A Romance Must Have Heart! Romance Do’s! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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A Romance Must Have Heart! Romance Do’s!

A romance must have heart.  Seems like such a simple idea.  Such a central idea!  Shouldn’t every romance ideally have heart?  But you would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number of romances I read where the heart of the story, the love, the romance as it were was just left out of them.

Or bled out of it at some point by as aspect of the characters or their  romance or even the ending.

Maybe its the lack of chemistry between the characters that kills it, or the relationship dynamics themselves.  Doormats anyone?  I don’t have enough fingers for the amount of times reviewers have told them they just didn’t “like” either the development of a character or a romance between characters.  That it killed the story for them. No chemistry.

Sometimes its in the initial meeting of the characters.  Gay for me for example (a trope I’m not fond of). You “turned” gay for someone? Ugh no.  I far prefer gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual …those  stories where the person discovering their sexuality whatever that maybe.   Guess we are back to boxes and titles.  And treatments, of course.  That can do it as well.  Take a heart out of a story.

How about how the couple goes about their relationship?  Can that suck the life out of the romance for you?  I know it can for me.  See doormat above.

And then there’s the ending.  So many books have crashed and burned on their endings alone.  The “oh, no, they didn’t end it there” stories!  We all have them.  The ones that left us gobsmacked.  And wanting to throw said Kindles and paperbacks across the room, the romance gone, deflating the stories like some sad pinpricked balloon.

And if you can guess a book prompted all this you would be right.  Shakes head.  I keep forgetting they get published like that. No, I’m not going to name it.

So that’s my rant for today. It’s safe to step back into the blog!  What pokes the pin into your books? What deflates the romance quicker than you can say boom? Let me know in the comments. Our giveaway is still going on until next week.

 

What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway

So let’s make this official with a What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway.  Send in your comments, it will run til the end of the month and we will giveaway 2 gift certificates to 2 lucky readers.  Leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July, 22:

  • Tour – Meik & Sebastian – Obsessed by Quin Perin
  • An Alisa Review – Meik & Sebastian by Quin Perin
  • A Romance Must Have Heart! Romance Do’s!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, July 23:

  • AUDIOBOOK TOUR – Zen Alpha by Sionnach Wintergreen
  • Dreamspun Promo Amy Lane on A Fool and His Manny
  • Release Day Blitz Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Reyne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Reyne
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Broken Rules (Mended Hearts #2) by Michaela Grey
  • A Jeri Review: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point #8) by L.A. Witt
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Ardulum: First Don (Ardulum) by J.S. Fields

Tuesday, July 24:

  • Release Blitz – Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine
  • Release Blitz – Fusion by Posy Roberts
  • RELEASE BLITZ Cold Like Snow by Sita Bethel
  • A Lucy Review: Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine
  • An Alisa Review: Professor Hot Pants by by Ember-Raine Winters
  • An Alisa Review: Serving Him (The Retreat #1) by L.M. Somerton
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Consorting with Dragons by Sera Trevor and Philip Alces (Narrator)

Wednesday, July 25:

  • AUDIO Blog TOUR The Eagle and the Fox by Nya Rawlyns
  • DSP Promo Poppy Dennison
  • Release Blitz – Finding My Way Home – Doyle Global Securities #2 – Kendel Duncan
  • Release Blitz with – Serving Him by L M Somerton
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review:  Blyd and Pearce by Kim Fielding
  • A MelanieM Review: Lucky Days (Boystown, #9) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review Smoke in the Mirror (Road to Blissville #5) by Aimee Nicole Walker

Thursday, July 26:

  • DSP Promo Kim Fielding on Blyd and Pearce
  • Risk Taker by Lily Morton Release Day Blitz
  • A Dangerous Dance by Davidson King Blog Tour
  • A MelanieM Review: The Eye of Ra (Repeating History #1) by Dakota Chase
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Alpha Unit One, New York by Chris T. Kat
  • A Lucy Review: Erik the Pink by Matthew J. Metzger

Friday, July 27:

  • Release Blitz – Brave For You – Crystal Lacy
  • Cover Reveal – Mia Kerick Love Spell
  • Impact Flash Fiction Anthology Tour
  • DSP Promo Michaela Grey
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Dark (Expedition 63 #2) by T.A. Creech
  • A MelanieM Review: Impact Flash Fiction Anthology
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review:Alpha Unit One, New York by Chris T. Kat

Saturday, July 28:

  • Release Blitz – DJ Jamison – Hearts & Health Volume 2
  • A MelanieM Review:The End of All Stories (Legends of Badal’Shari #1) by Julia Rosenthal

 

An Alisa Review : Meik & Sebastian (Obsessed #1) by Quin Perin

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Obsessed – to preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.

Meik Lennen has everything a man could want. A successful company. More money than he knows what to do with. Men and women falling to their knees in front of him, practically begging him to dominate them. Everything a man could want with only one problem: he’s bored of it all. Bored of the same old things and the greyness of his life, until…

…he catches sight of Sebastian, an enigmatic twenty-year-old street musician, who rips him out of his dull daze. Obsessed with the young man, Meik lures him in and offers him a peek into a world of sins and desire. But soon Sebastian begins to twist his way into his consciousness, threatening to reveal dark memories Meik had locked away tightly.

The beginning of a brand new MM Explicit Gay Sex Series (no romance)

The author promised no romance and there definitely is none in this story, it is all about the sex which is what I expected.  This is well written and doesn’t go to deep into the characters, it looks like it may in the next book of this series though.  And though I kind of liked the story I will read the next in the series to see where the author’s take this.

For want of a better word, Meik is an ass.  He is arrogant and doesn’t care about others feelings.  I don’t mind smut, probably read it much more than I should, but I prefer to like my characters and at this point it isn’t possible with Meik.  Sebastian was actually in the story all that much, just their two encounters so other than knowing he is an innocent young man that apparently wants Meik there isn’t much else.

The cover art by Vanessa Rödiger is nice and draws your attention.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 75 pages

Published: June 18, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: Obsessed #1

Book Blast Tour – Meik and Sebastian – Obsessed by Quin Perin (excerpt and giveaway)

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BOOK BLAST and REVIEW TOUR

Book Title: Meik & Sebastian – Obsessed

Author: Quin Perin

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Genre/s: Gay Erotica, Bisexual Erotica

Length: 74 pages

Add on Goodreads  

Blurb

Obsessed – to preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.

Meik Lennen has everything a man could want. A successful company. More money than he knows what to do with. Men and women falling to their knees in front of him, practically begging him to dominate them. Everything a man could want with only one problem: he’s bored of it all. Bored of the same old things and the greyness of his life, until…

…he catches sight of Sebastian, an enigmatic twenty-year-old street musician, who rips him out of his dull daze. Obsessed with the young man, Meik lures him in and offers him a peek into a world of sins and desire. But soon Sebastian begins to twist his way into his consciousness, threatening to reveal dark memories Meik had locked away tightly.

Buy Links – FREE ON AMAZON

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Excerpt

For the briefest moment, their eyes locked. The warmth of the musician’s breaths puffed out against Meik’s cock, and he could hear the sound of cars driving by. Just a few feet away, where Sebastian had been standing, people were walking past, completely unaware of what they were up to.

“Don’t stop.”

The rough sound of Sebastian’s voice made Meik laugh. “So fucking eager, aren’t we?” he rasped. Letting his hand fall from the wall, he wrapped his fingers around the base of his shaft. Hellfire burned in his eyes as he looked at the submitting man, slapping first his left then his right cheek with his cock, loving the wet sound of flesh on flesh. “You love sucking my dick, don’t you? Tell me how much you want to choke on it, and I’ll give it to you.”

Sebastian leaned back, trapping the hand wrapped in his hair against the wall as he did. Glossy eyes gazed up at Meik as his fingers dropped down, grabbing at the front of his jeans and squeezing the bulge there. The outline of his erection was obvious and pretty impressive for his lithe form.

“This is how much I want it, sir.” Meik’s cock twitched at his words. Jesus Christ.

About the Authors

Hello there! This is Quin & Perin. We are a pair of gay erotica writers who focus on detailed, toe-curling, and realistic smut scenes with a fair share of dirty talking (Oh, boy). We write for readers who want something more. Who are fed up with the good ol’ porn-ish approach to gay erotica.

Our readers admire and acquire books that feature thrumming heartbeats and sizzling sparks between characters. Characters who click. Unlike other authors in the genre, we write without the goal of publishing anything. Publishing is just the cherry on top of a cream-covered bubble butt.

That said, it is time for the next level of smut: stories featuring fire, lust & desire.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Newsletter

Are you tired of cliché, boring drivel? Not enough bang in your smut? Is the foreplay more like boreplay? Well, then welcome to quin&perin. Smut makers with a mission. We have handjobs, blow jobs, masturbation, and more! So come on down while we go down.

Sign up for our newsletter to get notified once our new books come out!

We’d love to stay in touch

x quin&perin

Giveaway

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A MelanieM Review: The Lies That Bind (Boystown #8) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

The eighth book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery Series begins with a phone call in the middle of the night. Private investigator Nick Nowak is pulled into the troubled world of freelance journalist, and all around pain-in-the-ass, Christian Baylor.

When Christian can’t stop lying about the corpse in his bathroom things slip slowly out of control. Meanwhile, Nick’s relationship with former priest Joseph Biernecki takes an unexpected turn and the Federal case against Jimmy English proceeds toward trial.

Here we are, into the eighth book in the Boystown series, and  as a result of all the events he has had to go through,the character of Nick Nowak is showing some real growth and changes in his life.

He’s running (when the unrelenting heat of the Chicago summer permits), he’s turned his new lakefront apartment into a home, has established routines with Mrs Harker on Sundays, Brian and his boyfriend. He’s even  deepening his own relationship with the ex priest Joseph, which is different than all the others he’s had before.  Yes, Nick Nowak has become monogamous, a circumstance that has surprised him and happened without him realizing it. Or talking about it with  Joseph.  Even Nick’s bank account is flush with money…an even rarer oddity.

So of course, things get snarled and messy for Nick just as he thinks he may have some things in his life figured out.

I think that if you haven’t especially emphasized with Nick before, perhaps because of his infidelities and outlook on sex, this is the story, that brings you over to Nick’s side.  It will be in Nick’s relationship with Joseph, their dynamics, their  new relationship fraught with surprises for them both.  How the dynamics in the relationship is handled by both men over the course of the story is important because, not only does it feel real, grounded in the reality of the way people handle changes in their romances and perceptions, but because it marks a maturity and growth not seen before.

All the while that is happening between Nick and Joseph, Nick is heavily involved in two cases. One that is a carry over from the previous stories involving Jimmy English and Owen’s law firm.  The other is new involving an old acquaintance…Christian Baylor.  A pain in Nick’s proverbial ass, former friend of sorts of Harker’s, and somewhat yellow journalist looking to up his game.

Both mysteries are creative and complex.  Jimmy English’s keeps evolving over the series of stories.  Everytime you think Nick and the reader has a handle on where it’s going, Marshall Thornton changes direction and victim/culprits.  Its compelling, dark, and a puzzle you can’t turn away from.  And its not  over here.  The end is not is sight yet which makes me happy.  Jimmy English himself is a character that I’ve come to be addicted to as well (not a healthy thing in these novels with their high body count).

So is the one with Christian and the body in the hallway.  With Nick and his cases, nothing is ever straightfordward.  There are layers of deceit, links to Nick or people he knows to deal with, and emotions dredged up that Nick somehow must learn to deal with.  Also physical danger and tons of suspense.

How I love these stories.  So many outstanding elements and all handled expertly!

One last note on one of those elements.  That would be the 80’s factor here.  Marshall Thornton’s use of topics and elements from that era to bring the fact that these stories and Nick live in the 1980’s vividly alive is done so well.  Here AIDS has progressed throughout the US as has the research into how it is spread.  People are starting to talk a little more knowledgeably about it but the fear about blood contamination is rising as well (how well I remember that phase). AIDS, its growth, has been a common factor throughout the series.  You can chart the first whispers of it beginning with book 1, the chills making those early books all the more memorable because you know where it will lead you.

Other 80’s elements are mind boggling.  The double floppy disk Wang computer system that’s long disappeared from memory, COMPAQs, the appearance of IMB systems and a huge brick like mobile phone costing $4,000.  Amazing.  There’s more of course, but those made honorable mention in my mind for this review.  Thornton handles all the aspects of that era, big and small with equal respect and importance.  From sports scores, to newspapers, tech equipments down to music and clothes wear….the research is impeccable.  And folded into the narrative just as it should, matter of factly and not as an historic statement.

Yes, I love this, yes, I  recommend it and all the others that go before and should be read in the order written.  One of my top books/series of the year.

Cover art by Marshall Thornton

Sales Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published February 21st 2016 by Kenmore Books
ASINB019ZS0SHM
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #8

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

A MelanieM Review: A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters

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Rating: 1.75  stars out of 5

 

Daymon is the second prince of a kingdom in which Evokers—those who possess intuitive magical abilities—have long since been treated with fear and mistrust. Marked as an Evoker himself, Daymon is captured by those who wish to take advantage of these powers. Now, the prince must put his faith in Rhyder, the captain of his guards—and the man Daymon has claimed as his own—to free him.

It’s never a good thing when the blurb gives you more world building than the actual story.  But that, and much more (or actually much less) happens in A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters.

I was drawn to the tale by the synopsis as this was a new author for me.  It has such possibilities.  All of which remain hard to find here because the reader will be scrabbling for anything to hold onto once they start into this disorganized mess of a story.

There is almost zero world building so you have little idea about the Evokers, the history of the kingdom although you will get some about Daymor’s childhood.  Wisps really.  All done in “memory flashbacks”.  Because for most of the story Daymor is a prisoner and the story/action is actually happening around him.

This means that the author need not describe anything int he story that would ground his “abduction/attempts to rescue/actual rescue” in any emotional or action worthy way or other characters.  Even on Daymor himself.  Yes, its all missing in “action”.  So the story is merely Daymor as a prisoner (floating in a narrative bubble) as nebulous “action” maybe occuring around him that you have no idea what it is and why is is happening.

The whole story just makes no sense. Neither do any of the characters.  Especially when they talk about making some difference with Evokers at the end.  Really?  When did that happen?

If you are a fan of Diana Waters, than this is a book for you.  For all others, I’ll leave the choice up to you.  It’s not one I would recommend myself.

Cover art: Erin Dameron-Hill. Cover art is lovely but would make one think its a space novel or involve more magic than this actually does.  Misleading but lovely.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 64 pages
Published June 1st 2018 by eXtasy Books Inc (first published May 26th 2016)
ASINB07DCK5BJ1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWild Magics #1

Audio Tour for Someone to Call My Own (Road to Blissville #2) by Aimee Nicole Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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 Someone to Call My Own Audio Tour Banner

SOMEONE TO CALL MY OWN

Road to Blissville Series, Book 2

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

AUDIO RELEASE: 06.19.18

Someone to Call My Own Audio Cover 

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wander Aguiar

COVER ARTIST:  Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

NARRATOR: Joel Leslie

Listening Length: 8 hours and 49 minutes

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BLURB 

Psychic Emory Jackson and former black ops specialist Jonathon Silver are men from two completely different worlds with one thing in common: heartbreak. Emory still mourns the loss of his husband five years prior, and Jon is reeling with grief from the recent death of his twin brother.

Sparks fly when mutual friends introduce them, but it’s so much more than basic attraction. There’s an undeniable awareness and a sense of belonging that neither man can deny. Despite Emory’s premonition of a future with Jon, he has vowed never to love again. Jon is convinced that his tainted soul is the reason he will never have someone to call his own. What if they’re both wrong?

Maybe these broken men with their jagged edges could somehow align perfectly to form something whole and beautiful. But will that realization come too late for them?

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2ezOhtg

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2xIi2g6

 

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EXCERPT

 

“What are you doing here, Emory?”

“I think you know.”

“I have a pretty good idea, but what has changed since I left Blissville forty minutes ago?”

“Nothing,” I answered honestly. “I don’t love you, Jon.”

“Yet,” he corrected. “You don’t love me yet.” He reached for my hand and slid his fingers in between mine. “If you walk across that threshold with me, I’m going to push you up against the nearest surface and fuck you. Probably more than once. Can you live with that?”

His words sent an electrical current racing through my body. My dick hardened fast and almost painfully beneath my tight briefs. No one had ever talked dirty to me or tried to dominate me, but it ignited something inside me like he was holding a lit match near gasoline fumes. In Jon’s eyes, I saw the raw need that burned through him just as strong as it did me.

“Take me inside.”

Jon didn’t ask me if I was sure; he gripped my hand tightly and pulled me up the broad, stone steps to the front porch. I expected him to drop my hand to unlock the front door, but he hit a few numbers on a keypad with his left hand before twisting the knob to let us inside.

I had caught a brief glimpse of the living room beyond the foyer before Jon turned to me. He didn’t even bother shutting the door before he backed me up against the foyer table. Jon’s hands immediately went to my neck to loosen my tie while he swooped down and captured my lips in a hard, demanding kiss. He released a torrent of emotions he’d repressed since we met, and I tasted each one on his tongue.

 

 Aimee Logo

I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

TWITTER

BLOG

 

Joel Leslie/Narrator

Joel Leslie is a UK transplant, growing up with American parents in a British commonwealth.  A classically trained actor with an MFA in theatre from USC, he is often cast for his unique ability to deliver native, authentic combinations of American and British sounds.  His great range and ability to bring characters to life with honesty, wit and versatility delights producers and listeners alike.

He is proud to have a strong following with m/m listeners and an ongoing relationship with some of the finest writers in the genre.  He loves that every day he gets to share these beautiful, inspirational and empowering GLBT characters with the world.

His authors have praised him as “a narrator among narrators, a man whose ability to create different characters rests on the power of his voice and his impeccable delivery,” and a “true delight…” “his professionalism, good humor, and charm make him a dream to work with,” “Anyone else would only be second best”.

Joel has consistent access to his home studio for all production needs.  When not in the booth he spends his time chasing after two loquacious wiener dogs.

http://www.joelleslienarration.com/

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point #8) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. I’ve followed the series and have only given one other book in the series 5 stars, but this one is certainly worthy of my highest rating.

Was it the characters? The topic? The setting? The insight into Naval operations? I think it may have simply been the combination of all of the above. Certainly, these two men are among my favorite MCs and most definitely make an outstanding couple.

Chaplain Dylan Pedersen has recently left his partner of eight years—his very emotionally abusive ex-partner—one who wants him back and is using Dylan’s family and friends to persuade Dylan to come back. When Alhazar Bukhari, a civilian electrician contractor, comes to the chapel to ask for space to store his mat and Q’uran, the two are immediately attracted, but it’s not until they find out that they are both gay that they act on that attraction. And when they do? It’s one of those explosive up-against-the-wall sex scenes that this author does so well.

The thing I liked best about this story is that while there are indeed some mighty hot times between the sheets, there’s so much substance to the relationship development of the two men. And there’s more to the story. Alhazar’s son is gay and has a steady boyfriend, though both are still in high school. We learn of his culture, his prayer times with both children, his unusual past marriage to his best friend who is a lesbian and served in the Navy at the same time as Alhazar. We witness his fear over telling his parents, even though he’s over forty-years-old. And we see what a good friend he is to his coworker, Kimber Fraser, whose dad is Clint Fraser from Afraid to Fly. Kimber is suffering from harassment from her fellow male employees and though the author explores the subject and clearly shows the stress Kimber is under, at no time did I feel I was being lectured or that Kimber’s concerns were minor.

In response to the recent concerns brought to him by LGBTQ men and women as he counsels them in his capacity as chaplain, Dylan organizes an LGBTQ support group for those working at the base and for parents of LGBTQ children. Helped by Alhazar and others we’ve met in the past, including Mark and Diego from Once Burned, the response to the group is overwhelming, leaving Dylan happy and proud. Naturally, shortly after that, he has a face-to-face confrontation with his ex, and Alhazar’s presence complicates Dylan’s attempt to stand up to his abuser. It’s not until he officiates at the wedding ceremony for Diego and Mark that Dylan faces his own needs and realizes he’s had happiness within his grasp all along but walked away from it.

Thankfully, our guys get their HEA, and as a reader, I feel that I’ve gotten so much more than simple pleasure from a well-told story. I learned more about the needs of sailors and their family members and the issues that come up during deployment. Also, I learned more about the Muslim religion from this one story than from any other single source.

I can happily say kudos to LA Witt for bringing this story to life and I very highly recommend it.

~~~

Cover art: L.C. Chase.  It’s a gorgeous rendering of the male torso and works within the series covers as well.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Published July 16th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleSink or Swim
ISBN139781626497511
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://riptidepublishing.com/titles/sink-or-swim
SeriesAnchor Point #8

A Caryn Review Daisy, Yellow (Paw Prints #1) by Angelique Jurd

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Who can resist a cute little puppy?  Turns out, no one in this story, which is as it should be!  Dog lovers will really enjoy this book, not only because Daisy figures prominently throughout, but also because of all the dog themed humor.  Not over the top, but just right for a vet and a city boy who just moved to the farm.

Noah Jenkins is an engineering consultant in Chicago who had just gone through a humiliating breakup when his grandfather died and left him a farm in rural Newton, Illinois.  Leaving the city to get away from his ex seemed like a perfect plan, and since his work was primarily on-line, he was able to move immediately.  He didn’t know a thing about farming, but thought he would just figure it out as he went along.  He bought a puppy – another completely new experience – and jumped right in.

One of his first days out, Daisy got bit, and Noah rushed her to the local vet.  He was convinced it was a snake bite, was embarrassed to find out it was just a bee sting, but it was a perfect meet-cute for Noah and Hunter Ross, veterinarian.  Newton is a small town, so they inevitably met up later, and although Hunter was a little awkward, they bonded over Daisy and became friends, and shortly afterwards, lovers.  But Newton was more than just a little conservative, and Hunter was still haunted by the memory of a local man beaten and run out of town for being gay, so he was as deep in the closet as he could get.

It’s been a while since I read a contemporary romance with this level of homophobia, but I thought the author sold it well.  Even as I got frustrated with Hunter’s reluctance to acknowledge his relationship with Noah to the safe people in town, I understood why he held back.  The pace of their relationship also seemed just right for their situation, and Noah’s reasons for holding back were also explained in a way that were consistent with who he was, and how he acted with other people in his life.  The secondary characters rounded the story out well, and had their own wisdom to add.  I thought the dialogue was great – they joked, they bantered, and it was funny and entertaining without being fake, and I thought it would be fun to hang out with these guys.  I loved it when Hunter teased Noah by using  the same language with him that he did with Daisy!

I would have given the book a higher rating except for a few things.  First, the book is written in present tense, which I absolutely hate and which usually makes me DNF a book.  Present tense is annoying and feels artificial, and all I can say is that at least I stuck it out because the story itself was really cute; change the tense throughout the entire book and it goes up one whole star.  Second, the ending seemed rushed and incomplete.  I was expecting the violence, but Noah’s and Hunter’s reaction to it didn’t seem quite right and I wanted more explanation of how they felt and why they decided to do what they did, but then the story was just over.  It felt like the entire book was building up to a HEA, but the author just stopped midway to make it HFN and possibly make a sequel.  There was no satisfactory wrap up to the plot (or at least to the character’s feelings about the events), but also there was nothing that made me think I have to read the next book.  It felt like the author had a story arc for one book, but decided to drag it out into a series or something.  So, overall it was cute, but nothing to make me want to read it again.

Cover by May Dawney Designs is adorable

Sales Links:

Amazon US  

Amazon UK 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 177 pages
Published June 23rd 2018 by Small Black Cat Media
ASINB07DZ3LJCD
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPaw Prints #1 settingIllinois (United States)

A Lila Review: The Merchant’s Love (Chronicles of Tournai #6) by Antonia Aquilante

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Faelen, cousin to the prince and son of a diplomat, has finally come home to Tournai after years away. The pull to return was almost tangible, and the sense of rightness at being back is absolute. He wants nothing more than to put down roots and build a life among family while pursuing his linguistic studies. Becoming involved in magic meant to protect Tournai isn’t part of his plans…but falling in love is even more unexpected and unfamiliar, but he finds himself doing just that as his friendship with Maxen deepens into something more.

Maxen, second son of a wealthy merchant family, longs to leave Tournai and see everywhere he can. All his life, he’s found places on maps and dreamed, planning out routes to get to them. For now, he’s tied to Tournai’s capital city by family obligations and his position in their shipping business. Someday, though, he’ll be able to travel. His sudden attraction to Faelen shocks him, but their friendship soon becomes a necessary part of his life. Love, however, has no place in his plans, especially not love for a royal cousin with secrets who wants nothing more than to stay in one place.

For Faelen and Maxen to build something real between them, they must resolve their differences, but when magic goes awry and all Faelen’s secrets are revealed, will Maxen remain at his side?

The Merchant’s Love brings us back to Tournai for another sweet love story. We knew about Maxen and Faelen from previous books. In their story, we get a chance to learn more about them individually and as a couple. I enjoyed the amount of time the author spent making them three-dimensional characters with more to offer than their looks and connections.

The way the characters took their time getting to know each other worked well with the plot. I wished they have continued their writing and courting for a little longer. The tidbits of information they shared were endearing and gave us a glimpse to what their hopes and dreams were. Those also played a roll disturbing their blossoming relationship. The side if humor was an added bonus.

The amount of detail in the story goes beyond the main characters. We get updates from other couples and information about the country and the overall series plot. I’m not sure how many more books the author has planned, but I hope it’s a couple of them. There’s so much more about Tournai and its people I would love to learn.

The cover by Natasha Snow matches the previous book in the series. Perhaps too modern for my idea of Tournai but it works with the story setting.

Sale Links: NineStar Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 343 pages
Published: June 18, 2018, by NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781948608831
Edition Language: English

Series:  Chronicles of Tournai
Book #1: The Prince’s Consort
Book #2: The Artist’s Masquerade
Book #3: The Scholar’s Heart
Book #4: The Sorcerer’s Guardian
Book #5: The Dragon’s Devotion 
Book #6: The Merchant’s Love

Fantasy Spotlight on Incubus Honeymoon (Arcana Imperii #1) by August Li (guest blog )

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Incubus Honeymoon (Arcana Imperii #1) by August Li

DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Blake Dorner

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with August Li

Trans and Enby Characters, Own Voices, and the Challenges Therein

I’ve written a lot of blog posts to promote this book. I was happy to see Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words offered a series of interview questions and that I wouldn’t have to think up an entire subject on my own. The interview starts with the statement “You can answer any or all of the questions.”

I only ended up answering one. You’ll see why.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Quick answer: it depends. Empathy aside, a writer really has to draw on their own experiences, and if not specific experiences, then similar emotional events. Everyone has love, loss, frustration, and inspiration to draw from. A writer doesn’t need to deal with exactly what the character does if they can find a time when the emotional impact was similar. That and some research is usually plenty.

The easiest characters are those closest to me in personality—in this book, Dante with his anger at the world’s inequity and injustice, coupled with a sense of futility, that nothing he can personally do will fix anything, came easily from my feelings about the world at the moment. I also work hard to make sure the nonhuman characters exhibit motivations that set them apart, so the differences are more than cosmetic.

But the truth is one of the characters in this book is more personal to me than probably any I’ve yet written.

I’ve always been very open about being trans, and I’ve even, to an extent, documented some of my physical transition. Yet it’s been many years now since I came out, but I’ve never used my Own Voice and written a trans or nonbinary character until now. Why?

One thing that made me hesitate is that I don’t necessarily want to shape people’s notions of trans and nonbinary people, and maybe especially not with this character. Jet can be kind of nasty. Jet uses their skills to harm people they don’t like or don’t agree with, rather than trying to understand those people or come to any kind of an understanding. While not a bitter or unhappy person, Jet is defined by what they hate—granted, that’s tyranny, racism, inequality, etc.—more than by what they love. Jet does not go high. Jet is not opposed to the use of force. Jet smokes a lot of weed and has a lot of sex with whoever strikes their fancy. Altogether, a hell of an introduction to a nonbinary person for those who have never met one in real life or fiction. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. I debated on making Jet a cis person or toning down their more… controversial actions. But I couldn’t do it. Jet IS a nonbinary person; Jet IS a resistance fighter and one who thinks the ends justify the means. Jet likes to stir up shit and fuck with people. Remove any of these characteristics, and they are a different person. And in my opinion, they’d have suffered a tremendous loss. I’m curious how others feel about writing underrepresented characters who are morally ambiguous.

I also didn’t want to use it as a crutch. There are almost as many gay romances as straight at this point, and it’s hard to stand out amongst them. God knows it’s hard to stand out in mainstream fantasy. Trans and nonbinary characters are starting to get more attention—finally; yay!—but it’s still a much smaller pool. And it’s easier to be a bigger fish in a smaller pool. I really didn’t want that. I didn’t want my book to get attention just because there’s a nonbinary and an asexual character; the book and the characters mean too much to me. The solution to that was a simple, though brutal, one: I made sure this was the best book I could possibly write. I did everything in my power to construct a world and a plot that would compel readers, that is hopefully complex but not confusing. I revised and revised, weighing each word. My editorial team helped a lot too. A lot. Bottom line, I wanted to write a damn good urban fantasy. Some of the characters are queer. While that matters, I don’t want it to qualify the previous statement. I hope I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do.

Finally, and this is probably going to get a little personal, so if you’d rather skip to the blurb or ogle that gorgeous cover art by Blake Dorner, no foul. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but there’s some pain tied up with all of this for me. Since I came out as trans, I’ve lost people. People who I thought would always have my back turned against me. I wasn’t allowed to visit my grandfather before he died, and I won’t get to see my grandmother either. But on the other hand, I have a publisher, Dreamspinner Press, who changed my name on my entire backlist without me even asking. I have a community of friends who helped me raise money for surgery. I’ve met the person I hope to spend the rest of my life with. Still, it was scary to come out, and using my Own Voice and writing a trans character was similarly scary. It brought back some of the bad. But it brought back a lot of the good too, and I can’t wait to write more trans and nonbinary characters. As a reader, do you like reading about these characters? What are some of your favorite books featuring them?

Book Blurb:

As the so-called magical creatures go, I’m low on the hierarchy, and my powers aren’t much good to human mages. I’m a lover, not a fighter, through and through. I’m also selfish, lazy, and easily bored. But I’m damned good at what I do.

Too bad that won’t get my arse out of this sling.

Do one—granted, uncharacteristic—good deed, and now I’m held hostage to an arrogant faerie prince, trying to track down the one who summoned him while dodging gangbangers, gun runners, and Nazis. Add the powerful mage guilds scrambling to gather firepower for some doomsday event they’re sure is around the corner, and my cushy life of leisure might be nothing but a memory. On top of that, something’s compelling me to change on my most fundamental level. I’m not sure what I’ve got myself mixed up in, but nothing will ever be the same.

Bloody hell.

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Featuring a new twist on urban fantasy combined with fast-paced action and intrigue, the Arcana Imperii series books are standalone adventures, each completely accessible to new readers.

About the Author

August Li plays every game as a mage. He thinks the closest thing to magic outside of games and fantasy is to bring things into existence from nothing, which he does in words and images. As a proud trans man, he hopes to bring diversity and representation to all those who want to see themselves in the art and stories they enjoy. He’s a perfectionist, travel enthusiast, and caffeine addict.

Gus makes his home on the coast of South Carolina, where he spends his days in search of merpeople, friendly cats, and interesting pieces of driftwood. He collects ball-jointed dolls, tattoos, and languages. He believes in faeries and thinks they’re terrifying… but still wants to meet one.

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