A MelanieM Review: Theory Unproven by Lillian Francis

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Theory Unproven 400x600Working with elephants in their natural habitat has always been Eric Phillips dream. Getting what he’s always desired introduces him to Tyaan Bouwer, the bush pilot that flies in his supplies, and Eric discovers the allure of South Africa goes beyond the wildlife and the scenery.

But in an area where bushveld prejudices and hatred bleed across the borders, realising their love will be a hard fought battle. Keeping hold of it might just kill them.

* * * * *

An unexpected job offer finds zoologist Eric Phillips transported from the elephant house at a zoo just outside London to the wildlife reserves in the South African bushveld. Being able to work with his own herd of elephants, and analysing their behaviour, more than makes up for the remote nature of the research station. The one bright spot on the horizon, quite literally if the sun hits it at the right angle, is the silver freight plane that brings his supplies and half an hour in the company of Tyaan, the gorgeous but taciturn pilot.

With wide open spaces and clear skies, Tyaan Bouwer is never be happier than when he’s flying over the bushveld, the landscape beneath him a changing vista of colour and texture. It’s that view and the freedom to be able to climb in his plane and fly that’s kept him in the small town where he was born and raised. South Africa might be a rainbow nation but in the northern regions where neighbouring countries are far from liberal minded, prejudices and hatred bleed across the borders. Tyaan’s not in the closet, not really. Get him to the city and with his strong, silent routine he can pull a guy without even trying. He’s fine with that as long as they don’t press him into trying to see them again. It’s not like he wants a relationship. And just maybe when he gets home he’s hovering in the doorway of that closet, but he’s never met anyone worth taking the risk for.

The day he’s sent to Limpopo to collect Eric that all changes. He tries to bury the feelings of want that Eric conjures in him, but he can’t resist the bonds of friendship that forms between them.

As a zoologist Eric likes to think that he’s adept at anticipating how a creature will react in any given situation, and they don’t come any more beautiful and skittish than Tyaan. Despite Tyaan’s jittery behaviour Eric has a theory they could be good together but when things go catastrophically wrong it appears their relationship will remain a theory unproven.

Theory Unproven by Lillian Francis was a book I enjoyed on multiple levels.  It was the first novel I had read by this author and now I have a author with a new library to explore.   Love when that happens.  Secondly, as a park naturalist, this book with its location set in a elephant research sanctuary in Africa really resonated with me.  With a zoologist, Eric Phillips, as one half of the main couple, I loved the realistic way his life and work with the elephants was portrayed.  Dirty, all consuming, and soul satisfying…the readers understands through the many passages what it must be like to have that deep connection with another species. Whether Eric is combing through scat (that’s poop) or setting a series of problems for the elephants to work through, it all comes across beautifully and authentically.  It also serves to make the reserve, and the elephants come alive, so much so that they become necessary to the main characters and the plot, and not just act as props for the storyline.  And the elephants!  They rank high among my favorite characters here. I have to admit this element of the story is the most successful for me.

For such a vast landscape in setting and plot, there is really only a small cast of characters involved here.  Outside of Eric and Tyaan, we have a flying doctor, Jessie, Benedict Brooke’s (assistant to Mr. Cowdry, Mr. Cowdry CEO of The Foundation), all of which feel fleshed out and believable.  Jessie is a cornerstone here.  A strong woman, she is never the less the “beard” for Tyaan in town where his “gayness” is not only frowned on but poses a direct threat.Benedict and Mr. Cowdry’s personalities are developed through a series of telephone/Skype conversations that does a great job of making these men and their dysfunctional relationship intriguing and real.  All good characters, all people the reader will want to spend time with.

What is problematic here?  The native peoples themselves.   Only marginally represented first by Akibo, a manager and Eric’s first contact at The Foundation, then by the cook/housekeeper Sethunya (a veritable wisp of a character) and the worker Masumba, you never really get a feel for the people, their tribes or their background.  Their appearances are brief, and lacking in context. Their characters are pencil sketches at best, and,especially in Masumba’s case, that lack of background and solidity hurts both the story and resolution at the end.

Tyaan is a character that will draw conflicted feelings among the readers.  I thought his was a character grounded in the reality of the changing times in South Africa where you can be legally out yet being gay can also get you hung or worse in neighboring countries and in the conservative bush lands where the local mentality is as rigid and inflexible as the past societies has made it.   Fear and past history has made him limit his relationships to one night stands in the anonymous city landscape and it has kept him in the closet at home where he works and lives.  Got it, you understand him even if you don’t like his actions, it makes him human.

But its that “realness” that will make Eric’s naivete less believable.  Surely, Eric will have done more than a cursory research job when looking at the area and his outwardly gay status. Assuming he would have no problems being an “out gay”  white man in the wilds of a  reserve on a nation that just accepted being homosexual as legal, would be like thinking you could act in a small rural, conservative town in (fill in the blank area) like you would in New York City.  Uh, no.  And while I have known quite a few “been in the woods too long”  researchers, few of them would display that set of blinders that looms so large on Eric.

But most of those thoughts came after I had finished the story and had time to think about it.  While I was reading it, I was hooked on the elephants, Eric and Tyaan’s attraction for each other and strained journey towards a relationship.  This is a long book yet most of the time I spent reading it flew by.  And I could easily book a flight back to this universe.  I would love to know more about Mr. Cowdry and Benedict’s convoluted relationship and surely there are more bumps on the relationship road for Tyaan and Eric.  A return trip would be more than welcome.

I vacillated on the rating here.  I wanted to go higher for the location, setting, elephants and research.  And lower for the context and native characters.  So I settled for a 4 star rating which I’m not entirely happy with…because this story is so lush, so vibrant in feeling and scope that I am still so very much in love with Theory Unproven weeks later.

I recommend this story for all who love romance, foreign lands and a landscape of adventure where the search for love can be rough, affectionate, and hard won.  Pick it up today and decide for yourself.

Cover art by Meredith Russell.  I feel the same way about the cover that I do about the story.  Love/dislike the cover.  The models work/don’t work for the characters within.  See?  Just not sure.  Love the background though.

Sales Links:  Love Lane Books uk      All Romance (ARe)        Amazon                Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 327 pages
Published February 20th 2015 by Love Lane Books

Limited (first published January 30th 2015)

In Our Spotlight: Lilah Suzanne’s Spice (author interview/contest)

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spotlight on books Spice by Lilah Suzanne
Release Date: April 2, 2015
Goodreads Link 

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About Author Lilah Suzanne

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the online fan community.

Where to find the author:
Website: http://www.lilahsuzanne.com
Facebook: Lilah Suzanne
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/lilahsuzanne
Twitter: @lilahsuzanne
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lilahsuzanne/

Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Cover Art by Gladys Garcia;
Book Design by BuckeyeGrrl Designs

Sales Links:        Interlude Press Web Store     AmazonSpice 4x6x COVER-Front-1

Spice Synopsis:

As writer of the popular “Ask Eros” advice column, Simon Beck has an answer to every relationship question his readers can throw at him. When it comes to his own life, the answers are a little more elusive—until computer troubles introduce him to the newest and cutest member of his company’s IT support team. Simon may be charmed by Benji’s sweet and unassuming manner, but will he find the answer to the one relationship question he has never been able to solve: how to know when he’s met Mr. Right?
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Rom-Com

Excerpt:

“How about you? Did you always want to be a writer?”

“Yeah. I think I did.” He finally gives up on work completely and closes the laptop. “I mean. I guess what I write about is kind of pointless, but I wanted to be a poet once upon a time, so I guess it could be even more pointless,” he jokes.

Benji’s eyebrows knot. “It’s not. Why would it be pointless?”

Simon gives a humorless laugh. “I mean, I write a sex column for women. Not exactly moving prose or hard-hitting journalism.”

Benji scoots over little on the desk, sitting with his legs so close to where Simon is sitting low in his chair that he can smell Benji’s crisp laundry detergent and citrusy soap. He suddenly has to fight the urge to move a fraction to the left, press his nose to the inside seam of Benji’s jeans and breathe him in.

“You listen to people. You remind them that they’re valuable and worthy of love and respect. How is that not important?” Simon is struck speechless, chest tight and breath caught. Then Benji claps him on the shoulder and hops off the desk. “Come on. Let’s go have lunch.”

Pages or Words: 228 Pages

SpiceBadgeContest:  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card; Multi-Format eBook Copies of Spice to Five Winners.

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2-Apr

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3-Apr

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6-Apr

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7-Apr

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8-Apr

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9-Apr

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10-Apr

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13-Apr

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14-Apr

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Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

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15-Apr

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In the Spotlight: Andrew Q. Gordon’s The Eye and The Arm (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Eye and The Arm (Champion of the Gods #2)  by Andrew Q. Gordon

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Release Date: April 14, 2015

Are  you a lover of fantasy fiction? Then check out Andrew Q. Gordon’s latest fantasy novel,  The Eye and The Arm in his Champion of the Gods series.  We have the book synopsis and an excerpt for you as well as a contest to enter.  Happy Reading.

Special bonus! We also have a trailer for you as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk6OfKOU6nc&feature=youtu.be

STRW Author BookSynopsis

After defeating Meglar at Belsport, Farrell returns to Haven to recover from his injuries, but Khron, the god of war, has other ideas. He gives Farrell a new mission: free the survivors of the ancient dwarf realm of Trellham from their three-thousand-year banishment. To fulfill Khron’s near impossible task, Farrell will need the help of his distance ancestor, the legendary wizard Kel. But Kel has been dead for a thousand years.
 
Farrell finds information hinting that Kel is alive, so he moves his search to Dumbarten, Kel’s birthplace. To reach Dumbarten unannounced, Farrell and Miceral disguise themselves as mercenaries on board a merchant vessel. Their journey is disrupted when pirates attack their ship. While attempting to subdue the attack, Farrell is struck down by one of Meglar’s minions.

Unconscious and trapped in his own mind, Farrell’s only chance for survival rests with Miceral and the peregrine king Rothdin entering his thoughts and helping him sort fact from illusion. To reach Farrell, they will need to rely on an untested spell from one of Kel’s spellbooks. If they succeed, Miceral can guide Farrell home safely. If not, Farrell will destroy not only himself, but Miceral, Rothdin, and everyone around him.

Pages or Words: 296 pages

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Categories: Fantasy, Gay Fiction

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Miceral grabbed his last javelin and crept toward the starboard rail. The tip of pirate’s prow had just reached their stern. He could see men crouched under the protection of the gunwale. “They’re almost here—be ready.”

Moving faster than the enemy could react, Miceral scaled the short staircase and quickly found a protected spot in the aftcastle. Peering through a narrow opening, he scanned the clusters of men he could see. At the rear of the largest group, Miceral spotted someone who, by clothing at least, appeared to be an officer. With no one else standing out as being the captain, this man became his target.

Springing to his feet, he hurled the spear before anyone could target him. One of the pirates huddled by the rail fired an arrow, which Miceral caught in midflight. Flashing the enemy a wicked grin, he snapped the shaft in half before dropping back behind his cover.

Miceral closed one eye and stared through the space between crates. He watched the men look toward where their officer had been standing, and from the shouts he knew he’d hit his mark. One pirate tried to pull the spear out but failed. When he turned to ask for help, a stream of blood dribbled out of his mouth and over the feathers of the arrow protruding from his neck. Everyone else ducked immediately and remained out of sight.

Miceral traced the shaft’s path back to where Peter knelt, nocking another arrow. He gave his friend a wink and a nod. Before either could enjoy the small victory, a hail of arrows and spears whistled across the deck. Under the cover of this barrage, dozens of grappling hooks landed on the deck of the Rose. Once the barbs dug into whatever purchase they could find, the two vessels inched closer. Miceral heard the faint thud of the two ships colliding and slipped the mace and axe from his belt.

With the ships tethered together, the pirates flipped long wooden planks from their ship onto the Seafoam Rose. Hooks on the ends secured the slim pathway firmly in place. The first wave of invaders ran across the boards, screaming at the top of their lungs. If they expect to scare the crew into surrender, that hope dissipated when four of their number fell dead from a round of arrows.

Miceral used the distraction to leap from his hiding place. Screaming his own battle cry, he rushed the startled pirates. From his right, Emerson and Nathan led the crew in defense of their ship.

The ferocity of the resistance appeared to catch the invaders by surprise. Miceral killed anything in his reach, stalling the attack momentarily. Peter stood next to Miceral and proved the value of all the long hours of practice he’d been put through.

Unfortunately, Miceral couldn’t defend all points of entry onto the vessel. The pirates quickly learned to avoid the armed warrior who moved with the speed of lightning.

The initial advantage of the Rose’s crew quickly evaporated as the pirates brought superior numbers onto the trading ship. To avoiding being surrounded, the defenders fell back to a predetermined, more defensible position. This allowed the rest of the pirates to cross unimpeded.

“Now would be a good time to arrive, Farrell.” Miceral didn’t know if Farrell could hear him, but if he didn’t arrive soon, there’d be no one left to rescue.

“I’m almost there, Ral.” Farrell’s voice distracted Miceral enough that he cut off an opponent’s arm instead of slicing through the man’s neck. “Hang on!”

  • Publisher: DSP Publications
  • Cover Artist: AngstyG
  • Sales Links: DSP Publications

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their daughter and dog.  In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.

Where to find the author:

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Tour Dates & Stops: April 15, 2015

Parker Williams, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Bayou Book Junkie, Cate Ashwood, Charley Descoteaux, BFD Book Blog, Full Moon Dreaming, Divine Magazine, Butterfly-O-Meter, 

Molly Lolly, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Rainbow Gold Reviews, The Hat Party, Love Bytes, Inked Rainbow Reads, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Novel Approach, My Fiction Nook, Velvet Panic, Prism Book Alliance, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Fallen Angel Reviews, Amanda C. Stone, Elin Gregory, Nephylim

 

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: 3 e-copies of the Last Grand Master with the new cover art. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and Prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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In the Spotlight: Two Man Advantage by V.L. Locey (excerpt and contest)

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Book Name: Two Man Advantage by V.L. Locey
Goodreads Link
Release Date: April 15, 2015

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Victor Kalinski, all-star forward for the Boston Barracudas, is one of the biggest jerks in professional hockey. Before long his aggressive attitude gets him shipped off to play in the minor leagues.

Furious, he takes to the ice with equal amounts of skill and scathing sarcasm, which doesn’t win him any friends—except for good-natured alternate captain Daniel Arou. He won’t take any of Vic’s crap, and he won’t take no for an answer.

But Vic’s troublemaking is pulling his career one way while Dan’s talent is pushing his in the other. However much they scorch the sheets, they might soon be separated by more than Vic’s fear of being hurt.

Inside Scoop: This book contains scorching gay sex and a heaping helping of no-holds-barred snark between hot hockey heroes who don’t pull their punches.
Pages or Words: Novella

Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Erotica, M/M Romance, Hockey Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Have you ever just watched someone sleep and been petrified and appreciative simultaneously? I know how totally stalker that sounds, but it wasn’t like “I’m a glittery vampire who sits here and watches some underage chick sleeping” weird. Okay, maybe it was a little bit of that kind of weird. I mean, I was lying beside Dan, admiring the hills and valleys of his back as the sun caressed his tanned flesh. His skin was smooth but clammy. The blankets were tangled around his legs. He slept just like he went through life—with energy. His thrashing was what had awoken me, as it had a few times during our road trip. Instead of snapping at him then stealing the covers back, I took this time to visually adore his body. Yeah, I was that fond of it. And him. Rest assured, that terrified me no end.

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Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Cover Artist: Allyse Karam

Sales Links:   Ellora’s Cave

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted goofy domestic fowl, and two steers: one named after a famous N.H.L. goalie while the other carries the moniker of a 60s pop legend.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

Where to find the author:
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/VL-Locey/124405447678452
Twitter- https://twitter.com/vllocey
Pinterest-http://www.pinterest.com/vllocey/
Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807700.V_L_Locey
My blog- http://thoughtsfromayodelinggoatherder.blogspot.com/
tsú – https://www.tsu.co/vllocey

 

 

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Tour Dates & Stops: April 15, 2015

Parker Williams, Hearts on Fire, MM Good Book Reviews, Chris McHart, Molly Lolly, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, BFD Book Blog, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Cathy Brockman Romances, Cate Ashwood, 3 Chicks After Dark, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie, Velvet Panic, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Michael Mandrake, It’s Raining Men

 

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Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Two Man Advantage’ by V.L. Locey. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Shift Back To the Supernatural with Tina Blenke’s Shifting Cargo (excerpt and giveaway)

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Shifting Cargo (Shifting Paradigm world) by  Tina Blenke
Goodreads Link

Release Date: April 1, 2015
Sales Links: eXtasy Books  Amazon

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STRW Author BookSynopsis

Ramey’s world is shattered when his brother dies suddenly. He tries to go through the motions, day by agonizing day, doing the best that he can at his job, but it’s not enough. Months of depression escalates into alcohol use and drug abuse to numb the pain. For the past year, he’s been dreading meeting with his lawyer and accepting his brother’s death. The pain becomes too much to bear and Ramey is caught with cocaine at work and fired immediately. When he hits rock bottom, he realizes that he’s disrespecting his brother’s memory and checks himself into rehab with the help of an unlikely friend.

Londyn’s life is perfect living as a wolf Shifter in the Pack Lands. He’s been working in the family business and happy living in his cabin in the woods. Londyn has high expectations for the perfect mate to make his life complete.

Can Ramey accept his destiny as a Shifter’s mate? And is his love for the wolf Shifter worth leaving behind the demons and the only world he’s ever known?

Publisher: eXtasy Books
Cover Artist: Latrisha Waters
Pages or Words: 20,765

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

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

“It pleases me that you want to see my wolf so bad. Have a seat on that fallen log by the fire and watch the master at work.” Ramey took a seat as instructed and watched Londyn prepare for his shift. Londyn removed his clothing piece by maddening piece. It was a slow strip tease set to the music of the forest and Ramey swore all the blood left his body and pooled into his cock. Londyn’s body was absolutely lickable. He had definition in his lean muscles, his chest was smooth and hairless with pale pink nipples that Ramey couldn’t help but drool over. His back and legs had corded muscles and fine blond hair covered his legs and groin. Except for a few old scars, the man didn’t have a mark on him. No blemishes, birthmarks or tattoos and given his age it was odd that he didn’t have at least one. Ramey had never been with a man who didn’t have any ink. And the ass on his boyfriend. He had won the lottery ten times over. He had to sit on his hands to keep from reaching out and when he turned around, he caught Ramey ogling his mate.

“Hey, eyes are up here, sir.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just that—”

“Nah, just messing with you. I like your eyes on me.” Londyn’s own blues were dark with heat proving that Londyn was just as turned on as Ramey was by the show. It wasn’t just Londyn’s eyes giving away his arousal either.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About the author:

Tina is a retired Air Force brat and has lived in several states as well as a handful of countries. She has always had a soft spot for literature and is a voracious reader. When she isn’t writing, she can be found cuddled up with a good book. Though Tina adores a thrilling novel with sappy lovesick heroes, she is terrified of things that go bump in the night. This makes for quite a complicated relationship with zombies, something that she just can’t get enough of.

Find the author at the following:

Facebook 
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tinablenke
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/tinablenke
Ello: tinablenke
eXtasy link: http://www.extasybooks.com/?route=product%2Fauthor&author_id=981
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7257278.Tina_Blenke
Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/TinaBlenke
Wordpress: http://tinablenke.wordpress.com/
Website: http://tinablenke.wix.com/author

 

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Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Prizes and links provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
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Tour Dates & Stops:

1-Apr

Cate Ashwood

Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

8-Apr

Carly’s Book Reviews

BFD Book Blog

15-Apr

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

22-Apr

Up All Night, Read All Day

Hearts on Fire

Love Bytes

29-Apr

The Novel Approach

Velvet Panic

MM Good Book Reviews

6-May

Amanda C. Stone

Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My

Rainbow Gold Reviews

13-May

Divine Magazine

Molly Lolly

My Fiction Nook

20-May

Prism Book Alliance

Inked Rainbow Reads