Review: Apollo’s Curse by Brad Vance

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Apollo's Curse coverDane Gale has had one goal in life. That was to write and be a successful author.  But his only published novel lies languishing on the shelves with little to no takers.  When he joins a romance book club, he gets more than he bargained for.  His new friends Rose and Sherry and Dale find themselves critiquing the novels they are reading and finding that they believe that they could write one as well.   Soon an author is born. “Pamela Clarice,” self-published romance novelist, consisting of the three of them, and quickly they find they have published their first romance to some success.  And for each of their novels, Dane chooses a popular model to use for their covers, a man he can’t get out of his mind.

The model Dane is obsessing over is Paul Musegetes. Paul is the world’s most popular romance cover model, but hardly anything is known about him, other than only one photographer is allowed to take his pictures. When Dane, Rose, and Sherry attend the Romance Writers’ Ball on the Summer Solstice, Dane meets Paul  and connects for one night of passion that will change his life forever…

After that night with Paul, Dane finds his muse has ignited a storm of inspiration and he starts writing one successful novel after another.  And that’s all Dane does….he writes to the exclusion of all else.  Paul is a Muse who comes with a curse as well as the writers Midas touch.  The writer he anoints on the Summer Solstice has but one year of phenomenal success and then will never be able to write again.

Heartbroken at the price he never knew he would have to pay, Dane vows to track down Paul and break the curse.  But how to find a man who doesn’t seem to exist outside of a photograph?  All the clues lead to Venice and Paul’s photographer Jackson da Vinci…

What a great concept for a story!  The idea that a popular cover model, you know, the ones you see over and over again, is actually a Greek Muse, who with one night of supernatural sex, anoints an author to become the world’s most prolific and successful writer?  I love it!  And it works beautifully here as a means to explain the writing process and as a raison de etre for Dane , who has to travel not only to Venice but to Greece itself in order to find his answers and a way to break the curse.

Dane Gale is a character that has to grow on a reader.  At the beginning, he seems very self-involved and so sure he has written the “great American novel” that no one can appreciate as demonstrated by its poor sales.  But it’s what Paul is lacking that is the source of his writing woes and inability to understand love and romance.  Vance gives us the key to Dane early on when he introduces the women that will become not only Dane’s writing partners but his friends too.  Rose and Sherry open Dane up emotionally as each has a different talent to bring to their novels.  What does it say about Dane that his talent is editing,research,  formating and such?  As the three of them work on stories and ideas, it becomes clear to them all where Dane deficiencies lie.  Until he sees a picture of Paul Musegetes when searching for a cover model for their romances.  Then Dane becomes able to write not only steamy and believable sex scenes but frame out entire stories around Paul’s pictures.

Brad Vance does a great job here in relating the publishing world as it exists today with all the new avenues and formats of self publishing ebooks.  He goes into details about all the various ways in which an author can’t only publish their own stories but track their success and sales as well.  This element of the story teeters on almost too much information.  It is practically a “how to publish” pamphlet on its own.  Interesting but a little overwhelming although I understand why he wanted us to “watch” Dane’s excitement grow as his success climbs exponentially upward.

The women in this story are terrific characters and I wish we had as much of them towards the last section of the story as we did at the beginning.  We become invested in these women only to have them disappear halfway through the story.  Understandable, necessary, but their absence is definitely felt. Jackson da Vinci is a character to love the more you know about him.  He too needs enlightenment and only through his search with Dane does the end result of his own choices become apparent.

One of my most favorite aspects of Apollo’s Curse is the Greek island of Kos and its inhabitants.  Such wonders await the readers there, including bits of storytelling and characters worth the price of this novel alone.  It’s magical and poignant and I never wanted Dane and Jackson to leave. But of course, that was never possible….  But clearly Brad Vance knows and loves his Greek mythology as well as the islands.  Venice too ripples authentically off the pages of the story as the enchanting city it is.

Apollo’s Curse is a book that continued to grow on me even after I had finished.  The more its scenes and  characters came back to me, the greater my enjoyment in the world and story that Vance created.  It’s really a lovely romance as well as a cautionary tale of getting exactly what you asked for.  Steamy, hot, sex?  Not really, although perhaps you might anticipate that from the cover and the half dressed model.  Who is that model?  Why the photographer! His name is  Francesco Cura.  And Vance didn’t find out that he was the photographer until afterwards.  Now that’s a great surprise.

At the moment, Vance has said in his interview with me that this is a stand alone novel.  I hope not.  I want to know what happens to Jackson and Dane next.  Also Rose and Sherry who arrive at the end.  There is so much more to tell and I would love to see where Vance takes his characters and their Muse next.  Consider this story and author highly recommended.

Cover artist and model not credited.

Buy Links:   Amazon  Amazon UK       ARe          Barnes & Noble  Smashwords

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Published May 4th 2014 (first published May 1st 2014)
ASINB00K4FXL8O
edition languageEnglish

Apollo’s Curse Book Tour: An Interview with Brad Vance (Contest Incl.)

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Brad Vance has stopped by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords today to talk about his latest release Apollo’s Curse and share some of his thoughts on writing.  He has also brought 10 copies of Apollo’s Curse to giveaway during his tour.  To enter to win an eBook copy of Apollo’s Curse, visit here, a Rafflecopter site.   Contest ends 6/13.

Brad Vance was nice enough to answer a few questions from me about the story, his own muse, and writing in general.  Here’s the interview:

STRW: This story has both a curse and a muse. What was your inspiration for the story?

BV: “Paul,” the model who’s featured on the cover, really was the inspiration. Every time I go to create a cover for a book, it’s almost always his picture that leaps off the screen at me.
His name is actually Francesco Cura, but I refused to find that out until I was done with the book. Imagine my delight when I found out he was not only the model, but also the photographer! I felt this rush of joy, of validation – I was right to pick him over and over, right to choose him as a muse, he was so much more than just a pretty face after all.

STRW: Do you have a Muse?

See above 🙂 I’d say that my favorite writers are my Muses as well. For erotica, I look to gay writers Andrew Holleran and Edmund White as role models – they’re far more literary than I am, but it’s that sensual aspect to their work that I love. One day I’ll write something as languorous and steamy as Holleran’s “Dancer From The Dance.” That book reeks of sex…but I was astonished to discover when I reread it last year that there isn’t a single sex scene in it. How did he do that! I want to do that!

STRW: What drew you to write M/M Romance?

BV:  Well, like Dane, I wasn’t having a great success writing mainstream fic. Aubrey Watt (AKA Aubrey Rose), a very talented writer, did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit about being a “smut writer.” I thought, I have a dirty mind – I bet I can do that! I sent her a sample and she was very encouraging. So I wrote erotica until the Epic Cockblocking purges at Kobo and Amazon killed the market for that. Then I moved into erotic romance, where I have a bigger canvas than just sex to write about (though there’s plenty of that in every book save “Apollo”).

STRW: Best line you ever wrote?

BV:  One I haven’t written yet.

STRW:  Is there any genre you wouldn’t write in?

BV:  Oh, sure. I can’t see myself writing, for instance, Amish romance. Hmm. Unless it featured some of those hot Amish gangsters getting it on in the barn…there’s an idea! I gotta go now!

STRW:  Favorite romance, book and/or movie?

BV:  For some reason, the movie that pops into mind isn’t really a romance, but it is – “About A Boy.” I love the complicated relationships in that story, and the “bromance” that ends with a HEA. Remember, you gotta have a backup!

STRW: How do you feel about HEA in stories? Necessary or not?

BV: I want closure when I read a book. I want to be satisfied. If one of the lovers dies, that’s not a HEA but it’s closure. So I’m okay with that – But of course I’d rather have the HEA.

STRW:  Is this a standalone novel or the beginning of a series?

BV:  Well. It’s a standalone. But. What happens to Dane later? Does he write again? Does he become a muse to someone else? I have no idea now. But there’s room for another story, if the ideas come to me. I won’t force it, but it’s possible.

Now let’s get up close and personal with Brad’s book…

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Apollo's Curse coverBook Name: Apollo’s Curse
Author Name: Brad Vance
Cover Artist: Brad Vance
Publisher: Brad Vance Erotica
Blurb(s):

All Dane Gale ever wanted was to be a successful writer. After a few sessions with his new friends Rose and Sherry at a romance book club, well, the more romances they read, the more they’re convinced they can do better. And do they ever! They join their creative forces to become “Pamela Clarice,” self-published romance novelist. When they look for a cover model for their first book, Dane sees the photos that will change his life.

Paul Musegetes is the world’s most popular romance cover model, and the most secretive. Dane soon finds himself obsessed with this supernaturally handsome man, and when he meets Paul at the Romance Writers’ Ball on the Summer Solstice, he and Paul connect for one night of passion…

After that night, Dane’s a writing machine. He can’t stop writing romances, and every story he touches turns to gold. But he also finds that he can’t write anything but romances. And soon he’s spending every waking moment of every day writing another after another…

Then Dane finds out that this Midas touch has a heavy price. After the next Summer Solstice, he’ll never write again. Not a romance, not a serious novel. Nothing. Not even a grocery list. And that leaves him with only one option – find Paul, and get him to break the curse. But before he can do that, he’ll have to track down Paul’s equally mysterious photographer, Jackson da Vinci…

Excerpt:
It wasn’t hard to find Paul again.  And to find the “other images with this model” link.  And click.  And click.  And blow up my browser window to 200%, so that when I zoomed the photos, his face, then his eyes, filled my screen.

And what surprised me was that there were not only so many images of him, but that he could be so many different men in so many different pictures, different settings – he was the tender lover with the rose, the snarling Viking, the cool guy in a band, the Miami Beach tool, the shifter/werewolf, the business man, the college kid, the gym rat, the outdoorsman, the poet, the drill sergeant, the soccer player, the swimmer…  As I looked at each picture, I was totally convinced that I was looking at the real man, that that was who he really was…until I looked at the next.

And yet, always, he was clearly recognizably himself – Paul.  It was those eyes, reminding you that he was in there, somewhere, behind the image, and you’d never know which one he really was, he was all of them, he was whoever you wanted him to be…

Buy Links for Apollo’s Curse :     AmazonUK    Amazon  ARe     Barnes&Noble     Smashwords

Author Bio:

Brad Vance is a popular author of gay romances, including the best selling novel, “Given the Circumstances.”

You can follow Brad at:

Tour Dates: 6/2 – 6/13

Tour Stops:
ApollosCurseBadgeJune 2: Prism Book Alliance, Dawn’s Reading Nook
June 3: Kimi-Chan
June 4: Elisa Rolle, Nephylim, Up All Night, Read All Day
June 5: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
June 6: MM Good Books, Jane Wallace-Knight
June 9: Parker Williams, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
June 10: Amanda C. Stone, Fallen Angel Reviews
June 11: Gay Guy Reading, Jade Crystal, My Fiction Nook, Talon SO
June 12: Love Bytes, It’s Raining Men
June 13: The Novel Approach, The Hat Party

Rafflecopter Prize: 10 copies of ‘Apollo’s Curse’ ebook
Rafflecopter CodeWillPride