June is LGBT Pride Month! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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President Obama Declares June LGBT Pride Month!

 

Hard to believe that June is here.  The months are just sliding by so quickly.  June is a strange month.  Full of goodbyes….to school, to high school especially as the graduations are over, and young people are moving on to the next stages of their lives.  And as we say to goodbye to certain things we are also welcoming in others…change being constant no matter who, what or where you are.

But one thing unfortunately does remain constant…the needs of our LGBTQIA youth.  For every success like Ireland’s recent vote for marriage rights, there’s Texas trying to hard to make sure that the LGBTQIA Community remain forever locked in a battle for recognition and rights.  All that as President Obama declares June LGBT Pride Month.  A President coming out  for       LGBTQIA rights is huge and something to be celebrated.  So what better way to mark Pride Month than by helping out LGBT youth in need.

In some areas, our schools provide the only shelter, safety net and meals for some children in need, no one more so than LGBTQIA youth.  Yes, there are shelters around but many don’t accept our LGBTQIA homeless youth, a disgrace that is underreported. Now with so many transgendered kids in the news in need of support, lets take time to look at those organizations and shelters doing a necessary job around the nation.  They are in need of our support and in any way you can manage, volunteering and monetary.

PFLAG :  Support your local PFLAG chapters and national organization.   PFLAG stands for Parents, Friends,( and Allies) of Lesbians and Gays.  Its a wonderful organization with local chapters everywhere.  From their Mission Statement:

What does PFLAG do? PFLAG supports people who are LGBTQ, their famlies, friends and alliesboth locally and nationally, providing PFLAG chapter support group meetings and resources. PFLAG also educates families and communities on sexual orientation, gender identity and LGBTQ issues. Local PFLAG chapters educate their communities through a variety of projects while PFLAG National continues to provide fair and accurate information about LGBTQ people, their loved ones, and the unique challenges they face. PFLAG also advocates for equal rights for people who are LGBTQ on local, state, and national levels. – See more at PFLAG website.

Lost ‘n’ Found Youth – Atlanta, GA:  Atlanta’s only non-profit organization dedicated to taking homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth off the street and into more permanent housing, Lost-n-Found Youth is dedicated to the advocacy and service of youth from 13 to 25 years old.

This includes a Crisis Hotline Call or text 678-856-7825 24 hours a day, seven days a week.    A truly wonderful organization.  You can find/donate at

Website:   http://lnfy.org/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LostNFoundYouth

Ali Forney Center – New York City, NY.  The Ali Forney Center is the largest and most comprehensive program in the nation dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless LGBTQ youth.   From their website:

AN EPIDEMIC OF HOMELESSNESS
Studies have found that LGBTQ youth comprise up to 40% of the homeless youth population in New York City. In December 2007 the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services (ESC) reported on the findings of the first New York City Council census of homeless youth in NYC. This data showed that 28% of the street youth identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, 11% were unsure of their sexual orientation or were not comfortable answering the question and 5% identified as transgender with another 18% unsure or choosing not to answer the question about gender identity.

The study also verified what we see at the Ali Forney Center (AFC) everyday; LGBTQ street youth experience greater levels of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking violence, trauma, HIV infection, mental health issues and substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts in the homeless youth population.

Website:  http://www.aliforneycenter.org/

Write and let me know about the shelters in your area.  Hopefully, soon I will be able to report about a LGBTQIA Shelter in MD-VA-DC soon.  Here are a few more organizations so necessary for Equality and Acceptance:

HRC (Human Rights Campaign):   From their website:HRC_Red-Logo

As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC’s vision a reality.

HRC envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Website:  http://www.hrc.org/

Matthew Shepard Foundation:   Matthew Wayne “Matt” Shepard was an American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming on the night of October 6, 1998, and died six days later at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, from severe head injuries.  This foundation, formed by Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother.  From their website:

“Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance” through its varied educational, outreach and, advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story.”  This includes The Laramie Project, outreach programs and much more.

Website:  http://www.matthewshepard.org/

Let’s Make a Difference…one person at a time.

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Alchemy Ever After CoverKnight of Ocean Avenue coverKage coverPiece Us Back Together Anthology cover

Sunday, May 31:

  • A Close Look at LGBTQIA Shelters and Organizations, Our Schedule This Week

Monday, June 1:

  • Wild Pitch Cover Reveal for Sloan Johnson (giveaway)
  • A BJ Review: Manbot by Scarlet Blackwell
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sultry Sunset by Mary Calmes
  • A MelanieM Review: Two Hearts, One Voice by Valentina Heart

Tuesday, June 2:

  • Two Sides of the Same Coin by Thianna Durston. Book blast and contest
  • Running With the Wind by Shira Anthony – The Mermen of Ea Finale Tour and Contest
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Closing the Loop by Jane Davitt
  • A MelanieM Review: Running with the Wind by Shira Anthony

Wednesday, June 3:

  • Larry Benjamin’s ‘Vampire Rising‘ cover reveal and giveaway
  • Chris T. Kat ‘Despite the Odds‘ Book Blast and Contest
  • The Live Oak Tales by Stephen Del Mar Tour and Contest
  • A Stella Review: Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna #1) by Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Review: Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn

Thursday, June 4:

  • Book Tour:  For Real by Alexis Hall (giveaway)
  • A Mika Review: Piece Us Back Together Anthology
  • A MelanieM Review: Little Wolf by R Cooper
  • A Mika Review: Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews

Friday, June 5:

  • A Stella Review: Alchemy Ever After by Raine O’Tierney and Sion O’Tierney
  • A Mika Review: Kage by Maris Black
  • A BJ Review: Human Choices (Guardians of the Leythe #2.0) by Jaye McKenna
  • A MelanieM Review: The Summer House by RJ Scott

Saturday, June 6:

  • YA Aurora Post
  • A MelanieM Review: A Councilor to the Wolves by Liv Olteano

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An Aurora YA Review: After I Wake by Emma Griffiths

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5:

After I Wake coverAward-winning teen poet Carter Rogers has made a lot of bad choices in her life, one of which led to losing her hand to frostbite. After a failed suicide attempt, Carter wakes up and takes a hard look at the person she’s become. As her disappointment over her botched effort fades, she begins to accept herself and look forward. Righting past wrongs won’t be easy, but armed with the support of her mother and her friends, and with a new perspective on life, Carter sets out to fix her relationships with the people she cares about and the world of poetry.

This book definitely deals with some sensitive topics, and it’s always hard to toe the line between writing about a sensitive topic and making it realistic to the characters without simply using what happens for shock value. I think this book does that very well. I always felt like all the characters, and Carter in particular, were very real, and none of them seemed to simply be going through something for the sake of the book or so that their problems could be nothing more than a plot device. They all had a lot of depth, and that’s what make the book interesting and enjoyable for me to read.

The author of this book has a very interesting style, and even within the first few pages and certainly the first few chapters you can really tell that the book is written in a different and fresh style that you wouldn’t see in many other books. There were times when, if you weren’t paying close enough attention, because there were a few jumps as far as the time went, it could be a little bit confusing. There were definitely sections where after I got a paragraph or so in, I had to go back because I was a little confused, but over all it was nice to see a different writing style.

After I Wake by Emma Griffiths was definitely a book that I really enjoyed reading and one that I feel can definitely relate to the lives of a lot of teenagers, and LGBT teenagers especially, right now.

Bree Archer is the cover artist. I really like this cover, despite the fact that photo-based covers are not always my favorites. Because the cover of this book is so simplistic, it looks a lot nicer and less generic than some covers I’ve seen that include real photos. It’s also just a really beautiful cover, and I like it a lot. It’s also very fitting as far as the tone of the book goes, in my opinion.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink/DSP   –   All Romance (ARe)  –  Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages, also in paperback
Published May 14th 2015 by Harmony Ink Press (first published May 14th 2005)
original titleAfter I Wake
ISBN139781634760317
edition languageEnglish

A BJ Review: Human Frailties, Human Strengths (Guardians of the Leythe #1.0) by Jaye McKenna

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Human Frailties Human Strengths coverAshnavayarian was a powerful, god-like being of the leythe, the place from which magical energies emanate. But Ash has been a bad boy. His thoughtless, selfish meddling and manipulating has led to a war and disturbances within the leythe. Ash needs to be taken down a peg or two, so the goddess Jhara punishes him by forcing him to live in human form with most of his power stripped from him. She hopes he’ll learn that using other creatures for his own amusement isn’t right and that some of the things he considers human frailties (like compassion and love) are just what he needs to learn. Of course, that doesn’t go over well with Ash, and he’s determined to thwart Jhara by any means necessary and break his exile. Jhara throws Ash another curveball when she leythe-bonds him to Toryn MacAran, a human!

Tor has never fit in and always harbored a painful emptiness inside, like something is missing. When a strange encounter at a bookstore one night ends up landing him at the feet of the handsome Ash, he may have found the answer. Ash’s touch takes his emptiness and pain away and makes him feel compete.

Both main characters are well developed and interesting in their own right, but when they come together, oh boy! The chemistry goes off the charts. I adored the interaction between these two. An emotional rollercoaster.

Ash is a self-centered, full of himself ass at the beginning of this story, but he’s so damn fun. Tor is the broken boy that I always adore. And I do adore him… except that by the end, I’m so in love with Ash that even Tor’s delicious brokenness cannot compare. These guys go through hell and back in this story, but the growth of the characters throughout is such a treat to read.

This is a complex fantasy that takes place on another world separate from the earth (from which Tor came). The world building is quite intricate and yet so smoothly woven that it never felt cumbersome as some fantasies do for me. Fast-paced, lots of wit, smoking hot sex, angst, sexy long-haired men (my fav!), and some freaky bad guys to hate from Lucano in the first section on to some of his horrible creations in the second.

And then there’s Carrik Tarn, a very interesting and pivotal secondary character. I won’t say much about him for fear of it being a spoiler, but I’d really like to know more of his background. Maybe that will come out in a sequel. Oh, and there’s this one scene where I just wanted to kick him in the nuts so bad I could taste it. Except, well, that would have been impossible even if I were there at the time.

So much happens in this book, much more than I’d expect for the number of pages. It has the depth of a much longer read–almost like an epic. I read the first half, Human Frailties, about a year ago as a freebie. Since I’d enjoyed the first half of the story quite a lot, I really have no idea why I waited so long to read the full story. But very glad I finally did because the second half took the tale into awesome territory. The second half made me fall in love.

So if you’ve read Human Frailties and never went on to read the rest, don’t wait! It only gets better.

Ash and Tor need a sequel, and actually, I’m pretty sure there is one currently in the works. I can’t wait. And one last thing–I have to mention how much I love the name Ashnavayarian and all its interesting variants!

The cover by Cinchbug depicts both characters just as I’d pictured them along with the other important elements of the story. The dark, mysterious mood is perfect.

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

Book Details:

ebook, Smashwords, 272 pages
Published September 30th 2013 by Jaye McKenna, via Smashwords
ISBN139781301308873
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.smashwords.com/books/view/363010
seriesGuardians of the Leythe #1.0

A Stella Review: No Matter What (Sex & Mayhem #4) by K.A. Merikan

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

 

— A gentle heart has no place in an outlaw’s chest —



No Matter What coverGhost. Not a member of the Coffin Nails MC. Not a doctor anymore. Not gay.
Luca. Bent, not broken. Will not let go of Ghost. No matter what.

Ghost finds out the hard way that people you meet online aren’t always who they seem to be. When he met ‘Zara’ five years ago, they became inseparable. She’s been with him through the rough and the smooth. He’s been there for her when her abusive boyfriend had her in tears.

She is The One, and despite all his friends considering him crazy, Ghost is about to propose.

But ‘Zara’ turns out to be Luca, and Luca is most definitely a guy. Yet Luca is the same person with big dark eyes, so desperate to be saved that Ghost can’t help but fall head first.

Luca’s so-called boyfriend is not just abusive. He is a Sicilian drug lord, a man dangerous and ruthless. If Ghost is to ever save the person who wreaked havoc on his heart, he has to make a deal with the Coffin Nails MC. But being a member is a destiny he’s always tried to avoid. And when a life of violence becomes too much to bear, he might be the one needing Luca to catch him when he falls.

 

Ghost: I think I’ve fallen in love with you. Please don’t be angry…

Zara:…Angry? Wow, I’m just… I’ve had feelings for you for a while now.

Ghost: I just didn’t want you to feel like it’s the only reason I stick around. I’m not a creep.

Zara: I know you’re not 😉 You’re the kindest person I’ve ever met.

Zara: I love you too…

First of all please read the warning. It’s important you know what you’re going to read. Kat and Agnes don’t write easy books. There’s one scene in particular in this one where I truly wondered for a minute why I was even bothering myself with KA’s books knowing there could be some really “hard to take” parts. I should have known since I’m a huge fan. My hesitation lasted just the length of the scene.

No Matter What is the fourth book in the Sex & Mayhem series and the sweetest one I read by these authors, considering it’s my eighth and considering the setting and the dark plot with a couple of heavy scenes. It was definitely unexpected but so welcome. It was interesting cause I’m used to KA’s dark and hard worlds and now I know they can write something a little different.

It was strange at the start looking at Ghost, grown up in the club, not wanting to live that life and searching for a way out. But falling in love with Luca will bring Ghost to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the club to save and protect his lover.

I loved how there was not so much fussing about Zara being a man, Luca. Apart from the obvious initial shock, Ghost slowly realizes he loves Luca and tries to act on it, cause they already were in love for five years. They supported each other in their dark times, when Ghost loses his medical license or when he was shot in Syria, or when Luca saw suicide as the only solutions to all his problems.

There were great second characters, but my favorite couple in this series is Tooth and Lucky and I met them again in No Matter What. I wanted to kill Tooth, he really is a better person with Lucky, here he was (almost always) a fucker!
About the choice of lightly mixing this series with the Guns n’ Boys one, I appreciated it, don’t expect Dom or Seth in it, but someone I was so hoping to be killed here but nope, I have to meet him again soon.

I particularly loved the ending, I wasn’t so sure I could have this kind of HEA. It will be impossible cause I’m aware these girls have a busy writing time coming (we readers are really happy of it, of course), still I’d so love to know more about them, even in a little story, living their deserved happy ending.

I can’t recommend this book or this series or other ones by KA Merikan enough. When I first started reading their books, I was sure they weren’t for me. Well I was so wrong, I was caught in their amazing words’ web. Give them a try!

Cover art by Natasha Snow. Short version, there isn’t a cover made by Natasha I don’t love.

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

BOOK DETAILS

Published April 25th 2015 by Acerbi & Villani ltd.
Kindle Edition, 307 pages
ASIN B00WHBI318
Edition Language English

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes:Outlaw motorcycle club, criminal activity, hurt/comfort, abuse, catfishing, independence, sexual orientation issues, mafia, PTSD

WARNING: Adult content. Explicit gay sex, strong language, violence, potentially triggering sexual abuse scenes. Reader discretion advised.

Sex & Mayhem series
Road Of No Return #1
The Devil’s Ride #2
Stripped Raw-Coffin Nails MC California #3 (MF book)
No Matter What #4

 

Its Release Day for The Summer House (An English House Story #1) by RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Summer House
An English House Story #1
Release date: 29th May 2015

Buylinks: RJ Scott Blogspot

About The Summer House…

Ashby Sebastian Sterling-Haynes has had a lot of boyfriends, but he’s never found the one.

The only person he can form an attachment to is his fourteen year old niece, and even that is in jeopardy when babysitting her cat goes all kinds of wrong.

Veterinarian, Connor Lawson is much happier working with animals than with people. He has deliberately returned home and to the Summer House he recalled from childhood holidays for peace and quiet and the chance to heal from wounds no one would ever see.

When his next door neighbor comes into the practice with a cat that has been in a fight he hides in his office because this Ashby guy is all kinds of dangerous. Too hot, too rich, too titled, and way too sexy for his own good.

Can two men who refuse to believe in love ever learn that love is the easy part of the journey to forever?

 

Excerpt:

A horrible, furious, screeching scream broke Ash’s silence and startled him from his introspection. Quickly pocketing the snake and the knife, he levered himself to stand. Jogging off the pins and needles from sitting in one place too long, he mourned the loss of the peace he’d found carving. The screaming yowling sound stopped abruptly, and Ash stopped walking, trying to get a handle on where it had come from.

Then a soft mewling sound coming from the shed caught his attention. Cautiously he approached the building and opened the door, a streak of orange fleeing the scene so fast that Ash stumbled back in shock. Pivoting on his toes, he caught sight of a huge ginger cat disappearing over the wall, and he heard the most pitiful sound. Peering through the gloom of the dusty interior, he couldn’t see anything but he could hear the noise, a heavy breathing, a low mewling, pathetic, needy, scared. Taking out his cell, he used it to locate the noise and found Tux, laid flat on his side and making a noise that sounded like a purr but was more of a vibration of his whole body.

“Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me.” Less than a day in charge, and he’d already failed in keeping Stephanie’s cat safe. Wearing only board shorts and a T left him nothing to wrap around Tux.

“Should I even be moving you?” Looking around, he located some sacks and carefully used the material to pick up the injured cat. Instinctively he cradled the tiny body against his chest. At least Tux stopped mewling. Only after he stumbled out into daylight did he see the blood.

And only then did he start to run.

-About RJ Scott-

RJ Scott

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Follow/Find the author here:

rj@rjscott.co.uk
https://www.rjscott.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/Rjscott_author
https://www.facebook.com/author.rjscott
https://www.librarything.com/author/scottrj
https://www.tumblr.com/blog/rjscott (some NSFW (not safe for work) photos)
https://www.pinterest.com/rjscottauthor/

Giveaway

Competition to win $15 Amazon/Are giftcard, closes 12th June at 00:01 GMT (London).  Must be 18 years of age or older here in the US.  Prizes and link provided by the author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Audio Book Spotlight On Lexi Alexander’s “Alpha Trine” and “Striker” (The Valespian Pact Books 1 & 2) – Giveaway

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 The Valespian Pack by Lexi Alexander Audiobook Release!

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Need New Audio Books to Listen To? Check out the latest audiobooks from Lexi Alexander, Alpha Trine and Striker from The Valespian Pact series.  Don’t forget to enter the contest waiting for you at the end of the post. Happy Listening!

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Alpha Trine (The Valespian Pact #1) by Lexi Alexander
Publisher: Less Than Three Press:
Ebook Release Date: September, 2013
Audiobook Release Date: February 2015

Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju
Genre: Sci-Fi/Gay/Poly
ISBN: 9781620042434
Available in both ebook and print and audiobook

-Sales Links-

Audio Purchase Links: Available at iTunes and Audible
Book/Ebook Purchase Links:  Less Than Three Press – All Romance (ARe) – Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Bookstrand – 

STRW Author BookSynopsis

The sole survivor on a science vessel adrift in deep space, Zeus was adopted by the Emperor and Empress of the Mar’Sani, though he is both human and blind, and seen by most as unfit to join the royal family. Though they were able to repair his vision, Zeus does not trust his eyes and the nobles of his parents’ court refuse to ever trust a frail human.

Dargon Kal-Turak, along with his symbiote and lover Alpha, command one of the most dangerous ships in the stars. Narrowly escaping a trap, they dock in a space port to make repairs, but find that the Psionics hunting them are closing in fast. In desperation they kidnap the port Master Mechanic, unaware that the man they’ve brought on board is more than he seems, and will bring far more upheaval to their ship, their lives, and the stars than any of them could have imagined.

Alpha Trine was the winner of 2014 Rainbow Awards.All - Award image

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Striker (The Valespian Pact #2)
Publisher: Less Than Three Press:
Ebook Release Date: June, 2014
Audiobook Release Date: March 2015
Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju
Genre: Sci-Fi/Gay/Poly
ISBN: 9781620043783
Available in both ebook and print and audiobook

Audio Purchase Links: Available at iTunes and Audible

Book/Ebook Purchase Links:

Less Than Three Press All Romance – Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Bookstrand

About Striker

The peaceful respite for which Zeus and his intended, Dargon and Alpha, had been hoping is shattered when Zeus is unexpectedly drawn to the Waters of Poseidon and told that the safety they’ve been promised is a trap. But the Fal’Amoric aren’t the only important cargo on the Oethra 7, and countless others are depending on the success of their mission. If Zeus hopes to break the silent siege on Valespia and protect those most precious to him, he will need not just powerful allies but the fortitude to survive overwhelming odds.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

All - Lexi Ander Promo PictureLexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

You can find the author at the following sites:

Web site: http://www.lexiander.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1
Blog: http://lexiander.blogspot.com/
E-mail: lexi.ander.author@gmail.com
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6521302.Lexi_Ander

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

The author has organized some wonderful prize packages to be won. Use the Link provided to enter. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by Lexi Alexander.

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Prize Package #1

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Prize Package #2

All - Prize Package 2

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A MelanieM Review: Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Blood and Ghosts coverWith vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

After the death and destruction of Blood and Rain (Blood #1), I was hoping for some resolution to some of the loose ends and ever expanding plot threads but I should have known better as Blood and Ghosts is the middle story of Shira Anthony’s Blood Trilogy.  This book only ups the drama, danger, and multiple timelines these characters seem to exist in.  And therein lies this story’s strengths and weaknesses.

Time travel can be an extremely tricky element in any story but especially in one where one of the main characters or perhaps more, switch time frames frequently within chapters or pages for that matter.  For me, this format worked in several ways.  As Adrien chases not only his enemy Pelletier through  time, he is also looking frantically for his beloved Nicholas, who Pelletier has stolen away (long story, you must read the first book for this one to make any sense at all).  As the search continues through multiple eras and time periods, an exhausted Adrien is carrying with him the knowledge of the future, and all the dangers that brings with it.  With each change, the suspense and anxiety increases along with Adrien’s anguish and physical exhaustion.  We can connect with the fact that he’s losing hope with each century he passes through.  Anthony’s format serves to involve us with Adrien’s emotions and pain as the search continues even as his enemy taunts him.  I liked seeing all the “different” Adriens that existed, even if we see them only briefly.  I also liked getting more of a sense of history behind the various feuds and vampire/hunter lore.  That also serves to solidify some of the world building laid down in the first story.  But there is a downside to all this time flipping, and that’s confusion and a tendency towards density.

There are so many different eras and time periods to keep track of and with them, different logistical nightmares and ever expanding plot threads that your mind can grow tired trying to keep track of them all and how they figure into whatever current situation Adrien is finding himself in at the time.   I had to refer back to my notes several times in order to figure out  who was where at what time and why.  I can see what Anthony was going for and its works in the long view, however, I also wished for a few less stops along the time continuum and a tighter time line for the story all together.   At one point we are just jumping around way too much for us to get a feel for the “Nicholas” seen or for the other characters that are involved, there’s just not enough “time” for that to happen.

Make no mistake, there are some very cool components here.  I loved all the action sequences and the stuff that happens with Adrien’s sword had me swooning with glee.  It was unexpected, wildly imaginative, and vividly realized.  And it also made other parts of the story pale in  comparison.    Now that was a battle.

And while Adrien is believably flawed, impatient, angry, and powerful, Nicholas remains a bit of a shadow character.  I was just starting to get a sense of him before the traumatic events of Blood and Rain.  Then nothing.  I find him even more elusive here than Adrien does, and the switching of personas through the centuries doesn’t help that.  I’m continually told that their love is eternal and they know it “through the blood”.  But I would have wished for more showing to help me connect with the person behind all the drama and events that happen.

Blood and Ghosts is the middle story in this trilogy and it ends on a heartbreaker of a cliffhanger, one I can’t wait to see the author write her way out of.  I thought it was a fascinating way to end this story as it supplies tons of questions with little answers, its thought provoking in a major way and the riddle it implies will keep you guessing until we get the answers in early 2016 which is when the final story, Blood and Eternity, will come out.   If you aren’t a fan of cliffhangers, perhaps you might want to wait and read all three stories one right after the other.   If you are like me and have the impulse control of a magpie, then go ahead and pick this up and see what happened after the carnage of Blood and Rain.

But if you are new to this trilogy, run back to the first story and start there otherwise you will find yourself lost in time, along with the characters here.  For all vampire lovers, this is a new take on vampire lore and vampire hunters.  This story and series is beautifully written, intricately plotted and heavy with elements and logistics.  And yes, there’s some hot men/vampires and sexy times too.  The time travel can get a wee bit wearying but hang in there, for the acton sequences and rocky journey to everlasting love worth every minute, hour, and year.  Now if only I could time travel my way to 2016 and get my hands on Blood and Eternity….

Cover art by Reese Dante. I’m not a fan of this cover, not sure why.  Perhaps its the models or the design color.  Either way, its more of a miss than hit.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages, available in DSP paperback too
Published April 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 2015)
ISBN139781634761154
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.shiraanthony.com/books/blood-and-ghosts/
seriesBlood #2

Books in the Blood Trilogy are:

A Sammy Review: Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1) by Cari Z.

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I mean, it was one thing to date the guy who’d keyed the principal’s car in high school, but another entirely to get together with someone who was rapidly climbing Panopolis’s Most Wanted list.

Where There's Smoke coverEdward Dinges has always been attracted to the super way of life in Panopolis. It’s a place where the Heroes and Villains meet on a regular basis and the society is as much based on presence as it is the economy. He’d always hoped to meet a hero, but he never dreamed of falling in love with a villain, and one day changes those expectations.

He’s just a guy working at a bank. Except that his boyfriend is a Villain with a thing for bombs and he’s got a Hero who seems to not think that having a boyfriend is a valid reason for the answer “no”. It’s just a matter of time until the world of good, evil, and just plain normal collide.

His eyes were fixed on me, glittering points of light within the matte-gray shadows on his skin. “I’m a bad man.”

“You’re a Villain,” I said. “But that doesn’t make you a bad person.”

So here’s the thing… I loved this! Plain and simple, it was just so much fun that I could hardly sit still from all the giddiness it brought me.

From the very first page (or, well, the dedication actually), I was sucked into this amazing and funky world that Cari Z. created. She took bits of reality and bits of all those fun comic books and movies we’ve all seen and then twisted it into this really fabulous story. In doing so, she was able to both reach deep into this theme and hit some of the topics we all wonder about (like who is the man behind the mask who ever fears) and add in some undeniable humor that again, we all think about (like how completely ridiculous some of the stories behind our favorite heroes and villains are).

She does a beautiful job of mixing characters that we traditionally shrug off as villains and making them real and human. They’re no longer these beings so far off that we can pretend are monsters (well, some of them, because I still think Pinball has some issues), but now they’re people like your brother or sister, your parents, your neighbors.

Maybe it’s not that our Heroes are perfect, maybe it’s that our legal system is broken in the same way they are.

The world felt so tangible to me, especially with the blog posts at the beginning of each chapter, which featured a really sincere and blunt look at the underpinnings of society in Panopolis. They were some of my favorite parts, as they really put things into perspective. I kind of want to know who is behind the blog posts, because I feel like they have an interesting story to tell.

I would’ve loved to see more of the relationship building between Raul and Edward in the beginning, but I was so enthralled by the general plot and world that it didn’t bother me too much. I just wanted to see more of the build up for them. We heard about it in passing, but only got a small glimpse, and I hungered for more. I also think the author could’ve pushed it more at times when it came to how conflicting feelings of love are with knowing what your lover does when he leaves, but that’s just me being picky.

I really hope there’s more than just one sequel, because I could get seriously into this world… like, I could bury myself in it and dance with glee. I’m seriously looking forward to the next one. Great read!

The cover art by L.C. Chase is quite nice. It definitely fits the identity of the Mad Bombardier and helps make it easier to picture him as a villain. My only complaint is the high contrast around the pants, but that’s more of a designers nitpicking than anything else. In general, it’s a lovely cover to pair with a kick-ass story.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 25th 2015)
ISBN139781626492967
edition languageEnglish
seriesPanopolis #1

 

 

Mia Kerwick Talks Trans and Gender Fluid Characters and her book Love Spells (interview, and contest)

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 Photo

 Love Spell by Mia Kerick
Release Date: June 1, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris

Buy Link:  Amazon

Mia Kerick Talks Writing Trans and Gender Fluid Characters…Our Interview With Mia Kerick

Do you consider your character Chance gender fluid or transgender?

The way I think of it, Chance is gender fluid, which means that his gender identity falls under the trans* umbrella. So, in some respects, Chance is both (trans* and gender fluid). If you are asking yourself, WHAT EXACTLY IS THE TRANS* UMBRELLA? I will offer you several explanations.

I found the following explanation and image on TransAustin: A space to foster development of the transgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming community of Austin. Here is how TransAustin defines The Trans* Umbrella: “The Trans* Umbrella is a term used to refer to the range and diversity of gender variance. The words “transgender” and “trans*” are all-encompassing terms that refer to a broad spectrum of identities and expressions.”

ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com (IPS), another online organization that supports the reality and correctness of nontraditional gender identities, defines trans* as “an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum.” Sam Killerman of IPS created the graphic below to illustrate what his group means by the term trans*.

And I found this simple image on the blog Disrupting Dinner Parties, which speaks very clearly to me:

But what really matters is the way that Chance thinks of his gender identity, right? And this topic is a great source of agitation for him throughout the entire novel. In fact, it has been a source of distress for him over the course of the better part of his life. You see, labeling an aspect of yourself that is this individual and distinct from one person to the next—and in Chance’s case constantly changing—is not a simple task. He sees himself in many of the terms in the graphic below, and he struggles to find one ideal term to fully identify with. Interestingly, Chance is never actually successful in finding the perfectly appropriate term for his gender identity; he does not realize “the trans* umbrella” even exists in a formal sense. Instead, over the course of the story, Chance learns more and more about himself as a person—he very gradually accepts that he likes some things that are considered too feminine for a boy, but that he also likes being male. And without finding the perfect label for “who or what he is”, Chance pushes through his emotional hardship and manages to find meaning and acceptance in his life with friends and romance.

Transgender or gender fluid?  What prompted your decision to make this the focus of your character and story?

You have heard that children learn what they live, I’m sure. But more truly, all people learn what they live. The aspects of life with which we are familiar become “normal” (I dislike that word but you know what I’m getting at) to us. For example, if you see lots of people whose faces have been dyed to resemble the stars and stripes of an American flag, then red, white, and blue skin will eventually become, in your mind, commonplace. Picture this… at the grocery store—half of the shoppers sport patriotic faces. On television—red and white stripes on the cute guy in the car chase scene, whose nose is incidentally a solid navy blue. In romance novels, you can’t help but be reminded of Betsy Ross when you’re reading the physical description of the romantic lead character.

My point, however, is less patriotic than it is merely encouraging of open-mindedness. The more we see anything the more “normal” it becomes in our eyes. For kids who are struggling with gender issues, they need to see their likenesses in books. The message “YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR STRUGGLE” is truly quite comforting. And for those who are not struggling with gender issues, they need to see characters who are. They need to read about boys who feel like girls sometimes, and girls who are certain they were born with the wrong body. All kids and people need to become familiar with those who are unlike them in terms of gender identity. This is the only way we can get past all of the alienation and isolation and depression and suicide. And we can finally find acceptance.

Transgender people are in the news recently, from Bruce Jenner to the Washington Post article on Asexuality. All of which has sparked a lot of discussions over sexuality, acceptance and equal rights.  How big a part do you think literature plays in the LGBTQIA community gaining acceptance?

I guess I went into this subject in question number two, but I will elaborate. Literature MUST open people’s eyes. As a writer, I am inspired when I see Bruce Jenner bare all in front of the harsh American and worldwide public. He is opening eyes by sharing the most intimate details of himself. In my eyes he is a hero, as I am certain that it will cost him a large measure of pain. And I can do no less in my literature. There doesn’t have to be a super-preachy theme—the story doesn’t need to be a moral wrapped up as a story. Just by creating characters who are “different” –ones who love differently, in that they love the same sex or both sexes or neither sex, and ones who identify differently than what is traditional in terms of gender, and ones who decide to change their sex from male to female or female to male, we are all together creating a very different “new normal”. Which is true acceptance of all varieties of people.
. Or does it play a part?

Yes!! I won’t say I feel a responsibility to open people’s eyes, but I really am inspired to do so.

Q This doesn’t look YA but would you consider writing a YA or New Adult novel?

Love Spell is true Young Adult literature. In the unique, snarky voice of a seventeen-year-old a story is told of self-questioning in regard to vital contemporary issues. The main character experiences peer pressure and parental woes, and he dares to try some rather risky behaviors for the very first time. To teens, the main character is relatable in terms of his language and the way he sees popular culture and the world, as he struggles to find his unique place. I would, however, definitely consider writing a New Adult or Adult novel on this same topic.

  What prompts you to write a certain story?  Where do you get your inspiration or story prompts from?

Inspiration comes most often from pop music, but I am also inspired by events in the news, actors and movies, or even a concept I come up with for a character. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was very inspirational to me as I wrote Love Spell. Chance César and Jack Sparrow share some characteristics.

7.  What’s next for Mia Kerick?

I have put aside a very dramatic, not nearly as humorous as Love Spell, YA novel. I wrote fifty thousand words, found it to be a very heavy and emotional topic, put it aside, wrote a novella inspired by The Beatles, and am now promoting Love Spell. But I will get back to my partially finished book soon. And I look forward to it. Lanny and Trevor need their HEA.

 

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.
As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.)  However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”
But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.
An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.
Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

Pages or Words: 44,300 words

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Not to say that I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days, but I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days. Yes, I was oh-so-pathetically waiting for his call, which I am aware fully explains the need for the phrase “get a life.” But Jazz hadn’t been at school on the Thursday or Friday after he had called and cancelled our playdate, and now it’s Sunday night, and I still haven’t heard from him. And although I’m frustrated that all of my elaborate plans to make him fall head over heels in love with moi have apparently tanked, I’m also growing genuinely concerned.
That’s when my cell phone, which I placed on my chest before I lay down on my now “love-spell-pink” wrapped mattress, starts singing Express Yourself.
“Yo.” I don’t check the number. It’s Emmy—who else would it be?
“Hi, Chance.” The deep voice is so not Emmy’s.
Yaaassss!!! This is what ninety-nine percent of my insides shout. One percent says quietly, “It’s about frigging time you called, asshole.”
But my voice is calm. “Jasper,” I say blandly. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned the right to be called Jazz any longer.
“Um, sorry, no. It’s Jazz.”
I try not to roll my eyes even though I know he won’t see, but it’s an epic fail. “Whatever.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch for a couple days. My mom’s been real sick. I was lookin’ after her, gettin’ her to the doctor, goin’ to the pharmacy, bringing JoJo back and forth to school, and stuff.”
Oh.
“Mom caught JoJo’s strep throat and had to go to the ER because she couldn’t even swallow.” He stops talking for a second and then clears his voice. “Alls she could do was spit into a rag whenever she needed to swallow.”
Well, that’s definitely TMI, but I get the fucker-nelly revolting picture. “I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault, dude.”
And then there’s silence.
“Gonna take JoJo to the library after school tomorrow. But first I gotta stop by the cable company and pay up or we’re gonna lose our TV and internet at home. They already warned us like twice.”
“Want me to pick up Yolo at school and take her to the library?” I’m so freaking pissed off at him. Why am I offering to save his ass again?
“That’s cool of you to offer, but there’s a bus she can take to the library from her school. Could ya be waiting for her at the library, in case I get held up?”
“Of course.” I’m a Class A sucker.
“You’re such a cool pal.” Ugh—so not what I’m going for.
“Thanks.”
“I’m not gonna be at lunch tomorrow seein’ as I’ll probably be collecting my makeup work. So, I’ll see ya at the library. ‘Kay?”
I don’t say kkkk cuz it’s not even slightly cool. “Sure. The libes after school, it is.”
“Thank you, bro,” Jazz offers.
One more silence, and then I say, “Later.”
I have research to do.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Stop by Mia’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind. Find Mia on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.
Where to find the author:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mia.kerick?fref=ts
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MiaKerick
Pinterest: http://www,pinterest.com/miakerick/

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

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A Stella Review: Cliff’s Edge (Willow Springs Ranch #7) by Laura Harner

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Cliff's Edge coverNavy SEALs Cliff “Snides” Snyder and Ryan “Rhino” Matthews have been moving comfortably in each other’s worlds for two decades. Best friends since attending BUDs twenty years earlier, and despite playing for different teams, they’re often accused of acting like an old married couple—much to their amusement.

Assigned to shore duty for his final tour before retirement and without Ryan to anchor him, Cliff’s restlessness leads him to a local club and hands-on research that leaves him in a compromising position and a witness to murder—signaling the abrupt end of his Navy career. Needing a place to lay low and lick his wounds, Cliff visits his old friends at the Willow Springs Ranch while he considers making cowboy his new job title.

After six long months on deployment, Rhino returns to San Diego—only to discover Cliff’s gone dark and the unlikely words ‘poor judgment’ hanging in the air. Despite the offer of a prestigious assignment, Ryan opts to track down his best friend first and finds him at the WSR…along with more questions than he ever expected. With the most coveted orders for a SEAL dangling, twenty years of service under his belt, and Cliff determined to move on without him, decisions must be made.

Ryan is certain he has the perfect solution going forward, but Cliff knows he must face the fallout of his actions alone—and the one thing he’s determined to do is protect Ryan from making the biggest mistake of his career—even if it costs Cliff everything. You know what they say—the only easy day was yesterday.

Cliff’s Edge is the seventh book in the Willow Springs Ranch series. I read the first two and something else by Laura Harner. She is a great author, I like her writing style and let me say she writes hot sex scenes. This book was good too. Every book in the series can be easily read as a standalone, so pick whichever you want and give it a try. Remember the first one, Ty Hard is free at major online retailers. I can say I particularly enjoyed this last one.

I’m a fan of friends to lovers and gay for you stories so I soon jumped into this one. Ryan and Cliff were great and hot together, but it took too much for them to see in their heart. Twenty years, what a waste of time!

“Are we having a bromance?” Ryan blurted.
“A bromance?” Cliff laughed, and Ryan’s eyes narrowed. Oh boy, never laugh at a drunk who thinks he’s making an important point.
“Yeah, a bromance. Where two guys hang out all the time, like the same shit, would probably fuck each other if they were both gay—or if one of them was female.”
Fighting off more laughter, Cliff nodded. “Sure, you can call it that. Come on, princess, let’s get you to bed.”

It was a solid book to me, quick but well developed. There was an actual story, a mystery to solve and some important life decisions to take. I particularly liked the writing, it let the reading flow smoothly.

There were a couple of things that bugged me a little. First of all the accurate use of military acronyms forced me to use Google a little too much for my taste, sometimes diverting my attention from the story. But it was my fault, my ignorance.
Then in some scenes Ryan was disconcerting: first when he was still thinking he was straight after their first hot encounter and then once realized he was bisexual, he was too easy in exploring his new acceptance with Cliff. Sometimes he confused me.

Luckly once they cleared the air everything went well, hot, sweet and romantic.

Rhino’s hand fisted in Cliff’s hair and he pulled hard enough to force his head around to meet his gaze. He knew if it had been light enough in the room he’d see the gold flecks blazing in the hazel eyes.
“Tell yourself any lie you want to, Cliff, if you think it will make you feel better. Just remember, I know you as well as you know me…maybe better. You might run, but you’ll never be able to hide. I’ll just drag your ass back. To me.”
His lips closed over Cliff’s, mashing them so hard their teeth bumped.

“You’re never going to be alone as long as I’m alive.” […]“I love you, Cliff. As my friend. As my lover. As my forever.”

What I would have like to know more was the unexplored bdsm aspect, maybe to just have a short scene to see how they will behave. More in the next book, please? Even if I want Draco’s story.

Cover art by Laura Harner. It fit very well the style of all the covers in the series.

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

Book Details:

Published April 22nd 2015 by Hot Corner Press
ebook, 115 pages
ISBN13 9781941841013
Edition Language English
Willow Springs Ranch series #7

Willow Springs Ranch Series:

Come meet the men of Willow Springs Ranch in northwest Arizona. Life isn’t always easy, but these men know the value of friendship and hard work…and will touch your heart along the way.

  • Ty Hard (Willow Springs Ranch, #1)
  • Hold Tight (Willow Springs Ranch, #2)
  • Taking Chance (Willow Springs Ranch, #3)
  • Ty’d Down (Willow Springs Ranch #3.5)
  • Hanging Chad (Willow Springs Ranch #4)
  • Park’s Lot (Willow Springs Ranch #5)
  • Whit’s End (Willow Springs Ranch #6)
  • Cliff’s Edge (Willow Springs Ranch, #7)