Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review:The Merchant of Death (Playing the Fool #2) by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The merchant of Death coverA continuation of the story started in “Two Gentlemen from Altona”, this story is even better. There’s more humor, more angst, more drama, more complexity in the connections between Henry and Mac and most importantly, more romance.

The story opens with Henry reuniting with his twin sister, Viola, a young woman who suffered brain damage in her teens when she attempted to remove a violent man from Henry’s bed, thinking he was hurting Henry. When he flung her against a wall, she struck her head and nearly died. She didn’t understand what had been happening, but Henry did. He was allowing his mother’s boyfriend to have sex with him for the money the man promised his mother. Because he failed to keep quiet and that caused Viola to investigate, Henry blames himself for her injury. Now with a reduced mental capacity and the inability to care for herself, she’s been confined to a “care home” ever since, at a cost of over $5,000 a month— a cost paid by Henry through whatever means he can find. When Mac ultimately learns a bit more of this story, his attraction to Henry and his admiration of Henry’s inner strength grow exponentially.

Viola claims that a “bad angel” has killed her good friend Mr. Crowley at the home and begs Henry to find the angel and send it away. When Henry investigates, dressed as Viola, It satisfies not only his need to have a viable disguise to get into the facility, but his own inner desire to dress as a female. He finds evidence to suggest that the director and a volunteer have been conspiring to get some patients’ wills changed to their benefit and that Mr. Crowley may have been a victim of this death benefit scam.

In the meantime, Mac has been missing Henry, wondering where he could have gone after Mac had been shot, and he sets out to find him. After all, Henry is his missing witness in the arrest of a known gangster. Mac has also been under pressure by investigators into the brutal force supposedly used when that gangster and others in the past have been arrested by Mac. In addition, there are rumors that Mac may be a drug user and he may be implicated in the recent death of a police informant. He’s happy to take sick leave and just go to find Henry. When he tracks Henry’s sister, Viola, to the care home, imagine his surprise to find that it’s Henry, not Viola, who is in residence there. And when Henry explains his reasons for being there, Mac doesn’t know whether to kiss him or kill him for getting involved in another crazy scheme.

Mac is determined to get behind the façade of Henry Page to the real man, Sebastian Hanes, within. We see glimpses every once in a while, and Henry himself is now struggling to keep Sebastian contained. He’s never put his trust in anyone other than Viola, but he senses that Ryan “Mac” McGuiness is so very different from anyone else that Mac will protect his fragile inner child and keep him safe amid the shitstorm his life has become.

From this point on, Henry gets in deeper trouble at the care home, Mac gets in deeper trouble at work, and neither is aware that there are common threads between them in the form of certain people who have been negative influences in both their lives.

I love the way the authors are taking their time with this romance and the dynamic between Henry and Mac is outstanding. At times humorous, or poignantly romantic, their dynamic is often irritating or filled with sexual tension. And when the two finally do get together, with Henry in the guise of a female, it’s over-the-top, explosively hot. The storyline and subplots are complex and so intricately woven that I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the series so that I can view the finished product as a whole. I suspect that this is going to become one of my all-time favorite series.

Of course, this book does not end on a final conclusive note, but the promise of the next installment is much clearer in this book than in the last and I liked the way the authors left this couple. I’m definitely going to be first in line for the next book.

Cover Art by L.C. Chase depicts a partially full syringe indicating either the drug addiction of Henry’s good friend, Remy, or something far more nefarious. It’s cute and fits with the cover of the previous story.

Sales Links:  available for pre-order at Riptide Publishing now     Other links to follow

Book Details:

ebook, 205 pages
Expected publication: February 2nd 2015 by Riptide Publishing
edition languageEnglish
seriesPlaying the Fool #2

A MelanieM Review: Altered States (Altered States, #0.5) by Laura Harner


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Altered STates coverNew Orleans Police Detective Sam Garrett is having a bad day.  Sam can’t stand working with partners, yet he’s been assigned an aggravating, hot, and most-likely-straight partner, Travis Boudreaux,.  Travis pushes all his buttoms, including the one that says Sam finds Travis seriously attractive, not good when the man in question is straight.

When Sam and Travis are assigned to investigate a string of gay-bashings turned deadly in the French Quarter, the last thing Sam expects is that Travis plans to use him as bait. The worst part? They’ve got no back-up because the rest of the city is preoccupied by another series of killings — the victims drained of blood.

It should be a simple thing to close this case…but this is New Orleans where the deadly, the mystical, and the unknown can combine in lethal ways as Sam and Travis are about to find out.

Altered States started out as a story prompt in the Goodreads M/M Romance’s Love is Always Write, Don’t Read in the Closet Events.  But Altered States was to be a springboard to an addictively absorbing new series from Laura Harner and T.A. Webb.  It all starts with the wonderful creation of New Orleans Police Detective Sam Garrett.  Sam is gay, biracial, and physically slight, or should that be wiry.   He’s complex and not terribly popular down at the Precinct, which is a mixture of characters, not all of which are exactly upstanding representations of the law.

Adding to his woes of too many hours, not enough sleep, and aggravation at work is the fact that Sam has been assigned a new partner.  Travis Boudreaux is more of an enigma, a question mark of a persona that looms larger at the shocking end.  The case they are assigned too is horrific in nature.  Young gay men are being tortured and killed and its up to them to stop it.

Harner and Webb weave a fascinating tale of wary men, unacknowledged appetites, and murder.  Then they overlay it all with a touch of the supernatural when victims in another salacious crime spree start turning up dead, drained entirely of their blood.   It’s a great plot, and that twist at the end is shocking.  I loved it!  So will  you.

The kicker comes at the beginning of the next story that really starts this series, Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States #1).  That one?  Oh my!  This series is like a bowl of bon bons, once you start in on them, they are so delicious and rich that you won’t be able to stop.  I quite happily read my way through all three available stories and am now anxiously waiting for the next.

Altered States is one of my highly recommended reads as is the series.  Grab it up, along with all the others and drop yourself in the New Orleans world of crime, passion, and the supernatural!

Cover Art by Laura Harner.  Dark, kind of noirish.  Perfect!

Sales Links:     All Romance (ARe) (free)         amazon             get it here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 41 pages
Published May 27th 2012 by Hot Corner Press
series  Altered States

Books in the Altered States Series:

  • Altered States (Altered States, #0.5)
  • Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States #1) by L.E. Harner, T.A. Webb
  • Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States, #2) by L.E. Harner, T.A. Webb


A Mika Review: Loveblood by M.J. O’Shea


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Loveblood coverMax Appleton and his mother Celia are on the run, hiding from an abusive father and husband who’s also a notoriously bad pack leader. When Max hit puberty and it became obvious he’d never make an alpha wolf, his father turned the brunt of his anger toward his inferior son and his beta wolf wife for producing him. Max and Celia find sanctuary in a garden cottage at Holly Court, the sprawling estate where Celia’s oldest friend lives with her pack alpha husband, three daughters, and teenaged son Jonah.

Jonah Spellman has what seems like the perfect life. His family is close, his dad is respected by their whole pack, and he’s been groomed to take over for as long as he can remember. Everything is set, his whole life planned, and Jonah works hard to be exactly what everyone expects. He’s under enough pressure without a runaway from a bad pack complicating his life. 

When two teenaged werewolves from very different worlds meet one snowy January day, both of their worlds get turned inside out. From the moment they meet, nothing will be the same for Jonah or Max ever again.

I’m usually selective when it comes to reading YA books. They tend to be a little “young” for me.  I gave this one a chance based on it being a paranormal book. It wasn’t the best or the worst really. I think it was relatively sweet, maybe too much. I did like the paranormal aspect. I liked the heat and rut themes as well. I would really have enjoyed it if it would have been an mpreg book. I do think it was instant love, and I was fairly okay with that. I did find myself rolling my eyes a lot, but I tend to do those during YA books.

Max was definitely a fierce little wolf. His mother decided to move them down to Portland after years of abuse. They end up at Celia’s best friend from her home pack estate. Instantly there’s a connection between Max and Jonah. Jonah who is the son and future alpha of Holly Court’s pack. In the beginning Jonah seems like a nerd or a closed off kid. Well that changes quickly with the introduction of his future mate.

It was cute, all the cuddling, and closeness so quickly. Max and Jonah relationship started quickly. Max was so enthralled with Jonah that he forgot about school starting. He forgot about other people, a new school and everything else. Jonah was so wrapped up in Max he forgot about Zoe. His girlfriend, future mate who he was blood-bonded with since childhood. It wouldn’t be High School without bullies, frenemies, chosen sides, and unrequited love typical YA books.

There is a ton of jealously, lust, betrayal, fondling, and a plethora of more emotions. I did think that it was too “pat” of Jonah’s parents to be against Jonah being bonded to him because of pack disorder. Of course we had to have the fall out of Max and his mother’s urgent departure from their home pack. They brought the cliché destruction.

In the end I do feel like for a YA book it was good. It was rather fairy tale-ish because of the love surrounding Jonah and Max. Certain things were left unsaid for me. I can say if YA isn’t your thing then bypass this. I’m on the fence with YA generally but I did enjoy it. I liked the acceptance of certain things between the main characters. I liked that it wasn’t your typical YA High School bullying, I do think it was nice to see the parents have a huge impact on the boys. Would I recommend this? Certainly to YA audiences, people that like the cuteness theme level. It was fluffy, I did enjoy it though

Cover Art by M.J. O’Shea. I actually liked the cover based on it being about wolf shifters and running through the forest.

Sales Link:   Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback         All Romance eBook      amazon               buy it here

Book Details:
eBook, 256 pages
Published August 7th, 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781632162427
Edition Language: English

Get Caught Up In Posy Roberts’ Tangled Mind Romance (book tour and contest)




Book Name: Tangled Mind
Author Name: Posy Roberts

Author Interview:

How do you come up with the titles?

OMG, I hate titles!!! I didn’t used to. In my online publishing days, the title was often what started the whole story, but somewhere along the way, I lost that gift. Now, most of my books start off as something stupid. My most recent draft is literally called Frankie, the main character. How original! My young adult title didn’t come to me until I brainstormed with another person and she got me unstuck. Tangled Mind started off as Iceberg. I even considered Frozen until that movie came out and ruined that one for me. Then I tried out many horrendous titles and submitted the manuscript with one of those. I’m too embarrassed to even tell you what it was. In the end, I usually find a decent title, but not without going through a few obsessive days where that is all I can either think or talk about. My best friend, husband, and kid hate those days.
Is there a message in your novella that you want readers to grasp?

Facing our own demons must happen before we can truly thrive in a relationship. If we ignore our personal issues, we are bound to keep repeating the same mistakes or date the same type of person until we find a way to face and overcome our demons. I like to think this is nature’s way of giving us a chance to fix the past, even if it needs to be with a new person rather than the original one.
How much of the book is realistic?

All of it. There are millions of people, like Beck, living in codependent relationship all over the world or struggling to recover from them. Many don’t even know they’re in them. This story stems from drug use, but that’s not the only way someone gets into an enmeshed relationship where they give up parts (or all) of themselves to keep the peace, to make life run smoother, and all at the detriment of self. Tangled Mind is Beck’s story of healing.

Author Bio:

Posy Roberts writes about romantic male love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.

Posy is married to a man who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep; her daughter, a budding author and dedicated Whovian, helps her come up with character names. When Posy’s not writing, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

Author Contact:


Publisher: Dreamspinner PressTangledMindFS
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press  amazon

Tangled Minds Blurb:

For years Beck Lund has taken care of his volatile boyfriend Brady, always putting Brady’s needs above his own and walking on eggshells to keep the peace. After Brady overdoses on heroin, his death devastates Beck. Thankfully his best friend, Timothy Kallis, finds him the help he needs. Beck slowly starts to recover and moves in with Timothy to get back on his feet, but he’s oblivious that Timothy is secretly nursing romantic affection for him.

Beck focuses on his own healing for the first time in his life. After months of challenging his codependent tendencies and learning how to stand up for himself, Beck finally starts to trust his gut and hopes to one day love again. Timothy is patient throughout, taking care of Beck in ways no one ever has. But if Beck can’t recognize Timothy’s affection for him, it might be too late for them to move beyond friendship.

Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance


Before I had a chance to shut the front door, the sound of Brady choking on his own vomit pierced my eardrums. I was in our bedroom within seconds to witness him take what ended up being his last breath. Immediately I rolled him to his side to help him clear his airway. He flopped onto his back.

Abdominal thrusts. I slapped his face and shouted his name.


I followed the directions the dispatcher gave me on speakerphone, putting my effort into every motion as tears ran down my face.

“The paramedics are on their way. Do you hear the sirens yet?”

“Yes,” I said as I used my full weight to come down on Brady’s torso, trying to dislodge whatever particle had stopped all air from moving in and out of his lungs.

Nothing helped. He just stared up at me with glazed-over eyes and refused to breathe.

“Goddammit. Don’t you dare leave me like this!”

I blankly watched as the paramedics swarmed into the bedroom, shooing me away so they could assess Brady’s condition, and I saw the grim looks on their faces when they realized what had really happened. The frenzied activity ceased, and their demeanor changed the second they found the syringe, spoon, and lighter.

Words: 24,000

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Journey Into Courage with Jay Jordan Hawke’s A Scout Is Brave (book tour and contest)



Book Name: A Scout is Brave
Goodreads Link
Author Name: Jay Jordan Hawke

Author Bio:

Jay Jordan Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek, and hopes to be on the first starship out of here. In the meantime, he teaches at a college prep school and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time.

In addition to all things sci-fi, his hobbies include camping, reading, running, and writing. He has lived in several Midwestern states and currently resides in Indiana. Ugh – get me out of here!

Author Contact:

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Anne CainScoutIsBrave

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback   amazon

A Scout Is Brave Blurb:

In the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop’s ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.

Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.

A Scout Is Brave Exclusive Excerpt:


WARNING: Intense excerpt.

Tommy Drapos stood helpless before his fellow Boy Scouts. They had cornered him against a tree and took turns taunting him with words like “faggot” and “queer.”

“Hey, here’s your best friend,” one boy teased, holding up a long, thick stick.

The other boys simply laughed.

“Yeah, I bet you really miss it!” another boy shouted.

Little Tommy Drapos’s eyes lit up in fear as he realized what they were going to do. He cried out for mercy.

“Please stop,” he whimpered between his sniffs in a barely audible voice.

His cries for mercy accomplished nothing.

“Hey, can’t you see how sad he is?” the boy with the stick said to his crowd of friends. “I think he really misses his friend.”

“Give it to him!” another boy shouted.

“Yeah, give it to him!” the crowd collectively agreed.

Two boys stepped toward Tommy’s cowering body. They grabbed his arms, and Tommy cried out.

“Stop it! Please, stop it!”

Some boys in the crowd repeated Tommy’s words with a babyish tone, furthering Tommy’s humiliation. “Top it, pwease top it,” they taunted.

A third boy approached the panic-stricken boy. He grabbed Tommy’s pants and yanked them down. The crowd laughed. Tommy knew what they were going to do, and he was helpless to stop them.

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal

Pages: 180 pages

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