Duology Book Review: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Amy Jo Cousins

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Series: Bend or Break, Books 6 and 7
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: March 22, 2016

This duology comprises of Book 6, Love Me Like a Rock, and Book 7, Hard Candy. I recommend reading the rest of the series first, but these can be read as a stand-alone.

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cousins-rock-hard-duologyWhen Vinnie and Austin first appeared in Level Hands, I was immediately intrigued by whatever was going on between them. It was clear there was something, and the brief cameo we got in Real World just added fuel to the fire. So I was ridiculously excited to see that they were finally getting their own books.

And then A.J. said that they were getting their own separate books. As in, separate romances. Whaaaaat? But this is Amy Jo Cousins we’re talking about. Even though I wasn’t quite ready to put down my “Austin/Vinnie OTP” banner, I was willing to trust in her ability to write a gorgeous relationship for both of them.

And she did. Oh, boy, did she ever.

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Series Spotlight on Samhain Publishing!

A special Series Spotlight this week. I’m taking a page out of Amy Jo Cousins’ book by putting a spotlight on my favorite titles from Samhain Publishing.

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Samhain Publishing just announced that they’re beginning to ramp down operations in preparation for closing their doors for good. The news is incredibly upsetting, and the entire romance community seems to be reeling as hundreds of authors, editors, and artists find themselves without a publishing home.

I want to highlight some of the incredible novels that Samhain has put out. They have a wide range of LGBT titles, and some of my favorite authors are published through them!

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Series Spotlight: A Charm of Magpies Universe, by K.J. Charles

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Historical England meets paranormal urban fantasy, where magic users and Victorian nobility cross paths to solve murders and defeat evil. Take a pint-size magician with a grudge against the titled elite, and a smuggler-turned-Lord who would rather be cursing his way through China, and you have a delectable novel with brilliant world-building and characters!

What started out as a series following the practitioner Stephen Day and the haughty Lord Crane had expanded into a growing universe, showing class struggles and history entwined with magic and mystery. And the newest book in the series is out in a few weeks!

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A Charm of Magpies Series, by K.J. Charles
First Published: September 2013
Number of Books: 6 (plus several short stories)
First Book: The Magpie Lord
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Gay M/M Romance

What you’ll find in the Charm of Magpies ‘verse:

  • magic users who do what’s right, even when it’s not proper
  • aristocracy that doesn’t give a damn about birth and breeding
  • bad guys who aren’t always bad
  • men without magic falling in love with magicians
  • lots of sex… often (but not always) on desks
  • an entire world of magicians lurking beneath the streets of London

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Advanced Review: Best Laid Plans, by Lauren Gallagher

gallagher-best-laid-planBest Laid Plans, by Lauren Gallagher (aka Lori Witt)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Genre: Gay, M/M, Menage, M/M/F, Bisexual, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Buy Link: Publisher

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I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Blurb:

After yet another adoption falls through, Gabe is ready to give up, and Shahid isn’t far behind him. Apparently, being a gay couple—half of which is Muslim—is just one strike too many for the powers that be.

When their friend Kendra offers to carry their baby for them, both men balk at first, but gradually warm to the idea. Especially Gabe, whose bisexuality is open to the chemistry among the three of them.

The plan seems simple. Kendra and Gabe, foregoing the cold, impersonal IVF clinic, paperwork and red tape, will conceive the old-fashioned way. They’ll all share parenting responsibilities, and live happily baby after.

But as the heat flares between Gabe and Kendra, Shahid’s long-suppressed insecurities bubble to the surface. Then some unexpected news catches the trio off guard and derails their plans—and now one heart could be left out in the cold.

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Advanced Book Review: Give Yourself Away, by Barbara Elsborg

elsborg-give-yourself-awayGive Yourself Away, by Barbara Elsborg
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (February 9, 2016)
Genre: Gay, M/M, Romance, Contemporary

Warning: Child abduction, sexual violence.

Rating: 4 out of 5
4-of-5

Buy Links: Publisher / Amazon

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Blurb:

March is determined to lose the numbness that accompanies a history of loss and blame. Desperate to feel something—anything—the adrenaline junkie base jumps off cliffs, soars on hang gliders, and embarks on dangerous sea-borne rescue missions. But any release he feels is fleeting, and when you play Russian roulette with fate, eventually you come crashing down.

No matter how hard Caleb tries to forget his past, a dark shadow is always behind him. When a bizarre turn of events results in him being trapped in a sea cave, Caleb wonders how his mantra—safety at all costs—could have failed him. On the point of drowning, he’s stunned when March surfaces in the cave.

March’s disregard for the rules saves Caleb’s life but gets March into a heap of trouble. Not least of which is the guy shivering in the boat next to him. March tries to ignore Caleb but it’s already too late. Together, they take small, awkward steps toward love. But Caleb’s past is waiting to sink in its claws…and this time, it could drag him to his death.

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Blog Tour: Clockwork Heart, by Heidi Cullinan

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Tinkers. Soldiers. Spies. Pirates. Alternate history, airships, a sweeping tour of continental Europe via the clouds. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism, some naughty use of clockwork prosthetics. Men who love men, women who love women, men who aren’t particular. Love, adventure, and a steaming good time.

Heidi Cullinan is here today to talk about her latest novel, Clockwork Heart, the first in a new M/M steampunk series! She’s also brought some exclusive information… a first glimpse into future books in the Clockwork Heart universe!

So keep reading to find out more about this alt-history world of clockwork soldiers, and don’t forget to check out the awesome giveaway that Heidi has!

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Clockwork Heart, by Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Historical, Alternate History/Steampunk, Gay (M/M), Romance

Buy Links: Publisher / Amazon (US) / ARe

My Review: This novel has everything you’d expect from a Heidi Cullinan novel–  complex characters, a delicious romance, and some heart-stopping kinky sex– and the unique alt-history adds an exciting twist to the story! (Full review is here4-5-of-5)

About Clockwork Heart:

cullinan-clockwork-heartAs the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.

Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.

When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.

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