A MelanieM Review: The Line by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5:

The Line coverRafael Schiller, vampire and sexual god without peer, believes himself the top of the food chain, until a bizarre creature feeding in an alley scares the deathless hell out of him.

Rafael Schiller’s had a long road and he’s forgotten the meaning of several human words along the way. Commitment? Relationship? Love, for all the gods’ sakes? What does a vampire need those for? He’s completely content treating his long string of one-off lovers as midnight snacks. He makes it good for them and has no reason for guilt or grief. Some nights still induce an odd, hollow ache, but he can just drown it in the next conquest. Master of his universe, he lives without a care…until he encounters a bizarre creature feeding in an alley.

It’s caught his scent, and now that it’s hunting him, Rafael remembers a word from his childhood. Krsnik—the hunters, the monsters who feed on the blood of vampires. He could run, but he’d be running forever, and that would sure as hell take the fun out of life. Time to figure out what the creature really is, what can defeat it, and why he feels so drawn to it.

 The Line by Angel Martinez is another terrific story from this “auto read” fantasy author.   The Line takes the typical vampire character, normally an apex predator when they aren’t sparkling, and gives him an adversary, the Krsnik, worthy of such formidable being.  Furthermore, Martinez doesn’t just give us a remarkably scary hunter in the Krsnik, no, she gives us the haunting backstory as to how this creature came into being.  By giving us those extra layers, Martinez’ The Line and her characters steps outside the ordinary “supernatural” narrative into something quite wonderful and unexpected.

Talk about a duo meant for each other in every way but romantic.  At least at first.  Rafael, is a vampire whose years of existence has taught him that killing his “food’ is unnecessary. Instead he leaves his “young men” sexually sated and happy when he is done and on his way out the  door.  It’s a lonely existence but Rafael has made his peace with it.  Then a new predator appears in his town and Rafael decides to track it down and dispatch it.  Only this predator feeds on vampires and is more powerful and just as cunning as Rafael.  Now the hunter is the hunted, Rafael’s position at the top of the food chain is gone and his continued existence in doubt.  It’s a lovely turn of events and the author wrings every bit of angst, suspense and shock out of this element.

Lan the Krsnik is remarkable as the predator of predators.  He’s a truly fearsome creature.  But he is also as layered a being as Raphael. I won’t spoil the surprises that come with his character but they brought to mind a quote I recently read that said when creating villains/dark characters, a good way to make them real is to give them vulnerabilities, a way for the reader to also understand and sympathize with them*.  Angel Martinez has certainly done that here with Lan.  Together Lan and Rafael become this dance of hunter and hunted that I never wanted to end.  I loved every bit of it, including those instances where humor surfaces to ease the tension…for just a moment before it all gets deadly again.

I rarely find that I  am happy with the length of any Angel Martinez tale because she provides such  interesting back histories and world building to her stories that she often poses as many questions in her narrative as she supplies answers.  At the end of each story I am always left wanting to know more….about everything.  And yes, that happens here as well.  Forty five pages?  I could use two hundred and still be curious about small bits of history and back story that she teased us with throughout the tale.  The only jarring element was the inclusion of the Johnny Cash song, The Line.  I know it was included because this story was initially published as part of Totally Bound’s 50’s Mixed Tape Anthology but it could have been easily eliminated here, at  least to my way of thinking.

Do you love tales of the supernatural?  Are vampires in lust and love your thing as they are mine?  Or you are just a fan of Angel Martinez as I am…in all case, pick up The Line by Angel Martinez.  It’s a vampire tale you won’t want to miss and one I highly recommend.

*Can’t remember who made this remark at the moment.  I will give them credit when my memory starts working again.

Cover Art by Pamela Sinclair.  I have to say I am tired of seeing that one model everywhere.  You know, the blond one.  He’s an elf usually, or an angel.  No matter, what he’s emphatically noticed for is being overused.  Sigh.  Surely, there is another stock model who could be substituted in his place?

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

Book Details:

ebook, 45 pages
Published December 20th 2013 by Totally Bound
previously published as part of the 50’s Mixed Tape Anthology
ISBN 1781849145 (ISBN13: 9781781849149)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttps://www.totallybound.com

A Paul B Review: Unexpected Alpha by Amber Kell

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Unexpected Alpha Amber kell coverWhen Stanley Brown is attacked while jogging, his life would change forever. With the help of Fenris, Stan uncovers secrets which have been hidden from him for years.

Stanley Brown works as an accountant in the city. He goes jogging through the neighborhood park late one night following his usual route. He is viciously attacked by what appears to be a rabid dog. Suffering bite wounds and being clawed by the creature, Stan locates a fallen branch and impales the dog with it, killing the creature. Due to a loss of blood from the attack, Stan passes out.

When Stan awakens, he finds himself in a room surrounded by three people. They explain how one of them, Fenris, found him in the park and brought him back to their house. Stan finds Fen, as he asks to be called, intoxicating. When Fen’s sister comes near them, Stan declares that Fen is his. They go on to explain that he was attacked by a werewolf who happened to be their alpha. Having been mauled and changed into a werewolf himself, Stan is now the pack alpha.

A short time later, a man called the Overseer comes to the cabin. The Overseer is in charge of making sure rogue werewolves are dealt with properly. All are surprised when Stan sees the man and calls him Father. While pleased that his son has transformed, the Overseer is upset that Stan and Fen have formed a bond as he has promised Stan to another alpha Sebastian.
As the bond between Stan and Fen grows, they must meet the in-laws which causes commotion on all fronts. Add in a vengeful suitor who believes that the agreement with the Overseer should be honored no matter what and things turn into a life or death battle. Stan must rely on his instincts and guidance from Fen to survive so that they can run their pack.

I really enjoyed this short novel. While most of the usual shifter elements are there, the author puts a small twist on the story. She leads us to believe early on that Stan is actually transformed from human to werewolf but this is clarified later on in the book. I also appreciated the interactions of the in-laws during the family dinners. Stan’s mother, who is described as five foot nothing, seems to have control of his father, the Overseer. While Fen’s mother has two werewolf parents, she is unable to shift, which creates problems in her mating with Fen’s father.

Also terrific? The smart aleck character named Paul, who seems to push all the wrong buttons with his new alpha Stan but has Stan’s back when is it is needed.

The cover art by Meredith Russell is well done as most of Ms. Kell’s books are. The cover depicts Stan out jogging in the park with a wolf looking out in the background. The word “Alpha” is done as though claw marks might have been used to write it.

All profits from this book go to support the Autism Society of Washington (facebook page), in honor of Ms. Kell’s son. I highly recommend this story.

Note from Amber Kell: “All proceeds from Unexpected Alpha go to Autism Society of Washington (website). If you have a different autism charity you support if you donate a minimum of $5 and email me the receipt I’ll send you a free copy of Unexpected Alpha.”  Her email address is amberkellwrites@gmail.com

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

Book Details:
Ebook, 63 pages
Published: April 12, 2015 by Smashwords
ISBN:  9781310378034
Edition: English

A Mika Review: Crossed Hearts (Hearts and Scars #1) by K. Vale

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5:

 One heart’s been broken. The other is secondhand.

Young manKory Vansant doesn’t deserve to be alive.

As time sucks him dry of energy, sapping the final ounces of strength from his congenitally enlarged heart, he’s forced to end his career as Kory Kent, porn star. Staring down death, he questions his life choices and prays for a miracle. For another chance at life, he vows to change who he is at his core.

His prayers are answered. A perfect heart now beats in his chest, but it comes at a heavy price. The donor is an innocent young man cut down far too prematurely.

Kory’s blemished history and his donor’s spotless past are far from ideal matches.
As his debts skyrocket, Kory can’t help but think his resolve to walk the high road is being tested. After he meets the adorable Will Squire at the gravesite they both visit, he’s doubly damned because there’s no way he can keep up his end of the bargain. What happens when a man breaks a deal with a higher power?

Will often prefers the company of the dead to that of the living. Following a bad breakup, he pours himself into his two jobs—funeral director at his uncle’s mortuary and part-time paramedic. He’s drawn ever closer to Kory, as if fate sticks her fickle hand in and pushes them together like two unlikely puzzle pieces. But sometimes history can’t be buried, and maybe divine intervention isn’t always right. Will discovers everyone is imperfect, no matter how pretty the outer package, and opening one’s heart is never easy, but can be oh, so worth the pain.

I’m disappointed in this book. The blurb painted different picture to me. For the first half of the book it was all morose. The two mc’s in my opinion were better off as friends the way the first half went. I was tired of reading about death. I understand what both mc’s went through but, at least for me, there are only so many times that I want to read gloom and doom in my stories. There were too many of these moments in the story for my liking. I felt the entire first half of the story was lacking life or light.

However, I did like how Will and Kory started off doing small things for each other. Will became assertive with Kory, and I think that showed us that his confidence was growing.  Kory finally got over living a certain way because of the transplant and decided to live his life more fully. I liked Will’s ability to support Kory’s effort in whatever he wanted to do. He didn’t put him down, and was very patient with him.

But I think Kory needed a kick in the butt big time. He is rewarded with a second chance at life and it’s like he was waiting on something to happen for him instead of going out and getting what you wanted. As usual boy meets boy, boy doesn’t mention the “big lie”, and boy finds out, boy leaves, boys get back together.

Nothing spectacular about the story at all, but I did like certain areas. I got tired of Will’s self esteem issues. Will needed to own up to his role in that relationship. I don’t believe that Will had never seen that side of Darryl before. He’s almost homophobic, but remains in the closet, continuing to ruin other people’s life. I’m happy Will was able to walk away with the least possible scars. I’m happy he did find someone who appreciated him and loved him enough to be Out.

Kory did better as well. I don’t know if I think they should be together. Honestly I skimmed over the smexy scenes because they were predictable. *Sighs* I just wish I could have saw the chemistry in the beginning then maybe I’d believe it by the end, it kind of looks like they forced themselves to be together out of loneliness!

Cover Art by Kimber Vale. It’s a little crowded. I would have preferred just the two guys on the cover. It’s nice at the top, but then we look down and the rainbow umbrella with the cemetery just looks out of place.

Sales Links:                  Amazon          Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: April 27th 2015 by Kimber Vale (first published 2015)
original titleCrossed Hearts
edition languageEnglish
seriesHearts and Scars #1

Book Blast: How It Was Supposed To Be by Jayson James (excerpt and giveaway)

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How It Was Supposed to Be by Jayson James

Release Date: April 10, 2015

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About How It Was Supposed To Be

The Kennicott’s were living the carefree life of an upper middle class family. That was until one day when his father arrives home from work and shares the company he has worked for since he was Reese’s age has gone out of business. Adding to the stress of being out of work for the worst time is the worst economic downturn the United States has ever faced. It does not take long for the Kennicotts to fall behind in their bills and lose everything.

Reese Kennicott had everything he could ever want and life was good. He worked a part time job to have extra money and to socialize. Now he is working all the hours he can get in order to help his family get by, which isn’t much. Reese is now dating the guy of his dreams, he along with his friends seem to be the only stable thing going for him.

Hope finally comes with a new job that will take the family across the country. This means for Reese giving up his lifelong friends, his new boyfriend and life as he’s always known it. The family takes with them what they can and begins on a road trip to their new life. Along the way, they encounter several barriers and hope begins to fade. Each day things look bleaker and the Kennicott’s begin to wonder if they are going to make it to their destination.
Pages or Words: 192 pages

Categories: Gay fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Homeless

Excerpt:

A few days later Cruz caught Reese on his way out to the parking lot after school. He appeared so smug and at the same time seemed so debonair as he approached Reese. When he was close enough, he looked around, perhaps to make sure there was no one in ear shot. There was no greeting from Cruz before he asked, “Relationship troubles?”

He responded, “You mean Morgan?” Cruz nodded his head as if telling him duh. “We’re only friends.”

“Oh.” Cruz shrugged, “So he’s not gay then?”

“No he’s not gay.” Reese did not feel it was his place to share Morgan’s bisexuality.

Cruz stared at him, only perpetuating Reese’s discomfort. “You’re gay though?”

“Yes. You’re gay too?” He figured fair was fair.

Nodding in agreement, Cruz asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.” Reese was feeling as if he was being sized up added, “I hear you don’t either.” Cruz was silent, glancing away and yawning, appearing disinterested in the conversation. Reese decided that he’d better make his move, “You want to go out sometime?”

Cruz turned toward him and seemed to be thinking over his response. Reese smiled feeling hopeful and then concerned he might be coming off as desperate. Cruz nodded, “That would be fine by me.” Then he turned to walk away without saying another word.

Goodreads Link  
Publisher: Jayson James Books
Cover Artist: Jayson James
Sales Links:  Smashwords      Amazon

About  author Jayson James –

I have a horrible time when it comes to writing about myself.  It is not that I have low self-esteem, but the fact that I am not comfortable talking about myself.

For most of my life, I have been writing and sharing it with my friends.  They have repeatedly told me I needed to publish my writing and share it with the world. Now that I have, I am amazed at how many people admire it.

My interests beyond writing include reading a variety of books, watching movies and drawing.

I truly appreciate all the support and encouragement from my friends, family, and you. I am so thankful to your support!

Keep on reading! I am always interested in hearing about what people are reading, especially if it is something I have written.
Thank you for reading and letting me know what you think of my writing!

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jaysonjamesbooks
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJaysonJames
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaysonjamesbook
Website: http://jaysonjamesbooks.blogspot.com/

Contest

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘How It Was Supposed to Be’ by Jayson James. 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: April 30, 2015

Parker Williams, Boys on the Brink Reviews, Carly’s Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, Bike Book Reviews, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, BFD Book Blog, Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Divine Magazine, My Fiction Nook, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon, Mikky’s World of Books, Amanda C. Stone, Hearts on Fire, Multitasking Mommas, Velvet Panic, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Hat Party

In the Spotlight: Crossed Hearts (Hearts and Scars #1) by K. Vale (guest post and contest)

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Book Name: Crossed Hearts (Hearts and Scars #1) by K. Vale

Young man

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Kimber Vale
Cover Artist: Dana Priebe
Release Date: April 27, 2015

K. Vale on Contemporary Villains (and their Fantasy Counterparts)

Guest post by Kimber Vale
Sometimes I feel like plotting a sci-fi/paranormal/fantasy book is a bit easier than a contemporary when it comes to the special effects and bad guy department. What do we contemporary authors have to work with? Real life. Blah. Real bad guys who can often come across as caricatures if you bend them too hard. We don’t get to use super villains whose only motivation is to possess the one ring to rule them all. We don’t get to have our MCs sprout wings and spit fire just when they’re about to become mincemeat because some ancient prophecy foretold they would save the world (and their love interest).
In short (who am I kidding? I don’t do short), we have to work hard to balance the good vs. bad like tightrope walkers. It has to be believable bad and believable heroics. After all, it’s real life (okay, the fiction version, but still).
Don’t get me wrong, fantastical villains still need to have good reason for being the way they are. Sometimes their reasons are the same as those of the contemporary villains: daddy never tossed the ball with them, money, power, unrequited love, a sex tape leaked that ruined their high-school career, they have a thorn festering somewhere they can’t reach, etc.
But fantasy authors get the opportunity to branch out in the villainous causation realm in ways contemporary authors don’t.
Here are some samples of fantasy villains and their reasons for being bad boys and girls so you can see how such ambition clearly wouldn’t work in a contemporary story:
Jean Grey (The Dark Phoenix of X-Men): Corrupted by her immense telekinetic power—enough so she kills the man she loves, and then some.
Alexis Machine (Thad Beaumont’s dark half in Stephen King’s The Dark Half): A fictional reincarnation of Thad’s absorbed twin who served as Thad’s pen name for years, writing racy, gory schlock that sold like hotcakes. When Thad decided to “kill him off” to write more serious literature, the pen name came to life and starting slicing and dicing.
Lord Farquaad (Shrek): He hates fantasy beings. That’s his reason. Also, he’s short.
The White Witch (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe): She wanted to continue to rule Narnia, and ensure it remained winter always, minus Christmas.
The Kurgan (Highlander): This movie never made sense to me. There can be only one? Says who? There are a number of (inexplicably) immortal dudes running around throughout the film. What? The world isn’t big enough to share? Update: My husband says the “one” becomes an all-knowing mind reader. Okay, then.
Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter): Voldemort is lucky he wasn’t set with the Kurgan. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named basically wanted to live forever. Yes, he wanted to be large and in charge, too, but that was secondary to eternal life.
So you see, contemporary bad guys have to play within the constraints of real world rules. My villain in Crossed Hearts is mostly incensed by jealousy. Possibly horniness. That’s it. I suppose he’s a natural born dickhead as well, but then again, so was Voldemort. 😉
Thanks so much for hosting me!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

One heart’s been broken. The other is secondhand.

Kory Vansant doesn’t deserve to be alive.

As time sucks him dry of energy, sapping the final ounces of strength from his congenitally enlarged heart, he’s forced to end his career as Kory Kent, porn star. Staring down death, he questions his life choices and prays for a miracle. For another chance at life, he vows to change who he is at his core.

His prayers are answered. A perfect heart now beats in his chest, but it comes at a heavy price. The donor is an innocent young man cut down far too prematurely.

Kory’s blemished history and his donor’s spotless past are far from ideal matches.

As his debts skyrocket, Kory can’t help but think his resolve to walk the high road is being tested. After he meets the adorable Will Squire at the gravesite they both visit, he’s doubly damned because there’s no way he can keep up his end of the bargain.

What happens when a man breaks a deal with a higher power?

Will often prefers the company of the dead to that of the living. Following a bad breakup, he pours himself into his two jobs—funeral director at his uncle’s mortuary and part-time paramedic. He’s drawn ever closer to Kory, as if fate sticks her fickle hand in and pushes them together like two unlikely puzzle pieces. But sometimes history can’t be buried, and maybe divine intervention isn’t always right. Will discovers everyone is imperfect, no matter how pretty the outer package, and opening one’s heart is never easy, but can be oh, so worth the pain.

Pages or Words: 70,000 words

Sales Links:

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

The man scratched the scrub on his chin. “Heart recipient,” he said finally. “I’m Kory—umm…Kory Vansant.” Holding out his hand, he took another step. Will’s fingers were swallowed in warm skin and bone.

“Will Squire.” Again, he couldn’t tear his gaze from the tease of scar tissue jutting from the crotch of Kory’s shirt collar. The urge to reach out and trace a finger over the pink relief of healed tissue was strong. Just like I touched Brandon’s incision. The stark difference between the two—one wound marking the end of a life and the other a salvation—was surreal. Will was nothing but an outsider looking in on a miracle, but somehow he felt he’d come around full circle.

“Want me to get naked so you can see the whole thing?”

Will closed his eyes for a moment and then looked up, his face flaming with a mix of embarrassment and immediate, fierce arousal. “I’m sorry. Totally rude.”

Kory smiled good-naturedly. “No worries. It’s a way to reclaim who I am, or was. Or some crap. I’m not just my medical status, like they keep saying at my support group.”

“No. Of course you’re not.”

He laughed loud and deep, and the warmth in Will’s face drifted down his body. “I’ve adopted it as my little icebreaker whenever people stare,” Kory said.

“Well, ice broken.” Will gulped. Hell, ice melted into a rolling boil.

KVRC

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering manlove. Find her MF work published under Kimber Vale. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale, and check her site for updates, new releases, and freebies at http://www.authorkimbervale.com.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimber.vale
Facebook Author Page 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimberVale
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimbervale/

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Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $20 Amazon Gift Card. 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: April 27 – May 8, 2015

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29-Apr

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30-Apr

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1-May

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7-May

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Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance