Tag Archives: mental illness

The Trouble with His Lordship’s Trousers (Ladies Most Unlikely #1) by Jayne Fresina

Trouble with His Lordship's Trousers CoverRelease Date: March 14, 2016
Published by Twisted E-Publishing, LLC 
Review Copy from Author


In Regency London, Georgiana Hathaway has no intention of falling into the conventional trap of marriage and motherhood. She has so much more to do with her life, and a few tortuous years at ‘The Particular Establishment for the Advantage of Respectable Ladies’ has done nothing to change her mind. In fact, she’s already taken the first steps to carve out a career, by anonymously crafting a scandalous, satirical column, called His Lordship’s Trousers, for her father’s newspaper.

But as the misadventures of her comical rake become the most talked-about story in London, and the naughty column earns greater popularity, it is also bound to gain critics. How much trouble can “His Lordship’s Trousers” get her into? She’s about to find out.

Meanwhile, “Dead Harry” Thrasher eagerly reads that wicked column every week. It is one of the few things— other than the obituaries— that make him laugh out loud these days. He lives vicariously through that fictional rake’s antics, because his own life is suspended in time and he sees no reason to move forward. After all, when a man’s obituary has been printed in the newspaper, not once but twice, he has a tendency to believe it. What’s the point of a life over which man has no control? What, exactly, has he been saved so many times for? He’s about to find out.

When Dead Harry meets Miss Hathaway, they will both find their worlds, and their long-ingrained opinions, at risk. She does not want to fall in love with a man when everybody knows the male animal only gets in the way of a girl’s ambitions. And Harry may have survived a “mortal” wound, and eight hundred and fifty days stranded alone on an uncharted island, but can the very private life of this semi-recluse survive the reckless curiosity and impertinent sauce of Miss Georgiana Hathaway?

He’s a naval war hero— even if he does have an aversion to decent clothing and polite behavior— so if this young woman thinks to conquer him and put his life in order, she’d better have a battle strategy. It’s been a while since he enjoyed a skirmish at sea, but Harry has a feeling he’ll love every moment of this one.

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There’s nothing like a really good historical, am I right? Jayne Fresina has penned some stories I’ve highly enjoyed, and I’m adding The Trouble with His Lordship’s Trousers to the list. Her particular brand of historicals is sure to delight and never bore. In a quirky, humorous approach to an otherwise classic trope, Fresina matches wits – and more – of the unlikeliest of bedfellows. Readers will find the end result truly magical.

I’m always drawn to a heroine who’s a tad bit rebellious, and  Miss Georgiana Hathaway certainly fits the bill. Unwilling to simply abide by society’s standards for young ladies, Georgiana dreams of an independent life as a writer. She has a pretty good start on that already, secretly writing an anonymous column for her father’s newspaper.  Now if only her amusing shenanigans wouldn’t attract so much attention and keep getting her into trouble! Her heart’s in the right place, though, and that’s what counts.

In what seems like more than coincidence, Georgiana finds herself frequently crossing paths with “Dead Harry” Thrasher. The former naval war hero is the stuff legends are made of! The rumors and myths surrounding him are never-ending and endlessly entertaining, except perhaps to Harry himself. He’s a quiet fellow who’d love nothing more than to battle his demons in private and live a solitary life peacefully in the countryside. His meddlesome aunt, however, has other plans.

As Georgiana and Harry fumble their way through a forced acquaintance, it’s obvious there’s something more to it. Nevermind being warned to keep her distance, Georgiana is far too curious and strong-willed for that.  Besides, Harry’s odd behavior and secrets present the perfect mystery.  It’s a good thing she’s so persistent, because it presents the perfect opportunity for Fresina to build a relationship between them that’s unique and special.

All in all Fresina’s creativity and powerful storytelling show through in this rather eccentric romance. Her ability to create and develop unique, independent characters demonstrates a depth and complexity readers appreciate.  The interaction of these distinctive characters is the pleasing reason readers keep coming back for more. I know I’m looking forward to reading more of the adventures of the Ladies Most Unlikely.


SPOTLIGHT AND REVIEW: Broken by Nicola Haken

Title: Broken
Author: Nicola Haken
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 29, 2016

When Theodore Davenport decides to switch his mundane job for a career, he walks into Holden House Publishing with enthusiasm and determination to succeed. As he settles into his new role, makes new friends, and dreams of making it to the top, everything is going to plan.

Until he meets James Holden, CEO of Holden House.

James Holden hasn’t been able to stop thinking about his encounter with the timid man he met in a club bathroom last week, and when he discovers the one haunting his dreams is an employee, he can’t seem to stop himself from pursuing him.

Just a little fun – that’s what James tells himself. He can’t afford to care for someone who can never reciprocate, not once they find out who he really is. James believes nobody deserves the burden of being attached to him. He’s a complicated man. Damaged. Difficult. Demanding.


Is Theodore strong enough to confront James’ demons? More importantly, is James?

(M/M romance. Not suitable for readers under 18 years of age due to language and sexual content. ***Please note*** This book contains scenes of self harm, mental illness and suicidal ideation which may pose as a trigger, or be uncomfortable for some readers.)


“Broken is truly a remarkable book. I was blown away by it, by the raw and sincere way Ms. Haken took these men through the roller coaster of living with unrelenting demons. And now, as I sit here wondering if I have to courage to post this review, all I can think about is how far into my heart Theo and James have embedded themselves–and how I hope they never leave. I think it might be too hard to say goodbye…although maybe not as hard as it was find the words that I hope compel you to read this breathtaking book.” ~ Beth, Give Me Books 

“A stunning but achingly painful read” ~ Author Sloane Kennedy 

“This is an amazing book full of so much raw emotion that it gripped me and wouldn’t let up. I felt like I was watching a movie in my head and I wanted to just jump in the book and give James a huge hug. Lots of FEELz in this book.. both good and bad.” ~ Alpha Book Club

Nicola lives in Rochdale, England with her husband and four children (six if you include the dog and cat!) She is the author the author of the m/m romance Souls of the Knight series, and is currently working on a standalone with new boys, James and Theo, due for release early 2016. When she is not busy playing with her imaginary book friends (or talking about them with real life friends!) she can usually be found carrying out her ordinary mum/housewife/all round slave duties. Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…


Absolutely amazing. An emotional journey I didn’t want to end.

I have a thing for emotionally grueling books. The harder the story, the more the men suffer, the more I enjoy.  Life is messy and a story like I mentioned, to me, is real life. The struggles, hardships, stressors, they’re what make life difficult but help us know we’re alive and kicking trying to fight through.

Fighting through is exactly what James David Holden is doing. From the moment we meet him, James is trying to keep it together. From his job to his personal life, he’s treading water. He’s a bit of an arrogant bastard but not to the point of hating him. No, that feeling is strictly for his mother. She is another level of selfish that James in nowhere near.

Take-charge-James meets Theodore one night in a bar and that sets the stage for their volatile relationship to emerge. Volatile because James is a jerk at first but Theodore can’t stop gravitating towards him anyway. Doing as James asks and going against everything Theo knows he should be doing with regards to James. It’s quite comical to see Theo struggle. He’s powerless when it comes to James.

As we get to know both men through their job (Theo works for Holden) and their dating we discover a bigger secret. James suffers from mental illness. He’s sure this will push Theo away, he almost hopes it will. That would support what he’s felt all along, he’s not loveable. Not worth having to deal with manic depression and suicidal tendencies. Not worth love and effort. However, James greatly underestimates Theo’s love and devotion. Theo has a huge heart and he’s willing to pull James closer, not push him away.

Broken is a beautiful story of hope. Hope in love. Hope in healing. Hope in tragedy. Hope in a new day. Hope in therapy. James is so shattered. He must totally break and smash into pieces before he can become new. To put the pieces together again and grow. The pieces might be permanently damaged and worse for wear, but they’re there.  With Theo by his side, James just might be able to overcome. Theo, his rock, his anchor. Theo, a beacon of light, hope and love.

Yes the story is emotional, but it’s not overwhelmingly so. I recommend Broken, it’s a must read. It’s raw, it’s truth, it’s beauty.



Focus on Me (In Focus #2) by Megan Erickson

Focus on Me CoverRelease Date: July 21, 2015
Published by InterMix
Review Copy from NetGalley


Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option…

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Colin and Riley… *sigh* Talk about two guys who are perfectly imperfect. In a way their cross country journey is symbolic of their relationship – a little uncertain where they’re headed, but with each step they’re more committed for the long haul. I love the dialogue and connection Erickson creates between them, and the way she tells their story is just spot on. I can’t imagine a more emotional, suspenseful, and compassionate delivery for this tale where two guys are toting some hefty baggage.

Riley is perhaps one of the best crossover characters I’ve ever read. For those of you who’ve read Trust the Focus, you might remember him as the inspiration for Landry’s fake boyfriend. As part of Landry’s path to closure and acceptance with Justin, he’s reached out to Riley and the two are pen pals of a sort. This connection is genius on Erickson’s part, because she uses Riley’s correspondence with Landry to convey his perspective. The rest of the story is from Colin’s point of view, so that’s really our sole peek into Riley’s head, something that’s very important as his true struggle is revealed.

Aside from the complex journey full of love and sadness Colin and Riley take in this story, maybe the most important focus is mental health. Not necessarily just raising awareness but the subtle ways to recognize when someone needs help. Sometimes people are almost too close to a situation to objectively know when to step in for a friend or loved. Erickson does a wonderful job illustrating the impact those illnesses have not only on those suffering but also everyone around them. The effect is wide and far reaching – to family, friends, lovers, co-workers, hell, even strangers in some cases. It affects all aspects of life and can damage even the best of relationships. Finding the strength to get help is difficult, and in this case, I’m happy Erickson doesn’t view it through rose-colored glasses. Nothing about Riley and Colin’s struggle to be together is glamorous or perfect; it’s exactly that – a struggle. I guess there’s some truth to what they say –  sometimes the best things in life worth having are also the hardest.

I guess what I’m trying to say is if you’re looking for an emotional, heartfelt read that’s gritty and doesn’t hold back, this is your book. You can expect all the best parts that come with attraction, chemistry and budding romance, but expect these two guys to be real. They’re each dealing with their own issues, and no one’s going to show up and wave a magic wand to fix everything for them. Neither will these guys magically fix each other. It’s painful, ugly and absolutely beautiful. You’ll need tissues. If that sounds like something you’d like, then Focus on Me is definitely not to be missed.


BLOG TOUR: Craving Stains by Alina Popescu

Craving Stains Blog Tour



Craving Stains by Alina Popescu CoverWynn Brenwood has been trapped by his mother since birth, shut away in a sterile, hospital-like apartment.

Is it her desire to keep him safe that sees him locked up in his pristine cage? Or are her motives less innocent and well-intentioned?


Wynn longs to break free to experience the world he sees beyond his window.

Desperate to escape, he meets Doyle, a handsome, leather-clad, and enigmatic stranger.

But is Doyle real, or is he just a figment of Wynn’s imagination?

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Genre: gay, gay fiction, science fiction, paranormal, gay romance
Published by Wayward Ink Publishing
Book Length: novella


Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon AU / Amazon DE / WIP / ARe


I MUST have fallen asleep at some point, Wynn thought. He must have slid into this dream, surely, as that was the only explanation for the room he was currently in. A bed with dark silk sheets took up most of the room, flanked by two nightstands. A stained pizza box was thrown on one of them. On its path to the nightstand, the box had knocked down a can of soda, the liquid a messy stain on the carpet. Clothes were piled up all over the chair and desk next to the window. Wynn would guess there was a pretty old laptop under that messy pile of garments, but he couldn’t be sure.

The door was flung open and a dark shadow entered the room. As it approached Wynn, he could tell it was a man. Tall, dark, and generally huge. Wynn gripped the window pane he was leaning against. He lifted his gaze to the man’s face, and a sly grin greeted him. The man’s dark brown eyes swam with mischief, and his full lips parted to reveal a bright smile. He was breathtakingly gorgeous, and Wynn suddenly found it hard to breathe. He stalked closer and Wynn finally noticed what he was wearing: combat boots, black leather pants, and an old leather jacket over his bare upper body. Muscles bulged under his olive skin, and Wynn couldn’t suppress the urge to lick his lips, his nostrils flaring at the stranger’s spicy, masculine scent.

“And who might you be? All alone here in my room. That’s not a very safe place to be in, kid,” the man warned in a deep rumble.

Goose bumps quickly covered Wynn’s skin from his neck to his shoulders and down his arms. He blinked a few times, trying to remember his name and to get some words out. The man’s reached out to his face, cupping it. His thumb brushed Wynn’s cheek, and he swore he could have swooned at the touch. His very first touch from someone who was not a doctor or his mother.

“I… I… sorry, I don’t know how I got here,” he whispered. “I’m Wynn.”

“Doyle,” the man said firmly, right before his lips crushed Wynn’s in a bruising kiss.

Wynn gasped and clung to the stranger’s leather jacket, distracted by the surprisingly soft material. A warm tongue pushed past his lips and found his own, swirling around it. Wynn’s knees went weak, and he whimpered. He was falling, and embarrassment was his only emotion. Strong arms caught him. Doyle chuckled, and Wynn felt the tremors in his body.Well, at least I can amuse the man.

“Feeling okay, Wynn? You look like you’re about to faint like a teenage girl after her first kiss.”

Doyle’s teasing should have embarrassed him further, but the man’s voice made Wynn shiver, heat pooling in his groin, his stomach twisting painfully.

“Hey, stay with me,” Doyle demanded, shaking him a little. As Wynn was still having a little trouble breathing properly and holding himself up, the stranger helped him to the bed, pushing him down to sit on it.

“That couldn’t have been your first kiss,” Doyle said, arching an eyebrow and pushing back a little to give Wynn a once over. “I know it’s my birthday, but did they pick up a virgin for me?”

“Pick up a virgin?” Repeating Doyle’s words didn’t help him much, but Wynn still felt like saying it over and over again. What was the man talking about? “I am a virgin, but no one picked me up. Like I said, I don’t know how I got here.”




Wow, there’s quite a bit to this one for a novella. Normally you think authors won’t have enough time to really delve into a complex story, but in Craving Stains Alina Popescu manages to do just that.

I wasn’t really sure what was more messed up about this situation – the fact that Moira was keeping her son locked away from the world or that she believed she was doing it to protect him. Clearly she’s suffered some trauma in her past, and now she’s desperate to make sure nothing will happen to Wynn. In an effort to do everything within her power to protect him – as mothers are want to do – she puts her money and resources to work to accomplish her task.

But at what point has she gone too far? The forced medical exams? Blackmailing officials? Litigation? To say her boundaries are blurred is an understatement.  Popescu paints a clear picture of mental illness in the way Moira conducts herself to an extreme. We get half to the story from her point of view, and we see how she’s driven by fear which can be a very powerful motivator. Despite all her connections in the medical community, her powers of coercion cause professionals to compromise their values in order to protect themselves from further damage at her hands rather than stepping forward to stop her. She’s the ultimate manipulator, and I was unsure if or how anyone would ever convince her Wynn needed to be allowed to truly live.

I’ll admit to being slightly confused by Wynn and his connection to Doyle at the outset. As it says in the synopsis, “But is Doyle real, or is he just a figment of Wynn’s imagination?” I think we’re meant to struggle with this point until the very end when Popescu masterfully reveals the truth. I’m not sure how I feel about that truth and the resolution to Wynn’s troubles now that they’re out there, but I won’t reveal them to avoid spoiling it for anyone. All I’ll say is it’s a bittersweet course of events, and I wish there could have been another way.

If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, I definitely recommend m/m or really any romance fans take a chance on Craving Stains.  The story is intriguing and thought-provoking, something that will have you pondering familial, particularly maternal, relationships for days to come.



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Alina PopescuWriter, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and she has always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm. Born and raised in Romania, she finds her inspiration in books of all genres, in movies, and the occasional manga comic book. She is a proud geek who needs her fast Internet and gadgets more than she needs air.