A MelanieM Review: Brothers in Arms (The Broken Road Cafe #2) by T.A. Webb


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Brothers In Arms coverDaniel O’Leary fled his high powered life in Atlanta, exchanging it for ownership of the The Broken Road Cafe in Blue Ridge, a life he hoped would be simpler,honest, in all ways easier on the soul and emotions.  But life has a way of playing with your expectations.  Instead Daniel met Chief of Police Nick Oliver, a closeted, complex man and fell in love.  As did Nick.  Daniel also found his life filling up with new friends, neighbors, and town folk determined to pull him into the close knit soceity of small town life even as his connections to Atlanta refused to let him go.

Now Daniel finds himself immersed in the lives of those around him and finds that life in Blue Ridge is every bit as full of complexities, pain, and bullying as life in Atlanta.  One of The Broken Road’s high school employees is  being harassed by the local school bullies and his vulnerability  pulls at Dan’s heart while leaving him at odds as to what to do about it.  Nick’s semi-closeted status is starting to cause further issues between them and someone from Dan’s past in Atlanta arrives to cause more pain and heartache.

But there is an even bigger danger lurking, one that will change everyones life forever.  The Broken Road Cafe is supposed to be a new life for Daniel O’Leary but what happens when his old one won’t let him go?

The Broken Road Cafe charmed me with its plot and myriad cast of inviting characters.  I loved the premise and the relocation to a small town that felt so similar in culture and mannerisms to the places my  relatives grew up and still reside to this day in Georgia.  Now with Brothers in Arms, the author widens his lens to include more of the townspeople and places than we have visited before.

Small town, Georgia is a place that T.A. Webb knows intimately and that knowledge allows Webb to usher his readers into the minds and community of Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Whether it is the wonderful mayor or the bigoted hard-nosed high school football coach, these people feel as believable as they do familiar.  Outside Daniel O’Leary is slowly finding his way into the life of Blue Ridge, one he accessed by buying the town’s favorite eating spot, The Broken Road Cafe.   Whether it is through the people that come there to dine or the employees who work for Dan, the pull of a closely knit community is having its effect upon Daniel.

In this story, bullying at the high school level is having an impact upon one of Daniel’s most vulnerable employees.  Webb’s blunt, factual treatment of this issue serves to highlight all the victims of bullying, not just the direct target themselves.  It also points out just how difficult it is to stop the bullying at its origin, especially when it occurs on the playing field of high school sports.  This is a heartrending aspect of this story, and if you find yourself sniffling at the pain caused by the bullying and the aftermath felt by the victim, well, you aren’t alone.

Daniel’s new love, Nick Oliver, is still closeted to most and having issues coming out.  And Nick’s wavering is  having ripple effects in all his relationships, not just with Daniel.  Serious issues continues to pile up at an alarming rate and Nick is the first to wonder if he is able to handle them all.

T.A. Webb has a multitude of plot threads running throughout Brothers in Arms.  From the intimate messiness of relationships to the broader scope of business and family, the author weaves the past events and characters together with all the new ones for a complex, suspenseful and totally surprising wonder of a story.   It is hard to comment to  much on the plot and events as each could contribute to a spoiler alert for all the twists and turns Webb has in store for everyone here.

I really didn’t see that ending coming,  I don’t think you will either.  Sigh.

No matter.  Still, I want more.  More of Blue Ridge, more of The Broken Road Cafe, and all the people who pass through its doors.  Here’s hoping for a long and lovely run.  If you are already on board with this series, pick this up now and continue the tale of Daniel O’Leary’s new life in Blue Ridge.  If you are new to this series, start at The Broken Road Cafe to see how it all began.  Both are among Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words highly recommended reads!

 Cover Art by Laura Harner.  Sexy cover  and great job of branding the  series, but I wish there was more to it than the torso.

Sales Links:   All Romance eBook         amazon        Brothers In Arms

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published July 24th 2014 by A Bear on Books
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Broken Road Cafe #

Take a Trip with Cjane Elliot and Aidan’s Journey (Book tour and contest)




Cjane Elliot is back today with her latest release, Aidan’s Journey.  I am happy to say she brought an excerpt to read and a contest to enter.  Don’t forget to do both!  Now on to Aidan’s Journey…

Book Name: Aidan’s Journey
Author Name: Cjane Elliott

Thank you, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for hosting me today. I’m so excited to be on your blog for the release of my second novel, Aidan’s Journey. Aidan’s Journey is a stand-alone novel that is part of The Serpentine Series, contemporary stories that feature characters who attend the University of Virginia. The series started with my first novel and 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Serpentine Walls, although the books can be read in any order.

Many people who read Serpentine Walls were drawn to the character of Aidan, the glamorous 4th-year student who the main character Pete has a giant crush on. Aidan is a theater star who seems to have it all: looks, talent, and charm. He’s also a player who never leaves a party without a guy, but he’s not as free as he appears.

When I first wrote Aidan’s character in my initial drafts of the novel Serpentine Walls, he was a charming cad who slept with guys right and left and had something going on with the sleazy Professor R. But as I continued to write, Aidan’s character got more and more dimensional and I could see he had a heart and a lot of pain under that gleaming surface. I started to wonder why he was the way he was and what had led him to be involved with Professor R. Being a therapist by profession, I’m fascinated with people’s psychology and what drives them. I also wanted to explore how Aidan could heal himself and get to his own happy ending. And that was the inspiration for Aidan’s Journey.

In Aidan’s Journey, Aidan tells his story, from his lonely childhood to his falling into a dysfunctional relationship as a naïve 1st-year student with the worldly Professor R, to his becoming “the manwhore of U.Va.”, to his breaking away from Professor R to move to New York after he graduates. Aidan thinks he’s finally free, but he discovers that it takes more than a physical move to leave his demons behind.

In the words of Buckaroo Banzai: “No matter where you go, there you are.”

In the end, Aidan realizes he must journey down into his own psyche to heal himself and set himself free from the past. It’s not easy, but the rewards of this final journey are sweet and he gets the happy ending that he deserves.

Author Bio: After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of gay equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

Title Aidan’s Journey by Cjane ElliotAidansJourney_postcard_front_DSPSM
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook      Dreamspinner Press Paperback

Aidan’s Journey Blurb:

The star of the University of Virginia theater department, Aidan Emery is lusted after and admired for living out and proud. He uses his talent and good looks to his advantage and never sleeps with the same guy twice. But his glamorous patina has been carefully honed to hide the pain he carries inside.

Aidan wasn’t always such a player. He starts college naively romantic, hungry for the attention he can’t get from his workaholic father and mentally ill mother. Unfortunately, that leaves him ripe pickings for predatory professor Rodney Montgomery. Rodney’s flattering regard seduces Aidan into a dysfunctional relationship that destroys his innocence.

Life looks up for Aidan when he finally breaks free of Rodney’s pull and moves to New York City to make it as an actor. Meeting sweet fellow actor Patrick Jaymes seems like the start of a fairy tale. But before Aidan can rebuild his life into happily ever after, family secrets rip him wide open, leaving him easy prey when Rodney decides he’s not willing to let Aidan go.

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult

Pages: 326

Aidan’s Journey Excerpt:

Every good story begins with a journey. Mine started on a June day in 2011 as the Amtrak train pulled out of Union Station in Washington, DC. Lee and I were bound for New York City, ready to dazzle ’em all with our acting and singing chops. Look out, Broadway, here come Aidan Emery and Lee Dunlap, the stars of the U.Va. drama department! Jazz hands!

I was leaving my family home—which I’d recently been kicked out of by my father. I was also leaving behind a long-term, toxic relationship. Yes! I felt pretty fucking victorious sitting on that train, talking and laughing with Lee. I’d done it! Left my past behind! Right? I was sure, with all the surety of a twenty-one-year-old, that my dragons had been slain and New York City was where the gold awaited.

Not so fast there, bucko, I want to tell myself now. You’ll get to the gold, but you have many more hard roads to travel before you arrive. Oh, but don’t despair—there is a Prince Charming at the end of it all.

AJBadgeTour Dates/Stops:

October 14: Love Bytes
October 15: Amanda C. Stone
October 16: MM Good Book Reviews
October 17: Wicked Faeries Reviews
October 20: Tara Lain, Michael Mandrake
October 21: Parker Williams, Multitasking Mommas
October 22: Cate Ashwood
October 23: Inked Rainbow Reads, It’s Raining Men
October 24: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
October 27: Rebecca Cohen Writes, BFD Book Blog, Smoocher’s Voice
October 28: Prism Book Alliance, Jade Crystal



Contest: Rafflecopter Prize: eBook of one of my previous titles, including novel Serpentine Walls, or novellas.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter and for all additional contest details.  

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In Our Author Spotlight: Zee Kensington and her latest release, Finally Home (contest)



KrungThep_400x600Finally Home cover











Zee Kensington in the Author Spotlight!


Zee Kensington is here today to talk about her two releases at Dreamspinner Press, Krung Thep, City of Angels, and its sequel, Finally Home.  These stories are favorites of mine, combining international cuisine, travel, and romance.  I had a chance to ask Zee about the inspiration for these stories, her favorite food and much, much more.

To go along with this wonderful interview, there is a contest to enter as well.  To enter to win an eBook copy of Finally Home, leave  a comment, include maybe a favorite city you have traveled to or a favorite food you have discovered while you traveled (or just plain love to eat).  Make sure you have an email address included where you can be contacted if chosen.  Must be  over 18 years of age or older to enter.  Contest ends 11/01/2014.

Now on to our interview…

Chatting with Author Zee Kensington on Writing, Food, and Inspiration

STRW:  Why Thailand?  What was it about the Thai culture and land that drew you to travel there and then incorporate it into this series?

Zee:  Visiting Thailand happened largely by chance, actually! My husband and I have a friend who goes to Thailand annually with his family, and he’d been inviting us to join them for years. In the summer of 2011 my husband and I were finally able to take him up on his offer, thanks to a lucky congruence of time and money.

I didn’t know much about Thailand before that trip, honestly, beyond their cuisine. I learned so much while I was there! I loved the laid-back attitude of the Thai people and the melting pot of cultures one sees in Bangkok. I was also intrigued by the incredible juxtapositions at every turn: humble Buddhist temples and gleaming mega-malls on the same street, the delicious smells of cooking food carried on these horrible diesel-traffic breezes, rickety tuk-tuks chugging alongside luxury cars.

STRW:  It is said that food is a path to a person’s outlook on life, a cultural foray into a people, and a life’s passion.  You write about the Thai food from the street vendors on with such passion, has culinary exploration been a passion for you as well as Christopher’s?

Zee:  Very much so. I see food as a gateway into culture that (most) everyone can access. You may not be able to speak the same language, or share the same religious beliefs, but you can still enjoy the same meal. I love reading culinary magazines like Saveur (which was the inspiration for International Savor, the magazine Chris writes for), not only for the recipes and photography, but for the glimpses into other cultures and customs. Its like traveling without leaving my living room.

STRW:    I loved that we got to see some of the East LA food scene as well.  How did you find balancing the food with the romance and serious exploration of the repercussions of coming out of the closet?

Zee:  It was actually quite natural for me. Sharing food is such a bonding experience, you learn a lot about a person based on what—and how—they eat. Chris and Marco’s relationship has been built one meal at a time. At first it’s because of Chris’s job as a culinary writer, but it becomes a passion they both share as Marco grows more adventurous in his culinary explorations.

Food is also important when it comes to family. It’s ritual, be it a quiet breakfast or a big, awkward “meet the parents” dinner with your new partner. It’s natural that heavy personal matters will be discussed over a plate of chicken and waffles with your sibling, or that a slice of rainbow cake can mean more than just dessert.

STRW:   I loved the balance between the two main characters families, each a challenge in their own way.  Was one family easier to write than another?  Which one?

Zee:  Marco’s was a little easier to write, mostly because his background closely mirrors my own suburban, southern Californian upbringing. However, my mother isn’t an overbearing busy-body like Marco’s! I actually have a similar relationship to my parents as Marco does with his father—friendly and open—which influenced my portrayal of their (usually) easy rapport. I also have only one sibling, a younger brother, which was an inspiration with writing Marco’s big sister, Angela. I know what it’s like to help a little brother through a rough patch, that combination of deep love and mild exasperation that only an older sibling can feel.

STRW:    We got a taste of Mexico, a growing portrait of New York City, and one of Los Angeles.  Where do you anticipate taking this story and series next?  Or will there be another story?

Zee:  I definitely think there’ll be more Traveler and the Tourist stories down the line. Though Chris is a seasoned traveler, Marco has just started to explore the world. He’s going to want to see it all. I’ve conceived of some ideas of them visiting Europe—primarily Italy, where half of Marco’s family is from—though there will also be some adventures closer to home. New York City can be like a whole other planet to a suburban SoCal kid!

STRW:    Clearly your travels played into the birth of these stories.  Where else did your inspiration come from?

Zee:  My friends and family are a huge inspiration for me. Not only for my characters, but for the experiences they’ve lived through. I’m also heavily inspired by all sorts of other stories—films, books, comics, games—and turn to them sometimes when I’m working on projects. John Burdett’s Royal Thai Detective series (particularly Bangkok 8) and Thai films such as Bangkok Love Story and Ong-Bak helped refresh my memories of Thailand and gave me perspective on things I may not have experienced firsthand.

STRW:   Where would you want to travel next?

Zee:  I’ve always wanted to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland. I have many family roots there, and I would love to see the “land of my forefathers.” I’ve also never seen a real castle before, and as a big fantasy geek, it would be amazing step inside of one! Oh, and have a real English pasty, too!

STRW:  What childhood book had the greatest impact on you as a child and as an adult writer?

Zee:  Oh my, so many to choose from! I was a voracious reader as a kid, everything from Judy Blume to the Babysitter’s Club. I have to say, though, that Jane Yolen’s The Mermaid’s Three Wisdoms stuck with me the most. Not only for the bittersweet tale or the gorgeous pencil illustrations, but for the rich way mermaid culture and biology were portrayed. No shell bras or singing crabs here!

As an adult and a writer…gosh, this is hard! I have to pick one? OK, I’m going to cheat and say The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston. It’s gritty, it’s scary, it’s sexy…everything I want in my vampire noir. As a reader, I love the characters and how they grow, and as a writer, I love how Huston took familiar vampire tropes and turned them on their ear. Also, how the geography and culture of New York City influence the story. His writing really showed me the importance of place in a story, how it can be its own character at times.

STRW:  What’s next for Zee Kensington?

Zee:  Isn’t that the million dollar question? I have some writing projects in the works—including a steamy BDSM ménage novel–but right now my biggest project is raising my son. He’s almost two, and more than a handful! I’m kind of playing it by ear right now, as my writing time is pretty limited.

STRW:  One final question for y0u.  A book can have the same effect on a person as comfort food.  What would be your comfort read and favorite comfort food?

Zee:  Oooh, good question! My comfort read is actually a comic book series, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It’s not exactly cheerful, but it’s such a rich story, and speaks to the heart of me as a writer. I always discover new things, or interpret it differently since I’m in a different place in my life than the last time I read it. It’s kind of my constant.

As for comfort food, it has to be homemade cookies. Soft ones–not crunchy–with lots of chocolate chips. They can be peanut butter or oatmeal or old-fashioned Toll House, but they have to have those chocolate chips! With a glass of milk, of course.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Melanie! I had a wonderful time!

STRW:  Thanks, Zee, for the great interview. Now let’s check out the Traveler and the Tourist  books.  These definitely below on all readers TBR list!

Finally Home
By Zee Kensington
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist:  Paul Richmond

Release Date: August 29, 2014
Length: 206 pages
eBook: 978-1-62798-907-7, Paperback: 978-1-62798-906-0
Genre categories: contemporary, M/M, erotic, romance

 Finally Home Blurb

Finally Home coverAfter one night in Bangkok turned into ten days trekking together, novice backpacker Marco and seasoned travel writer Chris parted ways thinking they’d never see each other again. Three months later, Marco still can’t forget the greatest adventure of his life—or the gorgeous guy he shared it with. Too afraid to come out to his family, Marco is suffocating in his suburban Southern California life, until Chris announces he’s coming to LA.

Chris has spent the past four years wandering alone, rebuilding himself from the ashes of a failed journalism career. He arrives in Los Angeles eager to eat, write, and resume the sexy, casual fun he had enjoyed with Marco. But when Chris finds his friend is a terrified closet-case at home, he’s determined to help Marco confront his fears.

Priorities change when Chris’s father suffers a stroke, and Chris rushes to New York City to face a harsh homecoming with the family he abandoned. When Marco defies his parents to be at Chris’s side, Chris begins to realize there may be more to their relationship than just work and play, and that Marco may be the one to show Chris what it means to finally be home.

Purchasing Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook  Dreamspinner Press paperback


Also available 
Krung Thep, City of AngelsKrungThep_400x600
Prequel to Finally Home
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover artist:  Paul Richmond
Date: September 22, 2014 (original release date February 2012)
Length: 44 pages
ISBN: eBook: 978-1-63216-829-0

Genre categories: contemporary, erotic, gay, M/M, romance

Krung Thep, City of Angels Blurb

Marco finds himself in over his head when he chooses Bangkok—Krung Thep to the locals—as his first solo travel destination. Luckily, seasoned travel journalist Chris takes Marco under his wing. Over one whirlwind day, the two Americans realize they have more in common than their homeland. Chris’s role changes from tour guide to mentor as he encourages Marco to embrace his budding identity as a gay man, and their camaraderie blossoms into romance. However, their newly forged connection is threatened by Chris’s career obligations—and unwillingness to change his solitary ways.

1st Edition appeared in Two Tickets to Paradise anthology published by Dreamspinner Press, February 2012.
Available as a FREE download:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5607

Author Biography:

Zee Kensington discovered a passion for writing erotica in her freshman year of college, and has been crafting sweet and sexy stories ever since. Inspired by her years working and playing in San Francisco’s LGBT community, she is especially drawn to tales that explore the joys and challenges of queer identities.

An almost-native Californian and a card-carrying geek, she currently lives in the SF Bay Area with her husband and toddler. When she’s not writing or catching up on her sleep she enjoys watching films, playing video games, experimenting in her kitchen, and dreaming of the day her son is old enough to travel the world with her.

Author Links

Go Into the Fire with Chris Quinton & RJ Scott’s latest release, Heat! (book tour and contest)



 RJ Scott and Chris Quinton stopped by today with their latest story, Heat, for all of you to check out.  Read the synopsis, and the excerpt! And don’t forget to enter the contest!  Need a little more romance in your life?  Then turn up the Heat with RJ Scott and Chris Quinton!

Heat by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott

Available from Love Lane Books, Amazon and All Romance EBooks


The Book

Serving up passion, family, love and hate, with a side order of arson.

Lewis has lost nearly everything, and now it seems that Devon is here to take the last thing he has left – working in his beloved restaurant, Laurels. But when an arsonist threatens everything Lewis loves, he realizes sometimes everyone has their ghosts, and he discovers an unexpected ally who is prepared to risk everything for him.

* * * * *

Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he’s had to sell to Carnegie Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn’t all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.

Enter Devon Trelawney III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels’ potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.

Author Bios

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With nearly seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Chris Quinton started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.

Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, writing mostly in the male/male genre. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. Over the years she has been a stable lad [briefly] in a local racing stable and stud, a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, a civilian clerk at her local police station and a 15th century re-enactor.

She lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, three dogs, a frilled dragon [lizard] and sundry goldfish and tropicals.

ExcerptHeat 400x600

He’d seen photos of Lewis, but nothing had prepared Devon for the shock of seeing a gorgeous guy on his knees in front of him, let alone that he had what could easily have been blood splashed across his chef’s whites.

Cochineal. Okay, that spread of red had been the first thing he’d seen, but then he’d noticed the blue eyes, the short brown hair frosted with blond. He wasn’t sure if the scruff on the man’s face was designer stubble or he’d missed shaving for a few days, but it looked good on him. But Devon wasn’t here to drool over the staff. He had work to do, and he couldn’t afford to let one of his migraines push him to his knees. Not caring if he looked like a complete idiot, he pulled sunglasses from his pocket and slid them on to cover his eyes. He saw the questioning expression on the chef’s face but didn’t offer comment. Let him think what he wanted—it wasn’t as if Devon had the mental capacity to care at the moment.

His head was already a mess of history and facts about the place, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to remember Tudor this and Jacobean that. Something about folding doors or ceilings or something. None of it had sunk in. It was enough that he had been able to focus on table arrangement. Even that had the band of hurt tightening.

Blinking at the disturbance collecting in his vision, he attempted to focus on the office itself. The medium-sized room was a haven of normality, apart from the TV and DVD player in one corner and the easy chair in front of it. What the hell?

Before he could be offered one of the regular chairs in front of the desk, he strode around it and sat in the executive chair. It was a simple reinforcement of what Devon was in this equation, one he employed in every situation like this. He wasn’t here to be friends, he was here to see if his father’s acquisition could be streamlined enough to turn a decent profit. And if not, how disposal could be handled. That was all.

Competition: Must be 18 years of age or older to enter in the US.  Contest is open world wide.

  • Win a $15 gift card and free e-books, 24 October – 7 November
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