A Sammy Review: Taken (Taken #1) by J.C. Owens

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Taken coverLandon’s past has been a series of shadows and pain. After the loss of his parents at a young age, he’s been tormented by his brothers for years. As a mercenary, he’s been forced to do things he never wanted to, has blood coating his hands. Their latest mission is the result of his brother being captured. It seems simple enough, kidnap a man and bring him back.

But no mission is ever so simple. The men on the island are prepared for them, and Landon soon finds himself held hostage by Kirith, the brother to a well-known mob boss. Their first meetings are that of anger and contempt, but they soon reach an agreement, one that will give Landon his freedom. As they grow to learn each other, bodies and minds, Landon begins to wonder if freedom from this man is what he really wants after all.

“Kirith holds great sadness in his heart, more than any man should have to bear. I have worried over the years as I watched those he brought here, worried that he would never find someone strong enough for him. He isn’t an easy person, but well worth the trials, you will find. You, Landon, are strong enough. You have a fire in you that will match him, keep him from sinking into his depressions. For the first time, I have met someone who could save him from himself and the past.”

I wasn’t necessarily excited to read this book, but I had to for a couple challenges, so I kind of forced myself into starting it. At first, I was very confused. The opening chapter was fairly vague and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. When I finally understood, I was like “Oh, okay, gotcha.” – but still not gripped.

While I wasn’t the most amazed by this story, I did grow to enjoy it. I love things with a dash of darkness to them, and this certainly had elements of that. My biggest problems were in the quick development of Kirith and Landon’s relationship. One minute he’s threatening Landon, and the next they’re so head-over-heels. I just wanted a smoother transition.

What I liked most about the book were the characters, particularly Enzo and Laura. I was immediately drawn to Enzo for his killer demeanor. I mean, come on, who doesn’t find crazy psychopaths hot, right? But in all seriousness, there was just something to him that I was drawn to. And Laura, she was just such a sweet little character in the midst of such a dark, dangerous world. I also enjoyed Michael, Stephanie, and Trent. Actually, I’d love to get to see Trent have his own story. Why not?

I am looking forward to reading about Enzo and Chase. It’ll be interesting to see how one broken heart can unfreeze another. All in all, a pretty good book. It was just missing a bit of something special for me.

The cover isn’t the best thing in the world, but it works. The island theme is displayed, so that’s a place. Beyond that, it’s fairly generic.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 158 pages
Published January 14th 2011 by Etopia Press
ISBN139781936751105
edition languageEnglish
seriesTaken #1

A MelanieM Review: The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise (Least Likely Partnership, #3) by A.J. Thomas

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Interseciton of Purgatory and Paradise coverA year has passed since ex San Diego homicide detective Christopher Hayes’s brother committed suicide. Christopher is still recovering from the injuries he sustained when attacked by the main suspect during the investigation.  The closing of the case saw more changes in Christopher’s life as he moved in with his lover, Montana police officer Doug Heavy Runner.  But instead of the wonderful life Christopher thought he would be living, instead he finds himself deeply depressed by his isolated new location, surrounded by a small town’s  blatant racism and homophobia. No one will hire him, he has made the seething racism his lover Doug Heavy Runner faces at work worse by adding homophobia to the mix, and his most recent jog through town ends when two gay-bashing teenagers hit him in the head with a rock.

Deputy Sheriff Doug Heavy Runner has never overcome the abusive relationship that traumatized and shattered him as a young cop. The memories, the lingering shame, and the fear he has never acknowledged have left him resigned to endure the discrimination he faces in Elkin. But he can’t stand it when Christopher becomes a target for that same hatred even as he is blind to the other issues Christopher faces in town.

A vacation in San Diego is cut short when the mutilated body of one of the boys who assaulted Christopher is found in Doug’s garage. Christopher and Doug return to Montana to find they must uncover a tangle of secrets, lies, and tragedy lurking beneath Elkin’s small-town façade. With their relationship at a crossroads, they’ll have to work together to catch the killer and maybe find a paradise of their own.

The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise by A. J. Thomas returns the reader back to the hidebound small town in Montana, and the lingering aftermath of the original case that brought Christopher Hayes, Doug Heavy Runner, Elliot Belkamp and Ray Delgado together in a series of related, horrific cases.  The story opens a year later with Christopher and Doug still dealing with the consequences of that case and their decision to move in together.  And none of it has turned out as either had hoped it would.

Elkin, Montana is that typical small minded town that exists all over America.  Mired in the past and the tight incestuous connections that small town living breeds, Elkin is the last place in the world to welcome a gay couple in their midst, especially one where one partner is a Native American and the other a gay ex SDPD detective.  Add to that unpalatable combination (to the townspeople) the fact that Christopher’s pedophile brother committed suicide there, a horrific case whose aftermath is still causing reverberations throughout the community, and you have a recipe not only for rejection but outright shunning and hatred.  A. J. Thomas brings this putrid little town alive in all its homophobic, racist, closed down ways.  From glares from citizens who cross the street rather than walk near Christopher to the acts of hatred such as thrown rocks when Christopher runs,  its feels nauseatingly believable and authentic in every way.  Yes, there are a few individuals that are bright spots of acceptance and friendship, but they are few indeed.

Living in this town has not helped either Doug or Christopher come to grips with the horror of the case or their past history that’s getting in the way of their relationship.  Doug won’t talk about his trauma from his time in Miami, and Christopher is still using running to race away from his issues with Doug, the town’s treatment of Doug and himself, and the blatant racism and homophobia that no one seems to want to do anything about.  He’s deeply depressed, a condition he knows he’s prone to and it’s getting worse because he can’t get a job, no matter his outstanding credentials because of the town’s prejudice against him.  This is a complicated, angst driven couple in trouble and each is hiding their fears about their situation and relationship from the other.  Is this an explosive situation?  Absolutely!  And Thomas makes us feel every shiver of dread and stomach turning bit of angst as the characters proceed through the story.

Christopher and Doug have fallen from one emotional precipice only to end up on another.  It’s painful, its sometimes hard to read, but the promise and endurance of Doug and Christopher as well as Christopher’s ability to work through to the truth, will keep you glued to this story and the rocky path in front of them both.   You want these two to succeed but the chances of that happening is never clearly set.  Even when they finally acknowledge some of the issues facing them, its clear that love may not be enough to keep them together unless drastic changes occur.  Thomas understands relationship dynamics in the manner in which Doug and Christopher have to work through the past and present problems in order to have a future.

A highlight here is the trip they take to San Diego.  I don’t want to spoil it but it brings Ray Delgado and Elliot Belkamp back into the picture (not that they ever left).  This section was the icing on a cake, the bubbles in the champagne.  And I loved it!

 The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise (love that title and the way its explained) also contains another series of horrific murders and suicides.  That they come about due to the festering attitudes and influences of small town bigotry will surprise no one.  However, the cases are gripping, the action quick and surprising, and the ending explosive.  I wouldn’t expect anything less from this amazing series and author.

Thankfully, this is not the last of the series.  On the author’s website, Thomas states that an as yet untitled fourth story is in the works.  Be still my heart!  I can’t wait.

Are you new to this series?  Run and pick up the first story, A Casual Weekend Thing, and work your way through books 2 and 3.  All are on my Must Have, Must Read list and will end up on my Best of lists this year.  Love complicated, angst driven men?  Love layers, twists and turns to your romance and stories.  Already a fan of this series?  Then be prepared to love this story. The Intersection of Purgatory and Paradise and the other books in the Least Likely Partnership series (listed below) are written for you.  I highly recommend them all!

Cover artist Brook Albrecht.  I really like this cover, its my favorite of the three so far.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages, available also in paperback
Expected publication: March 27th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632169785
edition languageEnglish
url http://ajthomasromance.blogspot.com/p/the-intersection-of-purgatory-and.html
seriesLeast Likely Partnership #3

 

Books in the Least Likely Partnership Series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, timeline and relationships:

In The Book Spotlight: Room 1024 by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae

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Room 1024 by  Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae
Release Date: April 8, 2015

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Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

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Sales Links: Torquere Books

STRW Author BookSynopsis

When Cameron takes his submissive boyfriend Noah to a gay men’s leather convention in San Francisco, Cam expects to spend the week exploring their relationship and experimenting with non-monogamy. What he doesn’t expect is to run into his own former dom, Lou, in an embarrassingly public reunion.

While Noah is enthusiastic about the opportunity to play with the former international leather title-holder, Cam is more wary. He and Lou have unfinished business. A four-way encounter with Lou and his sub Stephen could be great fun—or it could show Noah that Cameron can never quite be the dom he wants and needs.

As Cameron and Noah work through the uncertainties in their relationship, Noah is offered everything he ever wanted, in a completely different way than he ever expected, leading all four men to discover that sometimes the only way forward is to revisit the past.

Pages or Words: 13,000 words

Categories: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Menage/Poly, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Between dinner and dessert—which is clearly going to be all about dessert wine because Lou loves a ritual, whether of a meal or of a certain sort of sex—Lou walks his fingers across the table toward Noah, stops just short of touching him, and says, “So what do you like?”

Lou glances at Cameron to make sure it’s all right he’s asked, only after the fact, and Cameron gives a little nod. Among other things, he’s curious how Noah, who agitated for this trip and is constantly saying he wants them to be more a part of the community, will take the reality of it.

Noah glances around and blushes slightly at the impending necessity of mentioning spanking and flogging and CBT in public. Cameron finds it completely endearing. It also reveals, while Lou smirks over them all, just what it takes to turn Stephen into a chatterbox: comparing notes.

Eventually, Lou runs a finger around the rim of his wine glass and says, “Well then, we should all play together tomorrow.”
Sales Links:

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

 

Authors Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae

Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese are authors of the gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry—Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)—all from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella Midsummer (Love’s Labour 1), about a summerstock Shakespeare company, is from Dreamspinner Press (May 2015). They also  have a story in Best Gay Romance 2015 from Cleis Press and edited by Felice Picano. Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller; Erin is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. They write stories and scripts about the intersection of private lives, fame, and desire. You can find them on the web at http://www.Avian30.com.

Where to find the authors:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Erin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/erincmcrae

Racheline’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheline_m
Other: Joint Blog: http://Avian30.com
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23129325-room-1024

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Tour Dates & Stops: April 3, 2015

Parker Williams, MM Good Book Reviews, Love Bytes, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Inked Rainbow Reads, 3 Chicks After Dark, Molly Lolly, BFD Book Blog, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Charley Descoteaux, My Fiction Nook, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Cate Ashwood, Amanda C. Stone, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

 

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Room 1024’. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and Prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Is It The End for Ty and Zane? Find out With Crash & Burn by Abigail Roux (Cut & Run Series Finale Tour and Contest)

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Its Time To Say Goodbye to Ty and Zane!  Crash & Burn is the Cut & Run series finale by Abigail Roux.  It’s a book we’ve all been equally anticipating and dreading.  Abigail Roux and Riptide Publishing is giving us all a chance to wave farewell to this couple we’ve come to love so much.  Follow along at each stop of the tour so you don’t miss out on the special farewell goings on!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words will say our goodbyes next week with our reviews and thoughts on Ty, Zane and the Cut & Run series.  Meanwhile, here’s Abigail Roux on the tour, the series, and the special prizes she has in store:

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 Ty's Go Bag giveaway

Hello and thank you for joining me as I bid a fond farewell to Ty and Zane on the Crash & Burn virtual tour! For the next five days, join me on my virtual stops to help me say goodbye to the Cut & Run series with cut scenes, playlists, behind the scenes looks at the process of writing this last book, and a peek at the original plan for the series and the twists and turns it took on its journey to the end.

Did I mention the prizes? I have incredible prizes for two winners; a go-bag put together by one B. Tyler Grady. Each bag has over $370 worth of goodies in it. For more detail on the contents, you can click the link at the end of this post! Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing to win one of these bags. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on April 4, and winners will be announced on  Monday, April 6th. Contest is valid worldwide.

About Crash & Burn (Cut & Run #9):

It’s been five years since Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett first worked together to solve the Tri-State murders, and time has been both harsh and kind. Engaged now, they face the challenge of planning a deeply uncertain future together. Zane is at the pinnacle of his career with one last mystery to solve, while Ty is at sea in a world where he’s no longer the tip of a spear.

There’s just one more hurdle in the way of their happy ever after: a traitor from their inner circle who threatens to burn their world to the ground.

Squeezed between the Vega cartel, an unknown mole, and too many alphabet agencies to count, Ty and Zane must gather all their strength and resources to beat the longest odds they’ve ever faced. To make it out alive, they’ll need help from every friend they’ve got. Even the friends who might betray their trust.

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About Abigail Roux

Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year.

Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of Call of Duty throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head.

If you care to follow me more closely, you can find me on Twitter,  Facebook, and Tumblr.

Follow this link to find detailed info on the go-bag prizes, but make sure you comment here to enter! You must be 18 years of age to enter. Prizes provided by Abigail Roux and Ty and Zane!

http://abiroux.tumblr.com/post/114770668923/the-book-nein-blog-tour-prizes-tys-go-bag-when

A Brick & Mortar tote bag  courtesyof Ty and ZaneBootlace Handcuff KeyUtility ToolSample Ty and Zane tins

Some of the items in Ty’s Go Bag….

Thanks for stopping by! You can follow the entire tour by going to Riptide Publishing Cut & Run Tour page.

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