A MelanieM Review: The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds by Charley Descoteaux:


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

All he ever wanted was to be a normal guy….

Cover The Nesting Habits of Strange BirdsPhil Brask’s life has been one of abandonment and abuse. Jerry Callahan found and rescued Phil after an attack.  Jerry offered Phil a job, and a home as well as a becoming a mentor to the younger man.  Now Phil lives in Jerry’s basement.  He spends his days in solitude, converting legal documents into electronic format. When Phil is not working, then he lives behind the lens of his camera, photographing nature, including the nesting habits of migratory birds. His only friend and outside contact continues to be Jerry, the father figure and mentor, who understands Phil and his issues.

When the pipe feeding the water heater bursts, Phil’s life undergoes a dramatic change. Plumber Lee Redding arrives to fix the pipe and water damage done to the basement where Phil lives and works. The two men establish a shaky and instantaneous attraction.  And before Phil is even aware, he is drawn away from the narrow focus of his computer and camera lens. Lee gives Phil hope for a life past the walls that Phil has built around himself.  Lee’s arrival  expands Phil’s universe as he meets Lee’s family and band. But there’s a reason Phil retreated behind those walls, why he panics at a simple touch.

Lee’s life is full, if not exactly what he had wanted. He works  with his uncle and helps out on his mother’s farm. He  playis bass in a horrible metal band, and hooking up when he pleases—but he’s always suspected something was missing. When he meets Phil with the icy-blue eyes, he knows exactly what that something is. Phil isn’t like other guys, but neither is Lee beneath his carefree exterior. Lee has his own demons to fight.  Between the two of them, maybe they can help each other past their issues and histories into a future both have always dreamed of.

From the wonderfully quixotic title to the intriguing blurb, this was a book that drew me in with just one glance.  It is also the first book by Charlie Descoteaux that I have read but it certainly won’t be the last.   The Nesting Habits of  Strange Birds is a wondrous journey into the complex minds and lives of two wounded men and their families.  From the surface, each group seems so dissimilar.  But upon closer inspection, each young man carries the scars of their past, if not upon their bodies, then upon their inner selves. And each man’s family (in Phil’s case, it is Jerry) is as different and supportive as each one of the them needs them to be.  The family dynamics and individual give and take found in this story were among the highlights of this amazing novel.

In particular, I loved Lee’s family. It consists of Lee’s mother Tina who runs a holistic farm, his sister Becca who I just adored, and his Uncle Lenny who will grow on you by the end of the story.  Phil’s adopted family can be found in Jerry Callahan, whose past makes him ideal to act as a mentor and father figure to Phil. Every character here is a believable human being, consisting of layer after layer of values, beliefs and faults.  There are so many surprises and delights to be found amongst this group, none of which I am willing to spoil for the reader.  The joy is in the nature of these individuals and the matter of fact manner in which Charley Descoteaux slowly reveals the family dynamics and close relationships found between them all.

Descoteaux’s descriptions are vivid and gripping in their naturalness and authenticity.  The author’s imagery pulls you into the scenes and keeps you involved and part of whatever situation is unfolding at the time.  It doesn’t matter whether it is the Great Blue Herons interacting with their young that Phil is photographing and Lee is observing for the first time or Phil’s introduction to Lee’s band and ear numbing music.  It’s carries an emotional wallop while continuing to be totally absorbing.

Is this story for everyone?  Well, it depends if you are looking for a story that is strictly romance or one where the romance is just another lovely thread in the narrative. If romance is your goal, then perhaps The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds isn’t the story for you.  This story certainly has its dark moments as it should given each man’s background and emotional status.  And the narrative slows down to deal with issues raised during the course of the story line.  There are no “instant cures” for the ailments and issues carried deep inside Phil and Lee.  Instead it documents how these two can learn to adapt, changing enough to allow their lives to expand to include love for each other and their families.  That they achieve it is remarkable and heartwarming.

I absolutely recommend The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds by Charlie Descoteaux.  It’s a slow, thoughtful read with complex characters who find themselves trying to deal with life and sometimes difficult situations.  Its full of love, family, and the strength and courage needed to live a life beyond the barriers we erect to protect ourselves, even if it means that sometimes we get hurt in the process.   Pick it up and decide for yourself.

Cover art by DWS Photography.  I wish there was more to this cover than just two models.  It just doesn’t speak to the story within.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press     All Romance eBooks (ARe)   Amazon       The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds


Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published August 11th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 10th 2014)
ISBN 1632160447 (ISBN13: 9781632160447)
edition languageEnglish

Get some Love & Punishment with Susan MacNicol! On Tour, Answering Questions with Love & Punishment! (contest)




What Makes A Man?  Let’s find out.   Susan MacNicol is here today on her book tour.  She’s brought a lovely contest to enter and agreed to sit down and answer some questions!  For all the contest information, head directly to the bottom of the post for the entry link and details.  Now on with our interview…

STRW:  When you write your stories, do you find yourself tailoring them to European readers or worldwide?

Susan M: I don’t write for any particular nationality or country. I obviously write using English slang, English words, and the flavour of the country I live in. It’s honest and the most natural way for me to tell my men’s stories. I’d say 90% of my readership is in the US though, but I don’t Americanise my spelling or my colloquialisms. My American readers seem to enjoy my English turn of phrase, and the idiosyncrasies of my language and of course, of me! I do hope that my stories appeal all over the world, and that everyone gets pleasure out of them.

STRW:  Is there any difference do you think?

Susan M: I think the answer I gave above probably settles this one. No, I don’t think it makes a difference. The one thing I would say is that when I write books using a language that isn’t my own, I always get a native speaker of that language to double check and sense check my phrases. In ‘Stripped Bare’ , Matthew Langer spoke German, in ‘Love and Punishment’ Anthony speaks some Italian. I’ve had some people criticise the language use and say it was wrong, or perhaps not how ‘they’ would have said it. All I can do is take the advice I’ve been given by those native language speakers and hope it’s the best we can do.

STRW:  Love and Punishment. Which came first?  Title or story?

Susan M: Oh, definitely the story. I’ve got some fairly fixed views on certain controversial issues myself and the ability to write some of these into a story using my characters is fascinating. Then, as I wove some of the elements of those views into my story, and the characters grew and the ideas surfaced and all of a sudden I had a gripping erotic romance thriller with some sexy male heroes, the title sort of crept into the mind. Love – in whatever form and depth and Punishment -both in the legal aspect, the justice view and of course, the self recrimination and guilt. It all wound together really nicely to give birth to the title.

STRW: What sparks your creative process for each story?  A Muse?  An idea?

Susan M: An idea. I get this bee in my bonnet, decide, ‘Yep, I really fancy writing about a crazy serial killer who is being hunted by a sexy Italian detective’, and then it just develops from there. The story tends to bulk out as I write and sometimes I’ll sit there and think,’ Where the hell did that come from? I didn’t even have the vestige of that idea when I started out’. Crazy story, twisting and turning and taking me along on its magic carpet ride.

STRW: What do you find sexy in a person?

Susan M: I have fantasies just like any other red blooded woman and being able to project those into my writing and create characters that I’d love to meet, be friends with, even be in love with, (sorry oh hubby of mine, you just lost out to a fictional character) really floats my boat. I love tight butts, slim, muscled, well toned bodies (not a fan of hair or too much body builder muscle -my daughter and I argue about it all the time as she’s a fan of big men), warm eyes, great eyebrows (like Robbie Williams) and a sense of humour plus intelligence. That’s my ideal man.

STRW: Favorite character you have written and why?

Susan M: Unfair question! I plead the Fifth. It’s impossible to answer this. It’s like the decision of King Solomon as to which half of the baby to give to which mother. I mean, if you had the pick of half of a sexy bloke, which half would you pick? (I’d actually be interested in the answers and the rationale for which half anyone chooses….) I love all my characters equally. Some are tough, some are more emotional. Some are jokers, some are too serious with OCD tendencies, some are fools that rush in where angels fear to tread…they have one thing in common though. They are all beautiful men inside (and out of course) and have the ability to feel love deeply and without reservation.


LoveBanner300x250BlueBook Name: Love & Punishment
Author Name: Susan Mac Nicol
Author Bio:

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000. Currently, She lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family.

Sue is a PAN (Published Author’s Network) member of Romance Writers of America and a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. Also, she is a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell. She has written nine novels, two novellas and a screenplay since February 2012 and clearly believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the sub-genre that is M/M Romance so more can definitely be expected.

Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to make enough money to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories.

Author Contact:

Love and Punishment2SMCover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group  
Buy Link:  Boroughs Publishing Group


On the search for a serial killer, Detective Anthony Parglietto and Flynn Parker learn that every man must make a choice: to kill, to live, to love.

Someone is leaving a trail of bodies throughout London, and Detective Anthony Parglietto is determined to end the violence. Then he’ll return to the man he loves.

Tough, street-savvy, and used to dealing with lowlifes, Flynn Parker is the last person Anthony thinks he has to protect. Then the Bow-Tie Killer strikes close to home and the world turns upside down. Right is wrong, black is white, and a policeman might become a monster. But in the name of love, justice must be served. In the name of love, pain can be endured. In the name of love, a man can taste the very essence that defines him.
Video Link:   View Trailer Here


Anthony walked down the hall. He reached the bedroom and gently pushed the door open. He saw Flynn framed in the light of the lamp shining from the lounge. He lay, apparently asleep, on the leather and wood divan Anthony had brought over from Italy. Its dark burgundy colour contrasted with what Flynn wore, which was nothing but a black thong lying stark against his pale skin. The divan was under the window. The bed covers were rumpled, as if Flynn had been sleeping. His robe was draped across the foot of the bed. Anthony moved towards the gleaming body of his supine lover.

Flynn’s face was turned away towards the back of the sofa. His dark hair was tousled and his arms stretched above his head to the right. He wore a blindfold. Anthony felt a stir in his groin seeing those lean, hairy legs stretched out wantonly, inviting him to run his hands up and over his groin. Even appearing asleep, Flynn had the power to excite him, to make Anthony hard and ready. He stepped towards him, watching the rise and fall of Flynn’s chest with their already hardened nubs. Anthony wanted to run his tongue over that chest, with its smattering of fine hair, to take Flynn’s nipples in his mouth and suck them until Flynn groaned in pleasure. As he got closer in the dim light he saw the hands with their bonds of silk. Green bonds lay dark against Flynn’s wrists, fastened to the wooden struts of the upright chair arm. His hands were tight fists. Anthony chuckled softly, a noise that sounded loud in the stillness of the room.

“Been waiting long?’ he whispered as he took off his jacket. ‘I tried to get home as soon as I could.”
Anthony knew the bonds would be loose so Flynn could break free if needed but he also knew he wouldn’t. It was the way the game was played.

Tour Dates/Stops:
8/29: The Hat Party, It’s Raining Men
9/1: My Fiction Nook, Tara Lain
9/2: MM Good Book Reviews, EE Montgomery, Sarah Madison Fiction
9/3: Love Bytes, A_TiffyFit’s Reading Corner
9/4: Parker Williams, Amanda C. Stone
9/5: Full Moon Dreaming
9/8: Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews
9/9: Jade Crystal, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
9/10: Prism Book Alliance, Fallen Angel Reviews
9/11: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Book Suburbia
9/12: Havan Fellows, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings
9/15: Decadent Delights, 3 Chicks After Dark
9/16: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Because Two Men Are Better Than One
9/17: Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Joyfully Jay
9/18: Louise Lyons, Gaylist Book Reviews
9/19: Cate Ashwood, Iyana Jenna
9/22: The Novel Approach, Crystal’s Many Reviewers
9/23: Inked Rainbow Reads, Wake Up Your Wild Side
9/24: LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Emotion in Motion
9/25: The Blogger Girls, Velvet Panic

Contest: Enter to win the Rafflecopter Prize: One copy of each of Double Alchemy and Double Alchemy: Climax. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Use the Rafflecopter link provided below for the entry form and additional contest details.

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