A MelanieM Review: Winging It by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Winging ItGabriel “Banksy” Martin is living the life he has always wanted.  A forward for the young hockey team, the Quebec City Nordiques, Gabe stays focused on his job and his team leaving him little time for anything else.  And that includes the so so boyfriend he’s been seeing on the sly.  Because nothing in his life says that Gabe wants to be the first out hockey player. What Gabe wants is a great season and to win the Stanley Cup…nothing more.

Teammate Dante Baltierra is young in almost every respect.  Dante, aka Baller, is careless, reckless… shameless. He’s a known horn dog with a penchant for women and partying.  But no one questions his dedication to the sport and Gabe can overlook a lot of young-and-stupid in the name of great hockey. Plus Dante has a superlative ass in a sport filled with superlative asses.

Gabe is determined to keep the attraction he feels building towards Dante buried deep but a jilted boyfriend and fate have other ideas.  When a tabloid expose’ threatens not only Gabe’s career but the stability of the team, what happens in the aftermath is something Gabe never expected or could have hoped for…a love that just might last a lifetime.

The writing team of Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James  has produced quite a few favorite stories of mine in the past.  But it has been a while since I have read any of their novels and the reason escapes me because Winging It is a prime example why I adored their books to begin with.  It’s simply terrific storytelling.

I love plots involving hockey players!  I love the game (Caps fan here)! And I love the physique that years of playing hockey leaves these players with, heavily muscled legs and the well known “hockey ass”.  Combine all that with romance and a fast played exciting game on ice, and well, I just melt.  In Winging It, Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James deliver on all fronts.

Winging It is a superb look at the dynamics of a group of young players still trying to find itself as a team and play well.  The Quebec City Nordiques actually existed once (and Kane hopes they will again).  The Dekes stand out among all the other teams for a number of reasons.  Their amazing coach?  A woman.  Their owner?  A woman.  Their formidable PR person?  A woman.   Kane and James brings this team vividly to life and no part of the organization is overlooked or made to feel less important to the plot and the team.  I thought all the characters were just so well conceived and fleshed out that I was totally bought into the team and its run for the Stanley Cup.

The characters of Gabe “Banksy” Martin and Dante “Baller” Baltierra  feel as real to me as the snow I see just outside my window.  Boisterous, lively, intelligent and focused on the game,  they never come across as anything less than authentic hockey players having the time of their lives.  The authors are careful to include the long hours, the pain and muscle spasms, along with houses and condos that rarely see their owners because of the demands of the sport.  We get the camaraderie that’s so important to helping a team gel as well as the conflict that can tear it apart.   I mean really you can almost smell the stink of the locker room after a hard game, the descriptions are so on point.

And the romance, if you can call it that, so well done and believable.  It did feel more like a hockey player’s idea of a romance and that’s fine by me.  Because even the romance has so many aspects to it.  It’s not just Gabe being out…it’s Baller looking at his sexuality.  It’s not just what exposure means on a huge scale but what it means to have a ‘first meaningful” relationship at all.  It’s watching these two navigate typical first love and relationship “stuff”, along with team and family dynamics. All while playing the season of a lifetime. Talk about sizzle!

Kane and Morgan set the bar high for themselves here and made it look easy.  The narrative flows, the scenes are exciting and full of suspense, and the outcome for Gabe and Dante’s relationship and every game they play is always in question.  We are never sure of anything in this story just as there are no sureties in the sport.  Teams and teammates don’t remain the same, injuries happen, and sometimes a team just can’t catch a break.  It’s all there, gripping and full of drama and excitement.  Trust me when I say your attention is engaged from start to finish, along with your heart!  Take all the elements at play here, the crowds, the teamwork, the plays, and the opposition and media, throw in romance and love.  Stir vigorously and out flows Winging It, one of my highly recommended reads.

Oh, and be sure to read the forward and afterword by the authors.  Its highlight is Kane’s introduction to the game of hockey and a wonderful summary of the teams now playing.  I loved that too.  Go, Caps!  Rock the Red!  And may the Nordiques come back, if not an actual team once more, then at least in another story by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James.  Pretty please?  With hockey pucks?

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  People either love or dislike this type of rough cover. I thought it worked in the sort of stylized way because Im not sure any model could have “stood in” for Gabe or Dante (or their bodies).  For examples, check out the Tumblr blog “Hockey Asses”. You’ll thank me.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 300 pages
Expected publication: February 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632166173
edition languageEnglish
url http://ashlynkane.blogspot.com

In Our Book Spotlight: Best Chance (More Than Friends #6) by Aria Grace

Standard

STRW In The Spotlight Header

BCBanner300x250

Best Chance (More Than Friends # 6) by Aria Grace
Release Date: February 28, 2015
Goodreads Link

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Author Aria Grace Bio:

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Aria enjoys the year round sunshine and laid back environment of the west coast. She lives with her husband and two children on a quiet hill that gives her lots of time to read and write. Her first series was a semi-traditional look at sexy gigs found online. She has now ventured into the exciting M/M world of gay erotica. She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to drop her a note or visit her at http://www.ariagracebooks.com.

Where to find the author:

Facebook
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: @ariagracebooks
Pinterest

 

BCBannerTemplate

Publisher: Surrendered Press
Cover Artist: Kris Kendall

Sales Links:  Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

BC_400

About Best Chance…

Vinnie is happy as a bartender at Ray’s and not looking for anything serious to complicate his life. He has great friends and a simple life. When Chance comes into his bar, he brings more than just memories of the summer they spent together in high school. The widower has a fifteen month old son that could change everything for Vinnie, if he’s willing to take the chance.

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

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

 

“It’s not exactly the penthouse, but it’s home.” I reach back for Chance’s wrist and tug him in behind me.

“I didn’t come here for the amenities,” he says, resting his hand on my hip and squeezing.

“No?” I turn so his arm is wrapped around my waist. “What did you come for?”

My face is inches from his. His warm breath washes over me as I stare into those desperate eyes.

“This.” Chance’s eyes drop to my mouth as his head tilts and he leans into me. As soon as his full lips close over mine, I want to sing. I instinctively open my mouth to accept his tongue as it lightly brushes over mine. We aren’t tentative kids anymore. We’ve both had time to perfect our techniques over the years so by the time I drag Chance into my room, I’ve touched every space in his mouth that I can reach.

Our hands aren’t left idle as we tug on clothes and pull down zippers until we’re both naked and panting on my bed.

“God, I’ve missed you, Vin,” Chance says against my chest as he drops kisses on my skin.

Pages or Words: 30,000 words

Tour Dates: February 28, 2015

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie, Cate Ashwood, 3 Chicks After Dark, Amanda C. Stone, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews, Lee Brazil, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Hearts on Fire, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Andrew Q. Gordon, My Fiction Nook, BFD Book Blog, Up All Night, Read All Day, Gaylist Book Reviews, Carly’s Book Reviews, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Divine Magazine, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Foxylutely Book Reviews, The Hat Party, Because Two Men Are Better Than One 

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: signed paperback of Best Chance and $25 gift card to Amazon or iTunes. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Stella Review: The Errant Prince by Sasha L. Miller

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The Errant Prince coverMyron’s task is easy enough on the surface: locate the runaway Prince Tamsen and bring him home. But Tamsen is not merely a talented wizard, he’s an exceptionally stubborn one, and dozens of others have already failed at the task. When he manages to find the cabin where Tamsen is hiding, Myron isn’t foolish enough to mistake the find for a victory.

 Instead of attempting to drag the prince home by force, Myron tries a different tact: patience. He might not be able to best Tamsen magically or physically, but Myron can certainly out-stubborn him. He’s nothing if not used to doing what other people say he can’t.

But neither prince nor soldier expected stubbornness to be the crack in armor they’ve both become adept at wearing…

Lately I’m reading a lot of quick and sweet fantasy stories and The Errant Prince by Sasha L. Miller  is one of them, a cute novella with a really slow burn between MCs and no sex scenes.

Myron is a soldier of the King’s Guard, sent after the spoiled Prince who ran away from his duties seven years ago. When he is finally able to track him down he finds a beautiful man with bright red-orange braided hair and who lives selling the herbs and the vegetables he grows in his garden. Runaway Prince Tamsen in fact lives alone in an old cottage in the Heart Forest. He was able to stay hidden all this time cause he is a very strong wizard. While everyone failed, Myron is determined to find a way to approach the Prince and take him back to the palace. He just needs to be patient and wait for the stubborn Prince with no manners at all.

Basically the book consist of two parts: “The Improper Soldier” told by Myron’s POV and “The Errant Prince”, told by Tamsen POV. The first part was really good, it was lovely to see Myron try to make bundle of herbs and drinking nasty tea just to approach Tamsen and show he can trust Myron. It was funny reading about them arguing, Tamsen scowling and Myron grinning and provoking him.

In the second part of the book, when they are at the palace, I found myself bored as some scenes felt too long, too slow and with almost too many details, for example when Tamsen teaches Myron how to shift. At the same time I loved this second part cause it helps me to see a new Tamsen, more open with his (not yet) personal guard and not the unpleasant young man we met at the start of the story. Here we read about a few second characters, some likeable like Tamsen’s brother, Stirling, the current King, some to just hate, like the stupid parents of Myron, who decided to don’t love their daughter (Myron) anymore just cause he can’t feel himself as a daughter anymore but as a son.

The Errant Prince is really interesting and the final part so sweet, for me this story was definitely a winner. As always I’d like to read more about these characters and their magical world.

Cover art by Natasha Snow. This cover is perfect, sweet and magical as the book, I can see myself in front of cottage. Lovely!

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press      All Romance (ARe)       Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: February 18th 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleThe Errant Prince
ISBN139781620045091
edition languageEnglish

 

 

A MelanieM Review: Quinn’s Gambit by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn

Link

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

An unregistered, human con wizard and a duty-bound, straightlaced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.

Quinn's Gambit coverAfter a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities—all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world.  From selkies to trolls, elves to Sasquatches, all the magical creatures needed help because their was no returning them to their world or families.  These magical events are called RARE—Random Anomalous Reality Events. And they have made magic now a reality, pulling it out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality.

The result was a great deal of chaos, pain, anger, and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA—the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation—to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.

Quinten is a young human just trying to get by. But Quintan has a background awash in pain and betrayal and isn’t about to put his trust in any establishment, an attitude that makes New York City a difficult place to make a living. A bit of a con with a fluid moraltiy, still Quinten has a good heart if also one that’s kept under lock and key.

 Living by his wits and sometimes magically-induced luck, he works as a ‘free-lance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small time con—according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help.  And that means an introduction to Val and the  very agency Quinten has been trying to avoid.

But darker events are looming over all mage users and its’ up to Val, Quinten and a small group of friends (or almost friends) to stop the evil existing in their midsts.

Already a huge fan of Angel Martinez and her fantasy worlds, now I’m going to add Bellora Quinn to my list!  Quinn’s Gambit, the first in a new Aura series, pulled me in by the first paragraph and kept me enthralled until the very last word.  All of the characters the reader will meet inside Quinn’s Gambit are so beautifully realized!  It really doesn’t matter who the character it, whether its Val, the elf prince,  Kai, a drow and IT specialist and his lover Tensin a Yeti, or Sin aka Sinistrus a unlucky succubus who prefers men instead of the females he needs to feed on. One after another, a whole cast of bewitching characters appear to capture your heart and make you care about the tumultuous situation and universe they find themselves in.

The authors leave the origin of the blast and the experiment performed somewhat murky.  All we know is that now holes in the fabric of the universe is allowing beings from other levels or plains of existence to fall through, permanently, into this one.  Just from the mention of a selkie who committed suicide when she fell shockingly to ground in a desert in southwestern United States, and the reader gets it.  These poor beings have been ripped without warning from their worlds and loved ones, and the authors make us feel their continued pain and confusion.  Valerian lives with the constant pain of loss and we hurt for him because the cost to him and the others falls within the spectrum of loss we can well imagine.

Quinten is another special character.  His background is slowly revealed to all in the story and once known, explains his living and working circumstances as well as the wall he has created around his heart.  I think there is still so much more to be divulged about Quinn.  There is an enormity to him and his powers that the authors are just starting to explore.  Quinn is a puzzle and we still don’t have all the pieces to this compelling young man when we reach the end of this story.   I can’t wait to see what else will come.

Quinn’s Gambit contains several mysteries, a ton of heartbreaking dramas, and, of course, a romance to begin and solidify between Quinn and Val.  The writing is tight, the imaginative elements splendid and engrossing, and the heat that occurs between Quinn and Val so hot and sexy its almost combustible.   The only place that I wanted more was the ending.  I wanted it to be fuller, longer, and with more exposition to the scenes there.  Yes, I wanted the  “cherry on the top, with sprinkles”!  Lucky for us all, Quinn’s Gambit is but the first in a new series, Aura, from Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn.  I.   Can’t. Wait!

Pick up Quinn’s Gambit (AURA Series #1) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn and begin your journey within this amazing new universe.  It’s one of my favorite, highly recommended reads this month, perhaps of the year.

Cover artist Posh Gosh does a great job with the New York City skyline and Quinn.  Terrific job.

Sales Links:    Totally Bound              Amazon    Buy It Here  links to come

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 6th 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN139781784304423
edition languageEnglish
url https://www.totallybound.com/
seriesAURA Series #1

Visiting with Silvia Violet on her latest Novel, Burning Up (Fitting In #3) (contest included)

Standard

magnifying glass and focus

Burning Up (Fitting In #3) by Silvia Violet
Release Date: February 18, 2015
Goodreads Link

BUMRC

Silvia Violet Bio:

Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary, sci fi, and historical. She can be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?” She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinfully delicious treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading to her incorrigible offspring.

Where to find the author:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Silvia_Violet
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/silviaviolet

Burning Up 600x900

Burning Up:

Bryce has been a firefighter for ten years, but when a horrific house fire leaves him reeling, he moves to a new city, hoping to shove those memories behind him. As he adjusts to his new station, Bryce keeps to himself until Matt and Toby, two hot young men in his unit, throw temptation in his path. Bryce knows better than to mess around with men he works with, especially two newbies who are in the closet. But after a difficult day, Matt and Toby offer him compassion and friendship, which slips so easily into sex Bryce finds the combination irresistible.

Matt and Toby want to expand their relationship to include a third, and they’ve set their sights on their sexy bear of a lieutenant. Their first night together is a scorcher, and, more than that, it feels right, to all of them. But since Bryce refuses to hide who he is, and dating men on his shift is against the rules, all three men are going to have to make some tough choices if they want to stay together.

Categories: BDSM, Contemporary, Menage/Poly, M/M Romance, Firefighters, Romance

Sales Links: Amazon All Romance (ARe) Smashwords

 Burning Up Excerpt:

“They’re watching you again,” Mason spoke in a low voice as he whizzed past Bryce, carrying drinks to the opposite end of the bar.

“You’re imagining things again.” Ever since Mason swore that Toby and Matt, who’d become regulars at the bar after Bryce started working there, were gay and interested in Bryce, he’d been teasing Bryce about their interest.

Bryce told himself not to look, but he couldn’t help glancing toward the corner booth where they always preferred to sit before going back to wiping down the bar. Did they sit there because it gave them a good view of the bar? Bryce scowled. No way in hell were his hands shaking. No way in hell was he letting himself get his hopes up. Even if they were gay, even if they were interested in him, starting something with two guys from work would be the pinnacle of idiocy. Hell, getting involved with more than one guy was insane from the start. Just because Mason and his boyfriends had made a threesome work didn’t make it realistic for Bryce. There was an exception to every rule.

“You’re wrong,” Bryce said as he passed Mason on his way to take a customer’s order.

Mason snorted in reply.

Bryce was glad to see the bar was filling up. He did not need to spend the next hour telling himself not to look at Toby and Matt. He did plenty of that at the firehouse. Toby’s smile could heat up and entire room and Bryce never wanted to look away from it, unless it was to contemplate running his hands through Matt’s wavy brown hair while staring into his dark eyes.

But if Mason was right and they were gay, maybe they really were lovers. If so, he had no business approaching them, whether they were watching him or not. Just because they liked to look didn’t mean they wanted to play. They didn’t need him fucking up whatever they had going.

Plus, they worked together. They were a team, with people’s lives on the line.

The line at the bar grew long, and Bryce got busy taking orders, making drinks, and ringing people up at the register. When things finally slowed down, he needed a bathroom break. As he headed to the back, he noticed Matt and Toby playing pool with a couple of guys he recognized as regulars. Toby waved and he waved back, hating the way his pulse accelerated. What the hell was wrong with him?

He pushed open the door of the restroom but failed to check his instinct to glance back over his shoulder. Toby’s eyes were glued to his ass. There was no doubt about it this time. He whirled back around before their gazes had a chance to meet.

So Toby wasn’t straight. Bryce had to admit that now. He was gay or at least bi, but he was just appreciating the scenery. That didn’t mean anything. Bryce appreciated guys’ asses all the time.

When Bryce left the bathroom, Toby and Matt were leaning in close, talking, arguing actually based on the angry expressions on their faces. Bryce hurried back to work, glad he didn’t have to decide whether to speak to them or not. Several minutes later, Toby appeared at the bar. Mason, the little bastard, wasn’t busy, but he made no move to take Toby’s order.

“What can I get you?” Bryce asked.

“Just cashing out our tab.” Our? Maybe Toby was just buying that night.

“Sure.” Bryce looked Toby’s name up in the register, ran his card, and handed him the receipt to sign.

“Thanks,” Toby said, flashing a smile that made his eyes twinkle. How was it that he made that single word sound flirtatious? Bryce was supposed to be the one who flirted, the one in control of a situation, but despite Toby being so much younger, Bryce ended up flustered every time they spoke.

Pages or Words: 45,000 Words

Tour Dates/Stops:BUMBadge

23-Feb

Inked Rainbow Reads

Kimi-Chan

Christy Loves 2 Read

Amanda C. Stone

24-Feb

Hearts on Fire

Velvet Panic

Nephylim

Rainbow Gold Reviews

25-Feb

Iyana Jenna

Prism Book Alliance

Cathy Brockman Romances

The Novel Approach

26-Feb

Molly Lolly

Parker Williams

Cate Ashwood

27-Feb

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

BFD Book Blog

Love Bytes

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

Emotion in Motion

As The Pages Turn

MM Good Book Reviews 

 

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Gift card to Amazon or AllRomance. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A MelanieM Review: Palace Dog by R.E. Nelson

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Final--Palace DogIn April 1975, as the government in Saigon is falling, Michael Andrews prepares to make his way back to Vietnam to find the love he was forced to leave.  But the story and their love starts 4 years earlier when Michael joins the Air Force to get out of combat and Vietnam only to be sent there to teach English to the Vietnamese military for a program called Palace Dog.

As an artist,  Michael found life lonely and unsatisfying. In the midst of war, Michael searches for direction and meaning. He ultimately finds love and hope with Thao, a young Vietnamese art student, only to have their already uncertain future wrenched from them when he is pulled out of the country.

For Michael, his return in 1975 is inevitable and without question, though the outcome he hopes for is anything but assured.

Set against the background of the Vietnam war and the fall of Saigon, R. E. Nelson gives us a love story between an American soldier and Vietnamese artist that is deep in emotion,  and full of drama of the times as it is surrounded by personal and social complexities. Taking place across a four year span, the plot and author reveal an appreciation for the culture of Vietnam that is both rich in texture and deep on history in Palace Dog.

A first novel for Nelson, Palace Dog rarely falls into the traps laid out for other authors writing in historical fiction.  It helps that the author has traveled and lived in Vietnam (as well as other Middle Eastern and Asian countries) so he is intimately familiar with the sights and sounds and yes, aromas, that such foreign locals offer visitors.  And he writes the story in such a way that you feel like you are walking down those streets, along with Michael, for the first time, experiencing the vibrancy, smells, color, and action of a Saigon marketplace at its busiest.  The noise, the yelling which to Americans would seem as arguments which in turn is really a system of the daily haggling of seller and customer at play, the children begging in the streets along with the animals.  It feels so real that Michael’s uncertainty and fear is understandable, because we would feel that way too.  Also apparent, the separation between cultures and between the south Vietnamese soldiers living in disreputable conditions and the American military still trying to pull out a win.  The juxtaposition in cultures and their clash is everywhere and Nelson portrays it with a clarity and attention to detail both remarkable and telling.

Michael Andrews, quite wrongly, thought he could skip the whole Vietnam war experience by joining the Air Force, thinking it would all be over by the time he was through.  But as history tells us, Vietnam had a way of turning any military action by an enemy into failure, bogging it down by efficient guerrilla warfare and tactics that each nation (French, American…) who got involved was unprepared for.  We didn’t understand the territory and we didn’t understand the people and the cost to all was atrocious.

Michael and his group of teachers represent a variety of perspectives, in all their physicality, mental and emotion stability.  First there is Michael, a thoughtful man, more artist than soldier, who lands in Vietnam confused about his sexuality.  That he and his fellow teachers are offered women and men (the last quietly) as sexual partners and something more is not a reality Michael knows how to deal with.   It horrifies him as much as it intrigues him.  For his friend and fellow teacher, Randy, Saigon presents a whole new world to explore and he does so with a vigor and sense of adventure  at first admirable and then haunting as he falls in love with a local girl, an all too common situation back then.  From Danny’s perspective, he finds he has to grow up and make decisions about his future and theirs. And then there is Richard, a troubled man whose pain and anger at his confusion (at being in Vietnam and perhaps something more) makes him an emotional time bomb on legs.   How they handle their deployment to this cultured city breaking down under the constant bombardment and its casualties of war is as believable as every other aspect of this story.   It’s a wide spectrum of behaviors and people that represented Americans , abroad.

Now that I’ve dealt with the Americans, I want to say that I fell in love with the Vietnamese characters created by Nelson.  It feels right, from their facial features to the trappings of their houses, the culture described  by the author is rich yet fraying. Even the tight family bonds, as seen in Thao and Tuan’s family, are being destroyed by the sons lost in combat and an uncertain future as the Northern Vietnamese get closer to winning and taking with each day.  We start by meeting Tuan, a student of Michael’s who introduces him to his family, including his brother Thao.  It is a relationship that stutters as first, as the language barrier is high.  Nelson’s characters speak broken english as they would under these conditions.  While some readers might find that dialog tough to follow, I thought it gave the relationship and story an authentic feel.

It would be easy for a romance to get buried under the enormity of the situation of Saigon at the time, and it almost happens here.  But the restraint that Nelson shows in bringing along the relationship is needed.  Because it’s not just the cultural obstacles that have to be overcome but Michael has to come to grips with his sexuality, a much harder leap to make.  For Michael, sex with women has been uninspiring and frustrating.  Now in Saigon, temptation is everywhere.  And as he starts to explore his sexuality he also starts to realize his feelings for Thao go far beyond friendship.  As to Thao?  I will let those revelations fall as they will.

Palace Dog opens with Michael returning to Saigon to look for Thao and bring him to the US.  It’s a mission fraught with danger and his chances for success slight at best.  Saigon is about to fall.  The middle story happens in Spring 1971.  The ending once more returns for the last chapter of the war, for us and for Michael and Thao.  It is journey of heartbreak, a clash of cultures and love set against a historic background of war and geopolitical change.   Its rich and remarkable in its storytelling.

For anyone who remembers the scenes of people scrambling across rooftops to reach the last helicopters and planes taking off as the city falls, the anguish, desperation and sense of betrayal for those left behind felt as strong on those pages as it did  the day I watched it happen on the tv.   That Nelson was able to make this time in history come alive through a deep love and relationship between two men, Michael and Thao, is quite the achievement and makes this story one for all to read. Palace Dog is haunting, sometimes hard to read, emotionally compelling and its quiet joys will linger long time after you have finished their story.   Its one of my highly recommended reads.   And I will leave you with the images it brought back to mind as clear as the day they happened.

Fall of Saigon helicopterFall of South Saigon

 

 

 

 

The last helicopter out of Saigon.

Cover artist: Paul Richmond.  What a gorgeous portrait, perfect in everyway.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: February 27th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632165381
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

In Our Book Spotlight: Palace Dog by R. E. Nelson

Standard

Palace Dog by R. E. Nelson
Goodreads Link: February 27, 2015
Final--Palace Dog

R. E. Nelsen is here today, a author new to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  They’re here to talk about Palace Dog, a new  novel to be released February 27th by Dreamspinner Press.  Check out Nelson’s bio, and the synopsis and excerpt we have for you all today, along with a contest to enter.  And look out for an upcoming review…

Author R. E. Nelson Bio:

R.E. Nelson was born in Texas and raised in Southern California. He has been writing for as long as he can remember. One of his earliest recollections related to writing is winning an essay contest in sixth grade–something patriotic about the American flag. When he travels, his preference is staying in select areas for an extended period of time and learning about that place. He has lived in both Vietnam (twice, actually) and Saudi Arabia, and also spent time in Egypt, South Korea, Shanghai (his only China visit thus far), and Dubai. Now he is happy to call San Francisco home.

And now for something a little different. At each stop, a new question for R. E. Nelson, a broken interview as it were.  Our question?  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words:– What was the last Halloween costume you wore?  Nelson’s answer? An Arab thobe –  Note: The Thobe is a traditional garment worn throughout the Middle East.

Where to find the author:    Twitter: @RENelson13

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback

STRW Author BookSynopsis

About Palace Dog…

In April 1975, as the government in Saigon is falling, Michael Andrews prepares to make his way back to Vietnam to find the love he was forced to leave. 

But Michael’s journey begins four years earlier. He joins the Air Force to keep out of the Army and out of Vietnam, but his first assignment is teaching English in Saigon to members of the Vietnamese military in an Army program called Palace Dog. 

As an artist, and a man, before his time in Vietnam, Michael found life lonely and unsatisfying. In the midst of war, Michael searches for direction and meaning. He ultimately finds love and hope with Thao, a young Vietnamese art student, only to have their already uncertain future wrenched from them when he is pulled out of the country. 

For Michael, his return in 1975 is inevitable and without question, though the outcome he hopes for is anything but assured.

Categories: Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

The cyclo had bumped across the bridge, following the curve in the road, then moved quickly down the final straight stretch, past houses and shops, past rows of trees and walls and occasional open spaces, past vendors who lined the street’s edge selling gasoline in glass bottles. Motorcycles, Lambretta mini-buses packed with people, cream-and-blue Renault taxis, pedestrians with baskets and boxes—all crowded the street. Noises, smells, and smoke came from everywhere, and as the driver increased his speed, I smiled, gripping the metal frame tighter and pushing slightly with my feet as the moist wind rushed around me.

Speeding through the streets of Saigon, wearing the green Air Force-issued jungle fatigues, my life of a year ago seemed unreal.
Pages or Words: 206 pages

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Palace Dog’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Prize  notifications by Pride Promotions. PDBannerTemplate

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

PDBanner300x250

Tour Dates: February 27, 2015

Tour Stops:

Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads, MM Good Book Reviews, Divine Magazine, Bayou Book Junkie, Molly Lolly, Cate Ashwood, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Charley Descoteaux, My Fiction Nook, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Elin Gregory, The Hat Party, Wicked Wolves and Dreaming Dragons, EE Montgomery, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Lee Brazil, Rebecca Cohen Writes, Rainbow Gold Reviews, 3 Chicks After Dark, BFD Book Blog, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon, Velvet Panic, Fallen Angel Reviews, Kimi-Chan, Full Moon Dreaming

 

A MelanieM Review: Shadows and Ash (Pulp Friction 2014 Finale) by Laura Harner , Lee Brazil , Havan Fellows , T.A. Webb

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Shadows and Ash book coverNestled in the forest surrounding Flagstaff, Arizona, Mountain Shadows offers residents and guests a home and refuge. A year ago, the isolated retreat, with its log cabins and stone lodge, could boast a convalescing new owner, one employee, two long-term tenants, and an uncertain future. As others joined the rag-tag collection and made the hideaway their home, tentative beginnings morphed into friendships…and finally into a family of sorts.

Over this past year, the perfect place for hiding became a sanctuary for healing, as one-by-one the residents discovered that learning to live in the light with a family you choose is better than shrouding yourself in loneliness. But just as everyone seems to settle into a new normal, shadows from the past drag one of their members back into the darkness and the fallout threatens their carefully constructed new beginnings.

Now, the family they’ve created there must band together to protect each other from someone determined to destroy the lives they’ve worked so hard to reclaim.

Pulp Friction 2014. Four authors. Twenty-four books. One fiery finale.

The time has come once more to say  goodbye to another fantastic Pulp Friction Series and to say these authors did it with flare, heat and hot sexy men goes without question. I’m always amazed at how four authors are able to mesh eight (sometimes nine) characters, four couples stories, and still maintain a balanced whole in terms of plot and characterizations.  Yet, for the second year, the Pulp Friction gang has done it again.  Pulp Friction 2014 was the Elemental Connections year.  It had Laura Harner’s Fighting Fire, Lee Brazil’s In From the Cold, Havan Fellow’s Whispering Winds and T. A. Webb’s Earthquake series, with a wonderful conglomeration of characters, romances, and heartbreaking suspense.  And it all took place on top of a mountain outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Even now its hard to say which characters I love the most, they are so varied and had so many different paths to HEA this series.   Certainly Rowen Smith with his long black hair, deep connection to the woods around him and dark past,is close to the top.  He just resonated with me as did his eventual lover, Mick Rutger, who went from the human equivalent of a Golden Retriever to something older, wiser, and more substantial.  How I loved them both (thank you, Havan Fellows).

But I can no more say that then Charlie Turner and Amos Greene pop into mind (thank you, Tom Webb).  Their journey towards happiness contained stark terror, abject pain, and astonishing revelations.  Webb kept me in tears and in the dark for long periods of time during the slow roll out of his Earthquake stories.    You never knew if monster or angel would be around the  corner for these two along with  Charlie’s brother Damon (loved him too).   Sometimes the heartbreak comes from the last person you would expect, another theme that runs through all the stories here.

Brazil’s Professor of Literature Finn Lorensson and Dr. Cannon Malloy (originally from FR2013, thank you, Lee Brazil) were sometimes the hardest personalities for me to get a grasp on.  Finn, a gorgeous hulk of a man had a deep need to rescue others, even at the cost to himself and his relationships.  Cannon?  To say he started off self absorbed, fearful and more than a little damaged by the events in Atlanta would be like calling coal black.  It goes without saying that Finn was smitten immediately, but Cannon?  Not so much.  During much of the series their tentative relationship acted more like Dr. Doolittle’s pushmi-pullyu. They were joined together but never quite going (or facing) the same direction.  I loved that Cannon finally learned to embrace his sexuality (with a little eyeliner and flare) and accept Finn with all that entailed.

Finally there is Laura Harner’s former firefighter  Scott McGregor reuniting with his college lover,Robby Hammond, at Scott’s hospital bed.  A wildfire that ends Scott’s career and costs the life of most of his team is also what brings Scott’s only love back to him.  Harner made us believe in their tortured past so the reader easily invests in these damaged men and any potential hope for a future together.  So much trauma involved here, Scott’s PTSD, his injuries and loss of career, survivor’s guilt and yes, more secrets from his and Robby’s past pushing hard to come out.  Plus its Scott’s Mountain Shadows Campground that acts as the heart and location for all these stories to unfold.  I came to love Mountain Shadows just as much as its residents did.  If there was a heart and center of all the couples it was Scott and Robby. They are the beginning of a new family and I loved them dearly (thank you, Laura Harner).

The penultimate stories in each series came with a certain amount of personal (or physical) explosions and exposition leading up to this.  A mystery of who was behind all the arson and attacks happening at the campgrounds had to be solved, along with more than a few personal demons still to be put to rest, including Scott being blamed for the fires himself.  How did it all turn out?  Splendidly!

It’s hard seeing this group of stories come to an end.  I wasn’t ready.  But all the characters pull their dramatic weight in the last story. Each author gives their couple the right amount of “time on stage” to tie up loose ends and push them forward.  I did wish that one little aspect, a total villain dies in a manner that didn’t feel as solid as the other revelations that surfaced here.  That was the only bit of weakness that I could see.  Everything else felt believable, rational, and happily fulfilling for all.

Am I going to go into details?  No, absolutely not.  Even the smallest of facts can lead to large spoilers, so don’t go looking for them here.  Instead if you are new to the Pulp Friction gang, what joys await you.  You have not one but two years of interconnected series to catch up on.  The first took place in Atlanta GA, the second (Elemental Connections) in Flagstaff, AZ, and the third?  This years Pulp Friction 2015 is a group of supernatural tales taking place in New Orleans in Harner and Webb’s  Altered States universe.  What’s that, you say?  Well stay tuned as next week, all the Pulp Friction gang will be here to talk finale, Altered States, and the new stories starting to arrive.

For those of you who have been gobbling up these stories as quickly as they come out, you will love this series finale!  It’s hot, suspenseful, a little scary and wonderfully over the top…of the mountain, that is.  I loved it and think you will too.  Grab it up and get prepared for the supernatural goings on in New Orleans.  I’m through the first story already and it’s a doozy!

Cover art by Laura Harner is perfect. It still brands the series with the logo and the coloring and graphics are perfect for the series finale and title.

Sales Links:      All Romance (ARe)          Amazon            Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published January 14th 2015 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252977
edition languageEnglish

About Pulp Friction 2014 – All stories are reviewed here at STRW.

Pulp Friction 2014 Authors: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb
The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.
The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:
Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:
Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:
Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five:
Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors coming in December.
Shadows and Ash (Pulp Friction 2014 Finale)

Side Stories or Interludes:

Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (a In From the Cold story)
Wicked Winds (Whispering Winds 3.5) by Havan Fellows – bonus book, Whispering Winds
Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5)
Kismet & Cartwheels – bonus book, Fighting Fire

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: All in the Details by A.K.M. Miles

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

All In The Details coverAs this sweet romance opens we meet Beau Garner , a 31 year old man who has put his OCD into making a profit by running an event organizing company called Details. “It’s all in the details” claims Beau over and over again throughout the book. (Though meant to be humorous, it falls short after a while.) A last minute detail takes him to a rural convenience store to buy balloons, and besides being nearly sideswiped by a speeding vehicle roaring out of the parking lot as he enters, he’s also blindsided by finding a gun under a display case and then finding himself at the mercy of the police who’ve been called to “disarm” him. He only grabbed the gun when he heard two young children debating whether or not to pick it up, and as he tells the officers, “Do I look like the type of man who would have a gun?”, he catches the eye of the young good-looking cop.

Nash Tyler is a 31 year old cop in this rural town. He’s gay, and though his captain is aware, it’s not the type of thing he advertises to the rest of his co-workers. He’s a good cop, however, and he gives the cute guy with the gun a break and listens to his full story at the store, rather than haul him to the station as his homophobic partner wants to do. Since the situation is easily resolved, Beau is released but not before he notices Nash’s blushes as he hands Beau his card in case Beau needs to get in touch with him.

This is a sweet, slow-building romance that’s very family focused. Beau lives with Alberta, his grandmother’s friend and companion, a black woman who would prefer not to live with her own family and who cares for Beau as if he were her own child. The main excitement and undercurrent to the story is an apparent stalker who is randomly harassing Beau. That starts with phone calls then goes to being shot at with rock salt as he and Nash are soaking in his hot tub, to having faggot painted on his car then escalating to acts which could result in injury or death. Readers know who the likely stalker is from the beginning, but the action doesn’t culminate until the end of the book.

Another odd thing that happens, which is totally non-reality based, is that Beau helps a young woman at the airport as she’s trying to decide what to do about her fatherless infant, and she ends up leaving the infant in the restroom with a note turning him over to Beau. He then gets through the foster process and is given the baby that night—a baby that he will ultimately adopt as his and Nash’s at some point in the future. Most of the second half of the story was about the baby and integrating the baby into their lives as he and Nash became closer romantically, and their stalker became increasingly more dangerous.

There was little in this story to make it outstanding for me in any way, yet it was well-written and was a sweet romance so I’d recommend it to those who are looking for something simple and family-oriented with not a lot of sex but a lot of love.

Cover Art by Winterheart Design features two men representing the characters. The cop is superimposed over the cute guy who depicts Beau in such a way that it’s evident the cover was cropped together and looks amateurish. It’s not as appealing as one that would have blended the two characters without the overlap like the cover used in the previous edition.

Sales Links:    MLR Press           All Romance (ARe)       Amazon          <a href=”Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 206 pages
Published January 29th 2015 by ManLove Romance
(first published April 27th 2013 by Silver Press)
ASINB00SXN3PNA
edition languageEnglish

A Mika Review: Mauled (Guards of Folsom #4.5, Beyond Duty #2) by S.J.D. Peterson

Standard

Rating: 3.75 rounded up to 4 stars out of 5

Mauled coverGunther Duchene aka “Gunny” and Macalister Jones aka “Mac” have overcome the obstacles of coming out and retiring from serving more than twenty years as Marines. Their exit ceremony is behind them, their wedding vows are made, and now it’s time for the honeymoon. What better way to kick off their marriage than enjoying the retirement gift Mac gave Gunny? With the leather pants and collar packed, it’s off to New York City and the Guards of Folsom club to celebrate—BDSM style.

I was super thrilled to read anything more of Mac & Gunny. I loved these two so much. I love reading about older guys with established relationships. While I did love reading about these two, and I know the premise of this novella I wish I could gotten more out of these two. I loved this relationship in this book. Mac & Gunny were super in love. It is simple to see how these guys feel about each other, that they and their relationship is the more essential factor than playing in the other roles. It just feel right and was very believable. I really enjoyed this book. I would have loved for more Mac & Gunny relationships.

Cover Art by Paul Richmond. I loved this cover it definitely showed Gunny in a light that he likes. It beautifully done.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 67 pages
Published February 4th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original title Mauled
ISBN139781632161758
edition languageEnglish
url http://sjdpeterson.blogspot.com/
series Guards of Folsom #4.5, Beyond Duty #2
charactersMacalister Jones aka “Mac”, Gunther Duchene aka