A VVivacious Review: Sex in C Major by Matthew J. Metzger

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
 
I really can’t write an adequate blurb for this one. My fumbling attempt at writing one for this book yielded this –
“Stefan is a transgender male who has fantasies that could get him killed especially combined with his mile long issues. When a chance encounter with Daz seems to get him exactly what he wants, will he finally come to terms with what he wants or will it take something very different to force Stefan to recognise himself?”
…just read the blurb, its pretty spot on.
 
I finished reading this book on the 4th of June and as I sit down to write this review it is the 8th of June. I have taken a lot of time to assimilate my thoughts regarding this book and I still don’t think I have grasped them all. Reading this book feels like an experience. It’s the kind of book that pulls you kicking and screaming into its world and wrings you out till all you can do is absorb everything this book has to offer. This book is a sensory overload and that might be the most truthful thing I think there is to say about this book.
 
Regarding the warnings that come with this book, while this book is pretty dark and overwhelming with emotions and frankly pulls you in a million different directions it didn’t even come close to my limits so I on the whole didn’t have to deal with discomfort when I read it, but I feel that for a lot of people this is going to be a significant aspect of this book. This book is bare bones reality it doesn’t cover up anything nothing fades to back and everything is starkly defined so there is no getting away. So when you pick up this book heed the warnings.
 
When I started reading the book it was like reading the book you love to hate. I had a million problems with this book when I started it but if I have to be true to myself I realise that I loved the book then as well. But at that point, in the beginning, there was so much I had a problem with. Stefan harps on normal so much in the beginning of this book that I hated seeing the word come up in the text and it comes up a lot. Also Stefan has some extremely outdated views on woman and it felt really wrong to hear those from him. One of the biggest wins for me in this book was when Daz sets the record straight on that account. It instantaneously made me respect Daz even when I was in the love to hate phase with this book. Initially I felt like this author isn’t for me because I have read another book by this author and I didn’t like that much but this book proved me wrong in that regard.
 
The best thing this book has to offer is undoubtedly Yannis. Reading a character like him made me realise why diversity is so important because looking at the world from a different perspective can be beyond enlightening it can be transcendent. He is the kind of character that you don’t even know you want to read about till you have met him and then you realise how much you were missing when you finally do. When Yan fights it’s something so amazing.
 
Yan and Daz’s relationship has got to be the most mind boggling relationship of all times because it is missing all the tradition elements that you find in relationships. It is a sexual and romantic relationship but only from one side of the equation and the other side is completely indifferent. While indifferent is the word that comes to mind it has also made me realise that love is more than romance and sex and while those are the two things that love is most often related with and for some people romance + sex = love it is nice to meet a couple that doesn’t fit the former part of the equation at all but still manages the latter. I loved the fact that these two characters loved each other without their Love being love. It’s truly made me realise that Love is so much more than our mind can comprehend and it truly is something else, more than you know, more than you can imagine and is the most unclassifiable thing in the world.
 
Daz is a quintessential male. While writing this review the thing that comes to mind when I think of Daz is a classical romance hero who is nice but dark except Daz’s so called darkness isn’t an indefinable something but something you are made familiar with in the very beginning of the book. He is dangerous and he is sweet. I loved his sweet and cuddly moments and it’s very funny to think of the fact that he is the only romantic one in the relationship he shares with Yan because he is kind of the guy in books who is the least interested in romance but in this book if he wants romance he has to grab it with both hands. Irony thou art funny.
 
Stefan is the one character in this book who was not an instant favourite. Initially his very skewed view on cis gendered people was really getting to me and then his obsession with normal was maddening. The only thing that I could understand of Stefan’s initially was his kink. I got his need for it and I also got his hatred for it and how he would let his want for it made him go crazy but when the want was fulfilled it would leave him defiled. One of the things that Stefan learns during the course of this book was to let be, to not let his impression of normal prevent him from living his life the way he wants to live it. There is a conversation between Daz and Stefan which in a very overly simplified manner amounts to Stefan harping on the fact that he wasn’t normal and Daz telling him to get over it, to get over the fact that he enjoyed things others wouldn’t consider normal because the fact was that he enjoyed them, so he should and fuck anyone else who thinks otherwise. Surprisingly I have been on Stefan’s end of this conversation and while what Daz was saying to Stefan is exactly what I wanted to say to Stefan I also understand how hard it is to just let go of your beliefs no matter how wrong they may be, so Stefan’s struggles made a unique impact.
 
There is this scene at the end of the book which is really intense. I read two reviews that I read before reading this book both in their own way propelled me to read the book. I only read one line of the second review and that said DNF @98%. Now this was really surprising for me and insanely for who would possibly stop reading a book just before it’s about to end. So yeah there is something at the end of the book that could possibly be distressing enough to just DNF the book on the spot, but for me while the scene is intense it also fits the story and the characters, it is not jarring and it didn’t feel unreal in fact I am very surprised how naturally that scene flowed. But I guess this scene will be the source of quite a lot of debate. Personally for me Daz and Stefan’s sex life is something I completely understand. I get both the desire to submit to the extent Stefan wants to as well as the desire to call something someone yours.
 
Whenever I think of this book I think of colours so bright you feel you can touch them.
 
This book is like notes on a page when you play the notes some will hear a noise while others will hear the symphony.
 
Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I loved the attention to detail in the cover. It is an amazing cover.
Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 426 pages
Published May 27th 2017 by JMS Books LLC
Original TitleSex in C Major
ASINB06Y1QZP55
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: The Interborough (A Five Boroughs Story) by Santino Hassell and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5
The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.
 
I know I’m in the minority here, but Ray and David were my least favorite couple in this series.  I really didn’t have much interest in reading more about them but the author promised more Nunzio so I was here in a hot minute.  I have to say this turned out to be a really enjoyable story and I’m super glad I read it.
 
These two have been together over a year at the time this takes place and they are really struggling.  Ray is working himself ragged with two jobs and school and David’s struggling with insecurities due to a number of things.  The book starts with them in a bad place and things only go down hill.  I probably say this in every review of this author’s work but I think his number one strength is his ability to make his characters feel so real.  He writes every day, average people who are flawed and who you can relate to in different ways.  There’s a saying in marriage therapy that there is “your side, their side and the truth”.  This was the case here.  Ray and David are both trying but they see everything differently and they were both wrong.  But they were also both right.  Anyone who’s been in a long term relationship knows how hard it can be sometimes.  There’s even a discussion at one point about how love is not always enough to make a relationship work and I think a lot of us know how true that can be.  So, there’s some angst here. There’s a bit of heartache for both of the MC’s.  But, there’s also some beauty in the rawness of their emotions.  These two work for their hea but that just makes seeing them get it so much more beautiful.
Hands down though, my favorite part of the book was the epilogue.  That was everything!  Maybe my favorite thing this author has ever written.  I enjoyed this entire book but even if I hadn’t have, it would have all been worth it just for the epilogue.  
I had originally read this book when it first came out but wanted to try it on audio, mostly for the epilogue part.  This was narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo and I have to say it was a fantastic narration.  He took this book to another level and his narration made Ray and David come to life. Every bit of humor, romance, sadness, anger, it was all here and it was packed with emotion.  I bought into these two and their romance way more in hearing it than I did in reading it. The audio took me from liking this story to loving this story.
This is the fourth book in this series and should not be read as a standalone.  It is basically a continuation of the book Sunset Park.  You would definitely need to read at least that one before you read this.  If you’re a fan of this series I definitely recommend this audio.  It was just wonderful.
The cover was done by Mel Seser and I think it was nicely done.  The same model was used for all the books in the series about the Rodriguez brothers and I think that was a great move.  It ties them all together nicely and is a good representation of the characters.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 1 page
Published May 15th 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 24th 2016)
Original TitleInterborough
ASINB071VP1NQ4
SeriesFive Boroughs #4

An Alisa Review: Forest of Thorns and Claws by JT Hall

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Donovan McGinnis, a veterinarian and conservationist at a research center in Sumatra, is fighting to save the rainforest from poachers and politicians alike. One day he discovers a tigress trapped by a snare, and while treating her injuries, she bites him. He becomes ill with strange symptoms that leave him feverish and dreaming of the jungle and blood.

 

Kersen and his family are part of the Siluman harimau, a clan of tiger shifters hidden away in a secret village near the rainforest. When Kersen’s sister is caught, he knows he must free her before she infects someone with their magic and reveals their secret.

 

But Donovan has already been turned, and only time will tell if he can control the tiger within. Kersen must help him, but will the fierce attraction between the pair bring ruin to them all? With the rainforest under threat from outside forces, they may be doomed anyway, unless Kersen and Donovan can find a way to defeat the danger from inside and out.

 

This was a great story that was based on many real facts about tigers in Sumatra.  This story has a lot of action but learning about the real situation that tigers live in gives the story a more serious undertone.

 

Donovan spends his days trying to protect the rainforest in different ways while Kersen tries to keep their existence hidden to the world.  Donovan is drawn to Kersen from the first time they meet and doesn’t understand it.  When he ends up chasing Kersen and learning of the changes going on in his body he is astounded but wants to keep everyone safe just as he always has.  They fight a very real danger of losing their home if they can’t find a way to work together.

 

We get to see both of these characters’ thoughts and emotions throughout this story.  Donovan is frustrated with the government and gets even more so when he has more lives than just the wild tigers and other animals he has been trying to save to think of.  Kersen doesn’t understand his pull towards Donovan at first but even as he tells himself he won’t he jumps head first into their mating without even telling Donovan that is happening.  Their relationship is just what both of them have been longing for and they are able to bring more people together to work on fighting to save their home.

 

Cover art by LC Chase is great and gives nice visuals of the characters in both human and tiger form.

 

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 247 pages

Published: May 15, 2017 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 9781626495869

Edition Language: English

 

In the Spotlight: Sean Michael on The Dom’s Way (author interview and excerpt)

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The Dom’s Way (Iron Eagle Gym #5) by Sean Michael
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press: eBookand Paperback |

Amazon |  Barnes & Noble |Kobo  

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sean Michael here today talking about books, writing and the latest in his Iron Eagle Gym series, The Dom’s Way.  Welcome, Sean.

✒︎

 

Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me today.

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

They live in my head, so there’s got to be some of me that goes into them. A lot of times there will be one or two little details about a character that comes from me. A favorite food, a habit, how they watch tv, that kind of thing.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I was, and still am, a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan. I tend not to write either of those. Maybe because that for me is entertainment? I don’t know, because I love writing and reading MM, too. Although, really, if asked I’d still say that sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

The more my characters hurt, the faster I write. Once I hit angst, I hate leaving them there and I write like a fiend until I get them through it.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I love HEA (and I’ll take HFN). Everyone deserves their happy ending. Besides, there’s so much terrible stuff in the world, it’s important to me that the books I write add happiness.

  • How do you choose your covers?

Each publisher is slightly different, but with Dreamspinner you fill out a form, and most of the time the artist manages to interpret what I’ve written down into a great cover. I’m especially pleased with the Iron Eagle Gym covers – they are all clearly a part of the same series.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I have just submitted the next Iron Eagle Gym book – The Eager Boy. This one features Robin and Stack who make appearances in The Dom’s Way.

Sean Michael

smut fixes everything

Blurb

Neal and Way from The Closet Boy are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.

Excerpt

Neal stopped him in the stairwell, tilted his chin, and took a kiss, tongue slipping into his mouth. “I love you. And I want to know how the plug feels inside you.”

“It’s really there. Like pressing on my hole. I’m worried it’ll fall out.”

“You have underwear and jeans to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I think you’ll keep it in under your own power.”

“I can’t believe we’re talking about this. This is where I work.” He wanted to curl into Neal and hide.

“Well, there’s no one around, and this isn’t just any place.” Neal hugged him tight. “Given what goes on here, I don’t think a little conversation about a plug is going to shock anyone.”

Way gave in to temptation and snuggled in. How on earth had he ended up here—on the run from parents who believed he was going to Hell for kissing a boy to working for a gym with a gay BDSM clientele?

He knew his parents would say he’d lost his way entirely, but he liked to think he’d gotten lucky.

About the Author

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

SA Stovall on Writing, Books and her novel Vice City (author interview)

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Vice City (Vice City #1) by S.A. Stovall
DSP Publications
Cover art by Aaron Anderson

BUY LINKS FOR VICE CITY

DSP Publications: https://tinyurl.com/ycumb5d2
Amazon:
https://tinyurl.com/yagll39f
Barnes & Noble:
https://tinyurl.com/y7tuowhk
Google Play:
https://tinyurl.com/yajyrwt9
Kobo:
https://tinyurl.com/ycu3wnl6

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host S.A. Stovall here on tour for her debut novel, Vice City.  Welcome, S.A.!

 

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with SA Stovall~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

13%

Nah, I’m joshing.

For the most part, I try not to put a lot of myself into a character. I’ve never written a character that was an author, gamer, or attorney (the three life roles I identify with) and I have a lot of odd mannerisms that I never write into my stories (saying kooky things, living a hermit lifestyle, talking to myself, etc.).

That being said, I use my life experiences to shape characters, and sometimes an odd phrase of mine will slip through. 

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue, or should I say Gary Stu, and using your own experiences to create a character?

No, not really.

From my understanding, a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character is a self-insert that lacks flaws, is admired by their peers, and is often the key to solving the story’s dilemma (either by being the chosen one, or by being soooo much smarter than the villain, you guys).

Like I said above, I try not to write myself as a character, but if I did, I would need to write several flaws. I’m somewhat awkward, a little too literal, and if I don’t eat something after I wake up, I tend to get hangry (hungry + angry).  Not the Mary Sue type.

And I imagine that’s the same with everyone. Everyone has flaws. If an author is using their own experiences (honestly) there’s no way they can avoid their flaws, which would defeat the definition of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Even if I make up my own world and cultures, I still end up doing a lot of research. I like my fantasy/speculative fiction to carry some real-world parallels. Additionally, I’m not an expert on everything (though that would be cool) and I tend to read a fair deal of information, even for minor scenes, just to make sure I get them accurate.

That being said, research isn’t all parties and confetti. It’s like editing—I’ve got to do it, no matter how soul-draining it can be. I know it’s all worth it in the end, however. I can be proud of the finished product, and that’s what matters.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

The first book I read and fell in love with was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. It sparked my imagination like no other books had—to this day I remember the impact it had on my thoughts.

After that, I read a ton of fantasy and science fiction, especially anything with animals (Rats of NIMH, Watership Down, Plague Dogs) or with darker themes and characters (Black Jewels Trilogy, Dune, Ender’s Game, 1984).

I would definitely say these novels have an influence on my work. I love dark, gritty themes, and one day I’ll write my own animal novel, just you wait and see!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer Happily Ever After. That being said, I also like a few stories that end in straight tragedy, but those two aren’t as dissimilar as some might think.

I like definitive endings. It’s good, or it’s bad, I don’t want wonder.

Happy For Now endings are filled with uncertainty. Will the future be okay? Will it all fall apart? I don’t want to think about that. I like knowing!

How do you choose your covers?  (Curious on my part)

Well, my publisher was gracious enough to hire an artist, and I sent said artist a written out description of what would be my ideal cover. Then the artist got back to me with a few mock-ups.

When I look at the mock-ups, I go with my first gut reaction. Did I like it? Did I trust it? Then I focus in on the details. What’s going on here? Is it clear? Does it get the tone across?

The cover for my novel, Vice City, captures the tone to a T. It’s dark, atmospheric, and it’s set in a gritty cityscape. I fear it may scare people away, in all seriousness, but I want people to know Vice City is a noir-style thriller, not a light-n-fluffy crime drama.

What’s next for you as an author?

Lots and lots! The sequel to Vice City, titled Vice Enforcer, is already set for publication April 2018. Additionally, I have several novels with my agent, and three more in the works. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my adoring fans (*waves to the two people on twitter* – Vice City is my debut novel – doesn’t mean I can’t pretend).

BLURB FOR VICE CITY

After twenty years as an enforcer for the Vice family mob, Nicholas Pierce shouldn’t bat an eye at seeing a guy get worked over and tossed in the river. But there’s something about the suspected police mole, Miles, that has Pierce second-guessing himself. The kid is just trying to look out for his brother any way he knows how, and the altruistic motive sparks an uncharacteristic act of mercy that involves Pierce taking Miles under his wing.

Miles wants to repay Pierce for saving his life. Pierce shouldn’t see him as anything but a convenient hookup… and he sure as hell shouldn’t get involved in Miles’s doomed quest to get his brother out of a rival street gang. He shouldn’t do a lot of things, but life on the streets isn’t about following the rules. Besides, he’s sick of being abused by the Vice family, especially Mr. Vice and his power-hungry goon of a son, who treats his underlings like playthings.

So Pierce does the absolute last thing he should do if he wants to keep breathing—he leaves the Vice family in the middle of a turf war.

AUTHOR BIO

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.

Twitter: @GameOverStation

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com

Release Day Blitz for A Way with Words by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Way with Words

Series: A Way With Stories Series

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self Pub

Release Date: June 22

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 24k approximately

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Humor, New York City

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

 

Tony De Luca is a simple guy. He works for his uncle’s Brooklyn-based construction firm. And he knows from experience that keeping his head down and doing his job is the best way to deal with the meddlesome family members he sees daily. They think he’s quiet and maybe a little awkward but the truth is more complicated. Tony has a secret he isn’t ready or willing to share. He’s an expert at avoiding familial scrutiny. At least he was until the sexy guitar player showed up.
Remy Nelson is a small-town, free-spirited guy looking for a new life in the big city. He stays busy playing his instrument on a busy Manhattan street corner during the day and bartending at night. Remy is more interested in finding steady employment than a mate, but he can’t deny his attraction to the dreamy construction worker with soulful eyes, a kind heart, and a unique way with words. Falling for Remy wasn’t what Tony expected, but keeping him will require courage. And an end to keeping secrets.

 

Excerpt

“Yeah, that’s no fun. But it’s good to make new friends.” He gave me a sideways grin. “Like us.”

“Yeah, except you make me sweat,” I admitted with a half chuckle. Then I added, “In a good way. I like you.”

Remy hummed softly and sidled closer to me, resting his thigh against mine. “I like you too, Tony. You make me smile.”

We stared at each other for a long moment. All those funny details came rushing at me. Things I never noticed about other people. The gorgeous halo of curls, the shape of his eyes, the freckle on his cheek and those luscious lips. The lone bulb above the back door illuminated him in a yellowish light that shouldn’t have been flattering but I had a feeling Remy would look good with a paper bag on his head. Wait. That didn’t make sense. I furrowed my brow and cocked my head just as Remy set his arm over my shoulder and pulled me forward.

My heart raced when the tips of our noses brushed and our breath commingled visibly in the cool air. With a courage I didn’t know I possessed, I angled my head and slowly touched my lips to his. Just a touch. He had room to pull away. Hell, he even had room to punch me if I got this totally wrong. But when he purred softly and licked the corner of my mouth, I knew we were on the same page.

I cradled the back of his head and gently threaded my fingers through his hair. I held him like he was a fragile flower or something. Then in my typical bull-in-a-china-store style, I plunged my tongue between his lips. Remy gasped at the onslaught but he didn’t miss a beat. He wrapped both of his arms around my neck, drawing me close as he glided his tongue over mine, twirling and sucking feverishly.

I didn’t know how long we made out on that stoop but I could have done it all damn night. He tasted incredible and he felt even better. I loved the way he pressed his chest against mine and those sexy noises he made drove me wild. I wanted more than we were able to do on a cigarette break. Much more.

We broke for air and eyed each other, looking for clues. Or maybe that was just me. I couldn’t be the one in charge of directing traffic here. I was out of my depth. He had to tell me what came next. I’d never figure it out on my own. Remy caressed my cheek and smiled before leaning in to nibble on my bottom lip.

“I have to go,” he whispered.

“Okay. I’ll see ya ’round.” My huskier than usual voice didn’t mesh with the casual vibe I was going for.

Remy pulled back with a smirk. “That’s all you’re going to say? “See ya”? Don’t you want my number or something?”

“Um yeah. Yeah, I do.” I pulled out my cell and handed it to him. “Put it in. My hands are shaking.”

This time when he smiled, I felt it deep inside me. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered like crazy but in a good way.

Available for Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Patron by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

Patron by C.B. Lewis was a terrific novelette!  I wasn’t expecting to be quite as captivated by Theodore and his mythological lover as I was.  Lewis weaves a tale of increasing mystery, personal exploration, faith and love set within Victorian England. The author lets us know that Theodore has an open mind and heart by giving him a friend (half Indian) that British society of those times looks down upon. John and his wife (a couple I was swift to take to heart) are Theodore’s best and perhaps only friends.  John even has knowledge of Theodore’s leanings (never acted upon really)  towards men instead of women.    Theodore’s life changes one evening when he lays a coin down at the feet of Hermes, wishing for luck and the best speech of his life during a gathering of great and influential men. Theodore emotes brilliantly.  And the story takes off.

Lewis does a beautiful job of capturing the details of 1860 England, right down to the boarding house where Theodore lives and the clothes he wears.  From the lower to upper levels, we get the entire picture (as much as you can skillfully lay down in 78 pages).  It’s a great atmosphere in which to bring out the wildly romantic mythic element.  It’s in keeping with the times, enraptured as they were with the classics and using Hermes instead of one of the other Greek gods was a usual choice but one I adored.

Little by little, we build up to the ending.  I thought it was exactly right.  But did I want more?  Yes, of course.  You will too.  Such a little gem, this is!

Patraon by C.B. Lewis is a quite, delightful read, especially for those who love the Greek classics, mythology and romance.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Blake Dorner.  Love, love this cover by Dorner.  Its perfect in every way.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 78 pages
Expected publication: June 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635335217
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review: Enlightened (Enlightenment Series #3) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*Happy sigh*

What a wonderful happy ending!  If you’ve read the first two books, you will be so satisfied with this culmination of David and Murdo’s story.  I’m a little sad to leave them behind, but there’s always another reread!

I also found that by the time I finished Enlightened, the titles of each book really started to have new meaning to me.  Provoked introduced David and Murdo not only to each other, but to a new type of attraction that neither had experienced before.  Beguiled showed them discovering new and increasingly fascinating aspects of each other, and letting down some of their internal barriers.  Enlightened found them realizing that not only was a relationship possible, but absolutely necessary, and a source of more happiness and contentment than they ever imagined.  The words, the titles, are a perfect description of the progression of their friendship and love.

The book opens with David still residing at Murdo’s estate at Laverock.  Their time there has been idyllic – a time of quiet companionship, physical exploration, growing mutual respect, and surprisingly an evolving business partnership.  Both men were aware of how fragile and fleeting this time was, but knew it had to come to an end eventually.  The end, however, came in an unexpected and somewhat tragic way when David’s old mentor and Elizabeth’s father, Patrick Chalmers, made a dying request:  for David to find Elizabeth and once again keep her safe from her abusive husband.  Doing so required David to travel to London, and quickly, and leave their protected life in a bubble behind.  Murdo had been putting off going to London for weeks, but he now had a good excuse to delay their parting, so he accompanied David.

London for David was just the place Elizabeth and Euan lived, a place for the job he had to do.  But London to Murdo was so much more – the site of his father’s political machinations and the mistakes that Murdo made trying to live up to his father’s expectations.  Also the place he hid a secret from David that he was afraid would tear them apart – the woman he was engaged to.

That is the only spoiler I will give in this review.  Once that little nugget of information was dropped, the pace of the book sped up and the resolution to their problems was striking, shocking, complete, and perfect.  I loved this description:

The knot of ropes that bound Murdo to his father was Gordian in its complexity and subtlety.  Tonight, Murdo had swept a sword through it, disdaining its cleverness.  Severing it with determination and without concern for the consequences.

With one swift stroke, all the pieces fell into place, and if there was sacrifice, it was worth it.  And they rode off into the Scottish highlands to live in peace and happiness.

I still love the cover art for the series, the models were perfect, but I wish they would have incorporated both models onto this final cover.  I thought Murdo deserved at least as much presence as David in this one…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published May 6th 2014)
ASINB071RK71MR
Series Enlightenment #3

A Caryn Review: Beguiled (Enlightenment Series #2) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Don’t you just love it when a sequel is even better than the original?  Provoked may have been a good book, but Beguiled just blew me away.  I can’t wait to read the last installment, so forgive me if this review seems a little rushed!

Those of you who read my reviews know that I am a huge fan of characterization, and falling in love with the characters is what makes me fall in love with a book.  I am so deeply invested in David and Murdo now, that I am already grieving leaving them behind when I finish book three.  Both men were introduced to the reader and to each other in the first book, and there was a subdued type of adventure going on that introduced the city of Edinburg, as well as all of the secondary characters who reappear in Beguiled.  What makes this second book so appealing to me is the deeper delving into the backgrounds and motivations of both men, the beginnings of their awareness of something new and different, and a slow sea change in attitude.  So, the rest of this review will barely touch on plot!

In Provoked, Murdo was presented as a typical aristocrat, blissfully ignoring the plight of the common man, devoted to pursuing pleasure without the sticky moral trappings of 19th century societal expectations.  He didn’t exactly toy with David, but he made it clear in the very beginning that what he and David had was purely physical attraction.  Although he had been able to dally with men in a bit freer fashion than David because of his wealth and status, emotional attachment was not something he wanted or even considered the first few times they met.  Murdo did not feel that same sex activity was immoral, and also found nothing wrong with marrying a woman while continuing to have sex with men.  David had a much more conventional set of principles, so he not only felt sinful by “indulging” in sex with men, but felt there was something perverted about him that he wanted it.  He viewed marriage as a sacred bond before God, so he would not even consider marrying a woman, much less being unfaithful to her with a man.  Although their motives were different, the result they expected was the same:  sex without emotional involvement.

Beguiled occurs two years after the events of Provoked.  In those two years, both David and Murdo found themselves thinking back on their brief time together in ways that surprised them – with a great deal of yearning, and a sense of something important irretrievably lost.  Meeting again was therefore much more emotional on both sides, and the two years apart broke down barriers in both men.  In this book, David’s inner conscience was much less vehement about declaring him a pervert for wanting men, and he was able to see that there was more between them than just lust and physical release.  Murdo was willing to accept that he wanted more from David, and found himself sharing secrets he never intended to as he opened himself.

Against this impassioned background, the historical events and adventure played out with a great deal more meaning than that of Provoked.  I liked how once again ideas such as universal suffrage and rights of women were presented as incredibly radical (it is so good to live in 2017!), and our heroes – who by nature of their homosexuality were already outside the norm – were willing to embrace those notions as well.

The only thing I really didn’t like about the plot was at the end when David did not tell Murdo his plans for the rescue, which didn’t really make sense when in all other ways they had become so trusting of and necessary for each other.  Painting that decision as another of David’s self-sacrificing moments just didn’t sit quite right with me.  Of course, it created a perfect set up for the next book, but I wish the author could have found a way to achieve those ends without David keeping Murdo in the dark.

On to the final book!

Cover art is again superb.  The model’s intense expression and partially shadowed face are perfect for Murdo.  Even the font of the title is ideal for the picture and the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published December 24th 2013)
Original TitleBeguiled
ASINB0722GJFD4
SeriesEnlightenment #2

A Caryn Review: Provoked (Enlightenment Series #1) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When this series was re-released by Joanna Chambers, I jumped at the chance to review them.  I read them initially a few years ago, and I remember that I thought this first book was only OK, although I ended up absolutely loving the rest of the series.  Rereading it, and knowing some of what was coming next, made me notice all of the ways the rest of the story arc was being set up in this book, that was not clear to me the first time around, and I have to say I enjoyed this book so much more for it!

The series starts with Provoked, told from the viewpoint of David Lauriston, in 1820s Edinburg, Scotland.  David is an advocate, a lawyer who deals with court cases, and at the beginning of the book he had just defended two men who were convicted of treason, hanged, and beheaded.  The case touched him deeply, as in its most basic form it represented the class struggle that was spreading widely throughout Britain during the Industrial Revolution.  David was the son of a farmer, and he and his family worked and sacrificed so that he could become educated as an advocate – though he could speak and act as a member of the middle class, he identified with the lower class.  Although the conviction for treason was almost a foregone conclusion, it was clear that the men were incited and betrayed by an agent provocateur – who got away scot free.

While David was working on getting drunk the night of the hangings, he met Murdo Balfour.  There was an instant physical attraction between the two men, and although David had consistently tried to deny that part of himself that wanted other men, he gave in because he needed the escape, and both men knew they wouldn’t meet again.  David was a little surprised to find Balfour giving him a  tenderness and connection that he had never encountered with a man before, and for the first time he felt regret upon walking away.

Weeks later, David was approached by Euan MacLennan, a man whose brother had also been involved in the case of treason, although his sentence was transport to the prison colonies in Australia rather than hanging.  Euan was determined to find Robert Lees, the agent provocateur he felt was responsible for leading the entire group of weavers into treason, and had a lead that brought him to Edinburg, but he needed David’s assistance to follow it.  David was absolutely opposed to revenge, but he felt responsible for Euan because he was unable to prevent his brother’s conviction, and he reluctantly agreed to help.

When the clues pointed to Lord Balfour, David was caught between his promise to Euan, and his growing certainty that Murdo was innocent.

This book really hit all of my buttons – the characters were complex, and faced with situations that challenged their beliefs.  The search for Lees really was only a backdrop to highlight the interaction and growing attraction between David and Murdo.  David had a very strict and upright moral code, was honest to a fault, but was generous and had a tendency to take on too much responsibility for all the wrongs he saw in the world.  He felt his attraction to men was not only wrong, but damning, and castigated himself every time he gave into temptation.  He didn’t know how to react to Murdo, who felt no shame at all in being with men, and seemed as helplessly drawn to David as David was to him.  Murdo’s point of view was not presented at all, but his responses and reactions to situations indicated a growing fascination with David and his opposing principles.

So even though I know what is coming – although I’ve forgotten many details – I can’t wait to dive into the next book.  I can’t wait to hear what Murdo thinks, and how the men will come together again!

I could not find who created the cover art, but it was perfect.  Granted, David is a red-head, but this model was ideal both in looks and expression, and is now how I think of him.  This cover is much improved over the previous one!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd edition, 202 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Joanna Chambers (first published July 23rd 2013)
ASIN B071YJ254F
Edition Language English