A MelanieM Review: The Path by Ariel Tachna


Rating:  5 stars out of 5

The Path coverBenicio Quispe is finally fulfilling the dream of his life, he is about to become a guide on the Inca Trail, a goal he has striven for from the moment he heard his grandfather’s stories as a young boy in the mountains of Peru.  Benicio has just been hired by Huaman Travel, the top travel agency in Cusco, Peru and has been assigned Alberto Salazar, a seasoned and respected guide as his mentor.   Benecio is overjoyed to find that  he has so much in common with Alberto but they share far more than a passion for the Inca Trail.

Alberto Salazar learned a long time ago to hide his sexuality from all but his employer and friend, Miguel Ramirez.  The small town he lives in and those around him, outside his closest friends, are unaware that he is gay. They all just assume his profession as a guide keeps him from forming lasting relationships.   While that may be true, Alberto feels that to find someone who understands and shares his passions for the Incan culture as well as his passion for men….well, Alberto feels that will never happen.  Until Benicio Quispe enters his life.

Benicio and Alberto find their attachment to each other growing deeper the longer they spend with each other on the trail and outside of work.  But the fear of discovery and losing the respect of those they need to do their job as well as the friends and family around them keep them from acting on theie feelings for each other.  It takes a group of old friends and their anniversary journey to Machu Picchu to convince Benicio and Alberto that it is worth reaching for the one thing lacking in their lives…a loving relationship and lasting partnership.

“The risks on the trail are easy compared to finding a path through the challenges keeping them apart.”

I have always wanted to hike the Inca Trail to see the Sun Gate and the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu.  For many reasons I never got there. Until now.  Ariel Tachna’s amazing novel, The Path, finally made that possible.  Ariel Tachna took this journey in July of 2013,  The sights, sounds and experiences of the Inca Trail must have imprinted itself deeply upon this author because it translated into a story powerful enough to transport readers on to the Inca Trail itself through descriptions and imagery so vivid and compelling that I felt I was another traveler among them as they set out for 4 days of arduous hiking and inspirational wonders.

Tachna’s story allowed me to hike with a group of people up the steep trail to Inti Punki. Our knees and musclues groaned and breezing was labored at that high elevation. And every step of the way up the Monkey Trail to the rocks that form the Sun Gate that overlooks Machu Picchu was exhausting. But then to sit and watch in awe as the sun paints the sacred city in golden lights as it has for centuries?  Incredible.  More than once I found myself in tears of joy and discovery over section after section of a book who celebrated the ancient past of Mayan culture while continuing a journey of the present and future with two men who share their passions for the Inca Trail and culture as well as a deep abiding love for each other and life  as a trail  guide.

Ariel Tachna has done this before, steeped her readers in various cultures and landscapes both familiar and foreign but never have I felt so connected, so involved in the past and present as I did here in The Path.  The Inca Trail once stretched from Cusco to Machu Picchu and in this story the author takes her characters and readers on that pathway once more.  Tachna brings us intimately into the lives of the Peruvian people, especially those from the villages at elevations close to the heavens.  Benecio’s home of Cancha Cancha, itself a small village, in the mountains at four thousand feet, a place for the few people, guinea pigs and llamas who can tolerate that high elevation.  We walk through their homes made of mud and brick, through the characters and scenes, we taste the corn based beer of chica where each person is likely to have their own more favored recipe.  We feel a part of these peoples lives and a part of this story.

I loved all the people I met in The Path.  Benecio is believable and authentic as the Incan ruins he loves.  The author brings us into his life on his last day as a non professional on the trail.  Benicio is hiking the trail and listening and watching his guide, taking notes and thinking how he would handle the tour. And yet still Benicio is overcome with emotion as he sits and waits for the sun to rise over the tops of the mountains at Inti Punki.  Here is a sample:


BENICIO QUISPE took a deep breath as he stood at the base of the Monkey Steps and stared up at the last section of the climb before Machu Picchu. They had been hiking for more than an hour already, with the sky slowly lightening over their heads, but the sun had yet to make an appearance over the highest peaks. Sheltered between the mountains as they were, they would not see the sun for another hour or more. Atop the Sun Gate, though, the view would be entirely different.

Gripping his walking sticks more firmly and ignoring the pain in his knees from overuse, he set his foot on the first step and began to climb.

His thighs burned by the time he reached the final step. He was glad there were only fifty steps in this flight, because they were too narrow and too steep to climb with the typical zigzag walk that had made the first three days of the hike bearable.

He paused for a moment to appreciate the clean lines of the Sun Gate. He had studied it, along with all the other Inca remains along the trail, as part of his preparation for becoming a guide, but this was the first time he had ever seen it in person.

The sun peeked over the mountain behind him, reminding him of the time and driving him forward so he would not miss the highlight of the trip and the whole reason for the three-thirty wake-up call that morning.

He stepped beneath the arch and froze, heedless of anyone on the trail behind him.

Machu Picchu lay spread out in the valley before him, cloaked in shadow still, though the sun?s rays had begun their descent into the valley.

All his life he had seen pictures of it, even before he started studying to be a guide. He had learned about it in school, seen pictures his friends and fellow guides had taken, but standing there and seeing it with his own eyes after three days of hiking stole his breath. His eyes prickled with tears as he forced his legs to work while, around him, other hikers snapped photos.

His guide began to give information about the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu and the final leg of the hike. Benicio knew he should pay attention to what the other man was saying. In a few weeks, he would be the one standing there with tourists looking to him for information, but the voice was a wordless drone in his ears. He had attention only for the holy city and the inexorable march of the sun?s rays down the mountainside. The sunlight reached stone and turned it golden, and Benicio could only imagine what it must have looked like during the reign of the Inca, when the city would have been filled with real gold. Even now, a ruin instead of the vibrant center of worship it had once been, the city captivated him.

That’s just a sampling from the prologue and already the magic of these characters and story has you in thrall.  The pull  only gets stronger the longer the time you spend on the trail with Benecio and Alberto.

Alberto is as strong a character as Benecio, although in a totally different way.  Whereas Benecio is still so much a part of the mountain culture (he specks Quechua his native tongue along with Spanish), Alberto is more worldly. He is older, a seasoned guide of 10 years.  Alberto is also gay and familiar with being discreet about his passions and hookups unlike Benecio who has known he was gay but had little opportunity to explore his sexuality in his remote village.  The contrast between the two men helps Tachna bring her readers all the different worlds connecting on the Trail, two ostensibly Peruvian yet so unalike.  And its not just the differences between Benecio and Alberto but those of the tourists themselves whether they are from a large Indian family on holiday (so funny and telling culturally) or a group from the States returning to hike the path together once more as part of a larger celebration.

The Path is a journey not to be missed.  Ariel Tachna brings alive people, places and cultures you might not actually ever meet or travel to but when you have finished this story you feel like you have made a once in a life time pilgrimage to places that will continue to awe and inspire.  An incredible trip taken with a author I can’t recommend highly enough.

I read this book twice, and each time its magic grew as did its hold on my imagination and heart.  The Path by Ariel Tachna is definitely one of the best books of 2014.  It’s one I highly recommend and will pick up to read  again.  I hope you will do the same.

 Cover photograph by Ariel Tachna.  Just amazing.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook  Paperback       All Romance eBook (ARe)          Amazon     The Path

Book Details:

ebook, 254 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish

On Tour with Lou Hoffmann and the Key to Behliseth, first in the Sunchild Chronicles (contest)




Check in with Lou Hoffmann today.  Lou is here with an excerpt from the first in her new Sunchild Chronicles, Key of Behliseth.  Along with an excerpt, there is a contest to enter.  Use the Rafflecopter link below for the entry form and for additional contest details. You do not have to be 18 to enter.  This is a YA novel from Harmony Ink!  Check it out now!


Book Name: Key of Behliseth
Author Name: Lou Hoffmann

Author Bio:

Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing as more and more fascinating tales are told in written form. She reads factual things—books about physics and stars and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. Through all that time she’s written stories of her own, but she’s come to be a published author only as a johnnie-come-lately. Lou loves other kinds of beauty as well, including music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, rivers and seas. Proud to be a bisexual woman, she’s seen the world change and change back and change more in dozens of ways, and she has great hope for the freedom to love in the world the youth of today will create in the future.

Author Contact:  Facebook      twitter @Lou_Hoffmann.

Title: Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (Dreamspinner Press imprint)

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner  eBook     Dreamspinner Paperback  

Key of Behliseth

Key of Behliseth Blurb:

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

 Exclusive Key of Behliseth Excerpt:

The Witch-Mortaine’s tower rose from that boulder-strewn plain, rooted between high ridges and veiled in spells.

At this hour, the entire crater lay in shadow, but even in the half-light and with only one eye, Hench’s vision was sharp. He could see cars sliding along the city’s roads, trailing columns of red and white like snakes of light. He imagined the people piloting them, tired Earthborns who wished they’d already arrived wherever they were going.

He wondered about their lives. Did they have any kind of magic? Had they ever had it? Had any of them possessed magic and love and a good life and lost it all? He wondered whether their cars would pile up in a panicked crash if they but once saw through the magical veils and glimpsed the deadly crystal beauty of the spire from which he gazed.

He worked his shoulders into a painful shrug, wishing he could rid himself of the black shadow that weighed them down, a shadow he himself had created out of anger and hate. He shook his head in persistent disbelief that it had overtaken him so easily, so fast.

He’d committed himself to vengeance, and the shadow had been born, a larval vampire that fed on his spirit, consumed his strength and joy. It grew stronger with every cruel choice and every time he lashed out, burning with rage. It fouled his every step, turned even his best intentions to evil end, drained him of substance as surely as if it had torn his heart and bled him dry. The remains had become a joke, fool to a fiendish witch, tool in the hands of the person he most hated.

He leaned against the rail, half wishing the steel would vanish and let him go. The wind thrummed against the glass and steel of the spire, but he ignored it. Whatever shame Earth’s night winds might hiss into his ear, they couldn’t carry the single word he should not have forgotten. Only the Gods’ Breath knew that name, and he had little hope ever to stand again in that sweet dawn wind of the Ethran Sunlands.

Tour Dates/Stops:

9/11: Velvet Panic
9/12: Amanda C. Stone
9/15: MM Good Book Reviews
9/16: Prism Book Alliance
9/17: Hearts on Fire
9/18: Love Bytes
9/19: Trisha Harrington’s Blog
9/22: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
9/23: Parker Williams
9/24: Iyana Jenna
9/25: The Novel Approach, Dawn’s Reading Nook

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: E-book of Key of Behliseth

On Tour with Erica Pike and Black Hurricane (contest)



Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Erica Pike here today to talk about her latest release, Black Hurricane, hot rockers boys, and all things writing.  She’s brought along a contest to enter and an excerpt to read.  Check them all out,  now on to our interview. Welcome, Erica!


STRW: What is your character’s favorite profession?

Erica Pike: Honestly? I love writing characters who cook, and yet the only books I’ve written that contain a professional baker is the Castor Spring series (free, because they were a part of a writing event). However, I love throwing in characters, in my other books, who are amazing cooks even if it’s just a hobby. Musicians are also one of my favorites, because there’s just something about a guy who can make music, be it with his voice or fingers.

STRW: Do you have a favorite age in mind for your characters?

Erica Pike: I mostly write New Adult, which means 18-25ish. I like it because people have to learn so much during those years when they take their first steps into adulthood and everything that comes with it. It’s also the time period where a lot of gay men are finally free to be themselves by moving away from their childhood towns, so they experience life in a whole different way, make new friendships, enter the adult dating pool, and possibly find their first love.

STRW: Contemporary romance or erotica?  How do you see your stories?

Erica Pike: I write gay romances. If I have to choose between the two terms, it’s definitely romance. You can remove the sex scenes and there’s still a romance story. Erotic Romance would be a better way of describing them, since there’s explicit sex in almost all of them, but people tend to think “Erotica” when they see Erotic Romance so I just say “Romance.” The first books I wrote contained a lot of sex scenes, as if often with debut novels in the M/M genre, but I’ve mellowed over time and now there’s more focus on other things. It doesn’t mean that the books have become boring, it just means that the guys don’t jump into bed as quickly.

STRW: Rockers are always hot!  What makes your rockers different?

Erica Pike: Mine are hotter? But, seriously, Black Hurricane is about Jazz who isn’t a professional rocker to begin with. He loves to sing and play guitar, but he’s never been about the fame and never thought about a career in music. When the fame is thrust upon him, he resents it, but the resentment has more to do with the media connecting him to the rocker Dean McQueen, whom Jazz despises with passion.

STRW: Favorite rock band?  Now and growing up?

Erica Pike: My favorite rock band hasn’t changed since I was growing up. Well, I wasn’t much into rock until I was in my teens and I discovered Quarashi, an Icelandic rock-rap band. They broke up in 2004, but announced this year that they’re back together. That’s beyond awesome, because it means more cool music. Quarashi’s “Stick ‘em Up” helped get me in the mood for Black Hurricane’s back alley standoff scene.

STRW: Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what inspires you?

Erica Pike: I don’t. Not while I write, but I may listen to it in between writing. However, during the writing of Black Hurricane, I did listen to some rock music while I wrote, Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, for example. That’s the kind of music that inspires me – great beat and raw lyrics. None of the flowery stuff for me.

STRW: Favorite character of yours?  Or do you have one?

Erica Pike: I have one, and my other characters wouldn’t mind if they actually existed. It’s Eric Wesley. I never mean for him to steal the spotlight in every Boston Boys book, but he does it anyway. I love his brash nature, his way with words, and his spunky attitude.

STRW: Which comes first character or a plot?

Erica Pike: In case of the Boston Boys series, it was definitely the characters. I never meant for it to become a series when I wrote A Life Without You, but five weeks later I had Absolutely Eric in my hands. Since I’d written two, I figured I might as well give the rest of the guys a book. However, when I wrote the College Fun and Gays series, the plots came to me first.

Thank you so much for having me over. It’s been a pleasure.

Book Name: Black Hurricane
Author Name: Erica Pike
Publisher:  MLR Press LLC

Contest:  Rafflecopter Prize: A $50 Amazon Gift Certificate and signed paperbacks of A Life Without You, Hot Hands and The Walls Have Ears. One (international) winner for the lot.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Visit here for the entry form and additional contest details or at the link at the bottom of the post.

Hot Hands 400 x 600A Life Without You 400 X 600The Walls Have Ears 400 x 600








Author Bio: Erica lives in Iceland with her adorable little twin boys. She often says that her real name sounds like Klingon to foreigners. Seriously, if “Eyjafjallajökull” looks like a random strings of characters, it’s nothing in comparison to Erica’s name.
She’s been writing for several years, or ever since reading became an obsession. Aside from a business degree, Erica has taken English courses at the University of Iceland and gulped down anything that might help her in her career as an author. She takes great interest in English, but will break every single grammar rule for the sake of The Voice.


Black Hurricane 400 X 600Title: Black Hurricane by Erica Pike
Cover Artist: Scarlet Tie Designs
Publisher: MLR Press

Buy Links:    MLR Press            All Romance eBooks (ARe)          Amazon

Black Hurricane Blurb:

Twenty-three year old Jasper Jones fell in love with Dean McQueen at fourteen, but after a disastrous relationship, Jazz would like nothing better than to see the rock star choke on his own vomit.

After a catastrophic reunion, Dean seems bent on destroying Jazz’s life. It all started when an impromptu bar performance ended up on YouTube and Jazz became an internet sensation overnight. The name “Jazdean” keeps popping up in headlines and the paparazzi stalk his every move. To make matters worse, Jazz is about to end up on the streets for the second time in his life.

In a desperate attempt to keep his home, Jazz signs a deal with Dean’s band, Black Hurricane, to perform at a couple of concerts. It feels like one of Dean’s feeble attempts to get Jazz back, but painted into a corner like he is, Jazz has no choice.


“Jazz, take pictures!” Eric pokes me hard in the side with his bony elbow.

I wince and raise the camera, clicking a shot.

“Go to the front, like they’re doing.” He points at the photographers running to the front and clicking madly on their cameras.

Heaving a sigh, I drag my ass off the chair to walk forward. I rake my hand through my hair before I glance back at the monstrosity on the platform. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be in this position. Suddenly oil paint and new guitar strings don’t seem all that important. I just wanna get out, but Eric needs these pictures for the magazine and I’d rather die than let one of my friends down.

My heart thuds when I see Dean looking right back at me as I approach. His brow furrows as if he’s trying to place me. Typical. Of course he wouldn’t remember me. Why would he? My heart hammers a fast beat as my body breaks out in sweat. The inside of my throat thickens, stopping half of the oxygen from reaching my lungs. And still, I’m having the hardest time looking away.

Am I nervous under his green-eyed gaze? Or is it just the hate? It’s been years since I last saw him.

Not wanting to give the wrong impression of an adoring fan, I narrow my eyes and spew out all the venom I feel for this man into one, hateful glare, just before I raise the camera and snap my shots.


Tour Dates/Stops

BlackHurricaneAugust 11: Because Two Men Are Better Than One
August 18: Full Moon Dreaming
August 25: MM Good Book Reviews, Hearts on Fire
September 1: Velvet Panic, Fallen Angel Reviews, Havan Fellows
September 8: Decadent Delights
September 15: Up All Night, Read All Day, Love Bytes
September 22: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Smoocher’s Voice
September 29: Prism Book Alliance
October 6: It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake
October 13: Cate Ashwood
October 20: The Novel Approach
October 27: The Hat Party, Dawn’s Reading Nook
November 3: Tara Lain
November 10: My Fiction Nook
November 17: Emotion in Motion, Kimi-Chan
November 24: Amanda C. Stone


Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway