Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Brothers in Arms by Kendall McKenna *Updated*

*** Notes: this has been updated to reflect the NEW cover by Jared Rackler (who is awesome). It also reflects all new purchase links. 

Updated cover by Jared Rackler:

Old Cover:

Title: Brothers in Arms
Author: Kendall McKenna
Publisher: Silver Publishing 2012 (then Re-released by MLR Press 2013) 

5/5 Hearts. MUST READ!!


Jonah Carver is a Marine and combat veteran. He and his former Captain, Kellan Reynolds, once shared a scorching night, but then lost touch; something Jonah has long regretted. 

When an investigation into government corruption, and the murder of U.S. troops, ends in the killing of a V.I.P. on Jonah's watch, the FBI arrives. With them is Kellan Reynolds. Together once more, Jonah begins to believe in second chances and sparks fly

Nothing is that easy, though, as the suspects will stop at nothing to bring the investigation to an end. Jonah must keep everyone in his charge alive while helping the FBI and Kellan find the proof they need.

When Kellan is kidnapped, Jonah has to find and rescue him. If he doesn't, not only will the investigation unravel, but he'll lose Kellan for a second time--for good.


Nothing gets me like a well-written military story. My family has served in this country's military since the Revolutionary War, so the military has been a very large part of my existence. We are an all branch family with members serving proudly in all of them except for the coast guard. Poorly researched military stories are a pet peeve of mine, and when I pick up an military book, as much as I want to love it, I always seem to poke holes in it.

That being said. I loved this book. As far as I could tell, the Marine's and particularly RECON is not my area of expertise, this book was extremely well researched. I loved the strong characters. How both of the main characters are strong, and capable, each comfortable in their own strengths. I loved the interaction between all the marines, and their FBI counterparts. Its a great Marine story, and a great love story.

Jonah is a bit of a legend. He's the type of marine that young ones look up to and aspire to be. The kind that they tell stories about. Kellan was formerly Jonah's commander, and now working outside the military, as a consultant. They have a bit of the star-crossed lovers feel to them.. the timing is just never quite right. When circumstances bring them together is seems as though they might finally get that second chance, until Kellan is kidnapped. Jonah must race against the odds get Kellan back and keep the FBI's investigation on track. There is something inherently sexy about Marines, add in RECON to that and whew! Its enough to make anyone hot. Since this is set pre-repeal of DADT, their love is kept in the dark.

My only complaint was more more more! The story captured my interest and the characters captured my heart!

What a great breakout novel by Kendall McKenna. I really look forward to seeing her future work. I can't say that I would mind hearing more from these Marine's either.

So if you love a good military story, with great action in and out of bed. Head over to Amazon, here, and pick up this book. Re-released on Amazon Here.
Barnes and Noble

You can also find it on Silver Publishing's website here.

You can also purchase it direct from MLR Press here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: First Impressions by Christopher Koehler

5/5 Hearts! MUST READ!!

Title: First Impressions
Author: Christopher Koehler


The first time Henry Hughes and Cameron Jameson meet, it’s an unmitigated disaster. Cameron reminds Henry of all he left behind when he stopped making adult films, and he cruelly rejects Cameron. When Cameron discovers Henry’s porno-thespian past, he assumes he’s dodged a bullet.

But circumstances continue to throw the two together. Though the physical attraction between them grows, they cling to first impressions, even as a slow dance reveals just how good they could be.

Henry finally realizes how wrong he was, but Cameron can’t cope with “sleeping with the enemy.” It will take a confrontation for Cameron to realize just how wrong he’s been, but unfortunately, he may have lost his chance.


Mr. Koehler brings a contemporary (and gay of course) spin on Pride and Prejudice.  I loved that the book was set in Sacramento, rather then a bigger city, and loved that he threw in a little bit of history here and there. He brought out a wild and zany cast of characters that never failed to entertain.

The main characters Cameron and Henry were perfect for each other and perfectly hard headed all the way through. At times you just wanted to knock their heads together in order to get them to see reason. Seriously though I cannot say enough about Koehler's skill at character building. He brought out all the stereotypes, that may have seemed over-the-top and crazy in another novel, and he not only made it work, he made you love the hell out of it. This book had it all, the promiscuous gay friends, the stable (but at times strange) couple, the overbearing mother, the snotty kid, the social cllimber, and Oh My God the Drag Queens. I love the stage names in the book.

This is definitely worth a read, and a re-read or two. So this definitely gets a 5/5 hearts from me, here at Smoocher's Voice.  Definitely looking forward to more novels by Christopher Koehler.. (cough cough, a sequel would be nice.. just sayin)

If you wish to pick up this great read, you may pick up the Kindle edition at Amazon, here. OR
You can pick up either the paperback or ebook at Dreamspinner, here.

If you wish to check out Christopher Koehler's website, you find it at:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: Hunting for Clay by N.J. Nielsen

3.5/5 Hearts

Book: Hunting For Clay (Toowoomba Boys 2)
Author: NJ Nielsen
Published by MLR Press


Two years have passed since Clay and Hunter met on that fateful morning in Tello's Diner. Getting passed the fact Clay was stalking Marlowe was the easy part. Clay Montgomery's life has changed for the better the day he found the man who was meant to be the other half of him. Hunter understood him well, and knew how to give him exactly what he needs to be happy. Hunter Weldon knows what he wants, and just how to get it. For two years he has loved the man in his arms and now it was time to up the ante.


I can say, I didn't LOVE this one the way that I loved Angels on Top. Mostly it was so busy. There was A LOT going on in this little book. However, I get that life is sometimes like that.. Overwhelming and too busy for our own good.

Set two years after introducing us to Angelo and Marlowe in Angels On Top, Hunting for Clay, is obviously following Hunter and Clay. More or less, trying to make up for the estrangement between Clay and his family, Hunter is on a mission to surprise Clay with an amazing Birthday/Valentine's Day, where he plans to propose. The trick is keeping Clay from finding out, which also means keeping his cousin Marlowe from finding out. Hunter ends up enlisting just about everyone else to be a part of the process though, even down to his new bosses.

However in the midst of all this there are a million little subplots running around... Problems between Clay and his parents, and Clay's brother Jayden and his boyfriend, Marlowe and Angelo are having their own issues, topped with Angelo's brother Dimmy coming to live with them, Then there is the interplay between Hunter and his bosses. Its kind of overhwhelming to try to keep track of everything.

I did like the story. I just didn't LOVE the story. That being said, NJ Nielsen is a very talented author and I very much am looking forward to the continuation of this series and other works. I would love to revisit some of these characters in a not so busy setting.

If you would like to pick up a slightly busy but great read  you can do so at Amazon: here.

You can learn more about NJ and her writings on her blog,

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire

5/5 Hearts! MUST READ!!

Title: Listening to Dust
Author: Brandon Shire
Published by: TPG Books


Murder touched Stephen Dobbins when he was a young boy and left him living in a void of aching loneliness. A chance meeting with a young American chased away the fear that he would always be alone and brought him the prospect of a new existence. 
Dustin Earl joined the military and escaped his small town Southern upbringing with the hope that he could give his mentally challenged brother a better life. But Dustin had never known real love, an honest hug, or a simple kiss. He considered his sexuality a weakness; a threat that had been used against those he cared about. 
For eight months their relationship blossomed until Dustin suddenly returned home. He cherished Stephen, but felt his responsibilities to his brother outweighed his own chance at happiness. 
Shattered, unable to function and unwilling to accept Dustin’s departure, Stephen flew three thousand miles to get Dustin back and rekindle what they had. But what he would learn when he got there… he could never have imagined


This is not a HEA kind of book. Its tragic and beautiful and it digs into your heart and your soul. I've just finished reading this book, and I still have tears drying on my face, my eyes itchy from prolonged crying. Jokingly, I told Brandon that if he made me cry, I'd guarantee him a 5 heart review. I wish I hadn't made the joke. Because seriously it belittles the absolute power of this book.

Dustin is a character that is so profound in his pain and suffering that it is humbling to even think he could find love in the first place. Stephen has struggled with the  impact of death on his life from a very young age, and Dustin awakens in him the fierceness of love. The kind of love that causes the rise and fall of nations. Of course, set in modern times, their love doesn't do that. But their love is so powerful, that it aches for a time within the reader's own heart.

And then there is Robbie. Sweet, wise, addled Robbie. Some of his statements are so absolutely perfect in their innocence. If I could highlight the entire book I would have. There were no inherent flaws in this novel. It was the perfect tragedy. The love between the characters reached across time, distance and death.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

Robbie dropped his chin a little as if considering what Stephen said. “Maybe not, but whispering from your heart ain’t always easy; and Dusty knew that real well, probably more than either of us.” 

I thought I was still dreaming while you were talking to me. I thought all the things you said without saying was just my own longing; my own hunger hammering at my subconscious, pulling me back into the barbarity of the real world. But once I heard your voice, once I listened to the whisper of the thoughts you held so close, I knew I was awake and I just laid there so that I could consider what you would not say plainly or in waking hours. 

 Mr. Brandon Shire is a man, and author that I admire a great deal. His writing has effectively humbled me. This book deserves any and all accolades that it gets, plus many more besides. He has outdone himself. As much as I liked his debut novel, The Value of Rain, this one outshines it.  I see great things in Mr. Shire's future. His voice is absolutely one that must be heard. Even now days later from when I wrote the first part of this review, his words have stuck with me. This book has done more than touch me, it changed a little part of me, and I'm thankful that there are authors out there that remind us of how much power the written word can hold.

If you are looking for a fluffy piece to whittle away your time, this book is not for you. But if you are looking for something gripping and full of real honest emotion, then pick up this novel.

You may do so at Amazon, here.

You may look up more about Brandon Shire on his website:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: Finally Home by K-Lee Klein

4/5 Hearts 

Title: Finally Home (book #1 in the Home on the Ranch Series)
Author: K-Lee Klein

Published by: MLR Press

When his father's funeral brings Josiah Nelson back to his childhood home during the Christmas holidays, he's determined to sell the ranch and bury his past. But when Wyatt Aames rekindles a fire in Josiah's lonely soul, he realizes it's not the house that makes the home, it's the people.


In this fast paced and sweet book, Josiah (Josi) has a lot to work through. After being ran off by his daddy for being gay, he returns after his father's death to put his affairs in order. I loved Josi's voice. I loved that K-Lee wrote him the way he thought and talked. It really got me to connect with him. You also felt for him as he discovered that things that he thought he knew were different. That the status quo changed while he was trying to make a life for himself. Working through seeing his father through the eyes of an adult rather than those of a child.

His love interest is Wyatt Aames, a very out rancher. Wyatt is in love with Josiah, and has been for years, and he's determined to get his man.

Now there were a few things that niggled me. The characters were written with much more wisdom than their ages would really constitute. In their very early 20's, seems kinda young for Wyatt to have taken over the ranch. Also the time line of everything resolving was a little quick for me. I LOVED the story. I loved the characters, and those were only minor things because it was so well written.

I did like how K-Lee explained how Josiah's daddy got his address and was sending him letters, and I liked how it was explained that Wyatt hadn't contacted Josiah and why. That is a lot of restraint (and fear) for a young man.

I think Finally Home is a great concept, finally finding the place where you belong. I know I for one will be looking forward to further books by K-Lee Klein and definitely looking forward to more Home on the Ranch books. There is almost nothing better than sexy cowboys. I would LOVE seeing these two cowboys again whether as main characters or supporting ones.

One of my favorite excerpts of the book:

    The tears exploded from his eyes, his hands covering his face as his knees gave out and he sank to the floor. Wyatt fell with him, grabbing him and holding him again. Didn't he ever get tired of coddling Josiah? If he wanted him, wanted to be with him, wanted him to come home, didn't he want a man, not a sniveling brat?
    "I loved him," he gulped out, fists balling up as they pressed against his eyes. He didn't care if he cried any more, he just wanted someone to understand. He wanted the man he'd always loved to understand. "I loved him but I hated him. He was mean and horrible, but he was my fucking father and now he's dead and he never even knew I loved him."

So If you are looking for a sweet read, pick this book up!

You can find it on Amazon here

If you want to know more about K-Lee Klein , here are some sites where she can be found:

twitter: @Klee_Klein