A BJ Review: Chasing Death Metal Dreams by Kaje Harper

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5      ★★★★★

Chasing Death Metal Dreams coverThis story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love is an Open Road” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

Dear Author,
I was sent to the US at the age of 10 by my father who could not accept me. You see I was misgendered at birth and I started fighting against my body at a young age. My father sent me to live with my cousin’s family along with enough money to pay my way for a few years. Little does he know he helped to fund the many surgeries and hormones to fulfill my dream of having my outside gender match the gender my brain has always known myself to be.

What do you think Author? Not many know of his secret. He is a gay man. Is he in a gang? Is he in a band? How will he find love? How will he be accepted?

Photo Description: A young bare-chested man stands staring boldly outward from below his raised arms, hands pressed together in his black hair, elbows winged out, colorful dagger tattoos on his forearms. Another tattoo near his neck forms swirl of dark curves with “Boy” over his left collarbone. His biceps are strong, his stomach and pecs flat, his nipples small, above a thin treasure trail leading downward. Below each nipple is the unmistakable, long-healed scar of top surgery.

Carlos Medina has spent years of sweat, pain, effort, and money becoming the man he is. He writes original songs, plays lead guitar, and wears his death metal front-man persona like armor. With an excellent drummer and a talented bassist, his band, KnifeSwitch, has what it takes to succeed, if they can just catch a break. But it’s been a long road already, and there’s still a mountain left to climb. Carlos isn’t looking for anything more in his personal life than an occasional hook-up with a hot guy, preferably outside the less-than-gay-friendly metal scene.

Nate Goldstein has no intention of dating a musician. His twin brother fronts a band, and he knows band guys are all busy, broke, and obsessed with their music. But Carlos catches his artist’s eye. Nate is wary – he has a history of picking the wrong guys. Still, he might be willing to break some personal rules to find out what’s behind Carlos’s dark gaze and imaginative lyrics.

Getting together the first time is easy and fun. The second time is more complicated. And when music, ambition, and personalities clash, the guys will have to decide if they have a future worth fighting for.

This is my favorite of the stories I’ve read from this year’s writing event so far. Let me tell you why. First off, main character Carlos. While there certainly isn’t a plethora of books with a trans man as a lead character, there are a decent amount both inside and outside of the m/m genre, and I’ve read a quite a few. Not many are this well done, and in only a few have I discovered a main character that truly engaged me. Carlos definitely did. He could be stand-offish, prickly, quick to anger and didn’t do relationships. He was very careful to keep his sexuality under wraps since it wasn’t widely accepted within the death metal circle. But Carlos was also so damned strong, and his determination to pursue his dreams, both musical and being his real inner self, spoke to me deeply. Then he met Nate.

Which brings us to the second reason this was a favorite. Nate is an artist with a wonderfully close, supportive and accepting family. Artist characters are a thing for me, so is long hair, which meant Nate was an instant hit with me. But like Carlos, Nate was a thoroughly nuanced character who despite being caring, sensitive, considerate, accepting and supportive, did also have his own issues of trust and insecurity to overcome.

When the sparks fly between these two, it’s far from insta-love. These two men each have baggage and obstacles to overcome. Their story swept me along very easily and naturally. I loved watching Carlos open up to Nate not just physically but also letting him in emotionally, which wasn’t something he’d done before. Watching the two very different men learn to trust each other was a thoroughly enjoyable journey.

The author handled the sexual scenes, even the sensitive ones, very well with just the right amount of details and explanations. The heat level was quite steamy. While I do understand why the sex scenes were mainly from Nate’s point of view, I still longed for one from Carlos’ and I think mainly this has to do with the fact that the other really well-done trans man main character book I’d read was from only the other MC’s point of view. Since this one was a dual-POV, my favorite, I’d held out that hope. I don’t consider that this took away from the story all that much, however, since each scene between the two moved their relationship along perfectly.

I’m not a metal music fan at all. In fact, I normally avoid books that deal with rock stars completely. But this wasn’t about stars, far from it, and I didn’t need to be into death metal to become invested in and enjoy these guys story. The author painted a clear picture of the struggle it takes to make it as they chased their dreams. Loved the sprinkled in song lyrics and the album cover and tattoo drawing descriptions. In fact, all the many facets of the story’s elements were thoroughly researched and expertly handled, making this story read wonderfully smooth and true for me. The pace wasn’t fast, but leisurely like a Sunday drive where in the journey itself is as important as the destination. Something to be savored mile-by-mile, word-by-word.

This story was written within a short timeframe and the limited guidelines of fitting into a given prompt, yet you could never tell that if you picked this up. Not from the stunning cover, and certainly not from the beautiful, well-rounded, well-written journey towards acceptance and love that this story takes us on. If you haven’t read this one yet, pick it up today. It definitely belies the saying “you get what you pay for”. This story rocks, or considering the death metal maybe I should say it growls.

The cover by BookCoverMasterClass.com is stunning and very well suited to the story. Definitely grabbed my attention.

Free story at  Goodreads MM Romance Group.com

Book Details:

ebook, 265 pages
Published August 2nd 2015 by MMRomanceGroup.com (first published August 1st 2015)
edition languageEnglish
charactersCarlos Medina, Nate Goldstein

A MelanieM Review: Flax’s Pursuit (AURA Series #2) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Flax's Pursuit coverA murderer haunts the city, turning the unwary to stone. Between hunting this evil and corralling new arrivals, Flax struggles to guard both his life and his heart.

Quinn and Valerian have come through the trials of facing an undead lich queen and the perils of falling in love. Now they work to restore AURA to its previous strength and efficiency while navigating their new life with each other. Fortunately, they’re not in this alone.

Kai Hiltas has taken over as the head of the research department at AURA and has become everyone’s favourite workaholic, everyone except his lover Tenzin, who has had enough of his late nights and broken promises. As Kai tries to salvage his relationship, he finds a teacher for Quinn, who also happens to be one of Valerian’s new officers, Flax Wolfheart, a sexy elf with trouble written all over him.

Flax has motives beyond simply teaching Quinn to control his magic. He’s trying to recover from his own losses and failures, but he has a plan. The two newest elvish crossovers, Ash and Sage, are sizzling hot and might even like him. With them as backup as he tracks a deadly stone mage and figures out how to teach Quinn, Flax sees his chance to impress Val and snag a place by his captain’s side. On the hunt for both danger and redemption, Flax’s pursuit leads him ultimately down trails he never expected.

Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn’s AURA series continue’s its marvelous saga with Flax’s Pursuit.  The world has been made unstable by a magical explosion, causing tears in the fabrics of the universe to heartbreaking effect.  Beings are snatched from their worlds without notice, torn from their worlds, loved ones, family and all things familiar, and sent tumbling into the human one often with the worst repercussions you could imagine.  A mermaid falls through a tear in the fabric, appears over the Mojave desert, despairs and commits suicide, all without ever knowing why.  For others, the death is slower, achieved through addiction or other means of self destruction when the idea of never being able to return home becomes unbearable.

Martinez and Quinn bring not only this new world in a constant state of flux to vivid life but makes it carry with it the aroma of misery, shock, and depression that surrounds those who are unable to adjust to their new circumstances.  Magic has returned everywhere and people now aren’t quite sure how that is going to affect the things or beings around them. I love that these authors have a whole world and any number of mythologies to pull from when gathering ingredients for these stories.  You never know what type of being or universe the authors will pull from when the next “event” occurs to bring another creature into the human world.  It creates a level of  suspense that rolls over from moment to moment throughout the story, a anticipatory narrative note that helps to make each tale sing with surprise, delight and sometimes sorrow.

Val and Quinn return from the first story.  In fact, its Quinn’s wild powers and a need for control that bring Flax into the picture.  Quinn needs a teacher and Kai Hiltas has determined that the elf Flax is the one to teach him, willing or not, mostly not.  Flax is one of those who has not adjusted well to life within human laws or society, nor does he find human Quinn particularly suitable for the majestic Val.  Flax reeks of unhappiness and arrogance, never a good combination but the authors also make us taste the bitterness of life as he sees it.  The stench of the air pollution, or the smell from the garbage in the alleys, all an anathema to a woods elf who remember the purity of the life he can never  return to.

Then two  more elves fall into the city, taken from their lives and world mid battle. The manner in which these two will complicate everyone’s lives is lively, layered, semi-sweet, and ultimately satisfying.  At one point it looked as though the authors were taking it (the m/m/m relationship) in one direction, but didn’t.  But it was the way the story line flowed in that direction, the reasons and emotions behind  the plot twists that swirled, eddied and then moved on, and felt so natural doing so, was just one more narrative gift from Martinez and Quinn.  It was right in very aspect of the story and relationships.  Yes, this is a m/m/m but there are cultural reasons behind it.  It feels natural and in many respects, healing.  And so damn sexy.

Another moving aspect of  this story?  The murders and the culprits behind them.  For every evil, there is an explanation and accompanying pain, a blackness you can watch grey out with understanding by the end of the storyline.  That happens here.  That’s really another of the facets about this story that I love, one that the authors both bring to the story and series.  A sense of depth, an openness of attitude towards all sorts of beings…drows…yetis…trolls…there is something good in every being if you look for it. I wonder what or who  will fall to earth next?

There is a secondary love story between Kai and his yeti lover, in fact there are all manner of relationships or would-be relationships going on here at AURA headquarters.  I can’t wait to see who is up next.  This is one amazing series.  It has heroes of every variety, it has quests both small and large,  personal and for all beings involved.  It has first loves, established partnerships teetering, and lost loves mourned.  It really has it all.  Grab them up and get started today.  This is a series you won’t want to miss.

Cover artist Posh Gosh does a nice job with adding the ears and with the characters, especially as one is so young in age.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 16th 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing
ISBN139781784306229
edition language English

AURA Series

AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation: it’s a weird job, but somebody’s got to do it.
A magical catastrophe tears the fabric of reality, causing unpredictable holes between worlds through which anything might fall—elves, centaurs, trolls, yeti. The brave officers and employees of AURA struggle daily to help the lost and injured, and contain the irretrievably violent while their research staff scramble to find a way to reverse the effect.
Anything can and does pop through into the human world, sometimes with disastrous and deadly results. It’s a race against time to see if the AURA mages can repair reality and stop the inter-dimensional flood before something crosses over that proves strong enough to destroy the world.

A Stella Audiobook Review: Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5audiobook clipart bw

Just Desserts Audiobook coverBoone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

Mary Calmes and Greg Tremblay are the most perfect couple in the world. My favorite author  and my favorite narrator. I couldn’t have asked for more. Just amazing.

I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks cause my English doesn’t permit me but after just three books narrated by Greg, I’m so used to his voice, his clear pronunciation, it’s hard to switch to another one. I can’t praise him enough. I simply like how he works a lot.

Mary Calmes is a guarantee to me. She never disappoints and you can’t go wrong with whatever book you pick. Every single time I read one of her story, I fall in love with the characters, in Just Desserts too. Both Scott and Boone were so loveable and sweet, I was engaged in their lives from the start. And I found each little trait I adore in Mary’s writing. The hotness, the feelings, the possessiveness. Even in a story so brief, just hundred pages, she was able to put all of these elements together, plus a real plot, MCs with a lot of baggage on their shoulders, some well defined secondary characters. 

A beautiful and emotional “friends to lovers” book. I can’t recommend Just Desserts enough! I didn’t give it the full five stars cause I would have loved it to be a couple of hundred pages more long, I know I’m being greedy but it’s Mary Calmes we’re talking about and I could spend all my days reading just her stories.

Just a note: this book is part of the Tales of the Curious Cookbook series. I honestly admit I haven’t read the other four stories and at the moment I’m not interested in them. Still I didn’t miss anything, because Just Desserts worked easily as a standalone.

The cover art by Reese Dante is yummy. It follows the theme of the series and fits the story perfectly. Well done!

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |  Audible | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published August 4th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Audible Audio
ASIN B013V3TXN2
Edition Language English
Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Tales of the Curious Cookbook series
For a Rainy Afternoon by RJ Scott
Food for Thought by Amy Lane
Lost Along the Way by Marie Sexton
Cookies for Courting by Amber Kell
Just Desserts by Mary Calmes

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review : Model Citizen by Lissa Kasey

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Rating 4 stars out of 5

Model Citizen coverOliver Petroskovic is an international supermodel who works part time for his brother at his detective agency. A former Marine, Nathan left the corps when their parents died and has raised Ollie since he was twelve years old. Ollie is beautiful, feminine, and highly sought after as a model. He’s selective in the modeling jobs he takes, and turns down anything sexually degrading. He prefers wearing feminine clothing, much of which he’s created himself, and designing for others who are “gender fluid” would fulfill his career goals. Though gay, he’s not had a partner or lover since he caught his boyfriend cheating. As the story opens, he’s just closed on a home for him and Nathan financed by his modeling jobs. He’s excited to get back to the office to share the good news about the closing with his brother.

Accompanied by Nathan’s best friend Will, when he gets there he finds Nathan has committed suicide by shooting his brains out. Months later, still traumatized, but feeling responsible for keeping the business open, Ollie carries on as best as he can while trying to put in enough hours to get his PI license. But he’s constantly caught on the wrong side of the law on his PI jobs, and Will, a police officer, is getting pretty fed up with bailing him out of jail.

Will is married to Ollie’s best friend Britney, so even if Ollie tried to dodge Will, he couldn’t get far because B is always onto what he’s doing. Just when Ollie is ready to admit he needs help, Will shows up with former Marine Kade Alme, another friend of Nathan’s, who’s recently left the service after recovering from injuries from a roadside bomb. Kade has a PI license so he may be able to help Ollie, even if Ollie doesn’t want the help. There’s one more thing that Kade has that Ollie’s not sure he wants and that is the hots for Ollie. According to Kade, he’s wanted Ollie for years, but Nathan kept him away from his younger brother. Kade aims to change all that as he declares that he has no intention of being one of the many people in Ollie’s life who have abandoned him. He’s there for the duration.

When one of Ollie’s friends is injured during filming of a reality TV show, and Ollie goes to check on him, he uncovers a possible disastrous situation on the set of the show, and the danger in his life is suddenly more than anything he’s ever faced before. Kade goes along to help him as they investigate the frequent and “coincidental” accidents occurring on the set. But when Ollie becomes a victim, it’s time to get the case resolved and to find out whether Kade really is in there for the long haul as he claimed or is he going to bolt when things get tough?

I really enjoyed this story. The action and drama were suspenseful and the mystery not easily solved. The MCs were amazing together, and I totally love a story where there is MANTIES! There’s also a hot, alpha man who loves his feminine partner in all his crossdressing glory. And just when I thought we were easing into a peaceful happy ending, the author threw out a curve ball, a cliffhanger ending which, of course, will lead most of us to keep reading this series. Don’t get me wrong, there is indeed a HEA/HFN for the MCs but there’s also a darn good reason for them to keep their PI agency open.

I recommend this to a) those who love manties (!) and b) those who love an M/M romance with characters who need to heal, both physically and emotionally from past trauma, and c) those who just plain love a good mystery with plenty of drama mixed in with the romance.

~~~~
Cover Art by Garrett Leigh depicts a black-and-white photo cover with a camera in the lower section below the title and a set of dog tags with the chain in a heart-shaped pattern in the upper section of the page. The camera and dog tags are symbolic of the MCs.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages, also in paperback
Published June 22nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN1634761316 (ISBN13: 9781634761314)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words: Best Book Covers of September 2015

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Best Book Covers of September 2015

That blank book cover above doesn’t look very appealing does it? Would you buy a book with a cover like that? A great book cover should draw your attention to it, make you want to pick it up (or buy it), tell you a little bit about the story or characters, be intriguing enough for the reader to want to explore more or just be plain gorgeous that we can’t resist.  In short, a book cover has a job to do.  Some book covers do ok, some fail, and some exceed beyond measure.

As some of you may be aware, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words loves its book covers. Here are Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ Best Book Covers, chosen from the books we read and reviewed during the month of September 2015.  Its a diverse group, with cover art represented by all types of art work and artists, including some of the authors themselves.

I’ve included the covers for you to see.   Each of our reviewers includes a comment on the book’s cover in their review at the end of their post.  Do you agree with them?  Disagree?  Which were your favorite covers this month?

Best Book Covers of September 2015:

ACID coverBeautiful Thunder coverBeyond the Surface coverButtermilk Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck & S. van Rooyen, Cover art by Wulf Francu Godgluck

Beautiful Thunder by Louise Lyons, Cover art by Maria Fanning

Beyond the Surface (The Breakfast Club #1) by Felice Stevens, cover art by Reese Dante

Buttermilk Ranch by Patricia Logan, Cover art by AJ Corza

 

Dangerous Sprits coverEmpty Nests coverFit To Be Tied coverLate Summer Early Spring cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Spirits (Spirits #2) by Jordan L. Hawk, Cover art by Jordan L. Hawk

Empty Nests (Nested Hearts #1) by Ada Maria Soto, Cover Art by  Paul Richmond

Fit to be Tied (Marshals #2) by Mary Calmes, Cover art by Reese Dante

Late Summer, Early Spring by Patricia Correll, Cover art by Anne Cain

 

Other Side of the Line coverRed Hot Coffin Nails Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe, Cover art by Catt Ford

Red Hot Coffin Nails by KA Merikan, Cover art by Natasha Snow

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words: Best Books of September 2015

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Best Books of September 2015

From the contemporary to the supernatural, from the urban fantasy to an historical romance, the best books of September has something for everyone.  Each title is linked to the review.  I’ve included books with ratings from 5 stars to 4.5 stars just to narrow the field.  

Which titles did you miss out on?  Check them back out now!  Tomorrow we have our Best Book Covers of September for you to look over.  Don’t hesitate to chime in with your own choices for Best Book and Best Cover in the comments.

Best Books of September 2015 (4.5 stars up to 5)

ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck & S. van Rooyen

Betrothed: A Faery Tale by Therese Woodson

Beyond the Surface (The Breakfast Club #1) by Felice Stevens

Blind Heart (King of Hearts 4) by Havan Fellows

Chasing Death Metal Dreams by Kaje Harper

Dangerous Spirits (Spirits #2) by Jordan L. Hawk

Fit to be Tied (Marshals #2) by Mary Calmes

Give An Inch by K. D. Sarge

High Stakes (Four of Clubs #4) by Parker Williams

Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe

Sloe Ride (Sinners #4) by Rhys Ford (this will represent all the Sinner’s series)

Such a Dance by Kate McMurray

Texas Wedding (Texas #7) by R.J. Scott

The Last Yeti by Tully Vincent

The Summer House (English Hearts #1) by R.J. Scott.

Three’s Company by N. R.. Walker

Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan

A MelanieM Review: High Stakes (Four of Clubs #4) by Parker Williams (Pulp Friction 2015 #15)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5      ★★★★★

High Stakes coverBen Nelson marvels at the resiliency of his lover, Artie Middleton. He takes everything life throws at him and comes out the other end stronger than ever. It’s with this strength in mind that Ben tosses Artie a curveball that will change both of their lives forever.

A single question from Ben’s lips has Artie rushing headlong toward his happily ever after. One that he never thought he’d have and is now being served to him on a silver platter. He has it all—friends, family, and a future. But even a gifted psychic can’t see everything, and Artie is about to get a wakeup call.

Things he thought to be true about his past aren’t as clear-cut as he believed. His history with some of the people in his life runs deeper than he realized. And he’s about to learn a previously unknown threat from his childhood has returned to rip it all away.

Artie soon finds that in this game, the stakes couldn’t be higher: the lives of everyone he loves.

We’ve reached book four in the latest Pulp Friction series and we all know what that means if you’ve read any of the previous series.  It’s time for some serious angst and despair.  Boy, does Parker Williams and High Stakes deliver that in, well, clubs. Can’t very well say spades can we?

Using the poker game analogy, the stakes of the games are raised up even higher still.  Within these 60 pages, Parker Williams fills in more of Artie’s history and family background, along with a connection to another character’s past.  The author uses this information not merely to inform but to scare the living bejeezus out of us with the ramifications it brings.

If any book has a purpose in a series (and this one surely does), its to show the closing in of evil around our small gang of knights gathering to do battle.  And the odds aren’t looking good.  The despair pours off the descriptions, and the angst flows even over the most joyful of scenes.  And that ending?  A shocker to the soul.  That one went beyond a mere gnashing of teeth and tearing of the hair into the “Oh Nooooooooooo!” *cue to  screams of disbelief*.

I did not see that one coming.  When you can hide something like that event in the small clues stashed away in bits and pieces throughout the tale, well, that’s wonderful storytelling.  Well done, Mr. Parker!  Still devastated but well done.

Two more books to go.   One more by Parker Williams and then the series finale written by all the authors and combined story lines.  I can’t wait to see how they are going to pull this off.  I  am totally perplexed about the whole thing.  The villains, the subplots, and just how its all going to work itself out.  Am I a happy camper?  Yes, I am.

All the stories are short, so it easy to catch up if you need to start at the beginning of a series.  There are four of them that are connected here.  I have them all listed at the bottom of the review.  Use it as a TBR list if you haven’t already.

Love paranormal romance?  Murder mysteries?  Supernatural beings?  Why not combine them all in the style of a pulp fiction series?  They have it all here.  Now I just can’t wait to see how it will all end.

I highly recommend this series and all the interconnected series its attached to.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I’ve been ambivalent about these covers from the start.  But I really like this one.  Especially with the shadows that can be taken a number of ways.  Great job.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published September 13th 2015
ASINB015DBPJHE
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2015 #15, Four of Clubs #4
other editions (1)
High Stakes (Four of Clubs #4) (Pulp Friction 2015, #15)

 

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About Pulp Friction 2015

Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:
Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil
Stud Player (King of Hearts: 2) by Havan Fellow
Up the Ante (Four of Clubs: 2 ) by Parker Williams
Diamond Draw (Ace of Diamonds: 2) by Laura Harner

Round Three:

Dead Button (Jack of Spades #3) by Lee Brazil
Blind Man’s Bluff (King of Hearts #3) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Playground (Four of Clubs #3) by Parker Williams
Diamonds Edge (Ace of Diamonds #3) by Laura Harner

Round Four:

Dead Man’s Hand (Jack of Spades 4) by Lee Brazil
Blind Heart (King of Hearts 4) by Havan Fellows
High Stakes (Four of Clubs 4) by Parker Williams
Diamond Flush (Ace of Diamonds 4) by Laura Harner

A Stella Review: THE LAST YETI by Tully Vincent

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Rating 5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

Loss. Sometimes it’s slow and inexorable. Sometimes it happens in an instant.

The Last Yeti coverJrake is a yeti-shifter who has lost contact with others of his ancient species. Emerging from years of self-imposed isolation, he’s desperate to find proof that he’s not alone in a world full of the humans he hates.

Rohn Sheldon lost everything that mattered to him in a devastating moment of inattention. Gone are his lover, his right arm, and his career. His belief in himself is at an all time low as he struggles to find his place in a world he’s no longer sure he wants to belong to.

Two men, one facing cataclysm, the other fighting his way back from it. Can they find hope in each other?

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love is an Open Road” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

Dear Author,
Yetis are made to wander the wilderness mostly alone, and only meet up occasionally. For three long years I have searched the earth and, finally, I have accepted it: I am the last of my kind. I do not belong in the world of people or technology, but the only other choice is dying of loneliness. I have managed to create a life on the edge of society, terrified to come close, terrified of being recognized as the monster only little children believe in. Lately I have realized staying in the wilds may have been a less desolate life.

Can you maybe find me someone to be alone with together?

Photo Description:
A well-built man with dark facial hair stares into the camera, eyes piercing and expression uncompromising. He wears primitively constructed fur clothing that leaves much of his muscular, veiny arms and toned torso bared to the weather. Although his skin is damp from the snow, he seems unaffected by the cold.

This story may contain sexually explicit content and is intended for adult readers. It may contain content that is disagreeable or distressing to some readers. The M/M Romance Group strongly recommends that each reader review the General Information section before each story for story tags as well as for content warnings.

The Last Yeti by Tully Vincent is already on my “favorite shelf” because it was one of the few books I really felt lately. I was very curious about this story when it came out in the Love is an Open Road event on the MM group on Goodreads. For different reasons: first of all I had never read about a yeti shifter before so I was intrigued by this new world and how would have been shown by the author. Then, have you seen the cover? It alone deserves all the stars. I can anticipate to you that the story exceeded my expectations, not only from the writing part but especially in the emotional side. In fact I was caught in the story from the start, but what surprise me more was the pull I felt from both MCs, I was soon there in their lives and empathize with them. I felt them hurting and loving. In my opinion the author made an amazing work at characterizing Rohn and Jrake and leaving nothing unexplored.

Rohn is still mourning the loss of his life partner, Evan, dead two years ago in the same accident that took his right arm and his painter career too.  Still recovering from an alcohol abuse, Rohn thinks to be a failure to everyone, to his dad who wants him to be his business’ heir. To Evan for letting him die in the accident. Now that he can’t draw anymore without his right arm, he’s a failure to himself too. Tired of feeling helpless and to be always babysitted, he has come to Alaska to show his dad and himself too that he can take care of himself.

Jrake is a yeti shifter. Desperate in his researches of another yeti, he is almost resigned to the fate of being the last yeti in the world when he smell another of his kind just in Alaska, his home country, but he cant find it. His coldness versus the human world led him to live a life mainly in his preferred form, the yeti one, alone and far away from the humans. When he first met Rohn I admit it was a little hard to watch him to be so indifferent at the beginning, before he saves Rohn from dying in the iced river, even if he should have let him go and die since Rohn saw him as a yeti. Jrake is tired of being alone but he is so used to push his human side aside, it’s not easy to thrust and let him find a closeness with the man who came into his world unexpected.

The story is heartbroken, sweet and emotional. It is detailed and never once shallow about Jrake and his yeti world. Everything is well explained, I followed him in his hunting, fishing  and shifting. I particularly liked The Last Yeti is not the usual shifter story about destined mates I’m used to read, on the contrary, Jrake isn’t really looking, not even hoping, for a partner.

The writing style is my favorite, with two different POV, the use of the third person past. It made the reading quick and the words flew easily and there was never a pause in the story. Behind their meeting and spending time together there is a lot going on around the MCs.

Moreover I liked the story a lot cause I was able to see every little thing in my head. There are some parts that are so evocative. Plus, the sex scenes are hot and sexy just as I like them to be. I loved the ending part but I loved more to know that there is a WIP sequel already. I can’t wait to see them together and to know how they will be able to live their lives as a couple, I’m hungry for more. Well done!

Cover art by Tully Vincent*. It’s perfect in every detail, it was eyecatching to me.

Book Details:

ebook, 201 pages
Published August 26th 2015 by MMRomanceGroup.com
Edition Language English
DOWNLOAD LINK (free) http://www.mmromancegroup.com/the-last-yeti-by-tully-vincent/

Note:  Tully Vincent is also our reviewer BJ for purposes of clarification.

A BJ Review: Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Rattlesnake coverA drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. One cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker who ends up dying before he can get him to his destination. When a letter the dead drifter wrote to the son he hadn’t seen in years turns up in his car, Jimmy decides to continue the journey to Rattlesnake and deliver the letter in person.

The small town of Rattlesnake is nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras, and it’s centerpiece is the historic Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little, the drifter’s son himself. Jimmy feels an immediate attraction to Shane, and when his car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

There Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace, but tells himself it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.

As always with Kim Fielding, this book was well-written and the characters well-drawn. However, this story was quite slow to engage me and even after it did, the pace was often slow for me. Perhaps this was due to Jimmy’s lengthy stories or the longish descriptions of the town and its history, not sure. But I can say that the characters and engaging storyline were more than enough to keep me reading despite it. However, if you are looking for action or a fast-paced storyline, then this may not be the book for you.

I felt for Jimmy the drifter with no confidence in himself, a man who’d been told from an early age he wouldn’t amount to anything and had taken that to heart. I understand it intimately because I lived it. The black sheep with strange inclinations born into a broken, poor family, check. Being told you’ll never amount to anything (in my case the mantra was, you have brains but no common sense). Yes! And the need to get away? Hell, yes! In Jimmy’s case as a drifter, in mine moving to the other side of the country. So hell yes, I get Jimmy.

But yet, I don’t. Because he’s given up. On love, on finding or making a home. On himself. Forty-three and he never attempted to better himself, to prove them wrong? He let his naysayers and abusers dictate his life for so long? He never stood up and decided he wanted something, and he was going to damn well strive to get it?

To be honest, I wanted to strangle him each time he was going to bail and walk away. He’d start to pack, but it rained or whatever. Would he have really or was he fooling himself and making excuses? Probably the latter. Either way bothers me no end. He’d allowed them to take his spirit, to strip him of his self-worth and confidence so completely that he didn’t even try in all those years? That is just incredibly sad. I have the self-confidence of a gnat, its hard and scary to try and possibly fail. It’s hard to trust. Maybe impossible. But giving up? Never. And when he finally did change his life, it was because he’d found someone else. It didn’t come from within him.

Shane was a whole different thing. Adored him from the start. There was a man who life had kicked, but he got back up like the energizer bunny. His stunning bravery, loyalty, understanding, and trust just floored me. The constant cheerfulness despite the chronic pain was just a little bit over the top, but I still adored him. And the amazing family behind him as a foundation, all wonderfully drawn secondary characters.

The romance between the two men was touching, heated and memorable, and this story packed some serious feels. Very enjoyable. But the slow pace and my annoyance towards Jimmy kept it from being five stars. I enjoy flawed characters–very much so. But I still want them to find strength in themselves. Because, hell, if I’d waited for someone (or a whole town in this case) to rescue me and offer me a home, to give me someone to believe in, I’d still be wallowing in my own mire.

The cover by L. C. Chase depicting a drifter and his duffle waiting for a ride on the side of the road is fitting for the story. However, the man walking towards him on the freeway threw me off as he met Shane in a saloon and never traveled with him nor was picked up by him or anything.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published August 31st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original title Rattlesnake
ISBN 1634764773 (ISBN13: 9781634764773)
edition language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Late Summer, Early Spring by Patricia Correll

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Late Summer Early Spring coverHour of the Lotus
General Sho Iwata is devastated when the man he secretly loves, Prince Narita, is struck with a mysterious illness. Iwata’s current lover, Hiroshi, is well aware of the general’s unrequited passion. But that isn’t his biggest problem. His sister is Narita’s favorite consort, but Hiroshi believes she has been replaced by an imposter. When they discover the true cause of the illness, they will have to battle an ancient spirit and survive.

Fox Hunter
Lord General Iwata Sho sets out in search of the mysterious Fox Hunter. When he finds his former lover, Hiroshi, he discovers a changed man, scarred inside and out and consumed by vengeance. Together with Narita’s grown son Daigo, Iwata and Hiroshi pursue the malicious spirit as it leaves bloodshed in its wake. Iwata worries about what will become of Hiroshi when the fox is defeated—if Hiroshi’s revenge doesn’t kill him first.

I absolutely love historical Japanese novels, especially when there’s an element of typical Japanese mythology. So when I read about this book, I just had to have it. I have to admit, I totally didn’t realize that this book was actually two stories until I read the blurb again just now. It didn’t feel like two separate stories when reading. One definitely doesn’t work without the other, so it’s a good thing that it comes as a package.

 Late Summer, Early Spring by Patricia Correll had so much potential: Two samurai, a mysterious demon and a reunion after decades apart. And it definitely was intriguing. I was constantly wondering what was happening to the poor prince. And when the demon did finally show up, it was a very creepy revelation and I was glued to my Kindle to find out what happens next.

The relationship between Hiroshi and Iwata fell a little short over all. I am aware that DSP titles aren’t supposed to focus on the romance, which is usually fine by me, but here I really felt that the author could have easily made the relationship feel more real without taking anything away from the main plot, if only she’d decided to let the actions speak for them. I don’t expect major declarations of never ending love from two samurai warriors, but Ms. Correl could have shown more of the physical intimacy. Simple touches and kisses would have gone a long way to making me really feel the connection between the two.

The biggest downfall of “Late Summer, Early Spring” was the length, or rather the lack thereof. The fantasy and the relationship fell short because of that. I’m convinced the author could have easily filled twice as many pages and the story wouldn’t have lost any of its suspense. More details would have been nice overall.

Still, I really liked what was there. Lots of suspense and an intriguing plot with interesting characters. This could have been a truly amazing book, if only it had had more space for details. A real shame.

Cover Art by Anne Cain. I really quite like the cover. It’s unique and fits the book well. It looks a little like it could be an antique Japanese painting.

Sales Links: DSP Publications |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 168 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by DSP Publications
Hour of the Lotus published by Dreamspinner Press, May 2013.