Life After Humanity is the third book in the Thorns and Fangs series so this review may contain spoilers for earlier books.
Life After Humanity takes place one month after the events of Uprooted and Ben and Nate have returned to New Camden. Ben is still human and Nate is now a Class Three Unknown supernatural. However, the relationship between Ben and Nate is on hold while they both adjust to their new lives and Ben applies for his status as a vampire to be revoked so that he can be classified as a human. Having this application approved is not going to be easy for Ben, though, and the consequences of him losing his fight against the Registry could be devastating.
With the city on high alert searching for a rogue werewolf and the power-hungry, Councilor Wisner, gaining more control in New Camden, life for Ben, Nate, and other supernaturals seems even more unsettled. Ben and Nate realize they are unable to live without one another, but with Ben’s vampire nature reawakening, there are questions about the consequences of them being together.
Life After Humanity is the third book in Gillian St. Kevern’s Thorns and Fangs series and I would strongly recommend that these books by read in order. In fact, I wish I had had time to re-cap on Thorns and Fangs and Uprooted before I read this latest installment. As much as I enjoyed Life After Humanity, for me it was probably my least favorite of the theee books. This is literally by a margin, as my relating shows, but St. Kevern’s tightly knitted plot reflects the current chaos in New Camden. Not only was I confused about the significance of this supposedly rogue werewolf, but also concerned about the threat of the Final Register placed on Ben, as well as wondering whether Nate and Ben will make their relationship work, despite all the outside influences.
Life After Humanity is definitely not slow paced and I found I had to completely envelop myself in Ben and Nate’s world to keep track of events — and with two children also fighting for my attention, this wasn’t easy! St. Kevern references events that took place in the first book of the Thorns and Fangs series regularly and since I read that book a year ago, even I felt clueless at times! St. Kevern does an excellent job at tying the series together, though, not just by connecting events, but with her characters. In Life After Humanity, we are introduced to new characters like Councilor Wisner, Grant, Charlotte, and Vazul and recurrent characters like Gunn, George, Hunter, Kenzies, and Aki also play a role in the story.
I think, perhaps, my favorite of these is Aki, Nate’s best friend and co-worker. Having Aki around appears to ground Nate and the closeness of their relationship allows for banter and playful teasing, which brings some humor to the narrative. And, Gillian St. Kevern, if you’re reading this, I’d love an Aki spin-off story, maybe with Grant as a love interest?!
Whereas Thorns and Fangs was told entirely in third-person from Nate’s viewpoint and Uprooted from Ben’s, St. Kevern chooses to alternate their narratives in Life After Humanity. For me, this brought something extra to the story telling. This is because the input of both protagonists is essential to the development of the plot of Life After Humanity and not only because the story is so intense. Both Ben and Nate are attempting to come to terms with their new identities and for them, the revelations are not over. Although they have reached an agreement that they need to go it alone, they actually find their strength in one another. The reader also needs both narratives because there is so much happening to Ben and Nate separately that we would otherwise miss, like Nate’s relationship with the stray dog and Ben’s ARX assessment.
I am extremely lucky that I already have a copy of Dead Wrong — the fourth and sadly, final instalment of the series — on my kindle because Life After Humanity does not have the HFN ending of the previous two books. Though also not technically a cliffhanger, the ending left me shaken and wondering what could possibly come next for Nate and Ben.
In Life After Humanity, St. Kevern’s story telling is relentless with elements of tension, romance, and friendship. All of this combined with werewolves, vampires, and magic makes for great reading!
When Logan McRae wakes up, he doesn’t expect to find two very alien males staring at him through the glass of his cyro unit. Logan is a pilot and he was supposed to wake up in order to guide his transport ship to a new colony. But something has gone wrong and now he finds himself in the company of the adorable feline, Kit, and his lover, Halor. Logan discovers that his ship has been seized and the thousands on board likely sold into slavery. Logan escaped the same fate thanks to a simple misunderstanding.
Kit and Halor are more than welcoming and as they work to formulate a plan to try and save Logan’s shipmates, romance blooms. Managing an interspecies ménage is challenging under the best of circumstances, but when royal politics, an unplanned pregnancy, and a dangerous rescue mission are thrown into the mix, things become nearly impossible. But Halor, Kit, and Logan are dedicated to one another and they’ll prove that love can do anything.
Loving Kit was…different. Very different. So different I’m not really sure where to start. When we received this book to review, the author was kind enough to give an mpreg warning, just to make that I, as the reviewer, was comfortable with that topic. I am. But in retrospect, I feel like an additional warning would have been just as appropriate. More on that later on.
Let’s start with the positives. The writing is certainly strong and the author does a decent job of conveying a believable sense of time and place. While not everything is explained, readers are given enough detail to understand the world in which our three protagonists live. We aren’t given much background regarding Logan and while he isn’t one dimensional, it’s very hard to figure out exactly who he is, which is frustrating. Halor is a member of his species’ ruling family and a bird man. Or, if you’re a Rick and Morty fan, a bird person. I kept picturing Hawk from the Buck Rogers television show (and doesn’t that just show my age). He feels a bit more complete as a character when compared to Logan. He’s a prince who has thrown off the weight of tradition and this puts him at constant odds with his family and their expectations of him. His willingness to put Kit and Logan first makes him worth cheering for.
So one of the missing warning? Readers really need one where Kit is concerned. Kit is sweet and cute and all the things a cat person should be. He also requires semen for survival. You read that right. He calls it cream. This particular aspect of Loving Kit nearly derailed the entire book for me. Basically every other page Kit is giving someone a blowjob so he can feed. It often feels awkward and these moments tend to distract from whatever else is happening. I enjoy sexy times as much as the next reader, but when they happen so often, it becomes boring and cliché. The author does try to distance Kit’s act of feeding from the sexual act, but it never really works. There is an absurdity to this aspect of Kit’s nature that never escapes the realm of the ridiculous to become something I could accept. It’s always jarring, always excessive, and it never works as part of the plot. I think the author wanted to suggest that all consensual aspects of loving someone should be embraced and I appreciate that. But that terribly important message was lost amidst too many sex scenes that end up reading like porn without substance.
Loving Kit wanted to be an amazing book and some parts of it are quite enjoyable. Ultimately though, the book falls prey to excessive sex scenes and a bizarre species habit that becomes boring all too soon. The plot and romance between Halor, Logan, and Kit just isn’t enough to save this one from itself.
Matthew Elliot is a top L.A. detective and part of the Fab Four group of detectives bringing down drug kingpins all over town. He is good at his job and his fellow cops are like family to him. But the one thing that Matthew doesn’t share with his team is that he is gay.
When Matthew meets his new boxing trainer, Kira Takeo Franco, his attraction is immediate. When it becomes clear that Kira returns Matthew’s feelings, the two begin seeing one another. Matthew isn’t looking for serious, since he is closeted and Kira is as well. But before long, the attraction between the men grows into a relationship and the two falling in love. Given that Matthew is well known in the media due to his role in the drug busts, the guys know that they are at risk of being found out, but they can’t stop their feelings for one another.
Things between Kira and Matthew are going well, so well that Matthew is even considering telling his partner about them. And when one of Matthew’s cases turns into an unexpected crisis, the two men realize just how important they have become to one another.
Point of No Return is the first book in N.R. Walker’s Turning Point series. Having heard great things about this series, I was excited to see it coming out in audio. This is a fairly short story and I really enjoyed getting to know Matthew and Kira. The first portion of the book really focuses on their building relationship and I just loved them together. Although both are wary at first given the fact that neither man is out, as things grow more serious, neither one hesitates. They have an easy way about them, a bond that is really clear, and Walker does a great job of establishing their feelings for one another and getting us settled into their relationship before the action really kicks in.
As the book continues, the story turns toward suspense and we see one of Matthew’s cases take a dangerous turn. I don’t want to go into too much detail here for fear of spoiling, but this portion is so well done, suspenseful and terrifying. The intensity really comes through and I felt the fear right along with them. I think it works really nicely to bring this part of the story in after we have Matthew and Kira on solid ground, as that foundation of their relationship really adds to the gravity of the suspense side of things.
I listened to this in audio with narrator Sean Crisden. I think Crisden does a nice job with the story and it was enjoyable listening. Crisden doesn’t do a huge variety of voices here, but it was clear to me the distinction between Kira and Matthew, as well as the side characters. The only one that felt a bit awkward is Kira’s mother’s voice, though given that she is an older woman who speaks in heavily accented Japanese, I can make some allowances.
The emotions really come through the narration, particularly in the more passionate and suspenseful moments. There were a few times that I felt like Crisden was a little too fast and the words felt a little slurred, but overall I found this a great narration and I wouldn’t hesitate to continue the series in audio format.
So I really enjoyed this first installment of the Turning Point series and I am eagerly awaiting the remaining books to come out in audio (they are all already released in ebook form). I found this story a nice mix of romance and suspense and I am looking forward to seeing where the guys go from here.
Today I am so pleased to welcome Annabelle Jacobs to Joyfully Jay. Annabelle has come to share an exclusive cover reveal for her upcoming release, Butterfly Assassin. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Cover Design by Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
Coming May 2018!
Set in the Regent’s Park Pack world
Clapham Common Pack–a new pack with their own set of problems…
Shifter Aaron Harper, drawn into underground fighting to protect his best friend.
Michael Archer, member of the Shifter Crimes Task Force, investigating the recent spate in apparent shifter related murders.
When their paths cross, Aaron finds himself on the wrong side of the SCTF, and Michael struggles to follow the rules.
Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats.
An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.
Annabelle has brought a great giveaway. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
God’s Own Country is a moving and somewhat haunting story about a young man facing the burden of family responsibilities on a remote farm in Yorkshire, England. I had heard great things about the movie, a winner of many awards, so I checked it out and decided to share my thoughts here in our first ever movie review.
Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) lives with his father and grandmother on their remote Yorkshire farm. It’s a hard life, made even harder by the fact that Johnny’s father, Martin (Ian Hart), has suffered a stroke and is now in poor health. The major responsibility for the farm now falls on Johnny and it is clear he is bitter and resentful. Most of the other people his age have gone off to university and he is isolated and alone. Johnny vents his frustration by bickering with his father and grandmother, having meaningless hookups, and drinking himself into oblivion.
When Martin hires a temporary worker to help out on the farm, Johnny is resentful. He may not like the job, but that doesn’t mean he wants help either. Johnny takes out his anger on Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), lashing out with insults or ignoring him altogether.
When Johnny and Gheorghe go to a remote pasture to help with lambing, the men are all alone for days. There the anger between them leads to a fight, which in turn becomes a sexual encounter. That moment breaks the hostility, and soon the men are working together happily and continuing their sexual relationship. The peace continues when they return to the farm, until Martin’s health takes another turn. Suddenly the full weight of the farm’s responsibility lands squarely on Johnny’s shoulders. In his panic, he acts out, and he might lose Gheorghe from his life for good.
God’s Own Country was a wonderful movie, moving and intense with moments of both pain and beauty. Writer/director Francis Lee does not shy away from the realities of life on the farm. We see the dirty and gritty side, the relentless work, and the cycle of life and death. We see calves die and lambs born, stalls mucked, and nights spent outside when it’s so cold you can see your breath. It is easy to feel Johnny’s sense of isolation as he works day in and out in this remote land, his peers having gone on to other things while he remains tied to the farm. It is clear that Johnny has reached the point where he can see nothing but the bitterness and the frustration, and none of the beauty and wonder anymore.
As the movie develops, Lee shows us that beauty and wonder. The men look out on the gorgeous landscape. Flowers bloom and new life is born. There is a lovely moment where a new lamb is unable to nurse and Gheorghe manages to trick a mother sheep into feeding it. That moment where the little lamb begins to successfully nurse is such a delight, and we can see the joy break on Johnny’s face as well. Gheorghe is not only gentle and sweet with the animals, but his happiness on the farm begins to transfer over to Johnny as well.
I really enjoyed the relationship between the men. There is almost a feral quality about Johnny as the movie begins, and Gheorghe slowly begins to reach him, both as a friend and as a lover. They often come together in rough and harsh ways, and there is a realism about their encounters that I appreciated. But we also see the emotional connection develop between them as well, seeing some of Johnny’s walls come down slowly. As the movie continues, there is almost a domesticity to their relationship that is very sweet. The sex between two men is explicitly portrayed, and I think that is an important facet to the story as we really see so much of their relationship dynamic conveyed through these encounters. O’Connor and Secareanu do a wonderful job showing the connection between Johnny and Gheorghe, and O’Connor in particular does an amazing job portraying Johnny’s vulnerable moments.
My only small issue here is that the accents were a bit tough to my American ears. I actually had a much easier time understanding Gheorghe’s accented Romanian, but Johnny and his family’s Yorkshire accents were so thick that I’ll admit I missed some of the conversational nuances at times. This is not a knock on the movie itself, as the authenticity of their accents is key to the film, I just note that I sometimes had trouble understanding them.
So I really loved this movie and found myself even more captivated after reflecting on it further. There is such a wonderful balance between the beauty and the bleakness here. Lee really captures the loneliness and the remote life, but then highlights the loveliness as well. I loved those moments where Johnny sees the small joys and the beauty around him. And I love the way that his relationship with Gheorghe helps him find the happiness his life was missing.
They met at Eton, the most prestigious school for boys in all of England. Sherlock Holmes came from a fine, country home and his analytical mind was ripe for all the lessons Eton had to teach him. By contrast, Dragos Covenu gained entry by the blood money of his ne’er-do-well Roma father and loved nothing so much as the kind of learning that can be had by following one’s heart. Sherlock and Dragos were drawn together, attracted by these very differences and bound by one commonality—a romantic interest in boys.
Though they grew apart after Dragos was kicked out of Eton, their paths continued to cross intermittently for years. As Holmes began establishing himself as the preeminent detective in all of England, Dragos was content to explore his heart’s desire. Yet there was no denying that the relationship that bloomed between the two was powerful stuff. Now that Dragos is back in London after a long absence—sent to the literal ends of the earth because of Homes’ seeming inability to accept all of Dragos—he is ready to try again. Perhaps this time, Dragos can make Holmes acknowledge the depth of his feelings for him.
However, there is a storm brewing that will test the strength of feeling that keep Holmes and Dragos orbiting one another. Old enemies come looking for Dragos and his cousin Anca, looking for vengeance. As Holmes does his utmost to protect Dragos, he also unknowingly orchestrates yet another opportunity for Dragos to satisfy his need for passionate displays of love in the arms of others. Though Holmes has long suspected Dragos’ infidelity, when proof of it finally becomes known to Holmes, things start to crumble between them.
Holmes confronts Dragos about his philandering, but seems willing to set aside the differences if only to keep Dragos in his life. Dragos, on the other hand, has had enough of forever play acting at what Holmes desires. In fact, he takes decisive actions that has surely ruined their decades long on-again, off-again romance and even the very fabric of their association.
So, this was a very interesting story. It is very clearly a re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes. It goes far beyond simply recreating a single case and spans a far greater number of details that Doyle covers in his stories. Cassady prepares the reader for this by comparing the storytelling to Downton Abbey. I can concur with this assessment. Thrown into the enticing give-and-take we see between Holmes and Dragos is an expansive cast of side characters who weave in and out of the myriad story lines in very interesting ways.
There are two notable female characters, Dragos’ cousin Anca and a side-character whose role developed into a full-fledged supporting character named Molly. These two, after a very long and winding ride through the story’s rather dense plot, end up having a bit of a romance—but it occurs later in the story, so I’m not sure if this is more along the lines of a dalliance or a true romance. What I most enjoyed about the Anca character was seeing her transform from a side character who sort of popped up in multiple scenes into one who subtly (but also sort of overtly) challenges gender norms. She’s introduced as a stunning beauty with long hair, but after killing a man and returning to her people in Romania, decides to chop off her hair and take on the dress of men (its unclear if this is a true preference switch or just for the sake of travel, but still). She’s also decided she’s interested in women as lovers and learns that she’s rather like Dragos in her approach to relationships (rather open).
Now, the dynamic between Holmes and Dragos was very interesting and kept me turning pages. On the one hand, I am “biased” in favor of Holmes because I’ve read a lot of Doyle and appreciate the cold aloofness that he represents to me in my head canon. Being so established made it easy for me to sympathize with Holmes whenever he and Dragos got into lover’s quarrels. That said, Dragos is often the narrator (the POV switches among Holmes, Dragos, Watson, Anca, and Molly in first person, though). Naturally, I developed an affinity for Dragos because his vary narration makes the reader privy to his thoughts and feelings. The biggest beef between Holmes and Dragos is that Dragos questions whether Holmes does or ever could truly love all of Dragos—Holmes is guilty of encouraging Dragos to suppress his cross-dressing habit and of often/always wanting Dragos to role play the part of a villain when they get intimate. I absolutely loved watching how these differences in what both men expected/wanted played out. There was such great angst. And when it all blew up in their faces (with still about 50 or 60 pages to go!) I was curious what that would mean.
I’ll admit, after Holmes and Dragos seem to officially break it off…I was a bit less interested in the various independent story lines that did not concern them, though they served to round out the characters and establish complexity that I normally don’t expect to see. However, it all comes to a head right before the end of this first book. So while these threads seems to be showing the characters growing apart, there comes up a threat that spurs Holmes and Dragos into action and throwing them back into each other’s spheres. Unfortunately, the book ends just there. So it’s impossible to tell if the revelations Holmes and Dragos had had while they both assumed their romance and friendship was utterly caput mean they can finally accept one another; I am eager to find out in the next book.
The one big weakness in the story, and it may annoy more careful readers than I, were the inconsistencies that peppered the book. In addition to a few continuity errors that placed a character in a scene where they shouldn’t have been, there were significant troubles with placing the action in time. This is perhaps exacerbated by the fact that we start in “present day” and go back to when Holmes and Dragos were at Eton, some twenty years in the past. While some chapters have dates, not all of them do…so it was difficult to know if a particular scene was taking place in their present or in their past. Sometimes, it was hard to keep up with the changes in POV, too. Not all chapters indicated who the speaker was and I found myself once or twice thinking I was in Holmes’ head only to find out it was Dragos’.
Overall, though, this is an exciting read that goes very quickly. The plot is thick with twists and turns. It contains several crimes that are “layered,” in that one is solved quickly and seems to serve as a way to introduce the reader to the characters and how they will interact with one another. The next crime is the bigger plot device in the story and is what drives much of the action. The final is one that you can look for if you reread the book because this crime is perpetrated by a character who appears in many of the characters’ threads, but is not of overt importance until the end…and presumably the star bad guy of the next book.
Agent Cooper Dayton works for the Bureau of Special Investigations, a branch of the FBI focused on wolf crimes. The wolf population has come out to the government via a group known as The Trust, and so while most of the world has no idea shifters exist, the BSI is in charge of protecting people from their crimes. Cooper used to work for the FBI, but after he was attacked by a wolf while on a case, he came over to the BSI where he learned about a world he never knew existed.
When Cooper is asked to be part of a new initiative to partner BSI agents with The Trust to investigate crimes, he is very wary. Despite coming out, not much is known about wolves and Cooper has learned to distrust them given how dangerous they can be. But Cooper’s boss makes it clear he needs to go along, so Cooper is assigned a case working with wolf Oliver Park. There seems to be a serial killer in tiny Florence, Maine, and the men are sent to figure out who is behind the slaughtered hikers and the missing resident.
It takes Cooper a while to trust Park, especially since he keeps so much to himself. Cooper wonders whether Park has ulterior motives in the investigation, but as the two work together, Cooper begins to realize that the wolves are not nearly as bad as he was led to believe. The men become tentative friends, and the attraction Cooper has felt for Park since the beginning continues to flare. But the case continues to be complicated as more suspects and more victims pile up. Cooper and Park don’t know who to trust, and worse, it becomes clear that they are in the killer’s sights as well. Now Cooper and Park must figure out who is behind the killings in Florence before it is too late.
The Wolf at the Door is author Charlie Adhara’s debut book and I think she really hits it out of the park with this story. I found the mystery incredibly engaging and really liked the characters and the world the author has built.
Mystery can be a tricky genre as the plot needs to be complex enough to keep the reader engaged and guessing, but simple enough that everyone can follow along. Adhara really walks that line perfectly here as I found the mystery side of things incredibly well done and I was kept guessing about who was behind it all until almost the very end. What Adhara does so well here is slowly introduce the crime and the potential victims and suspects. There are a lot of characters in this small town and it would be easy for things to have become a jumbled mess. But instead, we are introduced to all the players a little at a time, giving us a nice cast of characters but never losing us along the way. I loved how the story plays with who is a victim and who is a suspect, and in many cases we don’t really know until it all shakes out at the end. Even as I was starting to figure out who was behind it all, the why and the bigger picture remained a mystery. But the best part is that once it was all revealed, I could totally follow all the clues that had been given to us along the way.
The relationship between Cooper and Park is really interesting as well. It is clear, almost from the start, that Cooper’s view of wolves has been very influenced by the BSI in general, and his partner in particular. Wolves are seen as the enemy, and Cooper is very slow to trust Park as a result. Even more, it is clear that Cooper has some major issues with showing any vulnerability or weakness. In the face of Park’s strength and confidence, Cooper has a tendency to lash out to sort of stake his ground. We know the attraction is there from the start, but it take a while before the guys come to a good place as friends and as lovers. What I liked, however, is that despite his occasional posturing, it is clear that Cooper trusts Park and depends on him, so we can see their bond forming from early in the book.
The story is told in single POV from Cooper’s viewpoint and I think that works particularly well here. We don’t get to know Park as well as Cooper, nor do we always know what he is thinking, but that is the point. He is very unknowable to Cooper, as are wolves in general, so he needs to be a little unknowable to us too. It allows us as readers to follow from where Cooper starts the story, wary of wolves and with some prejudice, to the place where he ends up as Cooper slowly learns more about them. Despite the fact that the romance is secondary to the mystery here, I really enjoyed these guys together and the story leaves them in a really good place. As this is the first in a series, I am excited to see how things continue between the men.
From a world building standpoint, I think things are interesting as well. As I said, this is a world where some people are aware of wolves and others have no idea they exist. While we do learn the basics about the shifters, a lot of it is rolled out so we learn along with Cooper. Again, I think this makes sense in that Cooper thinks he knows all about wolves, but soon realizes just how minimal his education has been.
I have two small issues here. One is that Cooper works for the BSI, an organization that no humans outside of the FBI really knows exist. Yet, he walks into situations identifying himself as “BSI” and no one ever questions him, asks for a badge, or seems bothered that he is investigating under the authority of an organization that doesn’t exist as far as they know. Also, and here is where I am going to sound SUPER nitpicky I know, but the first pages of the story take place while Cooper and his partner wrap a case in Bethesda, Maryland. Which happens to be about 30 minutes from my house, a place I worked for years, and someplace I go all the time (including dinner last night). So as any local will likely find with any book, there were a few things here that threw me out of the start of the story. For example, Cooper talks about sending the case to the Bethesda PD, which is something that doesn’t exist (we have County police around here). He rides the Metro (which the book spells “metro”) and is eating a sandwich on the train, which is against the rules of Metro and eating is incredibly rare and certainly not something a rule follower like Cooper would do. These are teeny tiny things I know and you all are probably rolling your eyes at me, but it threw me out of the story a few times early on, particularly given that these are easily google-able bits of information.
Ok, so that aside, I was really captured by this story, particularly given that it is Adhara’s debut book. The mystery was just incredibly well done and I found myself eager to continue this story, excited to figure out what was going on and who was behind it all. I really liked Cooper and Park together, and found that Cooper’s personal growth was really well done and gives great grounding to the story. The world Adhara has created has me really intrigued and I am very excited for more from this series.
Today I am so pleased to welcome Victoria Sue to Joyfully Jay. She has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Joshua’s Rainbow. She has also brought along a backlist book to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
He looks tired. Josh stood for a second and took in their new guest. Even standing with his back to him, Josh could see the tall, big shoulders that seemed to be hunched in and noticed he was leaning on the window frame as he looked out. His shirt was tucked into a narrow waist. Too narrow. The pants were being held up by a belt that was cinched in so much he would imagine the expensive tailor that had made the obviously hand-made Italian suit—Armani, if he wasn’t much mistaken—would be weeping into his chianti. Daniel Morgan was something important in New York. A high flyer of sorts. Josh didn’t know in what exactly, but it hardly mattered to him. The money he could get from this would finally get a new compressor for the A/C. Angie had been keeping the thing going on sticky tape and optimism for months and if they were going to have a proper season next year they would need it.
If we are still open.
Matt had collected their guest and a small suitcase. Angie said he hadn’t said much, but then Matt, complete with his inked skin and piercings, had probably scared the guy to death. He’d caught a glimpse of their new guest as he’d walked up from the jetty with Matt. He’d worn a jacket on the crossing that was casually slung over the chair now. November—even in Florida—had been quite cool. His jet black hair was tinged with a few silver streaks.
“I have your coffee, sir,” Josh spoke before the man turned around and saw him gawking. As predicted, Mr. Morgan turned and eyed Josh, smiling politely.
Wow. Josh gave himself a mental shake. Deer in headlights much? The brief glimpse of a few minutes ago had in no way prepared him for the gray, almost silver eyes looking at him and the killer smile.
Josh hurried into the cozy room, to cover his seeming inability to think of anything intelligent to say. The phrase, How are you? Welcome to Rainbow Key suddenly seemed crass and immature. At least the newly finished décor looked good, and he was especially pleased with how the painting had turned out. Pale cream walls except the one with the beach mural on it. Charlie was talented, and the full wall showing the breathtaking sunrise beyond the jetty was awesome. They’d finished the room off with pale brown shutters and matching comforter. Some dark chocolate-colored throw cushions completed the look. He’d gone for soothing in this room but they’d already started on the family suite at the top of the stairs, and Charlie was excited at doing a children’s mural in there.
Josh took a breath, realizing he was staring. “The cookies are walnut and banana. Fresh this morning.”
Mr. Morgan looked down at them as if he wasn’t sure what Josh meant, and Josh suddenly felt like an ass. The man was probably used to staying at The Four Seasons, and here he was blathering on about home-made cookies. He’d baked like a mad man after getting the phone call yesterday from Alan Hunt. He was sending a patient, a businessman overloaded with stress and in need of some down time to relax. Alan had also insisted on paying for four weeks upfront himself, and not to tell Mr. Morgan. Actually, Alan had referred to him as Daniel, but obviously Josh couldn’t be that unprofessional.
Mr. Morgan came over to the comfy two-seater that Josh had found in an estate sale in Tampa and sank down gratefully. Well, he seemed to appreciate the softness, anyway. Josh’s keen eyes took in the slight tremble as he reached for the coffee cup. Josh hoped he didn’t notice it was decaf. Alan had been quite strict about his patient’s caffeine intake.
“I don’t seem to be able to get Wi-Fi.”
Josh pinked slightly and noticed the expensive laptop unpacked on the bed. That makes two of us. It had been a choice between paying the electricity bill and paying for broadband. The electricity obviously had won over. “My apologies, sir. I believe Dr. Hunt explained we were doing some remodeling? We won’t have any service until next week.” Josh crossed his fingers behind his back and pretended he didn’t see the frown that marred the gorgeous gold skin under the black hair.
Josh quickly put a brake on his thoughts immediately. Thoughts like that were what had got him into trouble, and there was no way he was putting himself there again. Even if he was ever ready there was no way some good-looking business man would be interested in the likes of him. “There’s a lovely walk to the beach, sir, if you’re in the mood; or if you wanted a nap I’d make sure you weren’t disturbed until lunchtime.” Josh nearly groaned aloud at that one. Now he sounded like May-belle.
But Mr. Morgan laughed shortly. “I must look worse than I thought.” He glanced up at Josh and smiled.
Josh tried not to stare, but fuck when the man smiled he went from attractive to drop dead please take me to bed. Josh knew he looked stupid, but he couldn’t help grinning back. “Please call me Josh.” Please undress me and let me lick you all over.
What the hell? Josh put a break on his errant thoughts. Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was the company of his own hand. Maybe it was knowing he was safe in his daydreams because no man that looked that hot would ever be interested in Joshua.
And maybe, let’s face it, you would be too chicken even if the stars somehow realigned and he was interested. No, Joshua told himself sternly. Good-looking—make that stunning—rich business men weren’t interested in fat boys like him. His shoes were probably Gucci. Josh’s were K-Mart.
Rainbow Key – an idyllic island retreat off the west coast of Florida. Think wedding destination, white sandy beaches, lurve… except at the moment Joshua is struggling to pay the electricity bill, they’ve no paying customers, and even if they did they can’t afford the repairs from the devastating hurricane that struck three years ago – and to top it off they have to take in Daniel, a grumpy businessman who has been ordered by his doctor to take some time off before he has a heart attack from too much stress.
Funnily enough, Daniel owns a very expensive hotel chain that has been trying to buy the island for the past two years. Not that Joshua knows that yet, and boy are sparks gonna fly when he thinks he’s been set up.
Of course, sparks of a different kind are also soon flying between them.
Then there’s Matt who just got let out of prison, Charlie who ran away from home, and Ben, a famous model until a devastating house fire destroyed his face.
Welcome to Rainbow Key – held together by love, family, and sticky tape.
Victoria Sue fell in love with love stories as a child when she would hide away with her mom’s library books and dream of the dashing hero coming to rescue her from math homework. She never mastered math but managed to dream up quite a few heroes. Loves reading and writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best—especially with a paranormal twist—but always with a happy ending. Is an English northern lass currently serving twenty to life in Florida—unfortunately, she spends more time chained to her computer than on a beach.
Loves to hear from her readers and can be found most days lurking on Facebook where she doesn’t need factor 1000 sun-cream to hide her freckles.
Sue has brought a choice of backlist book to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, February 22nd at 11:59 pm ET.
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Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
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Hi gang! I hope you all had a great week! We have lots of exciting stuff going on here!
First off, this week we have our first ever movie review on Monday with a review for God’s Own Country. I also got a chance on Friday to see a screening of Something Like Summer, based on the book by Jay Bell, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on that this week as well.
Also, I am heading out for a week in Florida beginning on Tuesday! I’ll be attending the Coastal Magic Convention for my third week as a Featured Blogger over the weekend. And I’m super excited because I’ll be bracketing the trip on either end with a trip to visit Joel Leslie and his husband, and along with Anna Martin, we will be spending some time at Disney. We are all four Disney junkies so I can’t wait to visit a couple of parks with them!
As always, our fabulous reviewers have been amazing in getting me their posts ahead of time so I can go away without too much blogging work to do. But to keep things from getting too insane, we will be keeping a relatively light schedule while I am gone. But don’t worry, we still lots of great reviews and guest posts planned.
And finally, if you want to keep up with my trip, both my time at Disney and at the conference, be sure you are following me on social media. I’ll be posting on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with pictures and updates about all the happenings!
So here is what we have planned this week…
Review: Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara (Jay)
Movie Review: God’s Own Country (Jay)
Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua’s Rainbow by Victoria Sue
Review: The Adventures of Dragos & Holmes by Lorena Cassidy (Camille)
Audiobook Review: Point of No Return by N.R. Walker (Jay)
Review: Life After Humanity by Gillian St. Kevern (Kirsty)
Cover Reveal: Butterfly Assassin by Annabelle Jacobs
Review: Loving Kit by L.M. Brown (Sue)
Movie Review: Something Like Summer (Jay)
Review: Dragons and Healers by Nina M. Schultz (Elizabeth)
Guest Post: Snow and Ice Games series by Tamsen Parker
Review: Beyond Black Belt by Emory C. Walters (Kris)
Review: Love on a Battlefield by Posy Roberts (Michelle)
Guest Post: September audiobook by Robert Winter
Review: Daddy, Daddy and Me by Sean Michael (Veronica)
Review: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor (Sammy)
Guest Post and Giveaway: Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen
Review: Spanking the Boss by Hunter Frost (Michelle)
And that should do it for this week!
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