A Mika Review: Green the Whole Year ‘Round by Rowan McAllister

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars

GreentheWholeYear'RoundCouples counselor Ted Freeman is still reeling six months after his partner left him. He desperately hopes a week of peace and quiet at a quaint mountain cabin will be just what he needs to regain his personal and professional confidence.

Neil Kelly is a computer programmer who just got promoted to full time and is celebrating over Christmas by going on his first real grown-up vacation at the Cabins in the Pines Inn. When he runs into Ted, his longtime crush, Neil can’t believe his luck, and he vows to do whatever it takes to make Ted see him as something other than the dork next door.

Neil wasn’t part of Ted’s plan for the holidays, but he might turn out to be exactly what Ted needs.

Half a star extra for Neil’s accurate portrayal on the cover! I thought this was a cute holiday read. I really enjoyed Neil, he was super adorable and a sweetheart. I liked how he was always choose to be high spirited even when he felt down. I didn’t like Ted in the beginning, his character seemed stand offish, and very pompous. I definitely think he needed a wake up call earlier than what he got. I like that he came around and decided to live a little. Neil was amazingly optimistic, and I think that’s why Ted was able to open up some. Recommended for readers that enjoy cute little holiday novellas, and amazingly gingered twinks!

The cover artist Christy Caughie created this cover, and it was accurate for where the guys were. Neil was spot on with that garishly orange cold. I definitely liked him; he was super adorable in the book

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

Book Details:

SBN-13 978-1-63216-592-3
Pages 77
Cover Artist Christy Caughie
Categories :Novellas Contemporary Holiday Rowan McAllister
Book Type eBook
File Formats Available
mobiepubpdfzip/html

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – Lone Wolf (Bluewater Bay #4) by Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Lone Wolf coverThe creators of the Bluewater Bay series pulled out all the stops when they lined up a highly talented group of authors to write the series. For this book, #4 in the series, the amazing team of Voinov and Witt come up to bat and they bring in a home run. “Lone Wolf” is very different from the others in that it features the writers, rather than the actors of the highly successful show Wolf’s Landing, a show set in the tiny town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. But “Lone Wolf” is very similar in that it’s another outstanding example of M/M romance at its finest.

The premise is simple, the execution exceptional. Hunter Easton, author of the Wolf’s Landing series, has writer’s block—the worst he’s ever had, and he can’t seem to get book eight done, despite having already passed his deadline. He spends more time on his favorite form of relaxation—participating in the Wolf’s Landing fandom, bantering with his principal ally, Lone Wolf, who happens to be one of the administrators of the site. Lone Wolf and Hunter, aka Wolf Hunter on the site, have been online friends for two years, and recently started to share short stories and slash fiction they’ve written, some of it very erotic, but the one piece which tips the scales is the huge 250,000 word novel, “The World Tree”, which Lone Wolf pens and asks Wolf Hunter to critique.

Hunter finds the work outstanding and although he knows an author shouldn’t get involved in reading the work of a fan, he’s so amazed by the piece that he asks Lone Wolf if he’d like to meet for a coffee. When Kevin Hussain, aka Lone Wolf, lays eyes on Hunter Easton coming through the door of the coffee shop, he’s ready to faint. Imagine seeing the author of his dreams and getting to meet his online friend all in one night. But when he finds out the two are the same, he’s left speechless. Not surprisingly, the two hit it off very well in person. They’ve been online friends for two years and now they not only pick up where their conversations left off, they find they are also sexually attracted to each other.

But the surprises for Kevin haven’t ended, and when Hunter tells him that he’s sent the book to his agent and that he wants Kevin to allow him to use the ideas in the book and come onboard as a co-author, Kevin’s world begins to spin out of control. The story revolves primarily around Kevin’s reactions to being thrown into the world of a successful author, both the ups of getting paid and enjoying your own working hours, and the downs of being dissed on review sites and being harassed by fans, never being out of the spotlight.

The banter between the two is witty, the sex divinely hot, and the melding of their worlds well-done. Watching their relationship develop is sweet, with very little angst other than a few misunderstandings along the way—until the stress of being at a live convention as a celebrity for the first time proves too much for Kevin. He takes Hunter’s advice to go home and rest in peace and quiet, but he fails to tell Hunter what he really wanted, and he allows his misinterpretation of Hunter’s behavior to blow everything out of proportion. He wallows in angst and self-imploding hurt until circumstances finally allow the two to talk things out and ultimately find their HEA.

I highly recommend this series to all lovers of M/M romance. Each book can be read independently, but it’s so much more fun to read them one after another and enjoy the vignettes of previous characters. Don’t miss out.

The cover Art by L.C. Chase captures each of the MC’s descriptions perfectly. The library setting conveys their career as writers and represents Hunter’s work space where the men spend much of their time so the cover is perfect for the story.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing   All Romance (ARe)      amazon           buy it here

Book Details:

Author: Aleksandr VoinovL.A. Witt
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-239-4
eBook release: Dec 22, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-240-0
Print release: Dec 22, 2014
Word count: 96,000, Page count: 358

– See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/lone-wolf#sthash.ElMEXUFf.dpuf

Saddle Up with Z.A. Maxfield’s My Cowboy Homecoming! (Book Tour and Contest)

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Cowboys. I just love them! I’m celebrating the release of the third book in my “Cowboy Hearts” series, My Cowboy Homecoming with a blog tour!

Stay tuned for daily drawings for copies of ebooks from my backlist as well as a Rafflecopter for a $25.00 gift certificate at the end, on Christmas. We can all use a little something extra on Christmas, can’t we?

Contest Link:    a Rafflecopter giveaway

So without further ado, here’s My Cowboy Homecoming!

Blurb:_CoverArt

Love can heal the deepest wounds…

A sense of duty brings a soldier home…but a passionate cowboy makes him want to stay.

After his brother’s tragic death, Tripp has to leave the army and return to New Mexico to take care of his mother while his father is in prison for arson. Seeking work at the J-Bar Ranch, Tripp is immediately drawn to injured cowboy Lucho Reyes, whose foot was accidentally crushed by a rescue horse. But will the sins of the father interfere with the desires of the son? Tripp’s father may be responsible for the death of Lucho’s grandfather.

Now Tripp must balance caring for his mother, repairing his father’s damages, and trying to win the heart of a man who has every reason to hate him and his family…

Buy Links:

About the Author_AuthorPhoto

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

The road home was less auspicious than I thought it would be. Traffic slowed to a bare crawl outside Las Cruces, and the overheated bus had started to smell.

Just like on every bus, everywhere in the world, people were packed in tight. They stared ahead expressionlessly, as if that cramped, anonymous ride was the best they could expect because it probably was.

All four westbound lanes had been forced into one until at last we reached what seemed like a flare-lit city of fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. Uniforms covered the highway like ants at a picnic.

When I saw the wreck, my heart gave a lurch. An old yellow school bus with “Iglesias Angelica Bautista” written on the side had been hit head-on by a double tractor-trailer truck. The impact had scattered debris all over both sides of the highway.

A single battered high-top sneaker lay in the middle of the street, blood-spattered and abandoned. I couldn’t take my eyes off it as we drove past.

The front of the wrecked school bus was crushed like an accordion. No way the driver survived the crash. There were others lying still and lifeless beneath sad yellow tarps. EMTs raced between people lying side by side in a makeshift triage area.

I tried to make myself do the deep breathing the army shrinks taught me. I thought about trying the other bullshit stopgap measures I was supposed to deploy before going to the little pills they gave me for anxiety, which I’d thrown away anyway. I tried repeating nonsense rhymes and visualizing my happy place, but the fact is, if you’ve been in a sniper’s crosshairs long enough, it’s hard to convince yourself there’s nobody trying to kill you anymore.

I was home, goddamnit. I wasn’t in danger. Except . . . we’re all in danger all the time. We just don’t know it.

As we inched past the wreck, even I—with the knowledge of how random and tragic fate could be—shook with shock. I couldn’t take my eyes off that shoe lying by itself in the street because my brother used to wear those same Converse high-tops when he was about five. Chucks. I got annoyed every time I heard his little feet padding after me as I tried to run away and play with my “big kid” friends.

Wish I had that now.

Wish I had time to play with him and a chance to know him, now that we were both out from under our father’s thumb, but while I’d been deployed to the valley CNN once called the most dangerous place on earth, my brother got killed on the I-10, exactly like the poor bastard who was driving that bus.

Random.

The stifling heat made the Greyhound nearly unbearable. A woman on the seat behind me cried out to Jesus, starting a prayer that three or four of the other passengers echoed. Instinct, still honed to razor-sharp readiness, lifted me to my feet, even though the bus was moving.

“Sit down,” said the old man next to me, whose skin was gray with age and probably cigarettes. Tattoos littered his forearms, including one I recognized, the Devil Dog. Marines. “What do you think you’re going to do out there they aren’t already doing?”
I shrugged and sat.

He studied me. “Just get back?”

“Yeah.”

That got a laugh. “I thought so. You look it.”

“How so?”

He just stared at me then, and something passed between us. Anxiety and fatigue and that indefinable pinch of pain, as if our lives were too small now, and it hurt to walk around in them.

“Yeah.” I glanced away.

I sat still, even though every cell in my body was telling me I should do something. It was both my nature and, up until recently, my job to keep order. Yet now my TOS was up, and I was going home.

In spite of everything, I stayed still.

It seemed like it took forever to pass the accident.

“Lordy, Lordy.” The woman behind me cried softly. “Sweet Jesus, help your children in their hour of need.”

I let my old, cold friend discipline flow through my heart and I looked away.

Maybe I’d built up this illusion that home was a place made of safety and order, but that goddamn shoe told me different.
Anyhow, that’s why I was late getting into Deming.

***
I scanned every face on the street, looking for my mother, when I got off the bus. I don’t know why I thought she might come. She was afraid to drive the single mile to church. Venturing as far as Deming was probably more than she could take.

After Dad landed himself in prison, I hoped she’d start going out again, just to the grocery store if she needed to. I guessed she didn’t, because she wasn’t waiting for me.

The dirty, gray bus station emptied out quickly. It was little more than a stop off the I-10 in a hot, dry collection of buildings generosity made me call a city. Deming had little going for it besides its proximity to the highway.

I’d hiked my duffel over my shoulder and was working out how I’d find my own way home, when somebody called my name.

“Calvin Tripplehorn?”

I followed the sound and found a cowboy standing behind me. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t say why. “Who’s asking?”
“Jimmy Rafferty.” He held out his hand, but I let it hang there while I tried to process his face. His eyes narrowed. “From the J-Bar? Your mama called the ranch. I’m here to give you a ride.”

I hesitated before I gave him my hand to shake. “Pleased to meet you, sir.”

“This way, son. I need to pick up one of the hands from the ER in Silver City. He’s going to think I left him to find his way back by breadcrumbs or some such.”

I fell into step beside him, consciously matching my stride to his leggy, rolling gait. He was all cowboy, lean and rangy. He looked about forty or so. He wore some hard road on his face, but he was good-looking in his way.

“You know my mother?”

He stopped to look at me. Screwed up his face. “I can’t say I do.”

He was proving to be a bit of a character. “Then why are you here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, how did you know to pick me up?”

He raised his brows. “Do you need a code word or something? I’m not here to kidnap you and sell you into white slavery or nothing. Nobody told me—”

“I mean”—heat suffused my face—“why are you here if you don’t know my mother?”

“Oh.” He grinned. “Boss asked me ’cause your mama and Emma Jenkins are friends. I guess she didn’t know about Emma not living at the J-Bar no more.”

“Ah.” The Jenkinses. Neighbors for as long as I could remember. Emma used to invite my family to the J-Bar on the Fourth of July. They always made a party of it, throwing a big barbecue and chili cook-off. I think a summer picnic at the J-Bar was where I first realized cowboys flipped my switch as opposed to . . . er . . . cowgirls.

I loved the J-Bar. I’d wanted to work there.

“How is everyone?”

“Crandall passed.” Jimmy informed me solemnly.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Crandall Jenkins was the kind of man whose loss would be felt keenly by everyone he ever came into contact with. “Emma didn’t sell up, did she?”

“Nah. She wanted to spend time with her girls and the grandkids. Speed Malloy and his partner Crispin are running the place now.”

I missed a step. Speed Malloy made my pants tight back in the day. I could barely be around him without sporting wood. “His partner?”

“His life partner.” Jimmy stopped and faced me, hands on his worn leather belt. “You got a problem with that? Get it out of your system.”

“No sir, not me.” I didn’t out myself there on the street, but I wasn’t going to let him think I was a homophobe. They probably got that shit a lot.

“Malloy told me to pick you up, on account of he talked to your mama. I’m just doing what I’m told.” He stopped beside a battered old crew-cab pickup truck. “Drop your bag in the back and we’ll be on our way.”

“Thank you.” I did as he asked and climbed into the cab beside him. After the hot, close quarters on the bus, it felt as nice as a limousine. Not that I knew what limousines were really like.

“You back for good?” he asked.

I nodded. “My mother needs me more than Uncle Sam does at this point.”

He peered at me like he was trying to see inside. “I guess things ain’t been too easy for her lately.”

“You know about my dad?” I asked.

Jimmy’s mouth tightened right up. “Some.”

My heart sank. “I’m nothing like him.”

He glanced away first. “Ain’t going to be easy to gain people’s trust after what him and his pals did.”

“I don’t need people’s trust.”

He keyed the ignition and the truck started up. “You will if you want to build a life here.”

Christ, what an awful thought. Building a life there. “I don’t know what I want, yet.”

He shot me a cryptic smile. “You’ll figure it out. You’re still young enough, Calvin.”

“‘Tripp,’” I corrected automatically. “People call me ‘Tripp.’”

“Okay, Tripp. Call me ‘Jimmy.’” He nodded before pulling out into the street.

The ride from Deming to Silver City takes a little under an hour. Because of the change in elevation, the desert, with its infrequent clusters of agave and cactus, gives way to a forest of junipers and piñon trees. No matter how many times I’d driven up that road I was always surprised by the change in landscape. It was stark and beautiful one minute, and lush green the next.
The area hadn’t changed much since the day I’d turned eighteen and left for good.

Eight years.

The afternoon shadows lengthened until I no longer needed my Oakleys. I pushed them onto the top of my head as we pulled up in front of the Regional Medical Center. A lone man rested on crutches out front—another cowboy, taller, broader, and darker than Jimmy, wearing a straw hat that shaded his face. He bent his leg at the knee, keeping his foot—which was encased in a sturdy black soft cast—from bearing his weight.

“Aw, shit. I was afraid that foot was busted.” Jimmy said, stopping the truck at the curb. “That’s Lucho. Go help him into the truck, will you?”

“Sure.” I jumped down from the passenger seat, leaving the door open so I could help the man in. “Front seat okay? Or would you be more comfortable in the back?”

“Back, please.” Polite.

Good-looking too. A sharp sizzle of awareness passed between us and I smiled as I opened the back door.

His eyebrow lifted.

Okay. So I checked him out. I was guilty as charged. He eyed me appreciatively in return. He had dark hair, tan skin. Coca-Cola eyes that watched my every move from beneath lashes thick as a doll’s. That dark gaze lingered on my package before traveling slowly upwards. His brief quirk of a smile sent the unmistakable message that he liked what he saw.

Message received and noted.

I held my hand out, so he handed over his crutches without taking his eyes off mine. I put my arm around his waist to steady him and pretty much lifted him into the truck so he didn’t have to put his weight on his foot.

Was it my imagination? Or did he lean into me a little more than necessary? I caught him closing his eyes.

“Pain?”

“No.” He shook his head. “You smell good.”

Breathless, I let him go, but it was like I was in some kind of trance. My reluctance to end contact came from pure biological imperative. He felt so good. He smelled like sage and horse and the sick sweat of pain, but his muscles were solid and his body lean and strong. His was the first man’s body I’d held close in so long.

I did not want to let go and he didn’t want me to. We stayed there, looking into each other’s eyes until I heard Jimmy clear his throat.

Startled, I stepped back. Lucho gave me a playful push and another long, slow perusal that felt exactly like a juicy lick up my dick. I shook myself out of my stupor and gave up a huff of embarrassed laughter before I stepped away.

God.

I’d never come on to anyone that hard in my life.

It must have been the timing. Everything was out of whack with me coming back home like that. With the accident and the apprehension of what I’d find when I saw my ma again.

With strangers picking me up when it should have been family.

I put my hand out to shake. “Folks call me ‘Tripp.’”

Instantly, he lost all warmth. “You’re Calvin Tripplehorn’s son?” His voice was dangerously soft.

“Not so’s you’d know it.” I’d meant the words as a joke. He didn’t take it that way. The fire in his eyes simply died and he let my hand hang there, untouched until I drew it back.

“Everything okay?”

He nodded and removed his hat. Without it I could see his lean, fierce face was etched with shadows and pain. I stood there too long, staring. Cataloguing tan skin, high cheekbones, a chin with more than a day’s growth of beard.

He had a long, straight nose that made him masculine and beautiful at the same time. Stark and lovely, like New Mexico itself.
His expression and gone from interest to disdain in the space of a second, and I guessed I knew why. The Tripplehorn name probably came with a warning label around these parts. “Okay to close the door?”

“It’s fine.” His eyes had narrowed with suspicion, but he had lips like a kid’s, soft as Cinnamon Bears, and I was heartsick that I’d probably never get to taste them. That was the kind of immediate effect Lucho had on me. Desire and despair, all at once.

As he ran the fingers of one hand over the soul patch on his chin I asked, “Need anything else?”

He shook his head sharply and then looked away. “Not from you, Tripplehorn.”

My dad’s name, his goddamn shadow, loomed over me, though I hadn’t even gotten home yet.

“Be nice, Lucho.” Jimmy’s bark was a warning, like we were kids in the backseat and he was going to say, Don’t make me stop this car.

“Give me a break, Rafferty,” Lucho growled. “I don’t gotta be nice to Calvin Tripplehorn’s kid.”

Closing the door between us, I hesitated before getting back into the truck. How had I forgotten the gut-churning taste of shame?

Old memories came back to me with a violent shove. I was “crazy Cal’s” kid.

Pretty soon I’d forget what it was like to be decorated army sergeant Tripplehorn—to earn respect by following orders and keeping a professional attitude and working my ass off. Nobody around these parts was going to give me that chance.

“C’mon kid,” Jimmy coaxed.

A ride was a ride. As soon as I’d climbed up into the passenger seat, Jimmy cranked up the radio and took off again.
Nobody talked until my family’s place came into view, and even then, I simply stared. It was hard to sort out what I was seeing. The manufactured house was still there, but the screen door hung askew. Out front, weeds choked what was once a pretty garden. The chicken coop had fallen down. There was no sign of life anywhere.

“Man.” Jimmy frowned at a dust devil blowing across the packed dirt of what used to be an exercise ring for horses. “Your brother really let the place go.”

“Ya think?” I said sourly.

Concern for me shadowed his eyes as he framed his next, careful question. “You planning on fixing the place up?”

I felt exhausted already. “If my mother doesn’t want to leave, I guess I’ll have to.”

I’d thought Lucho was asleep, but he snorted derisively from the back seat. “Maybe you ought to just burn it down. You Tripplehorn motherfuckers got a lot of experience with arson, after all.”

Lone Wolf Has Come to Bluewater Bay! On Tour with Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt (book tour and contest)

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Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Aleksandr Voinov/L. A. Witt blog tour for the latest installment in the Bluewater Bay series, Lone Wolf!BWBlogo_Web

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one eBook off each of our backlists (excluding Lone Wolf) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 28th, and winners will be announced on December 29th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

LoneWolf_400x600LONE WOLF Blurb:

Hunter Easton is screwed. Fans, producers, and his agent are all chomping at the bit for the next book in his wildly popular Wolf’s Landing series, but he’s got epic writer’s block and is way behind deadline. Then he reads The World Tree, a fanfic novel by his online friend “Lone Wolf.” It isn’t just a great story—it’s exactly what the series needs.

Kevin Hussain is thrilled when “Wolf Hunter” wants to meet up after reading The World Tree. When Wolf Hunter turns out to be Hunter Easton himself, Kevin is starstruck. When Hunter tells him he wants to add The World Tree to Wolf’s Landing, Kevin is sure he’s being pranked. And when their online chemistry carries over—big time—into real life, Kevin is convinced it’s all too good to be true.

The problem is . . . it might be. The book deal, the sex, the money—everything is amazing. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Kevin is left wondering if Hunter really loves him, or just loves his book.

Book Details:  

Buy It Here!  A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Highly Recommended Read
Author: Aleksandr VoinovL.A. Witt
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-239-4
eBook release: Dec 22, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-240-0
Print release: Dec 22, 2014
Word count: 96,000, Page count: 358
Type: Standalone
Cover by: L.C. Chase
This title is part of the Bluewater Bay universe.

 

Author Bios:

EPIC Award winner and Lambda Award finalist Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he works as a financial editor. His genres range from science fiction and fantasy to thriller, historical, contemporary, thriller, and erotica. His books were/are published by Random House Germany, Samhain Publishing, Riptide Publishing and others.

If he isn’t writing, he studies sports massage, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He single-handedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects. His current interests include special forces operations during World War II, the history of chess, european magical traditions, and how to destroy the world and plunge it into a nuclear winter without having the benefit of nuclear weapons.

Visit Aleksandr’s website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com, his blog at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky.

This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

L.A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).