A MelanieM Review: Double Up by Vanessa North


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Double Up coverWakeboarding legend Ben Warren is retired, 40 and feeling every bit his age.  It was 15 years ago that Ben won the Lake Lovelace Doube Up tournament to considerable aclaim and much pain after a wakeboarding accident put him into the hospital.  Now Ben runs a pro shop and teaches other the tricks he used to win contests with.

Architect Davis Fox wants to learn how to wakeboard.  Specifically, he wants to be able to enter the Lake Lovelace Double Up tournament to get close to a half brother he was forbidden to see when he came out to his conservative family. Davis’ half brother just happens to be Ridley Romeo, the hottest thing to hit the water in wake boarding contests country wide.  This is just the ticket to get him closer to Ridley once more but first he needs to find a teacher.

When Davis Fox arrives at Ben’s pro shop asking Ben to teach him how to double up, Ben tries to warn Davis off about the risks inherent in this sport for a newbie but Davis won’t be denied.  Ben accepts the job but finds teaching Davis renewing his passion for the sport and for David himself.  Davis too is falling fast but old issues from Ben’s past reappear, ones he hasn’t told Davis about.  Ben is going to have to learn some hard lessons all over again before he can accept that he has a future not only with Davis, but back in the sport he loves so much.

I just love Double Up so much that I can’t believe this is the first book that I have read by Vanessa North.  I had to go through her  backlist to be sure (and to start marking stories to read) but, indeed, this is the first time this author has come to my attention.  I love it when that happens and now I have a whole new stack of stories to go through.  Life is good!  But back to Double Up.

What made me love this story so?  I think its because Double Up is such a complete package.  For starters, the plot is great.  Wakeboarding is a new sport for me and within the boundaries of the plot, North manages to be both informative and entertaining about wakeboarding, its maneuvers, terminology, and its equipment.  Her descriptions were so clear, especially once Ben jumped into the water, that I could almost feel the muscles strain when the rope between man and boat pulls taut. Using the extreme sport of wakeboarding as a framework for her story is especially appealing.  Retired athletes, their glory days behind them, are a staple as main characters in romances.  But with wakeboarding as the backdrop, it becomes fresh and contemporary.  Ben is a legend but there are very good reasons other than age, as to why his extreme sports days are behind him.  By his side as friend, boss, and occasional hookup, is Eddie, who came so close to stealing this novel away from Ben and Davis.  Flamboyant, smart, and an athlete in his own right, Eddie was an amazing surprise from start to finish.  When secondary characters are this good, then you can figure on the main characters being fully realized, complex people as well.

Davis’ attraction to Ben is immediate, but Davis also knows what he wants in a relationship and it’s not a quick hookup.  Ben has a past that makes him question his ability to have not only a romance but a real relationship with anyone.  How those two disparate individuals come together against a backdrop of sunshine, water, and wakeboarding is a true joy here.  Throw in a younger brother, a bisexual tournament queen, and a transgendered wakerboarder as well and the gifts from this author never stop coming.

I thought the dialog here crackled with humor, warmth, and a good bit of sarcasm.  The characters?  Top notch.  From gorgeous aged athlete Ben Warren to , successful architect Davis Fox to Eddie Russell, Ben’s oldest friend (and scene stealer), each character flew off the page lively, vivid, and totally believable in their human frailties and idiosyncrasies.  There are actually some spew moments here during a phone call between Eddie and Ben.  It was unexpected, the humor deep, knowing, and yet totally real in demonstrating the depth of the friendship between these two men.  Love, love, loved it!

This book was so much fun and still managed to be exciting, romantic with moments of angst and reflection as well.  I highly recommend this story.  Grab it up today and start your visit with this entertaining, wonderful cast of characters.  Plus you get to add a sport for your watching pleasure too, at least I have.


Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing        All Romance eBooks (ARe)        Amazon            Double Up

Cover art by L.C. Chase.  It’s perfect.  If you didn’t have a clue what wakeboarding is, this cover would give you an idea (as it did me)

To watch wakeboarding in action, check out this youtube trailer.

Book Details:
ebook, 118 pages
Published August 25th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
edition languageEnglish

Mix it Up with B.A. Tortuga’s Deconstructing Channing Book Tour and Contest!





Today our focus is on a blog favorite, B.A. Tortuga, and her latest shifter release, Deconstructing Channing!  It’s a M/M/F story and typically Tortuga hot!  Enter to win an eBook copy of Deconstructing Channing by using the Rafflecopter link here or at the end of the magnifying glass and bookpost!  Happy Reading all! Don’t forget, you must be 18 years of age or older to enter.




Book Name: Deconstructing Channing
Author Name: BA Tortuga

Author Bio:
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 (still amazing to say that), 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 gone to the high desert mountains and fallen in love. 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.

Author Contact:

deconstructingchanning_msrTitle:  Deconstructing Channing
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Cover Artist: Kelly Martin
Pairing: M/M/F menage

Sales Links:   Ellora’s Cave          Amazon
When they were young together back in their werecat pride, Bowie and Channing experimented with love and sex, as well as flirting with a threesome with their best friend, Emma. Channing and Emma both ran from their needs, leaving Bowie to break away and find his own life. Now a confident master dominant, Bowie discovers Channing again through a video of a consummate sub, one who Bowie knows he needs to find once more.

When Bowie shows up on his doorstep, Channing feels like a teenager again, all confusion and need. He doesn’t date his own kind, only humans, and he’s not in the market for a full time master. Bowie is impossible to deny, a force of nature, and while both men know they’ll have to think about Emma eventually, now is the time to see if they can get to know, and love each other, all over again.


The trip was designed to give him time. Time to figure out what he was going to say to Channing Lanier when he saw the sorry son of a bitch again.
He could start with “Hey, you rat bastard. Amazing how you came out after you dropped me like a hot rock.” That would be fun. Or maybe, “I thought you weren’t into spanking and bondage, and your precious asshole was sacrosanct, but now you’re a bottom in the underground BDSM scene,” would work better.
Bowie wouldn’t even be going to see said bottoming asshole if it wasn’t for the flyer tucked neatly away in his briefcase.

Tawny Catnip.


Their Emma was a fucking stripper?

A Vegas stripper? The revue was touted as a classy burlesque show and topless nightclub called Catnip Crazy.

Hell, the crazy thing was that both of his ex-lovers had called him a goddamn perv.

Him. Because he’d wanted them both. Because he’d wanted Emma over his lap. Because he’d wanted to see Channing bound and on his knees between the both of them.


BlueBadgeChanningTour Dates: 8/27/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, Inked Rainbow Reads, Andrew Q. Gordon, Prism Book Alliance, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fallen Angel Reviews, Love Bytes, the Twins: Talon ps & Princess so, Iyana Jenna, Tara Lain, Wake Up Your Wild Side, MM Good Book Reviews, Carly’s Book Reviews, The Hat Party, Michael Mandrake

Rafflecopter Code to win an eBook copy of Deconstructing Channing...
a Rafflecopter giveaway


On Tour with the Forever Man’s A.J. DeWall! Author Interview and Book Tour Contest.




A.J. DeWall has stopped by on her Virtual Book Tour for Forever Man today for a wonderful interview.  She also brought along a contest for everyone to enter.  

The author will be awarding a $25 Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter (enter here) during the tour, and a $25 Barnes & Noble GC and a print edition of Forever Man (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn host. A free download of an Interlude Press eBook title or an author/book swag pack (US ONLY) will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter at each stop during the tour.  As usual, you must be 18 years of age or older to enter!


A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with A.J. DeWall…

STRW:  1.  The plot behind Forever Man is incredibly poignant.  Do you personally believe in a love that can last thru the ages, even when parted?

A.J. DeWall:  Absolutely. I am one of those romantics who believes love never dies. Maybe it changes; maybe you find out that you’re better off as friends, or sometime lovers, but it’s always there.

In high school, my great love was tall redheaded boy who wrote me love letters and talked with me for hours about our future, about art, about who we would be become together. We both realized we were gay—he was first, and I fell in love with a woman a few years later. We went off and lived our own lives, staying in touch every few months. Today, I’m happily married to that woman and he is the father of our son. We’re our own, made-up family. That love is still there; it’s just different.

STRW:  2.  I have always loved plots that bring together lovers parted who finally reconnect.  What is it about that idea that resonates with you?

A.J.DeWall:  Me too! I love the idea of getting another chance to make things right, a fresh start. And when two people who love each other have a chance to be together—again, or for the first time, as is the case in Forever Man—they will move heaven and earth to make it happen. I like underdogs, stories about doing the impossible; strength of will, doing whatever it takes. Don’t we all wish we would shine in those make-or-break moments?

STRW:  3.  A favorite question of mine is which came first?  Character or storyline?

 A.J. DeWall:  Character. For me, story comes from character. Whenever I’ve tried to write based on a plot idea, or theme, it takes me forever to write it and I end up with a bunch of useless stuff.

I get a sense of a character when a scene pops into my mind. It’s usually just a few seconds of a scene. Then I have to figure out where in their life story the scene falls, and if I want to tell that part of their story, or another. It’s like getting a glimpse of someone’s life, and then knowing right away I want to get to know them better.

STRW: 4.  Some authors say their characters “talk” to them, so much so it can bump a secondary satellite persona up to main.  Has that ever happened to you?

A.J.DeWall:  I certainly have experienced days when the writing flows effortlessly, and dialog is a joy to write—every time—but I can’t say I hear characters talking to me. Talking to each other in the story, sure. I started out as a playwright, and so I still think of the writing as a series of scenes. I see it, and I hear it, but I’m always aware that I’m creating that world.

STRW:  5.  With contemporary fiction that stretches over time it is important to get the historical aspects accurate.  How much research did you do for your story?

A.J. DeWall:  With respect to time, I did not do any research. Nothing revealed about Ren and Cole’s shared past required research, as most of their memories had to do with the emotion of turning point moments—when they met, when each of them realized their feelings for the other, the various times they chose not to act on their feelings—and less to do with the specific time period in which their memories took place.

STRW:  6.  What comes first?  Title or plot?

A.J. DeWall: Title, usually. Titles have always come easily to me, but starting with title every time is a habit I picked up working as a ghostwriter. Authors tell us the so much when they title a book—what is most important to them about their own story, the point of it, the heart of it.

STRW:  7.  Tragic lovers have been a staple since before Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  What new twist do you bring to this storyline?

A.J. DeWall:  I’m not sure it’s a new twist, but the forces that keep them apart are internal. It’s their own doing, those idiots! They let their own assumptions and fears get in the way of going after what they want—each other. They settle. They pine. They move on with their lives—until fate steps in to give them one more chance.

STRW:  8.  Favorite characters?  And if so, who? And in what story?

A.J. DeWall:  I’m a massive fan of ensemble stories with interweaving plots and characters that show up again and again. I’m particularly fond of the Tales of The City series by Armistead Maupin. The final book in that series just came out, and it’s amazing.

Also Louise Erdrich has a number of books with ensemble characters, the most famous and critically acclaimed in that group is Love Medicine. I think I’ve read it four times. It’s one of the few books that I felt I had to read out loud it was just so good.

Thank you so much for asking such thoughtful and interesting questions!

STRW:  And thank you, A.J. DeWall, for the wonderful and fascinating answers.  It’s been delightful.  And now a closer look at  the book and author, Forever Man by A.J. DeWall

Cover_Forever ManForever Man
by A.J. DeWall
Buy Link:   Interlude Press



A bond forged in Catholic school, an unspoken attraction that outlasts years of separation and other relationships.

Ren and Cole never acted on that thing that always bubbled beneath the surface of their friendship, not until a chance encounter in a Santa Fe bar and a song that would tip the scales forced them to confront their feelings. Will the influence of a music superstar, a New York socialite and a mystical property manager finally bring them together, or will a history of missed opportunities, their own fears and an impending wedding keep them apart? Can they just have one night, and then walk away?

Forever Man is a story of the consequences of the choices we make, and how the courage to change can last a lifetime.



Ren turns to see Cole standing not five feet away, a bit out of breath.

“Did you mean it?” Ren asks.


“You’re in love with me?”


Ren doubles over again, trying to catch his breath. Cole crosses to him, rubbing his back but saying nothing. After a moment, Ren straightens out and asks, “How long?”

“I want us to be together—”

“No. How long have you been in love with me?”

The answer to this one question is all Ren needs to know. Because this man, this friend, this lover of his has always given in to whims and drama and intensity, and Ren has to be sure that he is not that. He has to be sure that this is not new.

Cole steps into Ren’s space, tilts his chin up and kisses him. The kiss is firm, an answer, a promise.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with you.”

Excerpt Three:

“I was a coward, Ren. And I’m… I’m so very sorry.”

Ren touches Cole’s cheek. “You were an idiot.”

“I was an idiot.”

“I was an idiot, too. I still am, I think.”

“Why do you say that?” Cole asks, his heart in his throat.

“Because this idiot is hopelessly, madly, undeniably in love with you, and has been for a very, very long time… and, aside from admitting to a schoolboy’s crush once up on a time, never did a damn thing about it.”

Cole lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. His head drops in relief, falling on to Ren’s thigh, and he’s kissing Ren’s hand—fast kisses, a dozen or more, in gratitude.

“Oh Ren, Ren. Say it again. Say it one thousand times.”

Ren lifts Cole’s head, and just as he did not two hours before, holds his face in his hands. But this time is different. This time he looks down on Cole with shining eyes and says, “You are so in love with me.”

Cole whispers, “Yes, yes, yes.”

“And I am so in love with you.”

“Oh God. Yes.”

Their kiss is long and deep. Cole feels it in every cell in his body: this opening up, this rightness. When it’s too much he pulls away, plasters his face into Ren’s neck until he catches his breath and then dives back in again, taking hold, slipping every secret wish into Ren’s mouth as his tongue lays claim over its contours. He feels like Ren is sucking the truth right out of him, pulling him down, down, down until they are both panting and dazed with the enormity of it all.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A professional writer for more than 20 years, A.J. DeWall began her career as a playwright. She is the ghostwriter behind dozens of nonfiction books, including several award-winning bestsellers. As a writer of fan fiction, her online titles have hundreds of thousands of reads. Forever Man is her first novel. She lives in New York with her wife and son.

VBT_ForeverMan_CoverBannerBook Tour Stops:

August 4: Sharing Links and Wisdom
August 5: Prism Book Alliance
August 6: Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess
August 7: Long and Short Reviews
August 7: Behind Closed Doors – Promo
August 8: Romance Novel Giveaways
August 11: Mia Downing
August 11: Booklover Sue
August 12: Carly’s Book Reviews
August 13: ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords
August 13: Dawn’s Reading Nook
August 14: Erotica For All
August 15: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
August 15: We Love Kink