Category Archives: Dreamspinner Press

Review: Savior by Rhys Ford

Title: Savior by Rhys Ford
415 Ink Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Romance
Length: 220 pages/Word Count: 84,525
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


415 Ink: Book Two

A savior lies in the heart of every good man, but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside the savior.

The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.

It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love, and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.

Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life, much less his heart, but the brash Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies and saving the man he’s too scared to love.


Savior by Rhys Ford is an emotionally compelling journey of healing and love. This second installment in the 415 Ink series can be read as standalone but I also highly recommend the first book in the series as well.

Firefighter Mason “Mace” Crawford has worked hard to put his extremely dysfunctional and abusive childhood behind him. He is mostly successful since he has devised a few coping mechanisms that help hold his demons at bay. However, an unexpected rescue at the scene of a fire revives some of Mace’s most terrifying memories from his past. Because he fears the reactions of the brothers of his heart, he has not revealed any of these heart-rending experiences to them.  He is also struggling with low self-worth so he avoids relationships which is why his reaction to 415 Ink tattoo artist Rob Claussen is troubling. Mace is a co-owner in the tattoo shop so he tries to ignore his very inconvenient attraction to Rob but how long can these two men ignore their smoldering desire for one another?

On the surface, Mace appears to have moved past his troubled childhood since he shares a tight bond with the family he has made for himself. He has a few quirks that both his fellow fire-fighters and brothers accept without giving him too much grief over. But none of the people have an inkling of the secrets he is keeping and Mace wants to keep it that way. However, once he receives shocking news that brings all of the shameful  memories rushing back, will Rob convince Mace to trust him enough to confide in him?

Rob’s relationship with his family is somewhat rocky but he is much happier since he decided to follow his dream of becoming a tattoo artist. Mace has been on his radar ever since they met, but he remains tongue-tied and shy in his presence. The two continue cautiously circling around each other until a cataclysmic event finally leads to them acting on their sizzling passion.  But it is not until Mace’s past collides with his present that Rob finally persuades him it is time to talk about the events from his childhood.

Although there is a romantic aspect to the plot, the main focus of the novel is Mace making peace with his childhood. He reveals the things that most haunt him to Rob whose acceptance of this part of his life is just the beginning of his healing process.  Mace remains fearful of confiding in his brothers, but he finally accepts the fact that he will never truly completely heal until he tells them the truth about the darkest, painful and most shameful piece of his past.

Savior is a heartwarming novel with a marvelous cast of characters and deeply moving storyline. Mace is a charming character who has made a wonderful life for himself in spite of his traumatic past. Rob and Mace’s romance moves at a realistic pace. Rhys Ford brings the novel to a heartfelt conclusion that is quite satisfying.  Readers will be quite pleased with the intriguing glimpse of the couple who will be featured in the next installment of the 415 Ink series.

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Filed under 415 Ink Series, Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance, Savior

Review: Rebel by Rhys Ford

Title: Rebel by Rhys Ford
415 Ink Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Gay, Romance
Length: 220 pages/Word Count: 83,884
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something—it’s standing up for himself.

Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After Gus spends years running from his past, present, and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on: a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating breakup a few years ago.

Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.

For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold on to. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt, but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.

When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.


Rebel by Rhys Ford is a heartfelt second chance at love romance. This first installment in the 415 Ink series is full of heartbreak and angst, yet these deep emotions enhance the overall story.

August “Gus” Scott is finally forced to stop running from the man who broke his heart, Rey Montenegro, after he receives stunning news: he has a young son from a one night stand. Wanting to give his son Chris what  he never had, a father, Gus rejoins the family of his heart but in doing so, he must also figure out a way to move forward from the tragedy in his past.  Rey is an integral part of his history and he will continue to be part of his future since he is Gus’s soul brother Mason “Mace’ Crawford’s best friend and roommate. Gus is not exactly introspective since he would rather ignore his problems than face them but will he finally break free from this unhealthy pattern to ensure he will fully be a part of Chris’s life? Will Gus be willing to let Rey back into his life? Can they overcome the issues that lead to their break up?

There is no other way to describe Gus than “broken”. His childhood was incredibly dysfunctional with the people who should have been his advocates writing him off as irredeemable.  Luckily, his cousin/father figure Barrett “Bear” Jackson fought to provide him with a stable home, but the damage had already been done by the time they were finally reunited. Gus holds all of his pain inside and he has never come to terms with the incredible damage wrought by his horrible excuse of a mother.

The 415 Ink family’s introduction to Rey was rather dramatic but life took a much better turn for Rey not long after their first meeting. He has a great relationship with his mom and stepdad but when things went wrong between him and Gus three years earlier, he decided to end their passionate yet troubled relationship. Since communication was not their strong suit, Rey’s resentment toward Gus finally spilled over into a painful breakup that neither man has truly recovered from yet.

While there is a romantic element to the storyline, the main focus of the novel is Gus and his personal journey of healing.  He has a strong support system with the family he has made for himself, but Gus still has difficulty verbalizing the things that are troubling him.  Despite the close ties he shares with the brothers of his heart (which includes his actual brother, Ivo), Gus does not actually begin to heal until he finally opens up to Rey about the traumatic events from his childhood that continue to skew how he views himself. Gus’s willingness to share his secrets reveals a heartrending vulnerability that he does not show to many people. In the aftermath of his revelations, he and Rey tentatively resume their sizzling hot romance.

Rebel is an engaging and deeply affecting romance with a fantastic cast of primary and secondary characters. The first few chapters are a bit confusing as characters are introduced and a little of their history is divulged.  Gus is an enigmatic yet immensely appealing character whose backstory is parceled out in drips and drabs over the course of the novel.   Rey is definitely the more stable of the two but he also comes with a bit of emotional baggage.  One of Rhys Ford’s strengths as an author is her ability to infuse plenty of angst into her novels without making it feel contrived or unnatural. The drama is perfectly balanced by humor and the richly developed characters add depth and substance to the developing storyline. A brief glimpse of which characters will be starring in the installment of the 415 Ink series will leave readers impatiently awaiting its release.

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Filed under 415 Ink Series, Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, Gay, Rated B, Rebel, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance

Review: Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford

Title: Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford
Murder and Mayhem Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Erotic, Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 236 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


Murder and Mayhem: Book One

Dead women tell no tales.

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still makes his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.


Murder and Mayhem is the first suspenseful installment in Rhys Ford’s new mystery series, Murder and Mayhem.

Ex-thief Rook Stevens is walking the straight and narrow now he has opened a collectible shop. So when he arrives to find the very dead body of former associate Dani Anderson in his shop, he is at a loss to understand who killed her or why.  Despite his prior walk on the crime side, Rook is a genuinely kind, caring and compassionate man who goes out of his way to help those who are less fortunate than he is.

Rook’s relationship with his newly found grandfather, Archibald, is a work in progress.  Rook and Archie take great pains to hide the fact that they care about each other and their scenes together are as funny as they are heartwarming. Archie has his grandson’s back no matter what but Rook cannot help but feel great remorse that his grandfather is smack dab in the middle of this increasingly dangerous situation. But Rook is not one to reveal his tender side, so he continues to keep everyone at arm’s length including the cop he has some personal history with, Detective Dante Montoya.

Dante and his former partner worked very hard to build a case against Rook several years earlier, and when their efforts came up empty, Rook became his personal white whale. Never imagining their paths would cross again, Dante does everything possible to ensure he and his new partner, Hank Camden, do everything by the book. However, this plan quickly falls by the wayside when his relationship with their chief suspect crosses over into very personal territory when Rock is very nearly killed.

By this point in the investigation, Dante has very strong doubts that Rook had anything to do with Dani’s death. When the body count continues to rise, he and Hank look to Rook’s past to try to figure out why Rook has been targeted and more importantly, by whom.  Rook makes no secret of the fact there was animosity between him and Dani but since he gave up his thieving ways soon after their last job together, he can think of no explanation for her being in his shop.  With Rook’s input, Dante interviews someone who gives him a possible motive for everything that has been happening, but has he discovered this information too late to save Rook?

Despite the circumstances of their unexpected reunion, there is no denying the sexual tension that underscores Rook and Dante’s interactions.  Dante is a by the book detective who is upfront with both his boss and Hank about their history and he tries to ignore his attraction for Rook.  The circumstances surrounding them giving into their mutual desire are a little unrealistic but there is no doubt there is more to their relationship than just sex. Dante is pretty much an open book with everyone and he has no reason to hide his sexuality. Rook’s default is to deflect and deny so he is not exactly onboard with admitting to himself, let alone Dante, that there might be more to their relationship than sex.  Will Dante find a way to sneak past Rook’s formidable defenses?

With an intriguing mystery, plenty of action and a colorful cast of characters, Murder and Mayhem is a fast-paced and engaging novel. Rook and Dante are wonderful protagonists and their budding romance is an absolute joy to watch unfold. Their sex scenes are definitely on the steamier side but there is little doubt there is more to their relationship than sexual chemistry.  Rhys Ford does an outstanding job with the mystery element of the storyline and the novel comes to a stunning, adrenaline-laced conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, Gay, Murder and Mayhem, Murder and Mayhem Series, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance, Suspense

Review: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford

Title: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford
Murder and Mayhem Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Erotic, Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 210 pages/Word Count: 80,852
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


Murder and Mayhem: Book Two

Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder… and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West LA detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.


Rhys Ford jumps right into the action in Tramps and Thieves, the second installment in the Murder and Mayhem series starring reformed cat burglar Rook Stevens and his cop boyfriend L.A. detective Dante Montoya.

Although Rook willingly walked away from his previous life, he cannot deny he misses a few of the thrills from his illicit past. So when the opportunity arises for him to take a brief walk on his former wild side, he is quick to agree. What he does not count on is winding up smack dab in the middle of another murder investigation after discovering his cousin Harold Martin’s corpse. Things go from bad to worse when homicide Detective Mark Vicks is convinced Rook killed Harold in order to assure his future inheritance from their wealthy grandfather, Archie. Since Dante is quick to realize Vicks is going to pin Harold’s murder on Rook, he and his partner, Detective Hank Camden get their boss’s official blessing to conduct an unofficial investigation of their own.  With the bodies piling up at an alarming rate and someone gunning for Rook, Dante and Hank are desperate for answers, but will they catch the killer(s) before it is too late?

Although they are rather comfortable in their new romance, Rook is still a work in progress as he tries to let down his defenses and completely trust Dante.  While Rook is not quite as uneasy with their emotional intimacy, he still finds it difficult to open up to Dante.  Rook is also making strides with his relationship with Archie, but his grandfather still has a habit of lashing out when he feels vulnerable. Rook’s reaction in the aftermath of Archie’s verbal assault is a testament to how much healing he has undergone since meeting Dante.

While they still avoid discussing Rook’s past, Dante has absolutely no doubt that Rook has nothing to do with Harold’s death.  He is very protective of his new boyfriend and his first instinct is to ensure Vicks does not pin Harold’s murder on him. Following a somewhat traumatic and dramatic discovery, Dante and Hank’s unofficial investigation becomes official but finding a motive for the murders remains elusive. When numerous attempts are made on Rook’s life, Dante is under even more pressure to wrap up the case sooner rather than later.

Although the investigation is fast-paced and intriguing, there are a few passages that are overly detailed and just a touch long winded. Some of the banter between the various characters (especially Hank) is irritating since it adds little to the storyline and these discussions occasionally occur at questionable times.

With scorching hot love scenes, a beguiling mystery and an eclectic cast of likable characters, Tramps and Thieves is a pulse-pounding addition to the Murder and Mayhem series.  Dante and Rook are appealing protagonists who perfectly complement one another despite the vast differences between them.  Their relationship is heartwarming yet filled with plenty of heat and sexual tension. The murder investigation keeps the novel moving at a brisk pace and Rhys Ford brilliantly obscures the perpetrator’s identity and motive for the murders until the novel’s exciting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, Gay, M/M, Murder and Mayhem Series, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance, Suspense, Tramps and Thieves

Review: Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt

Title: Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt
Mary’s Boys Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 112 pages/Word Count: 36,047
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


A Mary’s Boys Novella

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?


Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt is a charming romance that is also quite thought-provoking. This latest addition to the delightful Mary’s Boys series can easily be read as a standalone, but I also recommend the previous installment as well.

Denver police officer Marlon Barton’s legendary patience is tested to the limit by his new partner, Andrew Morris.  After barely diffusing what could have been a volatile situation, Marlon’s plans to relax with a beer at his usual hangout are thwarted when he discovers Andrew is there.  He instead stops in at Mary’s where his plans quickly take a very uncharacteristic turn after meeting bartender Vahin Arora.  Marlon’s previously uncomplicated life is turned upside down by his vengeful partner and his fledgling relationship with Vahin is soon put to the test.

Vahin and Marlon are mature characters who have both experienced prejudice based on their appearance.  Vahin came to terms with his sexuality a long time ago but he lost his family’s support in the process.  His job at Mary’s provides him with more than an income; his co-workers have become his family.  Vahin is tired of meaningless hook-ups but before he and Marlon have the chance to see where their relationship is headed, Marlon pulls a disappearing act and his partner sets his sights on Vahin.

Marlon has enough to deal with on the job due to the fact he is a person of color, so he keeps his sexuality a closely guarded secret from his fellow officers.  Before he really has the chance to figure out if he has a future with Vahin, he has to deal with the fallout from his loathsome partner’s vengeful actions. Will Vahin still be waiting for him once Marlon sorts through his complicated feelings about the effect their relationship might have on both his personal and professional lives?

With a cast of wonderful characters and a substantive plot, Vodka & Handcuffs is an engrossing romance that is realistic and quite moving.  Touching on some very topical issues with sensitivity, Brandon Witt’s newest installment in the Mary’s Boys series is an angst free love story that has plenty of depth and substance.  An absolutely outstanding read that old and new fans do not want to miss!

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Filed under Brandon Witt, Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, M/M, Mary's Boys Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Vodka & Handcuffs

Review: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford

Title: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 200 pages/Word Count: 71,030
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued art deco building on WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the sweet, artistic man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.


There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford is an incredibly uplifting and extremely emotional journey of healing.

Jake Moore is an exceptionally gifted metal worker but his highly dysfunctional and abusive childhood leaves him feeling utterly hopeless and unable to accept every aspect of himself. He is heavily guilt-laden over his perceived role in his mother’s death and despite the horror inflicted upon him by his father, Jake cannot turn his back on the man now that he is dying.  His life is at an incredibly dark place and when Jake meets Dallas Yates and his delightful friend Celeste, he does not feel worthy of love let alone friendship or comfort.

Dallas is Jake’s complete opposite in every way.  He has a loving, supportive family who accept every facet of his personality and his life.  He is quick to welcome people into his life and his heart and he is extremely upbeat and outgoing.  His optimism is refreshing and despite his sunny outlook on life, Dallas knows not everyone can be fixed and he is well aware his relationship with Jake might not ever progress beyond friendship.

Although Jake is not ready to embrace his sexuality,  his fledgling friendship with  Dallas is a glimmer of light in his somewhat grim and rather hopeless life.  Dallas respects Jake’s boundaries and his inability to talk about his past, but when he inadvertently stumbles onto one of his new friend’s most shameful secrets, he finally begins to breach his defenses. Quickly realizing the depth of Jake’s problems, he encourages him to seek professional assistance to help him deal with the trauma from his childhood.  The changes in both Jake and the men’s relationship are gradual and realistic as Jake finally begins to come to terms with his haunting past.

There’s This Guy is an absolutely heartwarming romance but it is Jake’s recovery from his emotional wounds that makes the novel such an outstanding read.  Rhys Ford handles difficult subject matter with a great deal of sensitivity.  The storyline has an amazing amount of depth and there are no quick or easy fixes for Jake’s issues and his subsequent recovery from his traumatic past. The characters are richly developed and multi-faceted with realistic backstories and experiences.  While there is plenty of chemistry between Dallas and Jake, it is their emotional connection that makes their relationship so believable.  A heartfelt and moving novel that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, M/M, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance