A Sammy Review: Fallout by Lisa Henry and M. Caspian

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Rating: 5 out of 5

“When I was little I used to climb in my treehouse and pretend a dragon kidnapped me and yell for my dad to come and rescue me. I guess he got sick of me pestering him every five minutes, because one day he came home with a plastic sword from the store and said I needed to learn how to rescue myself.” A smile tempered her tone. “So I told him now we had to take turns rescuing me.”

Bastian’s throat ached.

[Name removed] was silent for a long while before she spoke again. “I don’t remember whose turn it is though.”


Fallout coverBastian and Jack have been friends for more than half their lives, lovers since high school. They have a rhythm, a kind of routine, but as with many relationships, things become rocky. That’s why they head back to Missouri, their home state, to rekindle their romance with a hike that they took as teenagers. That, and Jack needs to do research for his masters.

What unfolds after their short time on that mountain is nothing short of disastrous. The world, once so colorful, is blanketed in dull gray ash. But the ash brings more than darkness with it, and the world as Jack and Bas knew it is a broken, mangled thing of the past.

The water stain on the wall looked like a face. There was a word for that: the way the brain interpreted random shapes and patterns as faces. That had seemed nice once, that people were always searching for meaning around them, for connections with other people. Something spiritual. But he’d be wrong; it was something primal instead, something vicious. Something in an animal’s brain that needed to see a predator in a split-second through any camouflage.

I went into this hoping for something dark and twisted, and I got exactly what I wanted. The world that Lisa Henry and M. Caspian created was nothing short of divine, a true and original conception of a time that we conceptualize as apocalyptic.

There’s something about shows and movies that allow their watcher to experience something that is almost outside their existence, like travelling to another place we hope we never actually have to exist in, but get some sort of sick thrill from watching others suffer within the imaginative doom. This book did that for me. It painted a scenario that I would do anything never to live through, but some part of me ached to touch it and the way it was written gave me that ability to grasp at it, at what the world would look like in a thick layer of ash and without rules. It was a treasure to read.

The authors boldly went into the darkest places of humanity, right to the edge. They looked at the way some humans react to chaos, and how a world without rules creates monsters out of men. Then, they took men, men who we got to know, and showed us just how far they would go to survive. It was beautiful and more than a little bit raw. I have a great deal of respect for the authors who exposed the depths of a human that others are afraid to acknowledge.

Then there’s the way in which they took characters, characters who did absolutely despicable things, and made you feel with them, for them. When Bas was going through emotions, I went through them too – that confusion about a saving grace or the one thing that would push him over the cliff. I felt the way he grasped onto everything that he could just to push ahead, and how the pain was more than just a physical thing for him. He breathed it, and he moved on. He was truly a strong, unapologetic character.

It’s simple, this story is not going to be for everyone. Another reviewer has mentioned that it’s not a romance, and I would agree to an extent. It’s about survival, and about moving forward together, and if that’s not just a little romantic, I don’t know what is. Even in the fucked-up world Henry and Caspian created, there was something tender to that realization. It’s dark and brutally honest, and if you’re not ready to confront that, you’re going to be left with a bitter taste in your mouth. But if you can confront it, well then you’ll be quite pleased.

In sum, this was a wonderful and memorable book in a world that I would love to read more of, after all the ash touched more than just their small area, right?

The cover art by Natasha Snow is simply beautiful and fits the story so well. It has that dark edge and the shadows that reflect in the story.

Sales Links:      Amazon          Buy it Here

Book Details:

ebook, self published
Expected publication: April 17th 2015
edition languageEnglish

A BJ Review: The Protector by Cooper West

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The Protector coverGuardsmen teams comprised of a human Handler and a weredog Protector are rare and highly valued but also feared by some because of their unusual abilities. Protectors always die within a short period of losing their Handler. Except that Alex Taylor didn’t. He’s lived as a widower for three years after his partner’s death. The pairs normal bond in their teens or early-twenties, but Handler Marcus Stephanek, at twenty-six, is well past the age when most have bonded to their Protectors. He’s almost given up hope of ever fulfilling his destiny as a Handler when he meets and bonds with Alex. But Alex is still grieving over his previous Handler and unwilling to let Marcus into his heart. Unexplained murders and strange events seeming to surround Alex, but he doesn’t put two and two together until a friends’ life is on the line. Handler and Protector will need to learn to trust and accept their bond if they are to work together and survive.

Well-written and enjoyable read with a fascinating premise revolving around one of my favorite things… DOGS! The author created a captivating world where Guardmen pairs (Protector dog and Handler) live intertwined lives. The outstanding history behind this AU world was enthralling reading. Early on, I was sure that this would be an easy five star for me. Unfortunately, it lost a bit of ground when it came to building the relationship between Alex and Marcus.

As separate characters in the time before they bonded, I adored both Alex and Marcus. I was rooting so much for them to get together that I could hardly wait for it to happen. When they finally met, the initial bonding was nearly instantaneous and picture perfect—exactly what I’d craved. In the period after the initial bond though, I felt no chemistry between the pair coming through. With so many callous and uncaring actions on both side sprinkled liberally with lots of bickering, the storyline came across as lots of hurt and very little comfort. I wanted to see love grow between them, but I felt as if they were tearing each other apart.

The turnaround between the two men finally came, but by then it felt weak to me, more like an acceptance of their fate and a giving in to their need for one another than the thrilling tale of falling in love I’d hoped for after the initial build up at the beginning. It felt like compromise.

This AU world where dogs and men bonded was beyond awesome. Some well-developed and fun secondary characters added depth as well, but in the end, the MCs love story felt too weak to warrant a five star.

Cover art by Reese Dante who created a lovely cover with a gorgeous representation of the two MCs plus the Protector in his canine form.

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


Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published May 5th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 4th 2014)
ISBN 1627984437 (ISBN13: 9781627984430)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.cooper-west.com/

In The Spotlight: Under Glass by Rebecca Cohen (interview and giveaway)

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Under Glass by Rebecca Cohen

Goodreads Link
Release Date: April 6, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

 Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback    All Romance (ARe)

Our Q and A with Rebecca Cohen…

• As a reader, Under Glass is a galaxy away from the Crofton Chronicles.  What prompted the switch in genres?

This isn’t the first time I’ve switched genres; I go wherever the story takes me. ‘Under Glass’ is my first foray into science fiction, and it’s a genre I love and wanted to write in. The plot simply wouldn’t have worked as a contemporary or an historical, and even fantasy wouldn’t have been the best fit. I needed the freedom to create new worlds and species.

• I loved the premise of Under Glass, lovers reunited or torn apart and reunited is a theme that resonates with me.  Why use this as a background or theme to your story?  What was the inspiration behind the characters and plot?

I wanted to play with the theme of love at first sight and predetermination. Kai and Ollie are linked by their biology, they were destined to be together, but once I had that idea I started thinking what would happen if two people who were meant to be together were separated. Kai is brought up knowing he has lost something very important and this shapes his character, whereas Ollie is blissfully unaware until he meet a stranger who is so compelling. As Ollie doesn’t know what is happening he tries to fight it. As you can imagine this is a clash they need to work hard to overcome.

• What do you use, if anything, to create “alien” names for characters and objects?

I try to make the first names of characters ease to read, since as a reader I find it quite frustrating if I don’t know how to pronounce a name. For the surname, I allow myself to be freer and make up alien sounding surnames. I still want people to be able to pronounce them and often combine normal names or words to create more alien names.

• Would you like to be an interplanetary traveller and where would you like to go?

Only if I could make I sure I could get home! It would be fascinating to get up close to Saturn’s rings, or witness the scale of the ice giant planets first hand.

• Do you have a favorite  science fiction or fantasy author who made an impact on you as a reader and now author?

Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. I love both of these authors, and large part of that is due to the humor in their writing.

• Favorite fictional  science fiction and/or fantasy world and who created it?

Has to be the Discworld by Terry Pratchett.

• I can’t tell but is there a chance that this will become a series?

‘Under Glass’ was planned to be a standalone, and Kai and Ollie’s story has been told. However, there is a lot of untapped potential in the worlds of the planetarium and, while I have no plans to return at the moment, I never say never…

• What’s next for Rebecca Cohen?

A contemporary romantic comedy novella series set around an amateur dramatics society in London. After those, I’ll be finishing off the Reagalos series and then I’m heading back to Crofton Hall.

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STRW Author BookSynopsis

Creating planets and guarding the stars leaves novice planet builder Kai Faewiva lonely. For members of Kai’s species who are born with an organ called a caerellon, their true love, their Sun or Moon, is identified at birth. But the novices are people who have lost their perfect love, and Kai’s Sun is long dead, killed in an accident when he was five years old. Or so everyone thought.

After recovering from another bout of the unidentified illness he has battled for years, Kai returns to work.  But his quiet day at the planetarium is thrown into chaos when scans of Goka Prime, one of the planets in the Sol-Alpha2 system, picks up a life-form that shouldn’t be there. Kai’s Sun, Oliver Gyin, is alive and well, but how he got to be on Goka Prime, no one knows. Now he needs to be brought home.

Ollie has lived most of his life in the City of Harrea, never guessing he is from another planet. Surprised to find a stranger means the world to him, Ollie wrestles with his loyalties and the drive to return with Kai. To leave Goka Prime, he must give up everything and everyone he knows. But twenty years apart means Kai and Ollie face a fight to secure their destined future.

Pages or Words: 108,000 words

Categories: M/M Romance, Romance, Science Fiction

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

The East Terrace had clear views of the city and the hills in the distance, and the setting sun bathed the world in hues of red, purple, and orange. “One of the best views from the palace,” Ollie said. “Guests aren’t usually allowed here.”

Kai glanced back to the door. “Will we get in trouble?”

“No, Menish is a personal friend. He won’t mind.”

“Must be good to have a friend who rules the city.”

Ollie chuckled. “We went to school together. I often have to remind myself that he’s the sultan and not the kid who helped me toilet paper the housemaster’s study windows.”

“Very good friends.”

Ollie didn’t think Kai needed to know just how good a friend Menish had been at one point, although what they had enjoyed was nothing more serious than teenage exploration. “Put it this way: he’d have no problem with me showing you this terrace.”

“The sunset is quite beautiful,” Kai said, turning to face it, and Ollie thought Kai wanted to steer the conversation away from Menish.

“Yes. It changes through the seasons, but I think this is my favorite time of year.”

“Then I am fortunate we chose this time to visit and a place on the mission became available.”

Kai’s choice of word in calling his visit a mission was a little strange, but Ollie thought better of mentioning anything. “Oh, you were. The festival to celebrate the end of harvest starts in a few days, and the city is awash with stalls and street entertainment.”

Kai turned back to him, cocked his head to one side, and smiled. “Perhaps you would agree to be my guide for that as well?”

The hopeful expression and the slight smile made Ollie swallow thickly as he stared into Kai’s dark brown eyes in the failing light. Kai bit his bottom lip and tilted his head back a little to look Ollie in the eye, making Ollie lick his own lips involuntarily. His hand twitched to cup Kai’s cheek and rub his thumb across his cheekbone to prove his hypothesis that Kai’s skin would be soft and warm to the touch.

The little voice in the back of his head returned, and it bluntly reminded Ollie he wasn’t a single man. The pang of guilt made him turn away, and he saw a confused look on Kai’s face. Not only was he in danger of betraying Rica, but he was also leading Kai along on a dance that Kai didn’t know Ollie already had a partner for.

He stepped away, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, Kai. I can’t do this. While I can’t deny you have caught my eye like no one else, I am not the type of man to be unfaithful.” There, he’d said it, made it clear he was attached, and Kai’s expression morphed first to confusion and then into hurt. “I don’t understand.”

“I have a boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” asked Kai weakly.

“His name is Rica. He’s away at sea.” The devastation on Kai’s face almost made Ollie step closer and gather him into his arms, but he forced himself to put more distance between them. “I’m sorry, Kai. I was so wrapped up in the connection we seemed to share I lost sight of things. I should never have let it get this far, and I must stop it going further.”

“I see.” Kai turned away. “I wish you a good evening, Mr. Gyin. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to enjoy the view a little longer before I find one of the servants to show me to my room.”

“Of course. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Kai didn’t reply, and Ollie retreated back inside, part of his mind protesting that he was going the wrong way, the other part telling him he was doing the right thing. He turned back to see Kai still standing on the terrace, his head bent. Ollie fled, fearing that if he stayed a moment longer he’d do something he’d really enjoy but regret later.

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 DSP gift cert and choice of a book from my backlist (does not include Under Glass). Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Tour Dates & Stops:

6-Apr

Prism Book Alliance

Multitasking Mommas

EE Montgomery

Carly’s Book Reviews

7-Apr

Love Bytes

The Novel Approach

My Fiction Nook

8-Apr

MM Good Book Reviews

Kimi-Chan

Molly Lolly

9-Apr

Because Two Men Are Better Than One

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

10-Apr

The Blogger Girls

Amanda C. Stone

13-Apr

Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

Bayou Book Junkie

14-Apr

Cate Ashwood

Nephylim

Parker Williams

15-Apr

Divine Magazine

Velvet Panic

16-Apr

Hearts on Fire

Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

Inked Rainbow Reads

17-Apr

Tara Lain

BFD Book Blog

Up All Night, Read All Day

 

A Bluewater Bay Wedding? It’s All About Wedding Favors by Anne Tenino (giveaway)

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We are going back to Bluewater Bay with Wedding Favors by Anne Tenino!  What or where is Bluewater Bay? Well, Bluewater Bay is a series of must read stories by many of your favorite authors.  Here is a little more history on this series.WolfsLanding_transparent
Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.BWBlogo_Web

This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield, Aleksandr Voinov, Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, and Jaime Samms. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

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Giveaway

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a draw for a $15 Riptide gift card. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 18th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!

Wedding Favors Blurb:

Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her man of honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the best man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.

The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.

When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.

Excerpt

The party started at five thirty, and Lucas and Audrey were about fifteen minutes late. Pretty good, considering their track record.

“Are you nervous about seeing Gabe again?” Audrey asked over the staccato tap of her heels as they walked down the hall toward the cafeteria.

“Yeah,” he answered absently. Who had an engagement party in an elementary school? “Why is this happening here, again?”
Audrey’s arched brow was in her tone, he didn’t need to look at her. “Because: your mother.”

“Oh yeah.” Mom was a lunch lady. “She’s making the food?”

“No, she just got permission to hold it here. I told you this, Lucas.” She didn’t sound annoyed so much as tired. Probably of his only listening to half of the things that came out of her mouth.

“I know. Sorry.” He really was too wrapped up in himself, lately. More so than normal. He needed to make an effort here. One’s best friend didn’t get married every day, or—hopefully—more than once.

“So,” she said, in the manner of someone who was about to bring up a subject only she took delight in discussing, “you are nervous about seeing him.”

Lucas halted, then turned to her when she did the same. Who? They’d been talking about . . . “Gabe? You mean him? Why would I be? I’ve seen him since that happened.” Oh shit, he’d just admitted it, though, hadn’t he? Holding up a hand—even though she was just looking at him smirkily and not actually about to say anything—he added, “I just said yes because that’s what I usually do when I’m not actually paying attention.”

“I know.” Audrey sounded more amused than annoyed. “It’s just that pretending nothing happened for twelve years gets awkward. This is the first time you’re really going to have to interact with him.”

Lucas faux-gasped and clutched his chest. “You never said I had to interact.” He walked on toward the cafeteria, and a second later Audrey’s feet tapped along behind him, moving faster until she caught up and looped her arm through his, which he took as a sign that she didn’t intend to push the topic.

“Ha. Ha.” She didn’t give up, not that he’d really expected her to. Instead she jogged her elbow into his side.

“It’s not like it’s all on me. We were taking turns avoiding each other.”

“This is official, though. You’re the MOH, and he’s the best man. It’s sort of like he’s your date.”

“He’s not my date to the wedding.” Mental note: get a date for the wedding. “Don’t worry, I’ll be very civil.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” she muttered.

To say that he and Gabe had been avoiding each other the last twelve years wasn’t entirely true. Gabe had definitely avoided him after that night, until Lucas left for college. In the years after that, Lucas had only glimpsed the guy in passing, until his last few visits home, when Gabe kept dropping by his parents’ house, trying to make conversation.

From that point, the avoidance was all on him. They’d done a one-eighty from those few months after he and Gabe had . . . done what they did. Handjob, a tiny voice squeaked from some hidden corner of his mind, then slipped back into the shadows. His brain always tripped up on the specific details of being with Gabe, but the sense memories—those were crystal clear. Every once in a while, in the middle of sex with later partners, the slide of a lube-slicked hand against his skin would take him back to that moment, and he’d be consumed with it again, just like then. Dizzy and exhilarated and hazy with lust. It had been a great first experience. It was what had happened afterward that had soured it for him. Gabe had admitted to playing Lucas, then avoided him like the plague. It had hurt in surprising ways that had nothing to do with sex. Well, not much.

He’d been so naive.

Wedding Favors by Anne Tenino
Buy It Here at Riptide Publishing

Details:

Author: Anne Tenino
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-292-9
eBook release: Apr 13, 2015
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-293-6
Print release: Apr 13, 2015
Word count: 86,500,Page count: 318
Cover by: L.C. Chase

Author Bio: Anne Tenino
Catalyzed by her discovery of LGBTQ romance, Anne Tenino left the lucrative fields of art history, non-profit fundraising, and domestic engineering to follow her dream of become a starving romance author. For good or ill, her snarky, silly, quasi-British sense of humor came along for the ride.
Anne applies her particular blend of romance, comedy and gay protagonists to contemporary, scifi and paranormal tales. Her works have won awards, she’s been featured in RT Book Reviews, and has achieved bestseller status on Amazon’s gay romance list.
Born and raised in Oregon, Anne lives in Portland with her husband and two kids, who have all taken a sacred oath to never read her books. She can usually be found at her computer, procrastinating.
Connect with Anne:
Website: http://annetenino.com/
Blog:  http://www.chicksanddicksrainbow.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AnneTenino
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-Tenino-Author/177759365608572
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/annetenino