A MelanieM Review: Cranberry Pi (Linwood Academy #1) by Lee Brazil

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Cranberry Pi coverSaving for a down payment on a house of his own has caused artist Cecil Trace to make a few hard decisions.  He has moved back into his parents house and taken a temporary job as the Art Director job at the exclusive Linwood Academy.  And while Cecil is trying to figure out his students, assistants and life at Linwood, he is also trying to work on a scheduled art show of his own.  To top it all off, Cecil finds out that he is to put on a series of holiday pageants…with the first one celebrating Thanksgiving just three short weeks away.  Cecil needs all the help he can get, whether its from students, parents, and even other teachers.  Except for that cute mathematician.  Everything Cecil does seems to rub that teacher the wrong way, which is a shame because if Cecil was looking for a boyfriend, Reese is cute and different, perfect in many ways except he seems to dislike Cecil.  Good thing Cecil isn’t looking for a boyfriend or relationship of any type.

Brilliant, introspective and socially inept math instructor Reese Cavelli’s world has been turned upside down the moment he saw the gorgeous, long-haired, Art Director Cecil Trace.  Reese is a man who has always colored within the lines and Cecil? Well, lines and rules clearly have little meaning for this man.  He is a source of endless frustration, of many types, for Reese.  To hide his growing fascination, Reese has been abrupt even rude, he just can’t seem to help it.  Reese is quiet about being gay and has little in the way of relationships in his past.  But he just can’t ignore the impact Cecil is having on him.  Good thing Cecil’s position is only temporary.  Or is it?

Conflicts over the Thanksgiving pageant and an all important Math Contest bring the two men together and the sparks are about to fly.  Will their Thanksgiving wishes be answered?

This was such a sweet, heartwarming story, a perfect read for the holidays.  Lee Brazil has captured the stress and strain of the approaching holidays at a influential private school, the Linwood Academy.  Some mysterious goings on have forced the resignation of a popular Art Director right at pageant time and the resentment and confusion is apparent everywhere in the halls and classrooms.

Into this tumultuous mess, Brazil dumps free wheeling artist, Cecil Trace.  I loved Cecil, with his long flowing hair which matches his faded, painted on jeans and artsy shirts.  He’s thoughtful, exuberant, and overwhelmed by the needs of his students and new situation as Art Director.  Cecil also has a limited time frame to get everything accomplished, including setting up his art show.  Brazil completes Cecil’s character by giving him a family anyone would want to be a part of.  They are as warm and welcoming as you could hope for without being saccharine sweet or fake.  But the character who will break your heart a little is Reese.  The more his history and upbringing is revealed, the more his actions become understandable as does his vulnerability.  Reese’s mother is quite the creation, all the more upsetting because the author made her believable although never likable.  We get the impact her actions and behavior has had and continues to have upon her son, even if she will never be able to understand it herself.

Brazil manages to combine the holidays, school pageants and math contests, families of all sorts from the dysfunctional to the loving, and a romance that you will root for between two men you will adore.  I look forward to more stories from the Linwood Academy, so will you. A perfectly heartwarming story for the holidays, one you will want to put on your TBR list or one to give to someone you love.  Cranberry Pi is a Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Warmhearted Recommended Read!  Pick it up today.

 

Cover Art by Laura Harner.  I’m not sure who that model is supposed to be?  Student or either Reese? Eye catching but sort of confusing because that’s just not my mental image of the math instructor.

Sales Links:    All Romance (ARe)            amazon                         Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 21st 2014 by Lime Time Press
edition languageEnglish
series Linwood Academy #1

A MelanieM Review: Work in Progress (Belladonna Arms #2) by John Inman

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Work in Progress coverWriter Harlie Rose is dumped by his lover, it precipitates a cross country journey to mend his broken heart. Now four months later, Harlie is ready to settle down and start writing again.  When Harlie finds himself on the doorstep of the Belladonna Arms, a quirky, perhaps even seedy apartment building on the only hill in San Diego, he knows he’s found home.  What he doesn’t know is that the Belladonna Arms has a reputation for romance—and Harlie is about to become its next victim.

Needing a job to pay the rent, Harlie finds a job as a baker’s apprentice at the bakery just up the street.  The grumpy but gorgeous baker is the owner’s son, Milan, and Harlie finds himself attracted to the man despite  Milan’s attempts to push him away. Why?  Milan too is nursing a broken heart.  Soon the men find themselves hopelessly attracted to each other, despite their histories and internal walls.

The Belladonna Arms cupid has its work cut out for it, but luckily there’s plenty of help from the other residents, from  Sylvia, on the verge of her final surgery to become a woman, Charley and PJ- the kleptos in 3C, to Arthur, the aging drag queen who is about to discover a romance of his own, and Stanley and Roger, the handsome young couple in 5C who lead by example, Harlie soon learns that at the Belladonna Arms, love is always just around the corner waiting to pounce. Whether you want it to or not.

I loved Work in Progress by John Inman.  It is a heartwarming, wonderful sequel to another favorite of mine, Serenading Stanley (Belladonna Arms #1) by John Inman.  That story was our first introduction to this shabby, delightfully quirky apartment building on a hilltop in San Diego and its eccentric, almost bizarre inhabitants.  After obseving the Belladonna Arms’ owner, Arthur, in full drag taking out the trash, these are the thoughts running through Harlie’s head:

Yep. It was time to finally settle down and pull those notes together. And time to somehow squeeze The Great American Novel out of them. I was home now to do exactly that, or I would be home as soon as I found a home to settle in.

That’s why I was standing in the rain in front of the Belladonna Arms. The old sign had caught my attention while I was tooling aimlessly down Broadway looking for a place to light. Broadway, by the by, is San Diego’s main thoroughfare. It bisects the city from east to west, and at the moment I could see it a bit down the hill from where I stood.

But back to the sign. When I first spotted it, I had immediately liked the cheesy orange lettering on the rattletrap neon contraption. I even liked the way it stood slightly askew atop the boxy, less than elegant 1940s-era apartment building the old drag queen had ducked into. The whole misaligned package of tattered neon and weathered construction, perched one upon the other on this out-of-place hill on the southernmost tip of the California coast, somehow shrieked home to me. Go figure.

Even Arthur realizes immediately that Harlie belongs there and hauls him in to live in Apartment 2A.  By then a love affair has started between the reader and these characters, including the Belladonna Arms, a romance that gets better, deeper and more memorable as the story progresses.

Truthfully, all I would have to do to get you to pick up this story is quote Chapter 1 over and over again.  It’s hilarious, and touching, and downright addicting. John Inman’s descriptions are so wildly funny that you will find yourself laughing until the tears flow. Yet those same colorful descriptions, while perhaps being blunt and containing truthful observations of everyone involved, are never cruel or stoop to cheap shots at the characters expense.  No, John Inman loves and understands these unconventional people who have all the same hopes and dreams for themselves as everyone else, despite their outlook, outward appearances and even their kleptomania.  And he makes you love and understand them as well.

The title appears to be about Harlie’s ongoing attempts to “butch” up drag queen Arthur so Arthur can finally find true love. So initially it appears that Arthur is Harlie’s work in progress.  But nothing is ever that simple at the Belladonna Arms, for everyone there is in transition of one sort or another, including all the people we met in Serenading Stanley as well as the new characters too.  There’s the fragile, beautiful Sylvia completing her transition to female with her devoted fiance Pete at her side, Stanley and Roger (the main romance in Serenading Stanley) more deeply in love and looking towards the future, kleptomaniacs Charley and P.J. now happily together whether stealing or on their meds, Chi Chi and Ramon who provide the fire as well as the pathos, even the Belladonna Arms cat whose name changes depending upon whose apartment he’s visiting at the time.  This tight family of people are all so important to the story that no one really feels like a secondary character. That’s because the Belladonna Arms is a sum of all its parts and we need them all in order for this story to work its magic.  And believe me it does.  Magic, tacky, glittery, over the top, sort of dusty, magic, is scattered throughout this story like the feathers from a boa tossed in the wind.

John Inman’s comedic narratives always make me smile if not outright guffaw.  Believably, those laughs come attached to some of life’s hallmark moments.  Some scenes are realistically painful. They will bring up memories of  being dumped, sometimes for no discernible reason at all. Or make you remember feeling that you will never find someone to love you for your true self.  The sadness and  the feeling of loneliness that is part of living…its here as it needs to be.  And just as  quickly as the poignancy sets in, up pops scenes out of everyday ordinary moments that are rendered touching, affectionate, and somehow very precious.  Trust me, I have never looked at Toll House cookies in the same way after Sylvia.  Now just a mention brings a smile to my face.

Inman’s new characters are as strongly crafted and layered as the ones we were already fond of.  Milan, his father Mr. Berger, each new person fills a void for someone within the Belladonna Arms.  And yes, with all the love and laughter that bubbles off these pages, the author balances it with life’s loss and pain.  This element is real, raw, and very necessary in order to appreciate the glow and radiance achieved at the end.

Could you read Work in Progress as a stand alone?  Sure, but please don’t.  Part of the satisfaction and joy contained within this story is finding out how all the relationships of the people we met in Serenading Stanley have progressed.  Meet them in that story and then join up with them again here.  It will feel like a homecoming, an especially happy one, complete with Toll House Cookies and a disco ball.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I love and recommend this book (ok, yes, I just did that), it should be obvious.  So instead I will leave you with another short excerpt, still from Chapter 1.  Harley has just settled in and is heading out for a grocery run.

Lives don’t write themselves any more than WIPs do. Nosirree. Might as well get started living mine right now. And to live it, I needed food.

I locked the apartment door behind me, taking a moment to brush my fingertips fondly over the 2A screwed onto the front of the door in something that resembled copper but probably wasn’t. I trotted my way down the one flight of stairs to the front door, wondering if I’d see Arthur along the way, which I didn’t.

I had a feeling I was going to like the Belladonna Arms. I wasn’t sure why. The place was actually kind of a dump. But hey, I thought, popping open the umbrella and ducking underneath it as I strolled out the door and into the rain, it’s kind of a happy dump. And happy is exactly what I need right now. Christ knows I’ve been morose long enough.

By the time I sloshed my way to the car, I was surprised to hear myself whistling. And wasn’t that a stunning revelation.

You will find yourself whistling along with him.  Perhaps even doing a little dance step or two.  These characters and this story will have that effect on you.  Make your acquaintance with John Inman today and pick up both stories!   Happy Reading.

Cover artist: Aaron Anderson.  I feel this cover is a bit of a miss.  There were so many elements to choose from for this cover and yet this is the content?  

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  eBook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)      amazon                buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 226 pages
Published October 6th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632161966 (ISBN13: 9781632161963)
edition languageEnglish
seriesBelladonna Arms #2

Belladonna Arms series:

Serenading Stanley

Work In Progress

Looking for A New Book? Join Us for A Spartan Love by Kayla Jameth Excerpt Tour and Contest

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Book Name: A Spartan Love
Author Name: Kayla Jameth

Author Bio:

Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio, baling hay, raising cattle, and making maple syrup. An unrepentant tomboy, her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school.

She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her farther away from her rural roots. You can transplant the county girl, but you can’t make her a city slicker. Besides, it was only going to be for a little while, right?

But it wasn’t all hard work for Kayla, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title sir and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies. See? She does have some ladylike qualities complete with the title of Lady to back it up.

After declaring for years that she was just a veterinarian who wrote not an author, Kayla now finds herself living in Spring, Texas (practically Houston) and writing m/m erotic romance. The location is probably a bigger surprise than the genre. Never the kind of girl to discuss makeup and clothing designers, she would rather be outside getting dirty with the boys.

Kayla shares her home with a cat, two guinea pigs, a gerbil, three guppies, a husband and a son and daughter.

Author Contact:
https://www.facebook.com/Author.Kayla.Jameth
https://www.facebook.com/KaylaJameth
https://twitter.com/KaylaJameth

A Spartan Love-finalPublisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Grant

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner ebook   and paperback

A Spartan Love Blurb:

Alone, Andreas toils on a remote farmstead for a Spartan overlord. When a kryptes enters his world, Andreas fears for his life. The dread warriors stalk and kill helots—like Andreas’ father—as part of their training.

Andreas sees only one way to save himself: he must tame the fearsome warrior.

But what began as self-preservation develops into attraction. Yearning for the company of someone other than his ferret Ictis, Andreas decides to trust the Spartan warrior and risk the fate that claimed his father.

Born to rule by the sword, Theron sees the world as his and acts accordingly, taking everything Andreas offers and reaching for more. However, love between men in Sparta is considered shameful and requires either exile or suicide to redeem Sparta’s honor. Now, only the gods can save them from the terrible price Sparta extracts from men who desire other men.

Categories:Erotica, Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance. MAY be considered to have paranormal elements.

An Exclusive Excerpt

Outside, the sun had fallen below the horizon and dusk was now well advanced. Andreas contemplated using some of his dwindling store of oil for the lamp to light his dwelling. He glanced out the window, but later tonight the moon would be nearly full and carving the bowl had been his final task of the day. No sense in wasting the oil.

What was that? There it was again, a flicker of motion in the darkness beneath the trees separating his parcel of land from his neighbor’s.

Andreas stood frozen to one side of his unshuttered window. Thank the gods, the moon hadn’t yet risen. Hopefully, the interior of his hut was too dim for anyone to see within. At times like this, he wished he had a dog, someone to stand with him against whatever was out there.

The furtive shadow drew closer in fits and starts, disappearing when not in motion. Andreas exhaled sharply. That couldn’t be Petros. The neighboring helot would never risk death by being out after nightfall.

Once the man cleared the final shelter of the goat enclosure, he flowed over the unbroken ground like a shadow, seemingly undeterred by the lack of cover between the hut and the outlying building.

Swallowing several times, Andreas rubbed his arms. Please let that be the same youth. He didn’t want to catch the attention of yet another warrior intent on proving himself.

The silent silhouette of a young man slipped close to the outer wall of his home. Even wrapped tightly in his cloak, the warrior’s lithe athletic build and fluid movements mesmerized Andreas. The youth carried himself with such confidence, like a predator that all lesser creatures must fear.[A1]

Words: 77,000

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1-Dec

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2-Dec

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

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3-Dec

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5-Dec

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6-Dec

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7-Dec

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8-Dec

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9-Dec

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Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

10-Dec

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11-Dec

the Twins: Talon ps & Princess so

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12-Dec

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On Tour with Ian James Krender and Murder in Torbaydoes (book tour and contest)

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Book Name: Murder in Torbaydos
Goodreads Link
Author Name: Ian James Krender

Author Bio:

I am a gay man in my early forties. I escaped the London rat race by buying a small hotel in the beautiful coastal town of Torquay, England with my civil partner. My career has been in business but I have written articles on a freelance basis for a gay website that is part of the Gaydar group. I am passionate about reading and writing and try to squeeze both into my busy week. My hobbies include watching films, travelling and I am a keep-fit fanatic. The hotel provides me with a constant source of writing material, given my interactions with the weird and wonderful British public. I served briefly as a police officer in London and considered writing a story about this, but I do not think anyone would believe me. I am an alumnus from the great seat of learning known as Portsmouth University.

See the hotel Ian owns!

Author Contact:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Marstan/133658398878?ref=hl
https://www.facebook.com/ian.krender

Publisher: Torquere Press Publishersmurderintorbaydos1400 (2)-1Cover Artist: Ali Futcher

Sales Links:   amazon

Blurb:

Old houses hide secrets, sometimes dark ones.

In the 1970’s, London based family, Marjorie, Stanley and their theatrically bent son fall in love with a dilapidated Victorian seaside villa. Dreaming of a better life by the sea, they transform the property into a luxury guesthouse, ignorant of the tragic events that occurred there at the beginning of the century. They discover that their guests are not the only other occupants in the building.

The souls trapped within the house offer the temptation of wealth and power, but all come with a deadly price. Stanley, supported by his ambitious wife, enters political office. Marjorie will stop at nothing to achieve her goals for her husband, no matter who gets in the way.

Thirty years later, an affluent gay couple, Jez and Graham, purchase the hotel, which now unoccupied has once again fallen into disrepair. They are blissfully unaware of the building’s grisly past. Jez falls under the influence of the spirits within the house, rapidly achieving fame, fortune, and a life beyond his wildest imagination, but the price is ultimately the corruption of his very soul.

Bound by a common destiny, both Marjorie and Jez’s fates lie inextricably intertwined across time and connected to the house. Their gruesome realisation is that death is not necessarily a release.
Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, Horror, M/M Romance, New Adult, Paranormal

Excerpt:

I write this book in my twilight years. Though considerable time has passed since these tragic events occurred, there is no doubt in my mind that it will be controversial. Some people will suspect me of profiteering. However, if I am privileged enough to see this work published, then I will donate any proceeds to the affected surviving family members. The money would be of little use to me now, as I am elderly, and I have no heirs.

Perhaps writing this is a form of therapy, a way to assuage my own guilt. Goodness knows, I have spent much time reflecting on the ‘what ifs.’ Over the years, I have learned to forgive myself the errors of my past. However, I will never forget the pain that I have caused others through my poor decisions.

Words: 97,600 Pages: 298

MiTBadgeTour Dates: December 2, 2014

Tour Stops: 

Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads, Molly Lolly, Havan Fellows, BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Cate Ashwood, MM Good Book Reviews, Queer Town Abbey, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Andrew Q. Gordon, Fallen Angel Reviews, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Elin Gregory

3-Dec

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of ‘Murder in Torbaydos’, Use the RAfflecopter link provided and must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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