October 23rd, 2015

andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Chase and the Catch by A.F. Henley

The Chase and the Catch by A.F. Henley
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (November 19, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620044579
ISBN-13: 978-1620044575
Amazon: The Chase and the Catch
Amazon Kindle: The Chase and the Catch

After one of his fans committed suicide, John lost everything: lover, confidence, drive. When he is given a chance to get back on his feet, he is happy to take it-even if it's just writing an actor's biography. It might not be romance, or even fiction, but it's something, and there are worse people to work for than the charming, successful Parker Chase. That doesn't mean working for Parker is easy, however. A staunch supporter of living for the moment, Parker goes against everything John believes in. He feels out of place in every moment of Parker's Hollywood life, stuck in a game of wits that at times seems almost contrived...

The multifaceted characters drew me in right away. The writing was fantastic, mostly due to all of the plot's twists and turns.  There was so much happening, that I had no idea how this story was going to turn out.  I love when a book surprises and fascinates me at the same time.  This book did that.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Come To My Window by Mia Kerick

Come To My Window by Mia Kerick
Lesbian Young Adult
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Mia Kerick; 1 edition (January 18, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0986415618
ISBN-13: 978-0986415616
Amazon: Come To My Window
Amazon Kindle: Come To My Window

Justine Laraby and Kemina Lopez are intimate acquaintances yet they have never exchanged so much as a single word. For months, high school senior Justine, and famed model, “Kemina, the Baby Vixen” of Nightingale Lingerie, have been peering at each other across a narrow alley between brownstones in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This mutual observation soon turns into the exchange of handwritten messages on signs they hold up whenever they come to their bedroom windows. Via this “sign language,” a friendship grows, and Justine learns that Kemina is, like her, a high school senior, but with a controlling mother and a modeling career that requires her to maintain an unnaturally thin physique. And through the window, she also witnesses her new friend exercising fanatically, hoarding food, and being physically and emotionally abused by her ambitious mother. Window messages evolve into clandestine meetings and soon a tentative romance blooms. But Justine must come to terms with her own “mommy issues,” as well as accept her gender identity and sexual orientation, before she can provide Kemina with the support she needs to survive a family life that resembles a ruthless business transaction. Will Justine be strong enough to throw open the window so Kemina can escape society’s suffocating expectations? This Young Adult lesbian romance is comparable to Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters and The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer

Warmhearted and eloquent this novel tells the story of Jussy, the tomboy, and Kemina, the ultrafemme and model. It touches on many subjects important to YA - fitting in, body image, dysfunctional family relations, loyalty. It was a great read indeed.

Loved Kerick's writing style, clever turn of phrase language, and strong plot. I'd definitely read another book by her!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: I'll Still Be There by Keelan Ellis

I'll Still Be There by Keelan Ellis
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632168677
ISBN-13: 978-1632168672
Amazon: I'll Still Be There
Amazon Kindle: I'll Still Be There

The summer after high school, Eli Dunn and Jess Early explore an abandoned brothel in the rural Florida Panhandle. They’ve always kept their mutual attraction unspoken, but in an upstairs room at the end of the hall, everything changes. Suddenly, all the longing Eli and Jess have tried so hard to conceal bursts free, and passion like they’ve never experienced comes to light, along with the ghosts of Clay Bailey and Silas Denton, murdered owners of the brothel. And Clay and Silas have no problem possessing Eli and Jess in order to express their love for each other, without thought for the living.

Deeply disturbed by the experience, Eli and Jess part and try to get on with life as best they can. But after several years, Eli returns to Florida, only to find that Jess has made some questionable choices. These eventually lead him back to the abandoned house and a confrontation with Eli. Old scores are settled and Eli and Jess reunite. But Clay and Silas’s ghosts aren’t finished yet, for they’ve always believed in the power of open and honest love.

I really really loved this one, the story is well written and the plot is amazing. The idea of two couples so far away in time but so near is very nice and something new. Places are well described and vivid. Characters are lovely, and pretty real. I will read some more story from this author, I enjoyed reading this lovely story, I couldn'd put it down till the end.

I really enjoyed this book, I found really nice the idea of two different love stories in one setting, even in different times is fantastic. I really loved the idea of the Author. I could not put it down till the end, I had to know how it rolled, Keelan Ellis Made a great job on keeping me glued to the story. A really amazing book.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Zebra-striped Briefs by C.C. Dado

Zebra-striped Briefs (3 novellas as 1 submission) by C.C. Dado
Gay Romantic Comedy

1) Meet-Cute
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (August 12, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Meet-Cute

Elliot Beck may not have been blessed with mad art skills, a crooner's voice, or a godlike physique, but he makes up for it with an abundance of quick-witted sarcasm, massive insecurities, and a love of bad boys.

After his best friend Trevor finds him naked and tied to his bed—abandoned by his latest troublemaker—Trevor convinces him to take a chance on a nice guy. When he has an awkward encounter in the men's restroom with a fitness instructor named Chase, he never suspects the Adonis might be his perfect bad boy.

2) That Place Across the Hall: Starts on pg. 72 of the Grand Adventures Anthology. Prequel to Imposter in zebra-striped briefs but all can be read as standalones.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 31, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1627989951
ISBN-13: 978-1627989954
Amazon: Grand Adventures
Amazon Kindle: Grand Adventures

On September 1, 2011, TJ Klune wrote, "...it's not about the ending, it's about the journey..." in a review of Eric Arvin's Woke Up in a Strange Place. With those words, two men began a journey of love and invited us to ride along. TJ and Eric have shared so much with us: their wonderful books, their smiles, their humor, their lives, and their inspiring devotion to each other. In December of 2013, their journey took a detour when Eric was taken to the emergency room. He survived the surgery to remove a cavernous hemangioma from his brain stem, but the challenges TJ and Eric face are far from over.

The authors in this anthology donated their talent as a way to support Eric's continued recovery, to help bring strength to TJ, and to show both of them just how much love surrounds them. Grand Adventures is a diverse range of stories about the journey of love. We’re going on some grand adventures for a great cause. Thank you for joining us.

3) Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs (The Seattle Chronicles) by C.C. Dado
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs (The Seattle Chronicles)

The Seattle Chronicles

When recent college graduate Nathan Harris makes a life-changing move out from under his mother's thumb and into his own place, he is determined to take some risks. He is tired of not being good enough, tired of allowing his fears to control him.

What he thought would be an exciting adventure ends up being one jaw-dropping mishap of embarrassment after another, leaving him with a life he doesn't even recognize anymore.

His once boring, lonely existence has been replaced by a brownstone filled with colorful friends, a rough around the edges, tattooed bad boy best friend, and a stripper for a boyfriend who's not even sure he’s gay.

Really liked That Place Across the Hall and Imposter in Zebra-striped Briefs because they had the same characters and were great fun to read.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Secrets and Bow Ties by Lou Harper

Secrets and Bow Ties by Lou Harper
Gay Romantic Comedy

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (May 19, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Secrets and Bow Ties

Who said nerdy can’t be sexy?

Secrets, Book 3

Self-confessed gold digger Dylan Price is cooling his heels as a waiter at a trendy West Hollywood restaurant, waiting for the sugar daddy of his dreams to walk through the doors. Someone rich, sophisticated. Preferably old.

Bookish Simon Wainwright couldn’t be further from Dylan’s ideal. Aside from his terrible fashion sense, Simon suffers from a glaring lack of a Beverly Hills mansion. And he’s barely over thirty!

Dylan, however, isn’t made of stone. Coincidence, an obscene candle, even Simon’s dorky cardigan compel him to give the shy academic a very special birthday gift, which Dylan files away as a one-night stand. But when Dylan’s quest lands him in hot water, he runs to Simon to hide.

The two take off for Las Vegas, where Dylan takes upon himself to give Simon a complete makeover. For reasons he can’t comprehend, Dylan begins to reevaluate his life—and what he holds most dear. But with danger not far behind, he might be too late.

Outstanding! Funny, touching and suspenseful!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: They Come By Night by Tinnean

They Come By Night by Tinnean
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (January 16, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632164302
ISBN-13: 978-1632164308
Amazon: They Come By Night
Amazon Kindle: They Come By Night

Imagine an Earth just a bit different from ours. It may be 2014, but in this world, normals unknowingly share the planet with vampyrs. Most vampyrs rely on bagged blood, supplemented by the blood of sabors—valued individuals whose blood contains an element needed for the survival of the species.

Tyrell Small has always felt different. He doesn’t know he is a sabor, but he has the birthmark to prove it. When his father reveals that he’ll be required to feed vampyrs, Ty decides to run away. Slipping out of his bedroom window, he finds the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen sitting on his roof. Adam Dasani is a vampyr, equerry to the vampyr king, who has given Adam the task of guarding Ty. The blood of the two most powerful saborese families in the shared history of vampyrs and sabors runs through Ty’s veins. And some vampyrs intend to use him to gain power, something Adam isn’t about to allow. Adam insists that Ty can’t escape his destiny, but they both find that destiny can take unexpected turns… and following those turns may put those Ty loves—including Adam—in danger.

This is the first book I have read by this author but it certainly won't be the last. I love paranormal stories and I especially like when authors put their own spin on things to make their story different from all the rest and Tinnean has certainly done that in this story. The characters were well developed and the plot was well thought out. There were a few tiny loose ends but nothing to take away any of my enjoyment of the story. It was well written and easy to read.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Pulling Leather by L.C. Chase

Pulling Leather (Pickup Men 3) by L.C. Chase
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: Pickup Men
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (August 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626491623
ISBN-13: 978-1626491625
Amazon: Pulling Leather (Pickup Men 3)
Amazon Kindle: Pulling Leather (Pickup Men 3)

27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Finalist, Gay Romance

The toughest ride of his life is all in his head.

Bull rider Scott Gillard has a reputation for quick fists and harsh words. What no one knows is where that anger comes from. After a shocking incident sends him into a tailspin, he knows he needs help: he's been fighting a battle he could never win. Now he's trying to navigate a new life and embrace his true self, but some days are easier than others.

Pickup man Cory Ackerson has suffered his share of harassment, but his light still burns bright. He doesn't let anything or anyone keep him down, so when he meets the rugged cowboy with a battered chip on his shoulder and regret in his dark eyes, all he wants to do is help.

As their unlikely friendship grows into something deeper, Scott must overcome his past to be the man Cory deserves, or lose his best chance at his own happily ever after.

This was an enjoyable book to read, I liked seeing Scott develop from someone he hated being to finally becoming the person he waned to be. Cory, well he was like a little ray of sunshine throughout the story. The book was easy to read and the plot flowed well.

Anger. Heartbreak. Self-loathing. Self-discovery. Truth. Self-awareness. Love. Desire. Hope. Fate. All of these things form the beautiful tapestry of L.C. Chase's Pulling Leather. Scott Gillard is a tortured character and Ms Chase does a brilliant job of describing his struggle to accept himself and embrace his truth. Scott's development from villain to reformed hero was so artfully written that the reader finds themselves hating, loving, sympathizing, and cheering for Scott at different intervals, which, I believe, was Ms Chase's plan. In the same vein, Cory, Scott's other half, the adorable spitfire who sees Scott and goes after him with compassion, understanding, patience, and a single-minded determination that would put many entrepreneurs to shame. Cory's character too was developed beautifully and he was the perfect counterpart to a closeted Scott. Their love story set against a setting wonderfully described was amazingly told. The plot was brilliant and didn't focus so much on their sexual chemistry so much as on Scott's emotional discovery, acceptance, and chemistry with Cory, other gay men in the rodeo circuit, his father, and with himself. Ms Chase does a fantastic job writing this story completely enthralling me and pulling me in.

To be honest I didn’t have high expectations for this book. It’s the 3rd book in a series I’ve not read before, so I didn’t know if I’d be missing out by not reading the earlier books. I was also expecting just a light read about gay cowboys and the rodeo. What I was not expecting was the emotional impact this book had on me. The main character Scott is in such pain, first from denying his sexuality anyway he could, first by joining the most masculine sport he could find and then with his fists. He goes through a transformation after seeing his  close friend, Tripp, come out as gay and lose his career due to an incident of gay bashing. He goes into a tail spin of self loathing and alcohol that drives him away from the sport he loves and that has provided grounding for him. After slowly rebuilding his life with the help of his friend and counselor, Brandi. He goes on a mission to apologize to those he’s hurt by his words and actions, and in the case of Tripp, inaction. To his surprise he’s not only forgiven, he’s embraced and invited to get a piece of his life back, the rodeo. There he meets an effeminate young man Cory, who trips all his triggers, both good and bad. The feelings that Scott goes through are so palpable and so real. His confusion, his self-hatred and his lust for Cory create a three dimensional character that’s so much more than the some of his parts. At no time do you feel sorry for Scott, you just feel everything along with him. I also was very happy to discover that while it may have been good to have the other pieces of the story from the previous books, this was Scott’s story and it stood on it’s own. Nothing came easy for Scott and Cory but that made the progression of their relationship more realistic. There are no easy answers when you’re as damaged as Scott is. This is a book creates characters that wrap themselves around your heart and remain unforgettable long after the ending. I’m rarely, if ever, surprised by a book and this one knocked me for a loop.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Cafe Eisenhower by Richard Natale

Cafe Eisenhower by Richard Natale
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 2, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162639217X
ISBN-13: 978-1626392175
Amazon: Cafe Eisenhower
Amazon Kindle: Cafe Eisenhower

In the early 1990s, soon after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Matthew Robins, who is grieving the sudden loss of his lover, travels to Eastern Europe to claim an inheritance from a great-uncle. He discovers a world that is strange and oddly compelling. After facilitating a romance between his new friend Olga and her beloved Nina, he becomes smitten with a young local. At Olga’s urging, he uses part of his inheritance to open a gay café, runs afoul of the local authorities, and has to be rescued by his estranged brother. But perhaps his most startling and moving discovery is a series of journals in his uncle’s apartment, a thinly-veiled fictional account of a lifelong love affair between two men, a romance that survives war, genocide, and decades of Soviet repression.

The plot moved at a good pace and the storyline kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I kept wanting to find out the next layer that would be unfolded. It was interesting that within the first few lines of the book we learned of the main characters lovers death, but while one might have expected him to grieve and move on this book was more about personal growth than finding new love. The settings was written so that I felt as though I walked the streets of early post soviet Russia. The lives of the residents were outline in a way that I felt a part of their struggles. However not only did the author brave a tumultuous political era, but also the cultural growth of the gay community. The primary and secondary characters captured my attention. The attention paid to their respective personalities made them likable, even in their less than stellar moments. However what I really enjoyed was that each character grew throughout the book. It was easy to read and the language was appropriate to the era of the book.

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Blog Tour: All That You Can't Leave Behind by Kirby Quinlan

AllThatYouCantLeaveBehindAll That You Can’t Leave Behind by Kirby Quinlan
Publisher: KQ Press (October 12, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: All That You Can’t Leave Behind

Blurb: Let go of the past. Live in the moment. The future will take care of itself.

Tailor Sway is a professional organizer on the brink of divorce. When he is hired to appear on a reality TV show called “Hoarded Houses”, he has three days to help a collector of Christmas decorations clean up her property before it’s condemned by local authorities.

Everything is going according to Tailor’s carefully laid plans. That is, until Brayzen Mapleridge, a mega-famous pop singer known for his wild, daredevil antics, shows up.

Forced to pay for a recent stunt which has turned into a serious legal matter, Brayzen is given the opportunity to avoid jail time by doing some hard labor in front of the cameras. But, it’s not an easy thing to do while being chased by all who trail in the wake of a major celebrity. Is Brayzen sincere about helping, or is it all just part of a well-crafted publicity campaign?

Despite some initial clashes between Tailor’s uptight determination and Brayzen’s carefree attitude, the two develop an unlikely partnership that quickly blossoms into a sizzling attraction.

But, Tailor’s unresolved conflict with his husband, Grant, an emotionally scarred veteran of the Iraq War, still looms in the background amidst a whirlwind of TV cameras, relentless paparazzi, eager fans, and scathing headlines. Despite all these complications, will it be Brayzen’s own meddling mother who puts the brakes on their steamy love affair for good?

At times sexy, laugh-out-loud funny, and tragically heartbreaking; this erotic tale of love, loss and letting go promises to give you a front-row seat on Tailor and Brayzen’s crazy, romantic rollercoaster ride. Strap yourself in!

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AuthorPicAbout the author: Kirby Quinlan was raised by a single mom who sold vacuum cleaners and abandoned by a father who was both a former U.S. Marine and Baptist preacher. After a challenging upbringing, he came out to family and friends at the age of sixteen.

With hopes of making movies, he learned the craft of screenwriting, honing his love of storytelling. He quit writing in 2002, however, frustrated he couldn’t promote the diversity-rich stories he was passionate about. But now, in the world of digital self-publishing, he has found an avenue to finally tell the stories he’s always wanted to tell; the types of stories he wishes had been mainstream when he was growing up.

His first published work was the short story “New World” in the Queer Science Fiction anthology “Discovery”. He has plans for several standalone novels, as well as serial works in his favorite genres, including sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, pulp detective and even western. They are hopeful, action-packed tales of strong, positive LGBTQ characters finding love, fighting oppression and overcoming extraordinary challenges in a real-to-life way.

Ironically, Kirby’s own true love came to him in the form he least expected, when he met his female roommate and best friend, Karla. Their marriage in 2013, proved to them both that love is love. It has no boundaries, knows no gender and can’t always be defined by labels. Karla is an author as well and they live a happy life together in Portland, OR.

Facebook || Facebook Page || Twitter || Blog || Pinterest

Winner’s Prize:
$20 Amazon GC
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Barring Complications by Blythe Rippon

Barring Complications by Blythe Rippon
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: Ylva Verlag e.Kfr. (October 3, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 3955331911
ISBN-13: 978-3955331917
Amazon: Barring Complications
Amazon Kindle: Barring Complications

It's an open secret that the newest justice on the Supreme Court is a lesbian. So when the Court decides to hear a case about gay marriage, Justice Victoria Willoughby must navigate the press, sway at least one of her conservative colleagues, and confront her own fraught feelings about coming out. ­­ Just when she decides she's up to the challenge,­­ she learns that the very brilliant, very out Genevieve Fornier will be lead counsel on the case. Genevieve isn't sure which is causing her more sleepless nights: the prospect of losing the case, or the thought of who will be sitting on the bench when she argues it.

I was pleasantly amazed at this debut work. Blythe Rippon did an excellent job establishing time and place for her story, and she populated it with very real, very human characters. Multiple viewpoints in a novel can get tricky, but Ms. Rippon switches deftly between Victoria's and Genevieve's perspectives. The dialogue was realistic, there was an unexpected but welcome touch of humor, and the novel moved at a pace that kept me turning pages. 

This was such a unique and interesting story. The characters were very well-developed and felt so realistic. The writing style was excellent, there wasn't one boring or slow part. I enjoyed it very much.

So amazingly good. One of my favorite book of the year for sure. As a non american reader I have loved how well the author explain the Supreme Court procedures and the double point of view is so well balanced that seems like the only way this story could have been told. Everything in this book is done so well that it was actually difficult for me to take brakes to do important and so much needed things like sleep! This is a book that I will re-read for sure. A wonderful and actually perfect debut that will make me wait impatiently for her next book.

The idea that this is Mrs Blythe Rippon's debut lesbian, contemporary, romance novel is astonishing as there was such depth, breadth, life, such a realness, vitality, and a thrumming of awareness and anticipation that seemed to thrum throughout every word, every sentence, every paragraph, and every page. Much like the mellifluous and (let's admit it, AMAZING) music she referenced in the book, this story vibrated and flowed like a beautiful melody. Lulling the reader into a vivaciously, entertaining book, about a notably historic moment, and while there might have been some readers who may have found their eyes glazing over at the lengthy and verbose use of legal jargon that seemed to infuse the pages of this novel, Mrs. Rippon's ability to weave their meaning without making the reader feel interminably foolish, or her cheeky way of subtly encouraging the reader to research the numerous legal cases referenced within, only serve to enhance the plot and make it more engaging and enthralling. As for the setting, between the vivid description of the biting cold that made me want to reach for a coat, the rainstorms that made me feel as if my own dress loafers were soaked through, the swimming in the pool that always made me feel exhausted (and strangely smelling of chlorine), even to the mojitos that always left a delightful taste on my tongue, Mrs. Rippon's skill at plunking the reader down in the middle of a scene and not just guiding them through it, but making them experience it, is above par. The characters, from the two main characters: Victoria and Genevieve, to the secondary characters: William, Diane, Sonya, Tara, Bethany, Pollard, Alistair, Rosie, Jamie (of HRC), Nicollete "Nic" (of NCLR), Wallace, even Roxie, etc. are all so completely well executed and well-rounded that there wasn't one character I could imagine lifting out of the novel and tossing away due to frivolity as I can so often do to many other novels. And while of these things point to the brilliance, the beauty, the sheer elegance that is Mrs. Rippon's writing style, and why she is so deserving of a score of 40/40, none do that more than the different quotes from the book to show the interaction between the characters and those directly from the case which was at the center of this novel, which I have included below. As we read and judge these books, sometimes focusing on different aspects of the books, the chemistry between the couples: physical and emotional, the plot of the story, it was lovely to read a story that had at its core a couple not only fighting for their own love, but for the rights of all same-sex couples to be able to marry in the U.S. Something of which we all celebrate, now that the battle has been won. Well done, Mrs. Rippon. Very, very, well done.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton

How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton
Gay Romantic Comedy
Series: Howl at the Moon
Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: Pinkerton Road (May 28, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692456309
ISBN-13: 978-0692456309
Amazon: How to Howl at the Moon
Amazon Kindle: How to Howl at the Moon

Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of ‘quickened’—dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from border collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come. Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort. Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.

A perfect book. Eli Easton's writing style is perfect. This is a don't-want-to-put-down book. The MCs are both likeable, and develop nicely throughout the story. The usual misunderstandings add angst and excitement at various points. In fact, they start off with total distrust and work up to the relationship we want them to have. Secondary characters are not just scenery - we get to know and love Lance's mom and the vet, Bill McGurver. Tim's job is different - growing hybrid roses and working as a market gardener. It's nice to see him setting up at the cabin and loving his work. It's nice to see a shifter story with dogs. The way dogs can "spark" to become human if they bond with a particular person and love them extraordinarily, is a new twist on the genre. Very well done. There are no points where you get fed up - the pacing is perfect. And finally, the ending leaves you feeling happy. 

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Witch of Stalingrad by Justine Saracen

The Witch of Stalingrad by Justine Saracen
Lesbian Historical Fiction
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (March 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626393303
ISBN-13: 978-1626393301
Amazon: The Witch of Stalingrad
Amazon Kindle: The Witch of Stalingrad

As the German Blitzkrieg brings the Soviet Union to its knees in 1942, a regiment of women aviators flies out at night in flimsy aircraft without parachutes or radios to harass the Wehrmacht troops. The Germans call them “Night Witches” and the best of them is Lilya Drachenko. From the other end of the world, photojournalist Alex Preston arrives to “get the story” for the American press and witnesses sacrifice, hardship, and desperate courage among the Soviet women that is foreign to her. So also are their politics. While the conservative journalist and the communist Lilya clash politically, Stalingrad, the most savage battle of the 20th century, brings them together, until enemy capture and the lethal Russian winter tears them apart again.

The story comes alive vividly - the suspense kept me reading long into the night and late in the morning.

A highly dramatic and engrossing tale of a small band of Russian women pilots during WWII who risked their lives flying sorties over Germany in rattle-trap airplanes without a parachute, without the benefit of daylight. The love story is quite profound by virtue of the connection that exists between one of the aviators and an American war correspondent photographer. Despite their inability to be together very often, the women share a soul mate level of inner reflection, one to the other. A can’t-put-it-down action tale of war, love, disillusionment and redemption.

The Witch of Stalingrad is the story of women pilots in the Russian army during World War II. The story is extremely well researched, and the historical details are woven into the story so that you feel you're there, not being given a history lesson. I loved reading about such intelligent, strong, and brave women. The relationship that grows between the two main character adds luster to the story, but it doesn't overpower each woman's story or character. If there were no love story, this would still be a great book. Well done!

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Have a Little Faith in Me by Brad Vance

Have a Little Faith in Me by Brad Vance
Gay Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: January 28, 2015
Amazon Kindle: Have a Little Faith in Me

When Rocky met Dex, it was hate at first sight. Country superstar Dex Dexter represented everything that budding rock star Rocky McCoy had left behind him in the Deep South – the religion, the homophobia, the hypocrisy, the lies. And Rocky represented everything that Dex had denied, had turned away from, had refused…

When Rocky met Dex, it was love at first touch. Double booked in the same slot on the main stage at CrossFest, they fought for the microphone like two dogs fighting over a bone. And when their hands met…

Rocky has had enough. “No more falling for straight guys. No way. No matter how hot. Especially if the ‘straight guy’ looks to me like a major closet case.”

Dex has had enough. “No way. I can’t be gay. I can’t lose my family, my friends, my career. I can’t.”

What they’ve had enough of doesn’t matter. It’s what they’ve never had enough of that will bring them together…

Ordinarily, I don't like stories that start in the present and then catapult into extended flashbacks, but this story held my interest. Plus, I love a good musician romance!

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Red in Tooth and Claw (Underdogs #4) by Geonn Cannon

Red in Tooth and Claw (Underdogs #4) by Geonn Cannon
Lesbian Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Supposed Crimes LLC (July 1, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Red in Tooth and Claw (Underdogs #4)

Canidae private investigator Ariadne Willow and her girlfriend Dale have had a hectic couple of years, dealing with murderous clients while attempting to stop an all-out war between hunters and wolves. After stopping the onset of wolf manoth, Ari decides it’s well past time that she and Dale take a vacation. Two weeks of rest and relaxation at the cabin where their relationship went from business to romance sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered. Dale hopes the opportunity to slow down will ease some of the pain Ari has been suffering from her transformations.

Their plans are thrown for a loop when Ari goes for a run and stumbles over the body of a dead girl hidden deep in the woods near the cabin. When she returns with the police the body has vanished and the scene hastily cleaned up. The police don’t see any evidence to confirm Ari’s claims but her enhanced canidae senses confirm the body was there and has vanished. With the police refuse to investigate based only on her word, Ari and Dale begin digging for the truth and quickly learn that the and there are some secrets people will go to any lengths to keep buried.

The author has created an interesting story but quite different from other Shapeshifter novels I've read. The ability to change from human to animal is both a blessing and a curse for the main character but not in the typical manner readers would expect. Character development was extremely good. I could almost feel the 'pain' of Ari, and the love and compassion of her partner Dale as well as Ari's. I believe this is a story that paranormal readers will enjoy.

The mystery thriller is average, but as paranormal is strong. Not having read the first 3 books in the series I was still able to follow along.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Christmas Crush by Kate McLachlan

Christmas Crush by Kate McLachlan
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 126 pages
Publisher: Yellow Rose by RCE (September 3, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619291967
ISBN-13: 978-1619291966
Amazon: Christmas Crush
Amazon Kindle: Christmas Crush

Jazzy's Fresh Christmas Trees is Jasmine Oliver's last ditch attempt to rescue the family finances and send her little sister to college. She did some research, selected a prime location, and bought the very best Christmas trees available. What she didn't do, though, was check out the competition. SleepSafe Youth is Darcy Gabriel's baby, her way of paying back the help she received as a homeless teen. The charity she established gives homeless kids a safe place to sleep, and SleepSafe's annual Christmas tree sale is the organization's biggest fund-raising event of the year. When Jasmine learns that SleepSafe's Christmas tree lot is only a block away from her own, she turns her dismay and anger into determination and vows to give SleepSafe a run for its money. Sparks fly between Jasmine and Darcy as they compete for the Christmas tree business. Before long, sparks of a different sort fly, and they find themselves experiencing a Christmas they'll never forget.

I really enjoyed the reading of this story. I wanted to know more about the characters involved. I would definitely read more of the authors work.

Christmas Crush is not what the title might lead you to expect. Something silly and brief, light and fluffy. In fact, Christmas Crush is none of those things. It’s a real story about real people dealing with real problems in a real world. But most of all, Christmas Crush is refreshing. A break from the humdrum so many romance novels offer today. Beautiful people and contrived tensions that live in worlds where money and real life issues never seem to exist. But Kate McLachlan has crafted a story that, from the first page, captivates and draws you in with its all too real characters fighting the mundane the best way they know how. Something I’m sure we can all relate to. Characters rich in flaws, weaknesses, and uncertainties. Not the contrived kind; the real ones. Situations that are all too real in their unpredictability and commonality as defined by everyday life. All achieved through a richness of vocabulary expressed with an economy of words seldom found today’s contemporary authors. Most refreshing, the author’s craft is second to none.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Fairytales Slashed, Volume 6

Fairytales Slashed, Volume 6 by Angel Propps, Diana Jean, H.R. Harrison, Remy Jensen, Sandra Bard, Sasha L. Miller
LGBT Anthology / Collection / Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 702 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (May 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162004353X
ISBN-13: 978-1620043530
Amazon: Fairytales Slashed, Volume 6
Amazon Kindle: Fairytales Slashed, Volume 6

Seven tales of the lost, forgotten, ignored, and overlooked... The Red Shoes by Angel Propps The victim of downsizing, stuck working for a miserable boss at a fancy boutique, Karen is forced to work late one night. While stocking, she comes across a pair of stunning red stilettos that she can't resist putting on-or anything else that they urge her to do. True Love by Diana Jean Gaius, much to the frustration of his mother, has always worked hard to lead a drama-free life: avoid royal conflict, stay far away from court gossip, accept the unglamorous position of Head Librarian at the Royal College. Apparently all it takes to ruin a lifetime of effort is a charmed ring, a sovereign, and a princess. At least his mother will be pleased. The Pig Hunt by Sandra Bard Clint knows that Lucian Wolf is to blame for the destruction of his brothers' home, but confronting him on the matter turns up complications. The situation is not helped by the way Lucian starts turning up on his doorstep, because no matter how nice he appears, the rich, handsome ones never go for fat, unremarkable Clint. The Dragon of Bellerose Island by Sasha L. Miller Politics are dangerous, a fact Leandre failed to appreciate until too late. Kidnapped by his rival, and abandoned on the mysterious Bellerose Island, he expects to be one more body that no one will ever find. But he didn't expect the island's sole occupant... The White Cat by H.R. Harrison When their ailing father bids his sons complete three tasks to decide who will inherit the throne, the first two are decidedly unhappy, but Yufitri is ecstatic at the chance to go adventuring and escape his oppressive family. Far beyond the Northern Sea, he explores a land like nothing he's ever encountered, and finds a mysterious white cat who causes him to question what it is he really wants... Bad Romance by Remy Jensen The kingdom of Ontovia is at war with the neighboring Terra. Prince Adrian's father has kept him hidden away for his own safety, but Adrian lives a secret life that includes a weakness for attractive men and a penchant for domination. During one of his illicit trysts, Adrian captures the interest of a young man from Terra. The man invites him to become the sexual consort of the enemy king, but the opportunity to get close to the enemy to destroy him instead proves to be a battle that anyone could win-or everyone could lose. Tommelise by Diana Jean Unexpectedly made lady-in-waiting to Tommelise, a girl no larger than a thumb, Cecile quickly learns that the girl she grew up hearing about is in reality nothing but a spoiled brat. But Cecile is one of seven daughters, and her place is precarious at best. If she cannot manage to build a life serving a spoiled, ungrateful princess, she'll be shipped off to suffer an even worse fate. The Cursebreaker by Sasha L. Miller Heart is a cursebreaker, and good at what he does. But cursebreaking isn't exactly a thriving business, which means between jobs he makes charms to sell in his gaudy shop. Cursebreaking can also be a dangerous job, one that's left Heart to learn the hard way that no matter how much Ace professes to be an earnest suitor, he'll eventually change his mind just like all the rest...

On a whole the book was very entertaining and I will definitely be looking up more work from the different authors. Each story was good in its own way. As per any anthology I like some better than others, but none made me want to stop reading, if that makes sense?

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