Where There’s A Will (Panopolis #3), by Cari Z

Where There's A Will
Where There’s A Will
Rating: 4.5 stars

BLURB

Being a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.

Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to put a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest Villains to undermine GenCorp— my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.

I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions— not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams— but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.

Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.

Where There’s A Will

I had already read the two previous Panopolis universe books by Cari Z and, truth be told, it’s such a wonderful universe. Creating this universe populated with Heroes and Villains was, I felt, one of those strokes of literary lightning that hit every once in a while, and the way she carries it out? Yeah, good stuff!

We finally get some good answers. Lots of good answers to the questions started in the two previous books: GenCorp, Freight Train, Mr. Fabulous, Morpho Girl, the City of Panopolis, and most interestingly of all SuperTruther!

THE CHARACTERS

Craig Haney, A.K.A. Freight Train:

Craig Haney wasn’t an exciting guy. I’d been a fairly average kid, raised by my grandmother after my parents were killed during a battle between Earthquake and Sky King. I’d grown into a fairly average man who wasn’t smart enough to make it through college, so I’d gone into the police academy instead. I’d been a decent cop, but that was all I’d been. Then came the accident, and shortly after that, Freight Train was born.

Ari Mansourian:

I almost did a double take. I hadn’t even noticed the man standing there, and I definitely had reason to. …his suit had reasserted itself, as had the gray shirt he wore, and a tie that just barely kept him from being completely monochrome thanks to a faint white pinstripe running through the fabric. His blue eyes seemed bigger when I stood a few feet from him, accentuated by those thick black frames. I couldn’t make myself look away.

THE STORY

This is a phenomenal universe that Cari Z created. If you like the whole super hero story line, and a lot of us seem to considering movie box office proceeds, then this is fantastic! She’s created a complete universe where the Heroes and Villains co-exist with the rest of us in modern day, 21st Century America, complete with product placements, sponsorship, marketing collaterals, agents, and action figures. If you haven’t read the first two Panopolis books, I urge you to read them first as they all flow in sequence. This is the third, and hopefully not the final, episode in the series and all of the secondary characters come back, along with the previous main characters now in supporting roles.

In Where There’s a Will we get answers to the questions from the first two books and get the story of Craig Haney, Freight Train, and the guy he falls head over heels for, Dr. Ari Mansourian. We get to see how The Mad Bombardier, Raul, and Mastermind, Edward Dinges (Freight Train’s previous love interest) are getting along and what they’re up to. Sorry, no spoilers as Bombardier and Mastermind play an important part of this story. We get to re-visit the infamous Abattoir prison and the evil Dr. Steuben, and we finally get a glimpse into just who SuperTruther is!

THE WRITING

Groovy stuff here, boys and girls. This is super hero story-telling at its finest, with the traditional super hero story arc and surprising plot twists. The story flows smoothly, no hiccups or rough sentence structures. Solid, good editing and beta/proof reading, no typos. You can just sit back and immerse yourself in a great story, buckle up and enjoy the ride. One of the hallmarks I’ve found with publishing houses such as Riptide and a few others. If you want to escape and enjoy a good book, this is it.

THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Cari Z and Riptide Publishing with providing OJ He Say! with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

THE AUTHOR

Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She likes edged weapons, prefers books to television shows, and goes weak at the knees for interesting men and exciting explosions (but not at exactly the same time— that would be so messy).

Where There’s a Will
Copyright © 2016 by Cari Z
Cover art: L.C. Chase
Editor: Carole-Ann Galloway
Layout: L.C. Chase

Riptide Publishing
PO Box 6652
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

ISBN: 978-1-62649-405-3
First edition May, 2016

Resurrection, by Shelly Davidson – A Gay Guy/Straight Girl Co-Review

Resurrection
Resurrection

By S. Davidson
Lisa’s Rating 3 stars
OJ’s Rating 3.75 stars
Lisa’s Review: Attention Is Arbitrary

Cover Artist: Rue Volley
Release date: 6/1/2016
Publisher: Encompass Ink
Genre: M/M Military Romance 18+

Triggers: Deals with PTSD, death, and injury.

BLURB

Two men with painful, complicated pasts who have shut themselves down from ever loving again. Complete opposites of one another, one raised in a strict military household, who grew up with the sole purpose of becoming a soldier and defending his country, only to have that cut short by an IED; and the other raised in the rodeo, small town and ranch life his safe haven; and their chance meeting.How the two of them end up in some small town diner can only be credited to divine intervention. But are both men too damaged? They say God works in mysterious ways. Well, he certainly had his hands full when he chose these two for saving.Is it too late?

CO-REVIEW

OJ

I read Ms. Davidson’s call for reviews of her upcoming book and the first thing that grabbed my attention was the blurb. Oh, yeah! Come to papa! This read as if it had all the ingredients I go for in a book: A strong alpha type, a strong second MC, a contemporary, factual story line… and then when I saw the cover? Oh, wow! The cover. I absolutely fell in love with the cover. My hat off to Rue Volley for a cover that’s so well themed to the book – and absolutely gorgeous! Thank you, Ms. Volley.

Lisa

OJ, OJ, OJ what have you gotten me into here? This one’s on you dude. Talk about a difficult book to review, whew! Solid storytelling and plot development here. It took me from deep depths of emotional despair, to soaring elation with second-chance relationships to incredible frustration with some of the writing aspects. I was adjusting my review score constantly. Bottom line – I’d say this was hit and miss, but with big hits and big misses.

THE CHARACTERS

OJ

James Massey

He had on a baseball cap, wore sunglasses even though they were inside, and he had a face covered in a full beard. His hair was too long, but it was pretty clear by the stretch of his t-shirt across his chest that the guy was built like an armored truck. He was golden tan and his arms were covered in ink. He just sat there and stared toward the front door. … He slowly took off his sunglasses and for the first time, they could see his brilliant green eyes. …taking off his cap and running his hand through his dark brown locks.

Chris Baker

It didn’t hurt that he was handsome in a cowboy way, strong facial structure, easy smile and charm that wouldn’t quit. He was also built like a professional athlete, long and lean, with just enough muscle that no one messed with him. … never met another man who could reach a climax more than once during a fuck and it was as if Chris was just getting started, each one building in intensity for both partners until all that was left behind was satiated flesh and two tired cowboys.

Lisa

James (Jamie) Massey

Dyed in the wool Special Forces soldier, Jamie has been on tour four times. He’s seen too much, lost too much, but can he be resurrected?

Chris Baker

Freakin’ sexy-ass cowboy bull rider, Chris is a dichotomy. He is a country boy drawn to the big city. He finds a lot there, including the love of his life.

THE STORY

OJ

The question: what happens to these men we train to protect and serve after they’ve given their all?

The answer: read on.

What an excellent, contemporary, up to date story this is. Ms. Davidson hit the nail right on the head with this one. We have two strong, muscular, masculine alpha types and the interplay of their different life stories coming together at a crucial point in their lives that makes for such a good, strong story arc.

Jamie, the strong alpha type, brought up by a strict, uncompromising father that always made Jamie strive for more and show no weakness, shutting down his emotional side.

It was apparent from what they had witnessed that the captain was extremely hard on his only son, always telling him he could be better, stronger, faster, even if he had been victorious.

Jamie’s life was shaped by the inevitability of his going into military service and his determination to be the best: Delta Force, and then his falling in love with his college roommate, Derrick, and their best friend, Shannon. These factors, and his multiple, gruesome deployments, all come into play to create the stoic, hardened man that’s yearning for love and understanding.

Chris is the sexy, muscular, lean, intelligent rodeo cowboy that grew up, and was shaped by, a totally accepting and supportive family. His story is that of a man that comes of age in the rough and tumble sport of bull riding, only to have that future dashed by an almost crippling injury. Going off to college and meeting his first love, Ben, and their story is what shapes him into Jamie’s perfect counterpart.

The life experiences, and tragedies (no spoilers!) these men undergo are part and parcel of what makes them the perfect fit and makes for such a good story. I found this book hard to put down and now I want more.

Lisa

This book was a struggle. Jamie struggled. Chris struggled. I struggled.

Jamie never had a choice whether he would be a soldier or not. It’s in his family’s blood. He was groomed from a young age to do his best, be the best, and as he rises to each and every challenge. But he also loses bits of himself along the way.

Chris is one of the good guys. He’s talented, intelligent and caring. Maybe too caring. I think the reader is supposed to fall for Jamie, but it was Chris for me all the way.

Settle in for a very complete story about two men who have lived a lot of life and then come together at a point in their lives that find them both ruined. Trying to survive the depths of despair and the horrors of war, there isn’t much left for these guys to give. And yet, they find a way.

THE WRITING

OJ

The writing, timing, and delivery of the story is good for this POV. It has been a while since I read a book with a narrative style POV and while, I must admit, it’s not necessarily my favorite POV, it worked for me with this story even though it was hard to get used to at first. We are treated, almost in a movie script kind of way, to Jamie and Chris’ story.

Jamie’s hard, military brat upbringing. His coming of age in college and falling in love with Derrick and his struggling to let his emotions and feelings for Derrick come out, coupled with his enormous drive to attain his goal. The pace of the story during Jamie’s deployments is set just right, giving us the full background for what comes later.

Chris’ story follows a similar, well timed delivery. His bull riding youth, the tragic accident and then his falling in love with Ben are brought to us in a rich, full story-telling that works in this narrative POV. Chris’ love and devotion come to life in full, vibrant color. This is what hardens this man for his fated encounter with Jamie.

Lisa

Annd this is where I struggled. I realize backstory is important, but it felt like it was worked out after the main story had been written and that rarely works. Honestly I would have trimmed the heck out of it. It wasn’t repetitive, but it was just too much. There was nearly no dialog for the first twenty percent and that really slowed down the read. At times I felt like I was reading a non-fiction, or even a mission report about Jamie’s deployments. Top that off with fade-to-black scenes (not just the sex scenes) that were just getting somewhere enjoyable and… I struggled.

And then the very weak editing affected tempo and overall readability, unfortunately.

However! There were some brilliant, shocking and emotional moments that made the book memorable. I’m still thinking about these guys; they’ve stuck with me. This author has solid storytelling abilities that a more ardent editor could resurrect. I won’t hesitate to give her work another try.

THE EDITING

OJ

Here’s where I had some misgivings with this book, although not a deal breaker for me this time, even though I’m such a stickler for this, because the story itself and the heart and soul of the writing is pretty darn good. There are several typos, misspellings and incorrect sentence structures and tense usages that, quite frankly, shouldn’t be there in a story delivery such as this one. I had to go back and re-read a few passages, and that just shouldn’t be. I have to admit I couldn’t go to 4 stars because of this, but please, don’t let it deter you from enjoying this book. Deep in it’s a good story that had me in tears at some points, biting my nails at others, and grooving on some kinky sex scenes at others. Enjoy!

Ms. Davidson is a good, solid writer and I really look forward to her next endeavors.

THE THREE QUESTIONS

For Lisa

1) Standalone or sequel, and if so, what kind of sequel?
2) How did you feel about Chris’ steadfastness?
3) Did you think there were any unanswered questions/situations/occurrences?

For OJ

1) How believable did you find Jamie’s battle scenes?
2) This really drove home what we ask of our service members. That’s all. Not a question, but penny for your thoughts.
3) Who resurrected whom?

THE AUTHOR

Who is Shelly Davidson? Shelly is someone who has been writing literally her entire life (and that’s a LONG time) and has always written M/M. Her first story was back in high school and she hasn’t stopped since. Of course, Shelly never dreamed of getting published, so needless to say, she’s in heaven! Shelly loves her characters. Her writing focus is real people, flaws and all, who are hurting or damaged, but deserve a little joy in their lives. Shelly was born and raised in Arizona, but currently lives in California because that is where the money is! She is currently single, but has a grown daughter and an adorable grandson both of whom she loves dearly. While she usually stays pretty much to herself, she does have a Bachelor’s in Social Services and a diverse background that ranges from theater to health care and currently works in accounting, she swears it’s not as boring as it sounds. While this is her first publication, it is by far not the last! She plans on being around for quite some time! You’ve been warned!

THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Shelly Davidson and Encompass Ink Publishing for providing OJ He Say with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

I would like to thank the author, S. Davidson for providing Lisa Arbitrary with a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Resurrection
Copyright © 2016 by S. Davidson
Cover Art by Rue Volley
Edited by EAL Editing Services
Published by Encompass Ink

In The Middle of Somewhere, by Roan Parrish

In The Middle of Somewhere

Rating: 4.75 stars

BLURB

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in―not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

In The Middle of Somewhere

I kept hearing about this book on line, on Facebook, on Twitter and everyone kept saying the same thing – how great it is, so I decided to check it out and bought a copy. What a smart move that was! Turns out all the chatter about In The Middle of Somewhere doesn’t even begin to give it justice. This is one of those you can’t put down, you stay up late into the night reading and when it’s over? One heck of a book hangover! I want more! This is storytelling at its finest, characters so well developed you feel as if you know them, unexpected developments, one hell of a story twist (sorry, no spoilers!) and toe curling, shiver inducing, steamy, romantic, full of feels hot sex. Yowza!

THE CHARACTERS

Daniel Mulligan:

Handsome, fit, dark, tattooed, snarky Daniel. Son of an Irish Philadelphia family, brought up in the world of car mechanics and garages, youngest of four brothers and the only one to go to college and want a life beyond his blue collar background. Tormented by his brothers as the youngest, and even more tormented when they find out he’s gay, he wants to move on. Add a crushing experience with his first steady boyfriend in college and you get the final varnish on the emotional wall he’s built for himself and his inability to let himself be vulnerable enough to show love.

“You know,” he says, and he sounds a little shy. “You kind of look like you could be one of those old-time Hollywood leading men.” I look up at him, startled. He’s looking at me intently, leaning forward, but his eyes are sad, dark. “You’d be wasted on black and white, though. Your eyes.” He makes a vague gesture toward my face, then turns away.

Rex Vale:

Gentle, intelligent Rex. A towering man shaped and molded by growing up with his mother, a woman unlucky in love, moving from town to town, man to man in order to care for and give her son a decent life. Always shy, Rex is even further molded by a horrible incident in his youth with his first love (no spoilers!) and a deep secret about himself that he’s ashamed to share with anyone. Learning early on that life is cruel and that one way, or another, people will leave him he lives the life or a loner in the pristine forests of Michigan.

He has dark hair and eyes, and a sharp nose. That’s all I can see in the dark. But he is definitely much younger than I assumed. His low voice sounded older, but he looks like he’s in his midthirties. And up close, he is massive, with hugely broad shoulders, powerful arms, and broad hips—how much of that is flesh and how much is flannel remains to be seen. He’s nearly a head taller than me, and I’m not short.

THE STORY

What a great story this turns out to be. Daniel and Rex, such two different men yet so much alike in the walls they’ve built around themselves, unable to trust and love someone for fear of emotional and physical pain. Daniel scarred by his family, his ex-boyfriend and his rough and tumble upbringing in Philadelphia, and Rex. Rex terrified of losing anyone close to him, scarred by his loss of everyone close to him in his youth, he becomes determined to protect anyone the he can even remotely get close to, thus becoming a towering fortress of a man. It’s the interplay between these two characters, and those closest to them, that makes for this absolutely riveting read.

THE WRITING

Holy Cow, Batman! What writing! Such descriptive, smooth flowing, delectable prose is a beautiful thing to find, a true joy. Ms. Parrish weaves this story flawlessly, no hiccups, no having to go back because huh?! All of the characters, every single one of them, even the smallest characters, are so well developed you feel you know them – no nagging questions. Daniel and Rex come alive through Ms. Parrish as does an excellent supporting cast: Ginger, Daniel’s best friend and tattoo artist extraordinaire with her own story line; Will, Rex’s ex-boyfriend and current best friend; Leo, the young gay man that reminds Daniel of himself at a younger age; and a whole host of other characters that make this such a rich, satisfying read. Add in Rex’s deep secret, incredibly, impossibly hot sex and a grand story twist at the end and you have yourself a classic!

THE DISCLAIMER

I purchased my copy of In The Middle of Somewhere because the many positive comments made me curious so I thought it’d be a good personal read, instead I found I absolutely had to review it.

THE AUTHOR

ROAN PARRISH grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from deciding to move. A former academic, she’s used to writing things that no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books, movies, TV, and music—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into. When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, wandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she might or might not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese. You can find her on her website or on twitter. Have questions/comments/ pictures of octopi? Want to recommend a strong cheese or express a strong opinion? Drop her a line on e-mail. She’d love to hear from you.

Website: http://www.roanparrish.com
Twitter: @RoanParrish
E-mail: roanparrish@gmail.com

In The Middle of Somewhere, by Roan Parrish
Published by DREAMSPINNER PRESS
5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886 USA
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

In the Middle of Somewhere © 2015 Roan Parrish.
Cover Art © 201AngstyG.
www.angstyg.com

ISBN: 978-1-63476-212-0
Digital ISBN: 978-1-63476-213-7
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015906026
First Edition July 2015

Man Under Construction, by R.M. Olivia

Man Under Construciton

Rating: 2.5 stars

BLURB

After his father’s sudden death, Dominik has to take over as CEO of Under Construction LLC. His personal life is hardly better. Having caught his long-time lover Léon with another man, Dom’s heart is frozen and he has firmly put all men out of his life.

When the need arises to hire a new construction worker, handsome Ian Colbee joins the team. Dom finds Ian way too distracting and tries to distance himself, but Ian is persistent. In the meantime, Léon’s attempts to gain back Dom’s affection begin to escalate.

Can Ian teach Dominik to lighten up and trust again? Will Léon get the message and go his way quietly?

Man Under Construction

So, here I was minding my own business (yeah, right) and I bump into Man Under Construction. Wow, what a great plot! Especially for me, the son of a civil engineer. I mean, I grew up with construction workers and construction sites. Yeah, I know, rough for a young gayling! So, anyway, here was a story ready made for me, right? I lucked out and got a review copy, here’s what I found: not bad, a good first M/M start and yet not an ‘erotic’ romance.

THE CHARACTERS

Dominik Alrizzo:

Ian put an invisible check mark next to his Imaginary Man Requirements List. Handsome check, dark check, good job quadruple check. …Dominik Alrizzo appeared to be between thirty-five and forty years old. A good age. …Stocky, swarthy, Italian stallion. His boss-to-be’s sex appeal had made him glad to be alive. …His gorgeous face, eyes kind of cold and steely, …

Ian Colbee:

Ian Colbee stood around six-foot-one and two-hundred pounds. Steel tipped boots covered his feet. Startling blue eyes, the color of a glacier, peered out underneath a military-style buzz cut. Climbing ladders, laying bricks, and digging had made a god of a man. And his abs! Dom could go on for days, just staring at this motherfucker.

THE STORY

The story is a great premise. Hot scion of a construction company owner inherits the company upon his father’s sudden, unexpected death. The heir of the company, who has worked hand in hand with his father, comes face to face with his abusive ex-partner, unexpectedly, at his father’s funeral.

As he inherits the construction company, and his father’s extremely capable assistant, Gracie, he realizes that he’s short staffed in order to finish an important construction job they’re in the midst of. In comes the new love interest, the strapping, hot, sexy, younger construction worker.
Hence the fireworks between the new and old boyfriends and the angst the construction company scion must undergo in order to complete his journey.

THE WRITING

Here’s where I experienced the hiccup with the story. The very first thing I noticed was the spelling of the name of Dominik’s (Dom) evil ex. Léon. Léon is a Cuban-Puerto Rican hot mess, so one would expect his name would be spelled in Spanish, as in León. Instead throughout the book the French spelling, Léon, is used. As a Cuban-American who has lived and studied in Spain and Venezuela I just couldn’t get past this. Sorry.

At first reading the writing seemed hop-sketchy and to not flow smoothly. Upon a second reading I did get the thread of the writing, vis-à-vis the story. The point is I shouldn’t have had to re-read it in order to get the flow of the writing. Upon second reading it’s not bad. I wish the characters were more developed, especially Ian. There’s so much potential that I was waiting for from Ian and it never materialized.

The erotic romance quotient didn’t seem to materialize. I waited for a hot, steamy, toe-curling sex scene. Alas, it never came about *sigh*. The potential was so there, especially with a ready-made character like Ian. The possibilities with the evil, ex-boyfriend are limitless for some reminiscing scenes or even, if you want to get really twisted, kinky between the evil ex-boyfriend and the new love interest. Just sayin’.

THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank R.M. Olivia and JMS Books, LLC, for supplying me with a copy of Man Under Construction in exchange for my honest review.

THE AUTHOR

R.M. Olivia writes sexy romance. She believes love is for all and doesn’t discriminate in her choice of characters or stories. She is never without a pen and paper in case one of her random characters decides to speak to her. If you dig through her handbag you will find scraps of paper with ideas that may make their way into future stories.

R.M. Olivia is a member of Rainbow Romance Writers’ of the Romance Writers of America. She has been scribbling for a long time and if you look in her many notebooks stuffed inside her drawer, you will find other hidden stories screaming to get out. R.M. Olivia credits Spanish telenovelas and an active imagination for getting her started. When not typing away at the computer, she enjoys snuggling with her cats, shopping on Amazon, or catching up on some reading.

Man Under Construction, by R.M. Olivia
Published by JMS Books, LLC
Visit jms-books.com for more information.
Copyright 2016 R.M. Olivia
ISBN 9781634860758
Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com