Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Blowin’ My Mind Like a Summer Breeze by Benjamin Roech


Blowin’ My Mind Like a Summer Breeze by Benjamin Roech
Publisher: Deep Hearts YA
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Romance, LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Fifteen-year-old Rainey Cobb never thought meeting someone could actually change her life. But, then again, she’s never met anyone like Juliet.

It’s 1995 and The Cobb Family Band, led by Rainey’s rock star parents, has arrived for a week-long gig at the Midwestern resort owned by Juliet’s family. Dazzled by Juliet’s carpe diem attitude, DIY tattoos, and passion for grunge, Rainey falls hard. And when Juliet gives Rainey a mixtape that unlocks her heart’s secret yearnings, Rainey starts seeing herself-and her vagabond, show-biz life-through new eyes.

If Rainey quits the band, her parents’ fading career might never recover. But if she doesn’t leap now, she might be stuck forever in a life she didn’t choose…and always wonder who she could have been.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Unlock My Heart by Jennifer Wilck


Unlock My Heart by Jennifer Wilck
Scarred Hearts, Book Two
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Abby Marlow, computer security expert, lands a job at the best IT security firm in the country. Her sole focus is financial independence so she never has to rely on others again, especially a man. But why does her boss make her wires short circuit?

Ted Endicott, CEO and founder of the IT security firm, is hard of hearing. Although an expert in his field, he’s still uncomfortable admitting his hearing problem to clients or employees. So why is he willing to accept Abby’s help?

As Ted and Abby work together, barriers fall away, and the lines blur between colleagues and lovers. But a security glitch in a client’s system shows one of Ted’s employees is the hacker, and all signs point to Abby. Can they get past the suspicion and find a future together?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Teddy Loses His Ears by Christine Milkovic Krauss


Teddy Loses His Ears by Christine Milkovic Krauss
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Teddy is a rescue cat who lost his ears from frostbite. Teddy has inspired a series of stories with his true-life adventures that share relatable messages of kindness and acceptance. Teddy hopes that his stories will raise awareness to the organizations that saved his life, and thousands of other animals’ lives every year.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Mr. Right Across the Street by Kathryn Freeman


Mr. Right Across the Street by Kathryn Freeman
Romcom Collection, Book 4
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Mia Abbott’s move to Manchester was supposed to give her time and space from all the disastrous romantic choices she’s made in her past. But then the hot guy who lives opposite – the one who works out every day at exactly 10 a.m., not that Mia has noticed thank-you-very-much – starts leaving notes in his window…for her.

Bar owner Luke Doyle has his own issues to deal with but as he shows Mia the sights of her new city he also shows her what real romance looks like for the first time. And when he cooks up a signature cocktail in her honour, she realises that the man behind the bar is even more enticing than any of his creations. And once she’s had a taste she knows it will never be enough!

For pure escapism, this spicy-lite feel-good romance story fit my mood to a T. Mr. Right Across the Street is more like ‘across the complex’ since it takes place between facing apartments. Still, it was a unique way to pursue a romance.

Some readers might think it’s creepy to have messages taped to windows to be seen by someone else, but the author had her main character, Mia, discuss it with her sister, then Ms. Freeman had Luke, the hero, address the issue so as far am I’m concerned, with everything out in the open, I was free to enjoy the quirkiness of the story.

I enjoyed Mia’s growing relationship with her neighbor, the grumpy Stan. The initial description was a turn off but, that’s one of the strong points in this story. Mia attempted to get to know her neighbor and in doing so, went beyond the superficial and discovered the person her neighbor actually was. That reaching out, that overlooking initial appearances is something people forget to do. They get so hung up on the looks that the depths of a person are never revealed, and possible friendships never materialize. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. Where there were many opportunities for angst, anger, spite, back-stabbing and over the top emotional drama, Ms. Freeman avoided all that by giving Mia a sunny personality that tried not to be quick to judge, and when she did, and it was found out not to be what she thought, she stepped up to the plate and apologized; she owned her mistake and moved on. Now, that’s not saying the heroine was perfect. Nope, not by a long shot. She has hang-ups that were a bit repetitive, but then again, people who are self-conscious or feel vulnerable about themselves tend to do that – overthink, fret and repeat. Still, it would have been nice to have had a bit less of it.

Luke is a bar owner who has his own demons to deal with. He has secrets that tend to be the ones that stir the plot the most, and could possibly annoy readers the most. Communication is lacking at times on his part. Once a reader gets the entire picture, I guess I can see where he was coming from. His secrets were a little out of the ordinary but it’s the way poor Mia discovers them that I had a hard time with. Luke is fallible, all too human, and has put himself in a very bad situation by the life decisions he’s made so far. Again, Mia has the right to not be so trusting because Luke, who wants to be trusted, just didn’t understand for the longest time that he needed to get over himself and lay it all out there. So, instead, readers are treated to what feels like a dentist appointment – getting those secrets out was like pulling teeth.

I mentioned that this book is spicy-lite. I think this story could have done very well at a sensual level, but there’s the eventual capitulation to the slow burn Mia and Luke have been fanning all through the story and they end up taking it to the bedroom, and the door is left open. I’m glad it was a short visit. I liked the whole premise of the romance, the secondary characters, the plot, the floppy-eared bunny, the brusque neighbor and the loving but interfering family members enough to not need the bedroom details. But, for readers who need to have those scenes in a story, they should be pleased at the delivery.

Another strong aspect that comes through deals with Mia and Freya. That could have been a whole kettle of toxic fish but again, the author gave Mia an inner strength, and a caring and forgiving nature. Forgiveness is a wonderful, healing attribute that not many people remember to practice these days. The author applied it quite effectively and is another reason why I liked this novel.

All in all, Mr. Right Across the Street was a delightful, engaging, and happy romance story that made me smile many times. I’m really glad I read it and think it would be a good book for romance readers to spend time with on a lazy afternoon.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge for May 18, 2022

Each Wednesday, Long and Short Reviews hosts a weekly “blog hop”. For more details on how to participate, please click here.

Today’s topic is: What you do when you’re not feeling well

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Monkey Business: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Films of the Marx Brothers by Josh Pachter


Monkey Business: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Films of the Marx Brothers by Josh Pachter
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Duck Soup, Animal Crackers…over the two decades between 1929’s The Cocoanuts and 1949’s Love Happy, the Marx Brothers—Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and sometimes Zeppo—entertained movie-goers around the world with their madcap antics, rapid-fire dialogue, and prowess on the piano, the harp, and in song.

Now, a Who’s Who of award-winning crime writers pays homage to the Marxes in fourteen short stories, each inspired by one of the brothers’ thirteen studio films. (Wait a second: fourteen stories inspired by thirteen films? How does that add up? You’ll find the answer to that question…and so much more!…inside the covers of this book.)

The authors? Donna Andrews, Frankie Y. Bailey, Jeff Cohen, Lesley A. Diehl, Brendan DuBois, Terence Faherty, Barb Goffman, Joseph Goodrich, Robert Lopresti, Sandra Murphy, Robert J. Randisi, Marilyn Todd, Joseph S. Walker, and editor Josh Pachter, who is a recent recipient of the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement and the editor of two previous “inspired by” anthologies from Untreed Reads, The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell and Only the Good Die Young: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Billy Joel.

To paraphrase Groucho: Outside of a dog, this book will be your best friend. (Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.)

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Daddy, Daddy, And Me by Sean Michael


Daddy, Daddy, And Me by Sean Michael
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Jeff agreed to be the sperm donor to his best friend Beth, he never expected a tragedy to leave his newborn and three-year-old motherless. Beth’s loss has totally thrown his life into chaos: his lover has left him, his house isn’t anywhere near childproof, and his boss feels the restaurant has been patient enough with Jeff’s time off.

Donny has always known he wanted to work with kids, and he just finished his degree in early childhood education. He didn’t count on the prejudice he’d face as not only a male nanny, but a gay one at that. Job-hunting has been frustrating to say the least, so when he knocks on Jeff’s door and is greeted by the sounds of things breaking and a pair of screaming children, he thinks maybe he can begin this particular interview with a trial by fire.

Becoming the nanny to Jeff’s children might be a dream come true for Danny and exactly what Jeff needs, but are either of them ready to really be a family?

Jeff agreed to be the sperm donor to his best friend, but never expected for tragedy to strike and for him to be left with full time custody of a newborn and his three year old. Jeff’s lover has left and his boss has had enough of being patient with the time off Jeff frequently needs. When Donny knocks on Jeff’s front door he decides to throw himself into the interview process by simply showing exactly how much he can help Jeff. Can these two men find a balance to family life that works for all four of them?

I really enjoyed this full length story. In many ways I found it a lovely comfort read with all the usual tropes – a very sudden full time dad, two adorable but rambunctious children, the newbie nanny/manny who hadn’t been given a fair shot but fell right in easily with the newly formed family. Readers looking for a story that is really envelope pushing, different or edgy probably won’t find this suits their tastes. Instead I really loved this comforting, easy to read and enjoy story. I found both Jeff and Donny’s characters realistic and gentle, and the two children were adorable. Just a gentle, almost sweet pace to the story really allowed Jeff and Donny’s characters to shine through and for them to build a solid foundation of friendship, trust and family before they explored a more intimate relationship together.

The slow pace to the romance was lovely and I felt it well handled. While there is plenty of steam and sizzle in the bedroom when the men make it there I was pleased they didn’t jump immediately into bed. Much of the plot was easy to guess and see coming from a mile away – but with the strong characters and all the emotions and new family situation needing to be grown into and sorted out I feel there really didn’t need to be complicated plot twists or convoluted story building. The real shine and hero of this story was Jeff and Donny’s characters, and the life and family they were meshing together and growing.

Readers looking for a delightfully written, character centric and gently woven story should find this an exceptional read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will certainly be reading it again in the future.

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Sworn to Fly by Maria Imbalzano


Sworn to Fly by Maria Imbalzano
(Sworn Sisters Series) Book 3 of 3
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Risk-averse ER nurse, Alyssa Beckman, is about to lose her job because of yet another bad decision. In order to put her life back on track, she books a week at a rustic mountain resort to ponder her next steps and rejuvenate. But when she arrives, she learns she’s enrolled in boot camp, an adventure program far out of her comfort zone.

While there, she meets Gabriel Sutton, a world-travelling high-fashion photographer who is in danger of losing his clients as well as his status if he doesn’t start following the rules. While hiking, kayak racing, and participating in team challenges, sparks fly between Alyssa and Gabe as they encourage each other to take different life paths. But will those paths lead them farther apart or bring them closer together?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Purveli by Dianne Duvall


The Purveli by Dianne Duvall (Author), Kirsten Potter (Narrator),
Aldebarian Alliance, Book 3
Publisher: Self-published, Tantor Audio (Audio Publisher)
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Ava has always been different. Born with strong telepathic abilities, she lives a very isolated life until she is offered a job with an obscure network that aids powerful Immortal Guardians in their quest to protect humanity from the psychotic vampires who prey upon them. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel so different. For the first time in her life, Ava has found a place where she belongs. She’s happy. Life is good. And when her employers invite her to join a group of other gifted ones and a handful of Immortal Guardians on a journey to another planet, it becomes absolutely fantastic.

In no time at all, she is speeding across the galaxy aboard a Lasaran warship manned by two amazing alien races. It’s the dream of a lifetime… until a vicious attack by a mutual enemy of Lasara and Earth lands her alone in an escape pod with no habitable planet in sight and only one ship within range: one that carries the enemy who wants to know why the bioengineered virus they released on Earth long ago didn’t exterminate humanity and leave the planet ripe for their claiming.

Jak’ri doesn’t know how long he has been a prisoner aboard the Cebaun, but he fears the enemy’s twisted experiments will soon lead them to a virus that will eradicate the Purveli people. Despair grips him until a female from Earth is taken captive and reaches out to him telepathically. The gift that Ava said caused her such misery in the past soon becomes his salvation as the two of them form a fast friendship. Determined to distract each other from the horrors of their existence, they immerse themselves in telepathic communion during the day, then seek solace and adventure together in shared dreams. As their friendship deepens into love, the two hatch a daring plot to escape their captors. But the enemy will not let them go without a fight.

Can Ava and Jak’ri stand against so many and emerge victorious?

FIND THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Wrong Words by Yvonne Rediger


The Wrong Words by Yvonne Rediger
An Adam Norcross Mystery Book 1
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Adam Norcross is not in a good place. He recently buried his mother and now he needs something more than a power struggle between him and his mother’s cat to distract him from his grief. That something comes in the form of an assignment from his boss, Walter Shapiro, who is not a patient man. Not surprising since he reports directly to the prime minister. Shapiro interrupts Norcross’ bereavement leave to give him an assignment. Norcross’ task is to find out how the country’s most eminent climate scientist ended up dead off the highway in a mountain ravine. Was it an accident or suicide? As soon as he speaks to Shapiro, Norcross’ unique precognitive ability tells him it is something else, something darker.

Sergeant Bethany Leith is not thrilled to have Norcross stepping on her toes. Even though Constable Bighetty is willing to give Norcross the benefit of the doubt. Once he inserts himself into Leith’s suspicious death inquiry, Norcross will use his investigative knowledge and unusual talents to help her uncover who wanted Doctor Flete dead and why.

Salish University is ground zero for the investigation. Among those involved are Flete’s dean, his wife, and his new girlfriend. Then there are his colleagues, some of whom denounced Doctor Flete’s important work, including a woman from Adam Norcross’ past.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!