A MelanieM Review: Drawing Dead: Jack of Spades (PF 2015 Altered States) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Drawing Dead PF 2015 coverThe world hasn’t been the same since the preternaturals came out of the closet. Much to many people’s chagrin, strange beings of all kinds are making life tricky for the “normals.”  Vampires, werewolves, ghosts and ghoulies of all sorts.

Physics professor Dr. Sabine Brusilov has been obsessed with ghost hunting since he was eight years old. He’s gathered a wealth of knowledge, but can’t produce a shred of scientific proof.  Almost.  When Sabines found some old artifacts and bones at the bottom of a river, the last thing he expected was to see a ghost desolately sitting on the river bed next to them.  Now the ghost is a constant presence in Sabine’s life, including his bed.

One hundred and seventy-five years of death haven’t done riverboat gambler Barton Montoire a damn bit of good. He’s still rash, impulsive, and prone to fits of temper and bouts of melancholy.  He’s still trying to fit together pieces of his past, although the way he died, gunshot to the chest, feels as fresh as the day it happened over a game of cards.  Now he spends his days and nights haunting the very handsome  and gay Dr. Sabine Brusilov.

You’d think that when fate brought the two of them together, Bart’s lonely spirit would be calmed, and Sabine would have the proof his heart desires.  But their future is as cloudy as Barton’s past, especially when a new evil arrives in town.

In a world where mythical beings are real, love is still the most elusive… and treacherous myth of them all.

Here we are at the start of another round of Pulp Friction stories, Drawing Dead: Jack of Spades by Lee Brazil, and it has all the hallmarks of a most memorable series.  Taking place in New Orleans, whose name conjures up ghastly past events, hauntings and romance, Brazil’s characters  and plot fit right in.

First is Dr. Dr. Sabine Brusilov, an intense physics professor and hunter of ghosts.  Sabine is such an intently focused human being that he lurks on the edge of being self involved to the point of obsession and obliviousness to those around him. He is one character I hope shows some emotional growth as the storyline progresses because he comes close to dividing the main characters into two teams.  Team Sabine and Team Barton.  His careless treatment (in my eyes)  or perhaps just lack of concern towards Barton comes close to derailing any affection I feel towards Sabine.  Luckily, his lover more than made up for Sabine’s inadequacies in the personality department.  Barton I adore. Ten years ago, while hunting for artifacts, Sabine came across some bones and personal objects buried in the river bottom.  Sitting next to them?  Their dead and now ghostly owner, riverboat gambler Barton Montoire.

That aspect of the story just drew me in.  I love the idea of a ghost of outrageous character and gorgeous to boot and that’s Barton Montoire!  He’s definitely my favorite character.  Dressed in the clothes in which he died 175 years ago, he cuts quite the figure.  In Barton, Brazil has created a vivid character, voluble and emotional (well, who wouldn’t be given his circumstances), whose memories and personality is still somewhat frayed by the “whole dead thing” experience.  Barton is not only charismatic but made sympathetic by the way he is forced to “live” his ghostly existence.  He can only be seen and heard by Sabine (at first), and he is restricted in movement and to specific locations by Sabine’s will.  If Sabine doesn’t want him to travel with him, Barton is stuck in Sabine’s quarters, alone and frustrated.  If Barton has anger issues (and he does), they are ones the reader can relate to.  Really, he makes the story for me.

Sabine now runs a Dead Mens Tales Investigative Service and thats the plot point which introduces the mystery that launches an investigation that will threaten to bring both men, alive and dead, permanently down.  Brazil does an excellent job of easing us into this portion of the plot.  Sabine gets a phone call from an elderly woman, who may be dotty but is also definitely afraid of the tenants upstairs in her house.   His initial investigation provokes a few jitters but the worse is yet to come.  Little by little Brazil takes a mild case of suspicion and builds it into something ominous and heavy with evil intent.  I loved that!  It definitely gave me goose bumps.  And using a gambler’s or magician’s sleight of hand, while our attention is focused in one direction, something equally awful and startling is happening in the other direction, just put a wonderful finishing flourish to all the events unfolding.  In a totally scary and creepy way of course.

As the story heads towards its cliffhanger, other characters are introduced, some from the Altered States stories of Harner and Webb and others new and central to the Pulp Friction interconnected series.  Be on the look out for wolfshifter Jet (from Altered States), Laurant the incubus from Havan Brazil’s series, among many others.   I can’t wait to see what parts they all will play in the drama to come.

I definitely recommend this story and series.  It’s haunting, dynamic and full of elements that will draw you in.  Love supernatural tales?  Ones full of mystery, romance and dread?  This one’s for you.  Along with all the others to follow. Get started today!

 Cover art by Laura Harner.  I love this cover and all the covers I’ve seen for the Pulp Friction series.  Just gorgeous.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published February 13th 2015 by Lime Time Press
ASINB00TL4F1XW
edition languageEnglish

About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Not familiar with the Altered States series? Check them all out here:

Books in the Altered States Series in the order they should be read:
• Altered States (Altered States, #0.5)
• Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States, #1)
• Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States, #2)
• Free Falling Crimson (Altered States, #3)

 

A Stella Review: Shaken Up by Nicole Forcine

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Rating 4 stars out of 5

Shaken Up coverTim Myers is the flamboyant and overly fastidious owner of the adult shop Little Earthquakes. In his spare time, he moonlights as a sub for his friend’s BDSM classes, and while he’d love to find a Dom to cater to his domestic servitude kink, he’s wary of exposing his body and his heart. When Jae Seong comes into Tim’s shop and asks him for help with a wax play demo, Tim is turned off by the idea. Jae is nothing if not persistent, though. He’s a skilled Dom and soon finds out why Tim is so protective of his body, his neck, and his heart. Over a series of play dates, the two grow close, and it dawns on Tim that he might be looking at a match made for collaring.

The blurb tells you pretty much everything about Shaken Up. There is nothing special in the plot but I liked it a lot and for being so short I loved that the MCs are well defined.

Jae wants Tim from the first time he saw him being spanked during a demo with another master. He wants this beautiful sub like nothing else he’s ever wanted. Tim is in domestic discipline, he just wants someone to care for, to help with clothes and things like that. He is intrigued by Jae but he has been hurt really bad in the past, he has the scars on his face to remind him why. So it’s really hard for him to open up again, especially put his body in someone else’s hands. Jae is amazing, caring and most of all is able to understand and stop all Tim’s fears. When things will go bad during their first scene together, Tim will learn that Jae is the one worth lowering the walls that protect him.

One more thing I liked are the second characters, they have a huge part in the story. David and Reggie are partners and the only two doms Tim can play with and do some demos. He trusts them with his life. They are fiercely protective of him and are totally convinced Jae is the right one for the young sub. I really would like to know more about them, they deserve a book of their own.

I really appreciate the author’s choice to focus the story on the start of Tim and Jae relationship so that it leaves so much more to be developed into a second book. Being so short it was the right way to not overwhelm and confuse us.  At the same time it didn’t help us to understand what was real and in depth about the “domestic discipline” aspect, because at the end all we read about is the wax scenes and nothing else. This is the only little criticism I have about Shaken Up and it’s one more reason to hope for more about these characters.

Really well done! I can’t wait to read more by this author.

Cover art by AngstyG. I love this cover. It’s endearing and different from all the covers I’m used to see. I like the colors and every little detail, the font, the chair and I can totally see Jae as the man in the suit sitting on it with the candle in hand. It’s perfect cause it fits the story.

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

Book Details:
Published February 25th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ebook, 74 pages
ISBN13 9781632164995
Edition language English

 

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Rules to Live By – A BDSM Anthology by Heidi Belleau, Lisa Henry, Anah Crow, Dianne Fox, Anna Zabo, and Cari Z

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Rules to Live By – A BDSM Anthology by Heidi Belleau, Lisa Henry,  Anah Crow, Dianne Fox,

Anna Zabo, Cari Z.

Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.

Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox

Navin is surrounded by family in control of their company and feels he can’t live up to their expectations for him—until he starts dating Marquis, and Marq offers Navin the key to his cock cage. It’s because of Marq’s need to be reminded that Navin is important to him and that he needs to make an effort to always be on time for Navin, but it has an unexpected, empowering effect on Navin as it gives him courage to take control in other areas of his life, including his role in his family’s company. The idea seems to be working until one too many things go wrong in one day for Marquis to handle, and he allows himself to doubt his need to submit to Navin in this way. The two nearly don’t get their HEA, but thankfully the simple solution of communication works to get both men back on track. I enjoyed the development of the characters in this story and would like to see it expanded. There’s so much more to explore in their fledgling D/s relationship, and they are so interesting that they deserve their own book. 4 stars

House Rules by Cari Z.

Jonathan lives by the rules established by his lover, Alistair Fraser, an actor who seems to be in a bromance with his co-star in the film that was written by Jonathan himself. Deliberately breaking the rules when he becomes jealous after watching the men on the Academy Awards broadcast, he’s looking forward to a reward after the punishment he knows he deserves. He doesn’t get exactly what he wanted, but he does get the punishment from a master who very evidently loves him enough to do what’s best for him, not what he wants. This is a shorter story than the others in the anthology, but presents a nice glimpse of domestic discipline. 4 stars

The Harder They Fall by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

A spoiled and neglected rich kid, Tad cashes his allowance in small bills to hire a prostitute at the fancy brothel he recently found, and he’s looking forward to another night of domination and dishing out humiliation on a whore. But instead of getting an old washed-up whore like he requests, he gets “Daddy”, a big, strong, gorgeous, older man with a major dominant streak. And Daddy doesn’t care what Tad wants, Daddy is going to give Tad what he deserves. This is a great story, perfect for those who like some Daddy in their Doms. I would definitely like to read more about these MCs. 5 stars

CTRL Me by Anna Zabo

After breaking up with his homophobic girlfriend when she finds out he is bisexual, Tom agrees to go out with his best friend Gabe on his usual Thursday date night. Little does Tom know that he’s actually accepted a date with a man who can push all of his submissive buttons. Both techies and co-workers, Tom had no idea that Gabe was bi as well. One glance at the length of soft blue rope in Gabe’s glove compartment leads Tom to hope for more than just sex, and it appears that Gabe is just the man to give it to him. This story was a wonderful tale of giving up control through rope bondage. Like some of the other stories, there’s plenty of room here to expand this story, although it felt more complete than many of the others in this book. 5 stars.

My overall rating of 4.5 stars was based on an average of the individual ratings. This would be a good place for someone new to BDSM to start reading. The very talented authors in this volume explore several different aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, enough to give a newcomer inspiration to continue to read more, or to decide that it is not an area they are interested in exploring further.

Cover Art is a photo by L.C. Chase which depicts several items often seen in BDSM scenes: leather cuffs, chains, collar and candle, all artfully displayed. It’s a nice representation for this anthology.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published February 16th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
(first published February 14th 2015)
original titleRules to Live By
ISBN139781626492516
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Road Trip by A.F. Henley

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Road Trip CoverAt 35, car mechanic Boyd Matthis is feeling a bit disillusioned if practical about the way his life panned out.  He makes just enough to pay his bills and get by.  But what of the dreams he once had?  On his wall is a faded map of the country with pins pushed into locations he always wanted to visit.  A 60’s muscle car, another dream, would be the ideal ride that takes him out on the trip of a lifetime…all out of reach of Boyd’s finances.  Until a miracle happens.  Boyd finds his dream car for sale at a price he can afford after 15 years of saving and his life changes course.

One  cross country flight later and Boyd has the keys to his new ’69 Roadrunner in hand and the pedal to the metal. He’s got a plan and a time table to meet before he has to be back at his job.  It’s all working out for once.  Until Las Vegas when Boyd runs into Oliver Martin, 24, a young man in trouble trying to return home to Maryland.  Boyd just can’t turn his back on someone in such obvious pain and need of assistance.  Now its two for the road with time to get to know  each other and for affection if not more to settle as they ride east.  But Oliver’s troubles  aren’t over yet as the shadow of Oliver’s past is following behind them.   What happens when the dreams of one man has the potential to change both mens future forever?

A. F. Henley’s  marvelous Road Trip brought up so many emotions and memories for me.  Boyd’s dream car, what is now referred to as a historic vehicle was a car of my youth, along with 8 tracks, wide tires, and  call of  the road trip and the idea that your dreams could be realized somewhere along the way of that smooth, wide asphalt.  It was also a known “next stage” of adolescence.  From a boy and a dog, to a boy and his car, although in my case it was girl and a dog, to girl, dog, and a car.  It didn’t seem to matter that was a Ford Mustang ’65 or in this case a ’69 Plymouth Roadrunner, black on black.  To be the ruler of the road and master of your dreams, your ride needed to be powerful too.

Henley’s Boyd is a weary, good man who has about given up on his dreams.  Boyd has diligently saved for 15 years (at a small salary as a mechanic) to own his own holy grail of cars only to see life with all its mishaps continually reduce the4 savings he put aside to purchase his dream car.  A faded old USA map full of push pins outline a journey to places Boyd has thought about since childhood. Those dreams combined with the 69 Roadrunner encapsulated the hopes and future Boyd once thought he could achieve but are fast slipping away. I loved that Henley’s Boyd feels so familiar and real.   He’s matter of fact about his appearance, good points and bad.  His view of his life is unobscured by filters and he is accepting that his status, as a hardworking gay man of “singular” status might be permanent.  Bars and hookups for Boyd as a thing of his past.  And we get that because Henley’s portrait of a decent, hardworking man is so vivid and believable that Boyd quickly works his way into our hearts.

And then Boyd’s dreams come true and the feeling in these words are almost heartrending in their quiet joy.

…It was so much more than just a car, or just a road trip… It was that thing he’d been planning for, that one thing, and it was finally happening. It didn’t matter that he still rented a falling-down shack while all his buddies were buying houses. It didn’t matter that he didn’t own his own garage or that he had to scrape by on sixteen bucks an hour. He was getting his car. He was fulfilling a dream.

It was that flurry of emotion that gave Boyd the stamina to ignore the oversized man sitting to his left on the plane who snored most of the way there. It was the same rush that stopped him from losing his mind on the irritating woman to his right who kept bumping his arm with her laptop. He’d even been able to turn a blind eye when the brat in front of him kept popping over the seat to stick out his tongue.

When he arrived at the airport, Boyd waited with a patience even he’d been surprised he could manage for the cab that would take him from the airport in San Francisco out to West Sacramento. He didn’t get irate when they got stuck in traffic on the bridge, even though bridges freaked him the hell out— especially ones that seemed as long as small countries were wide. None of it mattered.

None of the tiny issues were going to get in the way of his adventure. He could have charmed demons if he’d needed to. Nothing in life had ever felt so gratifying as the moment when he finally got to stand beside that sweet little machine and call it his; when he got to hold the keys with the garish, dangling eight-ball and claim them. She was perfect.

There we are, in the moment as Boyd stands beside his dream realized, and its feels as powerful and true as if we were Boyd himself.  And it gets better as Boyd and Roadrunner hit the highway, heading for adventure and all those red pin destinations he has dreamed about his entire life.

Of course, Boyd’s intricately laid out plan hits a snag in Las Vegas (perfect place where many dreams go sideways).  There Boyd finds and we meet the second main character to this story, Oliver Martin.   Oliver is a scared, desperate 24 year old who followed his dream to Las Vegas only to see it crumble and try to destroy him.  Now he’s at a dead end at his journey with no hope in sight.  Until Boyd intervenes.  Oliver is another entirely believable personage.  Guarded, wounded, and clearly in need of help he won’t ask for, its a joy for the reader to see his character change and deepen as the men head east towards their respective homes in Syracuse, NY (Boyd’s) and Towson, MD (Oliver’s).   Sometimes such a difference in ages between the characters doesn’t work but it does here.  Oliver gives Boyd a fresh perspective on his vision of the trips and places they see plus Boyd gives Oliver a safe, firm foundation that allows Oliver to start to heal.  Their relationship starts off shaky yet slowly becomes so much more.  I loved that too.

And the third  main character?  Well, the ’69 Plymouth Roadrunner of course, black on black.  From the moment Boyd grasps that key in hand, that car roars to life, becoming as important to their relationship and story as they are.

…It wasn’t just the way the sun glinted off the chrome or the brilliance of the car’s finish; it was the entire aura of the automobile that caught everyone’s attention. It drew people by the dozens, be it at the pier, the beach, or even the Denny’s that Boyd ate breakfast at. The men asked questions they hoped made them sound smart, and the women came to flirt as if the car was some kind of bizarre extension of his cock.

..he was sure that he could make up the time in Vegas. He donned shades against the early evening sun, popped in a cartridge of Del Shannon, turned up the volume, opened both windows wide, and drove the car hard. The engine thrummed and the speakers cooed, both working in time to drown out Boyd’s voice while he tried to hit notes he should not have.

A braided steering wheel, a box full of 8-track cassettes and the open road…and A.F. Henley puts us in the seat next to Boyd where we feel the softness of leather, shield our eyes from blinding light from the chrome and sit back, lulled by the hum of a powerful car doing what it was manufactured to do…complete someone’s dream.  I could have stayed on the road with all three for pages and pages more than their journey ended.

But life and reality catches up with both in Maryland and what followed felt a little rushed and without foundation.  I felt this section of the plot needed a little more fleshing out, whether in background or characters, to bring it up to the wonderful narrative that comes before.  But it does supply a necessary element of drama and helps bring the story to a totally satisfactory conclusion.  I loved this story and all the characters, car included.

I highly recommend that readers take this journey with Boyd and Oliver.  Pick up Road Trip and remember what is feels like to have your dreams come alive and the whole world ready to explore.  I leave you with the images of a car made to fly down our superhighways with the music blaring and you singing at the top of your lungs.
69 Black Plymouth Road Runner

 

Cover artist Natasha Snow did a great job with incorporating important elements in a design that feels timeless.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 11th 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleRoad Trip
ISBN139781620045077
edition languageEnglish

New Book Alert! Young at Heart by Kay Ellis

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YoungAtHeart-waywardink-banner

Young at Heart Synopsis

Devon Alexander is a wealthy successful businessman. The world is his oyster. In his work life he is decisive and in control.

His private life is another matter.

There, he doesnít know if heís coming or going in his on-off relationship with Jesse Young, an unemployed aspiring model half his age.

Can Devon and Jesse overcome the obstacles and outside influences standing in their way? Can they leave behind their own fear and mistrust? Or will they be their own worst enemies?

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Buy Links

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TE9XMRG
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00TE9XMRG
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00TE9XMRG
WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/young-at-heart-by-kay-ellis/
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/young-at-heart-kay-ellis/1121199078?ean=9781925222340
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-youngatheart-1751435-149.html

Excerpt

GRADUALLY the harsh sound of ragged breathing abated; heart rates slowed; sweat cooled on skin. Devon Alexander shifted beneath his lover, twisting his head so he could see the clock on the wall. Ten minutes to his next meeting. What would his clients think if they could see him now? The CEO of Alexander Industriesótremendously rich and powerful businessman, well-known public figure, feared and respected alikeóbent over his desk, his trousers round his ankles, and a young Adonis buried balls-deep inside him. His clients knew he was gay, had no problem with it, but there was a limit to how much he could shove it in their faces.

Fucking in the office during work hours was risky at the best of times. Normally Devon was against it, but when Jesse showed up, looking all sexy and gorgeous, the temptation was too much. Once Jesse started whispering in his ear all the things he wanted to do, professional ethics went out the window. But, hey, Devon was the boss. If he couldnít fuck in the office when he felt like it, what good was being in charge?

Reluctantly he pushed himself upward and back in an attempt to dislodge Jesse, who groaned and wrapped his arms tightly around Devonís waist. Devon gasped in surprise, chuckling as Jesse began to harden again inside him.

ìWe donít have time for this,î he said sharply, sliding out from underneath the other man with difficulty, given Jesse seemed reluctant to let him go. ìI have a meeting.î

Devon pulled down his shirt and straightened his tie before bending to retrieve his underwear and trousers. Once dressed, he lifted his hands to his head, checking his hair. Vain, maybe, but he had an image to protect. All the while, he covertly watched Jesse tuck his rather impressive manhood into tight white boxer briefs and zip up the fly of his jeans. Jesse glanced up to catch Devon watching and a smug smile spread across his handsome face.

ìShit, did we even lock the door?î Devon asked suddenly, trying to remember if there had been time to turn the key in between Jesse walking into the office and them ending up sprawled half-naked across the desk. Emily, his personal assistant, was terribly efficient, but she was a shy, quiet girl and he hardly dared think what effect it would have on her if she saw Jesse in all his glory. ìWhat if Emily had come in?î

ìShe wouldnít have,î Jesse said confidently.

ìReally? What makes you so sure?î

ìI told her not to.î

About the author

Kay Ellis lives in rural Oxfordshire in the UK, where sheís mum to two beautiful daughters. From an early age, she has written stories, with a sole readership of one ñ her mum, Sylvia. In 2013, someone suggested Kay enter a competition on national television to find a new ëracey readsí author. Much to Kayís surprise, she made it to the final three, and although she didnít win, the high praise received for her work gave her the confidence to start submitting to publishers.

When not writing, Kay enjoys reading, eating out and the theatre.

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