Author Spotlight

Friday Favourites #19: Cole McCade


My guest for Friday Favourites this week is Mr. Cole McCade. He is a new-to-me author and I first came across his writing with his post for Queer Romance Month last year. His moving piece prompted me to check out his books which finally lead me to reading The Lost and its prequel, The Fallen a few weeks ago. In short, I was blown away by these rather dark but still hopeful stories, you can read my review from earlier this week. 

Now, meet Mr. McCade himself sharing some of his favourite stuff and there are some. It was a really fascinating interview and learned so many new, curious things, and got to check out some awesome books. I hope you will enjoy it too!

1. Favourite place
Kowloon Walled City. Even though it doesn’t exist anymore; it was this fascinating warren of sunless tunnels outside of Hong Kong, a close-stacked shanty town mutated on itself and growing into this seedy tangle of neon lights and the scent of opium, turned ever inward and away from the world. I’m bloody well obsessed with it, and a little secret: I’ve started sneaking a tiny mention of it somewhere in my recent releases and in several of my upcoming titles. It’s becoming a thing. Where can I hide the Kowloon Walled City Easter egg? A YA novel I’m working is also set there, in a futuristic re-invention of the city.

2. Favourite food and drink
I’m going to show my roots a little and say my favorite food is a good beef udon bowl. Real beef udon with actual meat and vegetables, prepared properly in a restaurant; not the packaged stuff with the powdered flavor packets. There used to be this amazing sushi place near me that made the best udon bowls, but they closed down. As far as my favorite drink? Ginger green tea mixed with TY KU sake liqueur. 

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
Asking me this is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. I don’t really have a favorite; I listen to all kinds of music from around the world, and tend to fall in love with songs regardless of their genre. One day I might be listening to Missy Elliott; the next Jay Chou; the next the soundtrack from Sita Sings the Blues; the next Peggy Lee; the next you’ll even catch me listening to 1D before it’s on to Dir en Grey and Marilyn Manson and Melanie Martinez and Meg Myers, then Etta James, Aerosmith, Hrithik Roshan, Emalkay, Sinatra, Keith Urban, 30 Seconds to Mars, SID, Akira Yamaoka, 16Bit, Disney soundtracks, Kalafina. Though I guess when I can’t decide what I want, I fall back on The Glitch Mob as my default; their music gets inside me, especially the Drink the Sea album. I don’t know. It’s really hard to answer when all I care is that it makes me feel something deep and visceral. My writing is set to music, always, and it shapes the rhythm of the narrative and the beat of my emotions.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
Not a big TV person, honestly. I’ll leave my TV off for months, then only turn it on for background noise. I have series I’ll enjoy enough to watch again in the background while I work, like Firefly, The Walking Dead, Fringe, Dexter, SG:U, Jessica Jones, Hannibal, Darker than Black, Black Butler, Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi, Tokyo Ghoul, Shingeki no Kyojin. And I guess films like The Charge of the Light Brigade, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, and Spirited Away. But…there’s nothing really that makes my list that I can’t live without, nothing I reference as a passionate favorite even if I appreciate the nuance and art forms of the medium. TV and films are fun and engaging when I’m in the mood for them, but it’s not something I center around any specific show or film. For me watching things is more a community activity, if that makes sense. I watch for the enjoyment of sharing the experience with other people watching these things, this mutual act of experiencing a story. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what that story is, or whether people loved or hated it. It’s a unique cultural phenomenon, a shared experience that’s evolved to become part of our daily dialogue.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Promise you won’t laugh? Crocheting. Now, look. I suck at it. I tried to start a scarf and ended up with a weird stiff curled yarn brick. The best I can manage is a double chain; patterns and diagrams look like Greek to me. I don’t do it to make anything fancy. I will make a mile-long single chain if I need to, because it’s just…relaxing. I put the computer down, put the phone down, and suddenly my hands are busy with something that keeps me away from both, and all the problems waiting inside the window into my digital world; my subconscious mind is occupied not by the million things preying on me every day, but by the simple focus on keeping the pattern going with looping, hooking, pulling the yarn. I may never make anything more complex than a crappy square coaster so lumpy it’ll tip your drink over. I don’t need to. I still enjoy it.

Five Favorite Books
This is another one I have trouble answering; just like music, I have such deep love for the medium in all its forms that it’s hard for me to pick a limited selection of favorites. I read across genres, forms, and age groups, and fall in love with so much from so many unique writers. But…I’ll try to pick out a smattering. I’ve done top five lists like this in other interviews and ended up listing wholly different books, but…I kind of like that, actually, because it means recommending a broader list of authors.

1. SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield: This YA novel tackles a really sensitive topic, self-harm in teens, and does it in an unflinching and yet sympathetic way. It’s beautifully written, sucking you in with gorgeously emotional words. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a necessary one. And it introduced me to Cheryl Rainfield in general; she’s a wonderful author, someone who writes on things that might frighten other people. Dedicated to her craft, skillful with words…and she’s an amazing person, too, constantly seeking to help and support other people. I’d really recommend checking out HUNTED and STAINED, too.

2. IDORU by William Gibson: My computer science teacher gave this book to me in high school, and I kind of maybe forgot to give it back. It was the first book I’d read in English that made me feel so at home with its portrayal of a futuristic Japan and Japanese culture as part of a connected global culture, at once alien and familiar. It’s brilliant sci-fi with a touch of prophetic realism and a dash of cyberpunk and a strange feel of mysticism, and it also taught me that it’s not wrong to tell an adult story mostly from the POV of a teen. (I was young, this was the nineties—I was still gaining exposure to books and what had been successfully done before.) I think in a lot of ways it shaped how I write sci-fi, especially the stories I’m working on set in Asian cultures. And it was the first time I’d ever heard of Kowloon Walled City, beginning an obsession that’s continued throughout my life.

3. SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD by Diane Duane: Oh god, this book. The whole series of books, the Young Wizards series, just…thrilled me when I was a boy. I love Diane Duane’s writing; it’s lyrical, enchanting, smart. She made science out of magic and made magic into a science, and gave me brainy, wonderful characters from mixed cultures and backgrounds. These are the books I recommend to people who naysay MG and YA and say they’re not smart enough. They’re a gateway drug, intriguing and well-plotted, and can entrance people into setting aside their preconceptions and discovering the wonderful stories waiting on the 18 and below shelves. Nita and Kit are the best protagonists, and their friendship is this wonderfully complex thing that sees them through so many issues and world-shaking adventures. And I’ll confess: I’d peek on the shelves, looking for my own copy of the wizard’s manual, hoping maybe one day I’d crack open the book and find not a story, but an instruction manual for the magic I felt every time I stepped into Duane’s world. She also writes adult fiction; she’s contributed several Star Trek novels, and she started the Omnitopia series with OMNITOPIA DAWN. I had some issues with OMNITOPIA DAWN, but it was still a great read.

4. UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King: I hate this book. I love this book. I hate it again. I can’t stop reading it. The ending makes me want to burn every Stephen King book I own. I have it in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook. It’s the same for me with almost every Stephen King book, honestly, even if I’m not a fan of his work in recent years. Under the Dome is the last book of his that’s given me what I call the King Feeling: I completely and utterly loathe his characters and characterization, and I really want to know what happens to them and how this story turns out. I think what was unique to me with this one was that I didn’t hate his protagonist, Dale Barbara (Barbie for short). He normally writes the ugliness of the everyman, bringing out the nastier side of people with a sort of vicious glee, but Dale Barbara was the kind of quiet, unassuming, common-sense guy that I can really get behind. He kind of felt like me when I usually read a King story: shaking his head at what all these reprehensible, selfish, bizarre people around him are doing. And I know that doesn’t tell you much about the book, but it’s hard to explain. It’s a long, long book told in bits and puzzle pieces, a skein that slowly winds one thread after another together into a noose that’s part choking horror, part strangling sci-fi, but all about just how broken human nature can be. If you’ve seen the TV mini-series…it’s not that. Not even close. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but the book was better.

5. MAIA by Richard Adams: Yes, that Richard Adams—the author of WATERSHIP DOWN and THE PLAGUE DOGS. This is an old book, and it shows. It’s not for the impatient. It’s not a quick read, with the paperback edition breaking 1,000 pages. It’s not what you would call a romance, this story of a simple peasant girl kidnapped into the life of a concubine in a fictional empire that reflects a dozen ancient cultures…but there’s still a deeply romanticized storyline as we watch this unassuming girl used as a political tool by the colder and cannier people around her, and yet still she never stops hoping to find something good, to make a life for herself outside of these political machinations. And in the end there is a lovely romantic storyline, woven in among sin and intrigue, decadence and murder, war and the history of a strange and shattering nation. It’s the kind of slow-paced storytelling I love, immersive in a deep world of historical fiction with a tiny touch of fantasy magic. I own every edition: every cover, in hardback and paperback; even the library dust jacket versions. It was recently released in e-book, and I bought that too. I don’t think many people would share my love of it, but that’s okay. Sometimes I don’t like it either, which is why sometimes it makes my top five lists and sometimes it doesn’t. I have to be in the mood for it…but when I am, it’s wondrous.

Author Bio and Links 

By day, Cole McCade is a mild-mannered, grouchy, cynical, misanthropic corporate consultant. By night he becomes Nightwing. Well, maybe not. By night he does, however, become an author. Romance, erotica, sci-fi; diverse settings and diverse characters from a diverse author.

Mid-thirties. Coffee addict. Cat lover. Bibliophile. Technophile. Definite sapiophile. Native Southerner without the Southern accent. Runner. Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual mess. Bisexual/queer. Intersectional feminist. Outspoken introvert. Country boy turned city suit. Collector of weird, obscure, or out-of-print books. Aficionado of late-night conversations over live music in seedy bars. Browncoat who can’t decide if he has a bigger crush on Kaylee or Zoe, or Simon or Cap’n Tightpants.

Fascinated by human sociology, and particularly by the psychology of sex and gender – and their effect on relationship expectations, the culture of dating, and what it means to fall in love.

Cole McCade latest release is The Fallen, a prequel to The Lost, and it's available for FREE! I just reviewed both books (actually, it's a few paragraphs on The Fallen but I loved that book so much. It's a powerfully written dark story, not really a romance but a story of coming back to life, learning to love/value/just be yourself again). 


Gabriel Hart is a broken man.

And everyone close to him dies.

His military unit. His sister. His parents. Everyone he's come to care for has been taken from him, leaving him with nothing but a crippling war injury, a Vicodin addiction, and a scraggly, chewed-up rag of a cat. It's enough to make anyone want to check out. And when he holds his service pistol in his hand and presses it against his temple, for the first time in a long time the world feels right.

But he's not as alone as he thinks. And when grizzled bar owner Gary challenges him to honor his sister's memory by repairing her houseboat before he gives up on life, he discovers she left more for him than her belongings. And her letters lead him on a trail through discovering himself, discovering what he truly wants...and discovering that he has the strength to choose his own path.

Purchase links (Free): Amazon / / B&N / iBooks / Smashwords

Cole McCade

Review: The Lost by Cole McCade


Title: The Lost (Crow City #1)
Author: Cole McCade
Genre: Contemporary romance, Dark, Abuse
Release Date: 25 Aug 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars


There's something wrong with Leigh.

She's known it her whole life. She knows it every time she spreads her legs. Every time she begs for the pain, the pleasure, the heat of a hard man driving deep inside. She's a slave to her own twisted lusts--and it's eating her alive. She loves it. She craves it. Sex is her drug, and she's always chasing her next fix. But nothing can satisfy her addiction, not even the nameless men she uses and tosses aside. No one's ever given her what she truly needs.

Until Gabriel Hart.

Cold. Controlled. Impenetrable. Ex-Marine Gabriel Hart isn't the kind of man to come running when Leigh crooks her pretty little finger. She loathes him. She hungers for him. He's the only one who understands how broken she is, and just what it takes to satisfy the emptiness inside. But Gabriel won't settle for just one night. He wants to claim her, keep her, make her forever his. Together they are the lost, the ruined, the darkness at the heart of Crow City.

But Leigh has a darkness of her own. A predator stalking through her past--one she'll do anything to escape.

Even if it means running from the one man who could love her...and leaving behind something more precious to her than life itself.


My first book by this author and I'm impressed with his writing and brave to tackle a very dark topic. Before I start this review, a few words of caution. This is a very dark read despite the HEA. It's triggery for a lot of things and though I recommend reading it, still you need to take heed of all the aujtor's warnings at the beginning.

I loved how rich and evocative the writing is despite the rather bleak and desparate tone of the story. I rarely have a clear vision of the characters I'm reading about but here, Mr. McCade described them all in such a vivid way that I had a picture of them in my mind almost from the very beginning. Crow City was also strongly prensent in this story, not just a background to the events, but a force that shapes the characters in many ways. The whole story read very much like a movie too, with richly drawn atmosphere and very, very strong actors' play.

The whole story is told from Leigh's POV of view and being in her head was quite an adventure. There is some going back and forth in time but all the events are told as if happening now, right before our eyes and that made them even more disturbing. The abuse was really graphically presented and I admit that a particular scene was too much for me and I had the skim over some of it.

The suspense plot is also well drawn and some twists and secrets kept me guessing to the end.

I have to admit I have mix feelings about both Leigh and Gabriel. I don't think either of them is the good character in this story. On the surface he is like the knight in shining armour, albeit a little broken himself, who saves the little lost princess. In really neither of them is a princess or a noble knight. They are two people who have both suffered terrible things which have marked and changed them forever.

Some things in Leigh's character remained a mystery for me and I'm not sure how they fit with her character. I don't really know if it's author's failure to convince me they are an intrinsic part of her nature or it's my own inability to make sense of them but I really felt ambiguous about her at times. I liked her and sympathised with her but I also couldn't fully understand some of her decisions and actions.

Same goes for Gabriel. We see less of him and only from Leigh's perspective and I liked a lot about him but some of his actions also seemed questionable to me and left me feeling unsettled.

(Side note: I strongly recommend to read the prequel, The Fallen, which tells the story of Gabriel before he meets Leigh in The Lost. I enjoyed this short novella even more than the full-length novel and feel it gives us an invaluable insight into Gabriel's heart and mind. It's can also be triggery to some people, so approach with caution but still, I loved everything in it - the plot itself, the writing style, the way it fits and complements The Lost.)

I have some other minor quibbles - there were repetitions and I have a major objection to a particular plot point involving Leigh and her son. Still, there are a lot of strong points in this story and despite or rather because of its difficult subject matter, I think it's a worthy read.

There is a lot of violence and abuse and emotional and physical hurt in this story but they are explored in depth without being romanticised or glorified. This book is not perfect, yet it's brave and real and made me think a lot of thoughts for days after I finished it. And that is not something I can say of many of the romances I read!

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Smashwords

Friday Favourites

Friday Favoruites #18: Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke


This is the first time I'm having two authors for my Friday Favourites post. Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke are a writing duet and co-authors of the Chaos Station series - science fiction romance series. Read on to learn what their favourite things are and there is a short exclusive exceprt of their upcoming release, book 4 in the Chaos Station series, Inversion Point.

1. Favourite place

Kelly: Tasmania, Australia. Tasmania is beautiful. A lot of it is protected, so the population is quite small and mostly scattered around the coast, leaving the interior largely untouched. Mount Wellington (known locally as The Mountain) in Hobart was the first mountain I conquered on foot. I spent so much of my childhood holidays roaming those slopes. 

Jenn: Oh, tough one. I have two: Drumheller, Alberta, and the North Shore of Prince Edward Island. Drumheller was my favourite destination as a kid—I found the hoodoos (rock formations) and promise of dinosaur fossils fascinating! Now that I live on the other site of the country, “the Island” is my getaway of choice, though. It is absolutely idyllic, with its red sand beaches and gentle rolling hills and dunes. A perfect place to soak up some peace (and maybe write a bit!).

2. Favourite food and drink

Kelly: Pizza. It’s all the food groups in one tasty package. I like the crust not too thin, but definitely not thick. It should have crunch when you bite into it and a good amount of chew. Not too much sauce and go easy on the cheese. Kalamata olives and anchovies, please. As for drink, I’m an Aussie. Give me all the beer. I have probably toured more breweries than I have museums. There’s actually a really awesome brewery (Cascade) nestled into the foothills of Mt. Wellington and I have fond memories of that hoppy, yeasty smell. When I’m not drinking beer, I drink tea. 

Jenn: I’ve got to go with the homemade perogies my family makes every winter before Christmas. No, we’re not Ukrainian or Polish, but we picked up the tradition when we lived in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s a family endeavor to make them, and then we serve them, fried, with bacon, onion and sour cream on Christmas morning. SO. GOOD.

As for favourite drink… give me a cold Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale with a shot of lime cordial. Perfect complement to a hot summer day.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song

Kelly: A perennial favourite is Underworld. Anything Underworld. I particularly love their collaborations with John Murphy for movie soundtracks (Sunshine and 24 Days Later). 

Jenn: Alternative rock is my favourite musical genre. Right now I’m loving Twenty One Pilots and Death From Above 1979, but you can’t go wrong with classics like the Foo Fighters or Our Lady Peace. 

4. Favourite movie/TV series

Kelly: Just one?? Okay, how about a tie between The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and 2001: A Space Odyssey. My favourite TV shows get replaced from year to year by the new shiny but I can always watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Always.

Jenn: Knight Rider. I was all about KITT as a kid and I desperately wanted the attempt at remaking the series in 2008 to succeed (spoiler alert: it didn’t). But I own the original series on DVD and I’ve watched (and re-watched) every episode with my kids.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby

Kelly: Reading, gaming (PC/Xbox/board games/RPGs), drawing, hiking, gardening, eating, sleeping.

Jenn: Reading and gaming. Shining up and driving my Camaro when I take it out of the garage for the summer. 

Favourite books 

Kelly’s List—All Time Favourites

Dune by Frank Herbert
One of the few books I’ve actually re-read. It’s just such an amazing story. It’s about faith—one of my personal favourite journeys—civilization, love, family, obligation. It’s a wonderful, wonderful book.

Glasshouse by Charles Stross
The scope of Stross’ imagination never fails to astound me. His world (he tends to write most of his far future SF in just the one) is so well conceived. Also, it’s post singularity, which is one of my pet subjects. What sets Glasshouse apart from his other novels, though, is the faux-twenty-first century setting, which basically takes everything that is wrong or weird about our society and turns it inside out. Imagine looking back at how we live and love from about a thousand years in the future. Then there is the journey of Robin, the main character. The questions of personality, sexuality, love and what memories are required to make up a lifetime of experience.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book WRECKED me. I cried for a week after I finished reading it. Ishiguro’s books sneak up on you. You’re not sure if you’re enjoying them at first. They’re almost boring, but not quite. There’s something going on beneath the text that keeps you hooked. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS. I wish I did. Before you know it, the book has you captured and you can’t put it down until you’re done, even though it’s emotional torture to keep reading. Never Let Me Go is another book about faith. It’s also about love, family and humanity—and all the horrible things we do to one another. 

March by Geraldine Brooks
March is the story of Peter March, as imagined from the content of the letters he sends home in Little Women. It’s assumed, of course, that his letters are much more optimistic than his actual experience. Much more. This was the first novel of the Civil War I’d ever read and I found it fascinating—not only as a way to learn the history that I was supposed to find interesting during my school years, but as a character study. What it was to be a father, husband, soldier, man—in that time. The relevancy to any time period won’t be lost on the reader, either. It’s also a glimpse at the absolute brutality of that war. It’s a really, really engrossing book.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
I had a really hard time picking a fifth book. There were so many I wanted to recommend. The final choice came down to two—this one and Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell. Seeing as I’d already included a war story (of an entirely different calibre) I went with Ripley. If you haven’t read this book, you must. It’s short! And oh so mesmerising. Also, like The Great Gatsby, always relevant. In fifty years, this book will have the same meaning, regardless of setting, you know? What’s it about? Yearning is the first word that comes to mind. It’s also about the search for identity. 

Jenn’s Favourite Books 

Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde series 
Is it too strong for me to say that these books changed my life? Maybe…but before I read these books, I didn’t know urban fantasy was a thing. The way Mercedes Lackey blended magic/fantasy with reality really stuck with me and I would say it definitely influenced my writing.

Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series
Cut & Run was not the first male/male book I read (I think it was the second!), but this was the first m/m series I followed from start to finish. Ty and Zane will always have a special place in my heart.

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane
This is one of those books I can read and re-read. Rusty…oh my god, Rusty. He’s just one of those characters that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. 

Mary Calmes’s A Matter of Time series…or her Marshals series…or her Change of Heart series…or…
Yes, I’m a big Mary Calmes fangirl. Her books are like warm blankets and I love pulling them out when I need a good comfort read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read the A Matter of Time series (and I adore Jory, but I fall in love with Sam a little more every time). 

The Life Lessons series by Kaje Harper
The story of closeted cop Mac coming to terms with loving out-and-proud Tony in the open is just wonderful. There are fantastic emotions in these books, but also a great dose of police procedural, which I love reading.

Authors Bio and Links
Jenn and Kelly met in 2009 through a mutual infatuation with a man who wasn’t real. After all but crashing the video game’s forums with daily dissection of their obsession, they started writing together, discovered they really liked writing together and began plotting stories in worlds of their own creation.

The CHAOS STATION series aren’t the first books they’ve written together, and they’re pretty sure they won’t be the last. As long as their so-called smartphones keep making autocorrects that trigger brainstorming sessions, they’ll have enough character ideas and plots to keep them writing for years to come.

Connect with Jenn: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Inversion Point (Chaos Station #4) 


Zander and Felix's relationship has been to the brink and back: the Human-Stin War, imprisonment and death/resurrection. Zander's death, to be specific, and the experience has left him…changed. The mysterious race known as the Guardians chose to revive him and appointed him as their emissary. A high honor, but he could do without the group of would-be cultists following him around the galaxy.

When a recently discovered species destroys a stin probe, Zander's new role soon commands all of his time and focus. The human ambassador—Felix's ex-lover, much to Zander’s annoyance—pulls them into strategy talks aimed at preserving galactic peace. Soon everyone is relying on Zander's Guardian tech to telepathically communicate with the strange aliens.

Only Felix seems concerned with the strain piling up on Zander, but he has his own resolve tested when the very stin that imprisoned him show up to a summit. Zander and Felix will both have to find a way to face their doubts and preserve their love—while preventing another galaxy-wide war.

Available January 25! Pre-order links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Carina Press


“I think Zed’s jealous of Theo,” Felix said.

One of Elias’s brows quirked. “Well, that’s ridiculous. Who would be jealous of a guy who looks just like him and has a weird habit of touching you? All over, all the time.”

“They look nothing alike.”

“Seriously? You don’t see the resemblance?”

Dipping his chin, Felix sought to ignore the color creeping across his cheeks. “I didn’t go looking for Theo, you know. Back then. He found me. Chased me. Wouldn’t stop bugging me until I went hiking with him.”

“Was he always so touchy-feely?” Elias could be touchy-feely too, but never inflicted himself on people who didn’t deserve it.

Eyeing the nice spread of cushions between them, Felix thought about that difference and why Theo’s seemingly casual touches stood out. “Yeah. He touches people. He always did. I asked him about it once and he…” Unbidden, a smile caught his mouth.


“No, not that.” Felix flapped a hand between them. “Well…Shit. I’m not going to discuss an ex with you. It’s bad enough that Zed wants to know all about it. What everyone seems to be overlooking is the fact I left Theo twelve years ago. Broke it off. Decided we should be friends. And I did that so I could wait for Zed, and have been pretty much waiting for Zed ever since. You think I’d waste all that time if Theo was the one?”


“Spend. Whatever. I love Zed. The whole galaxy knows that. Even the fucking Guardians know it.”

“Yeah, but men are dumb. Maybe you need to remind him.”

Felix stared hard at Elias. “You’ve been spending too much time with Nessa.”

Elias returned a grin. “Never a bad thing.”

No, it wasn’t.

Contemporary Romance

Review: Fighting Dirty by Lori Foster


Title: Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4)
Author: Lori Foster
Genre: Romantic suspense, MMA fighters
Release Date: 23 Feb 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars


With the life he's led and the muscles he's gained, Armie Jacobson isn't afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter's effect on him. It's not just that she's his best friend's little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that's all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life. 

Good girl meets bad boy. It's a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they're both about to learn what's truly worth fighting for


This is the final book in the Ultimate series, contemporary romance series focused on the lives of group of professional fighters. I have been waiting for Armie's story since we met him in the first novel in the series, Hard Knocks (telling Cannon's story) and the bits and pieces of him we saw in the next books only made me more excited to read about him.

I'm very happy that his story didn't disappoint, it was a balanced combination of sweet and sexy with some suspense thrown in the mix. I dmit it's a fairly typical best friend and little sister trope but done well and pretty engaging which made it great fun to read. 

I liked Armie a lot and liked even more the way he was with Merissa. We all knew of his wild past and though we don't see it directly here, I'm glad was not completely erased or glossed over just because he fell in love with Merissa. At the same time Merissa, while not as experienced as him, wasn't a virgin or the tame and clueless female we so often see in romance. They both changed their ways to meet each other in the middle and it was no real hardship since it felt right for both of them. She took initiative, acted bold and he overcame his feeling of not being good enough, not deserving someone like her.

I loved the romance in this story, it was rich and nuanced and felt both dreamy and real. Armie and Merissa had a lot of things to work through in their relationship and I really appreciate that the author showed how being with someone requires effort and committment on both sides. The chemistry was there, the attraction was strong (and so long standing for both them that at times it was just irresistible), yet real life posed numerous obstacles in their way. Add to this some inner turmoil and insecurities and you get a capitvating modern romance.

A thing I like a lot in this series is the camaraderie between the fighters and their partners/wives. It was strongly present here and thoroughly enjoyed the funny banter, the good-natured ribbing and jokes between all of them. The sex shop scene in particular had me in fits of laughter.

A minor complaint I want to voice is some degree of slut-shaming I felt with respect to Armie's previous partners. I think it's something present thoroughout the series, presenting the previous women in the hero's life as conniving, unworthy, only interested in sex or somehow trapping the hero into a relationship. It's just an undercurrent I get in this series and I'm not very happy about it. 

Overall, for me this is the best book in series and I can highly recommend it to all fans of Lori Foster's writing. I'm already looking forward to reading the spin off about the rest of the fighters.

Pre-order links: Amazon / B&N / iBooksKobo

Cindy Gerard

Review: Taking Fire by Cindy Gerard


Title: Taking Fire(One-Eyed Jacks #4)
Author: Cindy Gerard
Date of publication: 23 Feb 2015
Genre: Romantic suspense / Military

Author's links: Website / Blog / Goodreads
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My rating: 3 Stars


Betrayal. Retribution. Redemption?

Six years ago, tough-as-nails military contractor Bobby Taggart met the woman of his dreams in war-torn Kabul—a sexy, whip-smart war correspondent who approached him at a local bar, took him to bed, made him fall in love…and then mysteriously disappeared. In her wake, the terrorist leader he’d been mining for valuable intel was assassinated—then Bobby discovered his phone had been bugged. And he’s pretty damn sure he’s been played for a fool... 


This is book 4 in the romantic suspense series, One-Eyed Jacks. I have only read the first book, The Way Home, it was back in 2013 when it was released and I absolutely loved it. This one is a nice addition to the series. Ms Gerard creates her trademark action-packed story with likable characters, still for me it lacked the magic of the first book and ended as just a nice but not great read.

The story sticks close to the formula of a successful romantic suspense - lots of action, a well developed plot with the right amount of intrigue and twists to keep the reader on the edge. The romantic relationship was also pretty strong and I quite liked it though a few things in it didn't sit very well with me.

Bobby Taggard was a super secret agent with a big heart, so easy to fall in love with. I liked everything about him - his loyalty, his strength, the way he fell for Talia. Talia was also an amazing heroine - strong, independent woman, an undercover agent herself, but also a woman who fell for Bobby's charm and charisma.

It's a powerful second-chance romance though I have to admit that a major plot element in their romance is one of my least favourite tropes. Still, I liked the way Booby and Talia found their way back to each other. I got slightly annoyed with Bobby's hesitancy and inability/unwillingness to forgive. His behaviour can be understood when you think what he has been through but it just felt a bit too much for me at the end.

This series is a continuation of two previous series by Cindy Gerard, The Bodyguards and Black Ops, Inc. I haven't read either but we see many of the characters from them making an appearance here. This didn't detract seriously from my enjoyment of reading this book, yet I feel Bobby's story would be better appreciated if the previous books I read in advance. So, if you are a fan of Ms Gerard romantic suspense series, I think you will very much enjpy Bobby's story.

Pre-order: Amazon


Review: Humbug by Joanna Chamners


Title: Humbug
Author: Joanna Chambers
Genre: Christmas, MM romance
Release Date: 17 Nov 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 3 Stars


Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin's on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin's boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.

Mini Review

Every holiday season I read a couple of holiday/Christmas romance and this (already last year) I was lucky to read Humbug by Joanna Chambers. This is a modern-day retelling of Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens as a mm romance and I greatly enjoyed it.

I generally love Ms Chambers writing style and this was no exception. Quin's story was told in a tender and exquisite style, full of warmth and true holiday spirit. I liked how real the story felt, not sappy or overly dramatic, just normal, everything troubles and joys and love and loss than happen to us all the time. What Quin went through felt real, sadly familiar in some ways and I'm oh so glad that he found Rob (and himself) in the end. 

There were not big surprises or unexpected plot twists, yet the familiarity and in a way the predictability of the story were a welcome pleasure. It gave me hope, spoke to the hopeless romantic in me who wants to follow their dreams regardless of the harsh reality. It's an endearing story, the perfect read to relax to during the holidays and beyond.

The romance was subdued and quiet, yet beautiful and touching in its simplicity and straightforwardness.

If you missed to read this during the past holiday season, keep Humbug with you for those moments when you are feeling down and you need a sweet pick-me-up read. I guarantee you this sweet story will bring back the smile on your face and the hope in your heart. 

Purchase links: Smashwords / / / ARe

Favoruite books

Review: A Seditious Affair by K. J. Charles


Titlle: A Seditious Affair (Society of Gentlemen #2)
Author: K. J. Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 15 Dec 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook Group / Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.

A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.


I discovered historical mm romance just this year and together with Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles has become one of my favourite authors in the genre. 

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, A Fashionable Indulgence, and I loved this one even more. It's an incredible love story of two people who are in fact each other's arch nemesis. 

On the surface, Silas and Dom have nothing in common, they stand on opposite lines of politics, they come from different walks in life, they held different, opposing even believes. Yet what they have in common is stronger than all this - they fit each other emotionally, sexually, they challenge each other and being together despite everything makes them happy and content. 

It's a long journey for them to be able to come together which seemed almost impossible till the very end. I have to admit I absolutely love how Ms Charles managed to bring them together, it felt realistic, true to the times and the only possible way for them to (a kind of) a couple.

This is a masterfully written story - heavy on the politics, entwining real historical events in the plot in the most perfect way. It's politics that very much define Dom and Silas and it's what divides them but it's also what brings them together. They grow and change and find a balance between politics and doctrines on the one hand and personal lives and deepest personal values, on the other. The intersection of the personal, the political, the social, the intimate and sexual were just brilliantly explored in Dom and Silas' relationship. 

I'm not much of a fan of BDSM romance but I found the dom/sub aspect of the relationship fascinating. It was so important for both of them to feel valued for who they are, especially for Dom who was made to feel disgusting/unworthy of love because of the things he likes in bed. 

This is by far one of my top reads of the year - a complex, compelling historical mm romance. It has a sstrong and intriguing plot, true-to-life, yet star-crossed lovers type of romance, fantastic writing. And we see more of the Richardians which is always a pleasure though this book made me hate Richard so much at one point and I'm still not his biggest fan by the end of it. Cyprian reveals himself as a true puppet master and the final book in the series is bound to be something really special. 

Purchase links: Amazon / / ARe / Publisher

Author Spotlight

Friday Favourites #17: Jordan Castillo Price


Here is my first author spotlight for 2016 and I'm very excited to welcome a favourite author of mine, Ms Jordan Castillo Price. I've read only a handful of her stories so far and I'm compeltely blown away by her highly imaginative, yet so real writing. She creates this speculative romantic stories which I find completely mesmerizing in their extensive and complex world-building and compelling love stories and personal relationships. 

Read on the see what some of Ms Price favourite things are and don't miss her recommendations of 5 favourite magical books!

1. Favourite place
I adore Circus World and I try to go every year. It’s a Wisconsin Historical site in Baraboo, Wisconsin located in the winter home of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Every summer, they bring performers from around the world for a stunning big top show. My novel Magic Mansion was heavily influenced by this historic place.

2. Favourite food and drink
I have a weakness for comfort food. Anything milky or cheesy is an absolute delight. Yesterday I had a gorgeous slice of tres leches cake. Milk and cake in one, yum!

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
I’m a big fan of punk rock and goth. The Damned has been my favorite band since 1982.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
The Walking Dead is phenomenal. Sure, zombies are cool, but the meat of that series is the relationship of the characters, how they handle the zombies and how they cope with their new normal.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Writing used to be a hobby, but I’ve been doing it professionally since 2002 and full time since 2010, so now it’s a business. Even watching TV or reading books is no longer a hobby, because I’m always thinking about characterization and plot structure when I consume media. Lately I’ve been doing jigsaw puzzles for fun. I think it uses a different part of my brain, one that doesn’t need to choose words, one that needs to choose shapes instead.

Five favorite magical books in no particular order:

Astounding! by Kim Fielding

Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale

Turnskin by Nicole Kimberling

White Cat by Holly Black

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

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Author Bio and Links 

Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to rural small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, "light as a feather, stiff as a board," girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner.

Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who's plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are client at a time.

*** *** *** 

Jordan Castillo Price's latest release is a short story in the Psycop series, Memento, which was released on 13 Nov 2015. You can stop by the author's site to lear more about the Psycop series and read a short teaser and an excerpt from Memento.


Seasons change, and so do fashion trends. But in this heartstring-tugging PsyCop short, what’s beneath the clothes matters most.

Do clothes make the man? Jacob Marks cuts an impressive figure in his tailored suits, but Victor Bayne is another story. Nowadays, Vic does his ghosthunting in off-the-rack blazers, polyester blend slacks and cop shoes with nonskid soles. But back before he was a PsyCop—or even officially psychic—he rocked combat boots and a beat up biker jacket…and lots and lots of punk T-shirts. When he finds a faded tee in the back of a drawer, he’s eager to lob it in the trash. Jacob, however, finds himself waxing sentimental about Vic’s younger, more carefree days.

This steamy 5000-word PsyCop short in Jacob’s voice takes place after PsyCop #6, GhosTV.

Purchase links: Amazon / Kobo / iBooks


Review: Burn It Up by Cara McKenna


Title: Burn It Up (Desert Dogs #3)
Author: Cara McKenna
Genre: Romantic suspense, Bikers
Release Date: 3 Nov 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Tumblr / Goodreads

My rating: 3.5 Stars
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After a decade spent chasing shadier pursuits, Casey Grossier has come home to the badlands to settle down in Fortuity. Vowing to put his days of dirty money behind him, he’s cleaned up his act and become co-owner of Benji’s Saloon. But despite his efforts to be a better man, he can’t shake his crush on his sweet-faced bartender, even though the woman screams trouble.

Abilene Price hopes she can outrun her mistakes and build a safe, respectable life for herself and her baby. So she’d be wise to keep her distance from her boss, Casey, and the rest of his roughneck motorcycle club, the Desert Dogs. But she just might need their help. The return of a violent figure from Abilene’s past ignites a powder keg—and it’s only the beginning…


I love Cara McKenna's writing and her erotic stories push many of my boundaries in reading. This romantic suspense series is tamer in terms of sex scenes but it still has the depth of exploring relationships and the human mind/emotions which I consider typical of Ms Mckenna's romances.

While I liked this story it is not my favourite in the series. The premise of a single mother and a wayward but nice guy who finally gets his stuff together is one a usually like but I had some issues with the heroine here.

I liked Casey, he really grew up in this story, his struggle what to do with his life felt real. We see more of the rest of the gang and their relations and I especially enjoyed this aspect of the story. The author managed to create a real sense of community and friendship without turning the what the characters have into the typical, semi-illegal, violent biker club.

We see Casey as a brother, a bar owner, being responsible, trying to break up with his past. His desire to be needed, to be useful, appreciated was presented really convincingly.

My main problem in this story was Abilene. I understood a lot about her, being a young, single mom, hiding from the father of her daughter who is violent criminal, yet there were a lot about her that annoyed me. She was not honest with or about her baby's father - leading everyone around her to believe is a danger to her and her kid. I felt it was a strong point in the story that he is a criminal, yet he cared about his kid and wanted to change, to be a good dad, give Abilene and Mercy what they needed.

I was most angry with the way Abilene rejected Casey because of  his criminal past. Like, she is the one to talk, when she was keeping her own (no less grave) mistakes a secret. I understand her desire to move on, to be better, to provide the best possible future for her daughter but I felt she was unfair to Casey. She didn't value his efforts to change, to become someone worthy of love and trust.

The chemistry between them was strong, their physical coming together was done with the intensity and depth typical for Ms McKenna's writing. The intimacy was real and moving and I loved it. In a way, Abilene's (unforgiving and dismissing) attitude after that was even more hurtful and unacceptable for me because of that.

Ms McKenna once again creates multi-layered, complex characters dealing with their past and present to the best of their abilities, often failing but never really giving up

There is a common suspense plotline running through the whole series and it gets further developed here though some questions still remain unanswered. We get some hints about Miah's potential HEA and I'm really looking forward to it in the next and final book in the series.

Overall I'd say this book is a good addition to the series, with a wonderful Casey and slightly annoying Abilene.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks


My 2015 in books and blogging


I debated a long time if I should do a year-in-review type of post and if I do it what I should include in it. Finally decided to do it and here we go. 

2015 was a great year for me both in terms of reading and blogging - I read some awesome books, discovered some amazing authors who quickly became favourites of mine, continued with familiar and well loved series. 

I've always been an adventurous reader and this continued during this year. I started reading more LGBT books, mostly mm and I'm really enjoying it. I tried historical mm (Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles) for the first time and I became a fan of it right away.

I'm reading less and less YA, though I made a return to NA (het and mm) and my faith in the subgenre was restored (Amy Jo Cousins and Sarina Bowen are to blame for this)

I focused more on my blogging and I'm really happy and proud of the way things are going. I started doing author spotlights on the blog with short interviews favourite things and some book recommendations. I'm becoming more confident as a reviewer and book blogger and I started writing for EverAfer Romance. I have more plans in this direction for the New Year, though I'm keeping quiet on them for now. I also stared doing interviews with authors (I have done only one, with Cara McKenna, and I was really nervous about it but I think it turned out great and now I'm willing to more of them in the future).

In terms of what happened during the year - there are two book events that are the highlights for me - the second edition of Queer Romance Month and the Hassell and Hall FB group being born.

I loved QRM last year, it was fun and thought-provoking and it really started this journey that I'm on now. This year the event was quieter for me, though still powerful with some awesome posts. It brought to my attention a lot of new authors I'm still to read.

H&H is my happiest place online - It's a closed group moderated by Santino Hassell and Alexis Hall and I met some fabulous people there and made some new friends. It can be both fun and serious but what it the most important is that it is free from judgement and hate unlike most of the online places latest.

What I'm hoping for in 2016 is to find some new great authors and stories, to expand my reading horizons by trying new genres/styles, to improve my reviewing style, to have more book discussions with friends and like-minded people. Most of all to just enjoying all the good books out there!

And here are the two posts where I share my favourite books of 2015 - Part I and Part II

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