but should be pointed out.

But then about the two-thirds point, the book changed. Okay, maybe the book didn’t change, but my perception did. I got to see the man, Ove, become more than he was. I understood him better and quite honestly, I rooted for him. I liked his interactions with the neighbors and ‘cat’. There was a sweet man under that curmudgeon facade. I won’t give away the ending, but I did cry. I felt like I’d known Ove all along.

The secondary characters are great and while some are a tad irritating, they round out the story well. They needed to be there. Plus, they’re more than I thought and it was great to see them grow along with Ove.

If you want a book that might take some getting used to and some endurance to get through (you’ll be rewarded), then this might be the book for you. I’m glad I picked it up.

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar


Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Genre: Recent Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (180 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

I have to admit I’m a Stephen King junkie. I am. I’m also a bit of a short story junkie, too. When I saw this book at my local library, just sitting there unassumingly on the shelf, I had to sneak a peek.I mean, why not? So I picked it up. I’m glad I did. This was a quick read and even though it’s short, when I had to put it down to deal with life, I didn’t have to do a bunch of rereading to catch back up.That’s the good thing about this short story. There isn’t a lot of rereading that needs to be done if you have to walk away.

Gwendy is an interesting character. She has an awesome power within her and within the button box. Will she use it? Will she succumb? Will she get a big head from the power? I liked that Gwendy is relatable. There are things that made her more than she was, but I liked her human-ness. Now I would’ve been more than a little freaked out if some random guy wanted me to sit with him. Even more if he’d have offered me a box. I don’t know how Gwendy did it, but she did.

I liked how she grew through the story, too. The creep factor isn’t as strong in this story, which was nice for me because I wasn’t looking for a freaky story. But might be a turn off for others. There are plenty of characters and some are hard to keep straight, by the end, I felt like I knew them all. My heart bled at the end. I won’t give away spoilers, but it’s a tad gut-wrenching.

If you want a recent historical story with more than few twists, then this might be the short story you’re looking for. Oh and try a chocolate. I hear the detailing is fantastic.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee


The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (372 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

What a ride!

I had sort of an idea what I was getting into when I picked up this book. Cougar and cub story with hot sex and a good time… It’s intriguing. There are moments when the book is hot. Like scorching the page hot. The writing is fast-paced and Solene is relatable. Who wouldn’t want the adoration of a younger man?

But I had a few problems with the book. Hayes is an interesting character. He’s part of a boy band. Initially, I thought this would make him rather vapid. I mean, he’s got money and women thrown at him, plus the adoration of teens everywhere. I can see where it would go to his head. And it does to a degree. One minute he’s rather wise beyond his years, but then other times he’s very much a twenty year old. Then there’s Solene. I liked her. I mean, she’s in a tough spot. She wants to be loved and wants to find herself, but doesn’t know where that finding herself is. Cool premise. But I got a tad bored with her. Okay, she’s got a hot younger man (think one of the One Direction guys) who is fawning all over her. I get her emotional maturity in dealing with him, but she’s the same kind of waffle-y character as Hayes. One minute she’s mature and the next she’s almost scandalized by what she’s doing. I liked that she wasn’t totally sure, but I also kind of wanted her to have more of a backbone. If you want him, take him.

Still, it was a good read. A good beach read with lots of fantasy – how many people really meet the boys in the boy band and have a tryst – and plenty of heat. If you’re into books that are escapism, then this might be the one for you.

Try it!

The Surgeon’s Cinderella by Susan Carlisle/Saved by Doctor Dreamy by Dianne Drake


The Surgeon’s Cinderella by Susan Carlisle/Saved by Doctor Dreamy by Dianne Drake
Publisher: Mills and Boon
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (391 pages – 189 and 192 respectively)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The Surgeon’s Cinderella – Susan Carlisle
Whitney Thomason prides herself on being able to find the perfect partner for anyone, but heart surgeon Tanner Locke is a real challenge! He wants to settle down, but he’s adamant there’ll be no falling in love…When Whitney’s candidate falls through it’s up to her to be the girlfriend Tanner needs for his business weekend getaway, but two days in close proximity prove torturous. They know giving in to temptation is a bad idea but desire is more powerful than reason…

Saved by Doctor Dreamy – Dianne Drake
In search of her independence, Dr Juliette Allen’s time in Costa Rica was meant for chasing adventure…not facing the constant temptation of her sexy, arrogant new boss, Damien Caldwell!Damien can’t understand why gorgeous, fiery Juliette would hide herself away in the jungle but quickly learns not to underestimate the quiet strength of this auburn beauty. And when tragedy strikes Damien finds himself on an unexpected mission-to open Juliette’s heart and convince her to take a chance on love!

Doctor McDreamy has nothing on these doctors!

I’m a sucker for medical romances. There’s something fabulous about a guy (or girl) who knows how to use their hands and can save lives. These two novels don’t disappoint.

I’m a huge fan of Susan Carlisle. She writes hot docs like no other. They’re approachable, while being sexy and down to earth. I liked Whitney, too. She’s very relatable. She was a heavier girl in college and not as visible to guys like Tanner. Now that’s she’s not as big, she’s still super self-conscious about it. Hey, who can’t relate to that? We’ve all got insecurities and want to be loved…but will that hottie we’re ogling over feel the love too? Ms Carlisle had me hooked from the beginning, wanting to know what would happen to Tanner and Whitney and if they’d get their HEA. Totally absorbing read.

Then there’s the novel by Dianne Drake. He’s fiesty and running from his past. She’s fiesty and independent. Put these two together and there will be fireworks. I loved it. I couldn’t race through Damien and Juliette’s story fast enough. I had to see where it would go. The chemistry, just like in Ms Carlisle’s book was off the charts. I wanted to see these two succeed and get together. I rooted for them all the way!!

If you want a satisfying read that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and warm the night a little more, then try these two books by Susan Carlisle and Dianne Drake.

Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea


Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

​​The death of Oakley’s sister has left his family broken and buried beneath their grief. In an attempt to get out from underneath their pain, they rent an isolated cottage in the Cotswolds. For Oakley, it’s an exercise in futility. He doesn’t see much hope for things to get back to the way they used to be, and he’s bored and restless as he waits out the time until he can return to the city and university. All of that changes when he meets local boy Bobby, and the connection between them is instant. Within a few days, Oakley is ready to walk away from everything to stay with Bobby. However, Bobby has problems of his own, and they might be more than the budding romance can survive. But they might also give Oakley a new perspective on his own situation.​

Life might not seem beautiful, but it’s a wonderful ride if you open your eyes.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I opened this book. I knew it would be interesting when I finished the first chapter and raced right through to the second without a second thought. The writing captivated me and I wanted to know how this person, Bobby, could exist where he did in the conditions he did. I was certainly drawn in.

I liked Oakley, too. Bobby’s initial reaction to him amused me. “What kind of name is Oakley?” It’s a very young person thing to say. But I liked Bobby and Oakley both. Oakley has been hit hard by the passing of his sister. He’s dealing with the remorse of living while she isn’t and feeling he’s not reacting correctly. He’s very human in his reactions and I wanted to hug the poor guy.

This isn’t a super hot story from a sex scene point of view and that’s fine. It worked for me and the story.  If you want a short story that you won’t soon forget, one with heart and remarkable characters, then this might be the one for you.

Seven Minutes by Grace Kilian Delaney


Seven Minutes by Grace Kilian Delaney
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Cross-Dressing
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Can love be found in seven minutes?

Heavy metal singer Stone Manson never acknowledged his attraction to men. But when he meets sexy cross-dresser Devon at a party and spends Seven Minutes in Heaven with him, he can’t deny his reaction. His confusion leads him to mess up—big time—with Devon, but after some soul-searching, Stone decides to do whatever it takes to show Devon he’s worth the risk.

Devon’s got a thing for hot, tattooed rock stars—just not the sexually conflicted and closeted ones. Stone’s persistence has Devon warming up to the idea of the singer in his bed, and maybe even in his life, until a threat emerges from Devon’s past. Now it’s Devon’s turn to trust Stone or both their lives could be in jeopardy.

These two seem totally opposite, but it’s so good.

This book was a first for me. I’ve never read a romance involving a cross-dressing character. I’m glad I rectified that. This story was sweet, cute and had some harder edges. There’s a burly rock star involved. It can’t be smooth all over. The writing flowed well and I read the book over the course of my lunch hour. Great quick read. I had to know what would happen between Devon and Stone.

Now, while this is a short story, there’s a lot going on. Devon is more than he seems. Sure, he loves to wear dresses and spike heels, but he’s also a dedicated mechanic. He’s not perfect, but that’s what I liked about it. I wish the story was longer because I enjoyed watching the romance unfold between him and Stone. Oh and Stone. He’s a tough nut to crack. He doesn’t think he’s attracted to guys, but there’s something about Devon. I loved his protective streak and his decision to open up. His growth through the story was great. Oh, and the sex scenes were off the charts. Very hot.

If you want a story that’s got heart, passion and something more, then this might be the book for you.

Runaway Rock Star by CJ Anthony


Runaway Rock Star by CJ Anthony
States of Love
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (87 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Just hours before Brandon Harris is supposed to head home to Cincinnati for a Labor Day family picnic, his boss at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame forces him into giving a private tour to bratty British pop-rock star Lucas Black. Before he knows it, he finds himself swept up in a whirlwind road trip through Ohio with Lucas riding shotgun.

Lucas grabs hold of this wild opportunity to run away—even for a few precious days—from the gilded cage that is his carefully managed life. He’s just looking for a little fun and freedom as a normal person. From roller coasters to a college football game, Brandon begins to see the real Lucas Black buried under the famous persona. But by the time he and Lucas discover their mutual attraction, they only have one night left before both of them have to go back to their real lives. The fun is over…unless Lucas can run away for real this time and keep their adventure going.

He just wants a weekend on his own…while he travels through Ohio?

I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and while I know it’s exciting, I never thought about the state through the eyes of someone who’s never been here. It’s actually more interesting than I’d ever thought.

CJ Anthony does a great job at writing a road trip through Ohio. I felt like I was right there with Lucas and Brandon through the trip. I also liked how the author allowed Lucas to grow. This isn’t a long story, but both Brandon and Lucas certainly change. I felt a connection to Brandon and rooted for him to finally get what he wanted. The plot raced along well, with emotions as the driving force. The sex scenes came along after a slow burn and were a great payoff. The story is short, but it’s worth the read.

If you’re looking for a book that’s equal parts Ohio’s greatest hits and sexy rock star with nerdy-ish business guy, then this might be the book for you.

Y’all Tied Up by Crymsyn Hart


Y’all Tied Up by Crymsyn Hart
Yule Tied
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (37 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, BDSM, Toys
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Clive and Aniston must escape before Krampus can feed them to the cannibal gingerbread men!

Aniston awakens to find an intruder in his house kneeling in front of his Christmas tree. Expecting a white beard and a jolly laugh, Aniston is shocked to find this is not Santa. Aniston is kidnapped and whisked away into a world of giants where Krampus is the master of the house.

Clive rescues Aniston and together they survive among cannibal gingerbread men, oversized nutcrackers, and tin soldiers roaming the house and guarding over Krampus’ sack. Aniston can’t help but be drawn to Clive and finds comfort in his arms. They only know of one way to get home. They must escape or spend Christmas a long way from home.

He’ll need all of his wits to survive this crisis…but there’s a silver tinsel lining.

I’ve never read the work of Crymsyn Hart and if these two characters are any indication of the caliber of her other stories, I’m in. Aniston and Clive are interesting characters. I’ve never read anything involving Krampus either, so this was a good twist for me. I love the theme running through this book that you can’t just give up. Keep going because things will work out. It was great. The story flowed well and while it was short, I didn’t stop until I got to the end. I had to know how things would work out.

Now this is short. I knew that going in, but I wished there were a little more about Aniston and Clive. Why? Because I liked them. I wanted more of their story. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s good. If they happen to show up again in a post Christmas story, that’d be awesome.

If you want a book that’s sprinkled with danger, action and some serious heat, then this is the book for you.

Repossession by Mychael Black


Repossession by Mychael Black
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (34 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Double Penetration
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Aaron Jacobs’ twin makes a deal with the Devil, it can’t possibly end well. Then Aaron’s twin skips town, leaving Aaron to pay the debt himself. Aaron has no idea what to expect, but it sure as hell isn’t the cloven-hooved, horned wet dream who’s come to collect.

This demon isn’t backing down.

I love the Soul Debt books. Each one is a different take on the devil coming to collect his due. I also love the work of Mychael Black. There is always heat and a blistering pace for the story. This one was no different. The heat involved between Roan and Aaron is great. I felt the connection along with them. Yes, Aaron is paying the debt, but is it really such a hardship? This is a quick read with lots of sex. I wanted something hot for an unusually cold summer day and this fit the bill. I wish it would’ve been longer because I wanted to see what would happen next, but it wasn’t a deterrent to the current story.

If you’re looking for a short story that’s high on heat and deep on connection, then this might be the book for you.

Rip Cord by Jeannie St James


Rip Cord – The Ever After by Jeannie St James
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (56 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Toys, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Rip Cord, the infamous Bad Boy of the NFL, ends up on Gil Davis’ front porch drunk as a skunk. Not only has he been fired by his franchise, but also his sports agent. His last brawl on the football field during a prime time game was the final straw.

Accounting geek Gil Davis hasn’t seen his on-again, off-again lover since the summer when the professional football player whisked him away for a kinky sex-filled getaway weekend. But immediately after, Rip returned to the NFL and was on the road leaving no time for Gil.
 Now Rip wants to come back into Gil’s life one more time, this time to not only make a future with him, but to finally admit who he really is deep down inside. After hiding his sexual preference since he was a teen, Rip realizes he’s made too many bad choices along the way. It’s time to make the right choice with Gil.

But is Gil ready to forgive Rip for keeping him at a distance? And more importantly, after two false starts, can they finally live happily ever after?

Never give up because you never know what could happen if you do.

I have to start out by saying I haven’t read the other books in the Rip Cord world. But that didn’t take away the enjoyment of this story for me. It’s hot, sweet, aching and I had to keep reading because I had to know what would happen. I’ve been a fan of Jeanne St James for a while and when I saw this book up for review, I jumped. I’m glad I did.

Rip and Gil are great characters. Both are oh-so-male, but they’re also flawed. I like a flawed character. It gives them room to grow. Rip, for all his bombast and bad boy-ness, has some serious scars and holes within him. I liked his growth through the story. He retained his bad boy qualities, but he became endearing. Gil, on the other hand, was a little harder to pin down. I liked him. He’s a strong guy and he’s not ashamed to be gay. But what irked me a little was what seemed like his lack of a backbone. I get there are people that come along that simply overwhelm. I’ve got those people in my life. But I sort of hoped Gil would’ve been a little stronger in his response to Rip–at least initially. That said, I loved the story. The sex scenes scorched and I couldn’t read fast enough. I had to know how it would end. I’m glad I read it. Will I go back and read the others in this world? You bet.

If you want a book that’s hot, sticky and full of heart, but with some sting, then this might be the book for you.