ARC Book Review – The Blood Mage

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Title: The Blood Mage (Changing Tides #2)

Author: Aimee Davis

Synopsis:

Monster. Murderer. Oathbreaker.

Three years after the events leading to the deaths of her friend and lover, twenty-one-year-old Alena Kozlov is still trying to outrun her past. But the darkness within her is not something she can simply leave behind.

The nightmares plaguing her become reality when a familiar face seeks her out in her isolated desert home bearing news that awakens all she’s tried to keep locked inside. There’s a promise she made long ago she’s determined to keep, even if it means she will have to tear what remains of herself, and her world, apart.

To save her friends, she may have to become the monster once more. But fear is not for the damned.

Rating: 4 stars

Review: First off, a disclaimer – I received this ARC right from the author in exchange for an honest review. No money exchanged hands, only this wonderful book that I’m about to dissect for your reading pleasure. Now onto the review:

Holy crap this book was good. That’s all I can think of to start it off. No, actually, I know the perfect thing to start this off with – the cover. I am so in love with this cover that I actually want to marry it (and the girl on the cover, but that’s a whole other thing).  I mean, look at it!

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Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way, we can get to the actual story,

This book picks up three years after the events of ‘The Wheel Mages’ and when we meet Alena again, she’s hiding out in the middle of nowhere like a hermit, trying to leave behind all that she did at the end of the previous book. However, she gets thrown back into the world of the Sanctum, when she discovers that something’s happened to her beloved Genevieve. That’s when she meets the charming and disarming Lukas.

Okay, so Lukas? Actual angel. He’s an air mage who’s become Genevieve’s new mentor before the events of the book happens, and I’m having an internal battle whether or not I prefer Lukas over Nikolai….. Lukas is so laid-back most of the time, and he lets most of Alena’s bite just wash right over him, but he isn’t afraid to step up and be serious when he needs to be.

Casually he wormed between them and draped an arm around Celine’s shoulders. He was about to replicate the movement with Odeth when she stopped him. “Try it, and I will remove it from your body.” He chuckled but kept his hand tight at his side.

 

Alena on the other hand… Yeah, I’m generally not a fan of the whole tortured soul who blames herself and lashes out at everyone for it. Somehow Alena came back around though, and I warmed to her again. She’s prickly on the outside, but she does have a soft centre under all those layers of titanium.

Then we get the power couple of the whole book – Celine and Odeth. If you remember the first book, Celine was one of Allard and Henri’s pet mages, but in this book she really comes into her own. Right as the book opens, we meet Celine again, along with her Amazon-like warrior lover Odeth, and they’re wonderful.

“Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite. Well, not outside the bedroom anyway.”

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Celine stretched onto her toes and kissed the other woman lightly on her cheek. “You’ll get used to it.”

Their care for one another seemed so easy, so uncomplicated. It was comforting to see them, to know there was something pure and good still left in such an unforgiving world.

They’re a same-sex couple, that don’t get written into unnecessary relationship drama or into an untimely death, and it’s nice to have a same-sex couple like ‘Odine’ in a fantasy series such as this. You don’t see that often.

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I am just so in love with Aimee Davis’ writing – she describes this world so beautifully, and it feels like you’re coming home, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like you’ve read the same thing a million times before. It doesn’t read as contrived in any way, or unoriginal, and I feel so happy to have gotten an ARC of this book.

One thing I was surprisingly miffed to have though, was a lack of Felipe. I actually missed him. Imagine that.

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Basically, if high fantasy is your thing, and you like well-written LGBT characters, and engaging characters (because who doesn’t like that?), then you should get into this series.

If you want to read more, I reviewed the first book in this series – The Wheel Mages – and I also got to interview Aimee herself – awesome, right? She’s a very cool person, and I’ll link you to her various pages at the end of this.

The Blood Mage is released on July 18th, so add it to your calendars because this is a must-read.

Now for some quotes to whet your appetite for this wonderful piece of literature:

“You are more than darkness, more than rage and regret. You are also light. You are also hope.”

“I don’t want you to be Nikolai,” I said. “I want you to be you. I want your irritating charm and your sarcasm and your bad jokes. I want you, Lukas.”


“Yes, Alena, you were a gutter rat, and Felipe was a highborn bastard, but magic is the great equaliser.”

“You will love many people in your life, my sprite, but there will never be a bond like the one you and I share,” Nikolai had once said to me.

 

~~~~

Meet The Author:

Aimee’s Blog | Twitter |

My Interview with Aimee

Book Review – Lord of Shadows

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Yes, I know I’m very late with this review – don’t shoot!

 

Title: Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Synopsis: Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

 

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: I started this book with high expectations, and those expectations were exceeded. Let me explain just how amazing this is.

Lord of Shadows takes place a short while after Lady Midnight, and the Shadowhunters of the LA Institute have been kept busy by sea demons appearing from the sea – until the Centurions from the Scholomance arrive, and bring a whole set of troubles with them. That’s not even taking into consideration the emotional problems amongst the teenagers.

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Okay, so I’m going to split this up into various ships, because that’s where all my feelings are. Starting off with….

Gwyn and Diana

 

Oh my god, this came out of nowhere, but I ship it so effing much now! Gwyn’s this big bear-like guy, and he’s intimidating, and rough, but he’s also a total gentleman, and he woos Diana like she deserves to be. He brings her flowers, and he listens to her backstory – representation by the way! – and ugh, they’re just so perfect!

 

Ty and Kit

 

This ship has now become my favourite out of the entire universe (except for Malec, obviously) and I’m dying for them to actually become a thing. Argh, slow burn relationships! So good, yet so hard! I mean, how could you not hardcore ship them after these parts:

He grinned, and the grin changed his face completely. Ty when he was still and expressionless had an intensity that fascinated Kit; when he was smiling, he was extraordinary.”

 

“You want a … wait, you’ve been sleeping outside my room because you want a sort of Watson for your Sherlock Holmes?”

 

Ty smiled. It was a genuine light-up-your-face-type smile, and it made Kit remember the first time he’d met Ty.

 

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If Ty was someone else, Kit would have tried to catch his eyes, but he knew Ty wouldn’t look at him directly.

 

I mean, Kit actually understands that Ty’s autistic, and it doesn’t faze him one bit. In return, Ty sees past Kit’s brave facade, and he gets to the scared boy underneath – just, they really work well together, and I’m in love with my adorable boys.

 

Her eyes were much bluer than the Thames. Ty’s eyes were really more the river’s colour.

 

“Waste of a perfectly good starfish,” muttered Kit, and Ty laughed. The salt air had tangled his arrow-straight black hair, and his eyes glowed like the moonlight on the river. Kit just stared, unable to think of anything else clever to say.

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Kieran and Mark

 

I have so many feelings about these two that there aren’t actually words for it. I’m just going to use a whole load of gifs, which actually express my emotional state better than words could right now. Also, this:

Intellectually, he knew the word “lover” was part of traditional speech, but he couldn’t help it: He was from Los Angeles, and as far as he was concerned, Kieran had just said, Hello, I have sex with Mark Blackthorn. What about you?”

 

Julian and Emma

 

To be perfectly honest? Meh. Parts of this relationship just felt like Jace and Clary, circa ‘City of Ashes’ and I wasn’t especially into them this time around. I loved them a lot more in ‘Lady Midnight’, especially Emma, but in this book they just seemed more interested in their romantic problems than anything else – even Emma, and I loved how defiant and badass she was in the first book. It was a little disappointing, but because I enjoyed this so much, I’m not going to take any stars off for it.

As for the writing overall though, I am still a huge Cassandra Clare fan, and I love how she always has a twist around the corner – still dying over that cruel, cruel ending – which always keeps me on my toes as a reader. Seriously, she could write anything, and I’d read it.

If you like fantasy, well-written LGBT characters, and complicated teenage relationships, this is a series for you.

Now, to whet your appetite, here’s a few parts from it – enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~

 

 

“All I am saying is give it a week. After all”—Jace grinned—”Herondales can’t resist a challenge.”

 

“You know my rules about forsoothing in my room. Also the use of the words ‘howbeit,’ ‘welladay,’ and ‘alack.’”

“What about ‘zounds’?”

“The punishment for ‘zounds’ is severe,” she told him.

 

“I wonder what other family mottoes are,” Emma mused. “Do you know any?”

“The Lightwood family motto is ‘We mean well.’ ”

“Very funny.”

Julian looked over at her. “No, really, it actually is.”

“Seriously? So what’s the Herondale family motto? ‘Chiseled but angsty’?”

He shrugged. ‘If you don’t know what your last name is, it’s probably Herondale’?”

Emma burst out laughing. “What about Carstairs?” she asked, tapping Cortana. “ ‘We have a sword’? ‘Blunt instruments are for losers’?”

“Morgenstern,” offered Julian. “ ‘When in doubt, start a war’?”

 

 

“I mean, your house is pretty screwed up, what with your agoraphhobic uncle and your weird brother.

Julian’s hands tightened on the wheel, but the only thing he said was, “Ty isn’t weird.”

“I meant Mark,” said Kit. There was an odd pause. “Ty isn’t weird,” Kit added. “He’s just autistic.”

The pause stretched out longer. Kit wondered if he’d offended Julian somehow. “It’s not a big deal,” he said finally. “Back when I went to mundane school, I knew some kids who were on the spectrum. Ty has some things in common with them.”

“What spectrum?” Julian asked.

Kit looked at him in surprise. “You really don’t know what I mean?”

 

“Come to the library,” she announced. “The tentacle is starting to dissolve.”

“You drive me wild with your sexy talk,” said Jace, pulling on his gear jacket.

 

“Whoa, sexy weirdness,” said Emma. “This may be more sexy weirdness than I can handle.”

“It is not weird!”

“It is,” said Emma. “You are headed for a faerie threesome. Or some kind of war.”

“Emma!”

“Hot faerie threesome,” said Emma cheerfully. “I can say I knew you when.”

 

But to me everything about him said “Love me, because nobody else has”. It was all over him, like fingerprints.”

 

“Move, Kit. I want to get a closer look at that bust.”

To Kit, bust only meant one thing, but since the only breasts in the room belonged to Ty’s sister, he stepped aside with alacrity.

 

“I can’t believe you’re going,” she said to Julian. “The minute you leave, Livvy and Ty start treating me like a servant.”

“Servants get paid,” Ty observed.

 

[Mark] was standing with his hands behind his back, exchanging a mistrustful look with a carved stone gnome. “Your pretense does not fool me, gnome,” he muttered. “My eye will be upon you.”

 

Kit recognised the words as Latin, which he’d taken three months of in school before he decided there was no point in knowing a language you couldn’t converse in with anyone but the Pope.

There was no reason to sail down Sexy Thoughts River to the Sea of Perversion when it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

“The Herondales have always been famous for their good looks,” said Bridget, “but if you ask me, the Lightwoods are the more sexually charismatic of the bunch.”

Alec spit out his tea. Magnus seemed to be keeping a straight face, but with an effort.

 

Tat Me Up!

There are some things in this world that last forever – books and tattoos are just two of those things. Some books stay with us right from the first word, until long after we’ve turned the final page.  And how do we immortalise these great works of literature? We tattoo them on our bodies.

First and foremost, there’s the Harry Potter fans – otherwise known as the biggest and best in the world. Ten years since the release of the final book, and fans are still as awesome as ever. These tattoos are evidence of just that.

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And then there’s the classic novel-inspired inkings – everything from Alice In Wonderland, to The Clockwork Orange. People really do love the classics, don’t they?

Then from there, we delve into the Young Adult inspired tattoos. Whether that be Rhysand’s knee tattoo, or Tris’ Dauntless tattoo, or even just tattoos inspired by your favourite YA book.

 

Looking at all these makes me want to get a book tattoo! So, which of these tattoos do you actually recognise? Talk to me in the comments which ones you know, and which ones are mysteries.

Happy reading!

Book Review – A Court of Wings And Ruin

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Title: A Court of Wings And Ruin

Author: Sarah J Maas

Synopsis: Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: I have literally no words right now, that would do this book any justice. Maybe there’s some gifs out there that could describe how ACOWAR has made me feel….

So, yeah, you get the drift; I’m in total fangirl mode right now. Now, lets try and put these feelings into actual words.

Where ACOTAR introduced us to the Fae world, and ACOMAF introduced us to the Inner Circle, this one led straight on from the end of Mist and Fury as the new High Lady of the Night Court works to take down the Spring Court from the inside, all the while dealing with Hybern and other forces conspiring against her and her kind.

First of all — Feyre. From page one, I was cheering for her and loving how she was playing the dutiful submissive to Tamlin, while silently planning three steps ahead.  Throughout the whole book, she does make mistakes, but she rises to her role as High Lady in the best way.

Someone had winnowed outright, fleeing. Another had fainted. And a third was clinging to whoever stood beside them, trembling.

(reactions to Feyre being High Lady)

Also…..Rhys. Just….Rhysand. My favourite fictional boyfriend. He’s snarky, and dry, but he’s also loving and caring, and just ugh, I want one!

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I lowered my shields for him, just as his own dropped. His mind curled around mine, as surely as his body now held me.

 

I glanced at my mate—the male who had always presented me with a choice not as a gift, but as my own gods-given right.

 

The Inner Circle as a whole — I would kill for a friendship like this family does. Because that’s what they are. They’re a family. They bitch at each other, and would kill each other sometimes, but they would ALWAYS kill for each other, and that’s the best. The relationship between Mor and Azriel in particular, is something I love, just because they would cut the universe itself in order to save each other.

Our family—our court. The Court of Dreams.

Also, Rhys, Cassian and Azriel don’t talk down to Feyre, like she’s beneath them because she doesn’t have their same skill sets or their training. At one point of the book, there’s a moment when Cassian could have easily swooped in and saved Feyre, but instead of treating her as a damsel in distress, he gives her the opportunity to save herself from this, because he knows she can do it. That’s proper respect, in my opinion.

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The wrath that twisted Cassian’s face was world-ending.

But his hazel eyes slid to mine. A silent command.

He had spent months training me. Not just to attack, but to defend. Had taught me, over and over, how to get free of a captor’s grasp. How to manage not only my body, but my mind.

 

Another point that intrigued me is the morally ambiguous characters – the ones who seem evil and bad, but turn out to be an actual asset for the good side. Maas writes these complicated characters, blurring the lines between good and evil, black and white, and it’s fascinating to watch their characters develop and change.

And on the subject of characters, I LOVED the LGBT characters introduced in this book, where previously they hadn’t existed. Admittedly, it did feel like overcompensation nearer the end, but I’m not complaining, especially when we have an openly bisexual character who seems like he’ll become a more prominent character in future, and a badass lesbian character who will not take any shit from anyone.

Basically, if you like high fantasy, morally grey characters, and being repeatedly hit with a freight train of emotions, this is the book for you.

Now, for some quotes to whet your appetite for this deliciously wonderful book:

 

“Autumn Court males have fire in their blood—and they fuck like it, too.”

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“Rhys sacrificed his legion in the process, got all of them captured and tortured afterward. Yet everyone insists Rhysand is soulless, wicked. But the male I knew was the most decent of them all. Better than that prick-prince.”

 

“Perhaps that’s because Rhysand has not lost you at all. But rather unleashed you upon us.”

 

“I think they aren’t accustomed to being denied. I’d call this an immortal temper tantrum.”

 

“My father will hunt you for taking his power if he finds out,” he said into the frigid dark. “And kill you for learning how to wield it.”

“He can get in line,” was all I said.

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“Right. Rumor has it you two have run off together, cuckolding Tamlin.” His grin widened. “I didn’t think you had it in you, little brother.”

“He had it in her, it seems,” one of the others sniggered.

Cassian observed, “I don’t know who looks more uncomfortable: Az or Lucien Vanserra.”

I chuckled, glancing over my shoulder to where the shadowsinger carried my friend, both of them making a point not to speak, look, or talk.

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“Amren is a bedtime story they told us as younglings to make us behave. Amren was who would drink my blood and carry me to hell if I acted out of line. And yet there she was, acting more like a cranky old aunt than anything.”

 

Mor spewed her wine across the table, splattering it right across Azriel’s chest and neck. The shadowsinger was too busy gawking at me to even notice.

Cassian looked torn between howling at Azriel and gaping.

“I tried to suggest she stay at home,” Kallias said drily, “but she threatened to freeze my balls off.”

Rhys slid his hands into his pockets. “I figure it’s time for the world to know who really has the largest wingspan.”

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Amren’s red lips parted in a wide, serpentine smile. “When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.”

A shiver slithered down my spine.

But Rhys drawled, “Amren, it seems, has been taking drama lessons at the theatre down the street from her house.”

She shot a glare at him.

 

TTT – A Rainbow of Book Covers

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Okay, so it’s been FOREVER since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday (a weekly book meme by The Broke and The Bookish, in case you’ve been living under a rock), but this one caught my interest, and that’s how this post idea was born.

The Prompt:

Cover Theme Freebie: literally anyyyything about covers….top ten covers that scream Spring, ten books with ice cream on the cover, ten books with blue covers, etc. etc.

 

 

1. A Court of Thorns And Roses (Sarah J. Maas)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)

3. The Elite (Kiera Cass)

 

4. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany)

5. Splintered (A.G Howard)

6. Linger (Maggie Stiefvater)

7. Knife (R.J Anderson)

8. Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

9. Evermore (Alyson Noel)

10. Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)

 

Happy reading!

ARC Book Review – Back Piece

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Goodreads | Amazon

Title:  Back Piece

Author: L.A Witt

Synopsis: Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy naval officer approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.

Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.

As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?

Back Piece is a sexy, emotional journey of two people learning to love and finding acceptance for who they really are.

Rating:  4 and a half stars

Review:  I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Colin and Daniel meet at the local gym – Daniel, a young Naval officer, and Colin, a local tattoo artist – and sparks fly almost immediately. Both men have their insecurities, however, and despite their initial ‘casual’ relationship, feelings and inner demons soon appear.

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of L.A Witt, so getting this ARC on Netgalley was amazing. First, I’m going to quickly go into why I only gave this one four and a half stars, instead of the usual five star rating, and then I’ll explain further why I loved this book.

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The only qualm I had with it was the extensive sex scenes. I know it’s the point of the book, but to me, there was too much sex in this one, and not enough other scenes to balance it out. That’s a personal opinion though, so just ignore that.

Now onto the good points:

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I loved how Witt wrote one of the characters as being a man with an eating disorder. That’s something that’s not represented well in media as a whole, so I appreciated the diversity there, where a lot of authors just have women with the eating disorders. Respect. Also, there’s a character who’s 26, and still a virgin, and I appreciated that even more, because in books, you generally find teenagers finding each other and losing their virginity to each other, and whatever, but as someone who’s 22 and never even dated before, it was especially nice to see a character in a book like that.

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As usual, the sexy scenes were brilliantly done – if a book can get me hot and bothered with just the sexual tension? It’s a keeper. I mean, damn! I loved reading about Colin and Daniel getting together, and figuring out what they both liked to do, and seeing that develop over the book? Wow.

Now for some quotes that I particularly liked – think of them as little tidbits to whet your appetite for this book:

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He was lucky to have shipmates who weren’t homophobic at all, let alone the type who could be menacing or dangerous Quite the opposite in fact – mostly they just tried to get him laid. Maybe not very skillfully, but they tried.

That was Colin’s Achilles’ heel. Hot men were great. Adorable guys? Want.

 

So that’s why everyone likes blowjobs so much.

The thought almost made him laugh out loud like a drunken idiot. And he still didn’t care.

 

“Well if you’re worried about your lack of skill, you’re more than welcome to practice on me.” He sighed melodramatically. “If that’s the sacrifice I have to make for the good of gay mankind, then…. Then-” He took a deep breath. “-I’m ready.”

Was this karma for taking so long to find someone? It was like the universe was saying, Sorry about keeping you a virgin for twenty-six years. Here’s an ex-porn star with tattoos and a six pack. Enjoy.

Don’t mind if I do.

 

Was Colin going to be upset? Think he wasn’t really enjoying it? Oh Christ, had he actually found a way to fuck up being fucked?

 

~~~~~

 

Back Piece is the first in a brand new series, and was released on April 25th 2017.

 

Happy reading!

Man Crush Monday #4 (24/04/17)

Man Crush Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Sheri, aka Read In A Flash.This is the place where I tell you every week about the bookish men I’m hopelessly devoted to. Trust me, it’s a long, and ever-growing list.

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This week’s Man Crush is Jeff Christopher from the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill.

 

 

“Verbal, this one,” Catcher said. Then quickly added, “Jeff, quit staring at her ass.”

There was throat clearing behind me before typing started again in earnest.

That meant third-shift hours for my grandfather, his admin Marjorie, Catcher, and Jeff Christopher, my grandfather’s second right-hand man, an undefined shapeshifter and computer whiz kid. Who also had a giant crush on yours truly.

The top of Jeff’s desk was taken up by a Frankenstein-esque collection of keyboards and monitors, upon which sat a stuffed toy I’d learned was a model of H.P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu.

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“Shifters are happy. They’re people; then they’re animals; then they’re people again. What’s not to be happy about? They live with their friends. They drink. They ride their Harleys. They party in Alaska. They have hot shifter sex.” 

At that revelation, Jeff winged up his eyebrows at me, an invitation in his eyes. I bit down on a grin, and shook my head sternly in response. Apparently unruffled, he shrugged, and turned back to his computer. Happily.

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“Asking about someone’s animal is the shifter equivalent of pulling a ruller and asking a guy to whip it out,” Catcher said. 

And down went toast into my trachea. I choked, had to swallow half my glass of OJ to get my breath back. “I’m okay,” I said, waving Mallory off. “I’m fine.” I gave Jeff a sheepish smile. “Sorry.”

He beamed at me. “Oh, I’m not offended. I could show you. I think you’d be pretty pleased.”

I held up a hand. “No.”