A Sammy Review: The Holiday Hoax by Skylar M. Cates

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Life should come with signs like an amusement park ride, warning you of all the possible side effects.

 

The Holiday Hoax coverEvan Goodman is like any college freshman. He’s just trying to find his way in the world, find a place for himself. Of course, he knows that the world is truly a stage, and theater is his one true love. It’s on stage that he meets Tyler, another performer. Evan does a cliff dive into the relationship, but when he looks back, Tyler hasn’t even stood within a foot of the edge.

So when Christmas comes and Evan’s supposed to come with a handsome, cultured boyfriend… he’s, well, screwed.

But after seeing JD, a fellow student, being rejected by his brother, he gets a not-so-bright idea. His family doesn’t know what Tyler looks like, and JD needs a place to go, so why not?

Holidays come with a spark of magic though, and maybe Evan and JD might have some magic of their own.

Sometimes it was easier to face the world when I couldn’t see every harsh shape, every flaw. The world could be kinder if everyone was a bit myopic.

I’m not exactly a holiday story fan. I like stories that really tell more than just a few days, I want stories that breathe life. I gave this a shot, however, because the cover, by Paul Richmond, is just plain adorable and totally drew me in (and is a total match for the heart of the story, which I appreciate), and because I’ve liked some of Cates other work.

Unfortunately, the magic wasn’t there for me. This was a perfectly fine story with some cute elements and others that were surprisingly deep, but it fell flat in ways that short stories often do. I felt like something was left missing and things wrapped up way too neatly for my tastes.

So to be clear, there was nothing wrong with this at all, it just wasn’t really a story that suited me. If you’re into cute and fun holiday stories that are short and sweet, then you will probably adore this. If you want some more depth, maybe not so much. Overall the story was nice, but it didn’t leave me with a big impression.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  Just plain adorable.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 83 pages
Expected publication: December 12th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632165930

A MelanieM Review: Old Loyalty, New Love (L’Ange #1) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Old Loyalty new Love coverJackal shifter Quade Danas has spent decades away from home and pack after his father the Alpha banished Quade for being gay.  Quade vanished into the military, acquiring the skills and mindset he would need when he returned to civilian life as a bodyguard for Roman Howell, the teenage son of a very rich man.

Roman Howell has had two constants in his life.  The L’Ange, the beloved chateau he grew up in and Quade Danas, his bodyguard who is so much more to him than that title implies.  Quade has been there for him through two of the worst times in his life.  The first, being the school accident that cost Roman his good looks, physical well being and almost his life.  The second time was when his parents died, leaving a scarred young man alone to handle his parent’s business empire and estate, alone except for Quade.

Roman has always loved Quade but how to get his bodyguard to see that its the man he loves and not the safety net Quade has always represented to Roman?  Roman is determined to have Quade for his own, because he realizes something that even Quade hasn’t admitted, that Quade loves him back.

Quade has grown to love the young man he has watched over for years.  But he has convinced himself that the large difference in years between them as well as the secrets he hides put Roman out of reach, as his love and mate.  Then a call from his past puts his continued employment and relationship with Roman in jeopardy.  His old pack desperately needs him to return and take over. Quade feels compelled to heed the call, he may be forced to make a choice he never anticipated. But doing so means he must leave Roman behind… unless somehow they find a way to make loyalty and love work together.

I adore Mary Calmes shifters and with her new series, L’Ange, she gives the readers a new cast of shifters to fall in love with.  Old Loyalty, New Love sets the foundation of her series with the setting of the lands and the  “château d’Ange,” or “house of angels,” as it was named,  home of the wealthy Howell family. L’Ange is more than just a huge manor to Roman Howell, the only heir to the Howell fortune and empire.. It is home, full of happy memories of his parents and the only place where he feels safe and content. Calmes brings us into Roman’s life when he is 27.  It’s been six years since his parents have died, and Roman, with Quade’s support and advice, has come to grips with their death and his transfigured face and body as Chapter 1 opens.  And while we have the occasional flashback, it is mostly the adult Roman that we deal with.

I really like how Calmes is introducing new types of main characters into her stories.  In the past the author has been shown to be fond of  two distinct types of “leading men” in her stories.  In a way, those main characters have been a sort of hallmark of hers, and a beloved one at that.  But in Old Loyalty, New Love, a new type of character emerges, one so very different and yet totally appealing in his own right.  Roman Howell’s face now resembles a mask of melted wax, the result of a horrific fire aboard a school bus.  Here is our first glimpse of Roman, seen through Quade’s eyes:

A lot of the guys that Roman’s “friends” brought to meet him were startled by his appearance. Most of his face resembled melted wax, and the skin that didn’t was cratered and thick in some places, stretched thin and reddened in others. At first glance, people were still surprised, but to me, he was simply Roman Howell, my boss, who I had met as a boy of sixteen and watched become a man I both respected and admired. Now, the pictures of him before the accident were what caught me off guard. What could have been an ordinary face had been transformed, to me, into a visage of resilience and power.

There’s certainly nothing cute or adorable about either Roman or Quade, in personality or visage.  Quade is in fact quite a bit older, a bit menacing, and a jackal shifter to boot.  Both characters felt as fresh and fascinating as their personalities and relationship.  As relayed through the synopsis, Quade and Roman has a long, convoluted history together, one overlaid by an employer/employee relationship as well as a protector/protected one.  Mary Calmes then sets about demonstrating how intimate and genuine that relationship has become, changing into something deep-rooted and intense. It’s new depth is one Quade isn’t ready to acknowledge.  Trust me when I say, these two will grab you by the heartstrings, never to let go.

Quade has some aspects of past main characters, but he is so much his own personality.  Older, scarred, loyal to a fault,and a jackal shifter as well.  Quade is as complex and magnetic you could hope for.  I loved their interchanges and interactions with each other.

Aside from Quade and Roman, chateau L’Ange, is home to a fascinating assortment of characters, like the head of security, Arman de Soto, and Linus Hobbes, L’Ange’s manager. They and other shifters will figure largely in the books to come. I did find it a shame that the blurb gave away the fact that Quade was a jackal shifter as that bit of information comes slowly to the reader in small pieces.  At the beginning you arent’ sure what type of shifter Quade is but you see him following wolves at the beginning, so you might have imagined Quade as a wolf to begin with.  But the L’Ange series is full of different types of shifters and you are going to love the surprises that Calmes has in store for her readers.  I know I throughly enjoyed it as one wonderful revelation after another surfaced in the plot.  It made me love this story, along with Roman, and Quade, and all the rest.

The story flows along quickly, and even as new characters arrive to enlarge the cast, it never feels too overcrowded or bogged down.  There is a wonderful resolution and new mysteries set up for the next books to solve.  I can already tell this is going to be a new favorite series of mine.  I think you will feel the same.  Consider Old Loyalty, New Love a highly recommended read! Now on to Fighting Instinct (L’Ange #2). I can hardly wait!

Cover artist:  Anne Cain delivers a lovely cover with it’s gothic overtone but I think I had hoped for a little something more to make it great.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages
Published December 13th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published December 12th 2013)
ISBN 1627984755 (ISBN13: 9781627984751)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4464
Books in the Series Include:

Old Loyalty, New Love (L’Ange #1)
Fighting Instinct (L’Ange #2)

A Mika Review:  The Chase and The Catch by A.F. Henley

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

The Chase and the Catch coverAfter one of his fans committed suicide, John lost everything: lover, confidence, drive. When he is given a chance to get back on his feet, he is happy to take it—even if it’s just writing an actor’s biography. It might not be romance, or even fiction, but it’s something, and there are worse people to work for than the charming, successful Parker Chase.

That doesn’t mean working for Parker is easy, however. A staunch supporter of living for the moment, Parker goes against everything John believes in. He feels out of place in every moment of Parker’s Hollywood life, stuck in a game of wits that at times seems almost contrived…

It took me four days to get through this book. This was a first for me by this author. I was so excited to read this based on the blurb and I started reading. Well among my journey of reading, I can’t tell you why it is a story. She John is an romance novelist who is commissioned to write an autobiography for the worlds’ most famous actor Parker Chase. Yeah okay, that’s all. I understand the title, but reading it didn’t make sense. They had chemistry; it seemed like things transpired under seven days. Parker Chase comes off to be this arrogant, wealthy actor. I can’t give a descriptive vision of him, nor do I remember him. I honestly don’t remember reading anything of truth or wisdom from him.

John wasn’t any better, he had issues. A fan of his decided to commit suicide in front of him and it changed his life. It went from that vision to him deciding to take the job. It was one long winded beginning. There wasn’t any middle or ending for me. I think what is affecting me is the romance.  I couldn’t deduce when they would have been interested, at what point in the story does flirtation happen? So basically, John has to figure out which truths or lies he’s going to get from Parker. It was so disappointing.

The climax of the story to me happened at 89%, and it blew me mind. Really? Are we in high school? How cliché was it to have all non plot based on a bet? It was super childish and just seemed unlikely.

The only interesting part was William Anson, the man servant/butler/Alfred Pennyworths. He might have been memorable  because he told John to leave, and nothing good was going to come from him being there. I understand, if Parker is as famous as it’s put out, then why in the world they would want a romance novelist whose being MIA to write his autobiography. It was one big boys club catastrophe, and not in the good.

Cover Art by: Aisha Akeju.  The spider web was enticing for me, because it seemed like maybe we would be solving a mystery. Well we weren’t, again I didn’t see the romance bloom, or get references. The cover is nice though.

Sales Links:   LT3                  All Romance                    amazon     available here
Book Details:

eBook,
Published November 19, 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
ISBN: 9781620044568
Edition Language: English

Join with Amelia C. Gormley as She Talks Gaming, Mystery, and her latest release, Player Vs Player (book tour and contest)

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PlayerVsPlayer_TourBanner

“Change is dangerous when it pushes back.”

 

Welcome, Amelia C. Gormely.  Amelia is here today to talk about gaming, prejudices, mystery and Player Vs Player, her latest release for Riptide Publishing.

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Hi and welcome to the Player vs. Player blog tour!

Player vs. Player marks my first attempt at writing a whodunit, which was a bit of a scary endeavor. I’ve always been better at stories that are about character growth and exploration, of taking a character and putting them in a situation and then sitting back and watching the evolution of that character as they work their way out the other side. PvP was a much different experience, and something which took me outside my authorly comfort-zone.

Writing Player vs. Player also gave me an opportunity to combine four things I’m deeply enthusiastic about: gaming, fandom, activism, and of course, LGBT romance. I’ve been a gamer since early childhood, back when Atari had just released their first consoles. My teenage years were marked by NES and Sega, and early adulthood saw the transfer of my gaming allegiance to PC gaming.

It was because of my involvement in the fandom for Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise that I began writing m/m romance, and I eventually published courtesy of the encouragement I received from a friend I made through that fandom.

It’s also Dragon Age fandom that opened my eyes to some of the toxic undercurrents in gaming and geek culture. I had, of course, been witness to the casual misogyny and homophobia within gaming culture at various times, but until I witnessed the vitriolic free-for-all against former Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler, and then the attacks on feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian. It brought to my attention the subject of convention harassment and the Fake Geek Girl trope that is used to marginalize and invalidate the presence of women in fandom.

So when the idea occurred to me to write a book bringing all these things together, both acknowledging my roots as an author and a gamer, I had to take it. I know that the LGBT romance audience is full of other people who have experienced marginalization, misogyny, homophobia, racism, negative stereotyping, and inadequate positive representation in geek and fan culture (which by all means are not issues limited to gaming.) And I know we’ve all been witness to, and maybe even targets of, the toxic backlash that comes of speaking up and trying to change that culture.

This book is for all of us. It’s for the critics who have been driven from their homes and forced into silence by threats of violence. It’s for the cosplayers who have been groped and assaulted without their consent. It’s for the LGBTQ/POC/female geeks who have heard casual slurs in fan spaces that left them feeling alienated and unwelcome. And it’s for the people pushing to change that culture, and to make geekdom something inclusive for all of us.

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Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.
*****

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one book from my backlist (excluding Player vs Player.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 13th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Author Bio

Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.

Her self-published novel-in-three-parts,  Impulse ( Inertia, Book One;  Acceleration, Book Two; and  Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), the post-apocalyptic romance,  Strain, her New Adult contemporary,  Saugatuck Summer, and of course,  Player vs. Player, available now. She is presently at work on two more novels set in the Strain universe, Juggernaut and Bane, coming summer/fall of 2015.
You can contact Amelia on