A MelanieM Review: Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

In the two novellas that make up the third book in the popular Boystown Mysteries private Investigator Nick Nowak works two challenging cases and grapples with an even more challenging personal life.

In Little Boy Boom, Nick’s car explodes when a thief attempts to steal it. Realizing the bomb was meant for him, Nick sets out to discover who wants him dead only to find that the list of possible suspects is longer than he’d like. When he begins to run out of suspects he wonders if the bomb was truly meant for him.

Little Boy Tenor finds Nick investigating the murderer of a church choir’s star tenor, while at the same time his friend Ross asks him to discover the truth behind his lover, Earl Silver’s mysterious death. As he juggles the two cases, he becomes increasingly disturbed by what he learns.

Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton see’s Chi town’s dour, promiscuous private investigator torn between two men and deep into two cases that will impact not only himself on a deeply personal level but those close to him.

The cases have flashes of violence (murder is like that), the people seeking Nick’s help often see the P.I. hunting for clues in the seediest areas of Chicago all the way through Catholic parishes attended by his  estranged family to the haunts of Chicago’s upper society.  There is no where that Nick won’t go in pursuit of answers and a swift sexual hookup. Yes, sex and Nick are inseparable.  He never met a blowjob he didn’t like…mostly.  Even now when maybe, in the back of his mind, the thoughts are poking at him that perhaps he should  change his promiscuous ways. Not that he listens very long.  These are the years when they don’t even use condoms. No precautions are taken.  It’s just one slutfest after another, threeways and drugs included. Until something starts to happen.

Set in the early 80’s, there have been whispers of men falling ill and dying of the “gay flu”.  Then in bits and pieces Nick and various characters start to read about a bigger population, and then more theories as Ross’ lover Earl dies of a mysterious death.  And far worse, Nick’s lover Bert Harker falls ill. As Bert’s physical state deteriorates, both men look for answers and Nick faces his true feelings about Bert and Daniel.  It’s bleak, revealing, and heartrending because we have the  perspective and knowledge of the future.  We know where this particular path will lead them and so many others.  We saw the tiny pieces start to appear in the first two collections.  Small chilling appearances in the narrative that made the reader stop and take a deep breath.  And then go “oh no, please no”.  Because what’s the present for these characters is recent history for us. Inarguable, indisputable, horrific, painful history.  We know what they will live through, and because Marshall Thornton’s brilliant stories has made us care for them, we can’t look away.  We shouldn’t look away.

Their lives are messy, alive, human and so worth reading about.  And they are intertwined with Nick’s cases which will continue to have reverberations down  through the books to come.  It’s all connected, as are all the people you will continue to meet.

Marshall Thornton is weaving a Boystown tapestry of sex, murder, love, AIDS, and life in the 80’s. It’s gritty, dark complicated and ultimately moving.  It’s also not to be missed.

Cover art works for branding the series.  i wish it was more in tone like his Pinx Video series.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published June 1st 2011)
ASIN B00QZKR5YS
Edition Language English
Series Boystown #3

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 (PREOR

New Book Release Blog Tour: THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING (THE BEACON HILL SORCERER #3) by S.J. HIMES (excerpt and giveaway)

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 The Necromancers Reckoning Tour Banner

THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING

THE BEACON HILL SORCERER, BOOK 3

S.J. HIMES

GAY URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 05.27.18

Necromancers Reckoning 

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

 

COVER DESIGN: Kellie Dennis of Book Cover by Design

 

BLURB

Every action has consequences.

For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.

Until now.

The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.

If found guilty, Angel’s apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel’s mate refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.

The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.

Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town…a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.

This is book 3 of a series, and the previous books should be read first for full enjoyment. Trigger Warnings are on the Copyright Page and can be seen using the Look Inside feature or by downloading a sample of this book.

 

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reckoning 4 

 

 

 

EXCERPT

“What do you mean, I got a letter?” Angel held his smartphone between his ear and shoulder, fumbling with the keys to his office. It was still dark, and he huffed with impatience, blinking a small orb of hellfire into existence over his hands so he could find the right key. Inserting it into the lock, he opened the door and dismissed the orb, flicking the light switch by the door.

“It was delivered by courier about ten minutes ago,” Daniel replied, his apprentice talking past food. “I had to sign for it. The courier almost didn’t leave it with me until I told him I was your apprentice.”

Angel grumbled to himself, tossing his keys on his desk and grabbing his phone, rubbing the back of his neck. He left his apartment not even ten minutes before, which was only a couple blocks away, so the courier must have shown up right as he was leaving. He frowned, thinking back to the pre-dawn street, and he didn’t recall seeing anyone—not even a car or taxi.

“Well, go ahead and open it,” Angel said, tapping his phone to put it on speaker. Daniel made a happy sound past whatever he was chewing, and Angel snorted out a laugh. He booted up his laptop, looking for the appointment he had that morning at the ass-crack of dawn. Why in the world he thought it would be a good idea to have a private consultation so damn early on a Monday was beyond him. Which was why he decided on waking up everyone he lived with so he could share the misery. Though it was only Daniel since Isaac was at Nevermore and Simeon was at the Tower.

A sharp yelp and swearing came out from the speakers, and Angel laughed. “Papercut?”

“No! It shocked me!” Daniel gasped out, cussing under his breath. “I can’t open it!”

“What do you mean you can’t open it? Just rip it open.”

“I’m trying! Ouch!” Daniel yelped again, and the sounds coming from over the phone were parts hilarious and alarming. “I’m not risking my fingers. You can open it.”

“Who is it from? It might be warded if a courier brought it.”

“Now you tell me,” Daniel muttered, and Angel grinned as he found the appointment time. Daniel was finding his courage and picking up sass lessons from Isaac. His shy apprentice was learning all about sarcasm in the Salvatore household. His appointment was in about five minutes. No time to run back home and get the letter that was singeing his apprentice’s fingers. Daniel recited the address on the letter, “It says, ‘To Angelus Raine Salvatore, Necromancer of Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts. From’…Oh, wow.”

“Who’s it from?”

“The High Council of Sorcery, Bucharest, Romania.”

Angel stood up straight, hands falling away from his laptop. He stared at the phone, the quiet in his office somehow loud, heart pounding in his ears. He looked up at the door as if any second one of the Council enforcers would blast through the doorway, ready to take him into custody for crimes sundry against international sorcery laws. He breathed in, breath shaky, and flexed his fingers. He reached out with his mind, cautiously testing the wards around his office, and there was nothing.

“Angel? Angel!” Daniel squawked over the phone, and Angel snapped free of the tension that held him frozen and snatched up the phone.

“Daniel, my appointment is any minute. Can you bring the letter here? Just hang out in the main room until I’m done if we’ve started when you get here. Wake up Eroch and have him come with you.”

“Um, okay…wake up the fire-breathing lizard, he says.”

“Just pick him up and carry him with you if he doesn’t wake up. He was sleeping on my pillow when I left. Don’t walk over here alone. I’d say hold on to it until I get home, but I have a feeling I need to read that letter as soon as possible.”

“Okay. Can I take a shower first?”

“You better,” Angel chuckled and hung up. Twenty-year-old men needed showers for the sake of everyone.

A knock sounded from the front of the office, and Angel took a deep breath, calming his off-center nerves before heading to answer the door. He was still cautious, sending out his awareness, his wards humming in the recesses of his mind, unmolested. There were two people on the small landing outside his door, their auras muffled by the panel, but they were both practitioners.

Angel opened the door, a polite smile on his face.

“Angelus Salvatore?” asked a tall, bulky man in a dark coat, his face set to glower. Angel lifted a brow, unable to see the person behind the big man. He could see a flash of red hair and a small bit of alabaster skin before the big guy shifted.

“I am,” Angel replied, opening the door wider, stepping back and gesturing them inside. His wards were set to allow strangers inside, but they would dampen any magic cast in this space by strangers or those he blocked. Came in handy when dealing with young sorcerers and unexpected guests. They could still cast, but his magic permeated the space, claiming even the ambient magical energies and stifling spells cast by interlopers. Not much use against a practitioner who used their own reserves, but the more dangerous, higher-ranked practitioners tended to reach outside themselves first before casting.

A tall woman was behind the big guy, slim and covered head to toe in black, from her leather high-heeled boots and ankle-length black pea coat to her black silk scarf and a jaunty, tiny pillbox hat atop titian curls. She was familiar, but the shadows were still dark enough Angel was having difficulty determining her identity. He led them back to his office, gesturing at the chairs in front of his desk. The woman sat, unwinding her scarf, her escort taking a stance beside the office door. Angel turned on the lamps as dawn was taking its time arriving and the room had shadows in inconvenient places.

The woman removed her scarf, putting it on her lap before shrugging from her coat. Her escort stepped forward, taking it from her before returning to his spot by the door. The woman, dressed in a thin black wraparound dress that hugged every slim curve and long line of her body, smiled at Angel. She was pretty, in a very human way, nothing of the fae about her in face or form. Dark green eyes, nothing at all like the brilliant emerald of Simeon’s eyes but arresting enough in their own merits, gazed back at him, glistening with wry humor.

“Lady Kensington,” Angel acknowledged after a moment’s pause, surprised. The recent widow was a wizard and a skilled apothecary who owned and ran Nightshade Apothecary not far from where they sat in Beacon Hill. Angel would see her occasionally in the neighborhood or when he needed supplies between scheduled deliveries. Her husband, Lord Greyson Kensington, died of a heart attack three months ago while shoveling snow off the front stoop of their shop one chilly winter morning.

“Call me Heather, please,” she said, voice melodic and rich, smooth as hot chocolate with a shot of whiskey. Her chin rose as if she was expecting argument. What Angel could remember of her husband, the man was a stickler for propriety and demanded to be addressed by his title, even to friends.

Angel never liked the man.

“Heather,” Angel agreed with a grin, surprising her into smiling back at him. “What can I do for you? And why so early? I would’ve come to the shop.”

“I’m afraid this matter requires a measure of discretion,” Lady Heather replied, twisting her scarf in her fingers. “It’s regarding my late husband.”

Angel paused, thinking. Usually when the recently bereaved came to his door, they wanted either the impossible, like a resurrection, or more commonly, a summoning of the departed spirit. He rarely acquiesced as nothing good could come from repeatedly dialing in to the Other Side. It kept the living from moving on and tormented the souls he would be recalling to this plane.

She must have seen some of these thoughts on his face, as she held up a dainty hand, forestalling his coming denial. “I don’t want you to summon him from the Other Side,” she said, tears gathering on her lashes. Angel waited, curious despite himself. “I want you to find him for me.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not following,” Angel said warily, hoping she didn’t cry. Isaac or Daniel breaking down he hated but knew what to do, a near stranger crying left him awkward.

“The shop was broken into three nights ago,” Lady Heather said quickly, words tumbling over themselves as she hurried to explain. “I heard the commotion from my apartment upstairs, but by the time the police arrived, it was too late.”

“What did they steal?” Angel was trying to follow along, he really was, but he had no idea what a burglary would have to do with her deceased husband.

“They stole him,” Lady Heather said, digging out a handkerchief from her tiny black purse. She dabbed at her eyes, miraculously not smearing her mascara.

Angel frowned. “I’m going to need you to spell this out for me.”

“The thieves stole Greyson’s ghost. I need you to find him.”

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AMAZON US – THE BEACON HILL SORCERER SERIES

AMAZON UK – THE BEACON HILL SORCERER SERIES

SJ Himes Logo

I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), The Wolfkin Saga, and the epic fantasy romance series Realms of Love. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJHimes/

Website: https://www.sjhimes.com/en

 

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RELEASE BLITZ – Professor Hot Pants by Ember-Raine Winters (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Professor Hot Pants

Author: Ember-Raine Winters

Publisher: Ember-Raine Winters

Cover Artist: Heather Bryant

Genre/s: M/M Student Teacher Taboo

Length: 50 000 words/200 pages

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links

Universal Link http:getbook.at/ProfessorHotPants

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Add on Goodreads  

Blurb

Ryan

My mom always told me that I was better than random hookups but she was a drug addict, what did she know. Sex fulfilled a need in me. I’m not your average college student, but like many students I have one professor I fantasize about. Professor Marks is a great big no-no in the hookup department, so why can’t I stay away?

Philip

I’m a professor of psychology at the University. Being in my position, it was necessary to keep him at a distance. But, he’s slowly becoming an obsession of mine, the sexual tension between us is stifling. Now, we are expected to work together when all I want to do is bend his ass over the table. How will I be able to keep my hands to myself?

Can an unexpected ally bring these two people together and teach them the meaning of family?

Excerpt

I was shocked when he opened it and I got my first good look at him in more than a week. His dark hair was sticking up all over the place, there were bruise-like circles under his eyes, and it looked as though he’d lost ten pounds. He looked like hell.

“Professor Marks? Uh, what’re you doing here?” He eyed me warily, as he probably should, since showing up at his dorm room was unprofessional at best, stalkerish at worst.

I cleared my throat. If I was going to do this, I’d come off as professional and courteous as possible. “I haven’t seen you in class in over a week.” Looking down at him, I confessed, “Sissy told me what happened. I’m here to talk.”

“I’m fine. I don’t need to talk.” He started to close the door but my hand shot out and grabbed it.

“Sissy is worried about you,” I said softly, trying to conceal the hope in my eyes at wanting him to confide in me. “I can be a really great listener.” He paused, then nodded his head and opened the door wider to allow me entry.

“I don’t know why she worries. It’s not like I’m going to do anything to hurt myself. I’m just grieving. My mom was the only family I had, well, I have my half-sister, but she has her own life and we were never super close.” He kicked some clothes out of the way and sat down on his bed, leaning up against the cement block wall that was covered in posters. “My sister was raised by her grandma and she’s seven years older than me. Mom always felt bad about them taking Court away, so she did everything in her power to make sure the same didn’t happen to me.”

He twisted around, dropping his feet to the floor buried his face in his hands as quiet sobs racked his body. I dragged the desk chair over to where he was sitting and sat down next to him by the edge of the bed. Our knees brushed briefly and I sucked in a lungful of air before moving back a fraction. My hand came down on his knee and I squeezed. “It’s good to grieve for your loss, but would your mom want you to sit here alone, wallowing in that grief?” He looked up at me with red rimmed eyes. “Absolutely not. She’d want you to live. I’m aware of your scholarship, if your grades slip they could take that from you, Ryan.”

“Yeah,” he said attempting to take a few deep breaths and pull himself together. “It just hurts so fucking bad knowing that I wasn’t enough of a reason for her to get herself clean. I know it was a disease taking her life, but honestly, I don’t give a fuck about that at the moment.” His anger was palpable and well deserved, but it’d been a week of him holing himself up in this room alone, suffering alone.

“I know this sounds contrite, and while this is painful, it will get easier. As you progress through your degree—and you will, Ryan, make no mistake—you’ll understand more of the anatomy of an alcoholic and drug addict. It may not be of comfort to you now, but eventually you’ll learn to forgive her.”

Anger flashed in his eyes as he jumped off the bed, pushing me back, and screamed the most guttural heartbreaking sound I’d ever heard in my life.

“I don’t want to forgive her! She left me. That’s the one thing she always promised she wouldn’t do.” He slammed his hand down on his desk. The container full of pencils fell over scattering across the floor. “I did everything for her. I work two jobs so she has a place to stay and a phone to call me. I put food in her fridge every week. Yet, she couldn’t even keep the one promise she made to me.” His hands were braced on the desk, his head slumped forward, and I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. I walked over and wrapped my arms around him; it was like the dam burst inside of him. He turned around, then buried his face in the crook of my neck as loud racking sobs tore through his body.

I knew what I’d said was the truth about him eventually forgiving her, but he was still so raw there was no way he’d be able to accept anything until he passed through the overwhelming sadness and anger. “Shhh, it’s okay, I’m here. I’m not judging you, Ryan. If you need to cry, do it. If you need to get angry and throw things, I’ll sit quietly and watch that you don’t hurt yourself. The one thing you aren’t is alone.” I rubbed his back soothingly before I realized what I was doing. Ryan must have gotten the same weird tension because he sniffled before taking a step back.

“Thank y-you,” he stammered. “I’m okay now.”

“Right.” I cleared my throat, shifting from foot to foot, taking a step back from him, now completely uncomfortable with the tension radiating from him. “I, uh, brought the work you missed the last week.” Walking back over to the front door, I grabbed my satchel and dug around for the packet of papers I’d printed for him. He took a few hesitant steps forward and our fingers brushed as I handed him the assignment. A spark of electricity sizzled up my arm and I drew my arm back quickly.

“I’ll be in class Monday with all of this done.” His eyes refused to meet mine.

“My personal cell number is on that card in case you need to talk.”

“Is that… allowed?” He finally looked up.

“Look, Ryan, I’m just a professor making sure that a student is okay. It’s my responsibility, not only as a teacher here, but knowing what had happened, it’s the right thing to do.” I shrugged casually.

“None of my other professors have come to my dorm offering to talk or leaving me their phone numbers.” He pointed out with a lifted eyebrow.

“Look, use the number, or don’t. I don’t really care. I was just offering my help if you need it.” So what if I was a bit righteous in defending myself? He was acting as though I had ulterior motives—and as much as there was something about him, the person before me was in pain, and I’d never cross that line of causing someone more.  

“Are you sure that’s all it is, Professor Marks?” Ryan took an aggressive step toward me, his hands balled into fists at his sides, crumpling the papers I gave him.

My jaw clenched tight as I ground out, “Positive, I’ll see you in class on Monday, Ryan,” then I hightailed it out the door, Ryan’s soft chuckle following me.

Shit. What was I thinking going in there?

About the Author

Ember-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website 

Facebook

Twitter

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A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn/Kirt Graves (Narrator

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire – if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the sociology department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least, not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk his heart when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Any hockey romance is an autoread or listen for me.  I just can’t help myself, especially so one by author Avon Gale.  So I was really looking forward to listening to the new audiobook, Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn as narrated by Kirt Graves.

The first in a new series, I’m hoping it follows others in the Atlanta Venom team because several come across just as layered and interested as Tristan.  Tristan actually is my favorite character here, thoughtful, big hearted, intelligent, and sexy.  What’s not to love?  In comparison, professor Sebastian, who is older, comes off as judgmental, temperamental, and not as easy to connect with.  Oh, yes, and he’s a bit of a Dom.  Not that he’s not believable, Sebastian is, its just that he’s not so easy to like at first.

It’s lust at first sight, the liking comes later.  For both the characters and the reader.  At least for me.

As always, the hockey element is amazing.  From the interplay on ice to the team dynamics, the  game comes live and the love for all aspects of hockey is something that you can just feel as an active ingredient in this wonderful story.  It’s the foundation, framework, and spice that adds energy to everything that happens here.

The characters are so solid that even the supporting secondary cast feel just as noteworthy as Tristan and Sebastian.  You want to know more about each and every person you come in contact with and hope that new stories that arrive happen to bring these people further under the microscope.

I loved the romance, as stressful and argumentative as it got at times.  The authors made it, well, if not easy, then each characters perspective accessible.  Together the men are hot and sexy, the D/s was something they were exploring together as Tristan was new to the idea of a submissive role.  The heat factor here?  Off the charts.

Kirt Graves handled all of the roles and voices beautifully, no matter the gender.  It was easy to differentiate each character, and he made the story flow quickly.  I will definitely seek out more stories narrated by him.

Now I can’t wait for the next in the series.  Doesn’t matter whether it is the eBook or audiobook version.  I may want both.

In the meantime, I highly recommend this audiobook version for all lovers of contemporary romance with a hockey base.

 

Cover art is perfect.  Love the bench and the player with his skates.

Sales Links:    Audible

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 53 minutes

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 30th 2017)
ASINB07D2JH1XZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHat Trick #1
CharactersTristan Holt, Sebastian Cruz, Ryu Mori, Trevor Morley, Daniel Bellamy settingAtlanta, Georgia (United States)

A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4. 75 stars out of 5

A collection of WWI stories from Charlie Cochrane.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE
An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND
A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION
And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

If you have ever read any of Charlie Cochrane’s historical novels, you know not only of her intense interest in WWI but her incredible ability to bring it vividly to life. To take not only the years that encompass WWI but those that preceded it as well as the years afterward where the impact on the survivors who came in many forms, and those who remembered shaped the course of many nations and weave it memorably into her stories.

When it comes to WWI and the men who went to battle, whether they were officers or those on the front line, she takes us into their lives in the trenches.  We feel their fear, their hopes, the lives shattered in a split second and get that war is ugly, anonymous, and death has many faces.  We feel both the intimacy of the men and their yearning for home.

And their fear for it as well.

All of that makes THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE my favorite story of the three. Five stars plus as it takes us directly into the battlefield as well as the mens live before and post war.  It’s grim, the men undergo live changing experiences, and loss.  The characters are people we hurt for, believe in, and finally feel relief and happiness there at the end.  It’s an amazing story and so well written you can almost hear the sounds of battle ringing in your ears.

Next up is my second  favorite, also because of the realism and ability of the author to open her character’s up and expose their vulnerabilities…to each other and her readers in such a way that’s touching and authentic given the circumstances.  Such a moving story.  Again 5 stars for HALLOWED GROUND.  The author got the inspiration from visiting a chapel and those details carry over into the story.

The stories go from the most grim and realistic working their way towards an almost supernatural story,  MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION, that’s hard to describe.  Here the author plays with the lines between the afterlife and the living and two soldiers from different eras with a mission to accomplish.  It’s lighter in tone with WWI still but for me, there were some missing elements as the end where we didn’t find out what happened to a character or two. So  the addition of this story with the other two just didn’t completely work for me.

Now I know from the author’s guest blog that the three stories titles all came from WWI poems.  If you’re interested, check out more of Charlie Cochrane’s guest post on the subject here.  I myself am a fan of Siegfried Sassoon, another WWI author and poet as well as Wilfred Owen who the author loves so much.

I highly recommend this remarkable collection as well as the other historical novels by Charlie Cochrane.  The author has a way of putting you next to these men, letting you feel their experiences, empathize with their conditions and lives that will leave an impact on you long after the book is over.

Cover art is  perfection with the use of poppies,a symbol of Remembrance from famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.  against the white background.  Blood red.  Haunting indeed.

Sales Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting
ASINB07CZKTX6G

A Stella Review: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R Cooper

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

 

Jerry Candelario, known as Potts to almost everyone, has spent his entire adult life focused on raising his siblings and his niece. But the home he fought hard to make feels empty since everyone has grown up and moved out, and his precious baby niece is now a teen with a life of her own. With fewer people at the dinner table every night, Jerry suddenly has all the time in the world to think about what he wants. For years, Jerry has kept to himself, never going to college, never dating or doing anything with his evenings except getting lost in a book. But although he pushed aside his longing for community and romance, he never stopped imagining the freedom he might have in a distant someday. Then kind, clever, and out Lincoln Lee opened a bakery in Jerry’s small town. Jerry told himself he was lucky when they became friends. He was too busy to try for a relationship, and someone like Lincoln would never want someone like him anyway. But now that Jerry’s nights are free, all he wants to do is spend them with Lincoln. Jerry knows nothing about gay culture, or dating, or being in love. With Lincoln, he wants to try, but is he making a fool of himself or is his someday finally here?

 

Oh, this story! I could reread it a thousand times and it will always give me the same lovely emotions. Maybe because I understand Potts so well, maybe because Lincoln’s patience is what I look for in my lovers, maybe simply because the book is wonderful.

I have to say, although my relationship with the author previous works is a hit or miss, my love for her words continues and with this new release I was hugely rewarded. There was nothing I didn’t like in Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut, I found everything perfectly put in the right place and moment, every scene so well balanced with feelings, smiles and some tears. I soon emphasized with all the characters, I loved them all and so wanted to have them in my RL. Potts’ family is a mess, but his love for his sister, nice and dad is endless and so deep, it came strongly through his words and thoughts. He put himself and his needs before all his family’s needs and now for once he seems ready to start thinking just a little about his desire for Lincoln.

I adored their relationship, how Lincoln was so welcoming and open with Potts, although sometimes he seemed to be resigned to be just a friend and nothing more, he never gave up on the possibility to be loved as more than just a friend.

I want to recommend this new release by R. Cooper to everyone who is looking for a story deeply packed with feelings and positivity, It’s a light quick read but not a shallow one, not even for a second. Most of all it felt real and believable. Well done!

The cover art by Erin Gamble is lovely, fitting and kind of soft like the story is.

SALE LINKS:  Amazon   

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition

Published June 2nd 2018

ASIN B07DH5B7CW

Edition Language English

 

An Alisa Release Day Review: Mystic Man by E.J. Russell

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.

Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?

This was a cute story.  Aaron has stepped so far outside of his comfort zone with his rash decision and Cody helps to take his mind off it.  Cody loves with his whole self and jumps in with his both feet but why does Aaron make him doubt he wants to travel again.

I could feel Aaron’s fear when he would think about the situation he is in and how Cody’s ease seemed to seep into him and help him relax and take his mind off his worries but when it overwhelms him he hurts Cody and himself.  Cody loves his home but has been a bit of a wanderer and hasn’t ever doubted how he feels until he meets Aaron and it make him want to change his plans.  These two help to balance each other out and even hope that they can have a future together.  I loved seeing them navigate their feelings and work everything out.

The cover art by Brooke Albrecht is great and gives a nice view of Cody.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Published: June 22, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-639-9

Edition Language: English

Andrew Grey on the Inspiration behind The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever (guest blog)

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The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey on tour for his new release, The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever.  Welcome, Andrew.

Dominic and I love to travel.  We both really do.  We take a winter vacation and try to take a summer one as well.  For the winter one, we usually go on a cruise and its one of those vacations that inspired Best Worst Honeymoon.  The snorkeling and fun on the water were all things Dominic and I did the last time we visited Bonaire.   And as I write this post I am sitting in a hotel room in Rome.  Dominic and I spent the day seeing some of the sites including the coliseum and ancient ruins.  At dinner tonight I was just telling Dominic that I have an idea for a new story, set here in Rome!  Dang I need to go on vacation more so I can get even more ideas.

Blurb/Synopsis:

How can heartbreak turn into happily ever after?

Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along.

Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.

Excerpt:

Tommy took a deep breath and went to the door. Grayson stopped him and pointed to one of the chairs. Tommy sat down, trying not to hyperventilate.

“Xavier, what are you doing?”

“I need to talk to Tommy,” Xavier said, sounding like shit.

Grayson turned to him, and Tommy lifted his gaze, nodding. Clearly there was something wrong and he needed to deal with it. Whatever plans he’d made were most likely out the window anyway. He certainly hadn’t envisioned a drunk, hung-over groom.

Grayson stepped back, pulling open the door, and Xavier half stumbled in, looking worse than Tommy could ever have imagined.

“What the heck happened?” He hurried over, but Xavier stopped him by putting up his hand. “Are you sick?”

“I’m fine,” Xavier managed to say, slowly sitting himself down. “Gary and I went out as sort of a last hurrah, and we overdid it.” He raised his face, and Tommy got a good look at his glassy eyes.

“Okay. We still have time. Grayson and I can help you get ready,” Tommy said gently.

Xavier shook his head of thick black hair, and then his deep brown eyes cleared of some of their rumminess. “I can’t do this. The wedding and everything that you’ve got planned. It’s too much.” Xavier sat back as all the oxygen seemed to leave the room. Tommy’s head grew light, and fuck it all, he was going to faint, but Grayson was there, holding his arm. “You want more than I think I can give.”

“You waited to tell him now, twenty minutes before the wedding?” Grayson yelled. “You bastard!”

“I’ve spent the last few days trying to think about what I was going to do.” Xavier hiccupped, and his alcohol breath was enough to knock over an elephant. “I thought if I drank and told myself that I loved you and that I really wanted to do this, everything would be all right. But it isn’t true, and I can’t go through with this.” Xavier got to his feet, half stumbled toward the door, and pulled it open. “I’ll see you around.” He left and closed the door with a click after him.

Tommy watched, openmouthed, too stunned to move. The room had turned bone chillingly cold. “What did he just tell me? That he didn’t love me?” He couldn’t feel his fingers, and then his hands and feet went numb. He tried to think of what he was going to do, but nothing at all came to mind.

“Uncle Tommy,” Petey called as he raced into the room, practically barreling into him. “I saw Uncle Xavier and he looked sick. What’s wrong?” Petey looked at him and then turned to Grayson.

“Uncle Tommy isn’t going to get married. Xavier chickened out and wasn’t man enough to tell Uncle Tommy until right now.” The anger in Grayson’s voice simmered just below the surface. “What he really needs is a hug.”

Petey climbed up on the chair, stood up, and hugged Tommy, and Tommy closed his eyes, willing the rest of the world to go away.

About the Author:

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Release Day Blitz for Something About You by Riley Hart (excerpt and giveaway)

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 Something About You RDB Banner

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU

RILEY HART

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 06.19.18

Something About You Cover

COVER DESIGN: X-Potion Designs

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wilson Models

 

BLURB

Lucky Tyler Holloway has never felt particularly lucky. Frankly, he’s about as regular as can be. He works construction with his brothers, loves his small-town life, and shares a close bond with his family—especially his grandmother. Okay, so maybe he has a few secrets in his closet, like his bisexuality…and that other thing he doesn’t talk about… Maybe that’s why he’s always felt a little like an outsider.

Grayson St. Claire has it all: a dream job in LA, money, freedom. Saint has no attachments, which is just the way he likes it. Still, he’d be lying if he didn’t admit he missed his deceased parents who were the only family he had… Until he gets an e-mail from some guy named Tyler revealing the existence of a grandmother he’s never met, and prompting Saint to drop everything to drive across the country.

Saint and Tyler couldn’t be more different. Tyler hates the guy on sight, but there’s something about Tyler that gets under Saint’s skin. It’s not until they get to know one another that everything begins to change. But the Holloways and St. Claire’s have secrets, and their pasts are tied together in tragic ways they don’t know about. The odds are stacked against them and between their distance and their differences, Lucky and Saint have to admit that love alone might not be enough.

Goodreads – Something About You

Something-About-You---Teaser-3

Something-About-You---Teaser-4

EXCERPT

Fuck. He really hated Sienna right now. But the truth was, Tyler was attracted to Saint, and he sort of hated himself for it. Saint represented everything that annoyed the shit out of Tyler. He was arrogant and full of himself. He had money, and he wanted everyone to know it. He obviously had a grudge against or didn’t understand small-town life. They were too different, so the attraction didn’t make much sense. You don’t have to know or like someone to think they’re sexy. Ugh. Truth.

He shifted uncomfortably. “You’re crazy. I don’t even like the guy.”

“And?” Sienna asked. “Since when do we have to like someone to be attracted to them? I know you’re Mr. Nice Guy, but hate sex is some of the best sex you can have. Billy and I—”

“Can you not?” Tyler cut her off. “I don’t want to hear any more about your sex life with Billy, and there’s no chance I’d have sex with Saint—hate sex or not.” Jesus, were they really going to do this? “Plus…even if I wanted to have sex with him—which again, I don’t—I’m not into fucking someone I don’t like, especially the first time I’m with a man, and I’m sure he’s straight anyway.” Just like everyone assumed Tyler was straight…and he had himself until he’d admitted the attractions he’d felt.

He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. He wanted to go back to before he’d admitted to Sienna he thought he might be bi. Well, he was pretty sure he was obviously bi. But it just felt…strange to have this conversation with her. To discuss his sexuality, which he was still working through himself, a sexuality he hadn’t yet explored outside of a kiss. How in the world did someone know if another man was gay or bi anyway? Hell, the man who kissed him had done it without any confirmation from Tyler. How had he known it wasn’t a quick way to get his ass beat—or worse?

Sienna reached over and patted his thigh. “Oh, my dear, sweet friend. You are so innocent sometimes. He was totally checking you out.”

“He was?” slipped out before Tyler could hold it back. “I mean, I don’t care if he was. I’m not interested. This isn’t a game to me, Si.”

She sighed, and he could see the guilt in her eyes. “You think I don’t know that? I want you to have every experience, though.” She moved the bowl from between them and leaned against his side. Tyler wrapped his arm around her, Sienna’s head in the crook. “I’m sorry. I know I’m a little much sometimes. I definitely don’t want to push away the one person who always stays. I don’t know what I’d ever do without you.”

“Hey.” He tilted her head toward him. “I’m not the only one who stays, and I’d never leave you. I hope you’re not talking about Billy either. You walked away from him, and you should have. That’s nothing on you.”

“I know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She snuggled into him again, and he thought, not for the first time, how much easier life would be if he were in love with Sienna. Not just because she was a woman. There were other single women in town, and if he were interested, he could date them. He had dated some of them, but he and Sienna had always gotten each other on a different level. They understood each other and cared about each other. They had fun together, but anything other than friendship wasn’t there between them. Not on Tyler’s side, nor hers.

“I don’t ever want anything to hold you back. You’re the best person I know. Why shouldn’t you have every experience possible? Why shouldn’t you know what it’s like to be with a man? And he’s sort of the perfect person because he’s leaving and he wants to jump your bones. I could see it.”

Riley Hart Logo 3

Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.

She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.

Life is good. Riley also writes young adult and new adult under the name Nyrae Dawn.

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A MelanieM Review: Life Itself by Elizabeth Bones

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

Tavali is a mage, a master thief, and his antics have just accidentally released one hundred demons across the dimensional plane. Now Tavali must recapture the errant demons, accompanied by a sentient sword determined to make him see the task through.

But fixing a mistake is always far more difficult than making it, and even love, magic, and a bossy sword may not be enough to save the day…

I thought that Life Itself by Elisabeth Bones a charming fantasy story.  Mostly adventure with some romance thrown in (one already established when the story begins), Bones weaves a tale of a young mage/thief who’s mission is to set right something he has caused to go tragically wrong. In this case, because he wanted to prove that he was more talented than others, he set loose 100 demons that had been imprisoned by a Goddess in a mirror. Now he’s tasked by said furious Goddess not to rest or return home until all have been recaptured.

It’s quite the undertaking and the Goddess has sent a sentient sword to keep him focused and moving always onto the  next demon.  Luckily for Tavali, he also picked up a loving partner, Suran, as well. So the hunt for the demons has two people and one imperious sword doing the Goddess’ bidding.

I found myself wishing Bones had been a little clearer on the world building here.  Apparently, the sword takes them from world to world chasing the demons which scattered all over the galaxy or  various dimensions as it were.  By the time the story beings, Tavali is extremely weary having recaptured all but 8.

I would have liked to have more of past demon hunts or something but except for the one where Tavali meets his prince/lover we don’t get much back story.  And that’s a shame.  Most of Life Itself revolves around one demon hunt.  Good thing its a good one.

Bones creates a wonderful child character, a life force magic, and a demon to contend with for Tavali.  In many ways I almost wished for more of this girl and her world.  I found her charming, courageous, and someone I absolutely connected with.

In fact, most of my issues with this story is that I wish it were longer so that the author could add in more elements to her world building, back history to her characters, and just perhaps give us those last demons that remained to be hunted down.

I will certainly be on the lookout for more stories by Elizabeth Bones and recommend this one to all lovers of adventure and fantasy.

Cover art: Aisha Akeju.  I like the cover, its visually pleasing and speaks of magic.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 23rd 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312351
Edition LanguageEnglish