Review: Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

NobleMetals_500x750When  Robert Belton and his brothers left home  to make their fortune in the Klondike gold fields, they never imagined where their gold fever and poor judgement would take them.  Amid betrayals and gambling debts, only Robert is left to survive in Seattle and he does so by becoming a prostitute.  Robert hopes to save enough money to make it over the Chilkoot Trail into the Yukon and join the hunt for gold.

Dr. John Fauth is on sabbatical from his teaching post at the university in Chicago.  Dr. Fauth carries a precious machine with him to Seattle, one he developed and built himself.  With it, John hopes to find the platinum deposits he needs to further his experiments.  But first he needs to hire someone to help him make the journey into the Yukon, for where there is gold, there is also platinum.

When the only room available in Seattle happens to come with an attractive young man attached to it, John hires Robert for the evening and finds more than he expected.  In the morning, he offers Robert a job.  One man cannot haul the equipment needed for mining by himself, so when John offers Robert a job to join him on the trail going north, Robert eagerly accepts.

Even in ordinary conditions, the gold trail into the Yukon and Canada is fraught with dangers.  But John’s machine and the purpose for which it was built is drawing predators of its own.   The long nights, tough journey, and common enemies bring John and Robert together in passion and friendship.  As the danger mounts, both must decide what is more important to them…noble metals or love.

L.A. Witt takes a gripping period in history and gives it a steampunk twist in Noble Metals.  Just the mention of gold rush brings all manner of images and references to mind.  A huge human migration built on greed, adventure, and the hope of a quick fortune to be made saw towns and small cities spring up around the locations near to the mines or close to the heads of the trails into the gold fields.  Those towns quickly filled with  the unfortunate, the desperate, the opportunists, dreamers, the predators that fed on them, and everything in between.  L.A. Witt brings that Seattle to life here in Noble Metals.

Seattle is the center of the mining explosion.  A port bringing in supplies, hardened men and the unwary, people are arriving by boat, horse and carriage and airship if you have the money to afford it.  Yes, airship as in blimp.  For in this universe, its the blimp or zeppelin or airship that is the highest mode of transportation.  Electricity is still largely undiscovered with Edison, Tesla, and Fruth in the race to develop semi conductor technology.  Until that happens, everything mechanical runs on steam.

I love the ingenious twists and inventions that L.A. Witt brought into her Steampunk Gold Rush.  The Golden Staircase, the fifteen hundred steps carved into the ice from Chilkoot’s base to its peak, a treacherous ice stairway that all and their provisions had to climb if they wanted to reach Dawson City and the Yukon.  Vivid descriptions of the biting cold, sliding mechs, and a slow climb upwards in pain, fortitude, and numbness makes this trail feel like the hell it would have been to all those that attempted it.  Right down to the cannibalized structures of abandoned, broken down machinery that littered the landscape around the Golden Staircase, Witt’s scenes immediately bring to mind the litter and dead bodies left on Mt. Everest, making the connection to each climb clear.

Ah, the mechs.  Steam powered, eight legged, mechanical beasts of burden.  What a great contraption for L.A. Witt to invent for her story!  A new fangled piece of equipment used to convey supplies needed by the miners to dig for gold, they are a quixotic wonder.  Here is L.A. Witt’s description of the beasts:

“…mech, a spidery brass machine that would carry the ton or more of gear over the rugged terrain…I watched an empty mech limp past us. The valves on the front-mounted engine coughed little puffs of steam out the top, and the whole thing rattled as one leg landed badly with every step. I couldn’t tell if the leg was bent or if one of its joints was damaged, but something was definitely wrong.”

Amazingly, lives depended on such a strange walking machine.  And the fight to get it to function and walk properly is as nearly entertaining and fraught with peril as is the rest of Robert and John’s journey.  I really loved those mechs and could picture them quite clearly in my mind as I read.

Then there is the romance between Robert and John.  It found them endearing and their relationship moving.  While unequal in social status, John recognizes a kindred mind in Robert’s.  John values Robert’s intelligence and honesty as much as Robert’s good looks.  They bond over books, and the cold solitude of their tent along the trail on the slow journey to Dawson City.  Nary a case of instant love in sight, I loved how slowly their feelings for each other grew. Not only do they question their feelings for each other but what future, if any, was possible for them.  Great job by the author on making this element feel as real as the situation they find themselves in.

The story is told from Robert’s point of view but John’s side of the story is inserted here as well via journal entries in the diary John is keeping.  I loved seeing Robert and the trail from John’s perspective.  It also widened our view of the universe the author created by getting glimpses of John’s life in Chicago and the world in general.

My only wish was that the journey had gone further and the story continued on longer.  I’ll say no more.  But the world that L.A. Witt build with its tent city at the border, filled with miners, mechs and run efficiently by the North West Mounties (instead of the Royal Canadian Mounties today), along with the rough and tough city of Seattle made me want more of the stories of the people passing through and what if any fortunes they found along the way.

I love Nobel Metals and highly recommend it to all lovers of steampunk, m/m romance and adventure.

Cover art by April Lee.  Love this cover, perfection in every way and one of the best of the year.

Buy Links for Noble Metals:               Riptide Publishing                     ARe (All Romance)                Amazon      Noble Metals

 

Bool Details:

ebook, 1st Edtion
Published January 2nd 2012 by Carnal Passions
ISBN139781926996752
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.loriawitt.com/Books_by_L.html#nobleanchor

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published by a different press; it has since been edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.)

Review: Running Wild (Havoc #1) by S.E. Jakes

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

RunningWild_400x600Sean Rush is a mess and he knows it.  Born from a union between a sociopathic killer and a mother hooked on drugs and sex, Sean escaped his violent home life with his two best friends and their mutual love of cars.  Too bad that included stealing cars and street racing them.  Hauled before a judge atfter being caught, Sean and his friends chose the Army over jail and went to war.  But that just piled more bad issues on top of a heap of bone deep problems Sean carries within him.

Now out of the Army, Sean’s energies are looking for an outlet and finds it at Bertha’s, a Havoc MC hangout.  Trouble finds Sean in the form of Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant, a bad boy among bad boys.  A gorgeous hot man, Ryker represents everything Sean wants and should stay away from.  And not only does Sean want Ryker but Ryker wants him as well.  Bad enough to break into Sean’s apartment night after night for 8 months for the best sex of Sean’s life.  The problem is that Sean is starting to want more from Ryker and Sean doesn’t do relationships even if Ryker does.  This leaves Sean feeling scared, edgy and more stressed out than ever.

Then his best friend Noah calls. Noah’s in bad trouble and needs Sean’s help to steal an expensive car to save Noah’s hide.  Things go from bad to disastrous almost immediately.  It’s Ryker who saves Sean but that act puts the Havoc MC and Ryker in danger.  Cracks and crevices are appearing everywhere on the road ahead for Sean and happiness, including a relationship and love with Ryker.  But first Sean has to save Noah, outrun the thugs after them, steal a few cars and maybe, just maybe save himself along the way.

Just the name S.E. Jakes is enough for me to buy a book.  Jake’s stable of bruised, and damaged men always make for a memorable read and absorbing tale as her characters fight for love and a future for themselves and their lovers.  You can count on their journey being a hard one, full of illegalities, covert operations and bloody fights.  Running Wild, the first in Jakes new Havoc series,  falls definitely along those standards for an S.E. Jakes action romance, starting with her main character and story narrator, Sean Rush.

What a perfect name for a character on the run from his past, his pain, and his desires.  Sean is in a rush to get somewhere if only he knew where he was going.  Sean’s is a voice of a man in constant pain and confusion.  He fights against his impulses to steal and the adrenaline rush it provides. He fights against a need for love and stability, falling back on his old friends whose decision making processes are no better than his.  Really, Sean is just one pretty mess of a man in need of help and more. The choice of making Sean Rush the “voice” of her story is a risky one.  If you love Sean or can at least commiserate with  a man haunted by his abusive background and how it impacted his teenage/adult years, then you are going to love this story.  On the flip side, if you find that unapologetic thieves that keep making the same mistake over and over unappealing, then Running Wild will make you want to run the other way.

Much like Sean, I think it will be a love him or leave him attitude here for all readers.  For me, I remain a little ambivalent about the character of Sean.  Every part of Sean’s life is a sinkhole of problems.  A father in jail for murder,  guilt and PTSD over his Army experiences, a compulsion to steal that lies close to the surface, and a loyalty to a few who keep pulling him back into the world of thugs and car thefts.  Sean is a realistically crafted character that you will want to shake  some sense into at least every five minutes or  so. He is that person you care about but are not sure you want to let him into your home.  A little of him goes a long way and when he is the narrator of the story that becomes an impossibility.  What saves Sean and the reader is the arrival of Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant who falls hard for Sean perhaps to the club’s detriment and his own.

Ryker is tender, brutal, and unwaveringly loyal to a club that took him in and raised him.  Ryker made the story for me and he made Sean palatable.  I have to admit that I would have loved viewing this story through Ryker’s eyes instead of Sean’s.  Both came from turbulent, abusive backgrounds.  Ryker was saved and Sean was not.  That fact dictated the manner in which each boy developed, again another  realistic plot choice from Jakes.  But Sean’s voice is so out of control, so wild that he needs Ryker to rein him in narratively speaking and we don’t get enough of that control here.  But what we get of Ryker, the Havoc MC family and his tenuous relationship with Sean smoothes out the clatter enough to make this a really enjoyable story.

Noah is a terrific side character as is Sweet, Casey, Jethro and others.  Many, many others as there are two motorcycle clubs in town to deal with here. The love and rush of stealing and racing cars comes across perfectly.  I totally got the appreciation of a finely crafted machine and the need to take it to its limits on the road (I am a fan of Top Gear British Edition after all). That element is telegraphed in scenes and descriptions that pulls in the reader and makes them understand the nature of Sean and Noah’s obsession with cars.  Loved that about Running Wild!

Aside from Noah, I think my other real issue with Running Wild is that S.E. Jakes had a huge list of elements she wanted to include in this story in order to set the stage for her series.  By trying to tie in numerous plot points, multiple complications from the characters pasts, side storylines that vied for top billing with the main plot…after a while it just felt a tad too ambitious and a little overwhelming for this story and characters.  They have a lot thrown at them while already dealing with a plethora of pain and problems that would drown a superhero.  At one point, I wanted to wave a flag to slow the action down and sort out the who, what and where.  No matter, S.E. Jakes pulls it all together at the end for a resounding ending with a touch of the supernatural thrown in.  I did say there were a ton of elements here didn’t I?  That includes a supernatural or haunted hill  with a mind of its own.

So. Running Wild and the Havoc MC series.  Do I recommend it?  Yes.  It’s exciting, fast paced, and gripping.  It may drive you a little nuts at times as will Sean.  But stick with the story, finish the race with them and enjoy the outcome and the winner’s lap.  See what I did there?  Blame Top Gear!

Aside from Ryker and Sean,  there are a number of characters I want to see get their HEA or at least HFN.  So I will be waiting for the next Havoc story to arrive, along with new installments from the other S.E. Jakes series I am hooked on.  If bad boys on bikes and sexy, angsty tales of love are your thing, grab up a copy of Running Wild and start reading.  Let me know what you think of Sean and Ryker.   Happy Trails!

Cover art by L.C. Chase.  Love the cover and the motorcycle.  Feel the need for a little Steppenwolf coming on…”like smoke and lightnin’,Heavy metal thunder,Racing in the wind, And the feeling that I’m under…”*

*Read more: Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Buy Links:          Riptide Publishing                 All Romance (ARe)              Amazon               Running Wild

 

Book Details:

ebook, 280 pages
Published June 28th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491533
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/running-wild
seriesHavoc #1

Audiobook Tour for Tara Lain’s The Pack or the Panther! (contest included)

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Audio Book Blast for The Pack or the Panther by Tara Lain

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Book Name: The Pack or the Panther (audiobook)
Author Name: Tara Lain
Author Bio:

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 21. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Author Links:

PackorthePanther[The]LGCover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Narrator: Max Lehnen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

The Pack or the Panther Blurb:

Cole Harker, son of an alpha werewolf, is bigger and more powerful than most wolves, tongue-tied in groups, and gay. For twenty-four years, he’s lived to please his family and pack—even letting them promise him in marriage to female werewolf Analiese to secure a pack alliance and help save them from a powerful gangster who wants their land. Then Cole meets Analiese’s half-brother, panther shifter Paris Marketo, and for the first time, Cole wants something for himself.

When Analiese runs off to marry a human, Cole finally has a chance with Paris, but the solitary cat rejects him, the pack, and everything it represents. Then Cole discovers the gangster wants Paris too and won’t rest until he has him. What started as a land dispute turns into World War Wolf! But the bigger fight is the battle between cats and dogs.

 

The Pack or the Panther Excerpt:

Cole took hold of a branch a few feet from Paris. “Do you think the alliance will stand?” He shrugged. “Hard to say. I know everyone hopes so, so I hope so too.” Cole pulled his eyebrows together. “But you don’t really care.”

Paris looked up sharply. “Yes, I care. I care about my parents. They’ve been good to me and I owe them a lot. I’m a freak by wolf standards, and my father has never abjured me. I honestly believe he kept me separate for my well-being more than his own. He acknowledges me as his son even though I remind him of his greatest sorrow.”

“Your panther mother.” He nodded. “And Trixie isn’t a brave female. My existence is difficult for her, but she’s been nothing but good to me. She had to stand against the combined disapproval of a lot of other females for me. They didn’t know what I was, but they knew I was Merced’s first wife’s son. They weren’t kind. She was. I value her and want the best.”

Cole nodded. If there was one thing he understood, it was loyalty.

“And then there’s you.”

Cole glanced up. Look at that mischievous face. He’d switched from deeply serious to court jester in one second flat. “What about me?” He grinned.
The cat danced around his tree, unfastening buttons on his shirt with intricate skill. “You want the alliance and I want you. Isn’t that an Aristotelian principle? If A equals B and B equals C, then Paris wants Cole to have his alliance so Paris can have Cole’s big yummy cock in his ass. An ass, I might add, that’s been throbbing like a voodoo drum since I first looked in your silver eyes, wolfman.” He whipped off the shirt, leaving his upper body bare.

Wow. Even knowing what was coming, that sight was hard to believe. The cat’s skin glowed in the moonlight like so much alabaster formed into a work of art. If you liked bulky, you wouldn’t like Paris. But if the look of a black leopard stealing along a branch stilled your heart, this sight would do it for you down to the ground. Not really slim. More like lean, with muscles just where they should be, but as if they were made of silk rather than stone. Fluid.
Paris reached and grabbed a branch, then pulled himself up one-armed until he leaned over the wood on his belly. Flip. He circled and came up to sitting, his upper body glowing and long legs dangling. He spread his arms out for a second as if balancing on a tightrope. Then he reached in and started to unfasten his belt. Slowly, he slipped it from his trousers, then swung it over his head until it caught on an upper branch.

He pulled himself to standing and used one hand to slowly lower his fly. White showed in the gap. Oh my. Not white underwear. White skin. Cole shuddered. He wasn’t used to this kind of sexy. Hell, who was? This cat was one of a kind.

Pack-PantherBadgeTour Dates: July 15th, 2014

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Havan Fellows, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, My Fiction Nook, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Prism Book Alliance, Amanda C. Stone, Romance the Night, Redz World, Emotion in Motion, Cate Ashwood, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Hearts on Fire, Velvet Panic, Kimber Vale, MM Good Book Reviews, Iyana Jenna, Night Owl Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kimi-Chan, Buffy’s Ramblings

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest: Rafflecopter Prize: One audio copy, 2 e-copies of The Pack or the Panther by Tara Lain.  To enter use the Rafflecopter link above.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

E-copies: Available Dreamspinner Press, AMAZON, ARe.  And other resellers
Audiobook: available at Dreamspinner Press.

Mountains To Climb by T.A. Chase Book Tour and Contest (A What’s His Passion? Imprint novel from Totally Bound)

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Contest:  To celebrate the release of Mountains to Climb as part of the new What’s his Passion? Imprint, Totally Bound are giving you the chance to win some fabulous prizes!
Enter here for contest prizes, book details and more!

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mountainstoclimb_800 Mountains to Climb Blurb:


Sometimes the past can be the biggest mountain to climb.

Toby Schwartzel has never forgotten Jensen Brockhoff, the man he loved and the one who disappeared six years ago. He thinks he’s moved on, but when Jensen appears again and wants to explain what happened, Toby realises he hasn’t gotten over Jensen. He’d only built up walls to keep from being hurt again.

Jensen Brockhoff left New York City and Toby Schwartzel for several reasons. All of them had to do with drugs and alcohol. He’s clean now and the only thing he’s addicted to is mountain climbing. His passion for the sport has got him through the last six years. But after a particularly harrowing fall on Denali, Jensen knows he has to go back to tell Toby the truth.

Will Toby and Jensen discover they’d never moved past the love they had for each other all those years ago? Or are the mountains between them too high to climb?

 

 

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Mountains to Climb Excerpt:

Jensen’s phone rang and he checked the ID screen to see it was his friend Cat. She was probably calling to check on him. He moved out of the flow of sidewalk traffic to lean against the building.

“Hey, honey, how are you and Jigger doing?”

“I’m doing fine so far. Jigger might not survive another day if he doesn’t quit hovering over me.”

Her strong Boston accent always made him smile.

“Cut him some slack. This is his first baby too, you know. He’s still a little freaked out by the fact that you could’ve been climbing somewhere while pregnant and not even know it. He doesn’t want you or the baby hurt.” Jensen understood where Jigger was coming from. Cat wasn’t his girlfriend, yet he felt very protective of the unborn child she carried. Like he had time invested in the baby already by virtue of all the hours he’d spent with his—or her—parents scaling mountains.

“Yeah whatever.” She dismissed both of their over protectiveness. “So have you talked to him yet?”

He didn’t pretend he didn’t know what she was talking about. “He told me I looked like shit then slapped me on the shoulder like I was an acquaintance and walked out.”

“Harsh. But you knew it wasn’t going to be easy after six years of no contact, Jensen. I’m pretty sure Toby has got a lot of anger and probably built up some walls to keep from being hurt again.”

“Why? Simpson said he had to pour Toby into his bed for an entire week after I left. I guess I just didn’t think he liked me that much. I thought I was the only one into the relationship.” Jensen reached up to rub his chin and almost punched himself in the face with the brace on his wrist. “That’s one of the reasons why I never tried to get a hold of him. At least not very hard. I didn’t think he would miss me.”

Cat sniffed her disgust with him. “You both put time into your friendship and sex life. Why would you think you were more in love than he was? Toby just might not show his emotions. Hell, you never did until you went through rehab. What made you think he was different from you?”

You can read more about Mountains to Climb here!

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