A MelanieM Review: Fair Play (All’s Fair #2) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Fair Play coverRoland Mills, father of ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills, has always been an activist, extremely liberal in his views and actions. Fifty years ago, Roland belonged to a violent protest group and now, when Roland is about to publish his memoirs, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from doing so.

It took the death of his mother, and Elliot Mills’s own injury to bring father and son back together.   Now the threats against his father’s life has Elliot reaching out to those in his father’s past, an action that  brings him up against the FBI and his lover, FBI Agent Tucker Lance.

Now living together, Tucker and Elliot are still trying to find their way to a solid relationship and these threats against Roland threaten that solidity once again. Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much, but when it comes to wanting Elliot to stay out of the mess Roland has gotten into, he and Roland agree for once that Elliot needs to let it alone.  As the danger closes in, it threatens not just Roland’s life, but that of Elliot’s and their relationship as well.

The first book in this series, Fair Game, remains a favorite read of mine.  I loved the complicated characters, the angst filled  past, and the tumultuous circumstances that brought such strong, intelligent men together.  Adding to that, Josh Lanyon completed his cast of characters by giving Elliot a compelling family history with a 60’s activist father, and beloved deceased mother and a host of wild and chaotic personalities that swirled around his father and the university they both teach at.  And then Lanyon piled on some horrific murders to boot!

At the conclusion of Fair Game, Tucker and Elliot agreed to give their relationship another try and this story, Fair Play, picks up with Tucker already living in Elliot’s house on the island.  Their relationship is passionate and committed, yet both men are still obviously adjusting to all new aspects of their cohabitation.  I have always loved this author’s ability to create such layered, fascinating characters and then bring them to life through sharp, thoughtful dialog and emotional interplay.  We feel Elliot’s and Tucker’s hesitations, those halting advances towards openness and vulnerability that is so hard for them both, in scene after scene.  It makes their journey back to each other feel real and sometimes painfully slow.  That makes it extremely gratifiying when they can move past these realistic moments in their relationship to something deeper.   And all the while,  they are trying to deal with Roland’s intractability, fear, and an unknown killer on the loose.

The father/son dynamics between Roland and Elliot that Lanyon has brought into this series is as compelling as the one between Tucker and Elliot, and its not always a given that the relationship will survive the actions of each other, as diametrically opposed as they often are.  I loved the mystery that goes along with the attempts on Roland’s life, it leads into the past and the idea that all actions have reverberations that will continue into the present and beyond.    We also see the potential for the villain in the first story to make a reappearance soon.  That alone gave me the shivers.

In Fair Play, we are there as Tucker and Elliot solve complicated mysteries and move deeper into their relationship. The suspense is gripping, and the emotional involvement never lets up.  We are engrossed in the hunt for the would-be assassin while also heavily invested in Tucker and Elliot’s sometimes shaky partnership and well being. Fair Play is immensely satisfying,  totally entertaining, and a wonderful read.   I highly recommend not only this book but the first in the series as well.   Start with Fair Game to see what brings Elliot and Tucker back together and then continue on to Fair Play.  What a ride awaits you in the All’s Fair series from Josh Lanyon.

 

Cover Artist is a great job in overall tone and concept.

Sales Links:  Carina Press      All Romance (ARe)        Amazon   Buy it Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 250 pages
Published November 10th 2014 by Carina Press
ASINB00KV5Z7M0
series All’s Fair #2

All’s Fair Series:

Fair Game
Fair Play (All’s Fair #2)

A Sammy Review: Making Nice by Elizah J. Davis

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Making Nice cover“This is my friend Ryan. He made pecan pie. I hope that’s okay with everyone?”

“I’m allergic to nuts,” Blake muttered. Or evidently said loudly enough for everyone to hear. Ryan snorted, Bianca glared, Matt looked like a confused puppy, and his mom gave him a questioning look and said, “Pecan is your favorite.”

“It’s a recent allergy,” Blake said weakly.

Ryan walked past him to set the pie on the counter and whispered, “Don’t worry. My nuts are hypoallergenic.”

Being a twin is special, and when Blake’s twin Bianca meets Matt and falls madly in love with him, it’s imperative that Blake approves. The thing is, Matt isn’t so bad. His friend, Ryan, on the other hand, is a completely different story.

Granted, they get off on the wrong foot – meaning that Ryan is pretty much foot in mouth. He can’t help himself, the stupid comments just keep pouring out.

Sometimes, though, foes make the best lovers, and Blake and Ryan teeter on the line of hate, to tolerance, to tolerating sleeping together because sex is about the only time they don’t drive each other mad. They decide to keep their arrangement a secret, and as with all secrets, things get mucked up when a secret becomes common knowledge.

Making Nice is a lot more than enemies becoming lovers, it extends to a relationship building between two people who are both equally flawed and live up close and personal with their worst enemies – themselves.

“I’m just saying, I guess—make sure you’re paying attention. Blake has a tendency, if he doesn’t think he can get what he wants, to take what he can get.”

Ryan forced a smile, though it felt like he’d just been insulted. “Which one am I, then? What he wants or what he can get?”

I was a bit nervous at first. This is a fairly long book and it’s a new author for me, but I loved the idea for the plot and went in with an open mind. Elizah Davis did not disappoint.

I’ve said before that one of the things I love is good banter between characters. I understand that it’s not something that should happen in every story, that’d get boring, but I just love it when an author can make characters duel with words and pull the reader into it. This was the case for Blake and Ryan. They truly had a banter that lasted even after their relationship progressed, and it made their relationship that much sweeter for me.

To a certain extent, the blurb really doesn’t do the story justice. It’s so much more than this hate-sex type of deal. The reason the story is the length it is, at least in my opinion, is because you get to see their relationship build. It’s not an automatic hate one day, love the next – they kind of fall into it. It’s a progression that you can visibly watch throughout the chapters.

I also enjoyed the side characters. There were a decent number of them, but I never got mixed up on who was who or who had been told what. They had personality and life that added to the story for me. I do wish we’d gotten to hear more about Ryan’s family life, as most of it deals with Blake’s, but that was just something that would’ve been a nice addition.

I will say that the thing some people may struggle with here are communication issues – Ryan and Blake certainly have them. The reason it didn’t bother me in this story is because I saw it as a natural byproduct of their relationship and its roots, and also a growing pain that they needed to overcome. The author doesn’t make this a moot point though, and at one point outwardly acknowledges that communication is probably more beneficial for them. To me, their communication issues made sense, it worked.

Also, I really adore the cover art by Paul Richmond. It fits the story quite well, right down to the check list (with friends crossed out, which totally made me smile after reading the story).

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

Book Details:

ebook, 314 pages
Expected publication: December 26th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632165282
edition languageEnglish

On Tour with Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock and The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Book Tour and Contest)

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Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, the authors of THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA. We’re touring the web taking about our influences, our processes, anything we can think about actually, and even giving you guys a sneak peak or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? Check out the details at the bottom of the post to see what you can win!

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About THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA:

Mischief, thou art afoot.

Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he’s also been tasked with keeping Henry Page—the world’s most irritating witness—alive. Which is tough when Mac’s a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn’t really what Mac wants to do to him.

Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law . . . though he wouldn’t mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry’s a valuable asset to the FBI. But he’s got his own agenda, and it doesn’t involve testifying.

When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they’re surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he’s willing to go to keep Henry by his side.

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA is the first in our PLAYING THE FOOL trilogy. Book 2, THE MERCHANT OF DEATH, will be available on February 2. Book 3, TEMPEST, will be released March 9.

You can preorder the series, and check out excerpts, at Riptide.

About Lisa:

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house a log-suffering partner, too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Connect with Lisa:

Blog: http://www.lisahenryonline.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisahenryonline

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/LisaHenry

About J.A.:

J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, cashier, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. A lover of m/m BDSM romance, J.A. lives mostly in West Virginia, and always with a beloved dog, Professor Anne.

Website: http://www.jarockauthor.com
Blog: http://jarockauthor.blogspot.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarockauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ja.rock.39

Giveaway:

Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away an awesome prize – an ebook copy of a novel of your choice from either of our back catalogs. We’re also giving away a $20 Riptide gift voucher, and the contents of Henry Page’s bag during his arrest in THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA: that’s some Shakespeare and a bunch of Henry’s favorite candy!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! On January 9, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!

 

Down Under Author of the Day: Nicki J Markus

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Meet Nicki J Markus!

Mett Nicki J Markus…author, linguist, editor, and so much more. To get to know Australian author Nicki J Markus a little better, she agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within this post.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

Nicki J Markus was born in England in 1982, but has lived in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband since 2007. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and writes under two pen names: Nicki J Markus (M/F) and Asta Idonea (M/M). 

Nicki has worked as an editor and proof-reader since 2012, completing work for several online publishers and indie authors.

When not writing and editing, she enjoys many other pursuits such as: reading, music, theatre, cinema, photography, sketching, and cross stitch. She also has a keen interest in history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel.

Author Contacts

Website: http://www.nickijmarkus.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickiJMarkus
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolamarkus
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/NickiJMarkus
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4567057.Nicki_J_Markus

Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

My currently available works are two M/M short stories in the Wayward Ink Publishing anthologies Stranded and A Likely Story.

Previously, I had two novellas—Day-Walker and Time Keepers—published through Silver Publishing, but they are currently unavailable since the publisher closed its doors. I may look at re-releasing them in the future, perhaps with some changes.

I am a few short weeks away from completing the final edits on my new M/F fantasy-mythology trilogy. I am going to be self-publishing this work and will have more news on that in the next few months.

A Likely Story Anthology coverA Likely Story:

Book Details and Blurb:

Suspend rational thought.Leave logic at the door.Be ready to roll your eyes and pick your jaw up from your lap.

The tales in A Likely Story don’t let truth get in the way of telling a good yarn.

They might push your buttons or make you laugh.They may make you scoff or spit out your coffee.You might even scratch your head in disbelief.Whatever your reaction, the one thing the …more

ebook, 231 pages
Published December 19th 2014 by Wayward Ink Publishing
original titleA Likely Story
ASINB00QH3RJOE
edition languageEnglish

Stranded AnthologySTRANDED-Jayscoverdesigns-preview

The boys in this collection of short stories have most definitely been left STRANDED!

They’ve been shipwrecked and abandoned. Marooned and cast away.And left helpless and high and dry.

But you should never underestimate the tenacity of the human heart…

STORIES INCLUDED:

Craving Stains by Alina Popescu
Say Cheese by Michael P. Thomas
Standby by Kim Fielding
The Raider by Asta Idonea
The Buckle by Rob Colton
Ari by Nephylim
Opposites Attract by Lily G. Blunt
Out of Order by Eric Gober
Dating for Deafies by Nikka Michaels
One Snowy Night by Louise Lyons
The Climb by kirifox
Did You Leave Any For Me by Sarah Hayes
Sweetness and Strength by J.N. Olsen

Awaken to the Night coverAwaken To the Night by Nicki J. Markus

Genre(s):
Predominantly paranormal and fantasy for M/F, but I also write some contemporary and historical pieces in M/M.

 

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Nicki J Markus) is an PDF copy of one of my previously published paranormal/horror short stories: Awaken to the Night. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt word/phrase highlighted in green. Collect all the words/phrases from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

******************************************Author Qand A

• When did you start writing?
I guess you could say I started writing properly, with a view to actually publishing, in 2011. Prior to that, I wrote for my own pleasure and penned a number of fan fics centred on films and television series such as Van Helsing, Red Dwarf, Alias etc.

• Were you a reader as a child?
Absolutely! My mother has a favourite story of how she would ask my younger sister and I want we wanted to do when she had time to play with us. My sister would invariably call for the Barbie dolls, whereas I would always ask to read a book. And that love of reading has stayed with me all my life. By the time I reached my teens, I swapped from modern writers to the classics and devoured Jane Austen, Dickens, Dostoevsky… and then since my twenties I tend to read a mix of classics and new works. I’m not a fan of chick lit or true crime, but otherwise I read from most genres, with a particular focus on literary fiction and paranormal/fantasy.

• Where do you draw inspiration from?
Often from other sources, be it book, film, or theatre. My current work-in-progress is a fantasy trilogy based around Norse mythology. I have a great love of mythology in general and the Norse tales in particular. I had been rereading them this year and they became the stepping stone that led me to imagine the characters and storyline of this series. Obviously things happening in my own life can also play a part, and this fantasy trilogy is no exception—this story has more personal meaning for me than any of my previous works. Quite often an idea takes root in my mind because I’ve watched or read something, and then I’ve begun to wonder what would happen if things in that story were changed or approached from a different angle. That gives you the springboard and a plot and characters grow from there.

• Favourite genres to write in and why?
The majority of my work is paranormal/fantasy. It’s a genre I love to both write and read because of its escapism. Vampires are my favourite supernatural creature, so I always enjoy writing them. I have a great fear of death and growing old, so for me vampirism is the ultimate aspiration! 🙂 I love how in these genres you can explore deep issues under the guise of an amazingly different world full of danger and excitement.

• Title or characters or plot? Which comes first?
Honestly, it depends. With my fantasy trilogy it went characters-plot-title, but with an M/M short story I have just submitted for an anthology call, it was plot-title-characters. It can vary depending on where the initial idea came from. Perhaps I fell in love with a character in a book and wanted to do my own take on something similar; or maybe I was inspired by the plot of a film and had an idea for adapting it into something new.

• Do you have a favourite character that you have written?
Oh yes! Again, from my fantasy trilogy. The trick here is not to reveal too much because his real identity is a secret until partway through Book One. Let’s just say, he’s an anti-hero. He’s mischievous, and a bit of a bad boy, but deep down he cares deeply and is trying to do the right thing, battling his inner demons. I can understand my heroine being in love with him—I’m head over heels for him myself.

• Favourite book/story you have read as an adult
Oh, wow, that’s tough because there are so, so many. In classics, firm favourites are Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and Eugene Onegin by Pushkin (I can read those again and again and love them just as much each time). In more modern works, any of the Saint Germain books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (so well-written, and a compelling hero), anything by Murakami, and then there are recent books I’ve adored such as Joanne M. Harris’ Gospel of Loki or the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. There are the books you love all your life, and then there are those that really speak to you and mean a lot in the moment you read them because of your personal situation at the time, but perhaps when you go back to them later they don’t have the same impact a second time. To pick just one… sorry, I just can’t do it!

• Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?
Yes and no. I don’t have a set time of day to write—I simply write when I have the freedom to do so—but I do like a particular environment: I prefer to be home alone, sat in my study, and have complete quiet. Usually I love music; just not when I’m writing.

• Do you have a specific writing style?
Not especially. I tend to write in third person, but I have been known to stray into first person from time to time when it feels right for the story. I like descriptive and varied language-use and vocabulary too. I don’t approve of the way some people these days believe language and grammar usage has to be dumbed-down for e-book readers—I really don’t think they are any less intelligent than print readers.

• What’s the hardest part of writing your books?
Letting go! I work as a freelance editor and proof-reader and I find it hard to leave my own prose alone at times. If I wasn’t strict with myself, I’d keep on tweaking sentences forever and nothing would ever get submitted or published.

• If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer over the last 3-4 years. My first published longer work was a novella called Day-Walker, and although it got decent reviews, looking back now there is a lot I would change. The rights to that work returned to me last year when the publisher it was contracted to closed, and I am giving serious thought to reworking it into a full-length novel because I truly feel I could do more with it now than when I first wrote it. Watch this space!

• If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor/has the biggest influence on you?
I would say Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a big influence, because I so admire her prose and the way she can describe characters and scenes. She’s certainly who I aspire to be like one day.

• What book are you reading now?
At present, I am reading The Idiot by Dostoevsky and a book on learning to read and write Old Norse.

• What is your favourite AUS/NZ stories and favourite Australian/New Zealand movies?
The first Australian film that struck a chord with me was Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I still love that movie today—it’s both very funny and yet incredibly poignant. More recent, I was very impressed with The Little Death. In terms of Australian writers, I admire Peter Carey and Tim Winton, and I loved the recent novel Burial Rites from new Australian author, Hannah Kent.

• What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
Here in South Australia, it would be the Barossa Valley. It’s a lovely day out to just mooch around the wineries and enjoy the local food and wine. My husband and I got married at a winery there too, so it has added importance for us because of that.
Going back to my old ‘own country’, I always loved wandering the West End in London. It’s great to live here in Australia, but I do miss London at times—I was always happy there amidst theatre and bookstores.

• What are your current projects?
Well, my fantasy trilogy is just undergoing final edits. I started off looking for a publisher, but then decided to self-publish this one. It’s my first time going that route, so a bit of a learning curve, but I hope to release the three books in a one volume omnibus edition in a few months’ time. Keep an eye on my blog and social media for news on that! Afterwards, I hope to rework and rerelease my previous two novellas, Day-Walker and Time-Keepers. Meanwhile, with my M/M writing, I have submitted two more short stories for anthology calls, and if my works are accepted, they will be published in March and June respectively. After that, I may extend one of them into a follow-up novella as I still feel I have more to say about those characters and their story.

Down Under Showcase Day 2:Nicki J. Markus, AUS/NZ Fun Facts and Contest Details

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Day Two of STRW Down Under Showcase. Our author of the day is Nicki J. Markus, make sure to visit her author page.  Discover her books, find the Scavenger Hunt word of the day and don’t forget to enter her contest/giveway.  Now here are the Australia and New Zealand Fun Facts of the Day:

 

Australia:

Biggest State in Australia (you knew they had states, right?)Western Australia map

Western Australia is the biggest Australian state and covers one third of the continent. Its total area is over 2.5 million square kilometres. That makes it 3.6 times bigger than Texas, 4.6 times bigger than France and 11 times bigger than the UK. It’s an interesting fact that, despite its large size, Western Australia is home to only around two million people.

Which Down Under Authors have  books that take place in Western Australia?

 

New Zealand:

tasmansNew Zealand was first discovered by Europeans in 1642 when Dutch sailor Abel Tasman arrived. He left New Zealand after several of his crew were killed by Maoris, and it was not until 1769 that English Captain James Cook arrived and mapped the land.

Tasman and Tasmania?  Hmmmm….do you know what the connection is?

 

 

 

Contests:

1.  Nicki J. Markus’ Giveaway -see Rafflecopter Link

2.  Scavenger Hunt continues-search for the green bold word or phrase to collect.

3.  Bottom Drawer  Publications Contest – BDP BADGE 1

Bottom Drawer Publications will provide a $20 gift voucher to spend in our shop and a copy of each of the e-books from our participating authors:

Mythica – L. J. LaBarthe
Cutting Out – Meredith Shayne
Second Chances Anthology – contains 2 stories contributed by Lisa Harris (Heart of Glass) and Bette Browne (Dirty Martini)

enter here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Now onto today’s Down Under Author Nicki J. Markus!