A MelanieM Review: Drifting Sands (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #1) by C.J. Baty

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

As he approaches his fortieth birthday, Justin Warfield feels alone, drifting like the sand that blows along the beach near his family’s hotel. He has done exactly as his father wanted. Married the right girl and carried on the family tradition of running the Warfield Hotel. On paper things seem perfect, but happiness hasn’t been a part of his life for a very long time.

Marcus Drummond once spent a summer with his best friend Peter at the Warfield Hotel and fell hard for Peter’s much older brother. Five years later he’s back, and this time hopes that Justin will see him as more than his kid brother’s friend.

Sparks fly when the two meet again, but there are a few things standing in their way. The closet that Justin has himself buried in and someone on a killing spree, dumping bodies on the Warfield beach . . . victims that indicate Justin may be involved in some way.

Drifting Sands (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #1) by C.J. Baty was another difficult story to review.  I liked many elements but found others hard to navigate and others still baffling in their inability to like or believe in.

First of all, I adore mysteries.  I have shelves waited down with them and have mainstreamed them starting with Nancy Drew from childhood.  Honestly, I can’t get enough, from cozies to outright thrillers.  And I like the tales that come from C.J. Baty so I thought this would be a series to grab up and get involved with from the start.

The idea of this family establishment (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries)with all it’s traditions set in the coastal tide water town is lovely.  That’s a great hook!  And Baty lays out its history and drama perfectly.

We also jump into the story in high fashion…with a murder.  Loved that.  The murders and mysteries that start swirling around Justin, his brother Peter who is about to inherit his share of the Hotel and the house (I adored Peter), and Robert, and yes, even Matthew.  Those were the best part of this story.  Some nifty clues were left strewn around that if wasn’t too hard to figure out who exactly was behind the evil goings on and you were still curious enough to want to see everything unfold to want to continue reading.

No, I think my issues here are with Justin and Matthew.  Justin who seems like a bit of a doormat, someone lacking the courage  to get out of the closet where his father put him all those years ago when he forced him to get married.  All around him, including Peter his younger brother, are one’s I am able to connect with more than Justin.  It simply takes far too long for Justin to find any ounce of gumption here before he starts to fight back against, well, everyone.

Another thing is the relationship between Justin and Matthew.  Justin doesn’t remember him.  So while the bodies are falling all around him, Justin is firmly in the closet, the wife is threatening him, the stress and guests must be attended to, Justin is just going to what?  Have a fling with  someone he can’t remember? While a killer is loose closeby?  And fall instantly in love?  Even though Matthew is a friend of his brother’s it just never struck me as terribly convincing.  Again.  I think it was the character of Justin.  I think he just came off as incredibly dense.

Yes, there is a lot of everyone’s here, including a bigoted Sheriff.

I found the wife’s character interesting, especially towards the end and wonder if more information will be forthcoming in the next installment.

This story ends with a cliffhanger and the plot does not wrap up as you would hope.  In fact it leaves the main characters in a dire situation.  If you aren’t fans of this format, this is going to make you really unhappy.

Didn’t bother  me for some reason.

I just have to figure out if I care enough about him to pick up the next story.  The jury is still out.

Cover art is generic and doesn’t really speak to the story.

Sales Links:  Bottom Drawer Publication | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Published July 12th 2017 (first published June 7th 2015)
Original Title Drifting Sands
ASINB073WY9LVQ
Edition Language English
SeriesThe Warfield Hotel Mysteries #

A MelanieM Review: Flash Me (Heathens Ink #7) by K.M. Neuhold

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

Liam
I was kicked out at sixteen for being transgender, but it turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. At twenty-one, I have a fantastic new family made up of my brother and a handful of wonderful friends, I own my own photography business, and I’m happier than I imagined possible. There’s just one thing missing… Okay, maybe two…

Wyatt
When I took the position volunteering as a therapist at Rainbow House, I knew I’d found my place in the world, helping teens who were rejected by their families. What I didn’t expect was the friendship I formed with Liam or how it would grow over the years into a crush I just can’t shake. I’m happy to see him finally opening himself up to dating with someone he trusts like Owen. But when he comes to me and asks if I can help his boyfriend, I feel like there’s more to the request than just a few therapy sessions. The more I get to know about Owen, the more I like him, too.

Owen
I’m not sure why I believe so much in fate when she’s dealt me nothing but crappy hands— A stint in prison and enough childhood horrors to fuel all my adult nightmares. But I still hold on to the idea that everything happens for a reason. What I can’t figure out is why fate would plop me naked into Liam’s bed under the pretext of helping him with a photo series for a gallery showing. Or why my stomach goes funny every time he smiles at me. Liam is too sweet to be exposed to my demons but I don’t know how to protect him…Maybe that’s why fate gave us Wyatt.

This is the seventh book in the Heathens Ink series. Each book in the series CAN be read as a stand alone, but characters do re-occur so it’s more fun to read them all!

I am a big fan of K.M. Neuhold Heathens Ink series so I was delighted to see another story in that series  released.  In Flash Me the author centers the novel around Liam, Owen, and Wyatt, people we’ve met before.  It’s Liam, especially, that the light shines so brightly on.  A young trans boy seeking a brother he never knew and shelter at first, here Liam is all grown up.  Liam is soon to be 21, he’s had top surgery, has a successful photography business and is pondering all his next steps. That includes romance.

K.M. Neuhold’s insight into Liam’s life at this stage, the decisions he is trying to make regarding future surgery, his insecurities about dating and his sex life not only bring Liam vividly to life but make him so vulnerable and real that you just want to love him and keep cheering him on.  He also knows who and what he wants.  Both of them.  It’s just a matter of how he’s going to make them see they all fit together.

Yes, Liam wants a polyamory relationship.  It’s one he knows that’s for him and he also knows that Owen and Wyatt are the perfect fit for him and each other.  If they can see it and work through the barriers keeping them all apart.

Flash Me is told from each  man’s perspective so you see how each of them perceives the other two and his place in retrospect.  And how that begins to change.

Both Owen and Wyatt have major issues in their past they must deal with before any relationship will work.  For Owen, its his abusive father and jail.  For Wyatt, it’s also family issues and a father, which I won’t discuss further here.  It will take all three coming together and therapy to deal with these major trauma and issues before they can come fully together as a triad.

I found the writing strong, the characters remarkable, and the romance sexy and heartwarming. Flash Me (Heathens Ink #7) by K.M. Neuhold is  another grand installment in a series I  just think is getting better and better.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Cover art is wonderful, that is those characters to a T.

Sales Links:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2PrlaFj

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2LPnm7g

AMAZON CA: https://amzn.to/2PY2HkL

 

Book Details:

ebook, 303 pages
Published September 3rd 2018
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHeathens Ink #7

A Caryn Review : Diego (Endangered Fae #2) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I am having so much fun reading fantasy books that incorporate ancient mythology!  Diego, the sequel to Finn, is all about Celtic mythology, mixing Irish deities with the Welsh, along with a bit of reincarnation and earthly as well as fae magic.  The end result is pure enchantment!

The first book introduced Diego, a human who is much more than he realizes, and Finn, a pooka who rose from a long hibernation to find a modern human world that was slowly poisoning him.  Through a series of adventures that reveal they are much stronger together than apart, Finn and Diego forged a relationship that was more than just a rekindling of the love they shared in previous lifetimes.  I didn’t expect a sequel because the story arc was complete, but I was really happy to see this book pick up just where the first left off.

Despite all they’ve been through, Diego is still a bit of a puritan, and has a hard time believing that Finn would ever give up his life of sexual freedom and adventure to settle down.  So when he came home to find Finn in a compromising position – even though there was a perfectly innocent reason – he allowed his anger to overtake his reason, leading to an explosion of magic that ripped a hole in the world, and he woke up on the other side of the veil, in the Otherworld, kingdom of the Sidhe.  Finn was also unwittingly transported to the Otherworld, but in the land of the Fomorians, enemies of the Sidhe.  I remember as I was reading through the adventure where Finn and Diego got caught between the Danu/Balor feud that this was enough for a novella all on its own, especially when our heroes managed to bring the two kingdoms together.  Next came a mysterious illness, for which again, Diego and Finn managed to find the cause, and provide the cure.  Once again, the story could have ended here!  But our intrepid author managed to push it yet further, and the culmination of the story involves clandestine government agencies capturing and experimenting upon the fae who were with Diego and Finn at their house in Montana.  I loved how the story went from fairy tale to X-Files!

It was clear in the first book that Diego, AKA Taliesin, was powerful, and probably the most magical human that ever existed.  His power was never really manifested though, and he was first and foremost a humble and gentle man.  In this book, he finally came to believe in and even embrace that side of himself, which made him more sure of his worthiness to be with Finn, but unfortunately made Finn feel that he did not deserve Diego.  A great deal of the book was the push and pull between the two of them wondering if they were indeed right for each other, and facing new jealousies related to old relationships.  Diego was revealed not to be as kind and forgiving as he thought he was, while Finn found humility.  They both made mistakes, but as in every good fairy tale, true love wins in the end.  I have to admit that the ending was cheesy in a lot of ways (and I had to laugh when the US lost out to Canada as the host for Faerie’s chosen earthly location!) but that is part of the author’s charm.

Very enjoyable, with some surprising twists, and a whole lot of learning to love your neighbor despite differences

Cover art by Emmy @ studioenp has a very nice representation of the hole in the veil, with the ubiquitous headless torso.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Pride Publishing (first published September 16th 2010)
Original TitleDiego
ASINB07FCT4SVR
Edition Language English
Series Endangered Fae #2
Characters Danu, Finn Shannon, Diego Sandoval, Lugh, Balor…more settingMontana (United States)
Otherworld

Blog Tour Flash Me (A Heathens Ink Story) by KM Neuhold (excerpt and giveaway)

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Flash Me Tour Banner

FLASH ME

A Heathens Ink Novel

K.M. NEUHOLD

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 09.03.18

Flash Me Final

Blurb

Liam

I was kicked out at sixteen for being transgender, but it turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. At twenty-one, I have a fantastic new family made up of my brother and a handful of wonderful friends, I own my own photography business, and I’m happier than I imagined possible. There’s just one thing missing… Okay, maybe two…

Wyatt

When I took the position volunteering as a therapist at Rainbow House, I knew I’d found my place in the world: helping teens who had been rejected by their families. What I didn’t expect was the friendship I formed with Liam or how it would grow over the years into a crush I just couldn’t shake. I’m happy to see him finally opening himself up to dating with someone he trusts like Owen. But when he comes to me and asks if I can help his boyfriend, I feel like there’s more to the request than just a few therapy sessions. The more I get to know Owen, the more I like him, too.

Owen

I’m not sure why I believe so much in fate when she’s dealt me nothing but crappy hands—a stint in prison and enough childhood horrors to fuel all my adult nightmares. But I still hold on to the idea that everything happens for a reason. What I can’t figure out is why fate would plop me naked into Liam’s bed under the pretext of helping him with a photo series for a gallery showing. Or why my stomach goes funny every time he smiles at me. Liam is too sweet to be exposed to my demons, but I don’t know how to protect him…Maybe that’s why fate gave us Wyatt.

***This is the seventh book in the Heathens Ink series. Each book in the series CAN be read as a stand-alone, but characters do re-occur so it’s more fun to read them all!

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2PrlaFj

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2LPnm7g

AMAZON CA: https://amzn.to/2PY2HkL

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Excerpt

Holy fuck.

My eyes greedily memorize the way Owen’s soaked shirt clings to his muscles. The colorful skin of his arms glisten under the fluorescent lights of the coffee shop, and the scent of his sweat tickles my nose. I can’t say I’ve ever found anything particularly sexy about a sweaty man. Sex sweat is fine, but not something that revved my engine. Consider me a convert, because it’s taking all my willpower to keep myself from flattening my body against Owen’s and drenching myself in his sweat, licking it off his neck, and rubbing against his slick body until sweat isn’t the only thing he’s drenched in.

Fuck, I’m such a bad person. His date with Liam was last night and here I am imagining humping him like an unneutered dog.

“Out for an early run?” I guess, looking down at his running shoes.

“Yeah,” he answers without any further elaboration.

I’ve known all the guys from Heathens Ink for years now but Owen is the only one I’ve hardly talked to, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because he’s always come off as more standoffish than the other guys? That doesn’t usually stop me with people, but I don’t have any other explanation. It feels like an oversight I should rectify. If Liam’s going to be dating him, I should get to know him better.

My stomach clenches, hot with jealousy knowing I was too late. Not that I was even too late, that I never had a shot with Liam to begin with. How can it hurt this much to know I can’t have him, when I only just realized I wanted him?

“How was your date with Liam?” I ask conversationally as the line inches slowly forward. Owen looks surprised by my question. “Liam and I are close,” I explain.

“Oh, yeah, I guess I should’ve realized. I’ve seen you two together a lot. It was great, Liam is…” Owen trails off, seeming to try to think of an adjective to describe Liam. I could help him out with that— Smart, funny, adorably shy at times, flirty and playful others, sexy, perfect.

“Yeah, he is,” I agree with his unfinished sentence, knowing he must be thinking the same things I am based on the smile tilting the corners of his lips.

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I’m an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Shipped (Until You #1) by Karrie Roman

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  Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is book one in a series called Until You. I read Sentinel, the second book, first so I wanted to go back and learn about the other characters. Ryan Lowe is an Aussie actor without a lot of experience, hired to play Sam on a weekly TV show called The Witches’ Hammer, based on a popular book. Lucas Evers is the more experienced actor having been on a previously successful show, hired to play Dominic. They become fast friends but as the show becomes more successful the pressures, especially from fans, mount.

The author does of great job of showing us the different sides of fame. Ryan is from a poor background with an alcoholic father. He doesn’t have a good support system, is increasingly feeling panicked and out of control, and spirals down when on break from filming. His anxiety issues increase throughout the book.

Lucas responds very differently to fame, seeming to thrive. He is married to his best friend Anna. Although, we know this is a convenient arrangement, she is often the voice of reason and so supportive. We’re told Lucas is close to his family, but we don’t get to see it. He is basically supporting his siblings and parents, but when they start to spend more of his money than he is, he finally says something. Then we see the crack in the veneer of family relationships.

A third of the way in, the focus and mood shifts. Ryan has a stalker named Leighton White so studio security and the police get involved. Some of you may be too young to remember the stabbing of Theresa Saldana, or when Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered, but I’m not. I have also lived in Los Angeles and have seen actors get harassed, once for an autograph while in the toilet at a restaurant. I was devastated when Dimebag Darrell got shot. All of the sudden my fun romantic romp got serious. While this is true to life, it took me a moment when used as a plot device to draw Ryan and Lucas closer.

This is told in dual POV, so we see as: each of them pines for the other; get frustrated as they don’t talk; and get dragged along as their mutual attraction (hot, hot, hot) threatens their friendship, their jobs, and their sanity. The author gets us inside their heads and makes us root for them to be together both on and off screen. I really like that they use geekdom and humor to defuse their tensions. By the time they actually get together, it’s handled more maturely than I thought it would be–especially with Ryan’s previous behavior. Although after all the delicious UST, the actual love scenes are just ok for me.

About halfway through, tragedy strikes. There is one heck of a plot twist, and I shouldn’t know what is going to happen, but I do because I read the second book first. Lucas gets nominated for an Oscar for the film he worked on during the season break and his life may be in danger so the studio hires bodyguards from a security company owned by the Krispins. Here is were we meet Ethan and Ben, who will be the MCs of book two. They save Lucas and Ryan from being killed. In the epilogue, we get to see Ryan and Lucas filming on location: out, happy, and in love.

I enjoyed this book and I enjoyed the second book, but my criticism of each is the same: the author only focuses on the two main characters, not fleshing out the secondary characters. Yes, two of them have their own story, but in a book this long, there was plenty of opportunity for us to get to know more about everyone, which would give this way more depth. Still, I enjoyed what was there and would recommend it for an easy read with steamy chemistry.

The cover art by Natasha Snow shows San Francisco where the TV show was filming. The red sky is signaling danger. I am confused over the cover because Ryan is described as Australian, but never Aboriginal nor Black Australian. He is first described as tall, dark, and handsome with dark-brown eyes and later there is a remark about dark skin. Lucas is described as having striking dark skin, shaggy black hair, and green eyes but never identified as African American. Now I am picturing the actors Gary Dourdan (green eyes) or Michael Ealy (although his eyes are blue). We do not get a good enough description of anyone in his family. I never got a sense of either of them as a POC and at this point, I am not sure which model represents which character.

Sales Links:  NineStar PressAmazon
Book Details:
ebook
Published June 18th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608855
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Until You #1

A Lila Review: The Heights (Lakeshore #1) by Amy Aislin

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Twenty-one years ago, a four-year old child was kidnapped from his front yard. He was never found. Until now.

All Nat Walker wants is to make his late father’s dream of running a father/son woodworking shop come true. And he had the perfect building in mind—until the new guy in town came in and bought the place right out from under him. The fact that the new guy is adorable means nothing. For all Nat cares, he can take his new dance studio and waltz back to New York City.

Professional dancer Quinn Carroll couldn’t be happier that he made the move to the small town of Lakeshore, Oregon. Sure, it’s not New York, but now he’ll be living closer to his adoptive brother. And since his studio will be the only one in the area, he should get enough business to keep him busy. Besides, there’s something about this place that seems familiar…

He doesn’t expect to fall hard for the local, grumpy woodworker who won’t even smile at him.

Or find out that his entire life is a lie.

The Heights has a very interesting premise. The characters’ backstories run parallel keeping an individuality that makes them unique. We get to know them in detail but there’s a detachment that takes a bit from their development. Almost as if they were looking to their lives from the outside.

Nat’s and Quinn’ relationship is only one of the main elements of this story. It’s the support Quinn needed to deal with the secrets about his past. It gave him an escape from reality when life becomes difficult. It’s also reciprocal, giving Nat the strength he needs to deal with his fears.

Dealing with the characters’ fears, indecisions, guilt, and new lives is something the author did well. The reader has the opportunity to get invested in their discoveries and is there to be part of their ups and downs.

There are not many details about the actual events in Quinn’s past until later on the story. The additional family members bring different perspectives into the story and we get to see how their lives were impacted.

Overall, this is a good story presenting a hard topic and a complementary love story. Definitely, a good start to a new season.

The cover by Champagne Book Design is simple and it matches the story’s setting.

Sale Links: iTunesAmazon | Nook

ebook, 235 pages
Published: September 20, 2018, by Amy Aislin
ASIN: B07F2PC2DC
Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Professor Adorkable (Domesticated Inc #1) by Edie Danford

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

What happens when a star-gazing professor falls for his hot young housekeeper? One heck of an earthy explosion…

Professor Marek Janos’s genius at analyzing stellar explosions doesn’t apply to his own disordered world. Forgetting to eat, sleep, and leave his lab has triggered some epic personal disasters. When his family insists he hire live-in help, he discovers home life has awesome benefits. His new housekeeper’s smile sparks more energy than a supernova. And the way he moves? It rocks Marek’s galaxy.

Pete Schulz took a tough fall from his high-flying life in Hollywood. But how does a guy whose best skill is getting dirty clean up his act? His new gig with Domesticated Inc seems like a great first step. Keeping house for a nerdy young astrophysics professor is exactly the low-key, no-chance-for-trouble job he needs, right?

Living together is surprisingly easy for both men. And fun. And more than a little hot. It’s when they’re faced with the idea of living apart that the truly messy work begins…

I enjoyed this story.  I felt the story was much more about Pete coming to terms with his past and being able to move on than it was about Marek, though Marek is absolutely adorkable as the title suggests.  I am looking forward to more stories in this series and can’t wait to find out who will catch the love bug next.  I guess this was a spin off from one of the author’s other series but I hadn’t read any and it didn’t hurt my enjoyment or understanding of this book.

Pete has a few things he needs to come clean to Marek about and he is afraid of those ruining their burgeoning relationship.  Marek doesn’t see how things are so complicated between them, they love each other and that’s all that should matter, but they have some hurdles to get past first.

I absolutely love Marek, it was easy to understand his thoughts and actions and how much he wanted everything to work out in real life like it did in his head.  I liked Pete, I just felt that he hurt Marek with some of the push and pull and not being completely up front but he gets the chance to work it out and it also give Marek the chance to show both of them he doesn’t need a keeper.  I’m glad Marek’s uncle wasn’t around much because that man sure has some boundary issues and is a jerk.

The cover art by Black Jazz Design is adorably cute and I love it.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 301 pages

Published: September 18, 2018

Edition Language: Englis3

Series: Domesticated Inc #1

A MelanieM Review: Infinite Blue by Natalina Resia

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

When a shifter and a human are bound by fate, neither man knows if their connection will be enough to save not only their growing love, but their lives.

Shahin Halcón has been taught that if and when he meets his soul mate, he’ll know immediately. Always the rebel, he doesn’t believe it until the day he crosses paths with Cai, a full-human.

Plagued by unsuccessful relationships and heartache, Cai Banes’s life is quiet and unexciting. When he meets young and wild Shahin, his life is turned upside down, and he’s not sure he likes it.

But neither can deny the powerful pull that draws them together.

Old secrets and ancient myths about cross-species relationships plague their romance and threaten to put their happiness and lives at risk. Will their love for each other be strong enough to survive?

Sometimes it just comes down to the fact that a story and a reader just aren’t a good fit for one another.  I think that’s pretty much what happened here with Infinite Blue by Natalina Resia.  We got off on the wrong cover, uh um, start and never quite recovered.

I love shifter stories and grab them up immediately but, if I’m honest I’m also picky because of my wildlife biologist background.  Those predator/prey couples?  Always bother me, kept thinking one day, one was going to end up an appetizer.  And the ones where the authors are really loosey goosey with naturali history. Hmmmmm. Ok, I get it, they are shifters got to be pretty relaxed over the natural history bits with that in the mixture but some authenticity and research is nice (and appreciated).

That especially comes into play here with an author who uses scientific names and takes the trouble to obviously include some correct details of a certain raptor species natural history into her story.  So why right off the bat am I faced with a blue eyed hawk shifter?  Seen many blue eyed hawks these days? Nope.  Just look at that cover. So immediately that was an itch I couldn’t scratch.

Throw in instant love between Cai and Shahin, that, yes, is explained by a mate bond, but their chemistry is something I never felt. Again, I will totally own up that I could be my fault here.  But these characters just didn’t ring true. Hospital visits, blood and shifters wouldn’t be an issue? Plus I won’t go into migratory patterns.   The writing and author was working on doing her part but right from being dropped into a “stalker like” situation with Shahin without any back filler, it just felt odd and disconnected from their relationship and the storyline.

It didn’t help that a family drama further into the book was resolved far too easily given the severity of the crime.  I was, to use one of my favorite words, gobsmacked!

No, Infinite Blue and I were not a good mix.  There was a possible explanation for the eyes at the end but by that time, my irritation had set in, Cai’s occupation as an  anthropologist never felt believable, and I just kept waiting for more feathers to sprout.

I’m sure other readers will love this romance.  They will find it sweet, the hawk shifters fascinating, and the whole mate bonding journey one to love.  Sometimes it is oil and water.  Check it out and find out for yourself.

Cover Art would be dramatic excerpt for those darn blue eyes.

Sales Links: Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon | Amazon Paperback | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AU | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Book Details:ebook
Published September 8th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ISBN139781925655841
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.hottreepublishing.com/infinite-blue

 

 

Crystel Greene on Writing, Flawed Characters, and her new release Glacier Gold by Crystel Greene (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Glacier Gold by Crystel Greene

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Universal buy link |  Dreamspinner Press buy link

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Crystel Greene here today on tour for the latest World of Love story from Dreamspinner Press, Glacier Gold.  Welcome, Crystel!

 

Hello everyone! I’m Crystel, and I’m so happy to be here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to celebrate the release of my m/m romance novella  . Thank you for having me!

I’m going to answer two questions about writing romance and talk about what my protagonist, Justin, has in common with fairy tale heroine Rapunzel…

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?
  • With so much going on in the world, do you write to get away?

Can a character be too flawed? Like, a murderer who has greasy hair and hates puppies? Yes, I guess there is such a thing as too many faults, but as a writer and a reader, I feel the bigger problem would be a hero who’s too perfect.

Any story needs a flawed hero. Contemporary or fantasy, the main character needs to have at least one major flaw. How else could they grow? Why would I want to read about a hero who only has to kill that dragon or hunt down a murder suspect or defeat an army of aliens?

What I really want to know is, will they overcome their fear of dogs and try to get to know the cute guy running the dog shelter next door?

A flawed hero is certainly a challenge for a romance author, because they have to make not only the reader care for the protagonist but also the love interest. As a writer, I’m aware I’ve got to draw the line at some point when it comes to a hero’s faults. A fear of dogs is acceptable in a protagonist, I’d say; hatred for puppies isn’t. The same goes for a habit of murdering people: a serial killer wouldn’t be a protagonist I’d be interested in as a reader, and I wouldn’t enjoy writing their point of view either, nor want to force another character to develop a crush on them.

In my opinion the one flaw that destroys a character (and their story) is a lack of empathy. A character can have trouble showing emotions, they can be rough or cold on the outside, but they have to hide a heart somewhere.

As a romance writer, I have another hard limit concerning character flaws: I won’t write a main character who cheats on their partner or is unable to commit to a relationship. 

But apart from that, flaws are fantastic! I love characters who are fussy, bossy, jealous, fearful, annoyingly meticulous, reckless, obsessive compulsive, or, like Justin in GLACIER GOLD, competitive and a little vain.

Character flaws are especially important in a love story. Because where’s the fun in writing about a perfect person finding love? It’s so infinitely more satisfying to write or read about someone who’s not that easy to love and who still finds someone who’ll put up with them because they’ve fallen for them.

What’s better than a protagonist making mistakes, making a fool of themselves, trying people’s patience with their deficiencies, and still winning the heart of the cool billionaire/sweet doctor/hot pirate? Because there’s good in them too, and the billionaire/doc/pirate can see that, and it counts more than the bad.

To me, the whole point of romance is to see love conquering all; to see it’s stronger than people’s (make that: my) flaws and weaknesses. In romance, there’s always the underlying certainty that ultimately the characters will find deliverance in love. No matter how much they might have fucked up before.

That’s something that never gets old, and it’s why I love this genre so much and couldn’t imagine writing anything else!

As a writer, I often fall in love with my characters not in spite of their imperfections, but because of them. I came to love Justin in GLACIER GOLD for his total lack of coolness. For being so emotional he’s sometimes a little irrational. Justin struggles with low self-esteem. He has a lot of talent as a graphic designer, he’s an artist really, but he has never seen himself as such. In fact, he’s rather self-conscious about his “doodling” on his graphic tablet and thinks of himself as a secret nerd. And as a loser who flunks their college exams: he has a history of academic failures, and since he hasn’t freed himself of his mother’s expectations and plans for his future, he seeks validation in hook-ups. To him, sex is just another opportunity for scoring, same as sports. His competitive streak is really just him coping with the feeling of not being good enough. He means no harm, he’d never hurt anyone, but he’s clueless about his true needs.

And here’s my answer to the second question: Yes, I am writing to get away, to help my readers get away. That’s romance. But that doesn’t mean I’m writing about perfect people whose journey to happiness is plain sailing. On the contrary.

Romance stories are like fairy tales: they seem to be the opposite of realism, but in truth they aren’t. They tell us about our flaws, how they lead us into trouble, and about how we need to put in work to grow. And about how we, too, can find love.

There’s this fantastic book by psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, “Children need Fairy Tales”. He makes the case that fairy tales, far from being simple bedtime stories, can be a tool for young people to understand their own soul and find confidence and hope. He argues that fairy tales deal with timeless human problems, and that they show us that we have the power to overcome them.

Rapunzel is probably the fairy tale character who’s closest to Justin (and not just because they both wear their hair long and like braids), so here’s a quick look at her story as an example: Rapunzel has to learn that she has allowed her foster mom to limit her and to define her future for her, and that she has to risk everything to break free, including taking a chance on the prince.

Translate: if we dare believe in our own strength, we will overcome what holds us back and find our way in this chaotic world, and we will find love, and all will be well.

This isn’t escapism; it’s a narrative of empowerment for young people and adults alike.

True empowerment starts with acknowledging we can’t do it all by ourselves. The Beatles got it right: We need love. In whatever form.

And here’s my bottom line: I think it’s not only legitimate to read and write romance with what’s going on in the world, I think it’s essential. The simple truth is, we can use all the empowerment we can get! And all the fun too.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading Justin’s journey to his happy ending as much as I did writing it! ―

Have you ever felt reading romance is more than just a guilty pleasure for you? Have you ever found images or concepts in a romance story that stayed with you for some reason?

*

About Glacier Gold

Up in the Alps, a single night can change your life.

Struggling college student and self-taught graphic artist Justin Bennet isn’t the most self-confident guy, but he knows he’s good at two things: snowboarding and sex. Why does Andi, the hot instructor at the Tyrolean ski resort, pretend Justin doesn’t exist?

Justin becomes all but obsessed with the idea of scoring with the young Austrian. Because for all the man’s reserve, he made it quite obvious he likes Justin—at least from the neck down.

When Justin books a private heliboarding trip with Andi as his guide, he thinks he’s one step away from striking gold.

But then the forces of nature take over, trapping the men in a snowstorm, and things get real. What was supposed to be about some freeriding fun and inviting a closeted guy to start exploring his options suddenly becomes about survival—and the hidden truths of the soul.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

*

Excerpt

(After a series of failed attempts on Justin’s part to flirt with Andi in public, the two guys have met at midnight in the hotel’s ski room for a private heart-to-heart. Justin wants to convince Andi it’s a good idea for them to hook up.)

“I get you aren’t out, and you don’t want to do anything here in your father’s hotel. Perfectly understandable. But here’s what we could do. How about we go to Innsbruck tomorrow night and rent a room in the youth hostel? It’s just a two-hour drive, but at a safe distance from here. It would be all discreet. No one would ever know.”

That’s the central point of the speech I’ve prepared.

He’s still listening. It’s great, but also a bit unnerving.

“Here’s the thing,” I plow on. “I think, in case you want to start, like, exploring your options, I might be just the right guy for you.”

He sharply inhales.

“For experimenting, I mean,” I quickly clarify. “Like, I’m this random dude? I’m going to leave in three days’ time? What I mean is, with me, there’s zero expectations. No strings attached and all that. Please, Andi. Say yes?”

I stand before him, eagerly waiting for his response.

When he finally looks up at me, his eyes are very bright. He quickly casts them down again and gets up from the bench, walking a few steps away from me.

“You’re making this harder than it has to be, Bennet.”

The sinking feeling is so strong I feel I might slip right through the concrete floor.

“But I thought you found me attractive! You said… I thought… I’ve been hoping….”

I break off, choked by the unexpected force of my feelings.

He gives me a quick, loaded glance. For a short, crazy moment I feel he’s about to close the distance between us and pull me in for a kiss. I feel ready to swoon, as if this were an ancient Hollywood romance movie.

But the movie kiss doesn’t happen. He doesn’t step up to me or try to touch me. He just stands with his hands clenched into fists, looking at the floor again. Eventually he says, “You are super hot, and you know it.”

“So you do find me attractive.”

“I like you, okay?”

Before I can think about whether he might actually mean by this that he likes me, like, as a person or something, he goes on, a little breathless.

“But I’m not interested in sneaking off to grab a quickie with a tourist. I’m not the type who’d sneak off to some shady corner for five minutes of sex, okay? Or for a night. I’ve never done it, and I won’t start now. It’s not what I’m looking for.”…

“The point is, you want me because I’m gay, and around. For you, it’s all about fun and not missing out on an opportunity. This is not an accusation, it’s just how it is. You and me, that doesn’t make sense.”

Okay.

Okay, this sounds like not being out and his family potentially freaking out and all that is just part of the problem. This sounds like he wants someone who brings more to the table than just girth, muscle, and a good fashion sense. This sounds like he’s looking for a relationship.

And he doesn’t see me as someone who’d qualify for that.

“Maybe I want more too,” I say, floundering, feeling at sea. What he just said about me summed up my attitude about making out pretty accurately. Or what has been my attitude up to now.

He’s shaking his head at me.

“You just told me the best thing about you is that you’re going to be gone in three days’ time!”

I did, but I only said that because I thought he thought it was the best thing about me; I hoped it might tip the scales in my favor. Apparently it did the opposite. Fuck, I’m not used to having to navigate my way around all kinds of pitfalls in presex conversation, I’m not used to having to argue so much with guys who told me they liked me just to get them to act on it!

If he goes on like this, I’m going to crack and say something like I dream of you all the time, and I think I love you.

*

About the Author

The first man Crystel fell in love with was Beauty’s Beast. Next came Robin Hood, then Mr. Darcy. Two decades of married life later, she still loves fictional men—especially when there are two of them who are meant to be! She likes it best when she can create their plights and fights herself, and she can always be counted on to throw in some sizzling hotness and a lot of feels. Here’s her author promise: no fade-outs when things get steamy or emotional, and an ending that will leave you smiling.

Crystel is a lawyer by training, a lover of pastry, and a believer in Happy Ever Afters. Born and raised in Hamburg, Germany, and a North Sea girl at heart, she lives in the beautiful Austrian Alps with her husband and four kids.

PS She loves reader mail!

crystelgreene@gmail.com

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https://www.goodreads.com/crystelgreene

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/crystel-greene-1081

https://www.amazon.com/author/crystelgreene

 

Giveaway

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Blog Tour for Infinite Blue by Natalina Resia (excerpt and giveaway)

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COVER - Infinite Blue

Natalina Reis has a new MM paranormal shifter book out: Infinite Blue.

When a shifter and a human are bound by fate, neither man knows if their connection will be enough to save not only their growing love, but their lives.

Shahin Halcón has been taught that if and when he meets his soul mate, he’ll know immediately. Always the rebel, he doesn’t believe it until the day he crosses paths with Cai, a full-human.

Plagued by unsuccessful relationships and heartache, Cai Banes’s life is quiet and unexciting. When he meets young and wild Shahin, his life is turned upside down, and he’s not sure he likes it.

But neither can deny the powerful pull that draws them together.

Old secrets and ancient myths about cross-species relationships plague their romance and threaten to put their happiness and life at risk. Will their love for each other be strong enough to survive?

Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon | Amazon Paperback | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AU | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Giveaway

Natalina is giving away two prizes with this tour – an eBook copy of “Lavender Fields” (backlist, m/m paranormal romance) and a $10 Amazon gift card. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

MEME - Infitinte Blue

Cranky didn’t even start to describe how Cai woke up that morning. The day ahead loomed over his horizon like a large bird of prey ready to pounce on him. Why hadn’t he said no? Why was it always so hard for him to say no to his sister? All she had to do was bat her thick lashes and he was lost.

A little witch is what she is.But he loved her and he was hopeless against those baby blue eyes of hers.

He was going to suck it up and be a man. How bad could it be? He would go to the assigned meeting place, meet this guy his sister was so excited about, and if he was as bad as Cai thought he was, all he had to do was make some excuse and flee the scene. Memories of the last time his sister tried to set him up with someone flooded his mind. He remembered a red-purplish face as his date emphatically declared himself “very straight” many times over. Lyra had assumed the man to be gay and had been determined to pair them together.

Oh shit. This could be bad.

By the time he left his house, his bad mood had reached fever pitch, and if anyone was unfortunate enough to approach him, he was afraid he would eat them alive. There were very few things he hated more than blind dates. He was not exactly someone who qualified as a hot number. Even though he was in his midthirties, his hair had gone silver many years back and he wore it as a protective shield against possible disastrous relationships.

On his way to the restaurant where he was to meet the amazing Shahin—his sister’s words—he decided he needed some strong coffee if he was to survive the humiliation of another failed attempt at romance. It hadn’t been a bed of roses for him since Jack, his boyfriend of many years, had made the startling announcement he’d met the love of his life. As if the shock of betrayal had not been enough, Jack announced—shortly after the breakup when Cai’s heart was still hemorrhaging—that he was marrying his high school sweetheart, a woman Jack had frequently referred to as only a friend.

Starbucks was on the way, a beacon of promised comfort and relief. A cup of good coffee had always been his self-medication—nothing a good cup of java wouldn’t cure. The line was long and the room was packed with the usual crowd, a mixture of college students, writers, and a few moms with their toddlers in tow. As Cai waited for his turn, he scanned the room. He loved people-reading, a term his sister had coined a few years ago after realizing that was one of her brother’s favorite pastimes.

“You should talk to people, interact,” she had said, her protective sisterly claws fully out. “Instead, you sit there watching them.”

“Anthropologists have been doing it for a long time.” His usual comeback.

“Anthropologists actually interact with the people they’re studying, bro. What you do is just a bit creepy. And definitely sad.”

She wasn’t wrong. It was a little pathetic that a thirty-five-year-old would be satisfied to sit in a coffee shop observing people and life happening around him without ever stepping in to participate. Satisfied was not the right word for it though. Cai feared what may happen if he stepped out of his comfort zone. He had taken a chance with Jack and look what it got him—nothing but heartache.

A deep blue caught his eye from across the coffee shop. A pair of amazing eyes met his scrutiny with a take-a-good-look-I-dare-you glint. Cai’s first instinct was to look away, but he couldn’t, captured and paralyzed by the electrifying vibe the man with the deep ocean eyes was emitting. The man—younger than him—had short honey-colored hair that spiked slightly on top and left his face and neck exposed. An intricate black ink tattoo stretched down the side of his neck to hide underneath the plain white T-shirt he was wearing, only to emerge again from below the short sleeves and down his well-defined biceps.

Were those roses?  Cai’s body caught on fire as the desire to trace the edges of the tattooed flowers grew to alarming heights. He stuck his hands in his jeans pockets, trying to control the itch on his restless fingers. The strange man with the bottomless eyes was still staring at him, caressing without touching, tender and passionate all at the same time.

“Can I take your order?”

The voice startled him and Cai looked away momentarily, placing his order for a flat white. When he looked back, those eyes were still glued to him. Cai swallowed hard as his admirer licked his lips.

I need a cold shower right now.

The phone vibrated in his pocket. Reluctantly, he pulled it out and answered. “Yes?”

The other man was still staring at him with a fire that defied the laws of physics, for it soothed as much as it burned.

“Are you there yet?” It was his sister. There where? Then he remembered.

“On my way,” he lied. “Stopped for liquid courage.”

“For God’s sake, Cai. You sound like you’re walking to the gallows.” Sometimes he wished Lyra didn’t read so much. She didn’t talk like normal people her age.

“I might as well be, Lyra.” He stole a quick glance across the room to check if the handsome stranger was still there. He was. God, Cai was the arrow in a compass and he was the North Pole. Irreversibly and powerfully attracted.

“Don’t embarrass me by not showing up, Cai.”  He had almost forgotten about his sister on the other end of the phone line. “He’s my coworker’s cousin. Please, bro. I promise I won’t ever try to set you up again.”

Not that he believed her, but it was a very tempting proposal. “Okay, I promise. I’m leaving right now.”

Hanging up, he took a couple slow breaths, trying to get in control of his body. Good thing he was wearing a long duster coat he could use to disguise how much the stranger affected him. Cai held the coat by the edges, wrapped it closely around him, and grabbed the coffee cup to leave. As he walked by the object of his sudden madness, the other man’s sexy full lips stretched into a wicked smile, releasing a million butterflies in Cai’s chest.

How would it feel to touch my lips to his?The coldness of the silver snake bite he wore on his lower lip rubbing against Cai’s unadorned mouth and tongue would be as thrilling as exploring the muscles barely hidden under the T-shirt. Cai shook his head and made himself lower his eyes to the floor. Like it or not, he had committed to this blasted blind date, and he was not one to renege on his promises.

Just as he was about to walk past, the stranger reached out quickly and handed him a business card. “Call me.”


Author Bio

AUTHOR PHOTO - Natalina Reis

Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend, Susana. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of seven romance novels that reflect the amazing diversity of humankind and the universal power of love.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

Author Website: https://catarinadeobidos.wordpress.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/natalina.bell

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