August is Here and the Week’s Schedule at ScatteredThoughts!

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Upcoming Reviews

HomeTheHardWay_500x750Unexpected Trust coverLoving LukiHard as Stone Final

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Where did the summer go?  August is arriving this week so thoughts of Fall is trailing in its wake.   I have seen ads for Back to School already, and even (hides my eyes) a few for Christmas.  Really, people?  Christmas?  Sigh.  I am still working on my gardens and the work progresses with the weather.   Like the tides, the work and I flow in and then out.  Cool weather?  Then I can work outside and still breath.  Hot and humid? The typical Washington,  oh right we are surrounded by water and were built on a swamp, DC summer?  Well, that sees me inside, knitting,reading, writing, and grateful for air-conditioning.

Surprisingly, this summer has been pretty good, better than good, so far.  Yesterday barely made it into 80 degrees.  It was lovely and appreciated by all here, including the terriers.  Today humid and 90′s.  Tomorrow more of the same and then down again.  A rollercoaster approach that I will take over weeks of constant 90 degree heat or higher.

It’s also been a wonderful summer so far for books.  New authors, old favorites,  and a new perspective on authors whose new stories I have really liked.  The Pulp Friction 2014 series, Elemental Connections, is off the charts in terms of great plots and even better characters.  I have been reading lots of  books with Fae in the plots, and guess what?  All terrific!  Angel Martinez’ Semper Fae?  Unbelievable!   Rory Ni Coiliean’s SoulShares has me hooked too! On the contemporary side, Lou Sylvre’s Vasquez and James?  Love, love, love them.   Shira Anthony has a new Blue Notes story coming out, Dissonance!   I have two in line from TJ Klune waiting to be read.  I will need more boxes of tissues for those I am sure.  What a happy reader I am these days!

♦If you have noticed, I have started to display current and future book tours to the right hand side of the page.  You can click on those and it will take you to the  entry forms associated with those tours!  Also I have joined the ranks of the Amazon,All Romance Affiliates and Totally Bound Affiliates, so if you buy it through the links at the bottom of each post, it will help support ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords and my efforts to continue to upgrade this website.

♦Now, one last thing.  I have been thinking about this for some time and have decided that I need to add another reviewer to help me cover more books coming out and the review requests I am receiving.  I have a standard format and requirements.  If you are interested, contact me at melaniem54@msn.com and we can talk!

Now on to the week ahead at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

Monday, July 28:

  • Review: Hard as Stone by Rory Ni Coileain

Tuesday, July 29:

  • Riptide’s and Z.A. Maxfield’s Home the Hard Way Book Tour/Contest
  • Book Blast:  Jennifer Cie’s Down the Other Street Book Tour/Contest
  • Review:  Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

Wednesday, July 30:

  • Book Blast Book Tour:  Silvia Violet’s Unexpected Trust
  • Review:  Unexpected Trust by Silvia Violet

Thursday, July 31:

  • Virtual Book Tour: That You Are Here by Meredith Allard
  • July Summary of Reviews and Best Covers of the Month

Friday, August 1:

  • Review:  Hero by Heidi Cullinan
  • Review: Gale Force by Rory Ni Coileain

Saturday, August 2:

  • Ink and Flowers by J.K. Pendragon

 

Now stay cool, everyone.  Hope you are enjoying your weekend.  Here’s a summer cocktail to try out!

Cucumber Lemonade Mocktail. A111206 Food & Wine March 2012Cucumber Lemonade Mocktail (no alcohol)

Ingredients:
1 paper-thin, lengthwise slice of European cucumber, for garnish
Ice
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped dill, plus 1 dill sprig, for garnish
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cucumber juice (see Note)
1/4 cup chilled club soda

Directions:

Press the cucumber slice against the inside of a chilled highball glass and add ice. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the chopped dill, agave syrup, lemon and lime juices and 1 tablespoon of water until the syrup is dissolved. Add ice, then add the cucumber juice and shake well. Strain into the prepared glass and stir in the club soda. Garnish with the dill sprig.
NOTES Cucumber juice is available at juice counters. You can also make it by pureeing peeled cucumber chunks in a blender and then straining the puree through a fine sieve. One large cucumber yields about 3/4 cup of strained juice.

Review: Loving Luki Vasquez (Vasquez & James #1) by Lou Sylvre

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Loving LukiFrom the moment weaver and fiber artist Sonny Bly James spots cool charmer and security specialist, Luki Vasquez, leaning against his ice-blue Mercedes in town things started to spiral out of control for both men.  Sonny Bly James lives on the outskirts of an island in Washington state and spends his time creating woven pieces of art.  He’s a bit of a recluse,socially clumsy, whose smart mouth is his first line of defense when approached. A gay native american, in a small island town, that doesn’t happen often.

Luki Vasquez?  Well, he’s an ex-ATF agent who wears his scars from life and his childhood inside and out, especially out.  Based in Chicago, Luki is in town with his employees on a job.  But one look at that tall gorgeous man gazing back at him and Luki makes additional plans.

All it takes is “What are you looking at?”, followed by one meeting, and then another at Margie’s coffee shop, its clear that Luki and Sonny ‘s attraction for each other is only getting stronger each time they get together.  But a relationship?  That’s not something Luki is looking for and Sonny’s idea of commitment is rock solid.  Not a great combination to start with.

As they tentatively find their way with each other, an old evil comes to Port Clifton.  Soon it appear’s that Sonny has been targeted by a violent  stalker.  And its not just Sonny at risk but those he cares about as well.   When the evil spreads over the lives of young boys and Sonny’s nephew, the investigation goes deep into the past for Luki as well.  Turns out loving Luki Vasquez is a potentially deadly affair.  Will Sonny and Luki survive the past that haunts them?

After finishing the  first story in the Vasquez and James series by Lou Sylvre my first thought was why have I never read anything by this author before.  The second thought? To reach for the second story, Delsyn’s Blues, and keep reading.  Which I did.  And then to keep reading some more.  One Vasquez and James story right after the other (reviews to follow).  And all are just so amazing that I am astonished that this is my first introduction to the author and this series!

What struck me first?  The beautiful writing with its elegant, almost lyrical descriptions.  And it ebbs and flows with a pattern that ripples along at its own pace and style.  Once you find the rhythm and pacing, you are pulled in and the outside world forgotten.  This is how Chapter 4 begins:

 

Not the kind of person to worry, Sonny put yesterday’s crime and related events out of his mind, letting only sweet sex and the man he’d shared it with flicker through his thoughts. He concentrated on the sheen of dawn newly broken over the straits of Juan de Fuca. He never tired of the scene, every day unique, every morning a study in the possibilities of color and movement, light giving form to everything it touched. Sometimes he watched from the water’s edge; sometimes he ducked nearly naked into the always-frigid water and emerged in a corona of jewel-colored waves.

Then come the  characters Lou Sylvre has created for the Vasquez and James series. Luki and Sonny, those compelling, fascinating damaged characters.  From their initial glances at each other, the reader becomes hooked on them separately and then later as a potential couple.  Sonny, the textile artist, is captivating with his long hair and casual getup. Whether it is his odd, startling sentences or his bemused outlook on life, his social inadequacies and artistic nature comes through on an almost cellular level.  He is grounded in family and the land, with his head  filled with projects, colors and fiber.  There is something so approachable about Sonny despite his sometimes disjointed thoughts and defensive mannerisms.

Then there is Luki Mililani Vasquez, a scarred, self armored Nebraskan of Basque and Hawaiian descent.  Luki has more layers to him that an onion flower.  At the heart of the man Luki has become is the child Luki that was brutalized and left traumatized back home.  That memory is never as far as the scar on Luki’s face and its the key to who Luki has become.  If asked to choose between the two, I couldn’t do it. Both are such emotional and memorable people.  They engaged by affections and interest from the beginning and have continued to hold it through several books and counting.

Then there is Margie, and Uncle Kahalo, and so many others, good and evil.  Their impact is huge and lasting even if their time within the story is not.

The evil of  the story is deep, wretched and raw.  It spills across the pages like so much dirty waste water, a slow trickle that spreads until it washes over everything and everybody.  From one small instance , it grows exponentially with each reveal and the accompanying suspense, angst, and anticipation builds at the same pace.  My shoulders were one tight mess when I finished the story, hunched over my Kindle in the wee morning hours.  This element is so well done that I couldn’t put the book down until it was over.

I loved this story, these characters and this series.  I feel the same way about the author as well.  It’s gripping, absorbing, and a totally great read!  I will be reviewing the rest of the stories throughout the next month or so as I want to spread them out.  Consider Loving Luki Vasquez and all the rest among ScatteredThougthsandRogueWords most highly recommended!  Pick it up and start reading today!

Buy Links:      Dreamspinner Press         All Romance eBooks (ARe)       Amazon     Loving Luki Vasquez

Cover artist:  Reese Dante.  Love that sepia colored cover.  It’s subtle and so very beautiful.

Book Details:
ebook, 1st Edition, 220 pages
Published June 19th 2011 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleLoving Luki Vasquez (Vasquez & James, #1)
ISBN 1615819142 (ISBN13: 9781615819140)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2377
seriesVasquez & James #1

Books in the Vasquez and James series are to date:

Loving Luki Vasquez (Vasquez & James, #1)
Delsyn’s Blues (Vasquez & James, #2)
Finding Jackie (Vasquez & James, #3)
Saving Sonny James (Vasquez & James #4)
Yes (A Vasquez and James Novella)
Because of Jade (Vasquez & James #5)

Review: Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner (Pulp Friction 2014 Series)

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Flare-Up cover by Laura HarnerFollowing his recent meltdown during a fire on Mountain Shadows and the increasing frequency of his nightmares, Scott McGregor is unsure of everything…his home, his future, and his relationship with Robby Hammond.  Scott is buried under the guilt he feels about the accident that caused his disability and another’s injury.   And now that he knows about Robby’s children and previous marriage, he wonders how he will fit into the new family dynamics, if at all.

Rob Hammond has gone to bring his children home from his mother-in-law’s house where they have been staying.  He wants to introduce them to Scott and their new home on Mountain Shadows.  He loves Scott and hopes that with his children in their home, it will send a message about how serious Rob is about their relationship and their future together.

But a new danger to Mountain Shadows campground grows bolder and soon events start to escalate out of control.  When the fires flare up around them, can Rob and Scott keep each other and Rob’s family safe from harm?

With Flare-up, Laura Harner starts the journey towards the end of the series and the resolution to the Elemental Connections series finale.  Events are on a collision course as more acts of vandalism and arson increase and the personal  problems of Scott McGregor soar.

Laura Harner brings Rob’s adorable family into the picture at the beginning of the story.  His children are endearing and it shows yet another element in Robby’s personality, that of a loving father and family man.  We are given a few more hints of Rob and Scott’s background and a temporary reprieve from the suspense and dangers present at the Mountain Shadows campground these days.  I just love this segment and wanted it to go on much longer.  So will you.

Scott’s inability to deal with his disability and departure from the profession of firefighter is given forward movement out of the present stasis here.  The author uses a wonderfully realistic method to shock Scott into looking at his current abilities and future in a pragmatic and raw way.  I thought this was a necessary and authentic moment for the reader and Scott.  It brought some of the dangers of being a wildfire firefighter into play and the vivid descriptions of the heat, smoke and agility needed to handle the equipment and quickness of the fires brought such a hazard and tragedy to life.

This is not a story or series you can get comfortable in.  As soon as you settle in to a certain mind frame, Laura Harner is just as quick to jerk you out of it with some new aspect of her plot or new revelation about the problems and events occurring on Mountain Shadows campground and this couples relationship.  It’s all about building up to some gargantuan disclosure and overwhelming event that will happen in the last stories. Laura Harner is  an expert at building an atmosphere of suspense and anticipation needed to sustain the necessary momentum.  And with Flare-up both the title and the plot start us running towards the fire.

I loved this.  It makes me want to go back and reread all the stories that preceeded it.  I want to savor the buildup and the events that Laura Harner is using as the ingredients for her series finale.  This is a highly recommended story and series.  Put it on your must read lists now.  But make sure you start at the beginning.  That’s absolutely necessary in order to understand, enjoy, and yes, savor, the full intensity and layers to this plot.  Book No. 5 here I come!!!!!

Cover art by Laura Harner. Love the covers, love the branding for the series.

Buy Links:                    All Romance eBooks (ARe)                               Amazon                                Flare-up

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 72 pages
Published July 14th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ASINB00LTED5H6
edition languageEnglish

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:

Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five: to be released

Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors
charactersFinn Lorensso

Side Stories or Interludes:

Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (a In From the Cold story)

 

Review: Tremors (Earthquake #3) (Pulp Friction 2014 #12) by T.A. Webb

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Tremors cover by TA WebbIt’s when you think you have your world in order that the tremors start, signaling the earthquakes to come.  Charlie Turner thinks he has everything under control.  Charlie and his boyfriend, Amos Greene, are in a good place finally.  He is at home in Mountain Shadows and his business is good.  Even his younger brother, Damon, has ditched the bad crowd and is doing better at home.  Charlie’s life is at a good place.  Then his ex-boyfriend, Chip McNair, reappears and the peace is shattered.

And in the midst of all the frightening events taking place on Mountain Shadows, someone Charlie loves disappears.  That disappearance and possible threat reawakens old demons in Charlie that he thought he had buried.  As the tremors begin and Charlie’s foundation begins to crack, can Charlie survive and who will be there to pick up the pieces?

In a series titled Earthquakes, you just know that any sense of safety and calm will be short lived.  In Tremors, T.A. Webb delivers not just tremors but the beginnings of the huge seismic waves to come that will shatter everything around Charlie and those he loves.

Webb’s romance between Charlie and the prickly Amos has settled down to a lovely relationship.  We have invested ourselves not only in Charlie and Amos but in Charlie’s troubled younger brother, Damon, as well.  Damon has finally come around, Amos has an enjoyable snarcastic bond with Damon, and things are good.  And that’s when the tremors appears.

Chip McNair, the ex,  wants Charlie back and Amos is not happy.  As T.A. Webb builds the drama around the couples dance (old vs new) and the boyfriends vie for Charlie’s love, the author brings in more mystery and suspense when a person close to Charlie goes missing.  From puzzlement to terror, the emotions shift as the power of the situation and angst builds.  What an incredible job the author does in creating a situation fraught with apprehension, a growing sense of alarm, and then shear unadulterated pain and horror at the end.

What happens within these 40 pages is a small marvel, it’s the shattering of someone’s world, and it’s devastating.  As Charlie (and others) moves from one happy state of mind to the wreckage at the end, the reader is  at his side, maintaining the same sense of dread and anxiety as Charlie and the other characters around him.  And that ending? Heartbreaking and real.

This is a must read story in a must read series in one of the top recommendations for this year, the Pulp Friction 2014 Elemental Connections series.  But this and all the other stories must be read in order.  The relationships and characters are complex, the situation around them growing ever more dangerous by the day, and the patterns between them still not apparent.  So start at the beginning of each author’s series and work your way forward.  I have listed them all for you at the bottom.  Use it as a checklist so you don’t miss out on any of them.

Tremors is outstanding!  It’s one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Highly Recommended Stories of 2014!

Buy Links:              All Romance eBooks    (ARe)        Amazon           Tremors

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Just wonderful.

Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages
Published June 30th 2014 by A Bear on Books (first published June 29th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #12, Earthquake #3

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:

Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five: to be released

Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors
charactersFinn Lorensso

 

Review: Taking Chances (Elemental Connections 2 – PF 2014 Bonus) by Lee Brazil

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Taking Chances CoverChance is on the phone with Cannon out in Arizona, when he hears Cannon give a shout, a banging on the door at the other end of the phone and then a dropped call.  When further calls to Cannon go unanswered, there is only one thing to do.  Drop  everything and head out immediately for Mountain Shadows, Arizona, and Cannon.  That’s exactly what Chance DuMont and his young lover, Rory Gaines, do.  For when old  friends and ex-lovers need help, you help them.  Even if it might cause some problems with your new lover and your happy relationship.

Even though Rory and Cannon have become friends, uncertainties and old jealousies are never  far away.  When Chance is reunited with his old love, how will his new one handle it?

Taking Chances is a bonus story that combines the characters from the first Pulp Friction series, Chances Are in 2013 and brings them into the realm of the Elemental Connections Pulp Friction 2014 series.  Specifically, Chance DuMont and his new lover, Rory Gaines are off to visit/rescue Chance’s old lover Cannon Malloy who is living at the Mountain Shadows campground outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Cannon Malloy is a crossover character from the first series and now he is in the middle of the mess that is Mountain Shadows Campgrounds.  Desperately  unhappy when he first moved west, he has periodically called Chance and Rory when homesickness and loneliness hit home.  In this new series, Cannon has really come into his own as a character.  He’s no longer at odds with his sexuality and the move has been good for him, mostly.  But that last phone call brings some unexpected visitors and some closure too.

Taking Chances is a sort of temporary reprieve from all the emotional drama and criminal events happening at Mountain Shadows.   Chance and Rory think they are riding to the rescue.  Are they?  Not for me to say.  But Brazil uses this short story to bring closure to certain matters between the three characters as well as let us see an event that has already occurred from another perspective.  One real highlight?  Viewing the new Cannon through the lens of his ex lover and friend, Chance.  It makes the changes in Cannon fresh and vivid.  Typically, the story is told from either Cannon or Finn’s view point which means we are  deep in the middle of whatever muddle or argument or sexy makeup or out session they are involved in.  Now we get to step back and see it from someone removed from the daily happenings and their personal lives.  And I just loved that.

Plus any chance to visit with, well, Chance and Rory, is great too.  We get caught up on their lives and romance since the last time we saw them in 2013.  Lee Brazil’s narrative strides along, complete with snark, snappy dialog, and a few poignant moments. And its over way too soon.

Taking Chances is short, sweet, and sexy.  It combines old characters we loved with new ones we have grown to love and the mixture is marvelous.  I hope this is only the first of many crossover stories to come.  Fingers crossed in anticipation.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Lovely as usual.

For all the Pulp Friction 2014 stories, visit any of my reviews for Havan Fellows Whispering Winds series, T.A. Webb’s Earthquake series, Lee Brazil’s In From the Cold series or Laura Harner’s Fighting Fire series.  All part of the Elemental Connections Pulp Friction 2014 interconnected series.

Buy Links:                  All Romance Ebooks (ARe)                     Amazon         Taking Chances

About Pulp Friction 2014

Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb
The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.

The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Book Details:

ebook, First, 37 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Lime Time Press
ASINB00LMOIT9W
edition languageEnglish

 

Take a Closer Look: L.A. Somerton’s Picturing Lysander Book Tour/Contest!

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WHP_LM Somerton_Book Tour_final banner

 

L.M Somerton has a new story out!  It’s Picturing Lysander, one of Totally Bound’s new What’s His Passion? Imprint line.  To help celebrate its launch, Totally Bound and L.M. Somerton have brought a terrific contest to enter, a few musings from the author about the story and book details below.  Happy Reading and Good luck on the contest!

 

Contest:   To celebrate the launch of What’s his Passion? Totally Bound Publishing are giving away a bundle of great prizes. Enter HERE for your chance to win.  Must be 18 years of age to enter.  Contest open world wide.

Testing Limits by L.M. Somerton

The strapline for Picturing Lysander is “Photography, like love, should have no limits.” This is really a combination of the philosophies of the two main characters. Lysander Brock treats photography like an extreme sport. His profession is an adventure fuelled by passion. Kyle Dawson is a dominant and he wants to push Brock to a different kind of limit.

It was interesting to explore the connection between characters that in some ways are very similar – they both thrive on adventure and can’t resist a challenge; they both initially have doubts about whether a relationship would work for them. Physical attraction is not in question. It’s the psychological dilemma that makes the dynamics between them interesting. Brock is submissive but has great strength of character. Kyle is dominant but cautious of Brock’s indecision. I wanted to draw a parallel between the dangerous mission they face and the risks they accept by being together.

Of course, you’ll have to read the full novel next year to find out if either side of the story has a HEA!

picturinglysander_800Blurb for Picturing Lysander:

Photography, like love, should have no limits.

Lysander Brock is a talented photographer and capturing the perfect picture is his passion. His work takes him all over the world and he is famous for his willingness to take risks for the perfect image.

Kyle Dawson is tasked by his mysterious employer to obtain Brock’s services for a dangerous job and he’s prepared to use any method to ensure that the young photographer does as he’s told. Breaking and entering and blackmail are just tools of his trade.

Despite the circumstances, the spark of attraction between Brock and Kyle is strong. Brock’s addiction to adrenaline-fuelled adventure holds him captive, just as much as Kyle’s brooding dominant appeal. As a fragile trust builds between them, Kyle takes a gamble and tells Brock the truth about his mission. Can Brock accept the challenges ahead—as a photographer and as a man?

 

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Buy Picturing Lysander here!
Author Bio:
Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.

She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.

Author link at Totally Bound.

Totally Bound Logo

Review: Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Old kitchen table rural cottage morningWhen Stuart Collins’s partner Mark died in a car crash the previous year, he thought his life had ended too.  But life has a funny way of letting you recover and heal, while showing you the path to your future.  Stuart’s mother died five years ago, a wonderful woman whose loss was deeply mourned by husband and son.  Now a new woman, Isabel Franklin, has come into Stuart’s father life, the only one since his mother passed away.

When a still grieving Stuart was called in by his father to meet the new woman his dad has been dating, Stuart finds himself liking her as well.  It turns out she has a gay son Stuart’s age who has just returned from assignment in the States.  So Stuart was not totally surprised to get a call from Paul Franklin who wants to vet the man (and the man’s son) who has turned his mother’s head.

Paul Franklin considers himself taken.  His lover, Ben, has remained back in the States but Ben is curiously unavailable when Paul has tried to contact him.  Unsettled by his lover’s absence and silence, Paul, is startled to find himself attracted to the sad, gentle man who agrees to meet him to discuss their parents.  Paul’s not the only one shocked by their mutual attraction.  Stuart feels like he is betraying Mark’s memory by the emotions meeting Paul has engendered.

Two men tied by their parents relationship , guilt and uncertainty.  Can they move forward together?  Can they trust the emotions each makes the other feel?  When life offers a second chance at love, will they take it or let it pass by?

Second Helpings is a gentle tale of loss and love by Charlie Cochrane, a favorite m/m historical author of mine.  A contemporary tale, Second Helpings, charts the pain of losing your partner and relationship and the struggle to move forward when you have a chance to live and love once more.  Both main characters have a similar love situations and family histories but with an important difference.   Stuart Collins lost his loving partner in a car crash and his adored mother to cancer.  His home life and coming out were supportive and without drama.  The loss of Mark as well as his Mother have cut into him deeply.  Paul’s romance is on hold, a loss of immediacy and of contact.  His lover, Ben, has remained behind in the US and has been out of contact with Paul, not answering emails, phone messages and what have you.  Paul lost his father years prior but without the same sense of loss as his family situation and upbringing were vastly difference from Stuart’s.  That variance in family life has left both men with strikingly different viewpoints about relationships and partners.

I love Charlie Cochrane’s ability to bring forth portraits of real human beings under stressful conditions.  There is no explosive drama to be found here other than that of two men floundering about in their personal lives, each stymied by emotional blockades and miscommunications.  Oh and pride as well.  Cochrane has Stuart and Paul making such tentative steps forward, then one huge tumultuous one that shakes everyone up.  What is so lovely and recognizable about this story and Cochrane’s writing is that all the missed steps and romantic blinders these men have put on seem familiar and true.  And when they make a hash of it in the bargain, whether it be arguments or self delusional shielding, we get that too.  We might not like it, but we certainly can understand  the all too real authenticity of the snaps and cracks at each other.

There are certainly moments here that let you know this is a British author and story.  I had to look up what a secondment actually meant (it’s a transfer).  There is the usual biscuit for cookies and the utterly charming way the British put their phones on Discreet instead of the American blunt term of Mute.  Those touches makes me smile and appreciate our differences as well as our  similarities.

What might throw you off the story?  The oddly formal narrative at the beginning of the story.  It almost feels as though it came from another author and  book as the language and flow is dramatically different from the main body of the story.   Move past that and you are into the narrative and able to enjoy a lovely beginning to a romance between two men in desperate need of a new future for them both.  There is no case of “instant love” thankfully.  That would be a disservice to the emotional back history Cochrane has given to both men.    What the author delivers feels as painful and down to earth as life makes it. She gives them hope and a chance at love and families that adore them in a story that makes for a terrific read.  Who could want for more?

Cover artist:  Amber Shah.  I like the cover.  The blue tone is certainly in keeping with the storyline and characters.

Buy Links:             Riptide Publishing               All Romance eBooks (ARe)            Amazon Second Helpings

Book Details:

ebook, 140 pages
Published July 21st 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491526
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/second-helpings

On Tour Today: Get Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane (contest)

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SecondHelpings_TourBanner(1)

Look who’s stopping by today at ScatteredThoughts!  If you hear a tinkling of the tea cup, that’s a hint because Charlie Cochrane, one of my favorite authors (see my reviews for The Cambridge Fellows Mysteries), is hear to talk about her latest release Second Helpings.  Charlie has also brought along a giveaway for you all.

Contest:

There’s two ways to win today! Comment below for a chance to win an ebook from Charlie Cochrane’s backlist (excluding Second Helpings), and a mix of summer seaside goodies! AND you can also enter at Rafflecopter.  That gets you entered too.  Or do both for a double entry!  Go wild!  But you still must be 18 years of age or older to enter!  Good luck to all.

Now here’s Charlie Cochrane on Second Helpings and Soundtracks:

 

I’m thrilled skinny to be dropping in here as part of the Second Helpings blog tour. A million thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me as a guest.

***
A Soundtrack to Second Helpings

I’ve often seen blog posts about stories that focus on music. What the author listened to when writing the book, or what inspired them to write it in the first place, what songs the characters like or key music for key plot points.

I’ve not done one of these before, not least because I rarely think of a story in terms of songs and if I wrote a “what I listened to as I wrote this” list it would be something uninteresting, like:

Saracens vs London Irish, rugby
Leicestershire vs Hampshire, cricket
Round the Horne
Busman’s Honeymoon, with Lord Peter Wimsey.

Second Helpings is an exception, though. I have a song I associate with Stuart and what he’s feeling about his partner Mark, who died in a traffic accident a year before this story starts. That song is “I Find Your Love” by Beth Nielsen Chapman, and it’s a stunning portrayal of grief, remembrance and the loss of a loved one. Stuart hasn’t moved, yet, to the point where he finds much comfort in the memories of Mark, but he certainly gets reminded of the man in many things, even in something as simple as the burgeoning fruit on the plum tree in the garden.

Is there a song for Paul? Maybe Eric Clapton’s “Who do you love?” although Paul isn’t certain there is another man in his (maybe ex) partner Ben’s life. What I really need is a mash-up of songs like “Private Number”, “Call me” and “Busy Line”, or something like ELO’s lovely “Telephone Line” or Elvis’s “Return to Sender” revamped for the digital age.

I seem to be on a roll now. Maybe I should do this for more of my guys?

***
Old kitchen table rural cottage morningAbout Second Helpings:
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?

Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.

***
Author Bio:  As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, 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, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

To contact/follow Charlie Cochrane, you can do any of the following:

***
About Second Helpings
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?
Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.
***

SecondHelpings_150x300Book Details:

Author: Charlie Cochrane
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-152-6
eBook release: Jul 21, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Word count: 36,800
Page count: 146
Type: Standalone
Cover by: Amber Shah
- See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/second-helpings#sthash.ILe0FYqM.dpuf
For all the Second Helpings Tour Stops, visit Riptide Publishing.

 

 

 

Giveaway:
There’s two ways to win today! Comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my backlist (excluding Second Helpings), and a mix of summer seaside goodies! AND you can also use the link below and enter twice!
Enter the Rafflecopter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YThmY2QyMTMwZGEwMGQ2MzU3MWZhNDI0MjFlOTM1OjE0 Rafflecopter Link
Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

In the Author Spotlight: Mickie B. Ashling on her Polo Series, the Forget Me Not Tour! (contest)

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Mickie B. Ashling FMN Tour Banner

Mickie B. Ashling has stopped by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords today as part of her Forget Me Not Book Tour and happily stayed to answer a few, ok more than a few questions.

In addition, Mickie is giving away a digital copy of either Fire Horse or Ride-Off to one lucky commenter; winner gets to choose book and format.  To enter to win leave a comment below with an email address where you can be reached if chosen.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Contest ends  July 30th at midnight EDT.  

Here is our interview!

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Thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear on your blog to talk about the novels that make up my Polo Series: Fire Horse, and the sequel, Ride-Off.

STRW:  Both Fire Horse and Ride-Off are centered in the world of Polo.  Why this sport?

Mickie:
I grew up in the Philippines where the sport was, and continues to be, popular amongst a small segment of society. Brothers and cousins of classmates played the game, and I became involved through association. I wore the fancy outfits, attended the victory parties, and listened to the gossip accompanying each win. High goal players from all over the world flew in for the tournaments, and it was my good fortune to be in the vicinity for some memorable matches. A lot of the famous folk I mentioned in Fire Horse (i.e. Sultan of Brunei) were regular visitors. Like my character Flea (Preston), I became enthralled with the sport and the men who played it.

STRW:  A love of horses is apparent in both stories.  Where did that come from?

Mickie:

Horses have always fascinated me. Unfortunately, my mother had an irrational fear of horseback riding, and horses in general, and she was positively convinced I would have an accident and be crippled for life if I ever sat on one. Fortunately for me, my first husband didn’t share her opinion, and he encouraged me to take riding lessons early in our marriage. I soon realized that some of my mother’s anxieties had rubbed off, and I wasn’t confident on horseback, but my love for the animals never wavered.

STRW:  There are intergenerational love stories here.  How did that come about?  Why was that important to the series?

Mickie:

Polo players start young, but the majority of high goal players, who travel the world to compete, are usually more mature. They’ve earned their rankings through years of sacrifice, and I wanted to write about such a man—someone who’d jumped through hoops to get to the top of his game. Like any sport, it takes perseverance, dedication, and practice, but, unlike other sports, maintaining a string of ponies, and the accompanying lifestyle, is impossible without a solid financial base. It wouldn’t have been realistic to have a penniless twenty-something year-old become the main character. That being said, I wanted my MCs to be weathered and carry the scars of their journey to the top; a love story spanning decades.

STRW:  There are many locations abroad used in these stories.  How much research went into your novels?  Did you visit those places?

Mickie:

I’ve been to many of the cities I included in these two novels, but I didn’t grow up in Texas and have yet to visit Hungary. There was a lot of research involved in trying to make these novels as realistic as possible, but I consider that a part of my job as a writer. Weaving my own life experience with research is what makes the literary journey so exciting—I can go anywhere and be whoever I want—if I query the right people and dig through the proper archives.

STRW:  How many novels are planned for this series or is it open ended?

Mickie:

I have one more novel planned, but in truth, I never say never. There are many story arcs to be explored. Sasha and Jeremy, Ned and Bandy, Paloma and God only knows at this point. Pres and Kon continue to be the favorites, and I’ve been asked why they didn’t have more on-page time in Ride-Off, but after their excruciating journey to happiness in Fire Horse, I wanted to show them in a reasonably happy place.
STRW:  Do you have favorite characters in this series?

Mickie:

Preston is my favorite character, and Jeremy, from Ride-Off is a close second.

STRW:  Hero or antihero?  Which do you find more interesting?

Mickie:

Definitely antihero. I’ve always enjoyed writing broken characters. A hot mess is far preferable to a perfectly good boy, because the payoff at the end is much more rewarding and a heck of a lot more fun.

STRW:  How long have you been writing M/M romance?

Mickie:

Like many other writers in this genre, I got my start in fan fiction. My first online stories appeared in 2007. Horizons was my first published novel and that released in 2009. Since then, I’m proud to say I have published fifteen full-length novels, and that doesn’t include the foreign translations of Taste and Daddio.

STRW:  Why this contemporary fiction as opposed to other genres?

Mickie:

M/M inspires me like nothing else, and to paraphrase so many female authors who write in this genre, why not? As Anne Rice has proven over and over, you don’t have to be a vampire to write a memorable bloodsucker. I may wake up tomorrow and decide to write an M/F novel (highly unlikely) or YA (improbable). My sons keep on hoping I’ll be respectable one day and write a bestseller like Fifty Shades of Grey. The first time I heard that suggestion from son #3 I laughed till I cried. I told him to pick up my BDSM novel Impacted if he had a thing for whips and chains. After seeing the cover of that particular book you can understand the look of horror I received. It was priceless.

I’d like to thank my publicist, Joleen, from Parenthetical Author Services for making my beautiful banner and setting up my blog tour. Self-promotion is a necessary evil that is time consuming and a little daunting to those of us who rarely stick their noses out of the writing cave. Joleen makes my life a lot easier, and for anyone out there who suffers from my affliction, I’d recommend a publicist to spare you time and anxiety. It’s been a joy to have her in my corner. You can contact her here:  joleen@parentheticalauthorservices.com.

Thank you, Mickie, for that great interview.  For your information, I have listed the blurbs and info from Fire Horse and Ride Off, the preceding novels in this series, after the author bio below.

Author Bio:
Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

Contact/follow Mickie B. Ashling at:

Buy Links     Dreamspinner Press     Kobobooks  Barnes and Noble   All Romance Ebooks  Amazon

 

 

Fire Horse                   Ride Off

 

Fire Horse coverFire Horse (Polo #1):

PoloBook One

Preston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club. Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor. The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.

The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored. Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.

Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans. How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?

 

 

Ride-Off coverRide Off (Polo #2):

Polo: Book Two – Sequel to Fire Horse

Finally reunited, Preston Fawkes and Konrad Schnell put family and obligations aside, preferring to remain in seclusion on Ned’s estate to get reacquainted. Unfortunately, reality can only be held off for so long, and they return to Texas to reclaim the life they put on pause. Trying to strike the right balance between business, family, and romance requires ongoing effort, and the challenges begin shortly after they arrive.

At the top of the list is Bandi, Konrad’s son, and his desire to play polo. A close second is Conrad “Sasha” Fawkes, Preston’s actor son who’s struggling to succeed on Broadway. And last, but certainly not least, is Paloma, the fiery Argentinean beauty Preston sired after a passionate tango.

Blending the interests and needs of three grown children is difficult at best and almost impossible when agendas collide and old secrets are unearthed. The situation comes to a head when the family gathers in San Antonio for Thanksgiving, throwing Preston and Konrad into a maelstrom they must weather as best they can, or they’ll face a major ride-off that could throw the game before it even starts.

Review: Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) (Pulp Friction 2014 #11) by Havan Fellows

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blown HardRowen Smithe and Mick Rutger are men that come with their own special brand of complications and impressive set of problems attached to each of them.   Rowen Smithe wears his some complexities and special issues like clothing. But not all.  Rowen’s other problems, like the voice in his head, are more deeply buried and waiting to come out.

Mick Rutger’s sunny disposition and impetuous manner is hiding a past that he hoped he had buried when Mick came to Mountain Shadows.  Rowen Smithe, his neighbor and new love interest, has finally agreed to a dinner cooked by Mick and that is all he has been thinking about.  But the dinner and its aftermath have left a wake of new problems for them both.

While Mick is weighing his next move and Rowen is doing his best to hide, an old enemy arrives at the campground.  The winds of change are blowing strong.  Who will be left standing after the storm has passed?

In Rowen Smithe, Havan Fellows has created a character that continues to surprise me with each new layer of his persona that comes to the surface in the Whispering Winds series.  A cruel and dismissive voice in his head?  Check.  Self appointed guardian of the woods who will use any means at his disposal to keep all safe? Check.  An overwhelming need to hide from all but a few? Check.  Paranoid, competant, intelligent, and gorgeous.  But is he sane?  Hmmm.  Not sure.  He is the gift of a conundrum that keeps on giving.  And boy, does he do that in spades here.  Do I love this character?  Indeed I do.

Havan Fellows has then paired him up with as unlikely a fellow as could be.  I often think of Mick Rutger as a human Golden Retriever.  Affable, good hearted, loyal, and fun to have around, Mick’s impetuous nature can get him into trouble.  Handsome, quick to laugh, too quick to act, and an attention span that….squirrel…..that wanders.  He is almost impossible to dislike even when you are sighing in dismay over something that he has done or said.  And of all things to grab his attention, that would be the dark question mark of Mountain Shadows, Rowen Smithe.  It’s a fascinating, unlikely, and perilous combination that has made this series a compulsive read for me in every way.

For the last two stories, Fellows has kept these two unlikely mates in a fight and flee sort of pattern.  Mostly with Rowen fleeing. Whether it is into his cabin, into the woods or up his tree or all three combined, Mick has had to make the decision to follow when Rowen leads or pursue where Rowen has fled.  It’s been funny, sad, and totally entertaining.  But now a tentative peace has been obtained and Rowen has made the huge commitment to each food someone else has cooked and attend a dinner/date at Mick’s cabin that has been especially prepared for him.  To understand just how big a decision that is for Rowen, you have to read the preceding stories.  That’s how Blown Hard starts off and then quickly turns into something totally unexpected and sort of shocking when yet another dimension of Rowen is revealed to Mick and the reader.  And neither of us was prepared for it.

Fellow’s narrative is concise, taut, and it flows quickly from start to finish, barely pausing for us to gasp at the shocks along the way.  This is the darkest of all the stories to date and the most compelling to read.

This is a story of the perceived cracks in people’s characters that become exposed for the deep and camouflaged crevices they always were.  And it’s not just Rowen’s flaws and elements of his character that are exposed here but some of Mick’s as well.  This story is so well titled because Havan Fellows’s hard winds blow through the plot, scrapping away superficial notions and assumptions you have made about these people (and ones that they have made about each other) to leave something very fundamental and naked exposed at the end.  It will leave you in a state of disbelief and in immediate need for more.

I need more.  Much, much more.  So will you.  This (and the whole Pulp Friction 2014 author series) is a must read.  But please, dont’ start here.  Go running to the first book in the series.  Grab it and prepare yourself for a wonderful rollercoaster ride of emotions, romance and explosive secrets!  I have listed all the stories, all the authors and their interconnected series for 2014 below.  Use it as a check list, don’t miss out on any of them.

Definitely one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Highly Recommended Stories, and Series of the Year!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I love these covers and Laura Harner has done a beautiful job of branding not only the series and all the Pulp Friction 2014 Mountain Shadows interconnected series.

Buy Links:        All Romance eBooks (ARe)             Amazon     Blown Hard

Book Details:

ebook, First, 58 pages
Published June 15th 2014 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ASINB00L02WUR8
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #11, Whispering Winds

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four: 

Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five: to be released

Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors
charactersFinn Lorensso

 

 

 

 

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