STRW July Review Summary and Best July 2014 Covers

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July 2014 Book Review Summary

And 

Best Covers of July 2014

 

*Key:
STRW S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
HR-horror
N-Nonfiction
YA-young adult

Rating Scale: 1 to 5, 5 stars is outstanding

5 Star Rating:

Blown Hard by Havan Fellows STRWCS PF2014
Flare-up by Laura Harner STRWC PF2014
In Despair by Megan Derr STRWFS
Loving Luki Vasquez by Lou Sylvre STRWCS
Tremors by T.A. Webb STRWC PF2014

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Faire Protector by Madeleine Ribbon (4.5) STRWFS
Forever Hold His Peace by Rebecca Cohen (4.75) STRWHS
Hard As Stone by Rory Ni Coileain (4.5) STRWFS
Noble Metals by L.A. Witt (4.25) STRWFS Steampunk
Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane (4) STRWC
Strength of the Mate by Kendall McKenna (4.5) STRWSPS
Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (4.5) STRWCS PF2014 side story
The Rusted Sword by R.D. Hero (4) STRWF
Wolf Run by B.A. Tortuga (4.5) STRWSP m/m/m

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Belligerent Beta by Poppy Dennison (3.5) STRWSPS
Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield (3.75) STRWC
One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey (3.75) STRWCS
Running Wild by SE Jakes (3.75) STRWCS
Somebody to Love by Merry Farmer (3.25) STRWHS
Son of a Fish by Kenzie Cade (3.75) STRWC
Unexpected Rescue by Sylvia Violet (3.5) STRWCS

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

None

*rounded up to 5 stars

Best Covers of July 2014:

Forever Hold His Peace coverHomeTheHardWay_500x750Loving LukiNobleMetals_500x750

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Despair coverRunningWild_400x600Strength of the Mate coverFlare-Up cover by Laura Harner

 

 

 

 

 

Flare-Up, Cover Art by Laura Harner
Forever Hold His Peace. Cover Art by Anne Cain
Home the Hard Way, Cover art by Amber Shah
In Despair, Cover Art by Aisha Akeju
Loving Luki Vasquez, Cover Art by Reese Dante
Nobel Metals, Cover Art by April Lee
Running Wild, Cover Art by L.C. Chase|
Strength of the Mate. Cover Art by Jared Rackler

On Tour with Meredith Allard and That You Were There Book Tour (contest)

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Meredith Allard has stopped by on her That You Are Here book tour to answer some questions and talk about her book.  In addition she has a contest for you all to enter and a couple of prizes to give away.  One grand prize winner for a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card will be chosen at the end of the tour. And the runner up will receive a ebook of That You Are Here!  Use this Rafflecopter link to enter and for additional  contest details!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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An Interview with Meredith Allard on Inspiration and her latest release, That You Are Here!

 STRW:   What was your inspiration for the story?

Meredith Allard:  I was visiting my cousin in Portland, Oregon when the announcement of the Supreme Court decision overturning DOMA was made. The idea for That You Are Here occurred to me shortly afterward in some random daydream. On the outside, I don’t have much in common with Andrew and Mark since I am most definitely not a gay man. I’m not even a gay woman for that matter, but I believe that people who are in love should be able to get married, and suddenly I saw the characters from the story, Andrew Whittaker and Mark Bryce, so strongly, like they were standing in front of me. I had the idea for the story from beginning to end in a matter of days. I could see Andrew and Mark’s love for each other, and I could see how they struggled. I wrote the first draft as the challenge for National Novel Writing Month. I had 62,000 words written in 30 days, which is super fast for me.

STRW:  Do you work on one project at a time or many?

Meredith Allard:  Just one. My limited brain capacity tops out at one story at a time.

STRW:  Hero or Antihero? Who would you chose and why?

Meredith Allard:  I’ve always preferred the hero. I like to see people rise above their baser nature to become their best selves. I like characters who make brave choices to do the right thing.

STRW:  People say write what you know. Do you think that is right or even important?

Meredith Allard:  This is a really interesting question because “write what you know” can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, I never write what I know in the sense that my stories are fiction and the characters and the plot are creations from my imagination. Yet there are aspects of myself in every character, so then I’m using what I know to create someone who is otherwise fictional. On the surface in That You Are Here, I’m not writing about what I know because I’m not a gay man. Yet I know what it’s like to have to learn to feel comfortable in my own skin. Whenever I write I’m trying to find the universal aspect of the story that anyone can relate to, so in a sense it’s something everyone knows. Everyone has to learn how to feel comfortable in their own skin in one way or another. I also don’t think there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to writing, and writers can write about whatever they want. If it’s something they don’t know, then they can use their imagination to fill in the gaps.

STRW:  What is the first book you read that really meant something to you?

Meredith Allard:  This is going back to when I was eight years old, but Charlotte’s Web is the first book I can remember reading that showed me the power of a well written story. I was so touched by Charlotte and Wilbur’s story, and after that I wanted to read every book I could get my hands on.

STRW:  What do you find sexy in a man?

Meredith Allard:  A sense of humor is first and foremost. It’s great if he’s smart, and it certainly doesn’t hurt if he’s cute.

STRW:  What’s next up for you?

Meredith Allard:  I just got back from London where I was researching for my next novel, an historical story set in Victorian London that’s inspired by Downton Abbey.

STRW:  Thanks, Meredith, for stopping by and taking a moment to sit in our  author interview armchair.  That was wonderful!  Here is some That You Are Here details, including where to get your copy:

 

THAT YOU ARE HERE
by Meredith Allard

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cover_That You Are HereBLURB:

On the outside, handsome, successful attorney Andrew Whittaker has everything in life. On the inside, he has everything too, only he doesn’t know it. He hides the love of his life, Mark Bryce, from his family and everyone else where he lives in Portland, Oregon. Soon the weight of the secret becomes too much for Andrew. After wrestling with himself and his place in the world, he must decide how he’s going to live—with or without Mark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT:

Andrew’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. He put his lunch bag on the counter, nodding at the message from Lisa Bloom, his secretary. He scanned his e-mails and grimaced at the phone. “I have to go.” He left at a sprint through the kitchen door to his silver Mercedes in the attached one-car garage. He didn’t even like the car, but that’s what the senior partners at his firm drove, so that’s what he drove too. Andrew opened the garage door, got into the driver’s seat, slid the key into the ignition, started the car, and jumped at the knock on his window. He shrugged sheepishly, opened the window, and took his lunch bag.

“Sorry,” he said. “I’m a little distracted today.”

“Today?” A sigh. “That car is such a gas guzzler. You need a hybrid. This is Portland. You’re supposed to be green.”

“Kermit the Frog green?”

“Any kind of green you want to be.”

Andrew looked at the person watching him with such open-hearted love in those soft gold-brown eyes.

“Mark?” Andrew said.

“Yes, Andrew.”

“Thank you.”

Mark Bryce leaned his head through the open window and kissed Andrew’s cheek. “Anything for you, beautiful boy.”

When Andrew stopped at the red light on Bancroft Street he felt his phone vibrate. He pulled his phone from his pocket, saw the screen and cringed, peering at the nearby drivers as though they were reporting his every move to some great eye in the sky. The text was from Mark.

Stop looking at your phone!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author_PhotoAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Meredith Allard is the author of The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. Her short fiction and articles have appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, The Maxwell Digest, Wild Mind, Muse Apprentice Guild, Writer’s Weekly, Moondance, CarbLite, and ViewsHound. She has taught writing to students aged ten to sixty, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction seminars at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Websitehttp://www.meredithallard.com/
Twitterhttp://www.twitter.com/copperfield101
Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/authormeredithallard

Buy at Amazon   link

Review: Unexpected Rescue (Unexpected #1) by Silvia Violet

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Unexpected Rescue coverEx Navy Seal Jackson is trying to recuperate from a mission gone terribly wrong.  Jackson’s injury from that mission has cost him his career as a SEAL and left him with a strong case of PSTD, and a leg that barely works.   It also left him the only person  who knows that it was a setup.  That the very man who was guiding them to their destination was also the person who betrayed them and now hunts Jackson to eliminate the last eyewitness to the crime.  The problem is that no one believes him, not even his buddies.  They think its all in his head.  Until the killer makes a very big mistake.

Addison “Addy” O’Flanagan was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A wilderness guide on his anniversary trip with his boyfriend when that trip went bad and the boyfriend left.  A kayak and the ocean seemed like a good idea.  Until it wasn’t when the men hunting Jackson make a case of mistaken identy with Addison as the target.

When Jackson sees a kayaker hanging off his boat in the ocean off his beachfront vacation home, he comes to the kayaker’s rescue despite Jackson’s own injuries. The kayaker’s been shot and  Jackson knows that means his enemy is near. But how to keep Addison and himself safe until he can get help and backup? The answer is what is has always been, another Navy SEAL.

An high action quick paced tale, Unexpected Rescue, is the first in the Unexpected series from Silvia Violet.  The first story is focused on former Navy Seal Jackson and his romance with Addison “Addy” O’Flanagan.  The action starts from the first  scene where we are dumped into the memories of Jackson as he recuperates at a rental beach house on the coast of North Carolina.  From a disastrous mission in Columbia that cost  Jackson and his team most of their members and Jackson his career as a Navy SEAL, to the present day at the beach, the story is told from Jackson’s point of view.

From the moment Jackson sees a kayaker in trouble in the seas in front of his balcony, Silvia Violet whips the action up to high speed.  The author is terrific at letting the readers into the action from a race into the ocean and then the fight to get Addy back to safety and shore to the appearance of the villains of the story and series.  There is very little “downtime” for either the characters or the readers here.  We go from one frantic suspense-filled scene to another in almost record time.  We have fights, guns ablazin’, and bad guys lurking around every corner.  And I liked that about this story.  Action packed?  Heck yeah!

What i thought it was missing was a little more quiet moments or perhaps just a little more background on Addison that would let me feel that the romance that is kindled between Addison and Jackson had a solid foundation on anything other than physical attraction (not that’s there’s anything wrong with that) or close proximation.   As it was it felt a little rushed.  Sexy? Yes but it felt like a case of “instalove”.  A little longer length to the story and I think that would have been taken care of.

Maybe we will see more of them in the next book in the series, Unexpected Trust.  In that story, one of the characters here, former Navy SEAL and now Special Agent, Hugh “Sport” Cranford, gets his own version of action and  HEA.

If you like action,and a fast paced love affair, then Unexpected Rescue just might be the thing for you.  It’s short, lively, and fun.

Cover art by Meredith Russell.  Love that model.  Works perfectly for this story.

Buy Links:                                                           All Romance eBooks (ARe)                              Amazon                 Unexpected Rescue

Book Details:

ebook, 95 pages
Published November 4th 2013 by Silvia Violet Books (first published November 3rd 2013)
ISBN139781310825422
edition languageEnglish
url http://silviaviolet.com/
series Unexpected #1

Books in the Unexpected series to date are:

Unexpected Rescue (Unexpected #1)
Unexpected Trust (Unexpected #2)

Bottoms Up? On Tour with the Designated Bottoms Anthology – Authors Katey Hawthorne, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, BA Tortuga, KC Wells, and Shannon West! (contest)

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Top? Bottom?  Let’s find out more with the wonderful group of authors whose stories can be found in the new m/m anthology, Bottoms Up!  

To celebrate the release of Bottoms Up, Pride Promotions and the authors have brought along a $25 Amazon Gift Card to give to one lucky person.  To enter to win, visit HERE for the entry form and all the contest details.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.   Contest information repeated at the end of the post.  Contest ends 8/6.

Book Name: Designated Bottoms
Author Name: Katey Hawthorne, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, BA Tortuga, KC Wells, Shannon West

Author Bios:

Contributors:

BA Tortuga: Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing porn sites in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has responded to the call of the high desert mountains. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon- holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her at http://www.batortuga.com

♦Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills. Find Katey at http://www.kateyhawthorne.com/

♦Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex.

A full time author, Julia has been published by Torquere Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at her website  

♦Sean Michael: Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to “Chicago.”

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.
Barring any of that? He’ll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Sean’s available for interviews, by the way. He can always be talked into, well talking about himself. Find Sean at http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

♦Shannon West: Shannon West currently lives in the South with her husband and family. A lover and avid reader of M/M romances, she began writing them a few years ago and now has over forty short stories, novellas,and novels to her credit. Her series about wolf shifters, the Dark Hollows Series and the sci fi series, Love Slaves of the Alphas, produced sixteen bestsellers with four of them going to number one on the third party sites. She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013, a nominee for best sci fi series in the Love Romances Café and very honored to be named an All Romance ebooks top ten author for 2013. She writes BDSM and some ménage as well. She loves men and everything about them, and believes that love is love, no matter the gender. She mostly spends her days at the keyboard, trying to elude housework, which stalks her relentlessly.

Links:   Website     
Twitter: @shannonwest8
   Amazon Author Page  Facebook

♦Kiernan Kelly: Kiernan Kelly lives in the wilds of the alligator-infested U.S. Southeast, slathered in SPF 45, drinking colorful tropical, hi-octane concoctions served by thong-clad cabana boys.

All right, the truth is that she spends her time locked in the dark recesses of her office, writing gay erotic romance while chained to a temperamental laptop, drinking coffee, and dreaming of thong-clad cabana boys.

Sigh.

To date, Kiernan has over a dozen novels in print and ebook, and a plethora of short stories in both formats.

Links:   Website      Facebook  email: KiernanKelly@KiernanKelly.com

♦KC Wells: Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C.Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings – writing about men in love was even hotter…

K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career.

The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

K.C. can be reached via email (k.c.wells@btinternet.com), on Facebook or through comments at the K.C. Wells website  K.C. loves to hear from readers.

designatedbottoms700How Bottoms Up Came To Be:

So, what happens when you get a bunch of m/m writers together on a panel at a steamy little convention called Authors After Dark in Savannah?

In this case, we all sat around with the readers who came to our panel and chattered and laughed like idiots, and we talked about what we liked to read and write. There was a lot of smutty puns, and it was all fun and games until someone uttered the fateful phrase, “Right, and every story has to have a designated bottom.”

The writer and editor in me both went, “ooooh”. And I said, “Hey, does anyone want in on an anthology for next year with this theme?”

Enough of the writers at that panel, and a few who weren’t, said yes, and Designated Bottoms was born. When I sent out the call, this is what I said.

You’ve heard about Designated Drivers? Well, what about a Designated Bottom? The theme is open to all m/m stories where one man is a designated bottom boy, Whether self-imposed or by the Dom/lover/alpha of the pack or simply (either true or not) by society. Feel free to play with burly bottoms who surprise the deceptively sweet top, or with the too-smart kid who’s the pushy bottom to end all bottoms. BDSM is fine, but not mandatory. A bottom may simply like to catch instead of pitch.

The stories I received delighted me. From a first-time cowboy and his new lover to a hardass Sergeant falling for a determined young soldier, from a hot gamer geek who doesn’t date to a sweet young thing on his first visit to a BDSM club, there’s something for everyone. There are princes and paupers, werekitties and strippers, and skinny twink-looking tops and big, gentle bottoms. They all left me fanning my hot cheeks and smiling at how the end result was two men in love, no matter how they got there.

The authors in Designated Bottoms have all reminded me why I fell in love with m/m as a genre damned near fifteen years ago, and of why I’m still writing, and publishing those stories today.

We’d like to dedicate this book to all the readers at Authors After Dark who thought this collection was a great idea, and to all the readers who keep us going every day by reading our books and letting us know they like them! I hope y’all love these stories as much as I do!

XXOO

Twitter: @torquere
Cover Artist: Anne Squires
Publisher: Torquere Press Inc
Buy Links:      Torquere Press        

Blurb:

Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!

In Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it’s like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin. Katey Hawthorne’s gamer grad student Paul doesn’t date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him in The Mistell? Kitty shifter and stripper Aleks doesn’t mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe might just be the master for him in Julia Talbot’s Faster Bobcat.

Sean Michael’s Peter isn’t sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that Little Square of Cloth. In Sgt. Hardass, by Shannon West, recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn’t sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake’s anger. In the Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly, Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon’s Appalachian home, much to the prince’s dismay. And in Switching It Up by KC Wells, Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.

Excerpt:

From Czech Me Out by BA Tortuga:

Josh had texted the fine cowboy as early as he felt comfortable doing it. He’d waited until nine. He figured it was gratifying that he got an immediate response.

“Noon?” he’d sent, and when he got an affirmative, he’d send his address. Then he set about making lunch.

He could tear that sweet body up, turn the Marlboro Man inside out and make Korde like it. He would soften the guy up with a few barbecue-filled potato skins… Barbecue, the redneck aphrodisiac.

Josh grinned. He’d swayed more than one hot little cowboy with his special sauce and some crispy potatoes. Of course, he’d never asked one to come to his house before, and certainly hadn’t gotten so interested so damned fast.

He’d never changed his sheets and made sure he was stocked with lube and rubbers, either. Not on a not-even-a-first-date. Lord. He was hopeful today, for sure.

Hopeful, horny and… oh, man, he needed an ‘h’ word…

The doorbell rang, saving him from having to be too creative. He told his cock to stay down for a bit and went to answer.

Frack and Frick were yapping their damn fool heads off, wagging and bouncing. Silly mutts. “Y’all get down.”

Josh opened the door a few inches. “You’re not afraid of dogs are you?”

“Not even a bit.” Korde leaned down and gave scritches, easy as pie.

Those two beagle-shepherd monstrosities went nuts, yodeling and wagging and begging.

 

 

DesignatedBottoms600x600BannerBlueTour Dates: 7/30/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, MM Good Book Reviews, Decadent Delights, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Prism Book Alliance, Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Full Moon Dreaming, The Hat Party, Fallen Angel Reviews, Amanda C. Stone, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Love Bytes, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Havan Fellows, Jade Crystal, Wicked Wolves and Dreaming Dragons, Iyana Jenna

 

Contest:  $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Enter to win below:

Rafflecopter Code:

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Book Blast: Silvia Violet’s Unexpected Trust Book Tour/Contest

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Book Name: Unexpected Trust
Author Name: Silvia Violet

We are a quick stop on Silvia Violet’s Unexpected Trust book tour.  To help promote the release of Unexpected Trust, Silvia Violet and Pride Promotions are giving away a Rafflecopter Prize of a $20 ARe Gift Card,  To enter to win, visit the Rafflecopter link  provided.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

 

Author Bio:

Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary, sci fi, and historical. She can be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?” She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinfully delicious treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading to her incorrigible offspring.

Author Links:

Cover Artist:
Publisher: Self-Published
Unexpected Trust (Unexpected Book 2) by Silvia Violet

Unexpected Trust

Author Bio

Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary, sci fi, and historical. She can be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?” She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinfully delicious treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading to her incorrigible offspring.

Unexpected Trust coverBlurb:

Special Agent Hugh Cranford, better known as Sport, is conducting an off-the-record investigation. He’s after Danny O’Sullivan, a spy rumored to have assisted in the ambush of Sport’s former SEAL team. Danny claims he and Sport are on the same side, and the real traitor is the man Sport is working for. But Danny is a master manipulator. He’s also the most seductive man Sport has ever met. Sport can’t help being attracted to him, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to trust him.

In his quest to bring down a few highly-placed traitors in the US government, Danny O’Sullivan has been keeping tabs on Sport. When Sport comes looking for him, Danny decides to bring Sport in on his secret mission and into his bed. Sport may not trust Danny, but he wants him. As the two men risk their lives to complete Danny’s mission, they discover neither is as strong as they like to pretend.

Buy Links:    Smashwords      Amazon     ARe      Barnes and Noble

 

 

Tour Dates: 7/28 – 8/1
UT BadgeTour Stops:

7/28: Prism Book Alliance, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, MM Good Book Reviews
7/29: My Fiction Nook, Amanda C. Stone, Parker Williams
7/30: The Novel Approach, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Emotion in Motion
7/31: The Blogger Girls, Smoocher’s Voice,
8/1: The Hat Party, Love Bytes, Velvet Panic
Rafflecopter Code:
Rafflecopter Prize: $20 ARe Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before you read Unexpected Trust, make sure you know where it all began: Check out Book 1 in the Unexpected series, Unexpected Rescue.

 

 

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Excerpt:

He closed the box and reached for another. Then he heard the whoosh of a door opening. No footsteps followed. Someone was trying to be silent. O’Sullivan? A security guard? It might be nothing more than a routine check, but his instincts told him he was about to be discovered. He flattened himself again the wall next to the shelves.

Several seconds of silence. The hall door opened and closed again. Sport started to put his gun away.

Suddenly, the office door swung open and Danny was there, aiming a Glock at his chest. Fuck. He hadn’t heard a thing.

Why hadn’t he waited to come back here? Based on what he’d seen of the security, he could have gotten in easily after hours. He could hear his instructor at Quantico berating him for his impatience. Mr. Invincible. Mr. I’m-Better-Than-Any-Fucking-Spook. Look where that got you.

“Hello there,” O’Sullivan said. “Waiting for me?”

The Irish lilt went straight to Sport’s cock. Damn the man. “Just leaving actually,” Sport said, pushing away from the wall.

Danny shook his head. “Not yet. Get rid of your gun and then we’re going to get to know each other better.”

Continue reading

Review: Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

HomeTheHardWay_500x750Dare Buckley has returned home to Palladian, Washington a far different person than the one he was when he left.  Dare left Palladian, a teenaged golden boy who, along with his mother, was mourning the loss of his father who had committed suicide.  The man who returned?  That Dare Buckley is a disgraced former Seattle P.D cop.  A man who’s poor judgement and even worse actions have made him someone only a hometown police department would give a job too.  Dare Buckley knows this is his last chance for redemption and he needs to make good.  It also gives him a chance to investigate his father’s death and reconnect with someone who used to idolize him, Finn Fowler.

Finn Fowler, son of the local tramp, is someone who Dare protected when they were in school when the bullies saw Finn as an easy victim and outsider.  But that young boy who followed Dare everywhere, who thought Dare was his hero is gone.  Now there’s an adult Finn Fowler to  content with, one who wants little to do with Dare Buckley.  Or so it seems.

Palladian has always been a town of secrets, only Dare never realized that before now.  And those secrets contain the answers that Dare needs to find closure and the ability to go forward.  But what happens when someone doesn’t want those secrets to come out?  Who can Dare trust when even the man he thought he knew might be keeping the biggest secret of them all?

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Two things  right off the bat.  One, I love Z.A. Maxfield.  Her stories have an originality and life about them that I find irresistible.  So many of them are must reads and highly recommended books on my shelf.  Two.  Home the Hard Way is probably not one of those stories, at least for me.

Home the Hard Way is more of a mixed bag for me narratively speaking than her other tales of  angst, broken men, and love.  For most of this tale, I was engrossed in the complicated but resoundingly lifelike plot.  That includes the small town Sheriffs office and its police officers, the town beauty parlor and its clients as well as all the other denizens of a town that’s seen better days and knows it.  And there’s a local golden boy who left a hero and came home a failure.  Those parts all work here and work extremely well.  The resignation, humiliation, and indignation of the returned “past his glory” boy and the people left behind who idolized him…all rang true. It is just one well conceived and well drawn character portrait after another here.

Other plot threads that worked seamlessly throughout the story were the old mysteries floating up from the past to haunt and threaten those involved in their present lives.  That these secrets were kept hidden by agreement and association feels like an integral part of authentic small town life instead of part of a fictionalized culture.  I liked that too.  Even the behavior that can be institutionalized under such a society felt real.  Bullying, harassment, all can be excused given the right circumstances and people involved, and that’s the shared history in a small town that makes that an ordinary happenstance.  Everything I just mentioned worked beautifully in the story and made the narrative flow slowly along.

So what didn’t work for me?  The manner in which one main character is introduced to bdsm and a D/s relationship.  And that aspect of the story was enough, in its treatment, to almost derail this book for me.

I love it when using BDSM components or a D/s scene or lifestyle makes sense for a character or a situation.  I think that it’s important that it be explained or incorporated in a way that lets the reader into the scene and understand  why its necessity for both characters to participate.  It shouldn’t, in my opinion, make you start questioning about the “rightness” of the scene or the judgement about the author’s handling of her characters in such a scene.  Or even if  the segments that bothered me are acceptable to the leather or bdsm community in general (if you can answer this please let me know), I do know that those scenes were problematic enough to keep me awake trying to see it from all angles because it bothered me enough to jar the flow of the story.

My issues here?  That anything consensual can happen with a drunken or judgment impaired character and not be addressed in the narrative.  That’s at the core of my dissatisfaction with this story. It’s a sticking point with me although it might not be for other readers.  But here’s my thinking on the issue.

For starters, that a drunk character, on an unplanned, inebriated visit to another sober character (under strained circumstances) gets pushed /involved into a D/s BDSM scene with little dialog or discussion between the characters.  Unless the lack of consent is part of the storyline, an inebriated or alcoholic person (fictional or not) can’t be seen to give consent to an action or behavior, even an implied consent without some discussion going on.   The impaired judgement of that main character is not addressed.  It wouldn’t have mattered even if they are getting a tattoo while on a binge or other similar actions.

Secondly, then this character is ushered into an act of submission, and by a Dom/character who has complex feelings about the other person. This includes a long standing grudge (feelings of abandonment) against this character. For me, it just felt well less a scene between consenting adults and more like an action of aggression and implied revenge.  Again that would be fine if that was the intent of the scene.  But it’s not. And the character made to submit?  A virgin so to speak about D/s play and BDSM in particular.  This happens more than once.  Is this typical D/s play?  Don’t know. I have been informed by some in the lifestyle that such scenes need to be worked out in advance, rules and limitations agreed to, things of that nature.

Again, it’s not the D/s or BDSM play that I mind, but the manner in which the characters use it to sexually interact with each other and work out old issues.  This guy is a mess to begin with and it only gets worse. I wish the whole aspect of this story would have been handled a little differently. Even the slightest change would have affected how I feel about this story.  I kept trying to see my way around this element but I could never resolve it satisfactorily enough to get by it.

This element aside (which admittedly was hard for this reader), Home the Hard Way is a story that many readers will enjoy and feel deeply about. Why?  Because there are so many wonderful elements at work here.  Z.A. Maxfield’s characters and small town descriptions are just incredible.  Just the way in which the town of Palladian and the rank river that it got its name from are depicted.  The river, dank,and  sluggish, full of trash pooling at its edges, waits for a storm to flush the stagnant waste and foul waters away.  Much the way the town has an overlay of old secrets, hidden antagonisms, and barely contained jealousies and rivalries.  It’s that aroma of  neglect that reflects the stagnant  feel that small town can get as if the life is seeping slowly out of them a drip at a time.  Everyone knows everyone else or thinks they do because of a shared history that can reach decades into each family’s life.   This element of the story made Home the Hard Way for me.  I recognized those people and the town they lived in.  I knew them from their all-too-human actions, petty and otherwise,   The small town parlance and activities speak for themselves as an authentic part of small town USA.

Will the issues that bothered me here bother you?  Not sure. That’s for you to decide.  If not,then you might feel that this is just the story for you.  As I said, so much about this book is quite wonderful.  I enjoyed parts of Home the Hard Way, just not enough to read it again and that’s the benchmark for a 4 star rating for me.  Let me know how you feel about the book and this issue.  This inquiring mind wants to know.

Cover art by Amber Shah.  I loved it and vote it one of the best of the month!

Buy links:            Riptide Publishing                   All Romance eBook (ARe)                 Amazon                    <a href=” Home the Hard Way 

Book Details:

book, 350 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleHome the Hard Way
ISBN139781626491458
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://riptidepublishing.com/titles/home-the-hard-way

Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield Book Tour and Contest

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Z.A. Maxfield has stopped by today on her Home The Hard Way Book Tour.  She’s brought a contest to help celebrate its release that you won’t want to miss out on!  Welcome, Z.A.!

 

Hello and thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for letting me be here today!

I’m Z.A. Maxfield, coming at you from lovely sunny southern California where I’m blogging about my latest release,  Home The Hard Way.

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I’m doing a giveaway and there are a couple different ways to win! At each tour stop, one lucky winner will get to choose any book from my backlist, so if you’re new to Z.A. Maxfield, this is a great way to find out if you want to dive in! At the end of the tour, I’ll be giving away a Riptide gift certificate, so you’re going to want to follow along the whole blog tour  for your best chance at a prize!

HomeTheHardWay_500x750Here’s the blurb for Home the Hard Way:

Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.

Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.

In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.

Read more about Home The Hard Way here!
Contest:  There’s two ways to win today! Comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my backlist AND you can also…

Enter the Giveaway!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author – Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her

It’s Release Day for Down the Other Street! Let’s Celebrate with Jennifer Cie on Tour (contest)

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It’s Release for Down on the Other Street

by Jennifer Cie!

Let’s Celebrate!

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Book Name: Down On The Other Street

Author Name: Jennifer Cie

Author Bio:

Jennifer Cie is a Tennessee native who loves taking aimless road trips, taste testing whiskey and low grade tequila—for science, and writing about social issues in everyday life. Self-proclaimed writer of “two cups of morning coffee” length books, Cie is the author of the fictional work Memphis Rain, creative non-fiction memoir Burn It, and the upcoming collection of short stories entitled Down On The Other Street.
When she is not getting lost driving across state lines, you can find her rambling about book formatting, poor life decisions, and everything in between on her blog: http://www.journeytopaperback.com.

Author Links:

Blog
Twitter: @JenniferCie1
JC600x600BannerGCover Artist: Najla Qambers
Publisher: Self-published
Blurb:

Long winded, unemployed, and timid, on the first date Brendan Bloom is already in love. Comfortably arched over his body, Ryan contemplates murder. Cold, necklace gleaming against the pale tint of her collarbone, the passenger could have mercy. Not a little black book, but a faded love letter out from under the sheets. Some romances ignite on sight, others flare at the base of waterless tubs soaked in agitation. Rooted in the South, this collection of short stories delivers five electric confessions of love, sexuality, and identity across time

 

Buy Links:    Paperback priced at $5.75 at:  Amazon      Createspace

Ebook ( priced at $0.99) available viaAmazon  Barnes & Noble( Nook)  

 

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Down on the Other Street Excerpt:

““You’re not asking someone studied—you know? I guess the rough kind of good. Like when you floss your teeth till your gums bleed. Hurts a bit, but the taste and feel are good to you.”

My first “real” talk came from you in 1992. I was fourteen sitting on the edge of my father’s leather recliner watching you cut the edges off a peanut butter sandwich. You didn’t have any tattoos back then. You had on this red sweater with blue stripes swishing through it. That pesky string of acne was still running down your right cheek when you offered me half of the sandwich.

“Anna. Why do you want to know about sex—from me?”

I wanted to tell you that the walls in my house had grown thin. Even with the stretches of screeching cars passing by and gargled whispers from the Mississippi River outside, I could hear everything tiptoeing inside. The high pitched turned guttural shrieks the women in my brother’s magazines evoked. The sound of the calluses on his hands attacking flesh like rubberized sandpaper; then, the wheezing attack followed by a hushed “guuu-ah” and tissues sopping up warm ooze. The late-night lullaby to my summers had changed, and I wanted to know the words.” –Excerpt from Intellectuals Are Fools

JCBadgeGTour Date: 7/29/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, Smoocher’s Voice, Emotion in Motion, Prism Book Alliance, MM Good Book Reviews, Havan Fellows, My Fiction Nook, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kimi-Chan, Iyana Jenna, Michael Mandrake, Love Bytes, Velvet Panic

Contest: Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of the book. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Use the Rafflecopter link below to enter and for more contest details.

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Hard As Stone (SoulShares #1) by Rory Ni Coileain

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Hard as Stone FinalLawyer Kevin Almstead has just been told he doesn’t have what it take to ever make partner. Apparently he has “no fire, no ambition”. That’s what he has just been told and Kevin isn’t sure that he doesn’t agree with that assessment. Depressed and unsure of his next step, Kevin heads out for a drink and wanders into Purgetory, a gay bar in Washington, DC. What and who he finds there will forever change his life and his outlook on the world.

All leather, long blond hair and sexy hot, Kiernan Guaire spells trouble for Kevin Almstead in every way.  For starters, he isn’t even human.  Kiernan Guaire is Fae,a Royal from the Demesne of Earth who was banished from his realm for the only crime the Fae will not tolerate…kin killing.   For killing his brother, Kiernan’s soul was sundered and he was sent through The Pattern to Earth.  One hundred and sixty five years later, Kiernan has wandered, lusted and lived clear of attachments and beholden to no one.  Then Kevin walks into Purgetory looking to drown his problems and finds Kiernan instead.  Kiernan’s life and everything changes for him as well.  For Kevin is his SoulShared, his other half.

Drawn into the SoulShare bond after one passionate night together, they separate unwilling and uncertain what that explosive moment meant to each other.  But strange things are happening at Kevin’s work.  Kiernan is having problems staying away from Kevin. And under the ground in Washington, DC an ancient enemy waits for its chance to free itself and walk the earth and Fae realms once more.  And bonding of Kevin and Kiernan might just give it the magic it needs….

Hard as Stone is the first in the SoulShares series and my first by Rory Ni Coileain.  My introduction to this amazing world building talent, creativity, and  Rory Ni Coileain’s marvelous characters had me staying up late until I finished the story and then grabbing immediately for the next in the series.  Just the mention of a storyline that includes a Fae thread and I’m involved.  Then upend that Fae into the modern world and let the fireworks begin or not, depending upon each author’s take on the subject.

Ni Coileain’s Fae may be magical but they are not terribly likable, especially to each other.  Ruthless, mercurial, and imperious.  Yes.  Gorgeous and forever young. Yes.  Dispicable?  Yes, that too.    Particularly, as I said , with each other.  The only rule they seem to abide by?  Dont’ kill each other.  Torture, maim, and terrorize, yes.  Killing? No.  Even if it is warranted.  They may not kill but they also don’t love.  This is a society of beings you want to avoid and they fall more along the lines of the old Fae of Irish lore.

Hard as Stone (and all the others) open in the realm of the Fae, a universe they walled off from ours, pulling the magic from Earth when the Fae left.   There we first meet Kiernan Guaire, already bound in silver and awaiting his fate.  We learn his crime and watch his tortuous passage through to Earth.  It’s a great start and it draws us into his pain and the scary place that is his people and home.

Waiting on Earth is Kevin Almstead.  Tall, kind, and gorgeous, Kevin’s life is on shaky ground.  Groomed to be a partner at a prestigious law firm, it now looks as thought that won’t happen and Kevin is pondering his next step.  Kevin is immediately someone we can identify with.  He is approachable and his disheartened state of mind is one that anyone who has been rejected or stymied at work can recognize.  I loved this character and thought he was a lovely balance of vulnerability and strength.

Hard as Stone takes place in Washington, DC and although there aren’t a lot of local flavor mentioned here outside of Adams Morgan, there isn’t any errors either which I appreciated.  In fact, I wish Purgatory actually existed.  The closest thing I could think of was The Crucible.  But Purgatory is vividly described from its lighting to the bar and floors.  It feels real and that successful element is a must here because Purgatory has a huge part to play in the stories so its ability to feel alive and present is as necessary to the series as the characters that drink there.

There are monsters here.  Human, fae and something far worse.  It speaks to Rory Ni Coileain’s ability as a writer that the dread she creates and the horror that is the Marfach will make you recoil from the pages and the terror that is rising from them.  And the fight against it is as desperate and wild as you can imagine.   I am still cringing just thinking about a passage or two when the Marfach comes to mind.  That’s a job well done indeed.

There are a number of plot threads introduced here that set up the books to come.  They will spark your interest and anticipation for the next story, Gale Force, in the series.  I loved the SoulShares concept and the idea of finding your other half against all odds.  A wonderful rationale behind an instant love/instant attraction…the fact that you recognize something so familiar about the person in front of you.  It’s a compelling thought and a great storyline.  I can’t wait to get to all the books in the series.

If you are a lover of a Fae/human connection and a fantasy that stretches into our world for unexpected consequences and love,, this is the story and series for you!  I highly recommend them but make sure your journey starts with this one, Hard as Stone.

Buy Details:                All Romance eBooks (ARe)            Amazon                           Hard as Stone

Cover artist isn’t credited but while the models are great, the use of fire doesn’t make sense as ice blue, and earth are major factors here.

Book Details:

 

Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published October 18th 2012 by Ravenous Romance
original titleHard As Stone
ASINB009SX91JQ
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/hard-as-stone.php?
seriesSoulShares #1

August is Here and the Week’s Schedule at ScatteredThoughts!

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Upcoming Reviews

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Where did the summer go?  August is arriving this week so thoughts of Fall is trailing in its wake.   I have seen ads for Back to School already, and even (hides my eyes) a few for Christmas.  Really, people?  Christmas?  Sigh.  I am still working on my gardens and the work progresses with the weather.   Like the tides, the work and I flow in and then out.  Cool weather?  Then I can work outside and still breath.  Hot and humid? The typical Washington,  oh right we are surrounded by water and were built on a swamp, DC summer?  Well, that sees me inside, knitting,reading, writing, and grateful for air-conditioning.

Surprisingly, this summer has been pretty good, better than good, so far.  Yesterday barely made it into 80 degrees.  It was lovely and appreciated by all here, including the terriers.  Today humid and 90’s.  Tomorrow more of the same and then down again.  A rollercoaster approach that I will take over weeks of constant 90 degree heat or higher.

It’s also been a wonderful summer so far for books.  New authors, old favorites,  and a new perspective on authors whose new stories I have really liked.  The Pulp Friction 2014 series, Elemental Connections, is off the charts in terms of great plots and even better characters.  I have been reading lots of  books with Fae in the plots, and guess what?  All terrific!  Angel Martinez’ Semper Fae?  Unbelievable!   Rory Ni Coiliean’s SoulShares has me hooked too! On the contemporary side, Lou Sylvre’s Vasquez and James?  Love, love, love them.   Shira Anthony has a new Blue Notes story coming out, Dissonance!   I have two in line from TJ Klune waiting to be read.  I will need more boxes of tissues for those I am sure.  What a happy reader I am these days!

♦If you have noticed, I have started to display current and future book tours to the right hand side of the page.  You can click on those and it will take you to the  entry forms associated with those tours!  Also I have joined the ranks of the Amazon,All Romance Affiliates and Totally Bound Affiliates, so if you buy it through the links at the bottom of each post, it will help support ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords and my efforts to continue to upgrade this website.

♦Now, one last thing.  I have been thinking about this for some time and have decided that I need to add another reviewer to help me cover more books coming out and the review requests I am receiving.  I have a standard format and requirements.  If you are interested, contact me at melaniem54@msn.com and we can talk!

Now on to the week ahead at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

Monday, July 28:

  • Review: Hard as Stone by Rory Ni Coileain

Tuesday, July 29:

  • Riptide’s and Z.A. Maxfield’s Home the Hard Way Book Tour/Contest
  • Book Blast:  Jennifer Cie’s Down the Other Street Book Tour/Contest
  • Review:  Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

Wednesday, July 30:

  • Book Blast Book Tour:  Silvia Violet’s Unexpected Trust
  • Review:  Unexpected Trust by Silvia Violet

Thursday, July 31:

  • Virtual Book Tour: That You Are Here by Meredith Allard
  • July Summary of Reviews and Best Covers of the Month

Friday, August 1:

  • Review:  Hero by Heidi Cullinan
  • Review: Gale Force by Rory Ni Coileain

Saturday, August 2:

  • Ink and Flowers by J.K. Pendragon (removed)
  • The Choosing by Annabelle Jacobs

 

Now stay cool, everyone.  Hope you are enjoying your weekend.  Here’s a summer cocktail to try out!

Cucumber Lemonade Mocktail. A111206 Food & Wine March 2012Cucumber Lemonade Mocktail (no alcohol)

Ingredients:
1 paper-thin, lengthwise slice of European cucumber, for garnish
Ice
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped dill, plus 1 dill sprig, for garnish
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cucumber juice (see Note)
1/4 cup chilled club soda

Directions:

Press the cucumber slice against the inside of a chilled highball glass and add ice. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the chopped dill, agave syrup, lemon and lime juices and 1 tablespoon of water until the syrup is dissolved. Add ice, then add the cucumber juice and shake well. Strain into the prepared glass and stir in the club soda. Garnish with the dill sprig.
NOTES Cucumber juice is available at juice counters. You can also make it by pureeing peeled cucumber chunks in a blender and then straining the puree through a fine sieve. One large cucumber yields about 3/4 cup of strained juice.