A MelanieM Review: Hawaiian Trunks by Caraway Carter

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Hawaiian Trunks coverIn Hawaii for the wedding of his lovers, Toby Lee wonders if he’ll ever find a love like Clay & Colin. When he meets Wolff, a hot bartender, over the course of a weekend he thinks it could just be possible. Toby Lee puts his foot down and decides that his love life is far more important than the so-called friends who take advantage of him. A broken law, handcuffs and a kiss might just seal the deal on his future.

Hawaiian Trunks by Caraway Carter is an enjoyable short story that has the legs and heart of a much bigger tale.  The story is told through the perspective of Toby Lee in Hawaii to attend and manage his lovers/employers wedding.  It’s a time of celebration for all except maybe Toby whose life is now as unsettled and rippling as the waves outside the resort they are all staying at.    Employed as Colin and Clay’s houseboy, Toby became their “third” over the five years he lived with them but the wedding for these two changes everything, including their relationship dynamics.  Why?

Because Toby now wants what Colin and Clay have together for himself.  He wants his life to change.  And he wants love, not just affection but the deep abiding love he sees in the men at the alter.

As the story opens, the reader is dropped down into the wedding ceremony as the vows are being said.  It’s intimate, its lovely, and its also clearly heartbreaking for Toby, who loves these men but is ready to move on with his life but doesn’t know how. The story only takes place over a couple of days, the few last parties before everyone  goes home to their now changed lives. You get a glimpse as to how wealthy Colin and Clay are and the lifestyle that Toby has lived with them as their lover/houseboy.  It’s that brief look into their regular lives that lets you understand both Toby’s frustration as well as his yearning for more.  It will take courage and determination to leave that life behind but does Toby have that?

Toby’s wish for  change is helped along by continual encounters with a bartender called Wolff, who seems to pop up everywhere at the resort.  A few conversations peak each other’s interest, a longer encounter deepens the attraction into something neither wants to define but both want to pursue.  That’s a pretty realistic approach and one I appreciated when other authors would have gone for the instant love aspect.  Luckily, that is not to be found here.

The ending is again believable in its resolution and HFN status for the main characters.  There isn’t too much drama or angst…it is a wedding after all. And the challenges Toby faces are ones that come with change and maturity.  The progression towards the character’s growth and the thought processes that gets him there flow smoothly and realistically.  I believed in Toby and how it all ended and wished him well.  You will too.

My only quibble is that it often felt as though we were missing either part of the book (the first half) that contained Toby’s life with Colin and Clay.  It would have been nice to have more of a back history and substantial heft now lacking to the wholeness of the plot.  Instead, as I said, it felt as though we were dropped down in the middle, and got that and the end.  A prologue might have giving this lovely little story the final touch that it needs for completeness.

If you are looking for a lovely tale of romance to while away a hour or two, pick up Hawaiian Trunks by Caraway Carter.  If you turn away from any sort of m/m/m element, don’t worry about that here as that aspect is over as the story begins and Toby is looking for that one person to be his alone.

Cover art by Deanna Jamroz works perfectly.  I love the lanterns in the background and the Hawaiian print trunks in the foreground.  Great job.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Published February 22nd 2015 by ManLove Romance Press
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edition languageEnglish

 

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Max and the Prince (Bodyguards Inc. #3) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Max and the PrinceWhen bodyguard Max Connery is called to headquarters to meet his new assignment, Prince Lucien, he doesn’t expect to encounter the shy, sweet, young man who wants nothing more than to finish his university studies and to continue to participate on the swim team.

Max looks younger than his twenty-eight years and, in fact, is often mistaken for being under twenty-one. He’s five foot nine, blond, muscular, and a former RAF pilot who retired after his plane crashed and the ejection mechanism failed to get him out before being injured. He’s overcome his disability but not interested in going back.

Lucien is twenty-five, having delayed starting university due to problems in his homeland and his own personal issues surrounding the death of his younger brother, which he took hard and was slow to recover from. He’s received threatening letters from a stalker, both in his homeland and now again in Wales where he attends school, but he refuses to leave, because attaining his degree and competing with the swim team are very important to him. Besides, the letters aren’t really outright threats to him, or requests for money; they are more like missives with hidden meanings and he won’t give in to his stalker. They decide that Max can pretend to be his boyfriend, rent one of the rooms in Luke’s apartment, and hang out with the swim team, even if it means swimming with them.

Most of the story is the development of the romance between Max and Luke who are not able to stay away from each other. Max is experienced but has never been in love. Luke is a virgin but has had one minor experience in the past. They are attracted to each other right from the start, though it takes a while for Max to overcome his reticence to get involved with a client.

There’s quite a bit of speculation about the source of the letters Luke receives since they don’t explicitly state anything threatening, and there’s a lot of discussion between Max and people at the BI office, but it takes a while for the clues to start to make sense. I would have liked to know more about Max’s employer, Kyle, and his assistant, Ross. There’s an implied backstory there, but not having read the first books, it’s hard to determine what it is. The blurbs for the first books don’t mention the formation of BI or Kyle’s and Ross’s names so, although this book can be read as a standalone, readers who have a chance to read this series in sequence should do so.

The story also has a subplot about Luke’s roommate who was addicted to pain medication and a few scenes involving a drug dealer who was eventually murdered in their house by Luke’s stalker. One subplot that seemed to be out of the realm of believable is the fact that Max showed up at the swim team training with Luke and was not only accepted there with him but included in the practices and eventually as a backup for competitive meets. I just couldn’t buy that one—not on a university team.

The conclusion was anti-climactic and overall the story seemed very unlike the R.J. Scott books I’ve read in the past. This one was too simple, light, fluffy—I’m not even sure I can find the right word. I’d recommend this to those who like a very light, fairly short, hot M/M romance with a twist of mystery and intrigue.

Cover design by Meredith Russell is a photo of a handsome, dark-haired young man. Since Max is blond, one can assume it is a photo of Prince Lucien, bare-chested and likely ready for a swim meet.

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

Book Details:

139 pages
Published March 27th 2015 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published March 25th 2015)

It’s Ally Blue ~ Back With “Down”, Love with a Hint of Horror! (guest post and giveaway)

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Ally Blue is here today at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Any reader who loves romance with a hint of the supernatural or a touch of horror is familiar with this prolific author.  Ally Blue has written the popular Bay City Paranormal Investigations series, The Happy Onion, Willow Bend and so many more and now she brings us Down, her latest tale of romance and horror.

But let Ally Blue tell you herself….

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Hi everyone! I’m Ally Blue, and I’m touring the internet tubes this week in support of my new horror novel, Down. I really appreciate my hosts here at Scattered Thoughts and Rouge Words for having me here today, thank you!

If anyone here is familiar with my work, you’ll know me as an author of gay romance. For the past ten years, I’ve written romance pretty much exclusively. I’ve hit several different sub-genres, including paranormal, contemporary (both angsty and comedic), futuristic/dystopian, sci-fi, and suspense. But except for a couple of horror short stories, my books have always been romances at heart, no matter what else happens.

Down changes that in a big way. The two central characters are still gay men and they do fall into a romantic relationship which plays an important role in the story, but this book is definitely not a romance. The relationship between Mo and Armin is important to the book, but it’s not the focus. The horror plot is the focus of this book—the thing the BathyTech crew finds, the events that follow from that find, and what happens to Our Heroes and the people around them as a result. And some things happen that are not very nice at all. Yeah, Down is definitely Horror. With that big old capital “H”.

Writing horror as a romance author has been interesting. As a reader, I’ve been a fan of horror all my life. I’ve always wanted to write it. Like I said, I’ve done a couple of horror shorts—one of them, Flesh and Song, is available through Riptide Publishing in their Bump In the Night erotic horror anthology—but Down is my first full-length horror novel, something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. Horror is a completely different animal to romance. The focus is different. I mean, the characters still have to be the main focus, or the story will feel dead and uninteresting. Or at least that’s my opinion. But the way you handle the characters, their motivations and the consequences of their actions, is different. Obviously, in horror you can go a lot darker than you can with romance. Or maybe it’s just me, ha. I wanted to weave the romance into the horror plot and make the relationship a part of the horror. That was a big challenge for me, as a big fan of the Happily Ever After ending, but I think I succeeded. I think the romance part is very poignant, and the horror part is pretty damn horrific, and I think they work well together to create a frightening but touching story.

I’m very proud of this book, and I want everyone else to love it too. Thanks for letting me talk about it! Happy reading, y’all

About Down

Seven thousand meters below the ocean’s surface, the crew of the BathyTech 3 mineral mining facility has found something remarkable: a rock-like sphere of unknown material and origin.Down_200x300

For Mo Rees, the discovery calls to his inner explorer and adds color to his dull miner’s life. Even better than the promise of new knowledge is the unexpected connection he forges with Dr. Armin Savage-Hall, leader of the team brought down to study the thing.

For Armin, the object is the find of a lifetime. It could prove his controversial theories and secure his scientific reputation. And Mo is a fascinating bonus.

Then crew members start behaving strangely. Worse, they start to change: their eyes glow purple, their teeth sharpen. Then the violence begins, the brutal deaths. As BathyTech descends deeper into chaos, the surviving crew works desperately to find the cause of the horrors around them. What they uncover could annihilate the human race. And they can’t stop it.

Buy It Here (and read an excerpt too) at Riptide Publishing.

About the Author

Ally Blue is acknowledged by the world at large (or at least by her heroes, who tend to suffer a lot) as the Popess of Gay Angst.

She has a great big suggestively-shaped hat and rides in a bullet-proof Plexiglas bubble in Christmas parades. Her harem of manwhores does double duty as bodyguards and inspirational entertainment. Her favorite band is Radiohead, her favorite color is lime green and her favorite way to waste a perfectly good Saturday is to watch all three extended version LOTR movies in a row.
Her ultimate dream is to one day ditch the evil day job and support the family on manlove alone. She is not a hippie or a brain surgeon, no matter what her kids’ friends say.

Connect with Ally:
Website: http://www.allyblue.com
Twitter: @PopessAllyBlue
Tumblr: https://www.therealallyblue.tumblr.com
Facebook fan page
Facebook profile page: https://www.facebook.com/AllyBlue.author
Group blog: http://www.fictionwithfriction.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/PopessAllyBlue

Giveaway

Down_150x300Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing a $15 Riptide store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 25. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Prizes provided by Riptide Publishing.

In the Book Spotlight: Loved Starved by Kate Fierro (excerpt and giveaway)

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Love Starved by Kate Fierro
Release Date: April 21, 2015

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Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/KateFierro
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Artwork by Valerie Schroedl, cover design by BuckeyeGrrl Designs

Sales Links: Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Micah Geller considers himself lucky: at 27, he has more money than he needs, a job he loves, a debut book coming out, and a brilliant career in information security before him. What he doesn’t have is a partner to share it with—a fact that’s never bothered him much.

But the romantic in him isn’t entirely dead. When a moment of weakness finds him with a contact to a high-class escort specializing in fulfilling fantasies, Micah asks for only one thing.

Show me what it’s like to feel loved.

KFRC
Pages or Words: 304 pages

Categories: Fiction, gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Angel’s shoulders were broad and strong; his hands kept a warm, steady pressure on Micah’s back, holding him so close that he could feel the movement of Angel’s chest with every breath he took. They stayed near the edge of the impromptu dance floor, swaying with the music. Micah felt safely surrounded, contained—in the familiar song, in the arms that felt as if they were made to hold him, in the magic of this evening. He turned his head, just to glance at Angel’s face, and couldn’t turn away, mesmerized by the look in his eyes. They held the world within—the world of affection, of caring. Of desire. It made something stir in Micah’s belly, a long-banished want.

Angel’s eyes flickered down to Micah’s mouth, and then back up. He bit his plump lower lip.

Around them, people were dancing, music was enveloping them in its sweet enchantment, and night air cooled Micah’s cheeks. Inside, he had suddenly only one desire. And he could have it. He’d been told to take what he wanted tonight.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Kate Fierro spent ten years translating, editing, and reviewing other people’s words before making an impulse decision to write down some of her own. She hasn’t been able to stop ever since. Kate lives in Europe and is bilingual, with more love for her adopted language than her native one.

With nearly a million words under her belt, Love Starved is Kate’s debut novel.

Where to find the author:
http://www.KateFierro.com
Twitter: @kate_fierro
Pinterest: MissKateFierro

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card. 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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Tour Dates & Stops:

21-Apr

MM Good Book Reviews

Velvet Panic

Hearts on Fire

22-Apr

Prism Book Alliance

Bayou Book Junkie

23-Apr

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

Cate Ashwood

24-Apr

Bike Book Reviews

Inked Rainbow Reads

27-Apr

Amanda C. Stone

The Blogger Girls

28-Apr

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

BFD Book Blog

29-Apr

Molly Lolly

30-Apr

Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

Love Bytes

1-May

My Fiction Nook

Wake Up Your Wild Side

Because Two Men Are Better Than One

4-May

Rainbow Gold Reviews

The Novel Approach

Multitasking Mommas

Emotion In Motion

Our Focus is On…..Secret by Kindle Alexander (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Secret
Author: Kindle Alexander
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: Summer 2015
Tristan Wilder, self-made millionaire and devastatingly handsome CEO of Wilder-Nation is on the verge of a very lucrative buyout. With tough negotiations ahead, he’s armed with his acquisition pitch, ready to launch the deal of a lifetime. There’s just one glitch. The last thing he expects is to fall for the hot business owner he’s trying to sway.
Dylan Reeves, computer science engineer and founder of the very successful social media site, Secret, is faced with a life-altering decision. A devoted family man with three kids and a wife, Dylan has been living a secret for years. Fiercely loyal to his convictions, his boundaries blur after meeting the striking owner of the corporation interested in acquiring his company. For the first time in his life, reckless desire consumes him when the gorgeous computer mogul makes an offer he can’t refuse.
After
a few minutes of staring at Dylan, who hadn’t looked his way since he entered
the conference room, Tristan cleared his throat, stopping the flow of the
presentation. “Can you all give me a few minutes alone with Mr. Reeves?”
He
could feel every eye turned his way. Dylan was slower to respond. He’d been
reading from the contract and lifted his head, business clearly on his mind.
But the minute their gazes met, Tristan got why Dylan had avoided eye contact.
His gaze held a mixture of both heat and need. Sparks flew between the two of
them and Tristan smiled.
“You
heard him,” Landry said and began shooing everyone out. As the last person
left, Landry came to the center of the table, standing between the two of them.
He clearly thought Tristan’s request hadn’t included him.
“Landry,
I need a private discussion with Mr. Reeves,” Tristan said, rising from his
seat at the end of the table. Landry came immediately to him, standing in front
of him, blocking Dylan from seeing or hearing anything he said.
“I
don’t think that’s a good idea,” Landry whispered so quietly Tristan barely
heard him. “We almost have them, I can see it.”
Tristan
cut his eyes over to Landry’s and motioned with his head for him to move along
out the door with everyone else. Landry’s brow furrowed and he started to shake
his head. Tristan stared at him with intense attitude until he finally left the
room. Tristan had no doubt he’d stand right outside that door. There wasn’t too
much of Wilder, Inc. that Landry wasn’t included in, and he certainly wouldn’t
like being put out of a meeting he’d orchestrated. Tristan moved to a chair
directly beside Dylan who hadn’t uttered a single word since his request for
privacy.
“You
look nice today,” Tristan said quietly, smiling as Dylan’s cheeks grew red.
“Is
that why you made everyone leave?”
“No,
of course not. I could have just told you later, but that whole look’s perfect
on you. The hair’s hot. Pinstripes fit your frame remarkably well. You look
taller, more intimidating. Great look for negotiations or the cover of GQ. You
could do both.” Tristan scooted closer. “Did you get my flowers?” he asked even
quieter.
“I
did. Thank you, but that was a risky move,” Dylan said, clearly ignoring the compliment.
“I
wrote and sealed the card myself. What did you do with the flowers?” Tristan
leaned forward, then moved in a little more, smelling Dylan’s cologne. That had
Dylan pushing back in his chair.
“I
gave them to the concierge that helped me this morning,” Dylan answered and
then backtracked. “I didn’t think I’d be in my room very much and didn’t want
them to go to waste.”
“I
figured you’d do something like that. It’s why I picked those colors. So that
means you’re coming with me tonight?” Tristan asked, his eyes still focused
directly on Dylan’s.
“We’ll
see how things go today. I’m not sure about all this. You lowballed me and I
was just reading about the staffing…” Dylan started, but Tristan lifted a hand
to Dylan’s lips to stop his words. He let his fingers linger as he spoke.
“I
don’t want to talk business yet. I honestly was only informed of the changes to
personnel when I walked in today. From this point forward, you and I will
decide how this sale goes, no one else, but before we do, I want to put
personal before business because they are two separate entities between us.
Will you please go with me tonight? I need to cancel some things if you’re not coming,”
Tristan added at Dylan’s skeptical look.  
Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next!
I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it’s true, the only thing bigger than an over active imagination, may be women’s hair!
Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life – I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations – regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal… I don’t want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I’m going to tell you about Kindle.
I tragically lost my sixteen year old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I’ll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died – weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn’t have to be alone.
That time in my life was terrible. It’s everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.
Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness – it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle ereader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.
Through the course of that crippling event I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fan fiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn’t a time she wasn’t there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love and harmony. It’s its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn’t be here today without her.
Find out more by visiting www.kindlealexander.com or email me at kindle@kindlealexander.com
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