A MelanieM Review: Overly Dramatic (Treading the Boards) by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Overly Dramatic coverAndy Marshall moves to London looking for a fresh start after breaking up with his long-term boyfriend. To stave off boredom from his day job as an accountant and to meet new people, Andy joins a local amateur dramatics society called the Sarky Players based in Greenwich, South London. Despite his best efforts to avoid it, Andy is cast as one of the leads in a truly dreadful play called Whoops, Vicar, There Goes My Trousers, written by a local playwright.

The play might be bad, but the Sarky Players are a friendly bunch. Andy quickly makes new friends and finds himself attracted to Phil Cormack, a local artist helping with the props. But life doesn’t run to a script, so Andy and Phil will have to work hard to improvise their own happy ending.

I’m used to Rebecca Cohen having a few characters who trod the “boards” in her stories but those actors did so in William Shakespeare’s days.  Now Rebecca Cohen has given us a gentle romp herself with Overly Dramatic, a light-hearted romance set in contemporary Greenwich,  London, England, where a local amateur acting group is putting on a resoundingly bad play.

The name of that  play? “Whoops, Vicar, There Goes My Trousers!”  Full of double,triple, and quadruple entendres and a vicar mounting paper mache’ goat on wheels,  its a disaster along the lines of “Springtime for Hitler”.   The dramatic society producing the play is the Sarky Players, a local dramatic group Andy Marshall has just joined looking for companionship and perhaps something more.  Andy was lured in thinking the play was Cold Comfort Farm but once he started to read for it, Andy was caught up in the people, the action and the feelings of being part of a group again.

I loved how the author brought the Sarky Players to life in their snarky, believable characters.  I thought these were people we had in our offices or sat next to us in the cubicles or ran into at class reunions.  Even Andy and Phil are far from the normal “gorgeous” characters that may stride across your typical m/m romance novel.  A little paunch is visible (and Andy’s ok with that), the brown hair is lovely and nice but maybe not so glossy.  In short, lovely, men (no I won’t call them average – dislike that) who might fall along the “normal” range than movie star.  Both Andy and Phil are coming off bad romances but not completely disastrous ones.  And that just might be a problem right there for some readers.  There is no hurt/comfort.  No drama.  Just two very human men slowly finding their way into a relationship with each other.  Amidst a very bad play.

Some readers will find this boring.  I found it very sweet and lovely.  What did I wish more of?  Something more from the ending.  That felt a little abrupt.  It needed to play out a little more than it did for my total satisfaction. Other than that…this play and these men were just my thing!

Rebecca Cohen’s secondary characters are well crafted as her main ones.  I loved Ussie, Andy’s elderly game-playiing neighbor, along with Ryan, Derek and Naomi.  Ryan needs his own HEA and as this is just the start of the Treading the Boards series, I’m hopeful that is to come.

If you are looking for drama (outside of bad plays and paper mache’ goats of course) and angst, this is not the story for you. But if sweetness, lovely men in search of love and romance is your thing, then Overly Dramatic is a story you will enjoy.  I know I did and I look forward to the others in this series.

Cover art by Paul Richmond was as cute and adorable as the story and cast.  How can you resist a man in that Marilyn Monroe pose?

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

Book Details:

ebook, 131 pages
Expected publication: August 19th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781634764551
edition language English

A Stella Review: Resurrecting Elliot (Newport Boys #2) by Cate Ashwood

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Resurrecting Elliot coverNightmares and panic attacks following a horrific tragedy leave Professor Elliot Lawrence a prisoner in his own home. After months of relying on his sister as his only connection to the outside world, Elliot is desperate for a sliver of independence. But leaving the safety of his home isn’t an option, not yet, and he reaches out in the most innocuous way he can think of: grocery delivery.

Colton Kelly, retired porn star and recent college grad, is struggling at two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. During one of his grocery deliveries, he meets Elliot. Although the attraction between them is instant, they must first traverse the long road of putting Elliot back together. When disaster strikes yet again, this time in Colt’s life, Elliot’s not sure he’s strong enough to be the man Colt needs him to be.

Resurrecting Elliot by Cate Ashwood wasn’t what I was expecting, at all. I was first waiting for something still set in the porn industry, then reading the blurb I was sure it was darker. I love Cate’s writing and ideas so of course I enjoyed this book, I gave it 4 stars after all. Still, in my humble opinion, I think if she had decided to focus on or emphasize more the struggle both MCs went through in their lives, I could have been reading just what I love to read; maybe it would have been heavier but although I liked Resurrecting Elliot A LOT, too many times it seems to me the story flowed too easily.

The way Elliot could overcome his fears just with Colt’s help was beautiful to watch but was much too simplistic. I know when you close yourself off, after a trauma like the one that hit Elliot, the love of the person you have beside can be strong enough to help you heal but not so smoothly as in this book. Okay it’s  fictional but I’m always looking for reality in my stories. So for me the author made a couple of choices that prevent the book for being perfect like others written by her.

Now I’m going to stop to be so freaking critical and start talking about all the good aspects. First of all the book opened with the marriage of Evan and Bran. Do you have an idea how happy I was? Keeping Sweet, book #1 in the Newport Boys series, was the first book I read by Cate Ashwood and most likely one of the first m/m books I read in the 2013. I fell in love with Evan and knowing he would have had his deserved HEA was beautiful, especially after the little snippet in Thirty Things (https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/2015/04/17/a-stella-review-thirty-things-by-cate-ashwood/). Also you can read it as a standalone.

Resurrecting Elliot is set six years after the first one,  Colt has quit doing porn and is looking for a job as a teacher. Meanwhile he’s doing a couple of job, one of this as a delivery man. Guess to whom he goes to deliver groceries? Elliot is imprisoned himself a year after watching one of his students take his life. The trauma was so deep he’s having problems to even leave his house. When he meet Colt things finally change. They soon hit it off and start seeing each other first as just friends and then as lovers and Colt is able to help Elliot dealing with his fears and panic attacks. There is a little more I obviously can’t talk about that  was a great closure to Colt and the final push to Elliot to be stronger than ever and overcome the pain.

As every book Cate Ashwood wrote, Resurrecting Elliot was well written, sweet, hard to put down. A truly feel good story. I want to recommend it to all of you.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht. I like it. Nothing special but simply and clean. Well done.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published July 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634762250
edition languageEnglish
seriesNewport Boys #2

Newpost Boys Series (Goodreads links -add  to your TBR list:

A Mika Review: Definitely, Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed

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Rating:  5 out of 5 stars  ★★★★★

Definitely Maybe Yours coverSeattle-based baker Craig Oliver leads a life that is happily routine: baking cupcakes for an enormous family reunion, managing Sucre Coeur for its frequently absent owner, and closing out his day with a pint at the local pub. He has a kind heart, a knack for pastry, and a weakness for damaged people.

Habitual playboy Alex Scheff is looking to drown his sorrows, but instead discovers that he may have a weakness for Englishmen who carry cookies in their pockets. Can a seemingly incompatible pair find the recipe for love in a relationship they claim is casual?

*Le Sigh*

Craig Oliver is amazing. Everything about him is amazing, from his English mannerisms, to his simplistic views, even his ability to bake with alcohol when his heart gets shattered is amazing. I really love this character.

I’ve never read anything by this author before, and it was the black guy on the cover which sold me. It was also the character of Craig. I love that he was an English born and bred and living in the States. I didn’t know what to expect from this. I admit, while reading this, there were some cringe worthy moments on how things were written, point of view changes, and the general tone in the first 40%. Certain things bothered me, I got disappointed. I didn’t like the secondary characters having a point of view in the story. I strictly wanted Craig and Alex. Plus it felt a bit disjointed, and sort of choppy when switching point of views as well. All of those were big no no’s in my book.

But nothing could deter me from the story itself. It’s two guys who did not want to date, just be casual who instead realizes that they are in love but it’s not easy. While Craig is open, honest, and free; Alex is the complete opposite. It’s like pulling teeth with him. The first morning after was difficult.

I loved the meeting of them. I mean who brings out a baked good at a bar? It was completely innocent, original and real sweet moment. I like that my heart fell for Craig at that moment. Being in both of these guys heads was an amazing  experience. Craig was just being with Alex and it was sweet. I can’t get over how good of a character Lissa Reed was able to write, Alex was angsty. He had his reservations but with good cause. Throughout most of the book he did not want to talk of his ex. I kept thinking what happened? Unfortunately he never got to explain to Craig one on one before it blew up in his face. Here’s where I really fell in love. Their breakup. Yes I know it sounds callous, but they each had to realize what happened, how it happened, and what the other means to each other. Jeez that moment where strong Craig finally cracks in front of his friends had me in tears, and then closed off Alex breaks down to a 9 month old Kira and I couldn’t stop crying. It was sweet. Dude, then Craig brought this cute Yorkie name Fitz, by that point I was a total goober, because Craig gave the most beautiful reasons why he loves Alex. I’m giving this 5 stars because I loved Craig and Alex relationship, it wasn’t easy and it’s definitely how a relationship goes. I’m not doing it for the writing, or choppy sentences, or the instant point of view changes. I’m doing it for the romantic in me.  I want to see more of them. Maybe a year down the line, when Alex is Alex again, and is learning to love himself.

 Cover Art by Buckeyegrrl Design. The cover is the reason why I wanted to read it. I think he’s gorgeous, he looks exactly like Craig is described. Maybe a little younger than he’s supposed to be, but I still like it.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Paperback, 296 pages
Expected publication: August 11th 2015 by Interlude Press
ISBN13 9781941530405
edition language English

Can A Seattle Baker Hold the Recipe for Love? Find Out with Definitely, Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed

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Definitely Maybe Yours cover

Definitely, Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed
Release Date: August 11, 2015

★★★★★

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist:
Cover photography by LaToya Conward

Cover design by Buckeyegrrl Designs

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Sales Links: Interlude Press | Smashwords |Amazon
Our books are also available for order from the Apple iBookstore, Book Depository and Indiebound.

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Blurb:

Seattle-based baker Craig Oliver leads a life that is happily routine: baking cupcakes for an enormous family reunion, managing Sucre Coeur for its frequently absent owner, and closing out his day with a pint at the local pub. He has a kind heart, a knack for pastry, and a weakness for damaged people.

Habitual playboy Alex Scheff is looking to drown his sorrows, but instead discovers that he may have a weakness for Englishmen who carry cookies in their pockets. Can a seemingly incompatible pair find the recipe for love in a relationship they claim is casual?

Pages or Words: 296 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt:

With a wink, Craig pulls a ten-dollar bill out of his left coat pocket and a carefully bagged almond and raspberry-lemon croissant, Katie’s all-time favorite baked good, out of the right. He passes them across the bar as if he’s James Bond—a very cheeky and cheery sort of 007. “You know I’ll always look out for you. Keep the change.”

Katie squeals and flops across the bar to squeeze him breathless, and her ponytail slaps him in the nose. She bounces off with her treat in hand and Craig shakes his head and pulls long black and red hairs from his face, as he does every time this happens. Katie really is his favorite bartender at The Order of the Garter, hell, his favorite bartender in Seattle and maybe even the world. Much too good to be working at a grotty little pub, fending off unsavory advances and spilled drinks four nights a week; that’s why Craig will bring her any bakery treat she wants, anytime she wants it, until she finally wises up and gets the hell out of this place.

Time for another sip of this excellent, excellent stout: Craig reaches forward. It’s a good Thursday.

Of course, that’s when it takes quite the sharp turn, leaving every Seattle-pub-Thursday Craig’s ever known in the dust.

“Well, aren’t you a hit with the ladies,” comes a surly drawl from his left, startling Craig just as he’s got his fingers around his glass. “Was that a croissant in your pocket, or were you actually happy to see her?”

“Both,” Craig replies, shifting around to lean on his elbow and survey the formerly silent pile of misery hunched over two stools down, the limp guy at the end of the bar Craig had spotted on his way in. He is not unconscious after all, much to Craig’s surprise; judging by the row of empty shot glasses upside down in front of him and the distinct aroma of tequila emanating a good four-foot radius from his person, he should be. Craig winces and turns away as the fumes burn his nose.

“Baked goods. That’s a new one. Never saw anyone use baking to hit on the ladies before.” Mr. Misery sways his head upright, pushes a wild flop of brown hair out of his eyes and swings around until he locates Craig. He blinks. “Does it work?”

Surprised by the color of the eyes meeting his—an unusual shade, gray, not blue-gray or blue, but the gray of a sky covered in early storm clouds—Craig answers without thinking. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t hit on girls. Katie’s my friend, not my type.”

RC

 

About the author:

Lissa Reed is a writer of fiction, blogs and bawdy Renaissance song parodies. She traces her first interest in becoming a writer to the fourth grade, when her teacher gave her the gift of her first composition book. A former newspaper editor, Reed shifted her focus to romance and literary fiction early in her writing career. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is currently working on her new novel, Certainly, Possibly, You—the sequel to Definitely, Maybe, Yours.

Where to find the author:

Connect with Lissa Reed at

Website: http://www.lissareed.com; on
Tumblr at http://lissareedbooks.tumblr.com/; on
Twitter @LissaReedBooks; on
Goodreads at http://goodreads.com/LissaReedBooks and on
Facebook at http://facebook.com/LissaReedAuthor

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card. Second prize: One of five e-copies of ‘Definitely, Maybe, Yours. 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 Stops:

11-Aug
Happily Ever Chapter
Jessie G. Books
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

(Check out Mika’s 5 Star Review here )
12-Aug
Prism Book Alliance
MM Good Book Reviews
Mikky’s World of Books
13-Aug
Nephylim
Bayou Book Junkie
14-Aug
Amanda C. Stone
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
Love Bytes
17-Aug
Divine Magazine
Hearts on Fire
18-Aug
Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy
19-Aug
Because Two Men Are Better Than One
20-Aug
Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My
BFD Book Blog
21-Aug
Molly Lolly
Inked Rainbow Reads
24-Aug
My Fiction Nook
Dawn’s Reading Nook
Rainbow Gold Reviews

Into the Spotlight: Looking For Home ( More Than Friends #9) by Aria Grace (excerpt and contest)

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Looking For Home ( More Than Friends #9) by Aria Grace
Release Date: August 15, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Surrendered Press
Cover Artist: Kris Kendall

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Sales Links:   Amazon  |  Nook  |  Itunes

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Evan spends half the week on the road, literally, and the rest of his time sitting around in an empty house. Killing time and drowning his hopes of ever finding someone to share his life with. Someone to come home to.

When he meets Georgie at a New Year’s Eve, Evan’s entire perspective changes.

Pages or Words: Approximately 35,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt


Bill, bill, coupon, coupon, bill, and a big black envelope addressed to me. An invite, maybe? I don’t see my name in calligraphy very often but it looks good.

Mr. Georgie Kelton

Most of the mail that comes to the penthouse is not for me so I rarely look through it. I mostly toss it in a pile for Spencer or Dylan to take care of when they’re in town. But for the past two weeks I’ve been checking every day for something important. Not just something. The one thing that could get me pointed in the right direction for a real career in fashion.

The Bijou Design Summit for Fashion in New York accepts six up-and-comers with no experience or schooling into their Page program for the week of the event. It’s not glamourous work but if I get accepted as a page, it’ll be worth a few years of practical experience right there. Fast-tracking my fashion aspirations from a ten year plan to a five year plan would be huge.

I’ve had dreams of starting my own fashion line since I was a kid but I couldn’t risk anyone catching me with a sketch pad full of wedding gowns so I put those dreams on hold.

Once I ran away and started dancing, I all but forgot about the goal. It wasn’t until Spencer and Dylan encouraged me to start sketching again that I even considered a career in fashion was possible.

But here I am, waiting for a letter from New York that will tell me if my dreams are more than fantasy. If I have what it takes to even stand in the same room as the people I’ve idolized since the day I thumbed through my mom’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

And as much as I want to say getting to New York is all about fashion, I know that’s a lie. It’s about more. I want more.

My friends are all beginning to couple up around me and it’s becoming harder to ignore the lack of a better half in my own life. I have fun with my tricks and I’m physically satisfied but watching them get dressed and go home to their wives or kids or wherever they go after they get their rocks off with me is starting to wear me down.

A five-year plan is perfect. Just enough time for me to put together a decent portfolio, make some contacts in the industry, and work my way out of whoring. It’s a good gig while you can get it but I can’t do this forever. And I won’t try. Wouldn’t want to even if I could.

Dropping all the junk mail on the counter, I take the invitation with me as I flop on the white leather couch. The Christmas tree is still standing in the corner but the unusually sunny day drowns out all the holiday cheer that filled the penthouse just twenty four hours ago.

With Dylan and Spencer back in California to spend time with Andre and his new boyfriend, Frankie, the penthouse is more lonely than ever.

Pulling open the corner of the black envelope with my teeth, I shake it sideways until the single notecard falls into my lap.

You’re Invited
Ring in the New Year with Chance and Vinnie
Black Tie Attire
10pm
 Private Mezzanine
at The Heathman Hotel

A party at The Heathman? Are Chance and Vinnie going all 50 Shades on us? I haven’t spent much time with those guys but what I do know about them is all good. It sounds like just the kind of party I love but I have other plans.

Theo promised to ditch his wife on New Year’s and spend the evening with me. The tyrant he’s married to keeps his holiday schedule locked up during the entire month of December but he’s already given her an excuse about having to entertain some colleagues from the United Arab Emirates.

If all goes well, that ball in New York won’t be the only one getting some action on Saturday night. Being a high-end rent boy guarantees I have sex nightly when I’m working, but Theo will cuddle.

Sometimes.

If he doesn’t have to rush out, he’ll hold me until I fall asleep. But it’s been too long since he hasn’t had to rush out so Saturday can’t come soon enough.

While I’m thinking of him, I can’t resist a quick text.

I’ve sent the proposal.

Because his wife is always monitoring his phone when she’s around, I have to start every text with an innocuous phrase that won’t raise any suspicions.

Thanks. In a meeting. Will review tonight.

Tonight? I wasn’t expecting him to come over tonight. I quickly thumb through my scheduling app to make sure I’m free. I have one client at 7:00 but will be free by 9:00 so I send him a coded reply.

I’ll be offline until 9. Will look for your comments then.

Confirmed.

Confirmed! He’s coming tonight.

I toss the invite onto the coffee table and jump out of my seat. If I’m going to see my sugar daddy tonight, I need to do some prep work. I haven’t waxed in a week and I could use a pedicure.

Theo also likes lace so I spend the next hour trying on lingerie until I find a pair of panties that displays my package the best. The red lace against my pale skin has the same classic thing that my girl Taylor rocks.

The best part is they’re assless. The straps that hold the front together fit snugly under my cheeks, giving me a bit more of a bubble butt than nature intended. Again, exactly how Theo likes me.

Personally, my style is more about beauty and comfort than purely being femme. But, Theo has a thing for princesses. His wife is a princess but more beast than beauty.

So I give him what he wants. He doesn’t pay me anymore, not in terms of my nightly rates. He gives me something far more valuable than the cash I get from every other trick. Theo gives me affection. It’s not a perfect relationship right now, but as soon as he leaves the ice queen, we can be together.

Of course, if the page job in NYC comes through, I may have to reevaluate everything, including my patience with Theo.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Aria enjoys the year round sunshine and laid back environment of the west coast. She lives with her husband and two children on a quiet hill that gives her lots of time to read and write. Once she ventured into the exciting world of gay romance, she never looked back. She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to drop her a note or visit her at http://www.ariagracebooks.com.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: http://bit.ly/FollowAriaGrace
Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @ariagracebooks
Pinterest

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Tour Dates & Stops: August 11, 2015
Parker Williams, Happily Ever Chapter, Charley Descoteaux, Bayou Book Junkie, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews, V’s Reads, BFD Book Blog, TTC Books and More, Carly’s Book Reviews, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My. Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Christy Loves 2 Read, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Iyana Jenna, Velvet Panic, Inked Rainbow Reads, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

 

 

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Amazon Gift card and paperback of Looking for Home (or other Aria Grace book).  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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