A Stella Review: Taming the Lion (Lionhearts #2) by Elizabeth Coldwell

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Will he sacrifice everything for the sake of his human mate?

Taming the Lion coverThwarted in his efforts to become head of the Amsterdam pride of lion shifters, Kaspar de Wit flees to England. He finds himself in Bath, home of the biggest English pride, and begins to make a new life among friends. What he doesn’t know is that he’s moved to a city steeped in bloody ritual. Destiny seems to have drawn Kaspar to the place where he’ll meet his mate–but does something more horrifying lie in wait for him, too?

Jon Fellowes, professor of archaeology at Bath University, is obsessed with the standing stones that dominate the Somerset landscape and the people who raised them. He’s heard tales of strange creatures, half-man, half-lion, that once roamed the land, but dismisses them till he meets the beautiful Kaspar and learns the bizarre truth of his nature. As an ancient rite is revived and terror stalks the countryside, can Jon and Kaspar overcome the natural distrust between humans and shifters to find true love? Or will one of them be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Taming The Lion is the second book in the Lionhearts series by Elizabeth Coldwell. Since I enjoyed the first book, The Pride Of Amsterdam, I was really curious about this new story, especially as I was hoping to know more about this new lion universe the author has built. Well, I didn’t get what I wanted because the book is set in Bath, England, so I got nothing about my beloved Kees and Arjan.

Moreover this book was heavier and darker, with some really hard to take scenes which I was so not expecting, they destabilized me. I was expecting a paranormal book and shifters.

What I got was:

1) A lot of sex, as in the first book. If you have already read my other reviews, you already know it’s something I need to have in my stories. Here the sex scenes were well done so it was ok.
2) Nothing new about this particular shifters’ world. The book could almost pass for a normal one instead of a paranormal universe because the shifter aspect at the end it wasn’t exactly relevant, apart for a couple of sections.
3) A really dark mystery with dark scenes.  It surely made the story entertaining but it was predictable from the start as in the first book. I figured out the bad person from the start and that’s something I don’t like. I liked the plot but I’d have preferred it was addressed in a totally different way.
4) The story between the MCs is really too simple, Kaspar finds in Jon, a human, his mate and Jon discovers Kaspar is a lion shifter and everything is okay. No drama, no doubts, nothing.

My opinion on the Lionhearted series hasn’t improved reading Taming The Lion, on the contrary. The thing that keeps me from giving up on it is the writing. I found both books well written and I like the author’s style. So I think maybe I’m going to read Vintage Pride too. Maybe.

Cover art by Posh Gosh. It’s slightly different from the cover of the first book in the series. It’s absolutely well done and eye catching but I would have loved something different since I already had seen this one.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 148 pages
Published March 27th 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN13 9781784305048
Edition Language English

Lionhearts series
The Pride Of Amsterdam #1
Taming the Lion #2
Vintage pride #3 coming soon

 

A MelanieM Review: Retrograde (Flight HA1710 #1) by R.J. Scott

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Rating:   4.25 stars out of 5

Retrograde FinalCo-Pilot Lachlan Donaghue wakes up in hospital, a survivor of the crash of Flight HA1710, with memory loss and the suspicion that he could be at fault for the tragic accident. When everything becomes too much he is taken home to hide, back to the small Irish town he grew up in and to the home he once shared with Rory.

Rory Kendrick watches the news, sees every hour of the disaster unfold and somehow just knows that Lachlan was in the middle of it all. What he doesn’t know is that Lachlan will be forced to come back home to hide and to heal. Lachlan needs a friend, not a lover, but sometimes the lines are just too blurred to make any sense.

Retrograde by RJ Scott is the  first in a new series that  revolves around a doomed flight.  Each story is told from the perspective of a survivor of the airline disaster and each story is written by a  different author.  I love series like this one because for each person we get a author with their own style of writing and take on characters.

RJ Scott was a terrific choice for the unfortunate co-pilot Lachlan Donaghue.  Scott’s gift for characterization and ability to convey an intimate relationship is needed when one of the character’s caught in a mental and physical trauma that has cost him his memory and so many people their lives.  We have to jump immediately over to his side and we do. Right from the start.

So much responsibility rests on his shoulders and he is unable to remember any of it…at first.  Told from Lachlan’s POV, when Lachlan awakes in the hospital room, the world has become a painful, scary, guilt-ridden place where people are demanding answers from him that his traumatized mind can’t provide.

RJ Scott makes this man someone we immediately empathize with even though we know almost nothing  about him.  Lachlan hears the  doubt in the investigator’s voice and  the angry, loud accusations from the ever present reporters trying to invade his hospital  room and temporary  sanctuary.   Lachlan doesn’t remember what happens…just that his friends and colleagues as well as passengers have died in the awful crash.  Alone, aching and in unmeasurable mental anguish, Lachlan is easy to connect with.  But he becomes someone we can love when his past arrives at his hospital room.

Rescue comes in the form of farmer Rory Kendrick, childhood friend and ex fiance.  Rory offers Lachlan his support, his farm and “their house” as a place to recuperate and be safe as the investigation continues.  Lachlan’s lack of memory doesn’t extend to their relationship and last fight that saw them split up.  That painful time is something that Lachlan’s remembers all too well.    RJ Scott takes us easily from their estranged present to their past and back again.  She establishes a loving relationship that really hasn’t faltered no matter what angry words and stubbornness has passed between them.  As a couple Rory and Lachlan are people we can love and do by the end of the story.

An ending that arrives too soon for me.  I wanted to know more about what happens next and how the investigation was moving along.  That will play out over the next stories and we will see it happen through various survivor’s eyes.  I can’t wait for that to happen.

While each story stands on its own, I believe that reading them in order will round out the series narrative in the right way.  I have listed them all at the bottom.  Use it to add to your TBR pile as I have mine.  I definitely recommend Retrograde by RJ Scott.  It was a quick, dramatic and satisfying story.   I loved the characters and the series format.  Wonderful job all the way around.

Cover by Meredith Russell is perfect for the story and the series.

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

Book Details:

Published by Love Lane Books Limited (first published June 12th 2015)
seriesFlight HA1710 #1

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Flight HA1710 series

6 authors, 6 stories, 1 disaster

When Flight HA1710 crashes killing seven people the after effects are too many to think on. But how does the crash change people’s lives? From the pilot to the guy who missed the plane we chart the stories of those whose lives were impacted by the crash.

 

  • Retrograde (Flight HA1710 #1) by R.J. Scott
  • Velocity (Flight HA1710 #2) by Sara York
  • Flashbulb (Flight HA1710 #3) by Clare London
  • Fallout (Flight HA1710 #4) by Meredith Russell
  • Aviophobia (Flight HA1710, #5) by Serena Yates
  • Fracture (Flight HA1710, #6) by Amber Kell

In the Book Spotlight: Sword of the Gladiatrix by Faith L. Justice (author interview and giveaway)

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Sword of the Gladiatrix cover

Sword of the Gladiatrix by Faith L. Justice
Release Date: May, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
Cover Artist: Todd Engle

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Sales Links: 

Amazon.com Worldwide (US, UK, Canada)
BarnesandNoble.com 
CreateSpace (print only)
iBooks (ebook only)
Kobo (ebook only)
Smashwords (ebooks–all formats)

..

My Interview with Faith L. Justice…

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Faith L. Justice, author of Sword of the Gladiatrix. Hi Faith, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Thanks so much for having me here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I’m a science geek and history junkie and have been all my life. I knocked around a bit and worked as a lifeguard, paralegal, systems analyst, human resources executive, and college professor before settling into full-time writing. I live in Brooklyn with my family and the required gaggle of cats. For fun, I like to dig in the dirt—my garden and various archaeological sites.

My current book is an action adventure, lesbian romance set during Nero’s reign. A departure for me. I usually write novels based on real historical women—ones who should be in the history books but aren’t. Sword of the Gladiatrix features two fictional characters from the far ends of the Roman Empire: Afra, scout and beast master to the Queen of Kush; and Cinnia, warrior-bard and companion to Queen Boudica of the British Iceni. Both try to replace lost friendship and love in each other’s arms, but fate intervenes. Before they complete their journeys, I toss in a pair of trained hunting cheetahs, a nasty snake dancing bitch, a natural disaster or two, a neurotic emperor, and several gladiator fights.

Whenever I pitched Sword of the Gladiatrix as my “lesbian gladiator novel,” I encountered raised eyebrows and skeptical snorts. The first question everyone asked: “Were there really lesbian gladiators?” My answer: “Of course!” We know there were females fighting in arenas for a couple of centuries, although far fewer than men. Some had to be lesbian. What really surprised people was the fact of female gladiators. They rarely appear in popular culture. Despite the popularity of Xena Warrior Princess and the myths of the Amazons, they don’t come to mind in the media-soaked imaginings of brutal, bloody, gladiatorial games. Women warriors? Maybe. Women gladiators? No. Yet they are there in classical literature, art, grave markers, and archaeology. All you have to do is look.
• Was there a basis for your story? A previous experience or something else?

I love museums (see science geek and history junkie above). I spend days wondering around and reading all the labels. When I visited the British Museum several years ago, I came across a stone carving, from the first or second century, found in Turkey. It showed two women named Achilla and Amazon fighting with swords and shields, their helmets on the ground. Female gladiators! At that time, I didn’t know they existed. I researched the topic and found that females (in small numbers) fought regularly over a two hundred year period

The image of those two women haunted me. They were real women who lived and died centuries ago. Who were they? Where did they come from? How did they feel about their lives? That’s when I decided to tell their story. Well, not their story precisely—no one knows their background or fates. So I created Afra and Cinnia to stand in for those two women carved on the stone.
• What skills do you think a writer needs?

Writing is a craft and can be taught. There are aisles full of good how-to books on writing in bookstores and libraries, but the one thing any writer—fiction or non-fiction—needs to master is storytelling. How do you develop your characters, plot, and setting in such a way that it draws the reader in and keeps them turning the pages. A good storyteller can get away without sparkling prose, but the opposite isn’t true.

Also persistence and a thick skin help. I’ve known several people over the years who (I felt) were wonderful writers with original voices and compelling stories, but they gave up after getting a couple of rejections. Write your story or novel to the best of your ability, put it out there, and move on to the next. All writing is practice and useful. Someone once said you need to write one million words before you get good. Rewriting the same sixty thousand over and over doesn’t count.

Oh, and either a deep understanding of English grammar or a crack copy editor. I loved your rant: Win a Celery Stalks At Midnight Can A Balled Bare Bear Bee Far Behind?: Vocabulary Goes Bad with Homonyms! I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. I recently caught a blooper in one of my draft blog posts where I talked about “navel battles”—belly button wars! Glad I caught it before I posted it, but if it made it into a book, shame on me and my editor.

• What for you is the perfect book hero?

I like complicated and flawed. If s/he is perfect, everything comes too easily, there’s no conflict or risk—boring! I’m also partial to the underdog and the odd one out like Tyrion from Game of Thrones. A hero has to make mistakes and overcome the consequences, not just overcome external obstacles; otherwise there is no growth or emotional throughline. They also have to learn from their mistakes. In my first book, Selene of Alexandria, my protagonist is an impulsive young woman who—like most young people—suffers from a feeling of invincibility. She learns her rashness has consequences—sometimes deadly—but also understands that her impulsiveness comes from a deep need to do good and make the world a better place. Some actions she regrets, others she doesn’t.

• Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

No so much the craft. My challenges go back to persistence: getting my butt in chair and fingers on keyboard. In today’s connected world, it is so easy to get distracted and fritter the day away on the internet. Working at home doesn’t help. Stuck on a scene? Oh, there’s laundry! Or cats to play with. Or…you name it. I schedule a minimum of three hours—preferably in the morning before I look at email/Facebook/Twitter—that is dedicated to new writing (not rewriting!) I take my ancient laptop to the couch in the parlor (no TV, no Wi-Fi) and sit staring. Sometimes the words flow and I’m “in the zone.” Other times it’s like pulling teeth, but I sit there until I write one word, then the next, then the next. Each word gets easier.

• Tell us about your favorite childhood book.

Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians by Mary Nash (1962, Little, Brown & Co.). My parents signed me up for a book-of-the-month club and this was one. The story is simple: Three siblings on their own because their parents are on a trip, their housekeeper won a cooking contest, and their substitute babysitter is in bed under a voodoo spell that the youngest child Theodore (Toad) put on her. Malcom and Molly, the oldest two children, work hard to keep the house going and make it a nice Christmas for their younger brother, but things keep getting weirder and weirder. Chaos, hilarity, and an impossible snowstorm ensue.

It’s not great literature. The dialog sucks and the gender stereotypes are…1962, but I read this to my little sister every year at Christmas till she could read it herself. It wasn’t Christmas until we read Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians. I found my old hardback copy with the battered dust jacket a few years ago and gave it to my sister. Best Christmas present ever! Sweet memories of a lovely time.

Thanks again for letting me visit your site. Many hours of great reading to you all!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

From the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero’s Rome. They seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other’s arms; but the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.

Pages or Words: 260 pages, 75,000 words

Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, Lesbian Romance, Action/Adventure

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

A slave wraps my lower legs with felted wool and straps a gilded greave to my left shin, because I fight as myrmilla. He smells of sour sweat, as do I. I’ve already fought once today, tested fate, and won. The gold sand that Nero favors in the arena still crusts my hair and rasps the skin under my sweat-soaked breast band. I will go again before the ravenous crowds to satisfy their bloodlust. For what? An emperor’s whim? The crowd’s passing fancy? A sacrifice to their gods?

I swallow the bitter gall that surges into my mouth.

Across the room, another slave straps armor on Cinnia, my beloved. She looks at me with pride in her eyes and a brief smile on her lips. We said our goodbyes last night, clasped breast to breast, thigh to thigh, a stolen moment before being sent to our lonely cells. My heart beats an irregular rhythm.

My love. Light to my dark. Fire to my ice. ‘

Cinnia is goddess-given to me; from a land of mists and forests, so different from my country of desert and blistering sun. Without her, I would be dead. Without me, so would she. We have suffered, struggled, lived, and loved. Now we go out upon the sands of the great arena to die. One by her lover’s hands, the other by her own.

It is not the life or death I chose for myself, but it is the one the gods gave me.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About the author:

FAITH L. JUSTICE writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, Writer’s Digest, The Copperfield Review, the Circles in the Hair anthology, and many more. She is a frequent contributor to Strange Horizons, Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine, and co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://facebook.com/faith.justice.7
Twitter: https://twitter@faithljustice
Author website: https://www.faithljustice.com
LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/profile/view?id=64543293

 STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Copy of ‘Sword of the Gladiatrix’ by Faith L. Justice

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Tour Dates & Stops:
15-Jun
The Hat Party

16-Jun
Hearts on Fire
7-Jun
Love Bytes
18-Jun
All I Want and More Books
Amanda C. Stone
19-Jun
Bayou Book Junkie
22-Jun
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
23-Jun
Bike Book Reviews
24-Jun
Prism Book Alliance
25-Jun
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
26-Jun
Inked Rainbow Reads

Can Love Heal? Find out with Posy Roberts’ Silver Scars (guest post and giveaway)

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Title: Silver Scars
Author: Posy Roberts
Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Press
Genre: MM Romance, Contemporary Romance
Length: 86,700 words, 282 pages

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Sales Links

 

SS Vulnerable

You need people to love you, especially when you shove them away.

A bomb destroyed high-powered lawyer Gil Lemieux’s seemingly perfect life, and PTSD has ruled every decision since the explosion that left him scarred inside and outside. Moving home with his mom is meant to be a temporary measure, just like proofreading for a medical editorial firm is meant to be a stopgap. But two years after taking on the wrong court case, he’s still living in fear.
Keith Kramer might be based 1,500 miles away from Gil, but their shared work brings them together—a chance meeting that’s life-changing. Gil is drawn to Keith’s good looks and intelligence, but it’s his innate understanding that Gil is more than the scars on his skin that is truly attractive. He’s everything Gil used to be and more. It blows Gil’s mind that his attraction might be returned.
Only doubt could widen the distance between them. Keith’s hopefulness, borne out of surviving some tough challenges of his own, isn’t enough to bridge the distance alone. Gil will need to believe he has as much to offer as Keith if they’re to build a life together.

We happy to have Posy Roberts here today to talk about her latest  book, Silver Scars.

Thanks for hosting me today. I’m excited to be here to talk about my new book, Silver Scars and it’s beautiful cover.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” How old were you when you first heard that? I was around ten. Yet, most of us still do judge a book that way though, right? A great cover can make you immediately buy book and a less than stellar one can make you walk right on by. Covers are candy for our eyes, tempting us to find out more.

Because of legalities, author’s images choices are limited. We go to stock photo sites where we can buy images or photographer sites or Flickr where we can negotiate using photographs people have taken. But when you already have a story written and a character so well developed in your head, very few images/models live up to the person a writer knows so intimately. Write about a character that’s doesn’t fit a few very well defined attributes, and it’s even harder to find the right image.

That’s what happened with my book Silver Scars. Gil is bald, and because of a bombing at his old house, his scalp and face are scarred.

Go to any stock photo site and search for “bald man” and the images that come up are often ridiculous. They essentially fit into three categories: stressed out man, huge body builder with greased muscles, and complete dork with crazy expressions, emoting… what? I’m not sure.

None of those worked for blend-into-the-shadows Gil. I found a photo I seriously considered using on Flickr and contacted the photographer. He wanted close to $400 for it. Well out of my budget.

I wanted an image of a man who was bald and that possibly had scars, but if his forehead were hidden, that would work too. Or a man in a hat, since Gil loves hiding under hats. He also had to be fairly somber to match the tone of the book. A guy grinning like a fool would not work at all.

And then I found an image I loved. I kept on looking, but at the end of each search, I came back to this beautiful image of a man hiding under a hood, lit from the side so his face was still partially shadowed. It fit beautifully with a scene in my book too: the moment Gil takes a risk and puts himself out there to be with Keith.

My cover artist, Natasha Snow, gave Gil brown eyes and found a font that helped represent scars. This is a passionate love story between Gil and Keith, but it truly is Gil’s story. He needed to be on the cover.

I love what Natasha did. I love the cover. It brings Gil to life even more for me, despite spending so many months living inside this character’s head. This cover is on my phone. I might even get a cell phone case made with him on it. That’s how much I love what Natasha did.

What makes a cover jump out for you?

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About Posy Roberts…

Posy Roberts writes about romantic male love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.
Posy is married to a man who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep. Her daughter, a budding author and dedicated Whovian, helps her come up with character names. When Posy’s not writing, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

Amazon | Website | Twitter | Facebook Group | Facebook Page | Pinterest

Contest:

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

Rafflecopter Code:
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Tour Dates & Stops: June 22 – 26, 2015

22-Jun
Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings
My Fiction Nook
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

23-Jun
Inked Rainbow Reads
3 Chicks After Dark
As The Pages Turn
Cate Ashwood
Happily Ever Chapter
Prism Book Alliance

24-Jun
Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance
Molly Lolly
Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
Bayou Book Junkie

25-Jun
MM Good Book Reviews
Hearts on Fire
Bike Book Reviews
BFD Book Blog

26-Jun
Rainbow Gold Reviews
Love Bytes
Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy
Chris McHart
Multitasking Mommas
Carly’s Book Reviews