Review: Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

BoundToBeAGroom_500x750_0Badajoz, Spain – June 1808.  Anna Redondo has ambitions that stretch far beyond the cloistered walls of the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, the convent she grew up in.  Instead of feeling safe, Anna feels confined and suffocated by the quiet, contemplative life she lives just because she had been born out of an affair her married mother had with an Englishman.  Only her forbidden love for Patrizia “Pia” Velasquez Carvajal, another girl who has grown up with her within the convent walls, has kept her from rebelling against the nuns and the harsh Mother Superior who rules the convent.

Inexperienced and without means, Anna has decided that the path to freedom and a future together for her and Pia is for Anna to become a wealthy courtesan.  It would give them money and her the life of pleasure she has been dreaming about.  But first she needs to acquire the sexual skills that all courtesans have and for that she needs a teacher. Two weeks after leaving the convent, Anna attends the wedding of another girl from the convent. At the wedding party Anna spies the handsome Sebastian de Montizon, a wealthy hedonist who also happens to be discreet and kind.  Just the sort of man who would make the perfect teacher.

Sebastian de Montizon is a Spanish aristocrat of great charm and large forbidden desires.  Surprised to be approached by a seemingly prim and proper convent miss, he is even more astonished by her frankness and her seductive entreaty.  But no one could have prepared Sebastian to find in Anna a Master for his need for submission.  One marriage proposal later and Anna has found a husband and a new life.  After the honeymoon, they set off to for the convent to retrieve an unsuspecting Pia who has been waiting for her lover to send for her.

Patrizia “Pia” Velasquez Carvajal was an orphan abandoned at the convent.  Kind and gentle, tall and beautiful, Pia found a deep and abiding love with Anna. Bereft of her love and alone, Pia has been waiting for Anna to send for her but never did she think that Anna would marry and betray her love.  When the newly wed Sebastian and Anna de Montizon arrive at the convent to pick up Pia, she does not know what to expect.  All she knows is that her heart is breaking. The truth of their union and their reasons for retrieving Pia are beyond anything Pia could imagine as is the threesome they soon become.

But Sebastian has a past with another and more desires than the girls realize or satiate.  And that leads the three of them to London and Farleigh, the Duke of Mandeville.  Farleigh and Sebastian became lovers when Farleigh visited Spain as a British envoy two years prior.  Since then Farleigh has had many male lovers but none of them have made him forget the beautiful Spaniard he left behind, one who so eagerly submitted to his every whim and desire.

Now Sebastian has descended upon London with a beautiful Spanish wife and her gorgeous friend in tow.  The three of them seem to have a special bond between them, one that Farleigh soon grows jealous of.  As Farleigh gets reacquainted with Sebastian, the old flames of desire reignite.  But Farleigh never expected to find that the bonds that Sebastian had with Anna and Pia would open up to include him and that three would become four and complete.

Well, what a hot, erotic, absolutely marvelous romp this book turned out to be.  Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry is a first for me on a couple of levels.  It is my first novel by this author and it’s my first historic erotic polyamory story, and there’s a description I also never thought to write. Mulry’s characters complete abandon and joy that they take in the many, many sexual acts that occur here, as well as its location in England, might bring back some fond memories of  Tom Jones or other libertines of that era.  But instead of one character who enjoys life to the fullest, we have four who become partners, lovers and family to each other.

Bound to be a Groom is set against the backdrop of the Peninsular War (1808–1814) when Bonaparte invaded Spain and usurped the Spanish throne, making allies of the British and Spain. The ensuing political unrest and uprising by Spain is a perfect setting for the rebellion and emotional upheavals to come when a young convent miss, Anna Redondo, sets out to find a way for her and her lover Pia to be together outside the convent walls they were raised within.  Although the civil unrest and political intrigue of that time is used as a framework for Mulry’s plot, it only lightly intrudes here and there throughout the narrative that builds around four lusty gorgeous people and the polyamory bond they ultimately achieve. Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley, commander of the British expeditionary force, makes an appearance briefly during a ball to meet with Sebastian.  Sebastian acts as courier to bring details of the French movements in Spain to Wellesley.  Other than a few more mentions of Wellesley’s battles with the French army and the subsequent outcome, nothing more is made of this fascinating era. With such a dramatic backdrop I couldn’t help but think what a deeper element of intrigue would have on this group.

Instead the plot concentrates on the plans of Anna Redondo whose motives start out purely as a means to achieve her goal of a life with Pia and enough wealth to support them both.  Then her plans are hijacked almost immediately upon meeting Sebastian a sybarite who teaches Anna to enjoy male/female sex and who finds he lusts to submit to her domination. The sex scenes are explicit and totally sensual no matter what combination is in play at the time.  As Mulry adds to the foundation couple with her other main characters, the bonds of intimacy and love grow along with the kinks that are explored between them.  As it happily turns out, there are two doms, one male and one female to two submissives and how that is juggled emotionally as well as physically is another wonderful element here.  The emotional scenes between characters carry as much dramatic heft as the sexual ones do, another reason I enjoyed this story so.

Because as Mulry makes clear, there is more at stake than just sexual gratification.  There is the emotional commitment all four people make to each other that’s of the highest priority. Given the times and the need to be circumspect, the couples have to find a way to hide their bond in plain sight and the resolution is one that will satisfy everyone.

As for the sexual hijinks, well then there is surely a kink here to satisfy everyone.  Spanking and flogging, ties and other bdsm play.  Anna, Pia, Seabastian and Farleigh do it all, including D/s by both sexes.  And as I said before the sex scenes are explicit no what what gender is involved so for those readers who wish to read only certain gender combinations this might not be the story for you.

For me, the only drawbacks to Bound to be a Groom would be that perhaps the author included more details than was  necessary.  I liked some of the historic information here about the Peninsula War but it played such a minor role (a small incident then it disappears) that I felt its role in the story should have been a little more prominent.

And then there are certain “nitpicky” things that pop up that are certainly irrelevant to the story (and most readers) but drive me a little crazy.  At one point in the exerpt below Sebastian and his friend are showing off their riding skills in Feria.  It is just a throwaway fact but it stopped my reading cold.

 After the two caballeros had finished showing off, one of the grooms brought out another pair of quarter horses in need of exercise. They were skittish and excitable. Anna watched quietly as Sebastian dismounted and traded the reins of the horse he’d been riding for the more frantic of the two. Isabella was right after all: he was powerfully handsome. He rubbed his big, strong hand against the horse’s satiny chestnut coat, following the contours of the quivering muscles along the beast’s neck.

What line? The mention of the quarter horses rode by Sebastian and his friend, Javi in riding ring.  In 1808, the Quarter Horse, a truly American breed, was still evolving into the hugely popular horse breed we think of today.   It was a horse of the frontier and of Texas where its breed was standardized.  The breed or types of horse that Sebastian and his friend more likely to have been riding would have been the Andalusian (PRE) or an Andalusian-Thoroughbred-Arab crossbred horse which was common then and immensely popular for use throughout Spain.  An insignificant notation?  Yes, it is.  But it’s inclusion was unnecessary in my opinion as its effect was that I had to stop and think about the statement. Then because I found the mention peculiar, I stopped reading to research the idea of  there being American quarter horses in Feria instead of concentrating on what was happening between the couples on the page.

Another quibble was the use of Spanish  terms (not proper nouns which would have made sense) in the dialog between Spanish main characters. We know Pia, Anna, and Sebastian are all Spanish and would assume they are speaking in their native language.  So why sprinkle Spanish words throughout their conversations when all of their dialog is supposedly in Spanish?  Here are some examples:

From Sebastian: “billeted in my father’s castillo in 1788..” why not my father’s castle? or here where the switch off is doubly odd:

“He hustled her into the castle along with the sea of other guests. He knew the layout of the alcázar from several visits in his childhood.”

Castle and alcazar are one in the same (or in this case  exactly same place they were strolling through), not a proper name of a particular site.  Then in some cases, the english/Spanish tradeoff is just plain informative. Ex.

“If anyone glimpsed them talking, it would appear they were discussing something of little importance, the violinist or the membrillo that had been served after supper.”

I get that the author was trying to bring us more into the setting by sprinkling some Spanish vocabulary throughout but it ended up seeming more out of place than a subtle use of location and nationality.   With this type of usage  then Anna would have said “Stupido, stupido woman!” instead of Stupid, stupid woman! Which was the line (and definitely made more sense than mine). And then of course,  this sort of thing disappears all together.

Would this bother most people? No.  Would it interfere with their enjoyment of the book?  Absolutely not.   But for me, it just shows that even the most insignificant detail can trip up a reader as well as the break in continuity.

Those two minor issues aside, I throughly enjoyed this story.  Mulry’s characters were well drawn, the dialog seemingly keeping with the times and her erotic descriptions downright sensual in conveying the delight and passion of all the characters in the joy of sex and the emotional commitments they make to each other.  Each main character had enough flaws and strengths to them that they felt alive in their confusion, bravery, and total determination to make their goals and promises to each other work.  I liked that the women were just as strong as the men and of course, they all got their HEA.

My enjoyment of Bound to be a Groom is going to send me running off to see what else Megan Mulry has written.  If you enjoy erotic stories whose participants expand past the m/m boundaries, then this sassy, sexy polyamorous historic tale might just be the thing (for fling) for you.

Cover art by LC Chase includes that absolutely gorgeous torso but nothing about it says historic novel.

 

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages
Published April 14th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleBound to be a Groom
ISBN 1626491127 (ISBN13: 9781626491120)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/bound-t

Get Your Sexy on with Megan Mulry’s Bound to be a Groom Book Tour (Contest)

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ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to host best selling author Megan Mulry today to talk about her latest release Bound to be a Groom.  To celebrate her new book, Megan Mulry has also brought with her a giveaway of  truly “Brobdingnagian” proportions but I will let her tell you all about that.  Contest details will also be repeated at the bottom of today’s guest post.

Welcome, Megan Mulry!Bound2bGroom_150x300

I am thrilled to be touring around the blogosphere introducing everyone to my new book Bound to Be a Groom! I loved researching and writing this steamy story and can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it. Speaking of hands…while a reviewer was reading an advance copy of the book a few weeks ago, she bemoaned the fact that she had run out of double AA batteries. This led to a hilarious conversation on Twitter about the wide range of sex toys and vibrators at our disposal and my editor, to whom I defer on all things technical, said the Hitachi magic wandMagic Wand was the be-all-and-end-all of “personal massagers” (that’s the technical name, just in case you were wondering). It never runs out of batteries…because it plugs in!

So, of course I went online and bought one (which also involved research because there are cheap imitations galore…do not be fooled!). And holy hell! Okay. First of all, it is loud and heavy and enormous…there is no pretending you are just *whistles innocently* hanging out in bed with a good book. It’s more like shouting, “OKAY NOW I AM GOING TO PLUG IN THE BROBDINGNAGIAN VIBRATOR AND HAVE AN ORGASM!” Which is also fine. So, yeah, I tried it. Two times. And then I realized it was really an excellent, LITERAL, personal massager. I sit at a desk eight hours a day and have tons of muscle strain in my neck and shoulder. And the Hitachi is AMAZING for that shit. I’m not joking. Give me five minutes on low, right there at the base of my neck…and I’m ready to walk upstairs and have sex with my partner.

So to celebrate this rite of passage (I used a vibrator! Yay!) and save you the trouble of ever running out of AA batteries (You can too! Yay!), I’m giving away (a brand new lol!) official (do not accept cheap imitations!) HITACHI HV250R MAGIC WAND MASSAGER. This priceless (okay, it’s about $75) item will go to ONE lucky winner. The 2nd place winner will receive a $10 gift card from Riptide Publishing, and the 3rd place winner can choose any book from my backlist (excluding Bound to be a Groom).

Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on April 25, and winners will be chosen on April 27. Contest is valid worldwide. Good luck and thanks for being a part of the blog tour!

Excerpt: 
CHAPTER ONE

Badajoz, Spain – June 1808

Anna Redondo was unaccustomed to feeling at a disadvantage. It was not in her nature. She knew she’d been born on the wrong side of the blanket, but that had never prevented her from knowing her own mind. Having spent her first eighteen years within the walls of a convent might have limited her experience, but it had not curtailed her imagination.
And she could imagine all sorts of things with this man.

Regrettably, imagining would only take her so far; she needed to act. Taking a fortifying breath, she turned to face him.
“It’s going to be quite a long afternoon for those two, don’t you think?” she ventured, gesturing toward the bride and groom. Isabella and Javier were walking at the front of the wedding party with the bright morning sun, so particular to this part of southern Spain, glinting off the beautiful silks and polished leather of the aristocratic guests all around them.

“Pardon me?” Sebastian de Montizon asked, clearly surprised at the audacity of a polite young miss speaking to him so directly.
“They look miserable, don’t you think?” Anna mused. She had left the convent in Burgos two weeks ago and traveled to Badajoz in a carriage, chaperoned by one of the older nuns. Apparently, the short time away had already emboldened her.

Sebastian stared down at her as they walked, assessing her through hooded eyes while the clank and clop of horses and regal hardware around them seemed to fade. “I think they look blissfully happy. Whatever do you mean?”

But she suspected he knew what she meant and was only pretending to be confused by the demure front. “Of course they’re happy to be married,” she said brightly, then, in a lower voice, “but now they have to wait and wait until they can be alone . . . on their wedding night . . .

Over the past week, dignitaries and aristocrats from all parts of Spain and Portugal, and even a few from France and England, had filed into Badajoz. Sebastian had swept into the main hall shortly before supper three days ago, looking like he had spent the past month splitting his time between a bar and a brothel. His dark hair had been too long even by today’s liberal standards, and the scruff of his beard had looked untended. For the wedding, he had reacquainted himself with his valet, and he now looked like many of the other perfectly turned-out aristocrats. But there was still a look of something wild about him.
Anna’s first thought upon seeing him had been that he needed to be taken in hand . . . and that she’d be the one to do it
“What do you know of wedding nights, little convent girl?” He smiled and stood straighter as he kept walking alongside her through the winding cobbled streets. He clasped his strong hands confidently behind his back, as if he’d assessed her and seen all he needed to see of the little flower

Perfect. Think of me like that

“Nothing firsthand, of course. Only what I’ve imagined.”

That got his attention.

“Imagined?” His voice cracked.

She smiled at the small victory. Anna needed experience, and here was a man who obviously had it. She assumed he would be discreet—he was a devoted and loyal friend of Javier de la Mina, her friend’s new husband—so he wouldn’t betray Anna’s secrets. In short, he would suit.

Sebastian continued to look at her, and she felt her cheeks flush. The slightest narrowing of his eyes told her the rising color pleased him.

“I have a very vivid imagination,” she whispered with throaty promise. She licked her lower lip, tipping her face away from his, hoping it was just enough to make him want to dip his head to look longer. “And I know how it feels to postpone my own desire.” Finding her pace, she sallied forth into his stunned silence. “I think once you feel something, it’s easier to discern in others.” She paused for effect. “Do you agree?”

hen he nearly stumbled on a cobblestone she feared she’d gone too far. Neither she nor Pia had any experience with men, of course, but they’d convinced themselves that if they could make each other shudder and beg, surely a brutish man would succumb to far less.

It appeared they had been quite right. Sebastian looked as if he were about to make love to her reticule as it bounced back and forth against the apex of her thighs with each of her steps.She held it slightly away from her body. “Do you fancy my reticule?”

His eyes flew up to hers.

Spectacular eyes, she had to confess. They were just like Pia’s—that familiar greenish blue that made her think of the Caribbean Sea and the places the two of them had dreamt of spending their future. Places like Cartagena or Hispaniola, where she and Pia would live a quiet life of spinsterhood, disguising their passion for one another behind practical worsted dresses and massive studded doors that hid all manner of things.

“Such eyes . . .” She hadn’t meant to say it aloud, but the color reminded her so much of Pia. Regardless, Sebastian seemed to enjoy the attention. Useful information, she thought. He likes to be noticed.

His smile encouraged her to go on admiring him. It should have been irritating that he wanted his ego stroked—that such a gorgeous man seemed to crave endless praise—but Anna found it endearing. She was surprised to realize how much she liked the idea of Sebastian softening under her care, bending to her will. She wanted to stroke him.

“The blue of your eyes reminds me of—” She hesitated, then continued more carefully. “—places in the New World, places I’ve heard of but never seen.”

He looked interested then, and not merely in the flush of her cheeks or the moisture of her plump lower lip. “I was on my way there . . . before this transpired.” He said the last with an impatient toss of his gloved hand in the general direction of the bride and groom. She admired the way the kidskin molded to his strong fingers.

“Your hand is quite something, as well,” she said in a slightly rougher voice.

He smiled again, turning his hand this way and that, as if he’d never before taken a moment to look at it. “Really? I have two in fact.” He presented his left hand as evidence, then lifted his right forearm for her to rest her hand upon. “May I escort you into the alcázar, Lady Anna?”

“I’m no lady, I’m afraid. A lowly miss.”

He kept his arm extended. “The offer still stands . . . my dear Anna.”

And there it was. My. For a few minutes or hours or days, she would be his. He had knowledge and experience.

She needed both.

She placed her gloved hand on the fine fabric of his dark-green jacket, lightly at first, then with a grip borne of excitement as his muscles flexed and shifted beneath her fingertips. She was loath to admit that the low, throbbing heat between her legs was not entirely the result of conjuring her passion for Pia.

Chapter Two to Chapter Five  (Not safe for work, must be over 18 to read).

 

About Bound to be a Groom

BoundToBeAGroom_500x750_0Sometimes our wildest dreams come true.
In the tumultuous summer of 1808, Spain and England are close to war and four young lovers are close to ecstasy.
To carve out an independent life with the woman she loves, ANNA knows she must leave her quiet Spanish convent to become a courtesan. To gain experience, she sets her sights on . . .
SEBASTIAN, whose powerful, aristocratic confidence suits Anna’s mercenary goals. But his arrogance masks a craving for submission that Anna instinctively satisfies. Sebastian soon begs for her hand in marriage, even if it means sharing her with . . .
PIA, who trusts Anna completely—with her body and her future—until she learns of Anna’s hasty marriage. Pia questions their commitment to each other as they leave for London to meet . . .
FARLEIGH, the seemingly feckless duke who thinks he’s over Sebastian, the potent Spanish soldier he bedded two years ago.
What begins as a series of erotic escapades soon evolves into a deep, unbreakable bond. Two men and two women who yearn to explore are about to make their wildest dreams come true.

Riptide Pre-Order

Author Bio: Megan Mulry writes sexy, stylish, romantic fiction. Her first book, A Royal Pain, was an NPR Best Book of 2012 and USA Today bestseller. Before discovering her passion for romance novels, she worked in magazine publishing and finance. After many years in New York, Boston, London, and Chicago, she now lives with her family in Florida.

Contact/follow Megan Mulry at:

 Contest Details:  Megan Mulry is giving away the following:

magic wandOne HITACHI HV250R MAGIC WAND MASSAGER. This priceless (okay, it’s about $75) item will go to ONE lucky winner. The 2nd place winner will receive a $10 gift card from Riptide Publishing, and the 3rd place winner can choose any book from my backlist (excluding Bound to be a Groom).

Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on April 25, and winners will be chosen on April 27. Contest is valid worldwide. Good luck and thanks for being a part of the blog tour!

Must be over 18 to enter.  To enter click on the Rafflecopter Link below and follow the directions:

 Rafflecopter Contest

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Review: With Pride (Princes of the Blood #2) by Megan Derr

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

With PrideKristof never expected to have to take his brother’s place as betrothed to one of the King’s Princes of the Blood.  But when his older sister became ill, then the eldest son moved forward to take her place, leaving the youngest Kristoff to become the Duke of Stehlmore, and the only one left to marry a notorious Prince of the Blood.  All Kristof wanted was to continue his role as a Paladin and keep the borders of his mother’s kingdom safe but fate clearly has other ideas.

On the journey to Guldbrandsen. Kristoff and his company are attacked by goblins.  Overwhelmed, they are saved by the appearance of two Princes of the Blood.  Kristoff had never met a Prince of the Blood before and now he had two to thank for his rescue. But the two Princes could not be more different in appearance and demeanor.  One is courteous, handsome and tall.  And the other?  Well he is small enough to remind Kristoff of a piskie.  He is also arrogant, insulting, and rude.  And Kristoff can’t wait to be rid of him once they reach the castle.

Unfortunately, upon reaching castle grounds and his meeting with the King, Kristoff finds that the Prince he is to marry is none other than that tiny abomination that rescued him from the goblins.  Kristoff is unprepared for his new life at Guldbrandsen or for all the magical beings and demons that walk the hallways.  As a Paladin, he is overly sensitive to the presence of demons, but the pain he feels in the hallways of the castle or even standing next to his fiance is almost more than he can bear.

Then a demon plot is discovered that  could destroy not only Guldbrandsen but his mother’s kingdom of Stehlmore too. Every warrior, Prince and Paladin is need to find the culprit and save the lands. Kristoff is determined to honor the contract and not to shame his heritage or mother by his cowardly fear of the Princes, especially now that he is needed for the fight. But the pain and stress is increasing daily.  What is a Paladin to do?

I loved the first novel in the series, Of Last Resort.  That story launched us into a dark and tortured world still trying to recover from a centuries old war that shattered kingdoms and loosed all types of evil upon the lands.  Now such magical beings as giants, werewolves, trolls, goblins, necromancers, wraiths, and many other unworldly beings are assisting the humans to search out and  destroy the evil remnants of that war still looking to overthrow human rule. Of Last Resort  introduced us to the Princes of the Blood. Human but with the right amount of demon blood running in their veins through intermarriage, the few found that met the requirements were tested, and if successful were forever changed into Princes of the Blood, supernatural beings that feed on blood and helped protect the King and his realm. It was a powerful tale told mostly from the point of view of Raffe’ who became a Prince of the Blood and his lover Algrin.  Once at the end, the reader just needed to know more.  More about all the characters Megan Derr introduced us to in her story but also more of the ongoing quests to search out and destroy all the leftover demons and evil forces that still remain.

Now ordinarily we might expect the second story in the series to pick up where the first left off, but Megan Derr has something far different in mind for this series. The second story, With Pride, takes place prior to the events in Of Last Resort.  In the first story, Raffe’ meets Algrin, a Dragon, and his mated ,deeply in love friends, Hakon and Kristoff, a totally unlikely couple.   Hakon, a tiny, blond Prince of the Blood, couldn’t have looked any less a bloodthirsty demon if he had tried.  And Kristoff, his besotted husband?  A tall imposing Paladin that glowed with holy fervor!  How did such an improbable pair come about?  With Pride marvelously answers that question as it takes us back to their first disastrous meeting.

One of the first things that charmed me about this story is the change in perspective with regard to the Princes of the Blood.  Raffe’ looked forward to becoming a Prince in lieu of his brother who disappeared prior to the testing. For Raffe, being a Prince meant a release from a life and future he never wanted.  To be a Prince of the Blood if, big if, you passed the test, was the ultimate goal for Raffe, one he never felt he was good enough for.   Definitely not the case for Hakon and Kristoff, a pair of reluctant and bitter participants from the beginning.

Kristoff, again the first point of view here, loves his family, home, and ruling mother.  Kristoff is content with his role as a Paladin as well as that of a lessor son within his ruling family.  He is so happy with his status quo that he knows nothing of his older brother’s future role as fiance to a Prince of the Blood, only that they are somewhat monstrous and drink blood to live.  And as he  fights demons and monsters as a Paladin, his ignorance about  the Princes is not something he is curious to inspect further.  Until a sister’s illness means a shuffle in the expected futures of himself and his siblings.  Now he is the one to marry a Prince and he fears it like nothing else in his life.  Only his honor and that of his family keeps him from fleeing back to his kingdom.   Kristoff is full of complexities, including his belief that he is a coward and  is in constant pain due to an allergy to demons he is not aware of.

And then there is Hakon, your second pov.   Your and Kristoff’s first perception of him is that of a fierce yet supremely offensive mite.  He’s white blond, delicate, and super tiny.  Not one to inspire confidence on first contact.  Yet his overwhelmingly obnoxious demeanor more than makes up for a lack of height.  Like a noxious unassuming weed, there is much more to Hakon than is apparent.  To go into Hakon’s background is to spoil some of the best elements of this story but I will say that like Kristoff, Hakon too was an unwilling participant in this marriage as well as in the choice to be a Prince of the Blood.  By the time the book is halfway through, your opinion of Hakon and his of Kristoff will have done a complete changeover.  Yes, he’s not thrilled about Kristoff being his fiance either.  Misperceptions and misunderstandings abound throughout to our horror and delight.

A story rich in texture and with an almost encyclopedic wealth of details is a hallmark of a Megan Derr fantasy novel.  With Pride is another magical addition to the great fantasy reads that has come from this author.  Inside the pages we meet characters who must dig deep to find the best of themselves in order to triumph over overwhelming odds and almost certain destruction.  There is an abundance of pain, deaths of innocents, and treachery.  And to accompany that all, there will be glorious adventures, powerful battles, a dragon or two, dark magic, and of course, a troubled and tortured path to true love.

Ah, the romance.  Well, to be truthful there isn’t as much of it as I would have loved.  It takes some time for each character to overcome their assumptions and misperceptions about each other.  That’s a great thing because those are some toweringly poor judgements each one of them has made of each other.  And when they finally do get together it ends a little quickly without delivering a little more of a satisfying look at the future of Kristoff and Hakon.

Or least that’s what I thought at first.  Then I realized we already had that.  We just didn’t realize it at the time.  It’s in the first story Of Last Resort!  And that realization sent me running back to that novel and a fully married Hakon and Kristoff.  And its that little detail that made this story and it’s ending all the more gratifying.

Now I have two stories to reread while I am waiting for the author to release the third book in the series, In Despair (Princes of the Blood #3).  At the heart of this story is Prince Telmé Guldbrandsen and  Korin: descendant of the Reach of the House, heir to the High Priest of the Temple of the Sacred Three. In Despair works the series backward even further to the time where Prince Telme’ and Korin detest each other even while being betrothed since birth.  I can’t wait!  After the scenes of them  lovingly together and hauntingly apart in the first two tales, I am left deliciously in suspense as to their beginnings and romance.  It should be quite a tale!

All three books can be read in any order but it is quirky and totally amazing to watch the couples, romances and events move backward.  This and the first story are must reads for me.  If you are a lover of fantasy and m/m romance, they will be a must read for you too.  Consider With Pride one of Scattered Thoughts highly recommended stories and on our Best of 2014 lists.

Stories in the Princes of the Blood series are:

Of Last Resort (Princes of the Blood #1)
With Pride (Princes of the Blood #2)
In Despair (Princes of the Blood #3) expected release July 2014

Cover art by Aisha Akeju.  It really references a major plot of the story.  Dark and lovely.

Book Details:

ebook, LT3 Link
Expected publication: April 16th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original titleWith Pride
ISBN139781620043202
edition languageEnglish
seriesPrinces of Blood

Covers of the Books in the Series include:

In Despair coverWith PrideOf Last Resort cover

 

Review: Message of Love by Jim Provenzano

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Message of Love coverFebruary 1980. Philadelphia, PA.  Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester are enrolled at Temple University and have started to adjust to life as college students and life away from home.  But further challenges have to be faced by these two young men.  In addition to being out and gay, Everett Forester is still learning how to live  with his disability.  Going to class, navigating around campus in a pre Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) world presents Everett with some huge hurdles to overcome, including those of intimacy with his lover, Reid.

But Everett’s demanding mother has other plans for her son and they don’t include Everett graduating from Temple University.  After much pressure from his mother, Everett gives in and transfers to the University of Pennsylvania.  Now Everett and Reid must juggle school work and the daily struggle to be together as they attend different schools and a variety of commitments.  The solution? An apartment in the city that is perfect for them both and a landlady more friend than landlord.

As the 1980′s progress, Reid and Everett face many events and issues that will test their love and commitment to each other.  The rise of a strange disease that seems to target gay men, student protests, and the further exploration of their sexuality.  But it’s a mysterious Polaroid of Everett taken shortly before they met that may bring the most danger to Everett and Reid’s life together.  Who took the provocative photos of Everett? That answer will forever change Everett and Reid’s life together.

Message of Love opens June 1983 as Reid and Everett are attending a benefit dinner for handicapped kids in Pittsburgh.  The affair for a local non profit was organized by Everett’s mother who has moved to Pittsburgh to be closer to her son.  We get a glimpse into their present day relationship and a few remembrances of the past before we flashback to February 1980 the starting time for the majority of Message of Love.

There are so many  great elements of Message of Love, the first being the time period of the story.  The 80′s are well represented here and the in-depth research done by Jim Provenzano shows.  The story is full of 80′s cultural notations, from the ever present video stores and Sony Walkman’s to the Rocky Mountain Horror Picture Show where audience participation is starting to spread out from NYC where it started.  We get Spandau Ballet’s “True”, The Spinner’s “Working My Way Back to You” and of course The Pretenders’ “Message of Love”.  Provenzano gets the feel of the times just right. Reid and Everett’s homosexuality is somewhat more accepted by their peers and families and the protests of the 60′s and 70′s has for the most part changed from anti war demonstrations to anti-nuclear protests after the accident at Three Mile Island in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania in 1979.  Such notable events are mentioned throughout the narrative helping to further establish the time frame and setting.

Of utmost importance to Reid and Everett’s story is Everett’s disability as it impacts every aspect of their life together.  Lumbar fracture, partial paralysis.  Four life changing words.  And it is here that Provenzano does some of his best work.  Starting in Every Time I Think of You and continuing into Message of Love, the reader is pulled first hand into Everett’s hard won adjustment to his disability, his mental and emotional state directly after his accident as viewed by Reid.  Reid not only sees the struggles that Everett goes through but also Reid’s adjustment of his long term goals in order to help support his lover in every way possible.  One of the things I loved about the first story is that they still acted like the 17 year olds dealing with all the uncertainty and pain that happens for Everett to accept his disability and go forward and for Reid to accept the change in Everett.

Now at college and away from home for the first time (the exception being Everett’s rehabilitation), they start to experience all the new freedoms and personal growth that change brings.  For Everett, it is the everyday challenge of getting around campus, dorm life, and transportation.  Reid and Everett both mention the relative ease of traveling around Temple University because of its wide sidewalks and flat ground.  Also because Temple had a Students with Disabilities Dorm.

Both stories take place prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities”.  So we watch as Everett has to work hard to get around such hurdles as a lack of ramps, too many stairs and other hardships for the disabled made easier by the handicapped accessibility we see today.  Then we get a deeper, more uncomfortable look into Everett’s daily life as Reid watches people overlook Everett and talk only to Reid when they are together.  We see the cloak of invisibility that seems to fall over people in wheelchairs as those more able to navigate pass them by without notice or equal treatment.  Or Reid’s frustration as he acknowledges that some of the people/students regard Reid as some sort of “guide dog” for Everett instead of seeing him as Everett’s boyfriend.

Provenzano describes with great sensitivity the impact of Everett’s disability on their relationship, from living arrangements to their ability to have sex.  There are moments in their relationship that just ring with authenticity where Reid is prone to be overprotective and as a result Everett needs to reinforce his own need for independence and assistance on his own terms.  That’s an honest relationship, warts and all. We see them argue and listen to their internal insecurities.  We also get a factual look at sex and the sex act between Everett and Reid.  For some readers, this aspect of the story might be more raw and factual then is wanted.  Because, honestly, the author realistically lays out the physical limitations and logistics for both Reid and the reader as to what Everett can feel, his life with catheters, and what ablutions are required in order for them to have sexual relations. Sometimes frustrations and miscommunication ensue. Spontaneity is out, planning is in. And that includes defecation.  Too much information?  Perhaps.  But it conveys to the reader exactly what Everett’s life is like and makes it and Everett real.

Jim Provenzano includes positive elements as well in Everett’s adjustment to life with a disability. It’s the joys of relating to children like Everett from the summer camp for special needs children where Everett and Reid act as counselors to the rough and tumble sports team that Everett plays on.  Bringing all these extra layers and facts into Reid and Everett’s life together helps to connect the reader intimately to their romance and growing commitment to each other.

Message of Love chillingly brings in the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic and the beginnings of public awareness.  Its introduction in the story is subtle but grows steadily throughout until it will have a major impact on the main characters and those around them. First a small mention in the newspaper, then an article that their landlady brings to Reid’s attention, and our knowledge of the times and the disease just ramps up our anxiety and concerns for characters we have come to love through two stories.And always at the center is the love and romance between Reid and Everett, painstaking in its growth and so satisfying in its depth of feeling and commitment that we never once question their love for each other.  I fell in love with these two young men in Every Time I Think of You and that love affair continues here in Message of Love.

The narrative moved at a slower rate than in the previous novel which is to be expected as it lacks the dramatic impact of Everett’s accident.  The details of the reality of Everett’s daily regimen and physical bodily functions sometimes slowed the tale’s momentum down to a much more leisurely pace than most readers might want.  Perhaps if you looked at it as less a total romance and more of a journey of two young men coming of age and growing together into adulthood and a loving commitment, then the richness of its details and the complexities of its characters will make this a story to remember.

If you are new to Reid and Everett’s story, then begin with Every Time I Think of You.  If you are familiar with that novel, then Message of Love is a story not to be missed.  No matter, this is a wonderfully satisfying and uplifting novel, certainly one of Scattered Thoughts Best of 2014.

 

Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano
Message of You (sequel) by Jim Provenzano

Cover Art; Getty Images. Used with permission. Cover Design: Kurt Thomas

Book Details:

Paperback, first, 372 pages
Published March 15th 2014 by Myrmidude Press
ISBN 0615669247 (ISBN13: 9780615669243)
edition languageEnglish

In the Author Spotlight: Jim Provenzano

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spotlight on booksMessage of Love cover

ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to host Jim Provenzano today, talking about his latest release, Message of Love, the sequel to the Lambda Literary Award winning, Every Time I Think of You.

Giveaway:  Jim has brought with him a Kindle ebook copy of Every Time I Think of You to give away today along with a copy of Message of Love to a 2nd winner.  To enter to win, leave a comment below as well as your email address so you can be contacted. We would also appreciate it if you left your Amazon email address in the body of the comment to make it easier to send the book to you as it is a Kindle edition.  Contest closes 4/19. Thanks.

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Getting It Right, the Second Time Around

by Jim Provenzano

When I started writing my fourth novel Every Time I Think of You, the first few chapters came to me in a dream in January 2011. I’d already had a few other novels nearly completed, but the story of Reid and Everett basically took over my life.Every Time I Think Of You

After finishing it in early December of that year, I agreed with the almost unanimous suggestion of friends who had read early drafts, and cut an epilogue where Reid and Everett are living ‘happily ever after’ as college roommates in Philadelphia. I realized that the last chapter was actually a draft treatment for a sequel. What happens after the rush of romance concludes with the blossoming of love? Well, a lot happens.

In the sequel, Message of Love, Reid and Everett attend separate universities in Philadelphia. While Everett’s studies focus on politics and world affairs, Reid remains devoted to his Forestry studies. And while the symbolic aspect of the City of Brotherly Love offers new adventures for them, the urban environs tests their relationship, and in particular, Reid’s once heartfelt passion for nature.

I prepared for my new novel, Message of Love, with funds generated from a small yet successful 2012 Kickstarter project. The week before attending the Lambda Literary Awards in New York City, where Every Time I Think of You won the Lammy for Gay Romance, I spent a week in Philadelphia. Combining my journalism experience with a bit of adventurous tourism, I researched the campuses, the city and Fairmont Park, where most scenes are set.

I also spent several days in the archives at both Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and at the Philadelphia Public Library, where I scanned issues of the Philadelphia Gay News, converting page after page into saved PDFs. I even found a house where the fictional version of an apartment would become their home.

Numerous personal interviews with current and former Philadelphia and Greensburg residents, and graduates of Penn and Temple, led to an insightful perspective on the novel’s setting. Sometimes a single detail or correction would lead to an entire chapter revision. But what surprised me were how often real-life events aligned with the story I had already outlined.

I spent months researching the disability issues relating to Everett’s experience, both from the perspective of a paraplegic and someone who loves him. Personal interviews with wheelchair users led to new insights into their daily lives.

As a former professional dancer, one of the most inspirational aspects came from other dancers. Like my first novel, PINS, about high school wrestlers, I took my own physical experience as a sort of muscle memory. By watching and talking with a wonderfully talented dancer and a choreographer from the Oakland, California AXIS Dance Company, I was able to feel and visualize the practicality and athleticism of a young active paraplegic.

But with a specific time frame, thirty years ago, I didn’t have the advantage of relying on contemporary aspects of disability. I bought several books from that era, specific to the limitations of the early 1980s, before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and before most sidewalks and buildings were made accessible.

As with Every Time I Think of You, the story is written from Reid’s point of view and his attempts to comprehend and understand Everett’s challenges. Despite being a pair of romance novels, I worked within the popular genre while crafting a decidedly new approach. I also read many gay and straight romance books with disabled characters. Some of them were touching and sweet. Some were uninformed and misguided.

But at the same time, while I endeavored to ‘get it right’ about such a relationship, I kept asking myself, ‘Is this a Romance?’ Reid and Everett are already boyfriends. The quest of finding love has been achieved. Their new challenge is to sustain their love through some separation. Veering from the standard romance, they live together for most of the story.

With the advantage of having already established the love between Reid and Everett, I faced new challenges with an historic time and urban setting, placed against the encroaching threat of a plague.

Many contemporary romances quickly dispense with AIDS and other difficult issues, and that’s fine. That is the decision of other authors, to make a fun, sexy escapist story. But having set this sequel after the ‘halcyon’ days of the late 1970s, when being gay wasn’t a big problem in some communities, the sequel would have to deal with realities of the era in which I came of age; infidelity, identity, and the growing, then unnamed, epidemic.

A major symbol, a small evergreen tree, served as an actual gift in Every Time I Think of You. For Message of Love, a single ivy leaf, used on the book’s cover, becomes a significant gift of apology in a crucial moment when Everett and Reid’s relationship is at its most fragile. Yet Everett’s life as a paraplegic is not a mere metaphor, but a realistic aspect of his life that’s given a thorough focus.

In the first book, the two young men’s time together is sporadic and passionate. In the sequel, their extended time together offers a new perspective on moving beyond the initial rush of first love, and growing toward a stronger form based on trust.

This four-year ‘distraction’ has led to creating two of the most endearing characters I’ve created. I really grew to love these guys, and I hope readers will, too.
* * *

Author Bio:

Jim Provenzano is the author of the novels PINS, Monkey Suits, Cyclizen, the 2012 Lambda Literary Award-winning Every Time I Think of You, its sequel Message of Love, and the stage adaptation of PINS.

A journalist in LGBT media for two decades, and the guest curator of Sporting Life, the world’s first gay athletics exhibit, he also wrote the syndicated Sports Complex column for ten years. Currently the Assistant Arts Editor at the Bay Area Reporter, he also edits its weekly BARtab nightlife section.

For more information on Jim Provenzano’s books, visit

Watch the book trailer, which features a performance of Dudley Saunders singing “Message of Love,” the title song (by The Pretenders), and enjoy the companion video playlists for Message of Love, Every Time I Think of You and PINS on Jim Provenzano’s YouTube channel:

 

 

 

 

 

March 2014 – Summary of Reviews and Best Covers

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books headers blk and white

March 2014 Review Summary

*Key:march1
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
HR-horror
N-Nonfiction
YA-young adult

Rating Scale: 1 to 5, 5 stars is outstanding

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5 Star Rating:

Blown Away (Whispering Winds #1) by Havan Fellows (PF2014) C

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8) by Abigail Roux, (4.5) C, S
Come To Me by Megan Derr (4), F, S
Convergence by Talya Andor (4 stars) SP
Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley (4.5) C, S
Firestorm (Fighting Fire #1) by Laura Harner (4.5)PF2014, C
Free Falling (Extreme Escapes, LLD) by S.E. Jakes (4.75) C, S
Higher Ground (Earthquake #1) by T.A. Webb (4.75) PF2014, C
Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson (4.5) C
Song of the Spring Moon Waning by E.E. Ottoman (4.75) F,H
The Oracle’s Hatchling (The Oracle #2) by Mell Eight (4), F, S
To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5) by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley (4.5) C,S
3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Angel’s Hero (Angel #1) by Liz Borino (3.25) C, S
Artist’s Touch (Guild #1) by Kerry Adrienne (3.75 stars) C, S
King of Dublin by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau (3.75) SF
Riding Tall (The Fall #2) by Kate Sherwood (3.75)
The Oracle’s Flame (The Oracle #1) by Mell Eight (3.75) F, S

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

Hunter by Blood by Robin White (2.75) SN

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Best Covers of March 2014

???????????????????????????????????????FreeFalling_500x750Song of the Spring Moon Waning coverTo The Very Last InchBlown Away cover

Higher Ground coverCold SnapFirestorm by Laura Harner

 

 

 

 

 

 

*************************************************************

  • Ball & Chain, cover art by LC Chase
  • Free Falling, cover art by Croco Designs
  • Song of the Spring Moon Waning, artist Aisha Akeju
  • Know Not Why, artist unknown
  • To the Very Last Inch, cover artist LC Chase
  • Blown Away standing in for all the Pulp Friction 2014 covers by Laura Harner

 

 

ScatteredThoughts Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Guest Posts and Contests

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It’s already midApril and I have just realized that I missed posting my March 2014 Review Summary and Best Covers.  Sigh.  Sometimes Gardening_Tools_Clip_Artthings just get away from you and this certainly did last month.  So I am posting the review to run later today.  There are so many wonderful authors and books represented that you are sure to find several to add to your TBR or Must Read stack of stories.   Included in the reviews are the penultimate story of the Cut & Run series from Abigail Roux and the first 2 stories in the second group of Pulp Friction 2014 series.

Spring has finally come to Maryland (although it may only be here a week).  My cherry blossoms are blooming as are those around the tidal basin.  So I am off to grab some weeds and bird watch in the sun.

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Here is the week ahead in reviews, author guest blogs and contests:

 

  • Monday, April 14:                 Author Spotlight: Jim Provenzano and Book Giveaway
  • Tuesday, April 15:                 Memories of Love by Jim Provenzano
  • Wed., April 16:                       With Pride by Megan Derr
  • Thursday, April 17:               Megan Mulry :Author Guest Blog and Book Tour (Contest)
  • Friday, April 18:                    Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry
  • Saturday, April 19:                Floodgates by Mary Calmes

Review: Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.
Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”
– Alice Walker

Every Time I Think Of YouIt’s winter, 1978 in the small town of Greensburg,Pennsylvania and for teenager Reid Coniff everything is about to change.  The woods are calling him out into the night and snow.  Not exactly to admire nature, although Reid does that too.  But the thin walls of his house make it almost impossible for a teenage boy to find sexual release and these woods are a perfect place for privacy.  Or so Reid thinks.  Because after a short hike, Reid comes across another boy with the exact same purpose on the mind.

Everett Forrester, scion of the Forrester family who founded their town, has come to the woods around Forrestville, a wealthy community, that separates the rich from the rest of the citizens of Greensburg, to escape his family and have a moment of sexual self pleasure.  With divorced parents, home now consists mostly of a controlling mother, a housekeeper who is more friend and ally than servant, and a beloved sister who lives in Pittsburgh far outside the sphere of his family and their wealth.  Everett is not prepared for the tall, lanky boy that finds him almost naked in the woods, in the middle of masturbing.  But one sloppy wet kiss later, both boys find release and a new destiny together.

What follows that remarkable meeting is a relationship that grows and deepens over time.  It didn’t matter that townie Reid attended the local public high school or that wealthy Everett attended a prestigious prep school just outside Forrestville, the next months found them constantly together.  Trips to visit Everett’s sister Holly is Pittsburgh served as a way to be alone, exploring their newly discovered passion for each other and sex.  They share their hopes, their dreams and their problems and their relationship deepens even as they hid who and what they were to each other.

High school is still such a difficult time made more so by a first love and being in the closet. Everett and Reid have not only to deal with hiding their relationship but the fact that they come from two very different backgrounds and two diverging views of their future. Most couples have only a few obstacles to overcome, but Everett and Reid face the most daunting obstacle of all when an accident on the playing field changes their lives forever.

Every Time I Think of You  by Jim Provenzano is a true revelation. I have read many coming of age stories.  And I have also read just as many coming out stories but none of them have the depth, texture and power of Every Time I Think of You.   Winner of the Lambda Literary Award in 2012, this is storytelling at its most intimate and perceptive.

The journey of Reid and Everett will make you hark back to your own adolescence, it will make you laugh and cringe in acknowledgement of the trials and tribulations of high school and the throes of a first love. This elegant and moving tale will pull forth all feelings possible when we remember what it felt like to be young and in love for the first time. In the telling, the author and his characters ask for our understanding and get it by the descriptions and in the remembrances of being young. For the very bravery of youth itself in its outlook and optimism and the pain that experience and time often inflicts.  Even now I want to reach for that book again and start at page 1 as Reid embarks on his journey once more into the woods where he will meet Everett and his future.

The characters Provenzano created for his story are remarkable for their complexity and authenticity as children of the 70′s. With all the references we would expect from the late 70′s Jim Provenzano frames out his setting and time period and puts the reader into the mind and heart of Reid Coniff, a teenager of the threshold of an explosion of self discovery in 1978.  Our narrator is a product of a loving family in a small town in Pennsylvania. Reid is that extraordinary voice that strikes a recognizable note in all readers. He is introspective with a passion for plants and nature in general.  He knows what he wants to do with his life and has the support he needs from his parents.  But that one night in the forest changes everything for him.  Here is a small excerpt just as Reid ventures into the woods in chapter one:

Entering the edge of the small woods, I felt warmer and secure. I’d rarely encountered other people in that small expanse of trees and its charming creek, which is why I’d long considered it my own private refuge.

A thick blanket of snow lay at my feet, sleeves of it bending the limbs of shrubs. Bluish whites contrasted the dark limbs of the evergreen branches above.

Further in, the snow under the tall evergreens was softer, quieting my footsteps as I encountered something unexpected; a pair of grey sweatpants and a green parka hanging on a tree limb.

Then I saw him.

The following scene beautifully delivers the urgency of youth, and the first fumblings at sex. It’s delivers the realistic joy of the first sexual discovery with another person and the shyness that comes after their first kiss and sexual release.  It’s that moment where Reid thinks for the first time “Where the hell have you been all these years?

And then you remember that these boys are only seventeen with their life spread out before them, and that thought becomes one of wonder but also of the pain because we realize how much of life is still before them.

And you are not even out of the first chapter.

Everett Forrester’s voice feels so true to that age and time period.  It’s full of bravado and charm and yet it hides so much feeling and insecurities that you find yourself falling in love with him as much as Reid.  The combination of these two young men, so full of life and the awkwardness of youth, is both captivating and painful.  We watch them venturing out of their self described roles and into a journey of personal growth, love, and sexual discovery.  A time when all their futures are full of the impossible and where they will always be together.

And from our remembered perspectives, their jubilant bravado and youthful innocence is received with the understanding and compassion of age, letting us relate to and empathize with these young men on their journey together with all its attending highs and lows.

Provenzano doesn’t shy away from the warts and issues of the times and of being a teenager during that era, homophobia included.  Nor does he gloss over the brutal facts of the impact that a debilitating accident has on these boys,their families and their budding romantic relationship. Everett’s accident is one that almost singularly destroys Everett and Reid’s relationship as well as Everett’s dreams for his future.  It is one that can happen on any playing field across America, this time it just happened to Everett.  That doesn’t make it any easier to accept for Everett, Reid or their families.  Or for the reader for that matter.

The story ends in the winter of 1979.  Less than a year has passed but somehow it feels as though I have walked miles and lived years with these boys. This amazing narrative, at times honest, tender, and raw, has left me so well acquainted with their characters, that to see the end actually hurt.  And that’s after 266 pages.  Reid is now at Temple University in Philadelphia.  And Everett? Well, that joy of discovery awaits you within these pages.

And it doesn’t end here.  The sequel, Message of Love, continues Reid and Everett journey into adulthood and their possible future together. But first there is Every Time I Think of You, an evocative and immensely powerful “coming-of-age”  tale so compelling in its truth that you won’t want to put it down.  The strong adolescent voice that is Reid Coniff, wise ,uncertain, tentative and brave.  It is the voice of a 17 year old…so full of everything it means to be 17. It is real, painfully so at times. Reid will entice  you back to his story and that of the young man he loves with all his heart.  And Everett with the burdens and struggles to come will hold fast to your heart, never to let go.

This is one of ScatteredThoughts Best of 2014.  Go, get it now and start your journey along with Reid and Everett into their future.  Trust me, this story is one that will always stay with you, heart deep and full of love.

Cover Art; Getty Images. Used with permission. Cover Design: Kurt Thomas.  Cover is simple and elegant and references a major element in their story.

Every Time I Think of You
Message of Love (sequel)

 Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published November 26th 2011 by CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press
ASINB006EVNCJK
edition languageEnglish
literary awardsLambda Literary Award 2012

Buy Links: Amazon  also at Barnes & Noble (nook)

Review: In Distress (Superpowered Love #6) by Katey Hawthorne

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

KH_indistress_coverlg_1Hopeless romantic and total geek Eddie Kim continues to dream that his knight in shining armor will show up one day to carry him away for a beautiful future together.  But until that happens, Eddie hangs out with his best friends Kavita and Stacy playing D & D, moons over GoT’s Jon Snow and dreams of new scribblings for Morning Gloria’s sandwich board, the beanery where he is a barista.  Life is pretty good for an adorable 23 year old, just not perfect.  Then Eddie’s apartment catches fire and everything changes.

When Eddie’s kitchen catches fire, the smoke and fumes threaten to overwhelm Eddie.  But Eddie is saved when strong cold arms lift him up and out of danger and a freezing cold puts the fire out.  His rescuer?  A gorgeous unknown red head who asks that Eddie not reveal his rescuer’s presence.  One kiss later, then Eddie’s knight in shining frost disappears, leaving a stunned and coughing Eddie behind.

What’s a smitten boy to do when his longed for knight saves him only to disappear?  Why look for him of course.  Eddie’s friends look to craiglist to relocate his hero but the publicity is just the thing his hero was trying to avoid.

Callum, a mysterious red-head with freezing superpowers, couldn’t help saving Eddie but now he has put not only Eddie but himself in danger.  Callum Race has come to Columbus to try and clear his family name, and now the dangerous superpowered organization he needs to thwart know he’s come home again. But the attraction he feels towards Eddie is anything but cold.  And the more they see of each other, the stronger the connection gets.

Soon its a race against time for Callum and Eddie.  Callum determined to clear his brother’s name and Eddie equally determined to help Callum fight.  As the danger increases who is the knight and who is the “damsel in distress” is anyone’s guess.

I am going to admit right up front that I am a big time fan of Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series.  So hearing about the release of In Distress brought a sense of anticipation and joy that soon I would be plunged back into a world of elemental beings and their search for  some Superpowered Love.  Hawthorne’s In Distress, part of Loose Id’s Missed Connections collection does not disappoint on any level, starting with her wonderful and totally adorable characters.

Now Eddie Kim would totally own that “adorable” appellation, particularly if it didn’t come with a gender attached to it.  Eddie sees gender somewhat differently than others do, less rigidly defined and certainly more open to interpretation.  At the moment, he identifies as male but that might change at any moment. Eddie wants others to respect that about him, knowing that his gender fluid appearance is one that can confuse those that aren’t familiar with him.  I liked this aspect of Eddie’s character, it gave Eddie a deeper dimension, that combined with the other elements of his persona, made Eddie a wonderful unique individual.  He’s highly intelligent and super romantic.  At 23, Eddie still dreams of “The One”, a Knight that will save him, albeit not from dragons but from a loveless existence.  And then Eddie gets what he has been dreaming for and ,of course, it’s far more than he ever expected.

Eddie, his friends Kavita and Stacy, as well as Callum, are all such terrific characters.  Just when you might be feeling a little, oh I don’t know, perhaps, dubious at Eddie’s exuberance and “tilting at windmills” sort of behavior, then you have Kavita and Stacy there as your standin’s, saying exactly what you would say to Eddie, to bring him back down to reality.  Only to realize a few paragraphs later that Eddie’s new reality is kind of out of this world, or too much of this world.  Katey Hawthorne moves us back and forth in an emotional whirlwind with Eddie as the story is told from his very exuberant and delightful point of view.

And then there’s Callum Race, currently on the outs from all the Superpowered groups, unable to come home because of his brother’s actions and death.  I have always found the Superpowered subculture that Katey Hawthorne has created for this series fascinating, especially it’s divisive cultural quandary of whether or not to stay hidden from the human populace.  Which side of the question you come down on essentially makes you either a upstanding member of the Superpowered community or an outcast and potential rebel.  This theme flows through all the stories and is an important one of In Distress as well.

There are plenty of action packed scenes as well as ones of intimacy and introspection to balance out each other.  I did wish that Callum and Eddie had more time together before things got totally out of control.  And for those of you who are new to the Superpowered Love series, some of the backhistory might feel a bit lacking.  But how can you resist passages or characters like this?

“You’re okay. Just come with me,” said the voice attached to the hands.

My feet slipped on inexplicable ice. The strong, gloved hands steadied me, and the voice said, “Shit, sorry.” Then my feet were wet, but it wasn’t so slippery, and I could walk.

And some guy in a black hoodie and leather gloves led me out of my smoke-filled apartment in the middle of the night. As we turned in to the hallway, flame flared up at the end. He held out a gloved hand. By the firelight, I saw frost spread in a flash over the wall and floor, snuffing out the flames.

I shivered again and decided I was still dreaming. And if I took this guy’s hood off, it was clearly going to be Jon Snow. Maybe I should jump on his back?

He tugged me out onto the rattly wrought-iron porch and started down the equally rattly stairs. He was tall, taller than me— which isn’t saying much, but still— with broad shoulders and slim hips. It was a perfect swimmer’s build, but he moved like he didn’t realize it, with an almost adolescent awkwardness. “Don’t you have a fire alarm?”

“It needs a battery,” I said, dazed. There was a small streetlight in the parking lot below, and the moon was out, and all I could smell was melting plastic. Now my brain was finally waking up. Oh God, this is real. My apartment was on fire— is on fire— was on fire, and this guy put it out with… What the hell did he just do? Who the hell is he? Oh my God, this is not Jon Snow!

“Well, consider getting one.” The voice was mild and somehow equally awkward but far from adolescent. “I’ll call you an ambulance. I have to get out of—”

But I wasn’t having that crap, by then. Adrenaline had belatedly kicked in, and I grabbed for his arm and spun him.

He was pale, possibly with a sprinkling of freckles, but I couldn’t see his hair under the hood. I could see his lips, palest pink and plump, especially the bottom one, which looked like someone had bitten it hard and the swelling had never gone down. Nice bone structure too— nothing supermodel or delicate, but hard, straight lines and angles. For some reason it made me think: Football hooligan? He was pretty, but the kind of pretty that’d still be scary in a fight.

And he’d probably just saved my life. I had a million questions (chiefly: Why the hell were you in my apartment— when it was on fire?), but my heart was racing with the sudden acknowledgement of my own ridiculous mortality. I had somehow forgotten the words thank you. So I grabbed the front of his hoodie, went up on my toes, and kissed him.

Because that’s what the damsel in distress does when he gets rescued from the tower, right?

 

And right there I was in love.  In love with the lonely and brave Callum and his quest for justice and in love with that delectably over the top voice and personality that could only belong to Eddie Kim.  Knight found his mate.  But who really rescued who is something you will have to find out for yourself.

Of course, Katey Hawthorne throws in mentions of Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, Game of Thrones, Spider Man and so many other present day references that help clue us into who Eddie and his friends are, a cultural shortcut that let’s us secure these characters as real people almost instantly in our minds.  If you need more information about these characters, visit Katey Hawthorne’s In Distress page at her website.  It has character stats and back history on the Superpowered Love series.

A special bonus resides at the end of the story.  An In Distress playlist for your enjoyment that will also add to a better understanding of these characters and background.  Just one more reason to get this story.  Not that you need one.  In Distress and all the Superpowered Love stories are must reads for me.  The Superpowered Love stories are fun, sexy romps. A fascinating as watching lighting in a storm or as mesmerizing as lightning bugs in a bottle. And all are full of memorable characters so sexy and full of life that you won’t want to see them leave, including Eddie and Callum from In Distress.

Don’t pass this up.

And watch out for the sandwich board sayings….they are quite wonderful too.  See?  Win, win and win.

Cover art by P.L. Nunn who has created the wonderful covers for all the stories in this series.  It works,  and its adorable.

Book Details:

Part of Loose Id’s Missed Connections Collection.
ebook
Published March 25th 2014 by Loose Id LLC
ISBN139781623006112
edition languageEnglish
url for all Things Katey Hawthorne http://www.kateyhawthorne.com
series Superpowered Love
settingColumbus, Ohio (United State

Books in the Superpowered Love series in the order they were written and should be read:

Equilibrium (Superpowered Love, #1)
Jealousy: A Love Story (Superpowered Love, #1.1)
Best Gift Ever (Superpowered Love, #1.2)
Riot Boy (Superpowered Love, #2)
Willoughby Spit (Superpowered Love, #2.1)
Nobody’s Hero (Superpowered Love, #3)
Losing Better (Superpowered Love, #4)
Re-Entry Burn (Superpowered Love, #5)
In Distress (Superpowered Love, #6)

Review: Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Cold Comfort coverProfessor Finn Lorensson has worked hard to get close to his prickly co worker and neighbor, Cannon Malloy, and now it seems he is starting to succeed in getting to know Cannon no matter how hard Cannon works to thwart him. Finn is convinced that Cannon is the man for him, now to convince Cannon.

Cannon Malloy fled Atlanta thinking that he could start over again, living his life as an out gay man.  But all Cannon’s fears and traumatic past have followed him, making it almost impossible to open him self up to the idea of a new man and a new romance.  Slowly, Finn Lorensson has made him accept the idea that he could find love again.

But someone from Finn’s past poses a problem for Finn that will impact his career and fragile new relationship that he has pursued with Cannon.  With two men confronting the demons from their past, is a future together even remotely possible?

Ah, poor Cannon Malloy. Not even a fresh start in Flagstaff can prevent him from wanting to return to Atlanta and the people he left there. And even if Cannon is not sure they even miss him.  He can’t bring himself to move forward emotionally and he can’t go back. So he’s stuck. And Lee Brazil makes us not only understand Cannon’s position but feel for him as well.  It doesn’t matter whether his  problems are self-inflicted (some are) or a matter of poor timing (some of those are too), we have all been there at some point in our lives.  And can access those old memories and feelings through the character of Cannon.

Finn Lorensson is a somewhat more problematic character for me.  He just seems so great.  He’s considerate and tender of Cannon and Cannon’s prickly defensive nature.  I like that about him.  But maybe he just seems to much the gentle giant.  At least by his handling of a delicate matter.  Or it just could be that we haven’t seen that side of him yet.  We get Cannon, he’s a known factor.  Not so much Finn.  And that is  one of the things I love about this series, the slow reveal, the torturous climb to romance and love. Nothing has ever been easy for Cannon and it looks to remain that way.  Just as we think Cannon is going to give into his impulses, something happens to shatter that small forward movement, halting any progress he may have made and throwing Cannon back into his shell.

Yep, that happens here.  And no, I won’t tell you how.  I will say that it ends on a bit of a bombshell as the Top Gear guys would have it.  Brazil has lead us up to this moment, building our hopes for Finn and Cannon one small delectable morsel at a time.  I mean really, there is a cooking/dinner scene that is quite heady in its erotic buildup.  Finn knows what he wants, Cannon is afraid of what he wants, and that is an anticipatory and wonderful recipe for romance. Or it should be.  Sigh.

The pages of Cold Comfort just flew by.  The writing is fast paced, the narrative so smooth and lively that I was astonished at how quickly I was finished.  And then I was ready for more.  But I fear a little wait is in store for me and the characters here.  How I love this new Pulp Friction 2014 group series and In From the Cold in particular.  Cannon is turning into quite the favorite of mine, something I  never would have suspected would happen given his role in last year’s series.  Ah, surprises, they are wonderful things….mostly.

So grab this story up if you are familiar with the series and the whole Pulp Friction experience.  If you are new to PF2014 and any of the series involved, return to the first stories in Round One and watch how quickly you become addicted.  I know I am.  Consider this one of Scattered Thoughts must reads for 2014!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Love that model, perfect in every way.

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 1st 2014 by Lime Time Press
ISBN LBRZL02014
edition languageEnglish
seriesIn From the Cold #2
charactersFinn Lorensson, C

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

 

 

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