A MelanieM Review: Brothers in Arms (The Broken Road Cafe #2) by T.A. Webb

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Brothers In Arms coverDaniel O’Leary fled his high powered life in Atlanta, exchanging it for ownership of the The Broken Road Cafe in Blue Ridge, a life he hoped would be simpler,honest, in all ways easier on the soul and emotions.  But life has a way of playing with your expectations.  Instead Daniel met Chief of Police Nick Oliver, a closeted, complex man and fell in love.  As did Nick.  Daniel also found his life filling up with new friends, neighbors, and town folk determined to pull him into the close knit soceity of small town life even as his connections to Atlanta refused to let him go.

Now Daniel finds himself immersed in the lives of those around him and finds that life in Blue Ridge is every bit as full of complexities, pain, and bullying as life in Atlanta.  One of The Broken Road’s high school employees is  being harassed by the local school bullies and his vulnerability  pulls at Dan’s heart while leaving him at odds as to what to do about it.  Nick’s semi-closeted status is starting to cause further issues between them and someone from Dan’s past in Atlanta arrives to cause more pain and heartache.

But there is an even bigger danger lurking, one that will change everyones life forever.  The Broken Road Cafe is supposed to be a new life for Daniel O’Leary but what happens when his old one won’t let him go?

The Broken Road Cafe charmed me with its plot and myriad cast of inviting characters.  I loved the premise and the relocation to a small town that felt so similar in culture and mannerisms to the places my  relatives grew up and still reside to this day in Georgia.  Now with Brothers in Arms, the author widens his lens to include more of the townspeople and places than we have visited before.

Small town, Georgia is a place that T.A. Webb knows intimately and that knowledge allows Webb to usher his readers into the minds and community of Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Whether it is the wonderful mayor or the bigoted hard-nosed high school football coach, these people feel as believable as they do familiar.  Outside Daniel O’Leary is slowly finding his way into the life of Blue Ridge, one he accessed by buying the town’s favorite eating spot, The Broken Road Cafe.   Whether it is through the people that come there to dine or the employees who work for Dan, the pull of a closely knit community is having its effect upon Daniel.

In this story, bullying at the high school level is having an impact upon one of Daniel’s most vulnerable employees.  Webb’s blunt, factual treatment of this issue serves to highlight all the victims of bullying, not just the direct target themselves.  It also points out just how difficult it is to stop the bullying at its origin, especially when it occurs on the playing field of high school sports.  This is a heartrending aspect of this story, and if you find yourself sniffling at the pain caused by the bullying and the aftermath felt by the victim, well, you aren’t alone.

Daniel’s new love, Nick Oliver, is still closeted to most and having issues coming out.  And Nick’s wavering is  having ripple effects in all his relationships, not just with Daniel.  Serious issues continues to pile up at an alarming rate and Nick is the first to wonder if he is able to handle them all.

T.A. Webb has a multitude of plot threads running throughout Brothers in Arms.  From the intimate messiness of relationships to the broader scope of business and family, the author weaves the past events and characters together with all the new ones for a complex, suspenseful and totally surprising wonder of a story.   It is hard to comment to  much on the plot and events as each could contribute to a spoiler alert for all the twists and turns Webb has in store for everyone here.

I really didn’t see that ending coming,  I don’t think you will either.  Sigh.

No matter.  Still, I want more.  More of Blue Ridge, more of The Broken Road Cafe, and all the people who pass through its doors.  Here’s hoping for a long and lovely run.  If you are already on board with this series, pick this up now and continue the tale of Daniel O’Leary’s new life in Blue Ridge.  If you are new to this series, start at The Broken Road Cafe to see how it all began.  Both are among Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words highly recommended reads!

 Cover Art by Laura Harner.  Sexy cover  and great job of branding the  series, but I wish there was more to it than the torso.

Sales Links:   All Romance eBook         amazon        Brothers In Arms

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published July 24th 2014 by A Bear on Books
ISBN139781311991799
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Broken Road Cafe #

Take a Trip with Cjane Elliot and Aidan’s Journey (Book tour and contest)

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Cjane Elliot is back today with her latest release, Aidan’s Journey.  I am happy to say she brought an excerpt to read and a contest to enter.  Don’t forget to do both!  Now on to Aidan’s Journey…

Book Name: Aidan’s Journey
Author Name: Cjane Elliott

Thank you, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for hosting me today. I’m so excited to be on your blog for the release of my second novel, Aidan’s Journey. Aidan’s Journey is a stand-alone novel that is part of The Serpentine Series, contemporary stories that feature characters who attend the University of Virginia. The series started with my first novel and 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Serpentine Walls, although the books can be read in any order.

Many people who read Serpentine Walls were drawn to the character of Aidan, the glamorous 4th-year student who the main character Pete has a giant crush on. Aidan is a theater star who seems to have it all: looks, talent, and charm. He’s also a player who never leaves a party without a guy, but he’s not as free as he appears.

When I first wrote Aidan’s character in my initial drafts of the novel Serpentine Walls, he was a charming cad who slept with guys right and left and had something going on with the sleazy Professor R. But as I continued to write, Aidan’s character got more and more dimensional and I could see he had a heart and a lot of pain under that gleaming surface. I started to wonder why he was the way he was and what had led him to be involved with Professor R. Being a therapist by profession, I’m fascinated with people’s psychology and what drives them. I also wanted to explore how Aidan could heal himself and get to his own happy ending. And that was the inspiration for Aidan’s Journey.

In Aidan’s Journey, Aidan tells his story, from his lonely childhood to his falling into a dysfunctional relationship as a naïve 1st-year student with the worldly Professor R, to his becoming “the manwhore of U.Va.”, to his breaking away from Professor R to move to New York after he graduates. Aidan thinks he’s finally free, but he discovers that it takes more than a physical move to leave his demons behind.

In the words of Buckaroo Banzai: “No matter where you go, there you are.”

In the end, Aidan realizes he must journey down into his own psyche to heal himself and set himself free from the past. It’s not easy, but the rewards of this final journey are sweet and he gets the happy ending that he deserves.

Author Bio: After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of gay equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

Title Aidan’s Journey by Cjane ElliotAidansJourney_postcard_front_DSPSM
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook      Dreamspinner Press Paperback

Aidan’s Journey Blurb:

The star of the University of Virginia theater department, Aidan Emery is lusted after and admired for living out and proud. He uses his talent and good looks to his advantage and never sleeps with the same guy twice. But his glamorous patina has been carefully honed to hide the pain he carries inside.

Aidan wasn’t always such a player. He starts college naively romantic, hungry for the attention he can’t get from his workaholic father and mentally ill mother. Unfortunately, that leaves him ripe pickings for predatory professor Rodney Montgomery. Rodney’s flattering regard seduces Aidan into a dysfunctional relationship that destroys his innocence.

Life looks up for Aidan when he finally breaks free of Rodney’s pull and moves to New York City to make it as an actor. Meeting sweet fellow actor Patrick Jaymes seems like the start of a fairy tale. But before Aidan can rebuild his life into happily ever after, family secrets rip him wide open, leaving him easy prey when Rodney decides he’s not willing to let Aidan go.

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult

Pages: 326

Aidan’s Journey Excerpt:

Every good story begins with a journey. Mine started on a June day in 2011 as the Amtrak train pulled out of Union Station in Washington, DC. Lee and I were bound for New York City, ready to dazzle ’em all with our acting and singing chops. Look out, Broadway, here come Aidan Emery and Lee Dunlap, the stars of the U.Va. drama department! Jazz hands!

I was leaving my family home—which I’d recently been kicked out of by my father. I was also leaving behind a long-term, toxic relationship. Yes! I felt pretty fucking victorious sitting on that train, talking and laughing with Lee. I’d done it! Left my past behind! Right? I was sure, with all the surety of a twenty-one-year-old, that my dragons had been slain and New York City was where the gold awaited.

Not so fast there, bucko, I want to tell myself now. You’ll get to the gold, but you have many more hard roads to travel before you arrive. Oh, but don’t despair—there is a Prince Charming at the end of it all.

AJBadgeTour Dates/Stops:

October 14: Love Bytes
October 15: Amanda C. Stone
October 16: MM Good Book Reviews
October 17: Wicked Faeries Reviews
October 20: Tara Lain, Michael Mandrake
October 21: Parker Williams, Multitasking Mommas
October 22: Cate Ashwood
October 23: Inked Rainbow Reads, It’s Raining Men
October 24: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
October 27: Rebecca Cohen Writes, BFD Book Blog, Smoocher’s Voice
October 28: Prism Book Alliance, Jade Crystal

 

 

Contest: Rafflecopter Prize: eBook of one of my previous titles, including novel Serpentine Walls, or novellas.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter and for all additional contest details.  

Rafflecopter Code:
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In Our Author Spotlight: Zee Kensington and her latest release, Finally Home (contest)

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Zee Kensington in the Author Spotlight!

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Zee Kensington is here today to talk about her two releases at Dreamspinner Press, Krung Thep, City of Angels, and its sequel, Finally Home.  These stories are favorites of mine, combining international cuisine, travel, and romance.  I had a chance to ask Zee about the inspiration for these stories, her favorite food and much, much more.

To go along with this wonderful interview, there is a contest to enter as well.  To enter to win an eBook copy of Finally Home, leave  a comment, include maybe a favorite city you have traveled to or a favorite food you have discovered while you traveled (or just plain love to eat).  Make sure you have an email address included where you can be contacted if chosen.  Must be  over 18 years of age or older to enter.  Contest ends 10/22/2014.

Now on to our interview…

Chatting with Author Zee Kensington on Writing, Food, and Inspiration

STRW:  Why Thailand?  What was it about the Thai culture and land that drew you to travel there and then incorporate it into this series?

Zee:  Visiting Thailand happened largely by chance, actually! My husband and I have a friend who goes to Thailand annually with his family, and he’d been inviting us to join them for years. In the summer of 2011 my husband and I were finally able to take him up on his offer, thanks to a lucky congruence of time and money.

I didn’t know much about Thailand before that trip, honestly, beyond their cuisine. I learned so much while I was there! I loved the laid-back attitude of the Thai people and the melting pot of cultures one sees in Bangkok. I was also intrigued by the incredible juxtapositions at every turn: humble Buddhist temples and gleaming mega-malls on the same street, the delicious smells of cooking food carried on these horrible diesel-traffic breezes, rickety tuk-tuks chugging alongside luxury cars.

STRW:  It is said that food is a path to a person’s outlook on life, a cultural foray into a people, and a life’s passion.  You write about the Thai food from the street vendors on with such passion, has culinary exploration been a passion for you as well as Christopher’s?

Zee:  Very much so. I see food as a gateway into culture that (most) everyone can access. You may not be able to speak the same language, or share the same religious beliefs, but you can still enjoy the same meal. I love reading culinary magazines like Saveur (which was the inspiration for International Savor, the magazine Chris writes for), not only for the recipes and photography, but for the glimpses into other cultures and customs. Its like traveling without leaving my living room.

STRW:    I loved that we got to see some of the East LA food scene as well.  How did you find balancing the food with the romance and serious exploration of the repercussions of coming out of the closet?

Zee:  It was actually quite natural for me. Sharing food is such a bonding experience, you learn a lot about a person based on what—and how—they eat. Chris and Marco’s relationship has been built one meal at a time. At first it’s because of Chris’s job as a culinary writer, but it becomes a passion they both share as Marco grows more adventurous in his culinary explorations.

Food is also important when it comes to family. It’s ritual, be it a quiet breakfast or a big, awkward “meet the parents” dinner with your new partner. It’s natural that heavy personal matters will be discussed over a plate of chicken and waffles with your sibling, or that a slice of rainbow cake can mean more than just dessert.

STRW:   I loved the balance between the two main characters families, each a challenge in their own way.  Was one family easier to write than another?  Which one?

Zee:  Marco’s was a little easier to write, mostly because his background closely mirrors my own suburban, southern Californian upbringing. However, my mother isn’t an overbearing busy-body like Marco’s! I actually have a similar relationship to my parents as Marco does with his father—friendly and open—which influenced my portrayal of their (usually) easy rapport. I also have only one sibling, a younger brother, which was an inspiration with writing Marco’s big sister, Angela. I know what it’s like to help a little brother through a rough patch, that combination of deep love and mild exasperation that only an older sibling can feel.

STRW:    We got a taste of Mexico, a growing portrait of New York City, and one of Los Angeles.  Where do you anticipate taking this story and series next?  Or will there be another story?

Zee:  I definitely think there’ll be more Traveler and the Tourist stories down the line. Though Chris is a seasoned traveler, Marco has just started to explore the world. He’s going to want to see it all. I’ve conceived of some ideas of them visiting Europe—primarily Italy, where half of Marco’s family is from—though there will also be some adventures closer to home. New York City can be like a whole other planet to a suburban SoCal kid!

STRW:    Clearly your travels played into the birth of these stories.  Where else did your inspiration come from?

Zee:  My friends and family are a huge inspiration for me. Not only for my characters, but for the experiences they’ve lived through. I’m also heavily inspired by all sorts of other stories—films, books, comics, games—and turn to them sometimes when I’m working on projects. John Burdett’s Royal Thai Detective series (particularly Bangkok 8) and Thai films such as Bangkok Love Story and Ong-Bak helped refresh my memories of Thailand and gave me perspective on things I may not have experienced firsthand.

STRW:   Where would you want to travel next?

Zee:  I’ve always wanted to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland. I have many family roots there, and I would love to see the “land of my forefathers.” I’ve also never seen a real castle before, and as a big fantasy geek, it would be amazing step inside of one! Oh, and have a real English pasty, too!

STRW:  What childhood book had the greatest impact on you as a child and as an adult writer?

Zee:  Oh my, so many to choose from! I was a voracious reader as a kid, everything from Judy Blume to the Babysitter’s Club. I have to say, though, that Jane Yolen’s The Mermaid’s Three Wisdoms stuck with me the most. Not only for the bittersweet tale or the gorgeous pencil illustrations, but for the rich way mermaid culture and biology were portrayed. No shell bras or singing crabs here!

As an adult and a writer…gosh, this is hard! I have to pick one? OK, I’m going to cheat and say The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston. It’s gritty, it’s scary, it’s sexy…everything I want in my vampire noir. As a reader, I love the characters and how they grow, and as a writer, I love how Huston took familiar vampire tropes and turned them on their ear. Also, how the geography and culture of New York City influence the story. His writing really showed me the importance of place in a story, how it can be its own character at times.

STRW:  What’s next for Zee Kensington?

Zee:  Isn’t that the million dollar question? I have some writing projects in the works—including a steamy BDSM ménage novel–but right now my biggest project is raising my son. He’s almost two, and more than a handful! I’m kind of playing it by ear right now, as my writing time is pretty limited.

STRW:  One final question for y0u.  A book can have the same effect on a person as comfort food.  What would be your comfort read and favorite comfort food?

Zee:  Oooh, good question! My comfort read is actually a comic book series, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It’s not exactly cheerful, but it’s such a rich story, and speaks to the heart of me as a writer. I always discover new things, or interpret it differently since I’m in a different place in my life than the last time I read it. It’s kind of my constant.

As for comfort food, it has to be homemade cookies. Soft ones–not crunchy–with lots of chocolate chips. They can be peanut butter or oatmeal or old-fashioned Toll House, but they have to have those chocolate chips! With a glass of milk, of course.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Melanie! I had a wonderful time!

STRW:  Thanks, Zee, for the great interview. Now let’s check out the Traveler and the Tourist  books.  These definitely below on all readers TBR list!

Finally Home
By Zee Kensington
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist:  Paul Richmond

Release Date: August 29, 2014
Length: 206 pages
ISBN:
eBook: 978-1-62798-907-7, Paperback: 978-1-62798-906-0
Genre categories: contemporary, M/M, erotic, romance

 Finally Home Blurb

Finally Home coverAfter one night in Bangkok turned into ten days trekking together, novice backpacker Marco and seasoned travel writer Chris parted ways thinking they’d never see each other again. Three months later, Marco still can’t forget the greatest adventure of his life—or the gorgeous guy he shared it with. Too afraid to come out to his family, Marco is suffocating in his suburban Southern California life, until Chris announces he’s coming to LA.

Chris has spent the past four years wandering alone, rebuilding himself from the ashes of a failed journalism career. He arrives in Los Angeles eager to eat, write, and resume the sexy, casual fun he had enjoyed with Marco. But when Chris finds his friend is a terrified closet-case at home, he’s determined to help Marco confront his fears.

Priorities change when Chris’s father suffers a stroke, and Chris rushes to New York City to face a harsh homecoming with the family he abandoned. When Marco defies his parents to be at Chris’s side, Chris begins to realize there may be more to their relationship than just work and play, and that Marco may be the one to show Chris what it means to finally be home.

Purchasing Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook  Dreamspinner Press paperback
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Also available 
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Prequel to Finally Home
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release
Cover artist:  Paul Richmond
Date: September 22, 2014 (original release date February 2012)
Length: 44 pages
ISBN: eBook: 978-1-63216-829-0

Genre categories: contemporary, erotic, gay, M/M, romance

Krung Thep, City of Angels Blurb

Marco finds himself in over his head when he chooses Bangkok—Krung Thep to the locals—as his first solo travel destination. Luckily, seasoned travel journalist Chris takes Marco under his wing. Over one whirlwind day, the two Americans realize they have more in common than their homeland. Chris’s role changes from tour guide to mentor as he encourages Marco to embrace his budding identity as a gay man, and their camaraderie blossoms into romance. However, their newly forged connection is threatened by Chris’s career obligations—and unwillingness to change his solitary ways.

1st Edition appeared in Two Tickets to Paradise anthology published by Dreamspinner Press, February 2012.
Available as a FREE download:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5607

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Author Biography:

Zee Kensington discovered a passion for writing erotica in her freshman year of college, and has been crafting sweet and sexy stories ever since. Inspired by her years working and playing in San Francisco’s LGBT community, she is especially drawn to tales that explore the joys and challenges of queer identities.

An almost-native Californian and a card-carrying geek, she currently lives in the SF Bay Area with her husband and toddler. When she’s not writing or catching up on her sleep she enjoys watching films, playing video games, experimenting in her kitchen, and dreaming of the day her son is old enough to travel the world with her.

Author Links

Go Into the Fire with Chris Quinton & RJ Scott’s latest release, Heat! (book tour and contest)

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 RJ Scott and Chris Quinton stopped by today with their latest story, Heat, for all of you to check out.  Read the synopsis, and the excerpt! And don’t forget to enter the contest!  Need a little more romance in your life?  Then turn up the Heat with RJ Scott and Chris Quinton!

Heat by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott

Available from Love Lane Books, Amazon and All Romance EBooks

http://lovelanebooks.blogspot.com/2014/10/heat-quinton-scott.html

The Book

Serving up passion, family, love and hate, with a side order of arson.

Lewis has lost nearly everything, and now it seems that Devon is here to take the last thing he has left – working in his beloved restaurant, Laurels. But when an arsonist threatens everything Lewis loves, he realizes sometimes everyone has their ghosts, and he discovers an unexpected ally who is prepared to risk everything for him.

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Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he’s had to sell to Carnegie Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn’t all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.

Enter Devon Trelawney III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels’ potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.

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Author Bios

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With nearly seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Chris Quinton started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.

Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, writing mostly in the male/male genre. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. Over the years she has been a stable lad [briefly] in a local racing stable and stud, a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, a civilian clerk at her local police station and a 15th century re-enactor.

She lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, three dogs, a frilled dragon [lizard] and sundry goldfish and tropicals.

ExcerptHeat 400x600

He’d seen photos of Lewis, but nothing had prepared Devon for the shock of seeing a gorgeous guy on his knees in front of him, let alone that he had what could easily have been blood splashed across his chef’s whites.

Cochineal. Okay, that spread of red had been the first thing he’d seen, but then he’d noticed the blue eyes, the short brown hair frosted with blond. He wasn’t sure if the scruff on the man’s face was designer stubble or he’d missed shaving for a few days, but it looked good on him. But Devon wasn’t here to drool over the staff. He had work to do, and he couldn’t afford to let one of his migraines push him to his knees. Not caring if he looked like a complete idiot, he pulled sunglasses from his pocket and slid them on to cover his eyes. He saw the questioning expression on the chef’s face but didn’t offer comment. Let him think what he wanted—it wasn’t as if Devon had the mental capacity to care at the moment.

His head was already a mess of history and facts about the place, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to remember Tudor this and Jacobean that. Something about folding doors or ceilings or something. None of it had sunk in. It was enough that he had been able to focus on table arrangement. Even that had the band of hurt tightening.

Blinking at the disturbance collecting in his vision, he attempted to focus on the office itself. The medium-sized room was a haven of normality, apart from the TV and DVD player in one corner and the easy chair in front of it. What the hell?

Before he could be offered one of the regular chairs in front of the desk, he strode around it and sat in the executive chair. It was a simple reinforcement of what Devon was in this equation, one he employed in every situation like this. He wasn’t here to be friends, he was here to see if his father’s acquisition could be streamlined enough to turn a decent profit. And if not, how disposal could be handled. That was all.

Competition: Must be 18 years of age or older to enter in the US.  Contest is open world wide.

  • Win a $15 gift card and free e-books, 24 October – 7 November
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A MelanieM Review: A Taste Of Copper by Elin Gregory

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5 (rounded up to 5)

 

Your master has the field for today, but his name, whatever it might be, is without honour.

Taste of copper 400x600Sir Maheris Schade, the Black Knight, has been charged with guarding a strategic bridge that leads into his Master’s kingdom.  His orders?  To allow no one to pass over the bridge.  It doesn’t matter that recent horrific events have made his Master, the Count of Tancred,  the most hated man in all the land.  All that matters to Sir Schade is duty and honor.  Many times the Black Knight has been challenged and each time he has bested his opponent.  And the toll of that constant fighting is showing on his body and soul.

At the Black Knight’s side, his squire Olivier.  Olivier has had other Masters but none has he loved like he loves Maheris Schade.  Olivier only wished that the Black Knight showed any interest in returning his love.  Instead Olivier has settled for a gruff Master/Squire relationship with occasional benefits on the side.

But everything is about to change.  The King and his men are approaching the bridge and they intend to cross.  As the army approaches, an intriguing archer arrives first to upset their status quo and leave Olivier questioning not only his Master’s resolve but their relationship as well.

I first encountered the author, Elin Gregory, when I read her splendid book On A Lee Shore, another historical romance.  So I was delighted to see another story from Gregory, this time set in the Middle Ages.   A story of approximately 58 pages, it takes place over the course of three momentous days.

Sir Maharis Schade, with Olivier at his side, has been holding the bridge against an onslaught of knights as war wages in the lands around him.  Gregory drops us into the action as the constant battling and lack of resources is wearing the Black Knight and Olivier down.  Their armor, tents, and clothing are  showing the wear and tear of their circumstances.  The worn, oft-repaired state of their equipment is also starting to  reflect their mental, emotional and physical status as well.  Down to just the two of them, Elin Gregory makes us feel every bit of the weariness and exhaustion that is starting to overtake them.

In concise, detailed descriptions, Elin Gregory’s narrative uses the perilous situation, the depth of their honor, and the terminology of the times to bring these men vividly to life.   This is not the expected  romance per se but it exists, subtly at first.  Then the thread of love weaves itself through the story in a manner both dramatic and poignant.  There are  several scenes in A Taste of Copper that will make you weep.   The weight of honor and duty upon a chivalrous man has never been so heavy.  That it is born by two makes it doubly heartrending and affective.

The author builds the drama and suspense in just the right increments, allowing the readers to learn to like, then love, finally able to comprehend  and root for the complex relationship that exists not just between the Black Knight and Olivier but Hywel the archer and his love.  Looking back, I find it hard to believe that all the events and the emotions and actions they engendered took place in only three days.  But that timeline restriction works beautifully to build the sense of alarm and resignation as the King and his men approach.  That sense of urgency, along with regret, run like the warp and weft of a tapestry the author is weaving in A Taste of Copper.

At first, I wanted more from this story.  Then I realized that while I want more of these characters amidst the aftermath of their battle and war,  I wanted it to come in a sequel, not as additional length to this story.  I would love to see Elin Gregory revisit these characters and their relationship but if I only get them in this story, then I am content.  A Taste of Copper is a small bit of literary perfection.  It is a historical slice of two mens lives that happens to contain far more emotion and depth than is first seen at first read of the page.  I can see this will be one of my favorite historical reads of the year.  If you are a lover of historical stories and romance, put A Taste of Copper on your must read list today.

Cover Artist:  Meredith Russell. Gorgeous cover, worthy of the wonderful tale within.  One of my favorite covers.

Sales Links:   Love Lane Books    All Romance eBooks    amazon      A Taste of Copper

Book Details:

ebook, 26,900 words, approx. 58 pages
Published September 26th 2014 by Love Lane Books Limited
(first published September 24th 2014)
Love Lane Books

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Anchored Riptide CoverDaniel Halstrom was born a slave, brutally indoctrinated into sex slave behavior before he even reached puberty, and then sold by his master to NewWorld Media at the age of ten. Fortunately, they wanted him for a different role and now, twenty-five years later, the handsome, blond news anchor who began his climb to fame as a field reporter is fairly secure in his role in the newsroom—or so he thinks. When NewWorld informs him that he’s been leased to Carl Whitman, a talk show host on a rival network, for the amazing sum of $6 million for the year, he’s seized by total and complete panic and frozen by fear as old memories of what it means to be a sex slave come back to haunt him. So much so, that he doesn’t recognize Carl’s attempts at being friendly and compassionate and it causes much unnecessary angst and frustration for the both of them.

Carl seems determined to include Daniel at the dinner table and as a companion while he watches television in the evenings. He doesn’t order Daniel around and fails to give Daniel the direction he’s come to expect from his masters. In fact, Daniel really isn’t capable of making his own decisions, having been born a slave and punished severely all his life for any attempt to do so. When Daniel fails to engage in any conversation with Carl, remaining mute and remote, in frustration, Carl reports his disappointment to the brass at NewWorld.

Once his bosses learn that Carl is not happy with him, they take Daniel to their punishment room. Spoiler alert. More

Let’s Get Intimate with Sean Michael and “Bruised” (book tour)

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Love and Fate and Billy and Johnson

If you asked Billy and Johnson what it was about each other that made them fall in love, Johnson would hem and haw and if he had at least a beer in him, would tell you that he fell for Billy’s skin, for that smooth beautiful skin that he just knew would bruise like a dream. And that once he knew that’s what Billy needed, too, he was lost.

Billy would probably give you a case in point argument, complete with slides and possibly a break for lunch if it ran long.

Yeah, they’re different guys from different backgrounds with very different jobs. And they never would have met if Billy’s Jeep hadn’t conked out right near Johnson’s garage. But for that one little twist of fate, their love affair never would have happened.

I imagine everyone has people in their lives who they only met because they zagged in a situation where they usually would have zigged, be it a friend, an enemy or, like in Billy and Johnson’s case, a lover.

Were they fated to meet, was it destiny that put a hand in and made that one little thing happen so Billy and Johnson could meet? Or was it pure luck? Would they have found love even if it wasn’t with each other? Luckily, they’ll never have to find out because, as chance (or was it fate?) would have it, I saw the man who inspired Billy, or their story might never have been told at all!

Bruised_SeanMichael_BlogTour_WebBanner_final

Sean Michael
smut fixes everything
http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

About Sean Michael:

Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organising his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and pursuing the kama sutra by channelling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to “Chicago”.

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He’ll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Blurb for Bruised:

bruised_exlarge_PNG-210x336Johnson and Billy come from different parts of the country, different backgrounds and different places in their lives. Maybe different is exactly what they both need.

Johnson figures it’s got to be a sign when cowboy Billy shows up at his garage after hours, just as he’s about to go find someone to spend the night with. He’s horny enough that a lot of guys would look good, but Billy seems special somehow.

Billy thinks Johnson’s the hottest ticket he’s seen since he moved to California from Texas, and after a good meal and some good fun, he takes Johnson home. They both find out they’re getting more than they bargained for. Can Johnson and Billy figure out why they feel so connected and can they make it last once reality sets back in?

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously released by another publisher. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound Publishing.

Like the sound of Bruised? Buy it here!

 

 Bruised Excerpt :

The chili was good, the beer cold. The cobbler was promising to be perfect and the company?
Fucking hot.

Johnson was fine, nice eyes, great voice. They had started swapping horror stories from their childhoods—his own fights with his older brother, being the only boy cheerleader in a fifty-mile radius, Johnson’s most hated teacher, pranks he’d pulled.

It was fun, relaxing. A hell of a lot better than singing along with the jukebox and reading depositions.

Carol brought over the cobbler ’n’ ice cream and Johnson gave him that sexy grin again. “Now for the real test.”

He arched an eyebrow, licked his lips. “Yeah?” He waited to see what Johnson said, to see where the flirtation would go.

“Cobbler versus sex. That’s quite the challenge.”

“Hmm.” He scooped up a spoonful, balancing the pastry and cream, and held it out. “Open up, tell me what you think.”

Johnson gave him a slow, easy smile and leaned forward, mouth opening. Oh, now that was sexy as fuck. He fed Johnson the bite, watching as the hot-cold sweet hit Johnson’s tongue. The man’s eyes closed, a soft moan sounding, the whole experience sensual as hell.

Johnson took his time, savoring the bite, licking his lips. When his eyes opened, he gave Billy another smile. “Oh, now that was good. Of course, there’s only one way to make a true comparison.” Johnson’s voice was low, gravelly.

“Yeah? How’s that?” Oh, sweet fuck, he was hard as a frigging board and so ready to play.

“Have sex, of course.” Johnson winked at him, that smile firmly in place, invitation in the almost-green eyes.

“Do you kiss on the first date?” Hell, do you put out? How do you feel about nice hard fucks?

Down, Billy. Up-and-coming lawyers do not go to bed with mechanics after beer and chili. Don’t. Just…

Well, they might.

Possibly.

 

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A MelanieM Review: Stand By You (Belonging #3) by A.M. Arthur

Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

RStand By You_coveromy Myers is still deep in recovery three months after friends rescued him from the apartment of his abusive boyfriend.  Unable to hold down most jobs, his friends offered him not only a place to stay with them at their apartment, but a  job bussing tables at their new coffee shop, Half Dozen.  Romy has almost completely shutdown, quiet and shaky from the PTSD and trauma he suffered at Carlos’ hands.  The old Romy, flirty, funny, and adorable, was buried deep inside.  After all being that person had almost gotten Romy killed.  Now alone and quiet is the key for Romy these days.  But watching his friends, Donner and Ezra so deeply in love sometimes makes Romy remember when he wanted that too.  Until it all went so wrong.

Brendan Walker has made watching over the wounded Romy sort of his job since he was the one to carry the bleeding man out of that apartment of horrors.  Ex football  player turned building maintenance worker, Brendan stays close, using funny texts and messages to stay close, developing a friendship that helps Romy stay grounded enough to get through social situations.  But Brendan finds Romy occupying his thoughts 24 hours a day.  And feelings start developing towards Romy that no straight man ought to have.

Now Brendan finds himself questioning his sexuality.  If he is gay, is that something his large family will accept?  And Romy finds Brendan protectiveness makes him feel safe, perhaps safe enough to think about love once more.  Can these men put uncertainty and their pasts behind them to make a future together?

Stand By You is the third book in the Belonging series about a close group of friendsby A.M. Arthur.  It is also the only book I have read so far in the series.  Normally I find that an impediment to understanding the characters and events that have already taken place, but in Stand By You, I missed the horrific events that precipitated Romy’s rescue from Carlos as they had already taken place.   Stand By You picks up with a physically recovered Romy still dealing with the emotional aftermath of his captivity and brutal treatment at his boyfriend’s hands.  Romy is such a clearly defined and believable character.It is easy to find yourself emphasizing with his problems and nightmares.  Watching his character learn to trust again was deeply moving and a wonderful part of this story.

Also touching was the figure of Brendan Walker.  A “bruiser” of a man in appearance, Brendan’s real self is that of a considerate, protective, thoughtful person who loves his family so much he is willing to let his assumptions  about their reactions rule his life.  Here Brendan’s biggest fear is being anything other than straight.  His attractions to men don’t start with Romy, so this isn’t a “gay for you” story but one about  acceptance and exploring your sexuality.  Brendan’s journey, while not as wounded a one, is as deeply affecting as Romy’s, especially since they are so intertwined.

There are so many issues that A. M. Arthur addresses in Stand By You, from the impact coming out has on a person and their  family, to the recovery from a trauma both emotional and physical, and people dealing with all facets of their personality, good and bad.  No matter the subject matter and the manner in which Arthur uses it in her story, this author handles it with sensitivity and care.  It makes for lovely reading and layered characters that makes an impression upon the readers from start to finish.

As with Foundation of Trust, Stand By You will drive me back to the other stories in this series.  To meet Donner and Ezra and all the rest and read their stories as well.  As I said, you could read this as a stand alone as I did. It works well as such.  Or go to the beginning (assuming you haven’t already done so) and start from there.  I will be playing catch up!  Either way, consider Stand By You by A.M. Arthur a highly recommended read at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

Cover artist not listed. But that is a good cover for this story.

Sales Links:    Carina Press   All Romance eBooks  amazon  Stand By You

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: October 20th 2014 by Carina Press
ASINB00LSDQNJK

 

Books in the Belonging Series in the order they were written:

No Such Thing (Belonging #1)
Maybe This Time (Belonging #2)
Stand By You (Belonging #3)

A MelanieM Review: Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2) by R.J. Scott

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the people you trusted turn on you, when you are the last one standing, should you take your secrets to the grave? Or make the murderers pay?

Last Marine Standing coverJapan 2004.   Marine Recon Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jackson and his team are sent in to rescue two kidnapped children of a Congressman.  It was a horrifying mission that was to have a lasting impact  on Mac and  Samuel Larson , one of two siblings held captive.  Now ten years later, both men are dramatically different, changed forever in ways neither could have anticipated.

Mac Jackson is now a former Marine having been discharged on a disability.  His former team has been deactivated, with one dead from a mission gone wrong. Mac is in hiding, from himself and the world around him.  Until it appears that someone high up in the government is targeting the remaining members of his team.

Samuel Larson is now a park ranger, a surefire way to remove himself from his father’s world and influence.  But Sam has never forgotten the man who saved him and saw  him through the worst time of his young life.  When his best friend Aiden and his Marine lover, Viktor, finally look to have their HEA, Sam realizes that he needs to find the man who means so much to him and tell him so. But Sam never expects a simple journey to say thank you to turn into a mission of danger and deceit.  Once more its up to Mac to keep not only Sam safe and alive, but himself as well.  As the bullets fly, Mac’s inner barriers fall.  Now only if they can survive to see if they can have their own HEA.

When I got my first glimpse of RJ Scott’s Samuel Larson in A Reason to Stay (Heroes #1), he was a character that left little impression upon me.  Aiden’s best friend and all around good guy, Sam came off as bland.  Kind, a friend with benefits sort of to Aiden, Sam felt more like a “filler” character than one necessary for the story.  But RJ Scott had plans for Sam, ones that included an horrific event from his past that would help explain the man we met in the first Heroes book.

Without revealing too much detail, Sam and his sister were kidnapped by terrorists overseas, a horrific event made all the more heinous by Sam’s treatment by his captors.  The first part of Last Marine Standing takes place in Japan, the year 2004.  Mac’s Recon team is about to rescue  Sam and his 14 year old sister.  RJ Scott makes the reader feel every moment of this heart-stopping and heartbreaking event.  Using spare prose and tightly woven scenes of action, the mission jumps to life as does the aftermath as it falls so differently upon the rescued teens.  Trust me when I say these pages have staying power.   So much so that its easy to understand Sam and the man he has become when the narrative picks up ten years later in August 2014.

The contrast between the adolescent Sam and the mature Sam sees a young man who needs to put certain parts of his past behind him. That includes finally telling the men who saved him, one Marine in particular, thank you.  Far from the bland, undisturbed surface individual we saw in Heroes #1, this Sam has a large, complicated inner life.  It makes him likable, accessible, and vulnerable.

The man he is searching for is far more wounded, complex and haunted than Sam could ever expect.  Former Marine Recon Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jackson is a man on the run.  A secret mission cost Mac everything. The wounds he incurred disabled him, releasing him from the Marines, a life he loved. It also cost Mac his fellow Marines, friends who were also his family.  Now secret messages from his former team members are warning him that his life is about to change once more.  Skillfully,  Scott leads us through the complexities of Mac’s past, his memories and feelings, to the uncertainties and mystery that is Mac’s present.  Mac’s honorable Marine is someone the reader connects with immediately.   And the ten years that pass only add to his attraction and strength of personality.

The strong past connection between Sam and Mac is necessary to believe in the pull and depth of their feelings for each other.  Add to that the suspense and action that gives each scene a charged atmosphere of danger and uncertainty, then the heat of their attraction to each other needs no explanation. I loved their burgeoning romance and their need for each other is hot, hot, hot!

I thought the first book in the Heroes series was wonderful, but Last Marine Standing has taken its place as my favorite.  I loved these characters,   the other Marines and the surrounding people and places that make this so memorable.  You could read this as a stand alone but it adds so much to read the stories in the order they were written.  There is another Heroes book on the horizon, Deacon’s Law (Heroes #3) out in January 2015, which sees a return to the Sanctuary universe (ok, its one we never ever truly leave or want to). I can’t wait to see what angst,  action, and, of course, romance  R.J. Scott has in store for us there.

While we are waiting, pick up Last Marine Standing, an action filled, heart stopping tale of love and suspense.   I think you will love it as much as I do.  I highly recommend it and the first story in the Heroes series.  Happy Reading!

Cover artist Meredith Russell does her usual terrific job of capturing the characters and bits of storyline.

Sales Link:   Love Lane Books   All Romance (ARe)  amazon Last Marine Standing

Book Details:

ebook, 211 pages
Published October 8th 2014 by Love Lane Books (first published October 6th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/SEALHeroes2.html
seriesHeroes #2

Heroes Series in the order they were written:

A Reason To Stay (Heroes #1)
Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2)
Deacon’s Law (Heroes, #3) to be released January 2015 from Love Lane Books

A Reason To Stay Heroes 1 coverLast Marine Standing coverDeacon's Law Heroes 3 cover

A 2 Book 2 Day Celebration! A.M. Arthur’s Foundation of Trust & Stand by You Book Tour and Contest!

AMArthurBanner300x250

Get ready for a 2 book 2 day celebration.  Double your reading pleasure and double your fun with 2 books from A.M. Arthur!  Foundation of Trust and Stand By You!  Read the blurbs and excerpts, and don’t forget to enter the contest!  Happy Reading.

Book Name: Foundation of Trust & Stand by You
Goodreads Links:Foundation of Trust , Stand by You
Author Name: A.M. Arthur

Author Bio:

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) and “The Young Riders” with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Author Contact:

Contact her at am_arthur@yahoo.com with your cooking tips (or book comments). You can also find her online (http://amarthur.blogspot.com/), as well as on Twitter (http://twitter.com/am_arthur), Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/blog/am-arthur), and Facebook (A.m. Arthur). A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and Musa Publishing.

  • Publishers:
    Foundation of Trust: Samhain Publishing
    Stand by You: Carina Press
    Cover Artist: Foundation of Trust: Lyn Taylor
  • Stand by You Sales Links:Barnes & Noble  Amazon
  • Foundation of Trust Sales Links: Samhain  Barnes & Noble  Amazon

FoundationOfTrust300Foundation of Trust Blurb:

David Weller thought he had it all—a loving partner who gave him a ring, a steady job he didn’t hate, and so much hope for the future. But in the wake of a devastating diagnosis, everything he thought was solid and real lay in pieces at his feet.
Four years later, he’s still sifting through the rubble of his life. His catering partnership occupies his days, while his nights are filled with dangerous sexual hookups and very bad decisions. Then the last person he ever expected to see again walks back into his life.

Owen Hart’s single biggest regret is the way he was forced to leave David behind—no explanations, no chance to make it right. Until now. Finally free of eight years of lies, Owen’s back for the only man he’s ever loved.

An incendiary encounter in a club proves that time hasn’t weakened their physical connection, but David’s wounds run deeper than Owen’s deception. And if David can’t first forgive, Owen doesn’t have a second chance in hell.

Warning: This book contains an Australian transplant with a head full of secrets, a party planner with enough baggage to sink a battleship, and a surly teenager who just wants them both to get over themselves.

 

Foundation of Trust Excerpt:


A shadow drifted across Owen’s face—the same shadow that had been there almost constantly that first year. An angry shadow that had diminished under the brilliance of their love for each other. “We had to, me and my son both. Michael was born Benjamin Hadley Swenson.”

“But why?” David needed to know why he’d been lied to for so long. Why he’d fallen in love with a man whose name he never really knew.

“To protect us from the man who killed Michael’s mother and grandfather.”

“You told me his mother was killed during a home invasion.”

“I used parts of the truth to fashion the lie. Makes it easier to remember. She was killed by a man who had no business in that house, but he wasn’t there to rob anyone. He was a dangerous man, and I did what I had to do to protect my son.”

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

Blurb: Stand by YouStand By You_cover

Three months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job—bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.

From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy—but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…

When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence—his heart.

Excerpt: Stand by You

“So make a plan for yourself.” Romy was getting excited over the idea of Brendan going back to college—maybe because Romy had never gone and probably never would. He didn’t even have his GED. And here he was giving Brendan career advice when the longest job he’d ever held in his life was as a hooker. “Figure out what it will cost to go back and finish. Figure out how you’ll save the money. Nothing is impossible, Bren, not if you want it bad enough.”

Brendan looked at him, chocolate brown eyes catching his, and something in that moment changed. Like a snap or a zing, Romy couldn’t describe it. Only that his words had touched something in Brendan, and that something leapt across the space between them and right into Romy. His pulse raced.

Oh crap.

Romy broke eye contact first, using the untwisting of his bottle cap as an excuse to kill the odd charge between them. Not happening. Not again, and not with Brendan. Brendan wasn’t even gay!

Was he?

Tour Dates/Stops:

BadgeAMArthur10/20: Emotion in Motion, Multitasking Mommas
10/21: Amanda C. Stone, MM Good Book Reviews
10/22: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Velvet Panic
10/23: Wake Up Your Wild Side, Smoocher’s Voice
10/24: The Novel Approach
10/27: Hearts on Fire, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, The Blogger Girls
10/28: Iyana Jenna, Foxylutely Book Reviews
10/29: Love Bytes, My Fiction Nook
10/30: Prism Book Alliance, Cathy Brockman Romances
10/31: Parker Williams
11/3: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, All I Want and More Books
11/4: LeAnn’s Book Reviews
11/5: Havan Fellows
11/6: Romance the Night, Queer Town Abbey
11/7: Crystal’s Many Reviewers

 

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: PDF copy of Foundation of Trust.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. This is a M/M Romance.  Use the Rafflecopter link below to enter and for all additional contest details.

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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