August's Best Books & Audios
August was a great reading/listening month. I discovered a few new stories and re-connected with a few old favourites.
I'm a mixed media reader (like many), I enjoy my books in written and audio form, so when picking my favourites for the month, I just have to include audio too!
I can be really indecisive when it comes to books. I mean how do you pick a favourite? It was hard to pick which book cover I wanted to highlight in the above image, but to rate them all from 5 to 1... Please don't ask me to do that! So in no particular order....
Unfettered Omega ( Found and Freed: The Unfettered #1)
~ S. Rodman
Is he here to save me? Or is he just another captor?
I’m a slave. Nothing more than property. The very thing I never wanted to be, and the very reason I ran away from my pack. Seems like fate has a cruel sense of humor. Being enslaved in a harem, even a billionaire’s, is no life at all. ‘Ritchie’s Rainbow’, they call us. Each of us are named and dressed in a different color. Red, Blue, Jade, Gray, Pink, Yellow and Indigo. I’ve been called Red for so long, I can barely remember my real name.
A vampire, siren, fey, demon, vessel, kelpie and me, a wolf shifter. All imprisoned for the pleasure of a wealthy human, to use for himself and to lend to his friends. I take care of the other boys the best I can, they are brothers to me and it’s in my omega nature to be nurturing. But it is hard when we are all suffering so much. But Brodie, the new healer, seems kind under his gruff exterior. I see something in his eyes. Something that gives me hope. I think he might just be here to save us all. But I don't think falling for me is part of the plan. Am I going to ruin everything? Or will I finally find freedom? Finally become unfettered?
Amazingly romantic and heartbreaking in equal measure. My heart bled for all the boys.
I kind of expect an emotionally charged story when I pick up a S. Rodman book, but I'll admit I wasn't prepared for the intensity of this one.
The circumstances Red and the boys found themselves in was absolutely horrific, leading to a high angst (outside the main relationship) read. It certainly made me keep flipping the pages though! I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. I was so glad I had this little voice in my head telling me to wait for a Friday night, because it was well and truly Saturday morning before I finished!
A beautiful ending for Red and Brodie, and I absolutely can't wait for the rest of the family to find their peace.
The best news! Book 2 Unfettered Kelpie is now available. Unfettered Kelpie (apart from giving us Lello's story) starts to delve deeper into the personalities and circumstances of the others, only making me more eager for their stories!
Patience (Damned Connections #1) ~ Lark Taylor
Ferryman. The Grim Reaper. La Muerte. La Pelona. Shinigami. Charon.
I’ve been called many names over the millennia, all thanks to my role in Hell.
Ferrying dead souls over the river Styx. But few know the demon behind the legend, how I came to be here, or the freedom I sacrificed to save the man I love. Now I’m free to find him again. The problem? He doesn’t remember me. And he’s straight. Leo fell madly in love with me once before. Will he fall again before it’s too late?
All my life, I’ve felt like something is missing. Neither my job as a firefighter, my brother Matty, nor my ex-girlfriends have been able to fill that hole. When a mysterious stranger approaches me in a bar, I find myself captivated. I’ve never been attracted to men before, but I can’t seem to resist him. Why is it that spending time with Ferry feels so…right? So familiar?
I have a full review coming out soon (hopefully later this week), but for now, can I just say....
I was addicted to Patience from the first page!!!
Ferry and Leo's story broke me apart and then put me back together again.
All the couples from the Reckless Damned series are actively in the story, and it gives it a feel of coming home. Something I'm really happy about, because I became attached to the Demons and their mates.
Patience could technically be read as a standalone, but I really wouldn't recommend it. You really need the history of the Reckless Damned series to for the best experience.
I had a book hangover after this one and I'm drooling for book 2, but it was worth it!!
Patience is available on Amazon,
Whispers in the Dark (Black Oasis #1)
~ Lily Mayne & Nikole Knight
At twenty-four, Cody has already lost hope of having a life of his own. All his time is spent playing nurse to a dying, spiteful step-father and maid to his bully half-brother. His only escapes are playing his favorite online fantasy game, Black Oasis, and talking to the strange, unearthly presence under his bed that may or may not actually exist.
But everything changes when his nightly visitor, who introduces himself as Nor, starts talking back.
As their connection deepens, Nor invites Cody into the surreal world existing just beyond his nightmares, filled with haughty demons, passion-killing pet bugs named Gef, and a dark landscape that is oddly familiar. With his sweet but monstrous companion by his side, Cody might finally gain the life of freedom and adventure that he’s always wanted.
I'm a huge fan of Lily Mayne's writing, but for some reason I haven't (yet) read a book by Nikole Knight.
It's the sign of a good co-write where you can't tell where one author starts and the other finishes, and that's exactly what you get here. It all flows smoothly with no disjointed or awkward paragraphs to indicate an author change.
I can't comment on Nikole Knight's normal writing style, but this story fit Lily Mayne to a tee! Beautiful characters, this time a very innocent but sunshiney monster and a traumatised human living in horrible circumstances. Cody desperately needs light in his life, and Nor is the one to give it to him.
I was enthralled from the first, and can't wait to read the next book in the series. I have a feeling it's going to be fun!
Whispers in the Dark is available on Amazon.
Panther's Luck ~ Holly Day
Romeo Gallo has to flee town. The problem is that the only place he can think of going is an old ranch he's inherited from his uncle, and it's off the paved road. Humans are fair game if they're off the paved road, and being eaten by shifters has never been on the list of things Romeo wants to experience.
Ciar Moonlight is a panther shifter, perfectly happy living a laidback life on the ranch. He wants nothing to do with humans. But one night, one moves into the house, and Ciar finds it hard to stay away.
Romeo soon learns he isn't the only one living on the ranch. Shifters and vampires keep popping up, and since no one has eaten him yet, he'd go as far as to call a few of them his friends. And there is a panther reluctant to leave his bedroom, so maybe one is even more than a friend. Ciar might not have wanted to get to know a human, but now when Romeo is living in his territory, he's Ciar's to keep, right? So if someone tries to get rid of Romeo, it's Ciar's right to defend him. Right?
Although this is one of her longer novellas, Holly Day has still packed a full and detailed story into a limited page length.
I honestly didn't want to leave this one. The story and characters were just so different, I wanted to explore even more!
It is quite a unique story. Set in a world that has been segregated into human and paranormal. Humans must stay on the path and keep to their territories or face the consequences. It reminded me a bit of Anne Bishop's The Others series (although completely different), but it had a similar type of dystopian feel to it.
I really hope Holly revisits this world again, I'd love to read more. This story was one of my favourites, and it reinforced my respect for this writer to be able to deliver such quality writing, strong world building, and truly wonderful characters, time and time again. Highly Recommended!!
Panther's Luck can be found on Amazon (as well as other sites).
The Return ~ Parker Williams
The day Jonas Brodie met Corey Mills, his whole life was mapped out. He knew without a doubt Corey was his mate. After Jonas nearly killed someone, his father was forced to separate the two without explaining the reasons to Corey.
Corey Mills has been head over heels for Jonas forever. A simple touch from his friend could soothe Corey where nothing else could. After being beaten by a classmate, Jonas storms off, and for the next six years, Corey hasn’t heard anything from him. Now he’s back, and boy, has Jonas changed. He’s returned to Harken’s Corners to claim what he was forced to leave behind. His mate. He’s ready to turn Corey’s world upside down, but then Corey lets Jonas know he has a secret of his own.
The Return is a gorgeous human/shifter fated mates romance. The story has the expected wolf hierarchy of Alpha/Beta/Omega, but Omegas are not treated as a lower class without their own agency, and there is no mpreg.
As with all books by this author, the romance was lovely. It was relatively low angst, as while there is a bit drama between Jonas and Corey to start with, it doesn't drag out and fits with the overall story.
The bit of suspense/action theme running through it breaks it all up and prevents the story from ever becoming to heavy. It has its emotional moments, but it is generally a mid-light read.
I love this author's writing style, and like always, it was engaging, and kept me flipping the pages.
I get the feeling this is a book that is often overlooked, and that's a shame because it's a lovely hidden gem of a story.
The Return is available on Amazon.
A Cat's Chance in Hell (Charm City Chronicles #2)
~ Meghan Maslow; Narrated ~ Greg Boudreaux
When a feline fatale meets his magical match, Baltimore might just go up in flames. I, Carter Strike, Siamese shifter extraordinaire and a powerful demon’s right-hand cat—er, man—have a job to do. My boss’ boy toy is in the crosshairs of an unknown assassin. And when my boss is unhappy, all of Charm City burns. That’s where I come in. Intel is my specialty, and it leads me to the doorstep of one drop-dead gorgeous but annoyingly secretive rakshasa.
Bengal Damon-Cowles—even his name is obnoxious—runs Southwest Baltimore and is nothing if not frustratingly contrary. I don’t care if he is a demi-god among shifters, I don’t need the complications from a sexy-as-sin rakshasa with the utter gall to turn down a fine piece of feline-fantasy like myself. Especially when we’re forced to work together. Except every day we spend in close proximity turns up the heat between us. A roomful of secrets, a looming Nor'easter, and friends with questionable—or nonexistent—morals add gasoline to the blaze. As the stakes climb ever higher and people start dying, I’ve got a cat’s chance in hell of coming out of this one unscorched.
Meghan Maslow has done it again!
A Cat's Chance in Hell is everything I could have asked for in the second book of the Charm City Chronicles.
All the humour, romance, SNARK, and great characters from the first book, with a few additions to make you wonder if they'll have their own book at some stage. Nothing like keeping your readers guessing! I loved getting to know Carter better, as well as unravelling the mysterious Bengal.
Lots of twists and turns, and since I refuse to spoil anything, I can't actually talk about the book all too much. Just know that it's an addictive ride filled with laughs, snarky humour, and all the romance I could possibly want!
I LOVED that Tommy and Poe featured heavily in this story, I wasn't ready to let them go yet.
The action is building, alliances are being made and broken.... Who is friend and who is foe? Let's just say this book sets up what looks to be an absolute rollercoaster of a series!
Cat's Chance in Hell CANNOT be read as standalone as it takes off pretty much from the end of Demon's in the Details. While there is a little bit of backtracking and explanation, it's not enough to really understand all the characters, friendships, and alliances (or not) that reoccur in this book. Book 1 is such a good read, I don't know why you'd want to miss it anyway!
Demon's in the Details was one of my favourite books of early 2022 (I found it long after it was released) and the audio --- *chef's kiss* it remains the only book I listened to twice in as many months, I just never do re-listens that closely together, but for this book ... I'm now on fourth or fifth listen!
Cat's Chance in Hell is a wild ride with all the characters you've grown to love (and hate) from the first book. So take a chance and get to know everyone's favourite snarky Siamese and learn the mysteries of the Rakshasa with an attitude!
If you've read the book but haven't listened Cat's Chance in Hell in audio yet, run don't walk, to do so. I loved the book, but the audio is next level. Meghan Maslow and Greg Boudreaux work beautifully together!
Everything I Didn't Know ~ Nicky James
Narrated ~ Nick J Russo
It was supposed to be an escape. A new life living off the land. It was supposed to be a peaceful community. A family. But it was a lie. Six months after he arrived, Bowie learned the hard truth about Oasis. There are rules, and they are made to be followed. The consequence of disobedience is deadly. Once you’re in Oasis, you’re never getting out. And its cultish founder has eyes everywhere. One year into his survival, with a plan to escape slowly simmering to life, Bowie is faced with a problem. New members have joined the community, among them a man who catches Bowie’s eye. Foster is attractive, older, and as far as Bowie is concerned, completely unavailable. This doesn’t stop Foster from flirting or poking his nose where it doesn’t belong. His reckless behavior will get him in trouble, but Foster doesn’t seem to realize he’s playing with fire. One wrong step and history will repeat itself. Bowie can’t allow that to happen, and telling Foster the truth about Oasis comes with risks. A fragile alliance forms. A budding romance develops. And more secrets are unveiled. When their plans fall apart, Bowie and Foster find themselves in a tangled race to escape Oasis and expose the commune before it’s too late.
Nicky James is one of my 'go to' authors for suspense, and this one wasn't a disappointment.
Too much gushing will potentially spoil the experience. My advice, is go in with just the blurb and as blind as possible and enjoy the ride!
Nick Russo did a fabulous job, highly highly recommended!
Charlie Sunshine (Close Proximity #2) ~ Lily Morton Narrated ~ Joel Leslie
Charlie Burroughs can’t keep a man. All he wants is a good relationship like the ones he sees his friends having, but none of the men he picks ever work out. Despite him trying to be the perfect boyfriend, the men are either threatened by his looks or his epilepsy or a combination of the two. It’s lucky that he has his best friend Misha to turn to. The two of them are closer than peas in a pod and fiercely loyal to each other. He can’t imagine his life without Misha in it.
Misha Lebedinsky is the complete opposite of his best friend. Being the support system for his mum and twin sisters leaves Misha with neither the time nor the inclination for a relationship. Quick and frequent hook-ups are his favourite means of communication and any other pesky emotional needs he has are met by Charlie, who he’s devoted to. He lives a life of happy compartmentalization with no intention of ever changing.
All of this changes when the two best friends move in together. Being in close proximity means that they suddenly start to see each other in a very different light. But Charlie struggles when his drive to be the perfect partner clashes with the fact that he’s in love with a man who knows every little thing about him. And even if he can get past that, can a relationship ever work with a man who’d need a dictionary to tell him what love means?
You can't go past an oblivious best friends to lovers story, and they don't get much more oblivious than Misha!
Heartwarming, pack with British humour, and just pure soul food, Charlie Sunshine certainly added a bit of sunshine to a stressful week.
Joel Leslie once again brought his A-Game bringing the entire cast to laugh and adding his own individual sparkle with his wicked sense of comedic timing.
Charlie Sunshine could be thoroughly enjoyed as a standalone, but the best experience is to start with the first in the series: Best Man.
Want start with Best Man? Check out the series here.
Code Red (Atrous #1) ~ N.R. Walker
Narrated ~ Nick J Russo
Maddox Kershaw is the main vocalist of the world’s biggest boy band. He’s at the top of every music chart, every award show, every social media platform, and every sexiest-man-alive list. He’s the bad boy, the enigma, the man everyone on the planet wants a piece of. He’s also burned out and exhausted, isolated and lonely. Not in a good headspace at the start of a tour. Roscoe Hall is Maddox’s personal manager. His job is high-flying, high-demand, high-profile, and he loves it. Maddox has consumed his entire life for the past four years. Roscoe knows him. He sees the real Maddox no one else gets to see. He’s also in love with him. When the tour and stress become too much, when the world begins to close in, Roscoe becomes Maddox’s lifeline. But as Maddox knows already, and as Roscoe is about to learn, the brighter the spotlight, the darker the shadow.
Code Red by N.R. Walker is an addictive and emotional examination of the pressures of life in the limelight, and how if the effect of that pressure is not addressed, it can have potentially catastrophic consequences.
Code Red is a compelling, character-driven story with a relatively small cast. It is an intimate look at the band on tour, and as such, focuses on the band members and their management and support teams. Maddox and Roscoe naturally are the heart of the story. Watching their relationship evolve from friends to lovers was beautiful to witness. Once Roscoe realises the depths of Maddox's struggle with his anxiety, there is nothing he won't do to help him.
Code Red is a superb examination of the pressures of living in the spotlight. It describes the effects of the mental and physical stresses of touring, fans' expectations, and the media upon the band and their staff. The underlying theme is the need to find a balance to ensure that 'what you do' doesn't mean that 'who you are' disappears entirely.
I have read this book a few times, but this was my first time in audio. Nick J Russo's narration gave it that extra edge. It's always been a captivating and beautiful story, but Nick's vocal talents brought the whole cast to life and heightened the emotions.
Clutch and Bond (Forbidden Desires # 1 & 2) ~ Piper Scott & Virginia Kelly; Narrated ~ Michael Ferraiuolo
Clutch: Bookish, snarky, and fiercely independent Nate Boudreaux leads a solitary life. Between teaching classes at the university and working toward his PhD, he doesn’t need a partner to occupy his time, and he certainly doesn’t need a man like Alistair Drake complicating his future. Alistair Drake, black sheep of the tremendously wealthy Drake family, is more interested in adding another notch to his bedpost than another zero to his bank account. When a Grindr message brings him to Nate’s doorstep, then straight to his bed, he has no reason to believe that what they share will be more than a simple hookup, until, three months later, a tug on his soul informs him otherwise. For the Drake family has a secret—one that will force Nate and Alistair together as much as it will demand that they be torn apart. One that Alistair and his brothers have carried all their lives… and one that Alistair and Nate’s future children will carry, too.
Bond: Adorably naive and shockingly brilliant Harrison Lessardi only needs two things in life: his pet iguana, Steve, and his undying love of science. That is until he witnesses his best friend lay eggs, and a third must-have strolls into his apartment—the sardonic and mischievous Everard Drake. Everard Drake, celebrated doctor of the tremendously wealthy Drake family, has one goal in mind when he arrives at the scene of his youngest brother’s latest disaster: incinerate Harrison Lessardi. Unfortunately for Everard, the moment he spots Harry, incineration becomes an impossibility—he must have the gorgeous beta as his own, even if it means holding him captive on his estate. But something else lurks behind Everard’s interest in Harry—something that tugs at Everard’s soul in impossible ways, and that will send Everard and Harry down a rabbit hole of discovery that will change the world as they know it.
An alpha and a beta can’t share a bond. Can they?
Back in 2021 this series was recommended as a good 'starter' series since I had never read an Omegaverse story with Mpreg (or is it eggpreg?) . Add in that I caught a live read by the narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo, for a later book in the series and loved the sound of it, so I decided to jump in.
Jump forward a couple of years, and I am in the middle (up to #3 Mate) of my 4th reread/listen of this series.
It has to be one of my favourite comfort listens, and August was a really stressful month, so I turn to this series and it was wonderful to just relax into the series and laugh along with the antics.
Michael Ferraiuolo did an amazing job of bringing this cast to life, I'm not sure the series would have had the same impact without his vocalisation. It blows my mind how each character has a voice so unique you know immediately who is speaking, and the accents! So many accents, and in a later book the fasts accent switching between at least 4 accents all on the same page.... now that's talent!
As far as I'm aware, all of the above books (except for Holly Day's Panther's Luck) are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.
I hope I've been able to help you find what may be your next favourite read or listen!
Until next month, I hope everyone has a wonderful September!