Book Review: Dead Over Heels by Arden Steele

I’m a little early for New Year’s resolutions, and I also don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I guess I’m trying to be more flexible by reading Dead Over Heels. I usually hate straying from series reading order, though since the books in the Blackhaven Manor series are connected yet about different characters I made an exception. This was the perfect time to read too since it takes place over the winter holidays.

Quick Summary: A troubled loner finds a fresh start in a magical town. Meeting his fated mate helps, but running into an unexpected ghost does not. Oh yeah, he sees dead people.

My thoughts: What a great winter/holiday novel about fated mates who suddenly find themselves living together during the Christmas season. The book is full of sweet romance, domestic ups and downs, and just a touch of heat.

Fictional Rating System: 4.5 tiny cat sweaters out of 5

Keywords and tags: Paranormal romance, holidays, age gap, werewolf, medium, ghosts, fated mates, cranky cats, crankier spirits, fluffy, finding home, acceptance

Characters and Story (and Curtains?)

Fritz, called this for many technical malfunctions in real life, is a sweet, clumsy guy who is used to annoying people and occasionally hurting himself with his klutzy mishaps. Adding in medium abilities only makes matters worse. Even though supernatural beings are known, he thinks he’s just a regular guy who happens to see ghosts and never stays in one place too long because people will ask questions or he’ll overstay his welcome.

Until he arrives at Blackhaven manor. He’s looking for a job, and they instead send him to the sheriff’s office. Said sheriff rightly assumes this is a set up because the manor literally hires everybody, they even have a job which is basically Official Opener and Closer of Curtains. This isn’t at all related to the plot, but it’s a detail I remember when writing this, and I still find it amusing.

Vander is the sheriff, who indeed hires Fritz. It would be kind of rude to not give his fated mate a job. But before they can get to know each other better, Fritz accidentally touches some evidence and gets saddled with a ghost. A nasty one. Vander doesn’t know what’s happening, but realizes he needs to tread carefully to make his mate comfortable and get him to open up. So what follows is Vander low-key wooing his mate while Fritz tries to handle his uninvited ghostly house-guest.

Sweeter Than Sugar Cookies

While most shifters are apparently not huge fans of sweets, this book is filled with sugary goodness as the pair live together and fall in love. All while dealing with enthusiastic family members, a touch of demonic possession (or close enough), and hilariously feisty animals.

Honorable character mentions go to the hellbeast/nice kitty they babysit and the formidable goose who battles a werewolf and wins.

Honestly this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It’s an enjoyable book I didn’t really fall in love with, but I still recommend because of excellent writing and such fun, silly scenes that are sure to be memorable. I think there are lots of people who would love this novel when looking for seasonal reads, romantic comedies, and sweet love stories with relatively low angst.

Book Quote

Dead Over Heels by Arden Steele

It’s been twelve years since the Awakening. Otherlings are out of the paranormal closet. The whole world knows that creatures like vampires, werewolves, and witches exist. So, seeing dead people barely even rates on the freaky scale. Right?

Wrong.

Fritz Tolliver figures he must have done something terrible in a previous life to be afflicted with such a curse. In fact, every bad thing that has ever happened to him can be traced back to his unwanted ability. So, when a stupidly hot werewolf who’s way out of his league claims to be his mate, he should be thrilled. And he probably would have been if he hadn’t gone and gotten himself haunted by a nasty spirit on the same day.

When a human male strolls into the station asking for a job—and promptly spills an entire Americano on him—Sheriff Vander Hale has a feeling it’s going to be a bad day. Then, the door opens, the wind shifts, and suddenly, his whole world changes. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his mate, no battle he wouldn’t wage, even if his enemy is technically already dead. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem with his plan.

He’d go to hell and back for Fritz, but how is he supposed to fight something he can’t see?

Series Info: Blackhaven Manor

Purrfect Harmony

Night and Fae

Dragon It Out

Pixie Little Liar

Dead Over Heels

Silent Knight

In the beginning

You know the beginning of a novel when the protagonist is doing great? Everything is pretty close to perfect before an unexpected event happens and then it all starts going wrong. Well, in this scene from the LGBTQ young adult novel Instalove, Avery is doing great. He’s thinking back to the time he met his boyfriend, and everything totally isn’t going to go wrong. (Yes, it is.)

P.S. this is a modern fantasy novel with magic and spellcasting, but there’s no magic in this scene. Or is there? Hmmm…

The football players practiced on the field while groups from the track team ran laps on the track around them. We tended to run in groups even though this exercise was such a solitary endeavor. It made no sense, but I didn’t care enough to be the only one running by myself.

There was a sudden jolt from the force of a hit, but I was fine, so I picked up the ball and tossed it a short distance to the athlete heading towards me with a sheepish expression.

It took me a moment to think of his name: Chris Reyes. A light sheen of sweat dusted his arms, visible in his cut-off tee, making his bronze skin glow faintly.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I think I’ll live.”

“Danny the QB thought my job looked easy,” explained the affable, good looking athlete. He twirled the ball around casually in the air while he talked. “I bet him 20 bucks he couldn’t kick a field goal.” He smiled. “I won 20 bucks.”

“Do I get a cut of the profit?” I asked.

“I don’t know about that,” he said, grin turning less charming and more teasing.

“I was just out here minding my own business,” I explained innocently. “When I was attacked with a football.”

“Hmmm.” He fought a grin. “Sounds terrible.”

I regarded him seriously. “There may be permanent damage.”

“That bad, huh?” Chris played along. “How can I make it up to you?”

I made a show of thinking about it while a voice in the back of my head helpfully pointed out that he came out last year and was openly gay.

“My injuries are pretty grim, but I suppose they’re nothing 10 bucks can’t fix.”

“Oh, you want half my winnings? Is that fair?” He considered me, tilting his head and trying to place me. Wow, the full force of his attention? It’s worth being hit by a football.

“Unfair would be leaving me out here alone, injured, and poor.” I used my drama skills to don a pitiful expression.

“Okay, okay.” He held his hands up in surrender, sending me a grin that made my stomach do somersaults. “I’ll make sure you’re properly compensated.”

We were having fun, joking around, but that sounded downright suggestive.

“Are you flirting with me?” I asked.

He smiled slowly, taking in that I was someone who was alright with another guy flirting with him. “I wasn’t necessarily.” His eyes trailed up and down my body quickly. His smile widened. “But I am now.”

I suddenly found myself very okay with that.

A romcom might call this a meet cute. My father called it ordinary magic. I called it a Tuesday afternoon. There was nothing special about it yet, even if our actions closely resembled flirting.

He didn’t give me any of his winnings, but he did pay for dinner.

That was how it started.

Instalove is a coming of age novel where Avery Ward thinks the magic his family has doesn’t involve him. Until a spell calls everything in his life into question, even the desires of his heart. Grab your copy of the novel here!

Flowers and love spells

They say time heals all wounds. Do not ask me who ‘they’ are, but this is probably true. The trouble, however, is what happens when the wound is fresh. Waiting for the cut to heal isn’t easy. Especially if the injury is a broken heart and you’re a 17-year-old and these feelings are new, wonderful, and terrible.

We’ve all been there, right? To add insult to injury, the memories from the love spell haven’t faded yet. Okay, maybe that’s the part where things get less normal.

But this is what happens in my latest paranormal romance Instalove.

In Avery Ward’s case, he’s a regular guy who happens to come from a long line of witches and warlocks who bring real magic into the world. He’s just learned magic might be the reason he’s totally crazy about soccer player and smartie Chris Reyes.

But knowing a spell is happening and being free from its effects are two different things. And he hasn’t really begun the healing process yet. This scene is Avery sitting in his family garden, trying to process the new revelations in his life while his mother checks on him.

~

Mom found me outside and sat with me on the bench next to the aster.

“The gardenias are coming in nicely,” she noted.

As a licensed therapist, she’s usually all about healthy communication and sharing feelings. I had zero desire to share, so I watched her for the trick but found none.

“Really, that’s all?” I asked.

“You don’t want to talk. You don’t want me to talk at you.” She shrugged. “What else is there to say?”

Huh. I relaxed as we enjoyed the relative quiet together.

This was my happy place. Okay, time to feel happy. Anytime now. Go. I looked around. The garden was a lovely place, but it depended on one’s current prerogative.

The nearby larkspur meant lightness, yet it also meant fickleness or haughtiness. And talk about fickle, there were carnations in the next row over, and they had about 93 meanings attached to them depending on the color.

The daffodils over Mom’s shoulder needed company. Several meant happiness and joy while a solitary flower meant misfortune. That was probably a metaphor.

“Sure you don’t want to talk?” she asked quietly.

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

As she rose to leave, Mom placed a hand on my shoulder. “The spell will be undone, and you’ll laugh about this someday.”

“But not today.” There was a fountain just to the right of center in the garden. When we were quiet, I thought I could hear it.

“Not today,” she agreed quietly.

The iris grew next to me on my right. I was afraid to look at it. Irises symbolize hope.

— the rest is available here.

Black Cats and Bad Mood Boards

Hello, is this Moodboards Anonymous? My name is F.N. Manning, and I’m addicted to moodboards. Oh, this isn’t Moodboards Anonymous? And that support group doesn’t exist? That’s fair.

As you might have guessed, I enjoy making mood boards, which I put as one word in every instance before this one, but I get the red squigglies so now I’m changing my mind. This is for my new adult fantasy novel, that is also naturally a gay romance, Black Cats and Bad Luck. Here’s a board for the main characters, Mason and Horatio.

After years of waiting for a mysterious man from his dreams who might not exist, Mason is ready to move on with his life. Until Horatio finally appears, and his whereabouts were stranger than anyone imagined. With the help of the smartest paranormal experts, or at least the only ones available, the guys must battle the forces of evil, keep everyone safe, and see if their relationship can become more than a good dream and survive in the real world.

When I spent too much time on the computer, whether searching for Horatio or playing games online, Dad would bring me back to real life. Life’s not happening there in between the ones and zeros, he’d say. It’s happening out here. I’d hate for you to miss it.

After what felt like a lifetime of the alleged perfect man for me being so close yet never close enough to touch, I drew my own conclusions. My only defense, I suppose, was that I lived with the idea of him for so long, I began to think that’s all he was. An idea, a hope, a dream who lived within a dream.

Black Cats and Bad Luck

A Book I Liked: All It Took Was One Look

Werewolves + gay people= happily ever after. Werewolves but also gay. That’s it, that’s the book. Which is not a complaint, trust me. There was a time I would have given almost anything for “werewolves but also gay” to apply to Teen Wolf.

I wanted to write a review for All It Took Was One Look, but I read it a million years ago and didn’t write a review then. I have the worst memory in the world, and I have better things to do than sitting here wracking my brain for the details. Okay, I might not actually have better things to do but that still doesn’t sound fun. What I remember is that I liked the book.

Maybe I will write a review one day. Maybe I won’t. We’ll see where life leads!

Summary: One boy is human and hella gay(hey title of my blog) and the other isn’t either of those things. He’s a wolf and thinks he’s straight. Commence angst, drama, action, and epic romance. This is an engaging tale about the future of a wolf pack and what happens when the pair meant to lead the pack is gay for the first time.

This novel is on the melodramatic side and there’s lots of staples you’ll recognize like the evil bitch girlfriend, the repressed bully, the tortured protagonist, and the nerdy gay kid. It’s got familiar characters and situations, but even the recognizable details feel fresh in a gay YA setting. The book fully embraced all the dramatic, important moments you might expect to find in a book like this and went wild with them.

AITWOL feels like the start of a series. There’s a whole huge world to play in with several main and supporting characters. If there were future books, I would definitely be interested in them.