A MelanieM Review: Protector of the Alpha (Shifting Needs #1) by Parker Williams

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Protector400x600Adopted at an early age by a wealthy family, Jake Davis has always seemed to have an easy life. Even in college he was blessed with good grades and an apparently clear path to a pro football career. Good thing his best friend keeps hanging around to keep his head from getting too swollen.

Zakiya Incekara has always been…odd. Being fluent in six languages and having a flair for international cooking should open the world to him, but those skills leave him isolated.

When Jake sees Zak for the first time, with water beading down his slender form, something inside him shifts, and it hungers for Zak. To have him. To claim him. And Jake knows that whatever it is, it won’t be denied.

When they are approached by a man who claims knowledge of a secret past they share, Jake and Zak are thrust into a world they would never have believed existed. The forests of Alaska might seem an odd place to find your destiny, but these men will meet the challenges head on, as they learn that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to be Protector of the Alpha.

There are so many little surprises awaiting readers in Protector of the Alpha by Parker Williams and none can be divulged because they are spoilers (big and small).  That makes writing this review a tad frustrating, trust me, it really does.  Parker Williams doesn’t go for the typical here. That in itself delighted me when my expectations were upended as to where the story and characters were going.  The discarding of the expected starts with the main characters.

Jake Davis is a muscular, athletic to the point of perfection, hot man on campus.  Adopted by a wealthy family when a toddler, Jake has sailed through his life so far, even if it meant the odd nightmare or so.  But suddenly everything in Jake’s life starts to go so very wrong.  And its starts with another young man new at school.

Zakiya Incekara speaks 6 languages, cooks like a high paid chef, and has the (hidden) martial arts skills of a master.  All that, a small physique, delicate features with long black hair,combined with a small town collegiate atmosphere, make Zak not just the weird boy on campus but a target for bullies.

Then Jake meets Zak and both lives turn upside down forever.  As well as those lives of the people around them, especially Jake’s best friend since childhood, Casey Scott.

I loved all three characters, each as different from the other as can be.  Jake who would be obnoxious, except his personality is kind, protective, and fair.  Zak could be overly quirky except he comes with his own fair amount of past pain and uncertainty.  And  Casey, well, I think most people are going to adore Casey because it’s so easy to relate to him.  Casey has stood in Jake’s shadow for his entire life and thought college would be his ticket to being his own man and to making his own reputation.  Until his father informs him that he will be going to the same college as Jake, no argument and no questions.  The resentment Casey feels and the guilt because it involves his best friend is a situation and emotional state the reader will believe in and understand.  Yep, adore all three.

The mystery you are anticipating creeps into the story slowly at first and then rapidly as events start to shatter the calm of their lives on campus.  Death and anguish are soon to follow as is a journey for all into their pasts and nightmares of their youth.  Then the run to safety is on and so is the pace of the story and the action of the adventure.

Williams tightens his focus on these young men to the extent that others in their story feel less substantial.  And perhaps that’s necessary because the secondary characters here for the most part are temporary ones.  With a few exceptions.  I wished for a little more backstory at first, but that arrives with quite a few shockers of its own so it’s a tricky balance that the author needs to achieve between giving the reader a firm foundation and not revealing too much before the narrative calls for it.  Parker Williams manages that here.  I loved being lured into the new world along with Jake, Zak, and Casey.  It made me their companion and never was I so happy to be along for the ride.

There are some light hearted moments to break up the dread and awfulness that meets them along the way.  Williams is also setting the stage with the characters and events to come in the next story.

Protector of the Alpha was a wonderful read.  It was fun, suspenseful, sexy and full of adventure.  I can’t wait for it to continue in Scent of the Heart.  I highly recommend this story to all that love romance and shifters in love.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Lovely cover.  I loved the simplicity of the outline although that embellishment around the title was a little too fancy for me.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages
Published November 10th 2014 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781937252939
seriesShifting Needs #1

Shifting Needs Series in the Order They Should be Read:

  • The Protector of the Alpha (Shifting Needs #1)
  • Scent of the Heart (Shifting Needs #2)

A Paul B Review: Pride’s Children by Evan T. Konnor

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Kids are great. They’re a gift and we have to take care of them.”

Pride's Children coverAs Taylor Jensen and Ethan Walker form a family with Taylor’s two children, the two press forward to change Ontario’s law concerning adoption by gay parents. Will their fight be cut short by radical elements before they can argue their case?

Set during the fight for gay adoption in Ontario, Pride’s Children by Even T. Konnor tells the story of Ethan Walker, a newspaper columnist and civil rights reporter and Taylor Jensen, a family law attorney. They have chatted before at a local park where gay men go to cruise. While they have never hooked up, the strike a comfortable acquaintance with each other. One night, Taylor asks Ethan to follow him. Instead of taking him some place to have sex, Taylor takes Ethan to a pizzeria for what he terms their first date. The two hit it off and exchange contact information.

This new relationship faces several obstacles as it begins. Taylor has been a widower for the past three years and has two small children. Ethan has lost his friend and unrequited love several years ago. He is also dealing with missing his son who moved out to Alberta shortly after he was born. As such, Ethan fears giving his heart to someone as his was broken tragically once before. However, both men find qualities in the other they are both impressed by and decide to see where these feeling take them.

The two men are also working toward changing Ontario’s laws banning adoption by gay partners. Ethan has been researching the issue for his newspaper column. Taylor has been acting as the attorney for some the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the province. Their actions have drawn attention to a radical religious organization headed by a former minister who makes the man from Westboro seem like Mary Poppins. Taylor and Ethan must deal with this group’s attempts to sidetrack their mission and keep their newly formed family safe.

I enjoyed how Taylor and Ethan seem to be the person the other one needs to heal their past pain. Taylor is dealing with the loss of his wife, two precocious children and a disapproving mother who does not understand his new lifestyle. Ethan must cope with losing not only his friend and should have been lover but also the loss of his son in his life. The romance is well done even if their initial contact was in a place where romance does not usually occur. The author makes good use of the struggle for gay rights as a backdrop for this well crafted romance and thriller.

The cover is taken from stock photos from shutterstock.com. The combined photos represent our newly formed family. While it is nicely done, it does seem sort of plain with the white backdrop. The rainbow lettering of PRIDE’S reminds one of the gay pride flag while the Children part of the title looks like it could have been written by the eight year old.

Sales Links: Amazon   Buy It Here

Book details
Ebook, 350 pages
Published: December 1, 2014 by DeeKay
ISBN: 978-0-9938628-1-6
Edition: English

Need a Romance with a Side of Fright? Here’s “Shadows Fall” by J.K. Hogan (character(s) interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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 Shadows Fall by J.K. Hogan
Release Date: June 10, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Cover Artist: J.K. Hogan

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Sales Links: Wilde City Books

Our Mini Interview with Two Characters from J. K. Hogan’s Shadowfall, Titus and Charlie!

A Titus and Charlie Interview:

1. Now that you’ve gotten together, what comes next?

Titus: We’ve been so busy running from a psycho killer, we haven’t even had a chance to think about ‘next.’
Charlie: Oh…I was thinking we’d move in together.
Titus: *cough* Maybe we should talk about this later.

2. What was the hardest thing for you to overcome that you didn’t expect to be an issue?

Titus: Well, there’s the thing with the ghosts. That’s kind of a nuisance.
Charlie: Yeah, there’s that. It can be kind of creepy talking to Titus when he’s looking over my shoulder at something I can’t see. *shivers*

3. Who or what makes you laugh out loud?

Titus: Riot.
Charlie: Riot.
Titus: Riot’s my best friend. He’s…a character.

4. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Titus: Duh, I own a coffee shop, so definitely mocha.
Charlie: Orange Sherbet.
Titus: You’re so weird. You’re lucky you’re cute.
Charlie: So says the kid who talks to ghosts. Uh huh.

5. What movie will you watch over and over again?

Titus: Shelter.
Charlie: Die Hard!
Titus: *facepalm*

For more of Titus and Charlie, check out the blurb and excerpt below!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

A gift—or curse—gives Titus McGinty the unwanted ability to talk to ghosts. When he starts seeing the same few apparitions repeatedly, appearing with similar gruesome injuries, he begins to wonder what they want from him.

Detective Charlie Hale has a serial killer on his hands. On the loose for weeks, the Queen City Slayer has left the police nothing to go on, no forensic evidence other than what he wants found. The city is running out of time.

The crisis brings Titus and Charlie together—Titus stumbles upon a body and finds himself a suspect. Their budding romance is tested as they are sucked into a web of underground laboratories, restive spirits, and religious fanaticism. They’ll have to work together to find the identity of the killer before he takes his next victim…Titus.
Pages or Words: 102,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Romance, Thriller

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

I always hated walking home alone at night on the deserted city streets. But I couldn’t ask my employees to do something I was scared to do myself, so I’d taken the late shift. In the dark, the wandering dead became nothing but sliding shadows and hissing whispers. The phrase ‘jumping at shadows’ is apt, because there were things in the shadows.

Those things slithered around me, feeling much more insidious in the murky stillness of the nighttime city. Hands in my pockets, I gripped my four inch pocket knife that I always carried. Fat lot of good it would do me against mule, but there was a killer on the loose after all.

It was ill-advised, but I still blasted my music inside my headphones. I didn’t want to hear what the spirits had to say in gloam. I mostly kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk in front of me—don’t stand out, don’t make eye contact, make yourself invisible—but I cast glances all around my periphery to keep aware of my surroundings.

A tall, skinny man approached, heading toward me on the opposite side of the sidewalk. He wore dark jeans and a black hoodie with the hood pulled up, casting his face in shadow. I found that odd, as it was one of those warm, humid nights the Southern springtime was famous for. His dark eyes glittered at me from the empty void where his face should be, obviously a trick of the poor lighting.

As he passed me, he clipped my shoulder, throwing me off balance. I wanted to turn around and yell, but self-preservation intervened. I could probably take him in hand-to-hand, but he could be packing for all I knew. I put my head down and kept walking.

I yelped when a spirit appeared in front of me—unlike what movies and television showed, they didn’t usually just pop up. He was a young man, probably about my age, with pale skin, black hair, and eyes so blue they seemed otherworldly… and he was gorgeous. I blinked, hoping he’d disappear. No such luck.

He turned his head towards the building beside us that was being renovated, the entrance to which was blocked off with caution tape. Stretching out his left arm, he pointed to it, and I could see bone-deep gouges in his wrist and forearm. He glanced at me again. Look.

“Not tonight, okay?” I mumbled, trying to step around him. In the blink of an eye, he disappeared and rematerialized right in front of me. See!

“No,” I said, getting angry. I walked straight through him. Usually when I passed through a spirit, I just felt a slick, oily cold sliding through my body—but this burned like a vat of acid had been dumped over me. I screamed and fell to my knees.

He appeared in front of me again. As I looked up at him, still reeling from the pain, it occurred to me how new he must be. When a mulo first left its body, it still maintained some measure of its humanity. It was able to take and maintain a corporeal form more easily than the older spirits, and the ability faded with each day since its passing.

He pointed again and this time, his eyes took on a pleading quality. I could practically feel his anguish.

Struggling to my feet, I brushed myself off and sighed. “Fine, I’ll look. But then you need to leave me the hell alone. I ducked under the caution tape strung across the doorless entry of the run-down building. It was almost pitch black inside, but I got a vague sense of sawhorses and scaffolds. Tip-toeing for some inconceivable reason, I made my way into some kind of vestibule or foyer. I didn’t notice anything that this mulo would be so desperate for me to see, but I couldn’t really see much at all.

My foot hit something solid and I was afraid to go any further into the dark. Who knew what kind of hazards were strewn about the construction site. I dug out my iPhone and swiped it to turn on the flashlight app. A bright light shone out of the camera flash and illuminated the dusty room in front of me—and the man lying all too still on the floor.

I screamed for the second time in five minutes, stumbled back against a plastic-draped scaffolding and dropped my phone. I assumed it landed screen up, because the room was suddenly plunged back into darkness. With my skin crawling, I felt around on the floor for the hard case. Instead, I grabbed a cold leg.

“Holy God!” I shouted, scrambling backwards and sideways until my back hit a wall. My pulse pounded and my head was spinning with the urge to pass the fuck out, either from fright or hyperventilation. My muscles were on lockdown, frozen into that gray area between fight-or-flight, but I knew I had to find my phone so I could get the hell out of there.

And the body… I’d have to call someone. I poked around with the toe of my shoe, carefully avoiding the area of blackness where I thought the body was. Finally I felt the phone. I dragged it across the floor with my foot until I was able to pick it up. Everything was illuminated once again. “Oh thank God,” I said.

But once there was light, I could see him again. His head was turned to face away from me, but I knew that it was the guy from outside. Obviously he’d wanted me to find his body. It was laid out like a sacrifice, arms stretched out to reveal the deep cuts on his arms. I shivered. My brain was finally catching up to the situation, and I realized it was entirely possible that the killer could still be here.

I quickly got to my feet and lurched toward the dim light pooling at the doorway. As soon as I was out of there, I pressed my back up against the cool façade of the building and panted to catch my breath. I see the dead all the time, but I’d never actually seen a dead body before. I wasn’t sure what to do; the only thing I could think was call Charlie.

With shaking hands, I pulled up his number on my phone—I may have entered it from the business card he gave me after chasing Jay out of the shop. I pressed send and he picked up on the first ring.

“Hale.”

“Ch-Charlie?”

“Who’s this?”

“Titus.” My voice was shaking and I was embarrassingly close to tears. “I need help.”

“Tell me where you are and I’ll be right there.”

I rattled off my general location, already soothed by the sound of his voice, the confidence in it. “Please hurry,” I said.

“Stay put, I’m on my way.”

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and young son, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visitwww.jkhogan.com.

Where to find the author:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJKHogan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JK_Hogan
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jkhoganbooks/
Tumblr: http://officialjkhogan.tumblr.com/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+JKHogan/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jkhoganbooks

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: ebook copy of Shadows Fall by J.K. Hogan.  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:
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11-Jun
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12-Jun
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15-Jun
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16-Jun
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17-Jun
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18-Jun
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19-Jun
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Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

22-Jun
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23-Jun
Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
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24-Jun
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25-Jun
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26-Jun
Happily Ever Chapter

29-Jun
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30-Jun
The Novel Approach

1-Jul
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2-Jul
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3-Jul
Inked Rainbow Reads

6-Jul
Chris McHart
Multitasking Mommas

7-Jul
Molly Lolly
The Blogger Girls

Can Too Much Love Be Not Enough? The Bohemians by Sean Michael Has The Answer (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Bohemians by Sean Michael
Release Date: June 3, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

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Sales Links: Torquere Books – Amazon

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Topaz is a free-spirit, loving easily, though searching for his true soul-mate. As soon as he meets Quincy, he realizes this is the man who has been calling for him in his dreams and he offers his whole self, body, heart, mind and soul, without thought.

Quincy gives away his heart too easily, and has been hurt in love more than once. Still, that doesn’t stop him from falling head over heels for Topaz when he first meets the man.

It seems like a match made in heaven, but Topaz lives with two men who are his best friends, and also his lovers. Will Quincy ever be able to understand that Topaz has more than enough love in his heart for his best friends and his soul-mate, or will Topaz’s bohemian ways be too much for Quincy to understand?

Originally published in the Bus Stories Anthology.

Pages or Words: 28,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Ménage/Poly, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Topaz parked the bicycle in the back yard and backed into the kitchen, bags in hand. “Daisy? Ku? I brought tomatoes and cilantro and some spinach on my way home from Rosa’s. They had beautiful honeydews, too.”

Grinning Leonaka grabbed the sacks with huge, calloused hands, shiny black hair held back in a braid. “What did she say, Topaz?”

He sighed, heading for the refrigerator for some tea. “She said I have to wait for him to come to me. That the spirits want me to be patient and calm.” He poured a glass and then brought the pitcher to the table, refreshing Leo’s and Stephan’s before kissing Stephan’s cheek. “I don’t do patient so well, Daisy.”

Topaz settled into a padded chair, watching Leo wash the food in the bright, sun-drenched kitchen. One of the kittens climbed up for her love, his fingers stroking her soft ears without hesitation.

Stephan smoothed the edge of Leo’s t-shirt down with graceful fingers and then came over and began to rub his shoulders. “You don’t do patient well? Leo, do you believe that?”

“Little bit, I have seen you sit for hours and hours, untangling a single skein of thread. You might be eager, but you are the most patient man I know.” Leo chuckled, gaze warm. “He’s that special?”

Topaz relaxed under Stephan’s magical fingers, the worries and negative energy of the day fading. “You should see his eyes, Ku. There’s something about them. Something I want to know all about.”

“They are a pretty blue,” Stephan added. “I haven’t seen you this excited about someone in a long time, Sunshine.”

“Oh, Daisy. It’s been so long since I had a soul mate. Someone who looked at me like Leo looks at you.” He turned his head, kissed Stephan’s fingers. “I know you two love me, but part of my heart is missing. Maybe making those eyes laugh is a piece of that.”

He heard Ku’s soft cluck, the worried sound that meant that Leo was sure he was leaping into open air without a net. Again.

Stephan’s hands tightened on his shoulders and then pet him gently, his friend sitting next to him. “How can we help, Sunshine?”

“Rosa did my cards, Daisy. She says he’ll come. That I should be still.” Topaz grinned, taking Stephan’s hand in his.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t let the universe know I’m interested though. I’m thinking some long meditations, a cleansing bath, a few candles lit in hope.” He gave Stephan a grin. “Maybe some more wildflowers?”

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and pursuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to “Chicago.”

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He’ll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004713810507
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites
Twitter: seanmichael09
Other: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca/
Other: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com/

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘The Bohemians’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
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SM Final Contest Ends


Tour Dates & Stops: June 15, 2015
Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Kimi-Chan, Havan Fellows, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Hearts on Fire, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Hat Party, Molly Lolly, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Bayou Book Junkie, Mikky’s World of Books, Redz World, Rainbow Gold Reviews, TTC Books and More, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Velvet Panic, Iyana Jenna, Up All Night, Read All Day