Review: It’s Complicated (Tucker Springs #7) by L.A. Witt

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

ItsComplicated_500x750Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden, after much soul searching and separations, have finally decided to give their relationship another try. Now living apart, they have just had their first date on the path to a newer, more healthy future and things look promising. Then Jeff gets a call from his ex wife and business partner that will change everything. She says she’s pregnant and that Jeff is the father.  One late booze fueled hookup while Brad and Jeff were separated results in a pregnancy that threatens Brad and Jeff’s relationship on every level.

Brad has always feared that Jeff would leave him for a wife and kids and now his worst nightmare seems to be coming true.  Brad has never felt like a priority to Jeff because of the time Jeff spends on his business.  Now with a child on the way, what time will Jeff have left for him and their relationship?

For Jeff, his carefully created plans for getting back together with Brad are falling to pieces.  Even worse is the announcement from his ex wife that she will be leaving Tucker Springs and returning to Denver with their child.  If he wants to be a part of the baby’s life, and he does, he will have to somehow juggle her part of their business while traveling to Denver to see their child.  Or move everything to Denver, including himself.  Neither plan seems reasonable or  even possible if his and Brad’s reconciliation is to work.

Everything has gotten so complicated.  What happens when sometimes not even love is enough to hold a couple together?

It’s Complicated explores the decision that separated couple Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden, friends of Nathan, made at the end of After the Fall (Tucker Springs #6).  In After the Fall, Nathan listens to the problems Brad is having with his relationship with Jeff and it impacts Nathan’s rationale about the events occuring in his own romance.  It’s a secondary element but we gather that the constant fighting between Jeff and Brad has caused them to separate after years together.  By the end of the story, Jeff and Brad have decided that their love is deep enough that it merits one last effort to stay together and that’s where It’s Complicated starts.  And its also where it almost immediately starts to fall apart again.

This conflicted and deeply in love couple have just gone on their first date towards a new healthier relationship,  It went well even with both of them on their best behavior and ended up in bed at the end of the night. Jeff and Brad’s sex life has always been fantastic, its everywhere else in their relationship that the couple has problems.  Most readers, no matter  their current romantic status, can relate to this couple because they have been there or know people who have.  The stress, the communication problems, the prioritizing of time between business and family and above all the insecurities…these are issues that plague many a modern couple.  And from the caustic comments and arguing to the tentative steps back towards each other, L.A. Witt’s couple travels a realistic and well worn path.

Tucker Springs and its inhabitants have a way of growing on you as you travel through each of the Tucker Springs couples stories.  People pass in and out of each others lives much as you would do in any small town.  And whether or not they are germane to the story at hand, the reader absentmindedly takes note of who and what is trying to get together or who needs a new romance in their lives because we know they are sure to surface later on in the series. So I was prepared to meet up with Brad and Jeff to see what had happened since After the Fall and the answer is nothing less than a couple melting down under the pressure and stress of their lives and not knowing how climb out of their relationship rut.

Every bit of dialog, every painful argument and painful silence feels authentic.  L.A. Witt knows how to write relationships and real people in trouble.  It feels every inch as stressful and sad as a couple who you happen to be acquainted with would look if they weren’t going to make it.  You feel extraordinarily bad for them, wish you could help them in some way and you would hope for the best.  I just am not sure you would want to be there for the daily struggle, the disheartening conversations and the hair pulling when nothing else is working.  Only your affection for this couple will keep you reading through the mess they have made of their relationship and their own personal well being.

I do like that Jeff’s ex wife is not made out to be a cardboard villain here.  She has her excellent reasons for moving away from Tucker Springs and yes, she wants her family back together.  All reasonsible, all very realistic.  Jeff too is believably human.  He is being pulled in every direction by his obligations, his wants and desires as well as the people he loves.  Did I want to give him a shake every now and again? Sure, but you could relate to Jeff as he tries to balance things in his life too weighty to be neatly boxed up and compartmentalized.  It doesn’t work and he ends up paying for it.

And then there is Brad, everyone’s last priority, even for himself.  Brad has finally realized that he deserves more but what he wants is Brad, a conundrum to be sure given the current circumstances and overwhelming issues. Here is a character who cries out for your compassion and gets it. His is the character most people will relate to as he questions just how much he is going to endure to keep Jeff in his life.  He asks the toughest questions here. And Jeff’s answers to those are sometimes problematic, making Jeff a less than sympathetic character. The angst swirls mightily here as does the love.  But do you really want to be in the middle of it?  That’s a question each reader will have to ask for themselves because there is some truly heartbreaking aspects to this story.

What pulled it all together for me and made this a read to recommend?  In addition to the wonderful writing and characters? That would be the Epilogue.  L.A. Witt’s epilogue does what  every great epilogue should,  Pull together the final story elements and let the reader in on how it all turned out.  It is here that many of the satisfying and happy parts of Brad and Jeff’s relationship that I wanted to see earlier in the story are displayed.  Where all we had before was strain and unhappiness, now we get to see why they were so great together and what made them a couple worth saving.  And it was after reading the Epilogue that I could then go back and reread parts of the story with a new perspective that gave me a great appreciation for this couple and their story.  It made everything work and let me enjoy the re-coupling of two more of Tucker Springs uncoupled inhabitants.  Tucker Springs is a wonderful series and this story is just one more example why.

Cover art by LC Chase is gorgeous and pertinent for this story and series.

Book Details:

ebook, 196 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491342
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/its-complicated
seriesTucker Springs #7

Buy  ARe  Amazon Riptide Publishing

Here are the stories in the Tucker Springs series in the order they were written, and is recommended that they be read:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt
Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Heidi Cullinan
Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan
Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt
Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton
After The Fall (Tucker Springs #6) by L.A. Witt
It’s Complicated (Tucker Springs #7) by L.A. Witt

Return to Tucker Springs with L.A. Witt’s It’s Complicated Book Tour (contest)

Standard

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

ItsComplicated_TourBanner

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Tucker Springs #7, It’s Complicated!

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one ebook off my backlist (excluding It’s Complicated) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on May 4th, and winners will be announced on May 5th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Rafflecopter Drawing.itsComplicated_150x300(1)

***L.A. Witt:

So what is Jeff’s relationship with his ex-wife?

As you’ve likely gathered from the blurb for It’s Complicated, Jeff and his ex-wife are, shall we say, amicable. They run a business together. And, thanks to an impulsive moment while Jeff thought he and Brad were done forever, they’re having a baby together.

A lot of readers have asked what kind of relationship they have. Is this a ménage? Is Jeff considering going back to his ex-wife? Did he cheat on Brad? Are there male/female sex scenes in this book?

The simple answer to all three of those is No.

So, here’s a little excerpt to shed some light on how Brad and Jeff both feel about the situation, and about what happened in the first place:

****
“It’s . . . a lot to process.” I took another drink. “What about you?”

Brad lifted his head. “What?”

“How do you feel about all this?”

“Does it matter?” He half shrugged. “It’s happening whether I like it or not.” The venomous undertone was subtle, but it was definitely there.

I fought the urge to reach for his arm. “It matters to me.”

His eyes narrowed. I cringed inwardly, bracing for whatever snide comment was on the tip of his tongue.

Then Brad squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Okay, I just . . . I have to know. Aside from the obvious”—he lowered his hand and looked straight at me—“how exactly did this happen?”

I blew out a breath. “How, or when?”

He cocked his head slightly and reached for his beer. “Both, now that you mention it.”

“It was while you and I had broken up completely. Just so we’re clear on that.”

“Okay.” If that was a relief, he didn’t let it show. I didn’t know if he thought I’d cheated on him or what, but he was keeping his cards close to his vest tonight. “So, what happened?”

“Do you really want the gory details?”

“Not the details, no.” He shifted in his chair. “I guess I’m just wondering how you guys went from . . .”

“From business partners to getting into bed together?”

Brad flinched. “Basically.”

I drummed my fingers on the side of my beer. “We were at work one night. It’d been, I don’t know, just a rough day for both of us. Rough week, actually. One of the engravers had fucked up a huge order, and Christine and I ended up staying until three in the damned morning to redo everything so we could still deliver it the next day.” I paused for a drink and rolled it around in my mouth as I replayed that night in my mind and tried to come up with a way to explain it.

It must have made sense at the time. Looking back now with a clear head, I couldn’t put the steps together. I couldn’t tell myself—never mind Brad—how it had happened. One minute, my ex-wife and I had been stressed and exhausted, alternately working together and sniping at each other as we tried to finish an expedited job at all hours of the night. The next, I’d had her up against the supply closet with her legs around my waist.

“Jeff?”

I swallowed the mouthful of beer. “I really can’t explain it. To be honest, it just . . . it just happened.”

He searched my eyes. “Was this the first time you guys—”

“Brad. Why are we doing this? Dissecting it isn’t going to change anything.”

“It’ll help me get my head around it.” He looked down. “I’m just . . . I’m trying to understand it. And figure out what it means for us.”

“For us?”

“Yeah.” He drained his beer. “Us versus the two of you.”

“The—” I sat up straighter. “Do you think Christine and I are going to get back together?”

His lips tightened, and his eyes dared me to tell him his worries were unwarranted.

I fought the urge to reach past our beers and take his hand. “Brad, it was a one-time thing. I can’t even explain why it happened. I guess that night, we both needed someone and . . .” I exhaled and avoided his eyes. “Maybe we were just blowing off a little steam. I don’t even know. But it’s not like that.”

“And is that going to change now that there’s a kid involved?”

I lifted my gaze. “If it was, do you think I’d be here with you?”
***

Author Bio: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt). L.A. can also be found at:

Goodreads Author Page
Facebook

It’s Complicated Blurb:

ItsComplicated_500x750After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.

Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.

Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.

It’s Complicated is available April 28th from Riptide Publishing.

 

 

Book Details:

Author: L.A. Witt
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-134-2
eBook release: Apr 28, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-135-9
Print release: Apr 28, 2014
Word count: 52,000
Page count: 205
Type: Standalone
Cover by: L.C. Chase
– See more at: Riptide Publishing

 

 

Review: A Reason To Stay (Heroes #1) by R.J. Scott

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A Reason To Stay coverViktor Zavodny’s first love growing up was always the Navy.  Nothing and no one was going to distract him from that goal, not even a gorgeous 16 year old with a crush on him, Aiden Coleman.  For  Aiden, 18 year old Viktor was his first and only love, but Viktor determination to become a SEAL made him callously disregard Aiden, something Aiden has never forgotten.  Then Viktor Zavodny left his family and home town of Steepleshend to join the SEALS, and  a broken hearted young Aiden Coleman joined the police force.

It would be years before the men met again. Viktor returned home on leave to recuperate from severe injuries acquired on his last mission. The last  thing he expected or wanted to do was run into Aiden. But again sparks fly between them only for Aiden to watch Viktor leave once more on a mission with his SEAL outfit.  Now Aiden swore never again would he let Viktor back into his heart but neither man expected the danger that existed on the mountains  above town.

When Viktor’s nephew is found  wounded and unconscious in the snow, lying along side a dead man. Well the traumatic events bring Viktor back to town to look after his family and look into the events that put his nephew in the hospital.  Handling the investigation is none other than Deputy Sheriff Aiden Coleman. Aiden isn’t pleased to find an angry SEAL in his office demanding to be included in the investigation, especially since its Viktor.  In order to bring down the people behind his nephew’s injuries and the dead body discovered beside him, Aiden and Viktor will have to put aside their personal issues and work  together to find the truth and maybe finally the path to each other.

In Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7)  main character Dale needs a bomb defused aboard a plane so he calls on his lover Joseph and Joseph’s SEAL team to help him out.  The team bomb expert just happened to be a hot headed smartass by the name of Viktor Zavodny, caught in the middle of a threesome when summoned to the phone.  That fascinating first look at Viktor Zavodny, the filling in the middle of a husband and wife sexual sandwich, was enough for people to clamor to have his story.  That short glimpse into the sexy,confounding puzzle that was Viktor Zavodny made us want to know more about him and now Scott has given it to us.  A Reason To Stay, the first book in RJ Scott’s new Heroes series, delves into Viktor’s background and status in the SEAL Team we got to know through Joseph and Dale in their Sanctuary stories.

I have to admit a real fondness for those “tough as nails” inscrutable men that RJ Scott writes so well. Having Viktor comes out of the same team that gave us Joseph gives us an instant understanding of the type of man he is and the skill set he has had to acquire to  become a member of such a covert unit.  We also know what a tight knit band of brothers this group of men have become to one another.  And it’s become apparent (in the Sanctuary novels and here) that  it is a unit in flux, members deciding to op out for a family and a life less defined by a mission and danger.

Viktor’s first appearance in this story happens when he is home to recuperate from injuries received while on a mission.  He is tired, wounded, and able to see what he has been missing out on with his sister and his beloved nephew,  Then he hooks up with Aiden and things start to get emotionally scary for someone with a designated life ahead of him.  Does he come across as insensitive or a bit of a jerk? Possibly but he has never  made any effort to cover up his priorities, no matter how much others may wish differently.  I liked that about Viktor, he is not an easy person to like nor is that a requisite for his profession.  Scott paints a portrait of a man on the verge of a change even if he is not aware of it himself and it works beautifully here in context.

Aiden is a much more accessible character because so many of us can relate to him and his history.  Aiden fell early and hard for Viktor when he was sixteen and never recovered from his heartbreaking first love.  No matter what Aiden tells himself intellectually, emotionally he is still open and very vulnerable when it comes to Viktor and their past dealings.  So when Viktor returns, we absolutely get that Aiden is conflicted about his feelings for Viktor.  Scott actually builds upon those complications and complexities between the men throughout the story and it makes for a more interesting and less idealized relationship between them.  Trust me when I say this is not your heart and flowers sort of romance.  That wouldn’t be realistic for these men or their herky jerky type of romance.

Another element of RJ Scott’s stories is how well she writes adolescents.  Viktor’s nephew Ben has a rather large part to play in the events that unfold here.  Ben idolizes his uncle and wants to be exactly like him,  Ben is a wonderful character, fully realized and totally believable.  And because he is so real to us, his safety becomes as important a factor for us as it does for Viktor.

For Viktor, Ben is a mile marker is his life. On the rare occassions Viktor returns home, he notices of all the changes in Ben in his absence. And those changes highlight what Viktor has missed out on as well as the personal sacrifices he has made in order to be a SEAL.  Perspective is something that has been lacking in Viktor’s life and Ben is the one area where it snaps into place in a manner Viktor is able to accept.  Again, another very realistic element among many in this story.

I loved the setting in the Green Mountains and RJ Scott has certainly done her homework as to the level of fitness and preparation required to take on a winter hike into that terrain. Not just there either.  Scott makes mention of the fact that a sugar shack is where the maple sap is boiled into syrup.  Again, another indication that this author has done her homework even to the smallest detail.  Or the larger ones like the guns, explosions and gear needed for those wild assignments and escapades that happen in A Reason To Stay.  There is certainly a lot of flash bang excitement for the buck (or should I say pound) here in her narrative.  Several of the Sanctuary operatives make momentary appearances from Joseph (still a SEAL), Manny, and Kayden Summers.  Its great to see them however briefly as I love that series and its characters and it made sense for them to do so.

What I loved about this book?  The sheer physicality of these men and the sometimes abrasive aspect of their relationship.  It’s hard to call this a typical romance because its not.  Nor should it be.  There is plenty of action, fights, nefarious goings on to along with  the arrogance, stubbornness, and a determination that is almost cellular from Viktor as well as Aiden.  Sometimes the testosterone is only tempered by the sweetness of the scenes between Viktor and his sister, or Aiden and his friend Sam.

The writing here is as smooth as a new fallen snow and the plot has plenty of layers for everyone to enjoy.  What will some people have issues with?  Probably the lack of a romance or romantic scenes between  Viktor and Aiden.  If you are looking for that sort of romantic story, than this is probably not the story for you.  But if you are looking for an action adventure story with believable main characters with a turbulent history behind them and an attraction that just won’t go away, then you will love this story and Viktor and Aiden.

RJ Scott already has the second story, Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2), written.  It will be released in June 2014 and features Sam Larsen from A Reason To Stay.  I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for him.  In the meantime, pick this up and get acquainted with some wonderful characters sure to pop up in the next story in the series.  Consider this another highly recommended story from this wonderful author.

Cover art by Meredith Russell who does a great job in depicting the characters and flavor of the story.

Books in the Heroes series to date:

A Reason To Stay (Heroes #1)
Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2) to be released June 27, 2014

 Book Details:

ebook, 267 pages
Published April 11th 2014 by Love Lane Books (first published April 9th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/AReasonToStayHeroes.html
seriesHeroes #1

Buy Links Love Land Books,   ARe   Amazon

More Winner Announcements, DC’s Wanda Alston Foundation, and the Week Ahead

Standard

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

The winners of Jim Provenzano’s giveaway for his Lambda Literary award winning stories are:

Every Time I Think Of YouMessage of Love coverWinner of  Every Time I Think of You is aegger.echo @yahoo .com
Winner of Message of Love is a.sphinxes@gmail.com

Congratulations to both winners.  My thanks to Jim Provenzano for stopping by with his wonderful guest post and for his donation of his books for the contest.  If you haven’t picked these stories up, please put them on your TBR pile, they are not to be missed!

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

*****************************

Trout LilybloodrootOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring Beauties

Here we are sliding into May, one of my favorite times of the year, neither too hot here in the DC Metro area or too cold (normally).  Time to get dirty, plant flowers, take walks by the water and just be outside enjoying nature and the Spring Ephemerals before they disappear like so many cherry blossoms.  Some of my favorites in this area include the Trout Lily and Spring Beauties, the Bloodroot and the round lobed Hepatica.  I especially love coming across a carpet of Spring Beauties, with colors that run the gamut from sparkling white to a lovely shade of lavender.  But you must catch them quick, or they are gone, making way for the flowers and pollinators of summer.  From left to right.  Trout lily with its liver mottled leaves, Bloodroot whose single leaf embraces its flower and whose roots weep red when cut, the round lobed Hepatica, and the Spring Beauties in white and pink.  What Spring flowers are your favorites?

books headers blk and white

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Guest Blogs and Book Tours, and Contests:

Monday, 4/28:         A Reason To Stay by RJ Scott
Tuesday, 4/29:         L.A Witt’s It’s Complicated Book Tour & Contest
Wed., 4/30:              It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt
Thursday, May 1:    Author Spotlight/Giveaway: Meet Chase Potter
Friday, May 2:          The Race For Second by Chase Potter
Sat., May 3:              Stealing The Wind by Shira Anthony

A week full of must read stories and I still need to find room for my April Book Review Summary and Best Covers.  Le sigh, again.

****************************************

One last thing this lovely Sunday.  The Wanda Alston Foundation, Washington, DC’s only LGBTQ shelter is in trouble.  It (like all the other shelters) needs funding and donations are desperately required for them to stay open.  Here’s the scoop from Gwendolyn Harter, who sits on the board of the foundation:

GH: Hey guys. as some of you may know I am on the board of The Wanda Alston Foundation who operates the only LGBT Youth Homeless Shelter in Washington DC. We are in need of some assistance to keep our doors open. We are starting a fundraising drive to make $25000 by October 2014 to keep our doors open. I know some of you have offered to get the word out and do other things. We can always use Costco gift cards, other small $25 gift cards for rewards for the kids, and other small thinss like that. IF you guys have any ideas please let me know I can give you our paypal donation page.

Also,We are having a fundraiser on May 12 from 6-8 at http://www.numberninedc.com/ on P St in DC. $25 suggested donation which gets you the 2 for 1 Happy Hour Specials. Directly following the fundraiser stick around for a live viewing of Ru Paul’s Drag Race party.

Short notice for those in the area I know but it’s a great cause and this sounds like a heck of a party!  Check out  NumberNine, gay bar extraordinaire, at their website above.  And if you can’t attend, there is a list of donations needed at The Wanda Altston Foundation’s website.  There is a link to it on ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords home page.  Any donations, no matter the size are needed.  Please help if you can!

That’s it, my peeps.  Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.

Melanie

Review: Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of  5

Blown Kisses coverRowen Smithe’s world got infinitely larger and more complicated the day he met Mick Rutger, a friend of Finn’s.  Mick is determined to draw Rowen out of his cabin and confined lifestyle and into Mick’s much larger and outgoing circle of friends.  Rowen is equally determined to stay away and removed from the gregarious,handsome Mick.  But now that Mick has moved just across the road from him in another rental cabin, it has become so much harder to ignore his neighbor.

Mick Rutger is fascinated by Rowen Smithe.  Everything about the man from his long black hair to his secretive ways is attractive to Mick and he is determined to find out more and be the man’s friend, if not something even better.  His first move is into the cabin across from Rowen’s and a stray cat to share with his neighbor.   But then something more appears…a threat not only to their shared cat but to all the creatures of the woods, woods Rowen is bent on protecting.

Rowen Smithe’s top priority is no longer trying to quiet his inner demons but to put an end to the evil that has invaded the woods of Mountain Shadows leaving the bodies of small tortured animals in its wake.  And he will need the help of a very nosy neighbor to track and remove those behind the animal deaths.

I should just make this review as short and sweet as this story and just say “go, go now and get this series”.  Don’t dilly dally, or shilly shally around.  This story and series are ones everyone should be grabbing up (and its companions series to boot). Havan Fellows has created in Rowen Smithe, a tortured soul whose background and secretive ways has made the man an enigma to many (including the readers).   Rowen is alternately sexy. self assured and bold, or distressed, angst filled and withdrawn, and all within a space of 5 to 10 minutes.  His is such an unexpected personality and that aspect draws everyone to him like moths to a flame.  And that includes readers as well.  A true naturalist and outdoorsman, his respect for nature is boundless.  Less so  his regard for his fellow human beings.  Only a few have been let inside his personal space and now he is beginning to consider that Mick might be one more person to include in those he trusts.

The model on the cover is perfect for the larger than life persona that is Mick Rutger.  Charming, enthusiastic with all the energy of a Golden Retriever, Mick is determined to get close to Rowen and a kiss from the man in question has only fueled Mick’s desires.  But for every step forward he makes in his pursuit, Rowen takes twice as many in retreat.  Rowen is a puzzle Mick is intent on figuring out and the reader is just as eager as Mick is.  How I adore these characters.  This excerpt is sure to entice you:

Rowen slouched lower and watched through a crack between the curtain and window as the bane of his existence rocked slowly with that fat ass cat sitting on his lap, her head bouncing up and down from his attentions.

“Don’t fucking scratch her so hard. She may be big but she still has a tiny neck,” Rowen mumbled to no one.

He realized what he’d just said and twisted on his heels from his squat to land on his ass against the wall between the front door and the window he’d just been spying out of. He must be mad to be worried about a stray cat that did nothing but run from him every time he stepped outside.

The irony of that thought was not lost on him; he just chose to ignore it for the moment.

But you are mad, aren’t you?

He banged the back of his head against the wall once, twice…when he lifted his head for a third round of punishment, the knock of flesh on wood happened before the contact between his skull and the wall did.

Huh?

Rowen sat quiet for a second, wondering where the extra noise came from when it happened again, and he looked up to the right.

“Shit…” he muttered under his breath. Someone was knocking on his door.

He turned his body, slowly moved the curtain out of the way, and with only his right eye, peered out the window. He couldn’t see the front door from this window, but he wondered if a certain…

Two clear pale blue eyes stared back at him, crinkled around the edges undoubtedly because of the smile Rowen couldn’t see from this close.

Mick moved back enough to lift up Filigree—no, the stray cat—and wave her paw at Rowen.

Rowen gracelessly fell backward on his butt, the curtain fluttering closed when he pulled away. He flipped himself over and scuttled up the stairs to his second floor window and his blessed tree.

He easily climbed out of the cabin and onto the branch then froze with one hand on the window frame and the other on the limb above his head.

Standing beneath him and slightly to the left, a blond-haired man sans a stray feline smiled up at him.

“Thought I’d find you here. So, do you want steak for dinner?”

 

Irresistible right?  Mick waving that little paw at Rowen? Adorable.  But as sweet and funny as that moment and others are, the narrative also is quick to turn as dark as the voice inside Rowen’s mind.  When the small  dead animals start to turn up, its clear that other demons haunt the woods around Shadow Mountain.  Soon the hunt is on for the culprit or culprits and everyone around is drawn into the task.

The narrative is very much like a day on a mountain,  It can start off so promising with blue skies and a warm sun shinning down on you, but before you know it, a front moves in and you are caught out in the wild as a storm rages around you and rescue looks bleak.  That how quickly the mood and relationships twist and turn here.  It makes for a quick, provocative and suspenseful read.  It’s one of the elements that makes this story and series so successful and the Pulp Friction group as a whole.  You never know what’s coming next or which layer is going to be pulled back to reveal a tortured past or criminal element. It’s surprising how fast it all goes by.  It pulls you into the story so completely that when you reach the end you are ready for the next story because you want it to continue immediately.  But I have to wait and so do you, at least for a little while.

If you are new to these characters and series, start with the first story, Blown Away, then Blown Kisses.  So go now, get started reading.  You will fall in love with these characters and their series.  And then move on to the other connecting stories.  They are as addictive as they come and are highly  recommended for all.  All are listed below.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I love these covers, from the models to the branding for the Pulp Friction group.  Just perfect.

Book Details:

ebook, approximately 45 pages
Published April 14th 2014 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ISBN PF1400002
edition languageEnglish
seriesWhispering Winds #2

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

Review: To The Other Side (Terra #1) by S.J. Frost

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

To the Other Side coverBiologist and environmentalist Garrett Evergard is hiking through the woods in the Pacific Northwest trying the find the means to save the woods from being clear cut by a developer.  All Garrett needs is to find one species of plant or animal rare enough that calls these woods on the edge of the Olympic National Forest home to get them  designated as a protected habitat.  Little did Garrett know that he was about to stumble into the most amazing find of his life. When Garrett spies a rare spirit or Kermode bear, a white colored black bear that resides only in a specific habitat.  Focused only on the spirit bear, a missed step finds Garrett falling into the ravine, an accident that will forever change his life.

Bryson Summers is a Native American, one of a long line of witches and Gatekeepers.  Bryson lives a life of two worlds, one on each side of a door in his cottage that straddles the border between them.  One is Earth, and on the other side, a magical place called Terra.  Here unicorns, dragons of all sizes, and magical beings like brownies and elves live with humans that live and work as they did long ago.  The spirit bear calls to Bryson when Garrett falls.  Garrett’s injuries are severe and Bryson takes him home to heal and recover.

As Garrett recuperates, the men find their mutual attraction deepens until Bryson finds himself dreading Garrett’s departure, something that Garrett is also not looking forward to.  But the forest and his job awaits.  And Bryson’s attention is needed to a growing danger from a power mad duke capable of great evil.  When Bryson disappears, Garrett will do anything he can to save him but what can a mere human do against such great magic?  Garrett is about to find out.

In this first novel in her new series Terra, S.J. Frost takes the idea of parallel worlds and makes it fresh with her own twists and ideas.  From the moment we enter the story and watch Garrett confronted with two tiny dragons zipping from flower to flower in a manner akin to hummingbirds, the reader knows they are in for a delightful time in a realm that sparkles with the strangely beautiful and abounds with fantasy creatures we will never get enough of.  The Floras or flower dragons are tiny jewels and just one of the many dragon species that spill over the pages and into our hearts.  I say one of many because  waiting for us inside Bryson’s cabin is Wynn, a small sized white dragon with an affinity for bodice ripper romances and Oreo cookies.  And more equally wondrous creations quickly follow on the heels of his appearance (although Wynnie is a heart grabber for sure).  Bryson the Gatekeeper is able to talk to them all because of his deep connection to the Earth and all its animals, no matter what side they dwell on.   Terra is constructed along the lines of Medieval times.  It lacks any form of technology and its societal structure is along those of royalty/peasant/serf strata. In fact, all those elements and species Earth lacks can now be found on the other side.  Magic, faeries, dragons, elves, brownies and more to come I expect as more stories unfold and the series expands our knowledge of Terra and its kingdoms.

In addition to the wonderful job S.J. Frost does in building her series universe, we are given an endearing and quixotical core group of characters to connect and empathize with. To The Other Side deals primarily with the meeting and romance of Garrett, the biologist and  Bryson, the Gatekeeper but Frost also introduces a host of companions whose stories are sure to follow this one.  There is Torren, a Dragon Speaker, who can talk to every type of dragons and mourns the fact that dragon slayers are allowed to prowl the kingdom killing dragons without cause or the slightest hesitation.  Zain, the Black Fox, an assassin for hire and known thief.  Zain has already found his love, Larkin, but there’s a problem there and its a deep one.   Larkin, a bard, is a small, beautiful man with a gift of conversing with the dead, a problem when the man you love is a stone cold killer.  And theirs is not the only untenable or hopeless love that Frost reveals in this first story.  Another that will appear is an elf Aleric, who sad past and quest is surely deserving of his  own story and HEA.  And Boggy the brownie who loves to clean and grump about them all.  Land’s End, Bryson’s home, serves as their informal headquarters and way house when they are all in the area.  Each character is beautifully defined, with the depth and breadth of personality needed to bring them to life and make us care for them all.

Frost has a flask full of complications for Garrett and Bryson to overcome in their own quest for love and a future.  Bryson is tied down to his Gate and is long lived due to his connection to the Gate and Earth/Terra.  He is also a powerful witch whose gifts are needed in the nearby villages.  Garrett too has an important job to finish, that of saving the forest where the Gate is located.  He needs to find a rare species to save those woods from a developer and in finding it, it may have found true love as well.  There are magical hurdles to overcome as well as realistic mundane ones and watching these two men surmount each and every one is a true joy.

S,J. Frost tells her story with a well developed sense to humor to go along with the pathos.  The pace is a little slow in the beginning as Frost is laying the foundation for the story and the series, but once in place the story takes flight. And we and the characters are in for a marvelous ride.

Next up is Torren’s story and that of Sir Karrick Brenton a Knight of the Crown who enters into the story at the very end of To The Other Side.  I can’t wait.  Already this series has grabbed my attention and my heart.  I can’t wait to see where the author takes us with this group of characters on their journeys to romance and true love.

Cover Art by Jared Rackler.  A little dark but the outline of the unicorn behind that gorgeous cover model is perfect to set the tone and intrigue the reader.

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published May 31st 2013 by MLR Press (first published May 30th 2013)
ISBN 1608208680 (ISBN13: 9781608208685)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=SJF_OTHR
seriesTerra #1
characters: Garrett Evergard, Bryson Summers

Books in the Terra series to date in the order they should be written and read:

To The Other Side (Terra #1)
Knight of Fire (Terra #2)

Review: Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma #5) by Anne Tenino

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Poster BoyGavin Jacques Gervaise aka “Jock” was a talented college hockey player being scouted by NHL teams when one indiscretion at a party changed everything. Outed by a picture that caught Jock in the middle of a sex act, he was kicked off his college hockey team by his homophobic coach and hounded by flyers sent around campus,  Now Jock has transferred from Avalon College to Calapooya College in Oregon.  His older brother, Tank, is enrolled there and a member of a Theta Alpha Gamma fraternity.  Jock had hoped for anonymity on this campus, but those hopes were dashed when Tank outed his brother again during a frat party organized to announce their new gay friendly status.  What Jock wants is a chance to explore his new found sexuality without a spotlight focused on him.  The man he chooses to be his first is Toby Moore.  Toby and Jock’s first night together is everything and more Jock could hope for.  It is also the only night Jock expects them to have because he still has so much and so many hookups to explore.  But things never have a way of turning out exactly as planned as Jock should know.

Toby Moore is having one of those years and not in a good way.  Toby’s thesis is barely underway when it should be almost completed. And all of  Toby’s friends and former dates have found happiness and their significant others, leaving Toby as the permanent third wheel.  A new hope for someone to fill the void is broken when Jock decides he only wants a one-night stand with Toby. When Toby needs an extension on his thesis, his professor agrees with a stipulation.  Toby must act as a resident chaperone for the Theta Alpha Gamma Student Study trip to Provence, a place that should be perfect for Toby to work on his thesis and get over the pain of rejection from Jock.

But Jock’s problems at Avalon have followed him to Calpooya when that infamous flyer resurfaces at his new campus.  The solution is for Jock to go with his TAG frat boys to France and let everything smooth over in his absence.  Only Jock didn’t realize Toby was going.  Nor did Toby see Jock’s name on his students list.  Now that fate and Toby’s advisor has thrown them together, how will Toby and Jock handle their deep attraction to one another now that they live together in romantic Provence?

Anne Tenino has said that Poster Boy marks the end of the Theta Alpha Gamma series, a series about a group of men I have come to love over five stories.  While I am sad to see this wonderful series end, Poster Boy ushers them out  in a truly outrageous and wonderful manner.   I love the idea of taking this ragtag company of overage underachieving adolescents, confused jocks (literally) as well as a major player who is ready for a commitment and sending them together to France.  It’s such a pleasure to sit back and read all the comedic mayhem and sometimes surprising romantic entanglements that ensue in Anne Tenino’s absorbing plot.

As the final story, Tenino brings all her main characters out to play here.  Sebastian and Brad, Paul and Trevor, Collin and Eric, they are all here, although in varying degrees of importance to this story.  And so many of her great secondary frat characters are in play as well, like Tank, Kyle and Jules.  But her final story is saved for Toby Moore, a character we have seen in many of the preceding stories and Jock Gervaise, who was introduced at the end of book four.  I love these two men, both of whom are at such pivotal points in their lives.  Toby is having to reevaluate so many important issues at the moment.  Previously commitment phobic, now watching all his friends find love has made Toby aware that he is ready for a permanent relationship as well.  And there are no takers lining up for the job.  And its not just his love life that’s stalled but his academic one too.  Pushed onward into his current course of study by his parents, Toby’s thesis has languished under a lack of inspiration and ambition to finish as he realizes that he doesn’t know what he actually wants to do next with his life.  Stymied by his indecision, Toby is that terrific character at that stage in life that everyone can identify with and no idea how to go forward.  Tenino has taken a character that might have been less than simpatico and given him the depth and complexity that brings us totally into his corner.

Jock also has arrived at a place in his life where he has to make some major decisions for himself.  Up to now the choices he has made have been ones he has not owned up to or choices that have been made for him by others, well meaning or otherwise.  New school, new acquaintances, new frat house and an older brother he has always idolized in place to support him, a new start all around.  But the past never stays buried and Jock’s past arrives to force him to finally deal with a situation of his own making.  And all these colliding problems and issues make Jock one angry and bitter, albeit gorgeous, young man.  That state of mind is never a great launching pad for new starts or great decisions.  Tenino’s Jock is one frustrating, uncertain, and irritable young man.  His is a journey that some readers will find hard to completely empathize with because his actions will make him seem like a bit of a jerk.  I felt that way at the beginning too.  But the more I thought about his character and the background Tenino has established for him, the more his actions made sense.  How does a young boy break out of rigid preconceived notions about himself and his future?  And what does he  replace it with when all he knows is his family’s conservative background?  Jock has had his foundations broken and doesn’t have a playbook on how to establish new ones.  Even his beloved older brother has acted in a manner that Jock has not counted on.  Anyone would be angry or act like a jerk and Jock does.

Even more than his actions, something more problematic is Jock’s attitude towards topping and bottoming and how that choice might define what makes a man.  Jock’s near constant mulling over of this idea drove me to distraction.  Enough I wanted to say when it went on ad infinitum.  But again, upon more reflection, Anne Tenino has gotten it exactly right.  What Jock is obsessing over is nothing less than trying to figure out what being gay means to him and how he looks at himself (and others).  It’s that primal “who am I?” question and Jock doesn’t have the answers or have them just yet.  Brad among others try to help Jock discover the answer but really only Jock can do that and finally does.Any how, back to Jock and his fumbling about,  when you have this big a problem on the brain, then it follows that its all you think about.  So yes, Tenino having Jock work his way through the process this way is very realistic.  And our frustrations with him are authentic as well.

And while Toby and Jock  are slowly finding their way to each other, the rest of the Theta Alpha Gamma delayed adolescents or as Toby calls them, maturity challenged individuals, are scouring the french countryside for beer terrorists, scaring nuns, trying to learn french and totally cracking us up in the process.  How I adore Danny, Gomer, Ricky, Julian, Turbo, and Noah. Each is adorable in his own right.  Tenino takes the reader and the boys out to visit some wonderful sites as part of the TAG independent study abroad program.  The boys visit Les Baux and Barbegal, letting the reader in on their adventures and the wonder of those historic sites.  I loved the various locations visited, the descriptions are so vivid and precise it felt like being there.  But hilarity and communal hijinks are never far away with this group and just their appearance in a scene is enough to make the laughter bubble up in anticipation.

Poster Boy really can’t be read as a stand alone novel which might be its only drawback for some readers. Its full of characters and situations introduced in the previous stories.  So to fully appreciate the TAG fraternity, its frat brothers and the journey they have been on together, the novels should be read in the order they were written.  In Poster Boy, Anne Tenino gives them all a wonderful send off, Toby and Jock as well as Sebastian and Brad ,our foundation couple.  The author sees them all on their merry way, including an unexpected future for Danny that I loved.  The narrative flowed along pretty quickly for 375 pages and it ends where it should for this series, back in Calpooya College and the new frat house.  I had so much fun with the Theta Alpha Gamma guys and loved watching each and every one find love and a happy future.

Goodbye, boys.  It’s been a true pleasure.  And its one I absolutely recommend to  all readers to discover for themselves. Happy Reading.

Cover art by LC Chase.  Love this cover, perfect for the character and story.

Book Details:

ebook, 375 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491304
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/poster-boy
seriesTheta Alpha Gamma

Books in this Series are:

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #1)
Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, #2)
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)
Good Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #4)
Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma,#5) final story

Go Back To the Frat with Anne Tenino and her Poster Boy (Giveaway)

Standard
✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍
ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to have Anne Tenino back to talk about my favorite frat, the boys of Theta Alpha Gamma and her latest release, Poster Boy!  Welcome, Anne!
PosterBoy_TourBanner(1)

Welcome to the Poster Boy Blog Tour! *confetti* 

As you may or may not know,  Poster Boy is the fifth in the  Theta Alpha Gamma series, and (at least as far as I’m able to be sure about such things) the last TAG book. No, no, don’t be sad, be happy—we’re gonna go out in style!

PosterBoy_150x300(1)

Let’s discuss the nitty-gritty: the Blog Tour Giveaway. The prize package this time includes: one lovely “Theta Alpha Gamma Beer Terrorist Prize-Cache3Response Team” sweatshirt (I believe I have sizes M-XXL available, choice of two styles); one paperback copy of  Frat Boy and Toppy with the new cover art, signed and inscribed to the winner; a bar of soap I bought in Les Baux (was going to send olives from Sainte-Remy, but we ate them . . . sorry about that) and; of course, one penis crocheted by moi.

How does one win, you ask? By following the tour, collecting all the official “prize” words (posts will have them clearly marked), and using them as directed at the end of this post (it’s complicated).

Happy word hunting, and enjoy the tour (psssssst, this one is heavy on the cut scenes).

* * *

Poster Boy buy link.

Poster BoyIt’s all fun and games until someone puts his heart out.

When Jock meets sexy grad student Toby at a frat party, things finally start looking up. After having been outed to his hockey team and then changing schools, he figures he’s due something good—like the sex he missed out on in the closet. Toby seems like a great place to start, and their night together is an awesome introduction to the fine art of hooking up.

Toby’s heart takes a bruising after the near-perfect experience with Jock leads to . . . nothing. He’s been left on the outside as his friends pair up into blissful coupledom, and he’s in danger of never completing (or starting) his thesis. Can’t something go right?

Then Toby’s coerced into chaperoning a Theta Alpha Gamma trip to France. Not that he’s complaining. What better place to finish his thesis and get over that frat boy? Except Jock’s outing is leaked to the press, making him an unwilling gay rights martyr, and he decides France is a great escape, too. It’s a break from reality for both guys, but they soon find their connection is as real as it gets.

* * *

When I first started working on  Poster Boy, the personality of Toby was pretty much set in stone—or at least the previous books in the series. Jock was less defined, but I thought I had a pretty good handle on him.

The road to writer’s block is paved with characters that don’t conform to expectations. It’s paved with some other stuff, too, like plots that careen out of control, but today we’re discussing characters—Jock specifically. The character who derailed this book for a couple of months.

He’s mentioned in  Frat Boy and Toppy as Tank’s little brother, although he’s unnamed in that book, and we don’t see or hear from him again until  Sweet Young Thang. Right up until he walked into the frat/dorm with his big brother, I thought he was going to be a happy-ish guy, even with the specter of having been outed hanging over his head. Here’s a very early character note on him (before I started writing SYT): “. . . his first experience in college got him totally burned. By end of book he should be showing some signs of his joyous, puppy dog ways.”

Yeah.

Then he actually entered the room and everything changed. He was pissed, I could see it in my head—angry flush to his cheeks, jaw hard and set, hands fisted in his jeans pockets, staring down the world. I tried to hang on to my vision of the Jock who would turn into the big, playful, puppy dog.

That lasted about ten paragraphs. You see, Jock shows up at  Theta Alpha Gamma a week into Calapooya College’s winter term after having been kicked off his college hockey team for being gay. That’s not the official reason he was booted off, but everyone knows it’s the real one. This is a snippet of the scene where I ultimately gave up trying to make him what I’d originally thought:

“How is you being gay pertinent?” Collin kept his voice calm

Jock lifted his head and looked Collin in the eye. That’s when it became clear that while the kid felt depressed and ashamed and maybe beaten, he also had a lot of anger. “There’s a lot of blood-letting in hockey, you know.”

It took Collin a few seconds to get it. “He thinks you’re a health risk?”

Jock clenched his jaw and nodded. Then he laughed shortly and looked away. “You can even see the other guy in the photo has a condom on.”

“That is the most fucking archaic attitude I think I’ve ever heard.” Kyle said, relatively calmly for him.

Jock shrugged, looking back at the floor. “He’s an archaic guy.”

“That’s illegal.” Kyle stood up straight again. “You can’t discriminate against someone because of their HIV status, and you certainly can’t discriminate against someone because of their potential status.”

“He said that he needed to know it was possible so he could take the necessary precautions, and that I’d endangered the team.” Jock’s voice had gone flat, and he took a long swallow of beer.

He’s angry over being exposed like he was—I had to write him that way, it would be ridiculous not to—but somehow I knew right then that once he’d worked through that anger, there wasn’t going to be a happy, bouncy dude underneath. He’s in a good place by the end of Poster Boy, sure, but for Jock, being happy looks more like not being a dick than greeting the world with a smile.

Now is when I should say something like, “In the future, if a character changes like this, I’ll . . .” blah-blah-blah. The reality is this happens every freaking time. Or, if my characters behave themselves, the plot decides to go wonky. It doesn’t matter what I do—everything is subject to change. And to be honest? I love it that way. I’d be bored if I knew every step they’re going to take. So, you know? I’m glad Jock took over and directed things.

In the end, it all worked out. He ended up being the guy he needed to be, and the guy Toby needed.

* * *

Contest: For those of you playing to win the blog tour prize cache, here’s the word: swag.PosterBoy_150x300(1)

The word game—the rules are that I provide a bunch of words, and you have to create an ode to testicles. Hey, it’s fair—I gave you an ode to testicles in the book (well, part of one), you should give me one in return, using all the words from the tour. You may add any other words you need to, but it must include every word I gave out on the tour.

Of course, creative cheating might receive a pass from me . . .

At the end of the tour, send your ode to me at  anne @ annetenino.com and I will choose one lucky winner from all the entries I receive by paying one of my children some exorbitant amount to draw an ode out of a hat (or other handy receptacle). All masterpieces must be to me by May 4th, 2014 at midnight Pacific Daylight Time (GMT -7:00).

For a schedule of all tour stops, you can go here.

Oh, and:

*If the winner will be at GRL, GayRomance Northwest or the RT Booklover’s Convention, I’m also offering a lunch with me. And yes, I’ll pay. 😉

* * *

Author Bio: Raised on a steady diet of Monty Python, classical music and the visual arts, Anne Tenino was—famously—the first patient diagnosed with Compulsive Romantic Disorder. Since that day, Anne has taken on conquering the M/M world through therapeutic writing. Finding out who those guys having sex in her head are and what to do with them has been extremely liberating.

Anne’s husband finds it liberating as well, although in a somewhat different way. Her two daughters are mildly confused by Anne’s need to twist Ken dolls into odd positions. However, other than occasionally stealing Ken1’s strap-on, they let Mom do her thing without interference.

Wondering what Anne does in her spare time? Mostly she lies on the couch, eats bonbons and shirks housework.

Check out what Anne’s up to now by visiting her at:

 

 

Review: Queens of the Apocalypse by Rob Rosen

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Queens of the Apocalypse coverFabulous drag queens Destiny St. James, Kit Kat, and Blondella Bombshell were making preparations for their first show of the evening when all hell broke loose and life on earth was forever changed.  Protected by the steel walls of their dressing room, formerly a meat locker in a converted old restaurant, the drag queens never saw the solar flares that reduced most of the earth’s population to zombies.  But once outside, the direness of their situation is soon made all too clear.  Zombies are everywhere and only a message left on Blondella’s cell phone indicates that other people might have made it through alive, including her boyfriend in New York City.

What ensues is no less than apocalyptic road trip across American, one that would include the remnants of the US Army, Cher and an armload of Bob Mackie costumes, a few bedazzlers and strangely enough, true love for all three.  Not even the destruction of civilization as we know is enough to keep these girls out of their Jimmy Choos (knockoffs) and red nail polish!  Watch out, zombies, the Queens of the Apocalypse are headed your way!

I love, LOVE Queens of the Apocalypse!  Just when I think I am all “zombied out” by all the zombie books, undead tv shows and movies, along comes this fabulous (what other word could possibly fit) novel by Rob Rosen and I am back in the zombie fan club.  Of course, no other zombie story that I am aware of has such flamboyant, totally impossible and outrageously lovable stars  like Destiny, Kit and Blondella!  Nothing gets these girls down, including world annihilation and solar flares.

Rob Rosen made me believe in and fall in love with these drag queens from the very start when we meet them in the process of getting made up for their evening show at the club.  The dialog between the girls in the dressing room is affectionately snarky and hilarious, while remaining down to earth and totally real.  Making notes as I read became impossible as the story and those fabulous girls kept me enthralled in their journey across country and life and death situations they encounter.  It’s that old ‘laughing through the tears” storyline, but mostly laughing even as the living dead surround them and their circumstance often seems hopeless.  But Rob is not interested in stereotypes, although some of the situations and scenes can be downright campy.  No, Rosen has delivered some confident, intelligent, and resilient individuals who persevere no matter how high the odds or zombies that are stacked against them.  Destiny, our narrator, Kit and Blondella just keep rising to the occasion when presented with new obtacles or surprises, like an undead Drag Queen friend of theirs, Creature and a wealth of SuperSoakers as artillery!  With wigs askew, makeup running, and cracked nails, these wonderful characters demonstrate compassion, and a largesse of heart that keeps this story poignant as well as comedic.  Because even with all the death and mayhem surrounding them, there are such great comedic episodes that will have you laughing till your cheeks hurt. And there are still those quiet moments of reflection and despair, often at night, where the frightening reality of exactly how slim their chances are of making it is driven home for them and for the reader.  This is such an amazing story.

Rob Rosen’s tightly told and layered narrative never falters or bogs down. Instead we and the Queens are moved along at a fast pace, just barely (and sometimes not at all) keeping ahead of the zombie hoards now roaming the city streets and countryside.  Voracious, stiff and groaning, the zombies here are both heartbreaking and scary.  And they never stop coming.  Rosen’s plan for them was as surprising a twist as all the other elements found here.  I loved it.  And Queen Creature too.  Because for all the quips and bon mots Destiny, Kit, Blondella throw out, underneath all that bravado is the heart-rending reality of a world forever traumatically changed. It’s a new reality where all everyone they knew has died and returned as zombies. Vanished as well is all the support and social structure people count on, that of the United States of America as most probably all other countries too.

And even though Rosen has created some wonderful companions/love interests for our heroines, the sad fact is none of our merry band of survivors can be sure that there are more like them out there.  So struggle on they do, with hope, love, and a great deal of attitude, they are drag queens after all.  But yes, love interests arrive and they are as interesting a lot as the drag queens they fall in love with.  There aren’t many characters here (as you can well imagine) but those still talking and walking are as layered and realistic a group as the main characters.

Queens of the Apocalypse is one novel that has it all.  It has humor, suspense, horror, romance, and an absolutely outstanding ending.  Its as if Rosen went through the literary pantry pulling everything off the shelves and tossing them into his author mixing bowl.  And what he came up with is a smashing fictional dish that satisfies everyones palate.  A goodly dose of guffaws is balanced with a bouquet of tears, a pinch of spice and snark to go with the softness and surprise of love found amongst the ruins of society.  Really I can’t wait to go back and read it all over again.

I highly recommend you put this on the top of your TBR stack if you aren’t already reading it now.  It is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014!

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  I certainly wish I knew the name of the artist behind this fabulous cover.  It’s utter perfection and almost too big in attitude to be reduced to the size of a cover.  I love this!

Book Details:

Published January 29th 2014 by Wilde City Press
ISBN139781925031775
edition languageEnglish
Buy Link:  Wilde City Press

Surprise Author Spotlight:Rob Rosen, author of Queens of the Apocalypse (contest)

Standard

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

So for a great unexpected author guest post, Rob Rosen is stopping by today to talk about his latest release, the fabulous Queens of the Apocalypse!  My review follows Rob’s guest post, but I will tell you up front I adored this story.  And that incredible cover too! Rob is giving away one eBook copy of this terrific story.  To be entered to win, leave a comment and an email address in the body of the comment.  Contest closes 4/29!

Now, welcome Rob Roseon to ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords!

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

spotlight on booksQueens of the Apocalypse cover

Hey, how come there are no drag queens vs. zombies novels out there, you ask? Well, you probably didn’t ask, but I did and realized that, lo and behold, I’d discovered a new sub-genre—um, maybe sub-sub and a little off to the left. In any case, I’m a fan of both zombies and drag queens, having written about both of them in a slew of my novels and short stories, so why not combine the two and see what happens? Hence Queens of the Apocalypse!

In fact, all my novels, the six prior to this one, have a drag queen minor character or two, but this is the first time I’ve ever made them the stars of my work. See, a drag queen can say or do anything and pretty much get away with it. Heck, they can say or do practically anything and get tipped for it. Now, add a whole bunch of drag queens, all of them fighting to save their padded asses, not to mention all of humanity, and one hell of a hysterically funny novel is born—or at least undead.

As for zombies, they’re so in the public eye these days, so vastly popular, that it was an easy decision to make them the bad guys. Bad and slow, in fact, though with mine, with the potential for humanity, which makes them different than most. Plus, I was able to create what I can only assume is the very first literary drag queen zombie heroine, and that’s really saying something special, for a writer I mean. In fact, I believe that with this novel I’ve created a whole zany bunch of unique characters, all of them dazzling and witty and certainly the type you don’t want to mess with—and live, or unlive, to tell about it. Add a little pathos, a ton of romance, a lesson learned or two, plus a surprise guest and a billion menacing zombies, and, voila, you have what amounts to my favorite work to date, Okay, so you can take that with a grain of salt, seeing as I say that about all my novels, but still. And then, to top it all off, I’ve included a spectacular foreword by none other than Sister Roma, as a sort of Drag Queen 101, just in case you needed a little refresher course.

So that’s my latest in a coffin-shaped nutshell. I hope you’re able to pick up a copy. Enjoy!

Rob

Contest Giveway:  Leave a comment with an email address in the body of the comment where we can get in touch with you.  Winner chosen by mysterious means will get an ebook copy of the fabulous Queens of the Apocalypse!  Contest ends 4/29.

Author Bio:

Rob Rosen is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, “Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Divas Las Vegas”, which was the winner of the 2010 TLA Gaybies for Best Gay Fiction, “Hot Lava”, “Southern Fried”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Queerwolf”, “Vamp”, and “Queens of the Apocalypse”. His short stories have appeared in more than 200 anthologies. You can find 20 of them in his erotic romance anthology, “Good & Hot”. He is also the editor of “Lust in Time: Erotic Romance Through the Ages”.

You can contact/follow Rob Rosen at:

Queens of the Apocalypse coverBook Details:

Published January 29th 2014 by Wilde City Press ISBN139781925031775 edition languageEnglish url http://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-mainstream/queens-of-the-apocalypse/#.UvLM9fldWSo

Buy Links:  Wilde City Press  ARe