A MelanieM Review: Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States #2) by L.E. Harner, and T.A. Webb

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

“Wolf or vamp? Decide. It has to be now.”

Deadly Shades of Gold coverA life altering decision made in seconds. For those were the last words Sam Garrett ever heard—as a human. And as something other than human, his career as a cop was over.

Travis Boudreaux knows exactly how Sam feels, its an all too familiar situation. But as Travis and Sam are about to find out… when some doors close, the golden window of opportunity opens. Crimes against supernaturals require a new and different approach, and once the Feds show up, the Odd Squad isn’t the only law enforcement game in town.

With paranormal crimes flourishing and  a revenge-seeking vampire creating deadly havoc, the new federal agent-in-charge is on a recruiting mission—and he’s more than ready to fight fire with fire. What do you get when you mix old friends, new enemies, and a license to kill?

Pure dynamite.

Warning: This is an erotic urban fantasy. In this series the vampires don’t sparkle, werewolves kill, and the men sometimes have sex. With each other.

Alrighty then!  With Deadly Shades of Gold, the romance of Sam and Travis is about to be well…something hot and wonderful.  As well as totally unexpected.  I loved this story wholeheartedly.  It made me want to do a few high fives and “hell to the yeah’s”!  To recap briefly, Sam and Travis were partners on the force and soon to be partners in love when a vampire attacked Travis and killed him.  But Travis didn’t stay dead for long and his return (on the day of his funeral), revealed to the world that vampires and other supernatural beings were real and living along side of them.  Surprise!  And quite, naturally it split up Sam and Travis to go their separate ways.

In Deep Blues Goodbye, Sam became the focus of two warring supernatural groups and the end result was a life altering decision (not to be revealed here).  The choice made is startling as is the effects it has on Sam, his career, and all those around him.   It also brings Travis back into his life and that’s where this story takes flight for me more once more.  I love this two together.  Apart, its bittersweet but together? They become dynamic and compelling.  It doesn’t matter whether they are human or supernatural, Harner and Webb have created a romance that feels powerful and real, a connection that jumps off the page and into your heart.  This story starts them on the path back to each other and something more as it picks up from that moment.

I love how believable the authors made the characters adjustment to their new status.  There’s plenty of confusion and pain to go around, second guessing and indecision often rules the day.  The process of accepting and adjusting to being a supernatural takes time and we watch it happen as Sam works his way through this tumultuous period. More plot threads are revealed, including perhaps, a motive or two from the head villain himself.  Unknown histories are starting to surface and more supernatural politics combine with romance for another superb installment in this series.  I think this is my favorite so far.

I highly recommend this series.  I love the world building, its layered and complicated, just like the characters themselves.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Love this cover, wish there was more branding to the series.

Sales Links:    All Romance (ARe)      Amazon         Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252311
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://lauraharner.com
seriesAltered States #2
charactersSam Garrett (Altered States), Travis Boudreaux

Books in the Altered States Series in the order they should be read:
• Altered States (Altered States, #0.5)
• Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States, #1)
• Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States, #2)
• Free Falling Crimson (Altered States, #3)

 

Book Spotlight: Other Freedom by Catherine L. Byrne (interview and contest)

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Some Other Freedom by Catherine L. Byrne
Release Date: February 15, 2015

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Author Catherine L. Byrne is here with her latest story, Other Freedom.  We have a Q & A with Catherine, along with excerpts and a contest for you all to enter.  Check it all out below…

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts
Catherine L Byrne amused herself writing as a hobby for some years until she had her daughter, but becoming a mum made her realise she now had a purpose and time was limited, so she must get on with writing seriously.
The winter of 2009 was severe and as she and her family live in a small village, they were house bound by unusually deep snow for southern England. So she settled down in her office (i.e. the corner of her bedroom) and began her first book, which was published in 2010.
She hasn’t stopped writing since, generally on the theme of forbidden or unrequited love, and often including erotic scenes.

Where to find the author:
Website : https://catherinelbyrne.wordpress.com/
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinelbyrne

Publisher: eXtasy Books
Cover Artist:  Latrisha Waters,

Sales Links: Extasy Books  Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Ambitious teacher Anthony, who is firmly in the closet, works at a very conservative school, carefully living up to expectations in order to further his career.

After drinking too much at a wedding, however, he meets a gorgeous man and can’t resist having a passionate liaison with him.
Weeks later, Anthony is engaged to his girlfriend, but then his secret lover turns up at school as the new teacher in his department…

SOFRC

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Humor, M/M Romance, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

“Here’s your drink, mate,” he said to Anthony, as if asking him a question. Anthony smiled at the Australian accent, and the waiter gave him a subtle wink, making him quickly look away as the man gave Francesca her Daiquiri.

“Shall we eat here too?” said Francesca. “Could we have a menu please?” She smiled, fluttering her eyelashes at the waiter, who smiled back, showing a gold tooth.

“Of course, I’ll get it.” He strode out, reminding Anthony of Blondie at the wedding. How would it feel if this Australian lay on top of him on the huge hotel office desk? He turned back again to his girlfriend. His proper, steady girlfriend.

Lunging to kiss her, his lips hit her cheek, and she twisted her head so their mouths could meet, but he moved the wrong way and kissed her hair. His hand slipped on the arm of her chair and he fell forwards onto her shoulder. A sudden gust of wind, carrying the rotting, fishy smell from the tide going out, forced him to stifle a cough.

“Here you go.” The Australian accent conveyed a hint of amusement as the couple untangled themselves and sat up.
Pages or Words: 51,189

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Tour Dates: March 4, 2015

Tour Stops:

Parker Williams, MM Good Book Reviews, Molly Lolly, Bayou Book Junkie, Inked Rainbow Reads, BFD Book Blog, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Love Bytes, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Cate Ashwood, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fallen Angel Reviews, Nic Starr, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake

 

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of the book. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Rafflecopter link and prizes provided by Pride Promotions.

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In Our Author Spotlight: Alexis Woods on Baseball, Writing, and Opening Day! (author interview/Contest)

 

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Up Close and Personal With Author Alexis Woods!

Opening Day cover

Alexis Woods has stopped by today to talk about her latest story Opening Day, baseball and writing.   As part of her guest post, we are hosting a  giveaway of Opening Day!  For all the details, see the contest section below.

Q and A With Alexis Woods!

Q. Baseball, America’s sport, and a wonderful place for a romance. Why include it in your story?

All of my stories have a backdrop or theme, and I have always loved the use of innuendo – baseball is just perfect with all of its lovely little terms: pitching, catching, wood, and, of course, all the “bases.” It was a lot of fun writing this story and trying to work in as many of the terms as I could.

Q. What was the inspiration behind your story and characters?

Ace and Darren were easy to write as they mirrored real life. I’m a pharmacist, just like Darren, and my husband is a front-store supervisor for a well-known pharmacy chain. The proverbial “they” always say write what you know. I grew up playing softball and my husband is from New England, big Red Sox fan, and got me hooked, watching them avidly in the mid-90’s.

Q. Do you include a brownie recipe as well? What is your favorite brownie to eat?

I didn’t, but I’ll share my favorite here. I make what I call my Rocky Road Brownies: Take any box mix that you like and add an additional 1 cup each of mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips and white chocolate chips to the recipe. It’ll need an extra ten minutes baking time, but they are absolutely delicious. Super moist.

Q. Were you a voracious reader as a child?

Always. I had to read before bed, late at night, under the covers, flashlight in hand. Now I’ve got a stocked e-reader, white words on a black background and I’m golden.

Q. What childhood books and authors had the great impact on you and has that carried over into adulthood?

This is a tough question, but I’d have to say Mercedes Lackey. She is one of the few authors that I have read so many her books. I love her world-building, the Heralds of Valdemar being my favorite. She also gave me my first exposure to M/M, but it was almost another dozen years before I truly discovered the genre.

Q. Favorite genre to read and write in?

I was a hard-core fantasy reader for a long, long time, especially anything with battle and military scenes. Up until 2011, I was eating up the children’s and teen fantasy fiction. I absolutely love the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan and all of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson stories, but I got caught up in the 50 Shades phenomenon and then paranormal romance, eventually finding my way to the Goodreads M/M Romance Group. Hooked ever since, their Don’t Read in the Closet event is what finally got me writing. Haven’t looked back since.

Q Vulnerability in a character is a great way to grab onto a reader’s heart. Does that come into play when creating a character or does the character “appear” sort of fully formed?

My character’s are never fully formed until they start talking to me. Every time I sit down to write, they whisper the things they want to say and do. Putting actions (and their voice) into words takes time, but I strive to make it true-to-life.

Q. Title or story…which comes first

The story line first, but the title quickly follows. The working title usually holds through to the finale, with maybe a minor tweak. The cover comes last, although I usually get ideas from the story about what I want, they raely become reality. Not that I’m complaining, the finished product (assembled by fellow author and cover-composer, Shayla Mist) for both Opening Day, and its sequel, Evading Exodus, are stunning.

Q. What’s next for Alexis Woods?

That’s easy. Evading Exodus, as I mentioned above as the sequel to Opening Day will be available at the beginning of April.

Religion often plays a marked role in my stories, although not in an overbearing way. If you’re a member of Goodreads and kept up with Love’s Landscapes, I’ve got an unpublishable story there about two twin Jewish boys, and last winter I wrote Lion’s Hero, for the Boughs of Evergreen Anthology about an Angel and a Jewish man coming together during Chanukah. April marks the start of Passover and is the backdrop for Evading Exodus. This story is a bit longer at 16k and is told from Darren’s point of view. Darren, or Dare, as Ace comes to call him, worries about their relationship when an old friend of Ace’s arrives in town, and it just so happens that that old friend is also one of Darren’s exes. Friends and family join together, braving the plagues of Exodus, riding out the waves of miscommunication and discomfort, understanding and pleasure to brave their future together.
Following Evading Exodus, will be Ultimate Summer, book three of the series, to be released at the beginning of summer. It’s focused on two new characters, but Ace and Dare make a cameo appearance.

I’ve got at least two other short stories planned, and I am currently working on what I hope will be a novel length M/M/M romance backdropped on solving a cold-case murder.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About Alexis Woods...

Alexis Woods is the pen name of Alexis of Woods End, mundanely known as Alicia Mattson. You can find my reviews and book lists here.

I’m an: Author/Anachronist, Beta, Coffee Lover, Daughter/Dancer, Friend/Fighter, Jewish, Khazar, Lover/Leader, Mother/Medieval, Novice, Opinionated, Pharmacist, Romantic/Reenactor, Sister/Scout, Traveler, Visionary, Wife

Always an avid reader and colorful dreamer, it was only a matter of time before taking pen to paper, oftentimes literally. A firm believer in every song tells a story and every story has a song, I sing under my breath, tap my toes and swing my hips, much to the delight of my co-workers and friends. I freely admit that becoming a romance author is the best mid-life crisis a girl could ever have.

You can contact/follow Alexis Woods at:

If you’re another Author, I’d love to connect with you on Facebook.

Opening Day (Southern Jersey Shores #1) by Alexis Woods

Opening Day cover

STRW Author BookSynopsis

When pharmacy manager, Aaron Lark, known to his best friends as Ace, is dumped by his latest boyfriend, he decides to step back from the dating scene. What he doesn’t expect is for the blue-eyed pharmacist, Darren Goldman, to step into, and rock, his world. Bonding over beer, brownies and baseball, Ace and Darren play a game where hopefully both end up crossing home plate as winners.

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To enter to win a eBook copy of Opening Day by Alexis Woods, leave a comment below about baseball and romance, or any combination thereof.  Use the link provided for all contest details. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Sales Links:    Beaten Track Publishing      All Romance (ARe)     Amazon        Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 48 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2015 by Beaten Track Publishing
ISBN139781910635308
edition languageEnglish
series Southern Jersey Shores #1

In the Spotlight: Baby, Think it Over by Hurri Cosmo

STRW In The Spotlight HeaderBaby, Think it Over by Hurri Cosmo
Tour Date March 4th

Baby, Think it Over Cover

 

Hurri Cosmo is here today with Baby, Think it Over.  We have an exclusive excerpt for all our readers.  Enjoy!

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt

The guard at the gate simply waved Tarell’s car through, since the Alans lived here in the same neighborhood as Rand.

Tarell wanted to stop and ask if the guard had seen Kedon come here and, if so, when, but he didn’t want to take the time. He cursed the time it was taking already, even knowing Kedon had most likely gotten to Rand’s only minutes earlier.

What could have happened in a few minutes?

Plenty.

He knew what Rand was after. He wanted the same thing as Tarell…Kedon.

Rand was, in fact, the reason Tarell had taken the initiative to pursue Kedon sooner than he’d planned to. He’d wanted to wait until he and Kedon were both were away at college. That’s why he’d made sure he’d gotten them into the same one.

But with Rand’s advances becoming more heated every day, Tarell had decided to forge ahead. The thing was, now that he’d spent the past two weeks with Kedon, Tarell’s feelings for him were even stronger than he’d ever expected. Yes, he burned for Kedon’s body, burned for his lips and those perfect nubs just right for nibbling. And, oh yes, he loved the inside of Kedon’s white, warm thighs that begged to be licked all the way up to Kedon’s beautiful balls. Tarell imagined getting one, then the other, fully in his mouth, tasting the muskiness of Kedon’s sweat and lust as he slowly milked Kedon’s cock, squeezing pre-cum from the tip so he could lick that up, too. Oh, Kedon’s hard shaft. How Tarell wanted to pull it into his mouth and suck up one side, then down the other, holding Kedon’s hips still as he swallowed him whole.

He knew that was what Rand wanted, too.

But Tarell now wanted not only to take Kedon’s body, he wanted Kedon’s affection. He wanted Kedon to trust him, in everything, from finances to stability to safety. He wanted to hear Kedon’s laugh, see his smiles. He wanted to hear his voice when he talked about totally random things, and watch Kedon’s ass when he walked. He wanted Kedon all to himself. He didn’t share well, never had, but this was totally different. He had wanted to get into Kedon’s pants for a long time, and when the fake baby project had come up in class, it had been too perfect of an opportunity to pass up. Especially with Rand stalking Kedon and making his interest all too obvious.

But in the short time Kedon and he had been alone together, Tarell had seen a side of himself he didn’t know existed. He found he liked himself when he was around Kedon. Not that he hadn’t liked himself before he had gotten to know Kedon, but he’d realized that life was more than just being an Alan. He’d realized that a possible life with Kedon was much more important than even being an Alan.

All his life the Alan name had gone before him, breaking through barriers and opening doors. Being part of a family that could influence nearly everything around them had been a foundation for him, a solid base to stand on. He had never questioned it before. But now? Now Kedon filled Tarell’s every thought, his very being. What did Kedon think, what would he say, how would he react? Those were the questions that were influential now, and it had changed everything for Tarell.

Being an Alan was powerful, but it paled in comparison to how Tarell felt about Kedon.
And now Kedon was in trouble.

Yes, Tarell wanted to be Kedon’s first. But more importantly, he wanted Kedon to make that choice. In Rand’s hands that was not going to happen.

BOOK TRAILERS:  http://youtu.be/RF0xCkE9BZA

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PUBLISHER: Amber Allure Publishing
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2015

STRW Author BookSynopsis
Kedon can’t wait to go on the three week break from school. His parents are off on a vacation for two of them and he’s going to have the entire house all to himself. Except he forgot about a school project. One that would be half of his science grade, a grade he needs in order to graduate. The project? The class needs to “partner up” and take a baby home. 

Luckily, it’s only one of those computerized things, and Kedon’s convinced it’s not really a physiological exercise in “The Effects of a Child on a Young Couple”. He thinks it’s a not so veiled attempt at sex education; as in scaring the hell out of the seniors into not having any. Thing is, most of the seniors are already eighteen years old. It’s going to fall pretty much on deaf ears.

And to top it off the great Tarell Alan has decided Kedon is going to be his “wife” for the project. But Kedon’s not worried. Tarell did it to prove a point. He isn’t really going to spend the whole three weeks helping Kedon to take care of a baby. Especially one that seems to cry all the time.

But Kedon turns out to be wrong. Now Kedon is on his feet constantly, walking a colicky baby and running from a horny daddy! What’s a boy to do?

Book Links:
Amber Allure
Goodreads

STRW Author Bio and Contacts
Hurri Cosmo lives in Minnesota where she holds tight to the idea that there, where it’s cold a good part of the year, she won’t age as fast. Yep, she avoids the truth as much as she avoids mirrors. But one of the reasons she loves writing is reality doesn’t always offer up a “happily ever after” and being able to take control of that is a powerful lure. Being a happy ending junkie, writing just makes them easier to find. Oh, she doesn’t mind “real life” and she does try to at least keep it in mind when she writes her stories, but she truly loves creating a wonderful couple, knowing they will fall in love and have their HEA. Every – single – time. And, of course, that is exactly the reason she loves reading this genre, too. Give her a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, and her computer, whether she is reading or writing, and she will entertain herself for hours. The fact she actually gets paid to do it is Snickers bars on the frosting on the cake.

Links to my sites:
Website: http://hurricosmo.webs.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialHurriCosmo
Blog: http://hurricosmo.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/?lang=en
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6466687.Hurri_Cosmo

In the Moment with Karen Stivali and Moment of Truth

Title: Moment of Truth (Book 2 of the Moments In Time Series) by Karen Stivali

MomentofTruth cover

Synopsis

Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, heís living in a beach house on Fire Island, waiting tables at a hip seaside restaurant and, for the first time since he and Tanner got together, they can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being ìoutî takes some getting used to, but with the help of new and old friends, Collin is happier than he ever imagined. And more in love. But newfound freedom brings unexpected challenges, and when friends get flirty, old insecurities arise. Moments of doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness, and Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.

Author: Karen Stivali
Length: 33.000 words / 140 pages (novella)
Genre: New Adult, contemporary romance, gay romance, M/M
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Buy Moment of Impact

About the author

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. Sheís also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. Her lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, itís guaranteed that Karenís novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sexóall the best things in life.

When Karen isnít writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so donít hesitate to contact/follow/like her at:

Havenít read book 1 yet? Itís on sale for 99 cents until March 7th!

Moment of Impact

Outside Collin Fitzpatrickís dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think heís straight, as does his Catholic family whoíd disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, heís safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner DíAmico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love. The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tannerís not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collinís not sure heís ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

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Links to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words reviews for Moment of Truth and Moment of Impact!

Moment of Impact

Moment of Truth

A MelanieM Review: Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States #1) by L.E. Harner, T.A. Webb

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Deep Blues Goodbye coverWith one startling action, the world changed forever. Recently deceased NOPD Detective Travis Boudreaux was in the process of being mourned and buried when he had the bad taste to sit up at his own funeral.  Until that happened no one knew that vampires and werewolves had been living amongst them. Now two years later, the fight is on for civil rights for preternatural beings and most humans are on the bandwagon. Except whoever is killing vampires and would be vampires.

Since the death and return of his partner and almost love, Detective Sam Garrett has hated all things preternatural. Having your undead partner try to make you his first meal will do that to a guy. When Sam’s attitude gets the best of him on the job, Sam finds himself banished to the Paranormal Criminal Investigations Unit—the Odd Squad—under the oversight of Detective Danny Burkette.

Now it’s up to Burkette to work with Garrett by day and Boudreaux by night as they follow a trail of clues that leads from the historic cemeteries of New Orleans to the bayous of southern Louisiana. During the course of their investigations, both men come to the attention  of a Master vampire and the local werewolf pack Alpha.  If they aren’t careful, it won’t be just Boudreaux whose dead, but maybe even Sam as well.  Some lessons in life—and death—take longer to learn…and Sam and Travis find out that not all second chances are created equal.

Warning: This is an erotic urban fantasy. In this series the vampires don’t sparkle, werewolves kill, and the men sometimes have sex. With each other.

Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States #1) by L.E. Harner and T.A. Webb deepens the amazing world building these authors are constructing for this series.  New Orleans, that rich feast of a city, is the perfect setting for supernatural beings  in love and evil schemes that are slow to unfold.  After that shocker at the end of Altered States, I eagerly grabed this up to see what had occurred only to find that two years had passed and the aftermath is viewed through the various perspective of the characters involved.  And yes, I was a little disappointed.  After all, what happened at the funeral was a stunner for all involved, including the now animated corpse of Travis Boudreaux.  But two years have passed since Travis was turned and now everyone has to deal with the fact that vampires, werewolves and more exist and live among them.  And not everyone is happy about that, including Sam.

I adore Sam, he’s a piece of cynical perfection and disappointment.  What happened to Travis altered Sam as well, especially since both men were so close to falling in love, if they hadn’t already.  But a vampire and fate intervenes and their new  relationship was destroyed…or so they think.  It soon becomes apparent that Sam has never gotten over Travis and that just adds onto the bitterness Sam already feels about the whole undead thing and his partner.  I loved the two of them together and their bonding extends past themselves and the pages to include the reader.  In fact, I so bought into their burgeoning love affair that  aspects of this story threw me off.

Without heading into spoiler territory, other supernaturals arrive to further complicate the current state of affairs and all their attention will be focusing on Sam.   We see Travis as he is trying to move forward with his undead life with not a whole lot of success.  We see Sam also trying to do the same, both are stalled and bitter.  Something has to occur to break the stasis and it’s a doozy.

As part of the events that happen,  a bonded pair will have some wild hot sex with one of our main characters.  Normally this doesn’t bother me, especially when the authors make a case for it to happen.  But here? Not an element I enjoyed.  I understood where the authors were going with it, but I so bought into Sam and Travis’ romance that this aspect never became palatable.  How a reader feels about this (it’s really not cheating) will likely foretell how they feel about this installment in the series.  Some readers will be asking if they can skip over this book (and yes, the third book sort of resolves this), but no *shakes finger*, unfortunately you can’t.

Think of each story as a building block essential to the whole construct.  Miss even one, and you miss key elements that not only enrich the series but deepen the mystery and suspense Harner and Webb are working hard to build.  So much of this story is worthy of your attention and commitment.  And, perhaps,  the few elements that bothered me won’t phase you in the least.  This is going to be one wild ride!

Another reason to start reading this series?  This year’s Pulp Friction 2015 gang situates all their interconnected series in the Altered States universe.  So its double or is that quadruple the fun for all!  So get started.  Each is a fast, wild, suspenseful tale…over before you know it.  However, don’t be astonished if it lingers on in the questions and clues left behind (and even more shockers).

Cover art by Laura Harner works for the series.

Sales Links:       All Romance (ARe)       Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 120 pages
Published August 16th 2012 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252243
edition languageEnglish
seriesAltered States #1
charactersSam Garrett (Altered States), Travis Boudreaux

Books in the Altered States Series in the order they should be read:

  • Altered States (Altered States, #0.5)
  • Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States, #1)
  • Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States, #2)
  • Free Falling Crimson (Altered States, #3)

 

A MelanieM Review: Stolen Dreams by Sue Brown

Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Stolen Dreams coverFive years ago Morgan Conway cheated on the man he loved all his life and their relationship imploded.  Now Morgan, an up and coming assistant movie director has moved on.  Morgan is engaged to be married to a popular actor, his career is going well, and the coffee shop he owns is busier than ever.  All is good. Until Morgan hears that the man he loved and lost is back in town.  When he shows up at Morgan’s coffee shop, all the old feelings return, unfortunately there for everyone to see, including his fiancé.

Shae Delamere was crushed when Morgan cheated on him five years ago. But when his father falls ill, he returns home and seeks out Morgan once more.  Despite the fact that Morgan is engaged and Shae lives in Texas,  they realize they never stopped loving each other.  Their renewed friendship brings conflict on every side.  Morgan still has a fiance. And friends and families unite to pull them apart again. As old alliances come to light and long buried secrets threaten to rise up and destroy them once more, Morgan and Shae must decide to either forgive and move forward or let their dreams of being together be stolen away forever.

Stolen Dreams by Sue Brown is definitely a book that will arouse strong feelings in a reader, although probably not the feelings the author had hoped for.  I originally read this story back in 2012 when a now defunct press released it.  It wasn’t  until I was halfway through that I remembered the story…and why I didn’t much care for it then.  And still don’t today.

The story starts off promisingly enough.  Morgan is happy on all fronts.  He has a gorgeous fiance who adores him, a career as an assistant director that’s taking off, and a coffee shop he owns that is popular with the latte crowd.  All good.  The interaction with his friends and employees is funny, sharp and gives the reader a good impression of the character and the story just underway.   Then  Shae Delamere, his ex (ex best friend, ex boyhood friend, ex lover, ex everything) resurfaces in town, and everything starts to head south, including the plot.

The official reason that Shae has returned is that his father is ill but there is another hidden reason as well.  That is probably one of the biggest issues to surface in this story.  Its that everyone has secrets…Godzilla- sized,  huge secrets that either everyone knows about or is being kept from one of the main characters.  The idea that any sort of respectful, equal relationship is or can be had between any of the characters here is tossed out the window immediately.  They all constantly lie to each other (some because they are protecting a person, others because they detest a person, or everything in between).  They did so in the past, are doing so now, and you are never sure what is too keep any of them from continuing this pattern.  The only reason any of the secrets come to life is because someone accidentally “spills the coffee beans” as it were.

I kept wondering why Sue Brown, who writes such beautifully compassionate and relatable characters, would choose to plot an entire story around characters almost guaranteed to be off-putting and somewhat shabby in their behavior, especially towards those they say they love the most.  I am not talking about the element of cheating here (although I know that’s a red flag for some readers).  That doesn’t really bother me in a story if the author makes a good case for it and it feels plausible for the characters involved.  Did I ever get that feeling here? No.  The explanation behind the original cheating element felt contrived and shallow (kind of like the characters).

No, the poison goes far deeper into the foundation of the characters themselves as created by Brown.  Shae, the one character everyone is supposed to relate to, commit to and understand comes off as cowardly, manipulative, and self serving.  Ouch. And  he’s the saintly one.  I did feel sorry for Morgan who is apparently so fragile (not that it comes across) that he must constantly be protected from everyone and everything around him, including the truth about past events and peoples actions.   Even his best friends feel that they know what is better for him than Morgan does.  Every action, almost every relationship is built upon a foundation of deceit.  And when it starts to crack, is it because people are finally doing the right thing?  Being responsible or even kind?  Nope.  It’s because a light bulb finally goes off, someone gets a clue and then the explosions begin.  Not because the author ever decides that someone in the story takes a moral or responsible stand.  No, turns out they would have continued to hide or lie if they could get away with it.

Sigh.

The last issue I have with the story after all these have been dealt with?  The ginormous hidden secret is easily guessed at early on in the plot.  That pesky old secret/author plot device that everyone is hiding is so obvious that you wonder when all their intelligence took flight. And then you realize it happened back in the beginning of the story when Shae Delamere comes to town.

Heavier sigh.

By the end of the unrealistic happy ending, I was more than ready to wash my hands of Stolen Dreams and all the characters I found within.

And I hate to say that because I am a huge fan of Sue Brown.  In a way, its great to see how much she has evolved as a writer since 2012.  I can’t think of a recent story she has written lately that I haven’t loved.  And I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in her Isle of Wight series, a favorite of mine.  So if you are new to Sue Brown, you might want to give this a pass. Seek out instead The Sky Is Dead or any stories in her Isle of Wight series. If you are a fan of Sue Brown, then you might want to pick this up and give it a try.  I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht.  It’s a nice cover but doesn’t speak to the characters or story within.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback   All Romance (ARe)   Amazon      Buy It here

Book Details:

ebook, Second Edition, 240 pages
Published January 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
(first published March 18th 2012)
original titleStolen Dreams
ISBN139781632164049
edition languageEnglish
url http://suebrownsstories.blogspot.com/

A Stella Review: Stones in the Road (Sugar Tree #2) by Nick Wilgus

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Stones in the Road coverSequel to Shaking the Sugar Tree

. When his snobbish future in-laws travel all the way from Boston to visit, wise-cracking Southerner Wiley Cantrell learns that gay marriage is not without its disadvantages. Occupied by concerns over the health of his special needs son Noah, a meth baby who was not expected to live and who is now on the cusp of puberty, the antics of Wiley’s outrageous would-be mother-in-law and severely conservative father-in-law strain his relationship with Jackson Ledbetter, a pediatric nurse who poses problems of his own. As their respective families meet and greet, each just as meddlesome and inflexible as the other, North meets South and the fireworks and cultural misunderstandings are plenty.

A tornado blows through the small Mississippi town where Wiley’s mother lives, wrecking his mother’s house and leaving their lives in disarray. Then Jackson’s secret drug addiction comes to light, and Wiley and Noah are devastated. With so many stones in the road, Wiley and Jackson find their dream of becoming a real family falling apart. Though Wiley relies on humor to cope, he’ll need something more to keep his happily ever after from slipping away.

Nick Wilgus made it again!

I can confess I was eager and at the same time scared to read Stones In The Road cause I loved the first one and I was afraid this second installment couldn’t live it up.

I was so wrong! This book is amazing, I loved it more that Shaking The Sugar Tree. This series will stay in my heart for long and I’m so happy to know there will be a third book. I was willing to beg for it. Let’s just hope to read it really soon.

The hard part with books like this one is writing a worthy review and I don’t even know where to start. I should simply say to buy this series and read it.

First, you have to be ready for some gun fire, tornado and pie throwing, but most of all you have to be ready for a story full of love (in every way love can be shown).

I know I’m an emotional person but it was really hard to read. At the end I was in my bed crying all the tears I had, trying to read more, listening to a twelve years old boy breaking my heart.

This is not a book to read when you’re looking for some fun and light reading, but surely it will not boring you for one second. There are no pauses, it’s a continuous of engaging and funny dialogues (sometimes incomprehensible to me since I’m Italian) and so addictive I can’t put the story down for a minute. Some dialogues between Noah and Wiley are hilarious, others heartbreaking. Everything is so real, sometimes it’s almost surreal. Every sentence is serious and at the same time full of humor.

This is exactly the kind of book I love to read, emotional, funny, heartbreaking, full of characters with a lot of background and a huge cast of great second characters. I discovered some dark sides of the (not so) perfect Jackson. I met Jack’s mom and I hated her during all the story and then at the end I loved her so much, because I understood she came to WiIey and his son to rescue all of them. I wanted to have her in my life.

Wiley is our usual Wiley and he is so full of guilt right now it was hard to just look at him in some parts and don’t hug him. He needs to deal with all his fears but his guilt for Noah’s disabilities brings him to almost lose himself and his son. But as Tonya said Wiley is the Superdad of the World. Till the end I asked to myself if Wiley would be able to forgive Jackson and first of all himself.

Shortly Stones In The Road is never boring, always entertaining and so well written I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended!

Cover artist Anne Cain.I liked the artist followed the idea chosen for the cover of the first book and most of all she followed this story. You can look at the cover and understand exactly what will happen in the book. Perfect but melancholic cause the three Mcs aren’t all together.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press      All Romance (ARe)      Amazon           Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published January 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632167309
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesSugar Tree #2

Sugar Tree series
Shaking The Sugar Tree #1
Stones In The Road #2

A BJ Review: Song of the Navigator by Astrid Amara

Rating:   5 stars out of 5

Song of the NavigatorTover Duke is an improvisational navigator, one of only forty-two people in the universe who can move things (and people) across space using the power of his mind. Despite his ability and the glamour and wealth it brings him, his life is routine save for a few bright spots: his birds and his passion for Cruz Arcadio. On the day of his birthday celebration, Tover’s world changes irrevocably when he’s betrayed and kidnapped by none other than the man he loves.

This book isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s extreme violence, torture and betrayal. It’s harsh and hard to read in parts, BUT it’s also romantic, poignant and absolutely amazing.

Seldom outside of an epic fantasy series have I encountered such excellent world-building. From the DK station to the green and vibrant Carida, the settings are so vibrantly alive and peopled with characters so real that I felt like I could step right into the book and shake their hands (or punch them out as the case may be). Beautifully written. I loved Tover’s from the start, spoiled and aware of how special he was, of his tremendous worth, yet not really full of himself. Coming from a pampered lifestyle where he’s almost worshipped, I didn’t expect such strength from him. Tover’s never weak or whiny despite all that happens to him. The betrayal itself almost seems to wound him worse than the physical torment he’s subjected to.

I found myself hating Cruz right along with Tover, hating him with a fiery passion. What could redeem a man who could betray the one who’d trusted him enough to risk all to save his life? What indeed. Tover begins to understand that the safe world he thought he was living in may all be built on lies. Only then do we begin to get a picture of the real Cruz. By the end of this story, I adored both of these characters and would gladly embrace a second book with these characters.

I cannot recommend this book more highly to those who appreciate darker reads. It’s my first read by this author and definitely will not be my last.

In the afterward, the author indicates the possibility of stories set in this world eventually coming from two other authors as well, Ginn Hale and Nicole Kimberling. I’ll be crossing my fingers.

Cover Artist  Kanaxa. The cover wonderfully encompassing the elements of the story. The two very different figures standing isolated but touching amidst the backdrops of space and other worlds. Joined against huge odds. Best of all maybe is the embracing warmth of the colors, highlighting the passion and emotional arousal this story evokes.

Sales Links:  Available for preorder now at     Amazon         Buy It Here
Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ASINB00SB49GJ8
url http://astridamara.com/portfolio/navigator

In The Spotlight: Served Hot (Portland Heat #1) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and contest)

STRW In The Spotlight Header

AABanner300x2502
Served Hot (Portland Heat #1)
by Annabeth Albert
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Goodreads Link

A Few Questions for Annabeth Albert

Question: What’s in your nightstand you don’t want anyone to see?
Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

Question: What’s your favorite meal?
Garlic Chicken Noodles at my favorite Thai place.

Hint:  Answers May Be Needed As Part of a Tour Contest!

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About Author Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert
Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbertauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert

Publisher: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press
Cover Artist: Kensington Art Department

Sales:  Amazon   Barnes and Noble

STRW Author BookSynopsis

About Served Hot…

In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but “the usual”—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned?

First in the new Portland Heat series!

Categories: Contemporary, Erotica, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt
A little idea niggled at my brain—like an evil elf had tapped me on the shoulder. “You know, if you give me your card, I could call you if you leave your wallet behind again.”

There. His cheeks went dusky pink. I finally got a blush out of him, but hell if I could decipher what it meant. I could predict people’s taste in coffee, down to preferred syrup flavor, but I still sucked at decoding anything as complex as human emotions.Served Hot cover

“Ah. Um.” He did the nervous cough thing again.

“Never mind.” I wiped my hands on my apron. “I’d better get back.”

“Wait.” He opened the wallet, plucked out a white card with a blue logo, and offered it to me. His broad fingers brushed mine again as he handed it over. Another barely there touch, but I felt the charge all the way down my spine, like I’d chugged a triple shot.

My breath tripped with wishing he’d add a “call me anytime.” Brian would have. But David just stood there silently. Straighter than the Fremont Bridge and denser than a concrete pylon.

Pages or Words: 30,000 words

served hot teaser kiss

Tour Dates: March 3, 2015

Tour Stops: 

Parker Williams, 3 Chicks After Dark, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, BFD Book Blog, Charley Descoteaux, Inked Rainbow Reads, MM Good Book Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon, Hearts on Fire, Love Bytes, Amanda C. Stone, Molly Lolly, Prism Book Alliance, Queer Town Abbey, Christy Loves 2 Read, Emotion in Motion, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Cate Ashwood, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Up All Night, Read All Day, Multitasking Mommas, Cathy Brockman Romances, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Fallen Angel Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Velvet Panic, My Fiction Nook, Foxylutely Book Reviews, The Hat Party

 

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $20 Amazon or Starbuck’s Gift Card of the Winner’s Choice. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Rafflecopter link and prizes provided by Pride Promotions.

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