STEEL JUSTICE Cover Reveal & Preorder Links

Coming July 28

Set in an alternate near future, Steel Justice is the sixth book in the Steel Empires series and the first time that part of the story is told from the perspective of warrior-mage Kane Nalamas. The world of Steel Empires is one where elves, vampires and shapeshifters co-exist openly with humans and where magic is just another natural force in the world like physics. This installment features magical tattoos, code breaking and robot dogs!


NOTE: All preorders from the publisher will arrive signed by the author (me!)

Warrior-mage partners Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas have reached the pinnacle of their mercenary career, known far and wide and offered their pick of jobs. Mixing business with friendship, they accept a long-term contract across the ocean in Londinium, even though it means a six-month separation from their loved ones in Limani. Lady Zhinu Wallace has no actual need for bodyguards, with her ability to change form into a dragon, but she wants the status and support of her long-time friends as she makes her official debut into British noble society.

What should be a simple job, escorting the client to teas, business meetings, and galas, grows complicated when Zhinu is accused of murder. Her arrest thrusts Kane and Toria into the mystery of a dead scientist, a pickpocket with intriguing tattoos, and a magically encoded notebook.

Toria and Kane split up to untangle all the threads that lead to a lab filled with impossible technology. But to save lives, the partners must work closer together than ever before — merging not only their magic, but their very souls.

Review: Time Served Series by Onley James

Endangered Species (Book 1)

I won’t lie: I originally had zero plan to read this series. A prison love story held zero appeal to me, and the step-brother aspect put me off further. Except I love this author, and I especially love this author’s Elite Protection series. So, the fact that this series is a spin-off of that one finally swayed it in my favor. Spoiler alert: I have zero regrets about reading the first installment of this series.

I’ve been intrigued by Webster since first meeting him, and I thoroughly enjoyed him as a point of view character. Bonus points for a neurodivergent character who doesn’t need saving! The step-brother aspect that initially gave me pause refers more to the past connection shared by Cyrus and Webster, a single year during which 17-year-old Cyrus helped protect 6-year-old Webster from parental abuse. They have not seen each other since those ages, making their romantic connection less fraught with taboo (though other characters in the book don’t shy away from joking about it).

This is an enjoyable book, with a twisty plot, but it’s not always an easy book. James notes at the end of the book that Cyrus’ original prison sentence, despite being a frame job in the story, is all too real for other underserved populations in the United States. Elements of the external plot ring true for so many contemporary news stories, especially in this era of for-profit prisons. Not everyone is as lucky as Cyrus and Webster, nor does everyone have Webster and his friends’ skills and resources to get their own happy ending.

I look forward to reading the next installment in this series and seeing where James takes us next.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Dangerous Breed (Book 2)

I enjoyed the first book in this series partly because it involved a character known to me from another series by James. Still, I wasn’t sure that interest would hold up as events moved away from the familiar sphere of the Elite Protection family. However, as Wyatt lays out to Memphis, once that crew adopts you as one of their own, your family is their family. Thus, Preacher leaves prison to find himself with a job and a support network, which sends him on a crash course toward the Camden brothers.

Memphis and Preacher share a connection from their first meeting. Preacher doesn’t fight with himself for long before acknowledging his need to protect Memphis and his younger brother from their family. Some elements of this book aren’t terribly easy to read, especially as James reminds us in her author’s note at the end that facets of her characters are based on her time as a nurse. However, that darkness is easily balanced by the total sexiness of each of Preacher and Memphis’ explosive encounters. Importantly, Preacher does not “fix” Memphis’ sense of anxiety or low self-esteem by loving him. Instead, he gives the other man space and support to feel ready to address those issues himself. This makes for a lovely subplot in addition to the romance and thrilling external plot of protecting Memphis and Knox from their brother and father.

I’m now totally invested in this spin-off series and can’t wait to see where James decides to take it next. She’s left room open to explore other characters that definitely interest me. For now, I’m content to look forward to the next installment of another of her excellent writing projects.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Domesticated Beast (Book 3)

One of my favorite romance tropes is “murder as a love language.” I was already intrigued by Javier due to his “wedding present” at the end of the previous book in this series, so I was 100 percent here for his attraction for Bowie and how he acts on it. On the other side of the spectrum, I have a soft spot for ballet dancers because I’m the only woman in my family who isn’t one.

The attraction between Bowie and Javier is instantaneous, even if it doesn’t necessarily “make sense” to an outside observer. Acting on that attraction enables them to grow closer, even if Javier’s actions on behalf of Bowie are significantly different from the usual flowers and chocolates. Both men have experienced trauma in their lives, and I love how it bends them together rather than breaks either one.

Plenty of familiar faces appear in this story, though we also meet some fantastic new secondary characters in Javier’s family and Bowie’s best friend, Odette. James is wonderful at crafting dramatic stories featuring wonderful romance and external conflict arcs in which the heroes don’t exist in a vacuum. Javier is my favorite type of anti-hero, and Bowie is a cupcake with a core of steel. They’re my favorite pairing in this series so far, even though none of the books are to be missed. As usual, I look forward to the next installment in this series because I’m not ready to be done with this world.

(Also, consider this my official vote for a bonus scene showing Javier and Shepherd meeting or interacting.)

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: The Other Side of Here by E.M. Lindsey

I knew going into this book that it would wreck me, both because of one of the characters’ relationship situation and how well Lindsey manipulates language to tug at the heartstrings. I did not expect two of the characters to share a similar history—one in the immediate context and one further down the road, but still carrying the after-effects of trauma. Both men deserve love and healing, but they could not have found it in each other without the inclusion of the third, a man with so much overwhelming love to share.

Half the magic is how Xan and Luca have encountered each other before. The possibilities inherent in that encounter were strong, but as painful as the next few years were for Xan, there’s no guarantee the happily ever after would occur if Xan had gone right instead of left that day. That Sebastion and Luca would have been at the same point in their relationship to offer more than what they could to each other.

On the surface, this is a poly, queer, age-gap romance. Except the beauty of Lindsey’s storytelling ability is that the story encompasses so much more. A triad romance is already the story of four different relationships (between each partner and between all of them). This book is also about the relationship between Xan and Max, and even about the one between Sebastion and Rhys. This book might be a romance, but not every romance ends happily ever after without communication, honesty, and work—and sometimes timing. I could say that luck brings about the better timing at the end of this story, but it’s definitely still about making it work and taking the leap, and the result is all the more satisfying because of it.

I highly recommend this stand-alone novel to all fans of Lindsey’s writing, and any reader looking for a high-angst romance that is more than worth the ending.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: The Quiet House (Black & Blue #2) by Lily Morton

A group of paranormal specialists and investigators are gathered at a supposedly haunted house. We’ve probably all read this story before. Except this version happens to include the mysterious and amazing Blue Billings, with boyfriend Levi and mentor Tom along for the ride. What results is decidedly more in the haunted and horrifying department than anyone could have expected, much less the viscount who intentionally gathered numerous haunted relics at the scene of an obviously haunted house.

As a sequel, Blue and Levi are already solidly in a romantic relationship. However, no relationship is without work, and both men experience moments of uncertainty regarding their future. Half the point of this book is to reassure them (and the readers) that they are meant to be together. The psychic bits that keep putting their lives in danger are just extra flavoring. But even without the romance element, Morton provides a fascinating haunted house mystery with multiple layers of paranormal intrigue. What evil continues to stalk this house, and even worse, how is very un-psychic Levi involved?

Blue’s attitude toward the entire situation, especially regarding the opportunity to learn more about his past, elevates this story from familiar to engrossing. Morton doesn’t skimp on any description, whether it be the sexy bits or the atmospheric horror. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, you absolutely won’t want to miss the further adventures of Blue Billings, psychic detective, and his wonderful companion, Levi Black.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: The Boy Series by J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry

The Good Boy (Book 1)

From the back cover description, I expected this to be a short book with a meet-cute, some kinky fun, and maybe a bit of a low-angst dark moment before the happily ever after. Instead, I got a solid romance arc, fascinating and three-dimensional main and side characters, an unspooling storyline that highlights the darkness of Lane’s summer, and kinky yet poignant fun.

Derek and Lane have multiple decidedly un-cute meetings before Derek’s caretaker instincts override the pain Lane’s parents have caused in his life. Derek maintains a careful balance between being open about his life and desires and not pushing beyond Lane’s comfort levels, despite obvious evidence that Lane has been hurt in the past in a way Derek cannot abide. The romance and attraction sneak up on both of them until Lane is firmly entrenched in Derek’s life as if he was made to be there.

The kink and heat levels here are deliciously high but always appropriate to the context. The puppy play mentioned in the blurb is more of a vehicle for Lane to explore his boundaries safely than full-on puppy immersion—sweet, rather than sexy, and definitely shouldn’t turn off readers not comfortable with that aspect of BDSM.

The authors connected Lane and Derek so thoroughly that the dark moment brought me to tears (though to be fair, I cry at everything anyway), but then they balance it out by having Derek save the day while also giving Lane the agency he needs to make his own decisions (and therefore save himself). I will never underestimate the power of a drunk phone call again. This book definitely ends on a solid happily ever after and can be read as a stand-alone story, but I look forward to reading the follow-up novel because I enjoyed the characters so much.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

The Boy Who Belonged (Book 2)

Happily ever after doesn’t mean a life without problems, so I’m always drawn to books that pick up after that point but focus on the same characters. The love between Lane and Derek isn’t in question; however, both men have individual problems that the other can’t solve, stemming from the differences inherent to their lives. This book weaves together three plots: Lane’s continuing issues with his parents, Derek’s concern over the current state of his life (and how he fits into Lane’s), and the bumps in the road that can’t be fixed just by loving each other.

There’s no overt puppy play in this book, but the scenes between Derek and Lane are steamy and intense. In excellent romance genre fashion, since this is still a romance novel and not straight-up erotica, each of the scenes is either influenced by or has an impact on the relationship between Derek and Lane.

The secondary characters also continue to shine, especially a certain over-dramatic peacock (and I’m not talking about the parrot). I’m proud of how far Lane has come since the beginning of the first book, and I’m even more convinced now that their happily ever after is for real.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Lonely Hearts Series by Kate Hawthorne

This post includes reviews of the currently available books in the Lonely Hearts series:

  • His Kind of Love (#1)
  • The Colors Between Us (#2)
  • Love Comes After (#3)
  • Until You Say Otherwise (#4)

His Kind of Love (Book 1)

This dark romance is deceptive, in that even as I was low-key horrified at the depths to which Gabriel insinuates himself into Joel’s life, I couldn’t help but cheer for them to have a happily ever after. Make no mistake—Gabriel is obsessive and stalkerish. His connection with Joel goes back years, and he often prioritizes what he thinks is “best” for Joel without considering the real-life consequences. However, real life is always messier than imagined perfection, and Gabriel’s carefully laid threads quickly unwind once he gets to know the younger man.

Joel doesn’t make the same decisions I necessarily would under the same circumstances, but Hawthorne makes it clear to the reader that he is well-aware of the choice he makes to stay with Gabriel after the first set of reveals. It’s romantic in how both men revel in the connection between them, in that twisted way that dark romance emphasizes. It’s the second set of revelations that throw a wrench in the works, but luckily Joel has his best friend to support him as he processes and eventually makes decisions about his future going forward.

Fans of Hawthorne’s other work won’t be disappointed, even if there are subtle indications that this is an early work by the author. I look forward to continuing this series.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Continue reading “Review: Lonely Hearts Series by Kate Hawthorne”

Review: We Have Till Monday by Cara Dee

Read my review of We Have Till Dawn, an earlier-published work that features Anthony’s younger brother.

As much fun as I have tracking romance plot points now that I’m familiar with the structure, it never ceases to amaze me how diverse the genre can be. I’ve read both MMM and Daddy-kink (with age regression) stories before, and even books that combine those particular tropes. Dee manages her unique storytelling spin here, featuring three fantastic characters who take a chance on creating a happily ever after together.

Dee takes a page out of the real world here to address how even two people in love might not have a 100 percent satisfying relationship if their kinks don’t line up. August and Camden are certainly rolling the dice by opening their relationship, but they attempt to go about it safely by making a trial run of it with Anthony, visiting from out of state. It’s fun to watch them both thoroughly seduce him, and I appreciate the openness and communication they emphasize when it comes to sharing their individual and joint needs.

Unfortunately, the trial aspect of their week of fun fails utterly. Not because Anthony doesn’t fit with the other two men, but because he fits so well. It might have just been a week, but their eventual separation when Anthony has to go home is heart-wrenching and packs all the feels. Again, a taste of the real world: Just because all the kinks line up doesn’t mean life itself with cooperate with the happy ending.

Luckily, these characters are all willing to fight for and sacrifice to achieve their true desires. I had an absolute blast reading this book, and once again look forward to Dee’s next project to enjoy.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: High Lonesome by Tanya Chris

Sometimes I read books despite the trigger warnings at the end of the back-cover blurb. In this case, I picked this book because of one of the trigger warnings. I have a professional interest in HIV due to my day job, and I’m always interested in seeing how HIV and HIV prevention are addressed in romance, especially queer romance. I get excited whenever PrEP is mentioned, but this is only the third book I’ve read in which one of the main characters has HIV.

Both Joe’s HIV status and Tanner’s heroin use are alluded to in the text before the author explicitly spells them out, and both things cause conflict between the three main characters. Pyotr can’t get on much of a high horse because of his current life situation, and I enjoyed the honest arc between him and Joe as truths come out and tensions rise, then ease. I especially appreciated how the author handles Joe’s status, in how he came out the losing side of the odds he played with his earlier life, but that he is not a character set out as a tragic example who must be punished.

In fact, I loved how all three men ended up with a happily ever after despite the conflicts they faced both separately and together. This book could have worked with distinct romance arcs between three different couples (though we’d have lost the fun spy shenanigans in one of them). Chris brings this story to the next level by intertwining them, packing the perfect amount of tension and angst into the intriguing and shifting plot. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a different twist on the romantic suspense story, featuring dynamic and unapologetic characters I couldn’t help but root for.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Dual Destruction (Duality #1) by Kate Hawthorne

This book verges on dark romance territory only because of the love-hate dynamic between the two heroes, including the levels and limits (or lack thereof) to their sexual relationship. I highly recommend reading the free prequel available on the author’s website, “Dual Hostilities,” to see whether these characters may be up your alley. It is not necessary reading to enjoy this novel, but events are referred to, and I think it increased my appreciation of how Sage and Foster relate to each other.

Because that weekend in the woods cemented the tenuous bond between these men, whether they like it or not. The nature of their desires encompasses certain extremes, and it’s not every day that a person finds their perfect match. Too bad Foster has just been tasked to kill Sage but ends up saving his life instead. This incident thrusts both men into the mystery of who wants Sage dead, then who wants Foster and his friends dead, and finally why Sage and Foster are involved with this mysterious plot to begin with. Along the way, Sage’s entire life is upended, even not accounting for how he’s falling in love with the man able to handle anything he can dish out.

In return, Foster is also falling for the man able to push him further than ever before. Their flirting involves more weaponry and macabre humor than your average romance novel (though they do manage to make guns romantic). Still, I adored both men separately and even more as a pair. I’m satisfied with their current state of “happily for now,” and I look forward to the conclusion of this duology for their happily ever after.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

May Wrap-Up & June Goals

It’s a gorgeous day outside, and summer is my favorite season, so I’m here to celebrate a great month and look forward to an even better one. I am now fully vaccinated, so I got to hang out with my best friend in person for the first time in nearly 18 months, along with planning other fun in-person events with friends new and old in the upcoming weeks. I have a brand-new bench on my front porch, so I’m also looking forward to lovely afternoons reading outside. All-in-all, not much to report, but lots to be happy about!

Can’t go wrong with a fire pit and margaritas and best friends.

June is also Pride month! I’m a fierce ally, I give excellent auntie hugs, and I strive for representation in my fiction. I had fun this past weekend creating this graphic to celebrate my characters. You may have already seen it because I shared it across my social media accounts yesterday, but I definitely wanted to make sure my lovely subscribers also got a peek.

May Wrap-Up

  • Words were added to Steel Legacy! Slow and steady wins the race, or gets a book drafted, or something like that.
  • I had a lovely weekend participating in virtual Balticon 2021, which included getting to speak about pandemic fiction, online fandom communities, and The Old Guard. Check out my full con report for all the details.

June Goals

  1. No events scheduled this month, which means all of my focus should be directed at adding more words to Steel Legacy.
  2. Except Steel Justice comes out in July, so I’m sure I’ll also spend some time promoting that. I’m so excited to share the gorgeous cover with all of you!

In Case You Missed It

On the Website

Book Reviews

  • Made Marian Series by Lucy Lennox
    • Borrowing Blue (#1) (5 stars)
    • Taming Teddy (#2) (4 stars)
    • Jumping Jude (#3) (4 stars)
    • Grounding Griffin (#4) (4 stars)
    • Moving Maverick (#5) (4.5 stars)
    • Delivering Dante (#6) (5 stars)
    • A Very Marian Christmas (#7) (4 stars)
    • Made Marian Shorts (#7.5) (4 stars)
    • Made Mine (#8) (5 stars)
    • Hay (#8.5) (4.5 stars)
    • Made Marian Mixtape (#9) (4.5 stars)
  • Break My Shell by K.A. Merikan (4 stars)
  • Love Logic Series by K.M. Neuhold
    • Rocket Science (#1) (4.5 stars)
    • Four Letter Word (#2) (5 stars)
    • By the Numbers (#3) (4.5 stars)
  • Mallory Vineyard Series by Kate Hawthorne & E.M. Denning
    • Future Fake Husband (#1) (4 stars)
    • Future Gay Boyfriend (#2) (5 stars)
    • Future Ex Enemy (#3) (4 stars)
  • The Summer of Us by Lily Morton (5 stars)
  • Protectors Series by Sloane Kennedy
    • Absolution (#1) (4 stars)
    • Salvation (#2) (4 stars)
    • Retribution (#3) (4 stars)
    • Forsaken (#4) (5 stars)
    • Vengeance (#5) (5 stars)
    • A Protector’s Family Christmas (#5.5) (5 stars)
    • Discovering Daisy (#5.6) (5 stars)
    • Atonement (#6) (5 stars)
    • Revelation (#7) (5 stars)
    • Redemption (#8) (4.5 stars)
    • Defiance (#9) (5 stars)
    • Protecting Elliot (#9.5) (4.5 stars)
    • Unexpected (#10) (5 stars)
    • Made Mine (#10.5) (5 stars)
    • Shattered (#11) (5 stars)
    • Unbroken (#12) (5 stars)
    • Pretend You’re Mine (#12.5) (4 stars)
    • Obsessed (#13) (4.5 stars)
  • Proficiency Bonus (Roll For Love #3) by Charlie Novak (5 stars)
  • May the Best Man Win by J.R. Gray & Kate Hawthorne (4 stars)
  • The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by K.J. Charles (4 stars)
  • Extracurricular Activities Series by Neve Wilder
    • Want Me (#1) (4.5 stars)
    • Try Me (#2) (5 stars)
    • Show Me (#3) (5 stars)
  • After Oscar Series by Lucy Lennox & Molly Maddox
    • In Real Life (#1) (5 stars)
    • Laugh Out Loud (#2) (4.5 stars)
    • By the Way (#3) (5 stars)

Even laundry requires feline supervision at Casa Siamese; or, warm dryer is warm.