A BJ Review: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Winter Kills coverFBI Special Agent Adam Darling was moving up the ranks until a mishandling of a high profile operation left someone dead and his career on shaky ground. Now he’s working a serial killer case when him and his partner are sent to investigate a body in the little town of Nearby.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell is laid-back, easy going and a bit of a joker, but an efficient and tough cop. When the town Sheriff calls in the FBI on a cold case, Agent Darling comes to town and him and Rob enjoy an unexpected one-night stand before the man goes on his way. Rob doesn’t figure to see the intriguing man again, but when the curator of a Native American museum is murdered several months later, the Sheriff calls in the FBI a second time and asks specifically for Agent Darling. With the body count rising, it soon begins to appear that they may be investigating more than one serial killer—one past and one present.

There are actually two mysteries here going on at the same time, some cold cases from twenty years prior and some a modern killer. Could the killer be one and the same? Or are have two serial killers made the small town of Nearby their hunting ground?

The beginning of the story happens in the past from a POV that is never revisited (for a very good reason), and then we go to the varying POV of the two MC. That initial different point of view, the time jump, and then the other two points of views threw me off a bit, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like this for the first few chapters. But Lanyon’s writing is excellent as always, so I kept going and it paid off. I was soon sucked in.

The plot/mystery is quite complex. There is a lot going on, at one point almost too much, but it was reeled by in nicely. I enjoyed the setting, winter in a small, rural town, because rural is right up my ‘lives in middle of nowhere’ alley. I also enjoy reading stories with Native Americans and their histories and legends. The tough female cop who had instincts sharp enough to pick up on little things that even Rob had been overlooking was an awesome addition to the cast of characters. And the pairing of the laid-back, somewhat argumentative but humorous Rob with the more uptight, by the book, and troubled-by-past-events Adam worked well for me.

As far as the mystery in this book goes, there is no neatly tied up with bow ending. We do get to know who did what, but the motives, whys and wherefores are not fully explained. Some may complain about it not being scrupulously tied up. But I was fine with it. In real life, I tend to think the arresting cops don’t really get to know all that stuff, especially right away and in a scenario such as this set up. The guys don’t collect all the clues and put it all together to solve the mystery. They start to put bits and pieces together, and then WHAM, events explode and the stakes are instantly high. So maybe later when it comes to trail possibly the guys will find out more, but I accept that they wouldn’t know all that and found it to be just realistic

Towards the end, the focus shifted to the romance rather than tidying up all the loose ends and motives of the crime. The case was over, solved. In their past and time to focus on their own life. YES! I’m all in with that. In fact, the ending was my favorite part, and I don’t want to give too much away. However, I will say that I thought it was sad and yet brilliant the way Lanyon began the book with a hopeful man in love who didn’t get his HEA, and then wrapped it up with a hopeful HFN for the main couple.

There were two things that kept this from being a perfect five for me. First off, most of the sex scenes started off fun but ended as fade to black. Why? I wanted more. And second, for the first time in a Lanyon book, I found editing errors. Gasp.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to ask Josh Lanyon to please tell me the ex named Tucker that Adam Darling mentioned without a last name is NOT Elliott’s Tucker! Tucker and Elliott are a favorite couple.

The cover photo at the bottom gives a sense of place, season, cold; and the photo at top is right in your face–a gun sighted straight on you. ‘Go ahead, make my day.’ it seems to say. And this book might do just that.

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

ebook, 181 pages
Published May 31st 2015 by Just Joshin
original titleWinter Kill
ISBN139781937909277
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.joshlanyon

A Stella Review: The Storm Before The Calm by Cate Ashwood

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

StormBeforeTheCalm[The]FSCharlie has one passion in life: dancing. It’s his salvation when it feels like the world is swallowing him whole. When his mom secretly secures him a spot in the summer intensive at the Free Rein Dance Company in New York, he is thrilled. He knows that once the summer ends, he’ll have to return to Beacon to get a job and help support his family, but for those two months, he can spread his wings.

In New York he meets Max, a junior instructor who is everything Charlie wishes he could be. Bold and self-assured, Max radiates pride in who he is. As they spend time together, Max shows Charlie what life can be like past the walls of his closed-minded home town. But Charlie doesn’t know if he’s ready to show the world who he truly is when standing in the spotlight is the last thing he wants.

I think I became a Cate Ashwood fan since the first time I read one of her books called Keeping Sweet and I can say that she hasn’t once disappointed me. The Storm Before The Calm was another winner. Simply beautiful and perfect. I highly recommend it! It’s a positive book, light, sweet, full of emotions. Exactly what I love to read!

The story between Charlie, just graduated from high school and Max, a twenty-one years old dance instructor, was a joy to read. The chemistry between them was explosive. They were good for each other. In a safe place and with a safe and right person, Charlie was finally able to be himself, he simply flourished. I usually tend to prefer stories with older MCs, but Max and Charlie were mature in their youth, solid in their feelings and career.

I was in love with Charlie’s mom. She was so sweet. I loved their relationship. It’s how I imagine a family should be. She raised him alone, she’s the greatest supporter of Charlie’s passion, dancing. She paid for his lessons even when they didn’t have much money. She’s the one to book him a summer internship in a dance company in New York.

Dancing is not just a passion to Charlie, it’s his lifeline, the only thing that saved his life in his worse days at high school. Days spent to be bullied and with no one to step by his side. Days spent feeling dirty. The same days spent in the beautiful world the dance is.

“When I reached my bathroom, I closed the door, locking it behind me. My mom wasn’t home, but shutting out the world made me feel better somehow. I stripped off my clothes and stepped into the shower, turned on the water and stood under the spray. It was so hot I almost couldn’t stand it, but I needed as much heat as possible to melt away the muck that clung to me. I scrubbed at my skin until it was red and raw, then stepped forward, bracing my hand against the wall as I let my head fall under the water. My tears mixed with the spray from the shower, and I could almost pretend they weren’t there at all. I let them fall freely, sobs shaking my body. All the frustration and anger and hurt I’d bottled up during the day spilled out of me. Dylan would never see me cry. Never. In this place, locked away, it was safe to let go.”

The first couple of chapters were a little hard to read to me. Charlie broke my heart in more than one scene. I was afraid to have stepped in an heavy story, full of angst, something good but at the same time depressing, you know what I mean?

Fortunately, apart for a dozen of tears I shed at the start, this book was light and sweet. The story was good, the writing perfect and the characters amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more! And the title is right, exactly what the book is about.
5 full stars!

Cover art by Anna Sikorska. Beautiful cover! The icing on the cake.

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

Book Details:

Published June 5th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ebook, 200 pages
ISBN13 9781634760867
Edition language English

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AMAZON http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Before-Calm-Cate-Ashwood-ebook/dp/B00YHHHJZ6

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Its Time to Reveal the Deliciously Dark Cover for Rick R. Reed’s “A Demon Inside” (excerpt and giveaway)

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A DEMON INSIDE by Rick R. Reed
Release Date: August 25, 2015

Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

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Sales Links:  DSP Publications eBook |  DSP Publications Paperback**

**DSPP is running a promo where if you pre-order the paperback, you get the ebook in all formats FREE.

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter’s terror.

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Hunter wasn’t sure how much time had passed as he wandered the rooms, thinking, but he knew he should be getting back to Ian. He remembered there was a back staircase, not nearly as grand as the large curving one at the front, but closer. It led down to the kitchen and was narrow, for utilitarian purposes only.
The stairway was close… and dark. Hunter needed to grip the walls as he made his way down the raw wooden stairs. Before he even saw it, he felt it, the web of a spider, sticky yet almost ephemeral, clinging to his face. And in dim periphery, he saw a fat, hairy brown spider, alerted to a catch, begin to make its way toward his face. Hunter struggled to get out of the web, trying to tear the gluey strands away from him. He gasped as some of the web got into his mouth and was horrified at the thought that the spider might follow suit.
He pushed onward down the stairs, stumbling, the web clinging to him, accompanied by the crawly sensation of the spider now making its way through his hair. From below he heard laughter. He realized Ian must have returned to the house and glimpsed his predicament. The laughter grew along with Hunter’s horror at the web. He batted at it, struggling to get down the stairs and away from the spider.
After jumping down the last few stairs, Hunter managed to get most of the spider’s web off himself and at last to fling the advancing beast to the floor. He looked back to see it scurry away.
He had a few choice words for Ian, which he started right in on before even seeing the man. “What’s wrong with you? Couldn’t you have helped me? Who knows if that damn spider wasn’t poisonous? And to laugh at me! I just don’t get—” Hunter stopped talking all at once in the middle of the bright, sun-drenched kitchen.
He was alone.
“Ian?” Hunter moved through the other rooms. Ian was nowhere to be found.
“Ian? This isn’t funny. Come out now.” Behind him he heard giggling. Hunter whirled around and was confronted with only empty space. This was not like Ian at all, not at all like the kind but rather staid and humorless friend of the family Hunter had always known. He did one more search of the first floor rooms, assuring himself that all were empty.
Hunter hurried from Beaumont House and stood for a moment after closing and locking the doors behind him, composing himself. The sensation of being watched returned once more, and this time Hunter could pinpoint where it came from. He turned quickly, surveying the upstairs windows, but all of them were dark, reflecting only the sun.
Hunter knew the car was just a few yards away, but as he rushed to it, his foot caught on a bramble, which brought him to his knees. He skinned his hands as he went down. “Jesus,” he whispered… and then tensed. He could feel someone behind him, drawing closer. He was sure it wasn’t Ian. Hunter squeezed his eyes shut, muscles tensing, as he felt hot breath on his neck. He wanted to scream but had no voice.
He turned quickly.
And there was no one there.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Rick R. Reed Biography:    
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, unknownrealistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

 

You can find Rick R. Reed via the following:

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A signed paperback copy of A DEMON INSIDE upon its release. Note, the offer is available only to those residing in the US. Foreign winners will get an ebook copy in the format of their choice. 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: July 8, 2015
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