A Stella Review: Ryan’s Wizard (Paws and Magic #2) by Beany Sparks

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

ryanswizard-finalAfter years of no contact, Oliver “Olly” Grey was finally able to reunite with his cousin Aiden. He’s surprised to find that Aiden now has a mate—a male, shifter mate—named Lex. And it’s Lex’s pack mates that Olly is there to help save. What he hadn’t expected was Lex’s brother Ryan. Ryan Shepherd was happy to have found his brother Lex, and even happier to know that his brother was happily mated. But there is something about Aiden’s cousin Olly that Ryan doesn’t trust, especially when he also smells like the man currently holding his pack members captive. Yet that doesn’t stop Ryan from wanting to hold and comfort the man, and eventually he realizes why—Olly is his mate. Now the four of them need to plan a rescue mission, but what happens when they run into the two men that had held Lex captive and those same men come to the cabin in the middle of the night?

Ryan’s Wizard is the second book in Beany Sparks’ Paws and Magic series. This was one of the few times I started reading a series not in order. I jumped on the second one and I can say it wasn’t hard to follow the story. Still, I suggest you start on Aiden’s Shepherd, it can help you understand better the series, cause Beany created a really great paranormal world with shifters (first time I read about dog shifters), wizards and a funny Granny ghost.

I’m really curious about Lex and Aiden’s story, they’ve got a huge part in this book and I found them very likeable, in particular I loved how Aiden was protective versus his cousin, Olly. It was understandable. Olly had a really shitty past; after years dealing with abuses from his father and brother, he could finally be free and try to build a life with people who love him no matter what. He was still scared of everything and his first meeting with Ryan wasn’t easy, for Ryan too, who saw in Olly the enemy, the one who kidnapped some of his pack members and selling them as guard dogs. They both had a lot going on in their life and I appreciated the author gave depth to these characters.

I think the first part of the book dragged a little. Once Ryan realized he found his mate in Olly and the four of them starts to organized the rescue of all the shifters kidnapped, the story became more interesting. While Olly and Aiden began to working on improve their powers, Ryan and Olly needed to know how to be in a relationship.

It was an enjoyable reading with some new elements that I liked a lot, but I’d have preferred a longer version of the book, maybe just a couple more of chapters at the end. I trust to know more about these characters in the next book. I hope it will be about the fox shifter, he deserves it.

Cover designed by Latrisha Waters: I like it cause it fit the story and I totally can see Ryan and Olly in the cover models.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Press    All Romance (ARe)       Amazon            Buy it here

Book details:

Published November 1st 2014 by Extasy Books
ebook, 119 pages
ISBN 978-1-4874-0106-1
edition languageEnglish

Paws and Magic Series:
Aiden’s Shepherd
Ryan’s Wizard

Extasy books

A Sammy Review: Leather+Lace (Opposites Attract #2) by A.B. Gayle

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

“In the stillness of remembering what you had and what you lost.”

Leather & Lace coverWhen Steve first meets Don, it’s under not-so-great circumstances. Don’s an arrogant Master, Steve is performing as Stevie and giving blow jobs to raise funds, and together they’re everything each other is trying to avoid.

But there’s a common, tragic thread tying them together, and despite Steve’s fear to fall into the trap he fought so hard to be free of, he’s drawn to Don, and Don to him.

These two apparent opposites can’t help but be attracted to each other.

People can cut in front of you in life too. Prevent you from being who you are meant to be.

So here’s the thing…

I don’t mind BDSM books, but it’s not something I seek out. If it’s too heavy, I tuck tail and avoid it at all costs. But, having read the previous book in the series, I was intrigued and gave this book a shot, and I’m glad that I did.

This book is about a whole lot more than just BDSM. It is about love and loss, pain and struggle, and the delicate balance between freedom and captivity. A.B. Gayle does a beautiful job of showing the art behind M/s relationships and how easy it is to abuse that, and in turn, how the outcome can be truly costly.

The issues that this book deals with are oftentimes not light or fun, but I was sucked right in and simply devoured the book. I’d actually enjoy hearing more about Rob, as he really interested me (or even Kieran. Ooh, now there’s a pair). Additionally, I would’ve liked to see more of Steve’s sister, as I felt she was a really pivotal person in his life, and yet her actual presence was a mere few pages.

Overall, this was a really great read that kept me interested from the very first page to the last.

Anne Cain did a great job on this cover. It captures Steve as a whole, and not just one part of him, and I certainly appreciate that.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback    All Romance (ARe)   Amazon     Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 304 pages
Published March 22nd 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 21st 2013)
ISBN 1623804191 (ISBN13: 9781623804190)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3658
seriesOpposites Attract #2

A Sammy Review: Red+Blue (Opposites Attract #1) by A.B. Gayle

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Rating:(3.75 stars rounded up to) 4 stars out of 5

Red & Blue coverRed+Blue is a novel of opposites. Ben is a young man, trying to spread his wings and find his way in San Francisco. From all accounts, he’s never really been in love, and he’s not afraid to go spend a night out on the town. Adrian, on the other hand, is older and established. He’s also Ben’s boss. He has had and lost love in one of the worst ways possible. Between society and family, Adrian’s deep in the closet, with no plans of even letting that door crack open.

The environment of this was perfect. I have some experience with financial types with my own work, and the set up felt of the office just felt so fantastic. One thing is for sure, this is that taboo boss/employee romance done right.

I also enjoyed the outline of the book. It’s split up in three parts, with the first being Red (Ben’s), the second Blue (Adrian’s), and the third a combination. It was unusual but really fitting. At first, when I got to the second part, I thought we were going to rehash everything in Red’s section all over again but from Adrian’s perspective, but it wasn’t like that (thank goodness). Parts were glossed over again, but it really more focused on Adrian in that same time period instead of every same interaction again from the different POV. It also came together really smoothly in the third section. There was no awkward breaking between these perspectives, making for a better read.

Unfortunately, I fear this book may have suffered from the “two day syndrome” that so ails me. A lot of the more emotional aspects were in the later part of section three, which I came back to on the second day. If I had the emotional connection with them, I had lost it by that point. Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of how their first actual sexual interaction happened. It lacked that spark of intensity for me, the surprise.

The writing was excellent, though, and the story good. All around an enjoyable read.

The cover art, done by Anne Cain is nice and simple. I think it does a nice job of showing the contrast between the characters, and of course, it features red and blue.

—-A.B. Gayle is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Down Under Authors for January

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)    Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Published May 25th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press (first published 2012)
ISBN139781613725214
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2952
seriesOpposites Attract #1

Down Under Showcase Author – A.B. Gayle

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 STRW down Under Banner sm Hearts

Meet A.B. Gayle!

A.B. Gayle is the author of  Caught and Leather & Lace and others listed below.

To get to know A.B. Gayle a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

Unlike many authors, I haven’t been writing stories all my life. Instead I’ve been living life.

My travels have taken me from the fjords of Norway to the southern tip of New Zealand. In between, I’ve worked (and am still working) in so many different towns I’ve lost count. I’ve shoveled shit in cow yards, mustered sheep, been polite to customers, and traded insults with politicians.

Bored with traditional romances, I discovered M/M romance, where the story is about life and all its complexities, not just the ring, the wedding, and the babies. It’s also about people who until now were if not ignored then downright victimised. Writing about gay men finding love and happiness hopefully will help make that concept the norm and celebrated by everyone.

Author Contacts

You can contact/follow A.B. Gayle at:

Website: http://www.abgayle.com
Blog: http://www.abgayle.com/my-blog—reviews–interviews
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abgayle.writer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/abgaylewriter
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/abgaylewriter/
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3394874.A_B_Gayle
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115721863331777496940/posts

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Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Caught

Red & Blue cover

Leather & Lace coverBlokes IN Love Anthology cover

 

 

 

 

 

M/M Romance published by Dreamspinner Press:

“Caught”
Red+Blue”(Opposites Attract #1) and the Italian translation “Rosso e Grigio”
Leather+Lace”(Opposites Attract #2)

“Isolation” by Totally Bound (m/f)

Genre(s):
MM romance
Contemporary Romance
Leather+Lace” is about BDSM but I wouldn’t describe it as BDSM
“Isolation” is futuristic scifi – m/f

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, A.B. Gayle) is an eBook copy the reader’s choice of anything from my backlist mentioned above. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . Collect all the words 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.

Hint: Add a point if you know which well known singer is the drag persona of Steve from Leather+Lace!

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

Q. When did you start writing?

Back in 2009 when I attended an Australian Romance Reader’s conference and discovered writers were just ordinary people like myself. I figured if they could write down the videos playing in their head, so could I. My first book was a traditional sci-fi romance (m/f)

Q. Were you a reader as a child?

Yes. Obsessively so. I remember an aunt giving me “The Incredible Journey” when I was 7 and not believing I had finished it when I gave it back an hour later. She quizzed me on it. I read in class under the desk. In bed under the sheets by the light of a torch. I hate to admit that I had a distinct aversion to “good” books and read my elder sisters’ adult level books when they weren’t looking. And I read every mystery/spy thriller that I could find.

Q. What books as a child has the most impact on you?

“Lord of the Rings”. I skipped some of the long boring sections about lore. The Australian release date was always a few months after the rest of the world, so I was desperate for my friend (who had been sent them by her family in the UK) to finish each one so I could read it. Then Georgette Heyer as I grew older.

Q. Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?

Probably, from Tolkien I learned not to include too much backstory! And Heyer has the best secondary characters, plus sparkling dialogue. But I didn’t really think about the craft of writing until I went to the ARRA conference. This was also around the time the eBook revolution began, so I discovered writers whose books had never made it to Australia (or only to libraries with savvy librarians) Regency romances by people like Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, sci-fi by people like Linnea Sinclair. I followed her blogs and did a few writing courses with her. She’s great. I learnt a lot about pacing, conflict and characterisation. I’m still learning though. I envy all these writers who have been writing forever and the words just seem to flow.

Q. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Everywhere. People. Situations. As said in my bio, I’ve been lucky to travel and I am a watcher. I see something or someone and say to myself: Why did they do or say that? (Why was my first word) and that leads to the rest.

Q. Favorite genres to write in and why?

MM obviously. I like contemporary as there are so many issues I like to explore in my writing. I try to have a theme for each book. A reason for writing it. And include settings or professions or ideas that are different from the norm. Actuarians, canoeing, BDSM gone wrong, the global financial crisis.

Q. Title or characters or plot? Which comes first?

Plot usually. Character names are often last and who they are tends to change as they progress through the plot. I know this is arse about. Most writers start with fully formed characters. I often have to go back and change something early on because I realize I didn’t really know the character well enough. Probably this is why I am not a prolific writer.

Q. Do you have a favorite character that you have written?

Like a good mother, I can safely say that I love them all equally. Even the ones in my head in the half plotted books that may one day get finished.

Q. Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?

It’s actually from a novella that’s gone out of contract. I should extend it and resubmit it elsewhere for publication

It’s the groups that can’t accept diversity that hate and fear us the most. They should celebrate diversity, not just accept it.” ― A.B. Gayle, Mardi Gras

Q. Favorite book/story you have read as an adult?

I’m a fickle child. I’ve just found a new favourite author, John Wiltshire, and I think his latest book “This Other Country” is fabulous. Judging it both as a reader and as a writer.

Q. Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

No, I should. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t published anything new for ages! With my current workload, when I don’t know where I’ll be from one week to the next, I’m loath to start, because I need to know I will have an uninterrupted few weeks before I start.

Q. What inspired you to write your first book?

My kids spending all their time behind closed doors in their bedrooms, playing computer games. Outsiders saw them as isolated, but they were actually interacting with people all over the globe. I used that premise in my sci-fi aptly entitled “Isolation”.

Q. Do you have a specific writing style?

Providing too much information? I have it on good authority that all my characters sound like fifty year old English professors. 😦 So I need to actively edit the books when I finish to better reflect their characters. Maybe I should write a series of books, starring a fifty year old English professor who lives in Australia now (because I always get into trouble from beta readers for including Aussie slang). Maybe I could just make him South Australian. They talk weird down there!

Q. What’s the hardest part of writing your books?

Starting and Finishing them!

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?

Yes! Heaps. I should have shown more scenes that I only told and ensure there was more quality time between the two main characters. Hardly anyone has bought and read it, which is probably a good thing.

Q. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor or has the biggest influence on you?

Linnea Sinclair and Josh Lanyon without a doubt. I paid the latter to critique Red+Blue (and Mardi Gras) and the critique ended up being a quasi writing course. As I said before, Linnea’s courses also helped me in the very early stages. I think we can always improve and I need different guidance now.

Q. What book are you reading now?

I’m re-reading the “More Heat from the Sun” series by John Wiltshire. I’m a speed reader so I galloped through them. Now I’m going back and appreciating the way he has threaded the emotional arc through the whole series. Phrases, incidents happen in the early books that don’t really bear fruit until later.

Q. How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

I think we are more aware of factors like isolation. The universe doesn’t revolve around us and I think our characters reflect that. We are perhaps more self-deprecating than we should be and we also offer more humour than many readers expect. Most Aussies have a good sense of the ridiculous and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Q. My first impression of AUS/NZ was from stories and novels like Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds or Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice as well as from movies like The Man from Snowy River, The Dish, Rabbit Proof Fence, Strictly Ballroom, and yes, Crocodile Dundee! There are so many out there. What is your favorite AUS/NZ stories and favorite Australian/New Zealand movies?

I think we have some of the best MM writers. N.R. Walker, Lisa Henry, Isabelle Rowan, John Wiltshire (although he’s really a ring-in), Barry Lowe etc etc. I was never a Thorn Birds fan, but the other movies I love. Also check out Priscilla Queen of the Desert (gay classic), Muriel’s Wedding, The Sapphires, Mad Max, Babe, Paperback Hero and Red Dog is possibly my favourite. We have some brilliant directors down here and the actors…. Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth….. hmmmm

Q. If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?

Everywhere. My job is currently taking me all over the place. Remote rural communities. Beachside holiday destinations. But for things that are special, the beaches first and foremost.

I’ve travelled extensively overseas, and I have yet to see a coastline that is the equal. Not just the things like Bondi Beach, but Noosa Headland, even the tiny town of Robe in South Australia (pictured below)robe. The Ocean Road in coolahVictoria (mentioned in “Leather+Lace”) is spectacular, Sydney Harbour is beautiful, The Barrier Reef is a must see. As is Uluhru. But I love the little towns that I often end up working in. But you have to stay there for a while to appreciate them. Dry, dusty open spaces have a different type of beauty. Robe

Q. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country?

This is the view from a ten minute from my front door. The Georges River in southern Sydneyanthill
And what makes it so special to you? The park is a lovely remnant of natural bush and I can walk through it and pretend I’m miles away from the city.

Q. What are your current projects?

“Give+Take” the sequel to “Red+Blue”. “Bound” the sequel to “Caught” to make a novel length book, “Caught+Bound”. Extending my out-of-print “Mardi Gras” and renaming it “Pride+Prejudices” A novel of town and country called “Home+Away” and a thriller “Truth+Lies” All have been plotted to varying degrees, it’s just a question of allowing the muse out.

Q What’s next up for you?

Until my work situation changes, I’m concentrating on my in-depth author interviews. http://www.abgayle.com/interviews.html

I think you’ve probably heard enough from me. Thanks so much for giving us a chance to be seen and heard. Travel to the UK and Europe takes so long and is so expensive that most readers will never venture this far. Please let us know if you are coming. We have a very active group of authors and readers spread right across the country, who are always looking for an excuse to get together, even if it’s only for a cup of coffee and a chat. If we do get overseas and you see one of us at a convention or conference, please come up and say hello. We don’t bite even if our spiders and snakes do. Look out for me at the 2015 UK LGBT meet in Bristol in September.

Down Under Showcase Day 14: Author A. B. Gayle

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DownUnder_badge

Welcome, A. B. Gayle!

It’s Day 14 of STRW Down Under Author Showcase.  Today’s featured writer is A.B. Gayle from southern New Zealand.  Welcome, A.B.!    We have a wonderful interview with A.B. Gayle, complete with some pictures of her favorite places, discover this author through her books and bio!  Don’t forget to enter Gayle’s giveaway contest and search out the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word of the day!

 

Now on to our Facts of the Day for New Zealand and Australia!  It only seems right that we add in some mythology and legend in our New Zealand and Australian facts of the day:

New Zealand Fact of the Day:kiwi and NZ country

The Legend of New Zealand: Legend has it that New Zealand was fished from the sea by the daring demigod Maui. Now Maui was no ordinary man.  Maui is the gifted, clever demigod of Polynesian mythology responsible for fishing up the North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand.waka-at-waitangi

After a miraculous birth and upbringing Maui won the affection of his supernatural parents, taught useful arts to mankind, snared the sun and tamed fire. But one of his most famous feats was fishing up the North Island.

Despising him, Maui’s four brothers conspired to leave him behind when they went out fishing. Overhearing their plans, Maui secretly made a fishhook from a magical ancestral jawbone. Then one night he crept into his brothers’ canoe and hid under the floorboards.

It wasn’t until the brothers were far out of sight of land and had filled the bottom of their canoe with fish that Maui revealed himself. Then he took out his magic fishhook and threw it over the side of the canoe, chanting powerful incantations as he did so.

The hook went deeper and deeper into the sea until Maui felt the hook had touched something. He tugged gently and far below the hook caught fast. It was a huge fish! Together with his brothers, Maui brought the fish to the surface.

Maui cautioned his brothers to wait until he had appeased Tangaroa the god of the sea before they cut into the fish. They grew tired of waiting and began to carve out pieces for themselves. These are now the many valleys, mountains, lakes and rocky coastlines of the North Island.

To this day the North Island is known to Maori as Te Ika a Maui or Maui’s fish. Take a look at a map of New Zealand to see the fish’s head in the south and its tail in the north. The South Island is also known as Te Waka a Maui or Maui’s canoe, and Stewart Island or Rakiura is known as Te Punga a Maui or Mau’s anchor stone.  For more information about New Zealand, visit here!

[Interesting side note:  This legend is extremely similar, for obvious reasons, to the legend of Hawaii and Samoa]

Australia Fact of the Day:AUS flag over country

Dreamtime. The Aborigines believe that the world began during a mythical period called Dreamtime, or The Dreaming. During this time, ancestral beings that slept beneath the ground emerged from the earth. They created the landscape, made people, established the laws by which people lived, and taught them how to survive. After the ancestral beings’ work was done, they returned underground.

The Aborigines actively recall the events of Dreamtime. By participating in certain rituals, individuals can reenact the journeys of their ancestors.

Read more about Australian aboriginal mythology here!

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Nourlangie Rock in the Northern Territory of Australia