Back to Cambridge with Charlie Cochrane and Lessons for Survivors! (contest)



Jonty and Orlando are Back In Lessons for Survivors!

Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries are a favorite of mine!  Each book is a treasure, waiting for the reader to  discover what mysteries are in store for two utterly captivating characters, Jonty and Orlando.

About Lessons for Survivors

A more than professional interest . . . a more than personal intrigue.

Orlando Coppersmith should be happy. WWI is almost a year in the past, he’s back at St. Bride’s College in Cambridge, his lover and best friend Jonty Stewart is at his side again, and—to top it all—he’s about to be made Forster Professor of Applied Mathematics. And although he and Jonty have precious little time for an investigative commission, they can’t resist a suspected murder case that must be solved in a month so a clergyman can claim his rightful inheritance.

But the courses of scholarship, true love, and amateur detecting never did run smooth. Orlando’s inaugural lecture proves almost impossible to write. A plagiarism case he’s adjudicating on turns nasty with a threat of blackmail against him and Jonty. And the murder investigation turns up too many leads and too little hard evidence.

Orlando and Jonty may be facing their first failure as amateur detectives, and the ruin of their professional and private reputations. Brains, brawn, the pleasures of the double bed—they’ll need them all to lay their problems to rest.


About Charlie Cochrane

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:
Twitter: @charliecochrane
Facebook profile page:


Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an e-book from Charlie Cochrane’s backlist (excepting Lessons For Survivors). Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 31. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

Lessons for Survivors is Book 9 in the Cambridge Fellows Mystery.  Reviews for all the stories can be found at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.


The Adventures of Johnny Stewart Part 1

Johnny Stewart is the great nephew of Jonty Stewart. His four part story will be related by Mrs Cochrane, official biographer to the Stewart family, over the course of this year’s Cambridge Fellows series blog tour.

Roger Bradley looked out at the Thames, from his mother’s hotel suite. This was going to be a wearing evening and they hadn’t even got round to the dinner guests arriving, let alone sitting down. His godmother had burst her appendix, so a last minute replacement had to be found—probably in the form of cousin Mary—but worse still, Sophia was going to be here.

He’d be the one who’d have to take Sophia in on his arm, have to put up with her flirting all evening and, worse still, also have to contend with his mother’s insinuations about what a nice couple they’d make. She’d got brother Henry engaged to be married within a few months and therefore the possibility of grandchildren pretty well sewn up, so why make such a palaver with him?

And Johnny Stewart would be there. The evening had the potential to be disastrous.

“Are you even listening, Roger?” His mother’s voice cut into his thoughts.

“Of course,” he lied.

“And do you agree?” She fixed him with a gimlet gaze. What would he be letting himself in for if he just said “Yes”? It wasn’t worth the risk.

“Sorry, mother, you were right. I wasn’t paying attention.” He needed to defuse the potential explosion. “There was a rather pretty girl out on the embankment and I got a bit distracted.”

“Ah.” His mother’s tone softened. “All I said was that I suspect that in regard to your reference to your godmother’s medical condition, the word is appendices and not appendixes but we’ll let that go. Was she as pretty as Sophia?”

Roger narrowly avoided asking, “who?”, but he’d always been good at thinking on his feet and managed, “How can I answer that without getting myself into trouble with one or other of you? Would ‘equally pretty’ do?”

“A diplomatic answer, dear.” She sighed. “If only your cousin Mary were as pretty.”

I span round to answer her, then decided I preferred the view of the Thames to the view of a condescending maternal face.

“I hope Mary meets a duke one day, one who falls head over heels in love so she then makes a more brilliant marriage for herself than any other female in the family.”

“Since when have you appointed yourself as Mary’s knight in armour?” Roger’s mother’s voice was cool and languid, the one she adopted when she wanted to let his temper blow itself out.

“Since I was old enough to realise how rotten the family is to her. God preserve all spinsters and save them from the machinations of their married relatives.” Roger span on his heels. “This tie needs straightening.”

He ran into his maternal aunt on the way to finding a mirror, which was blessing in that she sorted it for him and kept him out of his mother’s way until he could calm down.

“I hear Johnny Stewart will be here tonight. I’ll enjoy sitting next to him. There.” Aunt Jacinta added the finishing touch to the bow.

“Better you than me. Johnny’s the most insufferable person it’s ever been my misfortune to come across.” Roger ran his hands through his hair.

“You must dislike him intensely,” his aunt said, drily, “to employ that particular gesture. You always used to do it as a lad when you came to stay and we presented you with something you didn’t want to eat. Or asked you a question you didn’t want to answer.”

He felt a bloody embarrassing flush rising up his neck; why did Aunt Jacinta always see straight through him? Did she know exactly what was going on inside his mind to make him so defensive?

Johnny bloody Stewart. Why had he got to keep coming back and making life so difficult?

Roger tried to rally. “Anyone would run their hands through their hair—or tear great clumps of it out—if they had to deal with him for any length of time. He was bad enough at school and hasn’t improved with maturity.”

“That sounds like you then, dear. Peas in a pod.” Aunt Jacinta fixed him with a smile like an auger. She might look one hundred and forty in her bombazine and lace, but that look, and the machinations of the mind behind it, could strike fear in any man.

“Just don’t vex him, would you, dear? If he’s hardly your favourite person, at least be polite.”

“I will do my utmost.” He swallowed hard. Normally, medical students would be beneath his mother’s notice, but this one being the great-grandson of a lord made a difference and she’d been delighted to invite him in the absences of Roger’s godfather, who was at his now hopefully appendix-less wife’s bedside.

How could Roger ever explain about Johnny? There were two insurmountable obstacles—finding the right words to make anyone else understand the feelings he’d had for Johnny since he first caught sight of him as a spotty youth of sixteen and having to deal with her inevitably negative reaction if he did get his point across. He supposed he was too old—and the matter too serious—to just get away with being taken over her knee, whacked, sent to his room and then allowed to come down half an hour later if he showed the right amount of contrition.

Not even Aunt Jacinta could be as understanding about things as to allow that.

Disgrace, disorder, his mother’s tears, his father’s horsewhip? Not that his father would actually resort to the whip, no matter how often he talked about using it on miscreants, although the outcome would be just about the same. Cut off without a penny and none of the Bradleys ever talking to him again. And while that idea might be an attractive one in the case of Uncle Frederick, the general aspect didn’t appeal.

Try as he might, Roger couldn’t think of any way to sweeten the pill, whatever words he could use to describe how he felt.
There was this chap at school, Stewart, J.O. Year below me; came to the school when I was seventeen. I liked the look of him from the start; he had an air about him, power restrained and all that. He matured and filled out a bit faster than more of the spotty oiks of his age. Lost most of the spots, too. Cocky little sod, though. Opinionated.


“Yes, aunt?” His mind came back from school days to the present, and two females, his mother having appeared, trying to usher him out of the suite.

“Daydreaming again. His worst fault,” she said, bundling him through the door.

Roger reminded himself that if that remained her opinion of what was his worst fault, then all in the garden was still rosy.
Johnny was already in the foyer, chatting to Sophia. His dark blond hair was under control, for once, while his blue eyes seemed to dance with pleasure at the arrival of his hostess. Roger thought his heart was going to lunge straight through his rib cage.

“Mrs. Bradley!” He bowed over her hand. “Thank you so much for inviting me as locum tenens.”

“Thank you for stepping in.” Mrs. Bradley was clearly delighted. “Cousin Mary will be delighted to meet you.”

Johnny looked at Roger, one eyebrow raised. “I didn’t know you had a cousin, Roger. Where have you been hiding her?”

“Away from rogues like you. Sophia,” Roger said, heading off any comment Johnny was going to make, “you look lovely.”

“Thank you. It’s just an old thing.” She smoothed her dress, one which was clearly anything but old.

“Johnny,” Mrs. Bradley waved her hands airily, “would you be a sweetheart and take in Aunt Jacinta when we progress to dinner?”

“It would be my pleasure.” It sounded like it would be the highlight of Johnny’s evening. Roger wasn’t sure if his discomfort was irritation at his oiliness or simple jealousy. Why couldn’t he be on Johnny’s arm?

“I was sorry to hear about Mr. Bradley’s accident,” he continued. “He’s quite right to rest that leg up for a while. Sorry he’s missing all the fun, though. Was the matinee good?”

“Excellent thank you,” Mrs. Bradley purred, blossoming under the attention. Roger noted that every woman in the party had slowly drifted into Johnny’s vicinity, like bees after honey. Or wasps after jam. “Malcolm won’t be sorry he missed that part. He’s never one for the theatre, or for coming up to town in general.”

“Do you think he hurt his leg deliberately to get out of it? Shall I horsewhip him for you?” Maybe only Johnny could have said that and got away with it. Roger had met his great uncle, Jonty—when he was up at Cambridge—and the man was the same. Able to charm the birds from the trees.

“Only if he doesn’t enjoy the birthday dinner I have planned when we get home. And this is for me, of course. My friends. Old and new.” Mother looked graciously around her guests then took Detective Superintendent Matthew Firestone—her godfather’s—arm.

“I’m so pleased you could all come. Shall we go through? They’ve laid on some cocktails for us.”

“Oh, lovely,” Sophia said, slipping her arm through Roger’s. Johnny smirked at him, the swine, and they processed towards the private dining room.

The table looked lovely, but the cocktails looked even lovelier, if they’d help Roger cope with the twin trials of Sophia’s doe eyes and Johnny’s…everything. Roger had given up any hope of the bloke fancying him, but the chap could at least be civil.

Mary had arrived and Mrs. Bradley was asking how her journey from Loughton had been, with none of the gratitude on display she’d shown to Johnny.

“My mother pushes that poor girl from pillar to post.” Roger hissed at Matthew, wondering how many cocktails he could consume and still manage to get all his sibilants out. He managed to detach himself temporarily from Sophia on the pretext of circulating and was half way through his perambulations when the manager slipped into the room, making a beeline for Matthew. He appeared to be delivering some sort of intriguing message, given the expression on Matthew’s but before Roger could manoeuvre himself into hearing range, his mother nabbed him.

“Roger. Why did I never meet this delightful young man when you were at school together?”

“I didn’t realise it was de rigeur for me to bring everyone back for tea” Roger didn’t want to talk about Johnny Stewart, not when the half heard words being spoken over his shoulder were so much more interesting.

“I wish he had invited me. Did you have apple cake?” Johnny directed the questions at Roger’s mother, which at least saved him trying not to say, “I couldn’t trust myself enough to invite you.”

“I wish Roger had. It would have made a change from some of the spotty specimens he dragged along.”

Roger bridled. How ridiculous, his own mother flirting with a man young enough to be her son! He rolled his eyes, but the protest he wanted to make got cut off, as Matthew cuffed him on the shoulder.

“Sorry to interrupt. Got a question for you. Did Ivor Gregg seem quite himself at the matinee?”

Roger frowned. “Quite himself? I think so. In good voice, as ever.”

“He was marvellous,” Mrs. Bradley said, girlishly.

“Why do you ask?” And why had Matthew adopted his professional, rather than avuncular, tones?

“Because he’s disappeared. Not turned up for the evening performance, and can’t be found in any of his usual haunts. Totally out of character.”

“Perhaps he’s had an accident?” Mrs. Bradley flapped her hands.

“Perhaps, although the management say they’ve rung round all the likely hospitals where he’d be if he had.” Matthew shrugged.

Aunt Jacinta had joined the group. “That doesn’t strike me as being the sort of case you’d be called in on, Matthew.”

“It wouldn’t be, normally. But he’s had threats made to him.” Matthew bowed over his goddaughter’s hand. “I’m afraid I have to take my leave, my dear.”

“Phew.” Johnny whistled. “The thick plottens.”

Focusing In On: The Way Things Are by A. J. Thomas (contest included)

magnifying glass and focus


 The Way Things Are by A. J. Thomas

Release Date: January 30, 2015
Goodreads Link

Author Bio:

A.J. Thomas writes romantic suspense. She’s earned a Bachelor’s degree in Literature from the University of Montana and worked in a half-dozen different jobs, from law enforcement officer to librarian, before settling down. Life as a military spouse has tossed her around the country so many times she doesn’t know how to answer when people ask her where she’s from, but she delights in living as a perpetual tourist, visiting new places and discovering amazing things.

Her time is divided between taking care of her three young children, experimenting with cooking and baking projects that rarely explode these days, and embarrassing her husband with dirty jokes. When she’s not writing, she hikes, gardens, researches every random idea that comes into her head, and develops complicated philosophical arguments about why a clean house is highly overrated. Her work has won multiple awards, including the 2013 AMB Ovation Award for Best LGBT Inter-racial Romance, and the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Where to find the author:

Facebook Author Page:

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author Name: A.J. Thomas
Cover Artist: Bree ArcherSMWayThingsAre[The]FS

Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press   All Romance (ARe) 


A night of drunken confusion at nineteen resulted in Patrick Connelly fathering a child. Determined to be there for his son, Patrick walked away from a sport he loved and forever hid his sexuality. After Patrick’s brutal divorce and a vicious hate crime, his son, Jay, has become obsessed with graffiti. Hoping for a fresh start, Patrick moves Jay to his childhood home in Seattle. Within two weeks, Jay is arrested again. On his way to pick Jay up, Patrick stops an assault, then finds himself in handcuffs too. Thinking things canʼt get any worse, heʼs confronted by the sexiest man heʼs ever seen—his sonʼs new probation officer, Ken Atkins.
The hardest part of Kenʼs job is working with difficult parents, and the undeniably handsome Patrick Connelly is going to be a difficult parent. A chance encounter and steamy hookup with Patrick leave Ken blindsided. As they work together to try to keep Jay on the right path, the passion between them proves impossible to resist. When the assault Patrick prevented comes back to haunt them and Jay gets into trouble again, Ken must convince Patrick that ensuring his sonʼs happiness doesnʼt have to mean sacrificing his own.
Categories: Contemporary, Erotic (light), Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance


Ken shook his head, the motion making his entire body sway again. “I can’t believe you,” he said in disgust. “You have a child home alone right now, who needs an actual fucking role model in his life and actual supervision, and you’re here.” He gestured around at the dusty office. “I would have figured you’d be a bit old and butch for most of the clientele at this place.”

Patrick opened his mouth to deny that he was there selling himself, then stopped. “I’m not that old. And I am an employee of Corbin’s Attic.”

Ken chuckled. “You work for the club?”

“Yes. I had a shirt, but some vicious little drama queen insisted I dance with him, and he wouldn’t take no for answer.”

“You should have called one of the bouncers. They’re serious guys.”

“Uh….” Patrick scratched the back of his head. “I am pretty sure none of the other bouncers here would have come to my rescue.”

“Other bouncers?”

“Yeah. Which reminds me, I need to steal another shirt.” The security T-shirts were in a small, tumbling stack on top of boxes in the corner, next to five bigger stacks of black aprons and towels. He sorted through the T-shirts to find his size, then held it up so Ken could see the stenciled yellow “SECURITY” on the back.

“You’re a bouncer?”

“Just until I get my first check from the Port. And until Jay gets in trouble again and has to pay another fine. And maybe until the owner finds someone else to use as eye candy when he wants to make the guy who refuses to go out with him jealous.”

Ken choked. “That was the owner? The blonde guy you were wrapped around out there?”

“That was Corbin Hollis, yes. Which is why none of the other guys would dare help me. He’s my best friend. He’s letting me pick up some hours here because I’m broke.”

Ken looked at him again, just for a moment, before he dropped his gaze to the floor. “I should let you get back to work, then.”

Patrick caught Ken as he stumbled toward the door. “Hang on, now. I told you why I was here. Shouldn’t you be fair?”

“No,” Ken said. “I shouldn’t be here at all. Not if one of my parents works here, that’s for damn sure.” Patrick wrapped his arms around Ken’s waist and tried to hold him steady while Ken squirmed. When he slumped back against Patrick’s chest, the hard cock straining against the denim of Ken’s jeans made Patrick freeze and nearly drop him.

Pages or Words: 252 pages
TWTABadgeTour Dates: January 30, 2015

Tour Stops: 

Parker Williams, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Bayou Book Junkie, My Fiction Nook, Inked Rainbow Reads, The Hat Party, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Havan Fellows, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Cate Ashwood, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Lee Brazil, Velvet Panic, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Iyana Jenna, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews


Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: An e-book copy of The Way Things Are. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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A Sammy Review: Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Chase in Shadows coverChase Summers has been living a lie. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend and expectations, but the real him, well, that’s someone not even he knows. Beneath the carefully constructed exterior is a boy shrouded in an all consuming darkness, and no matter how hard he tries, he seems unable to reach the light beyond that all.

But then there’s Tommy. Sweet, handsome Tommy. He’s the perfect lover for Chase, and if the old adage is true, and love can heal all, then this just may be the key to bringing Chase out of the dark… but sometimes love isn’t enough.

Because you loved me, and I knew what it meant to feel.

Oh bahjeebus.

In several updates while reading this I described the story as having a “constant gut-punch feeling” and I couldn’t have been more right. The entire thing was a crazy rough ride of that tension in my stomach.

My heart breaks for Chase, and for Tommy, and I just adored the characters. It was deep and hot and all kinds of lovely.

I will say though that I had some issues with the therapy sessions, as they were at the very least unorthodox at times. For example, if someone is suffering from trauma from an event that is that grand and is going to get a very harsh response, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to bring that forth in the way that was done in this. Also, I take issue with counselors/therapists/psychologists who refer to patients as crazy, even in a joking context, but that’s just a personal thing.

Overall, not something to read if you’re looking for something light and fluffy, but if you want something that’s deep and harsh, and at times beautiful, then this is for you.

The cover art by Dante Reese is pretty good in general. I think the color red is fitting, as is the paint drip used in the background. It helps match a lot of the emotional aspect of the story. The razors are also fitting, though the way the chain holding them in blended in stands out a bit in the wrong ways. Still, it’s fitting for the story, and overall a nice cover.

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

*also available in paperback, audio book and Spanish translation.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 23rd 2012 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesJohnnies #1
charactersDavid “Dex” Worral, Chase “Chance” Summers, Tommy “Tango” Halloran
settingSacramento, California (United States

Memories of Down Under from Guest Blogger Jim Provenzano

DownUnder_January Is Banner

Reading Down Under: Scattered Thoughts’ Aussie Special!

from author Jim Provenzano

Longtime followers know that I got some great reviews for my last two books from independent reviewers. Their prolific blogs continue to amaze me by the sheer number of books they promote, and the reviews are often thorough and heartfelt. You can click on the “Reviews” links on this blog on the right column to read them all.

But one of the most outstanding sites is Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Not only did I enjoy expansive praise-filled reviews for both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love; I was also honored with a guest author spotlight, where I rambled on about why I decided to write the sequel. Every Time I Think of You was also among those chosen as one of the Best Books of 2014!

So it was without hesitation that I decided to help promote Melanie M.’s latest endeavor, a January special all about Australian and New Zealand authors!

OnWingsofSongAnne Barwell, one of the featured authors
Here’s the deal. More than two dozen Aussie and Kiwi authors will get a special post about their latest works. Look for the clues in the text, (it’s a web-based scavenger hunt) and you could win books and other Aussie and Kiwi-themed prizes. Look for posts about (and guest-written by) these Australian authors, each day in January. There are even a few New Zealand authors as well:

Christian Baines, N.R. Walker, Anne Barwell, Nic Starr, Meredith Shayne, Renae Kaye, John Wiltshire, John Terry Moore, Lily Veldon, Barry Rowe, L. J. LaBarthe, Beany Sparks, Nicki J. Markus, Michelle Rae, A. B. Gayle, Lisa Harris and Isabelle Rowan.

British diversdive2
American readers owe it to themselves to read Australian and kikiw authors. their slight differences in language and syntax are fascinating, and their perspectives on life are just a little bit different, but yet familiar.
My love for the Land Down Under extends beyond this fun promotion. Back in 2002, I had the thrill of attending the sixth quadrennial Gay Games. Since I didn’t compete that time, I had the freedom to travel to nearly every sporting event, from the rugby fields near downtown, to the Olympic stadiums for track and field, and across the campus to the volleyball and aquatics centers, or centres, as they spell it.

With more than 100 interviews conducted (including a few funny stilted ones in my limited French and Italian) on old-fashioned cassette tapes, and about 40 rolls of film – yes, film, my last pre-digital project- I put together dozens of articles about every sport, and the ceremonies and spectacles as well. You can enjoy the archived articles on my Sports Complex website. But please forgive the dated HTML formatting. I haven’t been there in a while.

Figure skating rocked!
My host was a generous fellow with a fabulous downtown apartment, who also was on one of Sydneys toughest basketball teams (they made it to the finals, as I recall). He welcomed my “frequent overnight guest” and even hosted a dinner party where (yes!) we enjoyed shrimp on the barbie!
But I also participated in a reading at an art gallery, and Graeme at Bookshop Darlinghurst bought some copies of my first novel, PINS. That later led to a nice consignment deal with an Australian wholesaler. It all gave me a fun thrill to know that more than 100 folks got print copies of that novel, without the middleman of (or

Aussie and Samoan ruggers

This was at the the peak of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and while I longed to spend more time on the other side of the planet, I did not get a chance to see the New Zealand hobbit houses or the beautiful expanse of either country. I did get a few Lord of the Rings souvenirs, however!

But the pleasures of Australia were often more subtle than a blockbuster movie. The wildlife was just different enough to beguile. Odd geese with long bills puttered about in downtown public parks, and by night, across from my scenic guest room balcony, the brightly lit spires of a skyscraper were surrounded by a massive flock of bats. My host told me the bats scooped up thousands of moths attracted to the lights.
hockMontreal ice hockey
But what really charmed me were the people. Their musical accents, their way of turning a phrase with an upward lilt, and their enthusiasm in welcoming guests from around the world was amazing. I met Samoan rugby players, French cyclists, Croatian volleyball players, and got to soak in the shared joy of being in that wonderful land.

Some highlights:poloflowers

Los Angeles water polo team
SydneyVolleyGals- singing “Happy Birthday” to performer k.d. lang along with thousands of others at Opening Ceremonies,

– frolicking in the kids’ rec pool with two water polo teams at the official Olympic aquatics centre,

– hoisting beers in a large gay bar with three softball teams while singing along to an ABBA medley,

– getting directions to the ice hockey arena from a friendly shopkeeper in the far off suburbs, who asked, as easy as “Bob’s your uncle,” “Oh, you here for the Gay Games?”
Sydney volleyball team
Anyway, certainly you can read more diverse perspectives from the array of LGBT authors in Scattered Thoughts’ January author showcase. So check out the website and get reading!


Jim Provenzano

You can find/follow Jim at his website:  and his Goodreads page.  Don’t forget to check out Jim’s marvelous books, Every  Time I Think of You and Message of Love.

A Mika Review: Run With the Moon by Bailey Bradford

Rating: 3 star out of 5 stars

Two species that have always kept themselves separated are about to collide and create a new world.

Run With the Moon coverTwo species that have always kept themselves separated are about to collide and create a new world.

  Humanity almost managed to do itself in.  Ravaged by wars and plagues, the human population on earth has been bordering on extinction, although pockets of people have been forging on over the past few hundred years. It’s a hard life, and one Aaron Olsen fears he doesn’t fit into. As a son of a village leader, there are pressures on him he can’t manage, and things he keeps hidden, desires he doesn’t know how to express that keep him up many nights as he worries over them.

Valen is an alpha, born with the crescent moon mark on his chest. It means he’ll have to leave the pack he was born and raised in. It is the way of the wolf, and the only way to prevent it is to fight his father. Valen has no intention of doing such a dishonorable thing. He leaves as he’s supposed to, only to find himself the victim of thievery. When he hunts down the party responsible for stealing his belongings, Valen finds himself attracted to the human Aaron Olsen. 

Now, if they can only survive their own pride and insecurities, and an attack that threatens everything they love, they just might have a chance at happiness in Valen’s Pack.

I’m on the fence about this story. I can say the one person who made me finish it was Rivvie. I liked his energy, positivity and just him in the story. It was suppose to be a futuristic setting shifter story, and I didn’t get it. If anything I felt like this could be almost a caveman story. Valen in the beginning seemed overwhelmed, sweet, and humble.

When the story starts progressing alone we get this caveman instead. I didn’t follow. It was simple things he did or said. His actions with Aaron were definitely caveman style it seemed. I’m not saying it was bad, but it was really. I liked that Aaron’s family were respectful to him, even though in his mind something else was happening. I do feel like it was holes in the story about the epidemics, and the shifter’s staying away from humans. I didn’t believe that village with both humans and shifters allowed some humans to come and destroy them. If this was the future, you are telling me they don’t know anything about a Molotov cocktail used as an accelerant.. I didn’t find that believable at all. My only other issue is that I wanted to see some sort of future for Aaron & Valen. What happened when both tribes intertwine? I would have loved the epilogue to be about them as mates. It fail short in that part.

Cover Artist by Posh Gosh, I’m a little on the fence about the cover too. I thought it was nice cover don’t really know if it goes with the story in my mind. I don’t see this guy as Valen. To me Valen, was this big guy almost caveman like because that’s how he is portrayed in the story.

Sales Links:  Totally Bound

Book Details:

ebook, 144 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2015 by Totally Bound
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Fighting Instinct (L’Ange #2) by Mary Calmes

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Fighting Instinct coverL’Ange’s head of security Arman de Soto is a shifter, a secret he has kept well, even from his employers who are shifters themselves.  Also a closely guarded fact is the type of  Arman’s shifter.  Only a few know what Arman is hiding, but one of those is the château’s overseer, Linus Hobbes.  Linus has long been the object of Arman’s interest and the subject of Arman’s intense pursuit over the years they have known each other.  Despite Arman’s reputation as a loner, the only thing he needs to complete his life is Linus.  But Linus is a mass of secrets and pain himself.

Linus has lived alone for more than seven years, sheltered at L’Ange under an assumed name and hiding a past of pain and abuse.  Linus is also dealing with his terrifying attraction to the most dangerous man he’s ever met. Arman knows Linus should be afraid of the predator stalking him, but Linus is still drawn to him like a moth to a flame, no matter how much he tries to deny his instincts. I

Once of Arman’  passions is hunting down and killing every member of a pack of werewolves.  His staff is aware of Arman’s pastime but no one other than Arman knows the reason why.  Then the remaining wolves arrive at L’Ange looking for vengeance and all the long held secrets are revealed.   The pain of Linus’ past arrives with the wolves.  Danger and the threat of death is everywhere and only the strong or the loved will survive.

Fighting Instinct is the second in Mary Calmes’ L’Ange series and its just as terrific as the first installment, Old Loyalty, New Love (L’Ange #1).  The first story sets out the location, the Chateau L’Ange, a refuge and home to an assortment of shifters, especially the jackal shifters and pack that own the estate.  I loved that group of characters and believe me, that was quite a group to meet all at once.  Now with Fighting Instinct, Mary Calmes is narrowing down her focus to the enigmatic head of security Arman de Soto and L’Ange’s overseer, Linus Hobbes.   Although secondary characters, both made quite an impact in the first story because their personas were so strongly etched into the readers minds.  So I was thrilled to see the second story center on them.

One of the mysteries that has floated about Arman is who and what he is.   That he is a shifter is not even a given until later, and some of the first paragraphs seem to help camouflage the true nature of his existence.  But as the story evolves, all the clues start adding up and if you are a fan of  the wildlife specials or National Geographic, then you might figure it out for yourself.  I loved this element and thought Mary Calmes did a wonderful job of folding in the natural history for her shifters.  Arman is dangerous, certainly lethal and steadfast in his love of Linus.

Oh, Linus.  Linus is going to surprise everyone, including Arman.  With Linus, the author combines natural history, and  celtic lore to arrive at an astonishing and unforgettable character.  Calmes’ twist with Linus was something I never expected and I just loved it!  Linus is one of those heartworthy and angst driven characters this author does so well that he is certain to be a reader’s favorite.  Plus his is a character that evolves and strengthens throughout the story, especially given his traumatic past.

Arman and Linus certainly form a strong heart at the core of Fighting Instinct  with their love and relationship. But there are other shifters to meet with their own stories to follow. Remember, Chateau L’Ange is a shifter refuge, so don’t be surprised to meet a lion (although his identity is hidden at first as well), more wolves, a bear or two and much more.  And I adored them all.

Mary Calmes is writing the final story in her cat shifter series, Change of Heart, something I hated to hear as I love Jin and Logan and all the rest.  But now I have a new series to love, new characters to take to heart, and new stories to eagerly await.

If you haven’t read this series yet, go to the first story, Old Loyalty, New Love. It lays down the author’s universe and main cast of characters and then rush onto this one.  If you love shifters and romance, this is certainly the series for you.  I can’t wait to see what Calmes has in store for all of us next.     I highly recommend both stories and all the characters.  I think you will too.

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.  Not quite a fan of this cover but I suppose that adding in factors from the story might qualify as spoilers so I think the artist was tied as to what elements to incorporate.  Still, it could be the cover of any book not this one.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Published December 8th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesL’Ange #2

Books In the L’Ange series:




Down Under Author Showcase: Ellen Cross

STRW down Under Banner sm Hearts

Meet Ellen Cross!

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Ellen Cross is the author of  Delta Blues and other books listed below.

To get to know Ellen Cross a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

I love the underdog in a fight. Always have, always will. My books reflect that love, and you will always find someone who thinks they are either unworthy, or undeserving of love in my stories. I soon prove them wrong.

I live in a little beachside slice of paradise on the north-eastern coast of NSW, Australia, and along with my passion of writing is my passion for my family. I have five boys, a hubby, and a completely loopy dog. With all these males under one roof—apart from our dog who is the only other female in the house—writing gives me a chance to channel all that daily frustration into something I love doing. Instead of shaking my head for the hundredth time when someone forgets to pick up their dirty socks or neglects to replace the empty toilet roll (a long lasting argument in my household hehe) I pour it all out into my books.

Author Contacts
Contacts/Follow at :

********************Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Cole in his Stocking coverControlling His Illusion coverDelta Blues coverFractured Cover





Last Chances – MF contemporary romance
Holly’s Healing – MFM contemporary romance
Cupid’s Revenge – MM paranormal romance
Wolf Sanctuary – MM paranormal romance
Paws, Claws, and their Triple-F – MMM paranormal romance

Preternatural Rescue Center series:
Delta Blues(Preternatural Rescue Centre #1) – MM paranormal romance at eXtasy Press

In a World where the Alpha are the law, Beta the order, and Omega the knowledge…the Delta have become the oppressed.

The night of Samhain is fast approaching, and for that one night a year, Gray and the last remaining Dire Wolves—amongst others—are entrusted with the protection of the veil between worlds, while it’s at its thinnest. Add in the threat of a new drug on the market, and they’ll have to work twice as hard to keep everyone safe. The last thing he needs is a sexy little Delta to save.

As a lowly Delta, Red Wolf shifter Ryan has never known peace. Cast away and unwanted, he is quickly taken captive and trained as a dancer at The Howling, a strip club in the worst part of Praeter. Hungry, abused, and kept in a drug-induced fog, his life is nothing. He is nothing but the orders and twisted demands of his captor. All that changes when he catches the scent of a wolf in the crowd.

Long ebony hair, eyes that can’t decide if they’re green or blue as they follow him on stage. Unable to stop himself, Ryan does the one thing guaranteed to earn him punishment. He touches the other wolf. Peace. For those few brief moments, the hunger, the pain, the torment…all gone. The price to feel that respite again, though, could very well be his life.

Cole in his Stocking (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #2) – MM paranormal romance at eXtasy Press

It doesn’t matter if he’s been naughty or nice all year. Adam’s stocking is still getting stuffed full of Cole, this Christmas.

The coming of age for any vampire is cause for celebration, a time when they first taste blood. For Cole, however, his twenty-fifth birthday brings a terrible choice from his father—either he takes the life of another to prove his worth, or he forfeits his own life. Cole chooses the only way his heart will allow, and pays the price with both his fangs and the rapidly mounting blood starvation that will slowly end his life, now that his body needs to feed, but cannot. He escapes, bleeding, barefoot, and wearing nothing more than a simple cotton sleep-shirt. With his father’s sentinels in pursuit, Cole soon finds himself half-frozen and unable to run anymore. The last thing he expects when he crawls into a dumpster to hide away for the last few hours of his life is to be rescued by a temperamental black cat and…aww hell…his cherished one, Adam. How is Cole meant to blood-bond to the wolf hybrid when his time is fast running out, and he has no fangs to even try? He quickly learns his cherished is far more than he appears, though, and Adam’s friends at the Delta Rehabilitation Centre have even higher friends, with a score to settle with his father, of their own. It’s just a shame he won’t be around long enough to witness their payback.

Fractured (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #3)  – MM paranormal romance
Controlling His Illusion (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #4) - MM paranormal romance
Beyond the Scars (Preternatural Rescue Centre #5) – MMM paranormal romance
Silent Secrets, #6 – MM paranormal romance
Stealing Enchantments (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #7)  – MM paranormal romance
Soothing his Tempest, #8 – MM paranormal romance
Shifting the Veil, #9 – MMM paranormal romance
Wings of Exile, #10 – MM paranormal romance
Sacrificing it All – MM paranormal romance
Genre(s):  Contemporary, paranormal, fantasy

Paws Claws and the Triple F coverWolf Sanctuary coverCupid's Revenge cover









Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Ellen Cross) is an eBook copy of Copy of Delta Blues. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

**********************Author Qand A

When did you start writing?

I have always been writing it seems, ever since I could. Having much older brothers, there wasn’t much to do to occupy my spare time while growing up on our family’s farm, so I wrote, or read.

• Were you a reader as a child?

Very much so. I would save all my birthday and pocket money to buy books, instead of sweets. By the age of seven there was very little I could not read by myself.

• What books as a child has the most impact on you?

I adored Enyd Blyton’s books. The tales of the Faraway Tree and My Pennywhistle were among my fictional childhood companions.

• Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?

In a way. I have always loved the fantastic, finding anything realistic too boring to hold my interest. Even as an adult, I cannot sit through a true story. I would much rather live my life with my head in the clouds :)

• Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anything. It could be a song lyric, a picture, or even just a feeling that sparks a rush of inspiration, and I have learned to quickly write everything about that rush down, before time and real life demands make the details fade away. My phone has so many notes for scene ideas it has become my invaluable writing companion.

• Favorite genres to write in and why?

I simply adore paranormal gay romance. It is what I read, so it is only natural that it is what I also write. Why write about stuffy businessmen and their boring days, when vampires, wolves, warlocks and elementals are begging to have their stories heard?

• Title or characters or plot?  Which comes first?

Plot, or more specifically, a scene will come to me first. The characters work themselves into that scene, and gradually the whole book will unfold. The title is the last thing I come up with.

• Do you have a favorite character that you have written?

I have no favourites. I adore them all. They are all as individual as their race/breed, and for that, I cannot favour one over another, as they all have their quirks, their habits, and personalities.

• Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?

“If it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger”.

• Favorite book/story you have read as an adult:

The New Species series by Laurann Dohner. I absolutely love her series.

• Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

No. I try to write at least an hour a day, but with five boys and a husband I am a carer for, that is not always possible. In fact, I usually find myself getting very little sleep in the week leading up to a deadline hehe.

• What inspired you to write your first book?

I had read one too many books from Amazon that were filled with so many editing mistakes it was obvious they hadn’t even had a basic spell check performed on them, and as with many other authors, I thought that if they could publish a book this poorly, I could do better.

• Do you have a specific writing style?

I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when I write. I might know a basic structure of the plot, but even I don’t know the details until they are on the page.

• What’s the hardest part of writing your books?

Arguing with my muse when I need to write for a deadline, and he is nowhere in sight hehe

• If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?

I would. I think most authors who have written a few would look back, knowing what they do now, and know of a few changes they would make.

• If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor or has the biggest influence on you?

I have a few MM writers who have influenced me, as they were my starting points in reading gay romance, and gave me the courage to take the step into writing it myself. RJ.Scott’s Christmas Throwaway was the very first MM book I read, and after her, I found Amber Kell, Stephani Hecht, Jackie Nacht, and Lynn Hagen.

• What book are you reading now?

Actually, I haven’t had time to read for a little while now, with deadlines, but the book I am reading between writing is the print galley of the first half of my own Preternatural Rescue Centre series.

• How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

We seem to get straight to the point over English or American writers. Our more laid back language shines through. There are times when I am reminded by my editor that a saying or word I have used won’t be recognised the way it was written to be, and I need to make changes. When I find myself reading a book by an Australian author, I can usually tell without being told what their nationality is.

• What is your favorite AUS/NZ stories and favourite Australian/New Zealand movies?

I still have memories of snuggling into the front bench seat of my cousin’s car while watching The Man from Snowy River, at the drive-in movies theatre. I think for that memory, as it was my only experience with the drive-in’s before they closed, it will always be my favourite.

• If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?

I would like them to see the extremes Australia has to offer, from the snow-topped mountains, crystal blue waters of the barrier reef, to the blistering red heart, and tropical paradise of the north-eastern top end. Australia has it all.

• What are your current projects?

I am currently working on the final instalment of the Preternatural Rescue Centre. It has been an eleven book long series, taken over a year, and is now ending. It has been a wonderful year bringing all the guardians and their stories to life.

• What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country?And what makes it so special to you?

The most special place is home. I haven’t travelled much, but home is where my family is, and that makes it the most special place in the world to me.

• What’s next up for you?

After I finish this book, I have a Valentine’s Day book to finish, before I take a few weeks to relax and enjoy a break, before bringing out my folder of ideas and lightening it a little.

• Are you going to any events that we can see you at?

I will be attending the ARRA2015 conference in Canberra in March.

Down Under Showcase Day 29: Meet Ellen Cross, AUZ and NZ Facts of the Day


Down Under Author Showcase Day 29

Welcome, Ellen Cross

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Only a few days left and a couple more authors to welcome!  Today our featured writer is author Ellen Cross from north eastern Australia.   I don’t know where she finds the time to write…why?  Check out her bio along with her books and lovely giveaway!  Ellen Cross’ contest ends February 6 instead of the  31st to give more people time to enter.


Now on to our facts of the  day.

Australia Fact of the Day – The Wave Rock of Hyden!

‘Wave Rock of Hyden’ is a natural rock formation resembles a tall breaking Ocean wave which is 46 ft in height and around 360 ft long. It lies about 3 kilometers east of the small town of Hyden and 296 km (184 mi) east-southeast of Perth, Western Australia. It is a part of 395 acre natural reserve of Hyden Wildlife Park.

About Wave Rock of Hyden…Wave Rock AUS

It consists of 2.63 billion year old Biotite K feldspar.

Wave Rock of Hyden is a perfect example of ‘Flared Slope’,
Wave rock of Hyden has become a tourist spot with over 140,000 visitors per year.

wave rock 2What is Flared slope?

Flared slopes like Wave Rock are particularly well developed in granitic landforms of south-western and southern Australia.

Do you know where our own US rock formation called The Wave is located?


New Zealand Facts of the Day!

Split Apple Rock of The Tasman Bay!_Split-Apple-Rock NZ

Split Apple Rock is a geological rock formation in The Tasman Bay off the northern coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Made of granite, it is in the shape of an apple which has been cut in half. It is a popular tourist attraction in the waters of the Tasman Sea approximately 50 metres off the coast between Kaiteriteri and Marahau.

The rock sits in shallow water at low tide and is accessible by wading. It is also a point of interest for the many tourist boats and pleasure craft which operate along the shores of the Abel Tasman National Park.

The cleft to produce two sides of the ‘apple’ was a natural occurrence. It is unknown when this happened and therefore the cleaving of the rock has attracted mythological explanations

A Sammy Review: Dirty Dining by EM Lynley

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5:

“Because who we are when we’re not together doesn’t define who we are when we are together. We don’t have ideas and expectations. We are just ourselves. At least I have been.”

Dirty Dining coverLife as a PhD student is anything but a piece of cake for Jeremy Linden. Research is time consuming, and let’s face it, life in California is expensive. He can’t help but be curious when he’s approached with an offer to serve at a special dinner club. The catch? With each course, you lose an article of clothing… and maybe get something more, depending on the menu that night.

He’s not expecting to meet anyone like Brice Martin, or Mr. Green as he comes to know him. He’s shy and respectful, unlike some of the other gentlemen at the club who use their boys freely and like objects. What starts out as an innocent exchange becomes much more when they move their relationship beyond the club’s walls and into the real world… a world that has a lot of surprises and twists, such as Brice’s company funding PharmaTek, the group that oversees Jeremy’s important research.

His brain might be responding to oxytocin, but his body and heart told Jeremy he was falling in love. It felt wonderful, like flying. Jeremy had never experienced anything quite like this headiness before. But the higher Brice took him, the harder he would crash.

I’d never read anything by Lynley before, but when I read the summary, I just knew I had to take a chance and try it. It sounds erotic and delicious and, boy is it.

There were so many layers to the interaction between Brice and Jeremy. I appreciated how their relationship wasn’t an automatic thing. Their first time together was curious and promising, and grew from there (with bumps, of course). I’ve been reading a lot of stories lately where the love is pretty instant, and it’s not been working in my favor, but this wasn’t that at all.

There were also a great line of side characters who really had some strong and memorable personalities, such as Kit, a fellow worker at the club who is as flamboyant as he is sexual.

And speaking of which, the sex – it was incredibly, ridiculously steamy. The chemistry (pun semi-intended) was off the wall with Brice and Jeremy.

This isn’t a terribly hard read, and it was easy enough to devour in one day, and I can really say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and certainly wouldn’t mind more stories surrounding the Dining Club. I have a feeling I’d devour them just as fast.

My only quibble with the whole thing? I wanted more. Greedy, yes, but this left me wanting another page, another chapter even, in the best way possible. Satisfied, but still wanting another bite.

The cover art by Paul Richmond is certainly sexy, and I do appreciate the simplicity of it. Where it goes wrong for me is in the choice of text. The font for Dirty is fine, but the bulky, ugly choice for Dining made me a bit unhappy. A nice cover, but it needed a bit more thought put into the font/typography.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: January 19th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleDirty Dining
edition languageEnglish
settingSan Francisco, CA
Berkeley, California (United States)

A Stella Review: Defying Conventions by Cecil Wilde

RATING: 4 stars out of 5

DefyingConventionDanny and AJ have been online friends for years, and secretly in love with each other. When the opportunity to attend a comics convention comes up, they decide to go and share a room. But friendship online does not always translate to friendship offline, and both are anxious about how the meeting will go, and the friendship change, when faced with challenges easily avoided behind the safety of computer screens…

“You’re perfect.” AJ smiled up at him as they walked.

Danny smiled shyly and looked down at their joined hands.”I’m not.” He squeezed AJ’s hand. “But it’s awesome that you’d say that.”

“You’re not literally perfect, but you’re perfect to me,”AJ clarified. “Perfect in all your imperfections.”

Defying Convention is the first Cecil Wilde’s book and the first book with a transgender MCs I read. I’m so glad I got a chance at review it. It was an unexpected surprise.

AJ is a non binary, they don’t want to define themselves as female or male gender. They’re a funny and affectionate geek with pink hair and pink bunny slippers.

Danny is a transman, an insecure young man that suffers from panic attacks.

They’ve been best friends online for five years and this is the first time they meet in real life. The occasion is a comics convention and at the same time their five years anniversary. Most of all they’ve been in love with each other but just haven’t realized they already were in a love relationship, even if they haven’t met before.

I think they are perfect together cause they keep each other safe. Especially AJ is so protective and respectful of Danny’s issues, they understand him like no other can. While the cute Danny still can’t believe AJ is real, sometimes he thought he made them up in his mind. Having bad issues with physical contacts, it is so sweet to see him open up with AJ, who are so touchy feely.

In some ways this book was instructive too. I wasn’t aware of the meaning and use of specific terms in the transgender world.
First of all, the author chose to use they/them/their when she referred to AJ and I admit it wasn’t easy to read. I was ready for the use of it/its but I looked out and I understand why she chose them. Still, sometimes it diverted my attention from the story. Nevertheless, as you can see, I chose to follow the author’s lead and so I used the same pronouns in my review too. I want to respect her choice.

I also appreciated how the author addressed some transgender issue. Reading about Aj being so resigned in their everyday challenges, made me want to hug them. I totally understand it’s a serious subject but this is a light and funny book so I was glad it was handled lightly.

Of course this is not an m/m romance, so you need to be ready to read about sex between a transman and a Non Binary friend (with women’s parts). There isn’t a lot of sex, just one scene and really hot(LOL). Reading only m/m books, I can say I usually am very strict and don’t want woman parts in my books. In this one I was well aware of what I was going to read but it didn’t bother me, cause of course AJ has a vagina but I didn’t think of them as a woman. I was pretty good to try to be neutral as they wished.

I realized in Defying Convention the author chose to tell us not much about how AJ and Danny met online and became best friend, perhaps showing us some particular moments in their online time. She gave us just this brief time frame, these five days needful for them to finally be physically together and maybe try to be a couple. I usually am so greedy I always want to know more about everything. In this case I believe focus on “the now” was the perfect choice, at the end we’re talking about a book of just 65 pages.

I’m a sucker for sweet characters, AJ and Danny were so cute together it was impossible not fall in love with them. Add a good writing and a funny story, I can totally say this book was a winner to me. Highly recommended.

Cover designed by Aisha Akeju: I really like it and it totally fit the book.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press      All Romance (ARe)    Amazon    Buy it here

Book details:
kindle 65 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2015 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN 9781620044773
edition languageEnglish

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