A Sammy Review: Nights Like These by Chris Scully

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Rating 3.75 stars out of 5

What did I think I was doing? I wasn’t a detective. I wasn’t even really an art expert. I was only a lowly security guard with a penchant for true-crime shows and mystery novels and a weakness for good-looking men who tossed coffee on me. The realization hit me hard.

SMNightsLikeTheseORIG_final_v01Life has changed a lot for Miles Koprowski over the past year. Nowhere in his past did he see himself being laid off, being dumped, and trying to start all over at the age of forty. After a failed attempt at fast food chains, he finds himself in a not-so-cushy security job for a company with an expertise in photocopiers. Exciting? I think not.

But then again, he’s not really into risks and doing daring things, so maybe it kind of fits him. Nothing is ever that easy, though. His boss is Mr. Perfect, gorgeous and flirty and, well, perfect. And then there’s this other thing… the building is covered in art, pretty nice, expensive art, but somehow that art is being switched out with copies that no one should notice, or would, but maybe that art degree does come in handy. And maybe this easy, risk-free job isn’t so easy or risk-free.

 

The city was alive and it was never more apparent than during the summer, when Torontonians crammed every ounce of enjoyment they could into a few short months. Pedestrians coursed like blood along the main arteries; the subway trains roared through the tunnels below the surface, the steady ta-dum, ta-dum of the wheels on the tracks drumming like an underground heartbeat. I felt as though I’d returned from a long absence and was seeing it with new eyes. The city embraced me, welcoming me back like an old friend, no hard feelings. If only my real friends would be so forgiving.

In a word, this story was cute. It’s the kind of story you’d curl up next to a fire place with a warm cup of hot chocolate (or wine, if that’s more your speed).

For some reason, despite the blurb, I didn’t quite realize the role that a mystery would play in this. It’s not just part of the plot, it pretty much is the entire plot. It reminded me a lot of a cozy mystery, very sweet and not too serious, but full of life and characters.

Some of my favorite parts about the book were the characters. The author did a really great job of creating this whole spectrum of individuals who had their own color. Even though both the MCs are fairly alpha male, they don’t blend into each other. They’re distinct. I will say, though, that I was hoping to get to know Colton just a bit more. We got to see pieces of him, but I just felt like there was so much more for his character to offer.

I also had an issue in that I figured out the mystery by the halfway point in the book. This may have meant that I had issues enjoying the rest of it, but that didn’t really play too much of a role here. It’s just that when it comes to mysteries, I like to be left in suspense to the very end. There’s something to be said for keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, and this didn’t really do that. I think that if the author had spread out details a bit more, the hints, then it would’ve worked better. It was just that a detail was revealed, and then a hint shortly after, and it was a bit too obvious for me.

I was also a bit disappointed with the lack of steam in this. There’s a couple scenes, and the author does a great job with them, but I just wanted more. They talk about topping and such, but it never happens. Granted, the entire book takes place in a time span of two weeks (with one of them being the epilogue of sorts), and there’s a lot of other stuff going on during that week. But I can’t help but be greedy.

One other thing that confused me a bit was adding in the bit about Miles’ ex. I’m not sure it really needed to be there. I was a bit like “huh?” when that part was revealed. It was kind of thrown in for another element.

Still, this was a really cute story. It was light and easy and fun.

The cover art by Bree Archer is nice. It certainly fits the location of Toronto and the profession of one of the MCs. I just don’t really find the angle of the models face very appealing in this. It makes his neck kind of… disappear, which isn’t terribly attractive. So nice, but not the most amazing cover I’ve seen.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: January 26th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632164018

An Interview with Chris Scully On Writing and Nights Like These (contest)

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Book Name: Nights Like These
Author Name: Chris Scully

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Chris Scully here for an author interview and to talk about writing and her latest book, Nights Like These:

Q One of your main characters is Miles, 40 years old. I love an older protagonist. What was the inspiration behind Miles?

Age doesn’t mean you are any less immature or insecure—as Miles clearly demonstrates. I think older characters are definitely underrepresented in the romance genre (MF/MM), which is a bit odd because as a reading/writing community a lot of us are in that age bracket. As someone born with “an old soul”, I’ve never really identified with the angst of twenty-somethings—even when I was a twenty-something! I personally find it very difficult to write credible young adults because I don’t have those ‘traditional’ YA experiences to draw on. And as someone comfortable in her forties, I have no burning desire to revisit that period of my life. I like to be able to relate to characters I read or write—and for me that probably means they will be older (so far they’ve ranged from late twenties to early fifties). In the case of this novel, I knew that my protagonist was going to be cynical and jaded, and I feel that’s something that comes with being older. There is also definitely a large part of me in Miles. So much of the novel is wrapped up with my own experiences in being a mid-career employee who’s laid off that in a sense he became my alter ego.

Q Your main characters profession is something you don’t often see, again where did you get that idea and why?

Up until recently, I worked in an office building much like the one in the novel (in fact it’s my inspiration) and the security guards were fixtures–not to mention often the butt of friendly jokes. It is such a thankless job to sit there and not be able to interact with anyone. When I started thinking about writing a mystery, I didn’t want my character to be a cop or PI or special agent. That’s the standard route. I wanted him to be an everyday guy who gets mixed up in stuff beyond his control. As a writer you have a little more freedom to play fast and loose with the rules of mystery writing. The idea of a security guard seemed perfect, especially because it also tied in with Miles being laid off and unable to find a job and his perception that the job is beneath him.

Q. Is there a mystery involved or is this straight (pardon the word) romance?

He he he. There is definitely a mystery involved, but that’s not the focus and it’s pretty light. Actually, when I began writing, it was with the intention of it being a mystery with a romantic subplot, but along the way that flip-flopped. I’d say it’s 65% romance with 35% mystery.

Q. When you read romance, what twists do you like to see?

I love a good twist, but you don’t usually see that so much in romance. Sometimes you get these “ah ha” moments where an author might subtly imply or reference something unexpected. I love that moment of realization. I remember many years ago reading an Amanda Quick historical in which a pair of secondary characters were lesbians. It was implied so subtly that when it finally hit me I went “Oh wow, that’s why…”. What I don’t like are authors who jerk the characters around just to drag out the story and keep them apart.

Q. And do you incorporate those into your writing as well?

Not always consciously, but yes I do occasionally like to imply things or add in layers. Most readers probably don’t even notice it. In Rebound, because the whole story is told from Emmett’s point of view, you think it’s Emmett’s story. But when Sky says “You’re my Christmas miracle” it was intended to add a whole other dimension and make you suddenly look at things from his perspective. Also, depending on the story, I like to withhold information and reveal it later to heighten the emotion. In Touch Me, a short erotic novella I wrote and self-published, it starts out seemingly just about a guy giving erotic massages, but then when you find out about his personal situation, it changes the dynamic entirely.

Q. What drives your story as your are writing it, the plot or the characters or the romance? Or all of the above?

It’s a combination, and the balance between the three depends on the story. Character usually plays the largest role for me–even in Nights Like These, which I consider to be plot-driven, Miles is still a very strong character. It wouldn’t be the same story without him. I think if you have great characters, the romance becomes a natural extension.

Q Do you plot out your stories or do they change and morph as you write?

Again, it’s a combination. I like to have a rough plot or plan, but I try to be flexible if things start to change and to give the characters some freedom. Nights Like These is a perfect example. It was supposed to be a mystery, but Miles’ personality took over completely. My beta-readers indicated they were confused because it seemed like two different stories. My mystery loving friend said it was “too romantic”, and my romance reader found the mystery parts boring. Rather than try to force it into something it wasn’t, I finally accepted that the romance/ comedic aspects were stronger and did some rewriting to make the mystery secondary.

Q. Favorite story or author as a child?

Tough call. As a young child, my favorite was The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. It’s about a princess who ends up rescuing herself instead of waiting on the prince. Considering this was written in the seventies, it is incredibly subversive. I still love the message of Paperbag Princess today. If I had kids I would definitely be reading that to them. Robert Munsch is an amazing kid’s author because of the way he writes for both kids and their parents. If you haven’t read Love You Forever, you definitely should, but be prepared with tissues. I still read this as an adult and bawl. You can listen to these stories for free on his website.

Q. What’s next for you as an author?

For now I’m concentrating on finishing my latest project (Happy) and also getting another novel (Until September) to publication. That should take me through most of 2015 at my current pace. After a year of unemployment I’m back to work full-time, so writing has to go back to second place. I’d like to target one book a year. Yes, that’s low compared to my peers, but it’s what I think I can comfortably manage and work full-time.

Eventually I’d like to move more into the gay fiction area—that is, fiction where the main character happens to be gay. I have a couple of ideas for romantic thrillers I’d like to try, and I that’s probably where I’ll focus for my next new project. They will definitely still have a romance angle, because I’m a born romantic, but they just won’t be as emotional and introspective.

Author Bio:

CHRIS SCULLY lives in Toronto, Canada where she grew up spinning romantic stories in her head. When the tedium of a corporate day job grew too much, she took a chance and found her creative escape in writing. Always searching for something different, she has discovered a home in M/M romance and strives to give her characters the happy endings they deserve.

Author Contact:

https://www.facebook.com/chris.scully.author

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook  & Paperback  Amazon  All Romance

Nights Like These Blurb:SMNightsLikeTheseORIG_final_v01

Starting over sucks. At forty, Miles Koprowski thought he had life all figured out. He had a nice car, a hot young lover, and a cushy job… and then he didn’t. Call it fate, or karma, or a downturn in the market, but this opinionated cynic is now forced to play rent-a-cop in a dying office building in the burbs just to make ends meet. Throw in an unhinged ex, a coworker who hates him, and a hot new boss, and suddenly everything is uncertain.

Miles doesn’t plan on liking the night shift or becoming embroiled in a mystery that reawakens old passions and puts him in danger. And he certainly doesn’t plan on falling for the overbearing head of security, Colton Decker, former soldier and doting dad. But nights like these can change a man, make him start to believe there’s more to life than a high paying job and a warm body in his bed. With a thief on the loose and his new job in jeopardy, Miles will have to decide what’s truly important. He might discover things he never knew he wanted… as long as he makes it through the night.
Categories: Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery

Nights Like These Excerpt:

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, dumb—” I managed to sputter before my mouth stopped working entirely and dropped open. The ability to speak, to think, deserted me at the first sight of the hunky stranger standing in front of me, his face contorted with apology as he tried to mop up my sodden jacket with a handful of napkins. He was a few inches taller than me—closer to six feet—and on the stocky side. His broad shoulders filled out a nicely tailored suit, and he projected an air of confidence that I’d never be able to pull off in a million years.

He was clean-shaven too, with a dark buzz cut that made me long to run a hand over his head simply to feel the texture. And gorgeous. Did I happen to mention that?

In short, he was the kind of guy you’d want to be stranded with on a deserted island; the kind you could count on to save you. If you were so inclined. Me? I didn’t need saving.

A pair of friendly, light-colored eyes now stared back at me, bemused. Odd that his lips were moving, but no sound was coming out.

“What?” I asked, blinking back to attention. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had literally made me speechless. Me, Miles Koprowski, who never met a silence he didn’t want to fill.

Hell, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d been on the receiving end of a full-body pat-down either. At least not so quickly. His hands were still drifting over my chest, wiping up the last drips of coffee, and the simple touch was doing alarming things to my heart rate.

“Are you okay?” he demanded. “Did you get burned?” Before I could react, he seized my wrist and held my hand up for inspection. Strong, lightly calloused fingers, I added to my mental list. Working hands. Dumbly, I looked down. The skin on the back of my right hand was red and stung like a son of a bitch, but it wasn’t blistering. I did flinch slightly when he skimmed his thumb over the sensitive area, but not from pain, more from the touch itself. My entire body lit up, as though I’d stuck a finger in an electrical socket. “It doesn’t look too bad. I think you’ll live. Put some aloe on it when you get home.”

“Doctor?” I croaked, because really, that would be too perfect.

“Nope. Just seen a lot of injuries.” His lips twitched with barely contained amusement. “Sorry to disappoint you.” Sense of humor, check.

Words: 69,000

Tour Dates/Tour Stops:NLTBadge

26-Jan

Rainbow Gold Reviews

Hearts on Fire

27-Jan

Molly Lolly

Prism Book Alliance

28-Jan

Bayou Book Junkie

29-Jan

EE Montgomery

Inked Rainbow Reads

30-Jan

Love Bytes

2-Feb

Amanda C. Stone

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

3-Feb

Cate Ashwood

4-Feb

Decadent Delights

5-Feb

EE Montgomery

6-Feb

My Fiction Nook

MM Good Book Reviews

 

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A MelanieM Review: Epitaph (Infected #8) by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 3 out of 5

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective solving crimes involving other infecteds.

Infected Epitaph coverThe last thing anyone needs is for a new tiger strain of the virus to start showing up among the Infecteds.  Even worse, with one sniff Roan realizes that his connection to this tiger virus is personal and painful.  Roan has also been asked by Dee to investigate the death of one of Dee’s former lovers.

 Then the FBI wants him to investigate a new apocalypse cult of infecteds pushing for a violent revolution against normals. All around Roan, events are spiraling out of control. Just when his singular abilities are needed most, Roan develops new symptoms that might signify dire consequences if he doesn’t stop shifting at will. Roan finds himself at a crossroads and must make a difficult decision about his future.

It has taken me weeks to decide how to approach this review, hoping time would allow some sort of objectivity to layer over the disappointment and sadness this story produced.  But that didn’t happen.  My feelings towards Epitaph remain the same…I feel letdown and regretful that I didn’t stop at Undertow, a story where the promise of Roan McKitchen and his universe remain vibrant, gripping and full of anticipation for the future.

First of all, let me say that this has nothing to do with the fact that Epitaph is indeed that, an epitaph for Roan McKitchen, the Infecteds, and the complex, enthralling universe that Andrea Speed created back in 2010. Actually it began prior as it started as a serialized story on Andrea Speed’s website (stories now removed).  No matter.  From the beginning, Speed created in Roan McKitchen not only the tragic mythic hero but one for our ages, complete with t-shirts showcasing obscure bands and a dialog that snapped and sizzled.  Roan’s conversations were always full of current references to books, songs, poems even events, places and people that demonstrated Roan’s high intelligence and sarcastic regard for society as a whole.   Roan would have been amazing as a human but as an Infected child?  He became heroic, memorable and magnetic in his hold over the others he meets and befriends as well as the readers who discovered him.

I am one of those enthralled readers.  We readers have followed Roan through his soulmate relationship with Paris and the resulting heartbreak that ended with Paris’ death, a death that still gets to me. We have watched the transformation of Roan as the virus morphed and Roan figured out how to deal with that changing status no matter the pain, pills, and blood it cost him.  Throughout seven books Andrea Speed kept developing and deepening her universe and that stunning creation of a cat virus.  The wilder the transformations and spread of the virus throughout the population the more caught up in Roan’s world and Roan himself we became.  Through discoveries that Roan’s tumors were packets of the virus, the changes in musculature that in once instance formed a protective plate that saved him,  even to the fact that the Lion could be awake and thinking while Roan was not, all powerful images and concepts.

All that would be enough to satisfy any series but Speed’s vision grew larger, as did her science and virus.  There was the memorable and heartbreaking Infected Pieta scene that had me in tears.  What a brilliant image and the emotions it provoked in the onlookers watching Roan and the dying lion were the same ones that pulled on the readers hearts as well.  There were chilling moments such as the one where Roan/Lion destroyed an Infected underground fight ring, aided by Infecteds in cat form (different species) who followed Roan and his orders as if he were their King. It was stunning and visionary, full of immense promise and speculation for future stories.  And the one element that I always kept tucked away hoping to see resolved…the fact that Roan’s lion was as much in love with Paris as Roan was, an emotion that did not carry over to Dylan.  Paris was that unique creation that matched Roan perfectly and Dylan’s character never was able to rise  to the vibrancy and complexity that was Paris or Roan.

I could go on and on, about scene after scene that Andrea Speed filled with imaginative plot threads, unique elements and additional fantastic characters I took to heart much as the main ones.  This series is filled with strong, magnetic people like the various Seattle Falcons hockey players (Grey, Tank,  or Greg , not to mention such friends as Holden (my favorite along with Grey), Doctor Rosenberg, Fiona and Dee.  Andrea Speed’s Infected series is chock full of people you could build series around and then some.  And this large cast got better, more layered as the books and various storylines continued.  Until the end.  That sad, sorry, dispirited end.

Towards the end it was almost as if Speed was deconstructing her characters, pulling them apart like insects under a magnifying glass. Poor Grey, he always had a certain enigmatic allure to him.  Not so much by the end of the book.  It’s been reported that there is to be a Paris prequel and a Holden story.  I don’t think I can bear it.  Not after this.

I almost gave this story a much lower rating.  Why?  Well, not because it didn’t end as I hoped it would.  No, that prerogative rests solely with the author. It’s their right to do whatever they want with their characters and story. No, its because this story was lacking the life, complexity and power of all the previous installments.  I could have taken any ending had this story lived up to the quality of the previous stories. Reading this book was the equivalent of watching the blood drain from a dying animal, an animal you loved.  Every scene was a sad, tired struggle, for the characters and this reader to get through.   Even the major conflagration scenes here, ones that should have been bursting with explosive drama and fireworks were more of a dustup then all out battle.  After that it was just one last diminished little journey to the finish line. All promise gone, all the splendid anticipation squandered, and worst of all, what an injustice for a heroic creation like Roan.   How lifeless, limp and lame.

I should have stopped at Undertow.  And I will do my best not to think any further about Epitaph.  All the other stories remain well remembered and loved.  For them and for Roan, I gave this story a 3 star rating.  There were still flashes of inspiration and dialog that made me smile, however, infrequent and sparing they were.

If you are new to this series, start with Infected Prey and Bloodlines and continue on to Undertow.  After that its up to you.

Cover artist Anne Cain’s covers have been outstanding throughout the series, including this one.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications       Amazon          Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Published November 18th 2014 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781627988629
edition languageEnglish
seriesInfected #8
charactersRoan McKichan

Books in the Infected series in the order they were written and should be read:

Down Under Winner Announcements!

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Winner Announcements for our Down Under Author Showcase Giveaways!

 

Yesterday, we announced the Down Under Scavenger Hunt Winners.  Today we are starting with the winners of our Author Contests:

 

John Wiltshire’s Contest:   Sula Holland

John Terry Moore:  3 books, 3 winners:   Suze, Sula, and Ardent eReader

A. B. Gayle:  Shirley Ann Speakman

Lisa Henry:  Amber A.

Meredith Shayne:  Jbst

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Congratulations to all!  They have been notified!  More tomorrow!

Love John Inman? It’s Release Day for John Inman’s Latest, Payback! (contest)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is taking a closer look at….

 

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Payback by John Inman

John Inman is a favorite author here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Known primarily for his humorous novels and memorable characters, John Inman is also writes stories with a darker heart and less lighthearted perspective.  Payback falls into the latter category.

Contest: It’s Release Day for Payback and John Inman is giving away an ebook copy of Payback.  To enter to win, leave a comment and visit the following Rafflecopter link.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Payback John InmanPayback cover

When Tyler Powell’s life is torn apart by an unspeakable crime, the need for vengeance takes over. Every moment of every day, as he tries to pull his shattered existence together again, it’s all he can think about—revenge. Will he give in to his rage and become the very thing he hates most? A killer? Only with the help of Homicide Detective Christian Martin, the cop in charge of his case, does Tyler see the possibility of another life beginning—the astounding revelation of another love reaching out to him.

A love he thought he would never know again. Will he let that love into his life, or is he lost already? Is payback more important to Tyler than his own happiness? And the happiness of the man who loves him? Tyler is determined to find a way to exact his revenge without sacrificing all hope for a future with Christian, but it will be difficult—if not impossible—and in the end he might be forced to make an unbearable choice.

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: February 2nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632166289
edition languageEnglish
url http://johninmanauthor.com

Author Bio:

John has been writing fiction for as long as he can remember. Born on a small farm in Indiana, he now resides in San Diego, California where he spends his time gardening, pampering his pets, hiking and biking the trails and canyons of San Diego, and of course, writing. He and his partner share a passion for theater, books, film, and the continuing fight for marriage equality. If you would like to know more about John, check out his website at—-
http://www.johninmanauthor.com/John_I… or follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/john.inman.79

 

Some of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words favorite John Inman books, audio books too, are (and there are so many others):

Shy coverHobbledLoving HectorWork in Progress cover