A BJ Review: Winter (The Haunted Heart #1) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Winter the Haunted Heart coverStill grieving the sudden death of his lover, antiques dealer Flynn Ambrose moves to his uncle’s old, ramshackle house on Pitch Pine Lane to catalog and sell the large inventory of arcane and oddball items that once filled his late uncle’s mysterious museum.

Flynn suffered a serious breakdown and attempted to kill himself after his lover’s unexpected death, and he’s still very depressed despite the counseling and help from his parents. He needs space and makes a deal with his parents (which I won’t share details of as too much of a spoiler) that allows him to travels to the rather secluded property to perform the inventory. Unexpectedly, he finds himself seeing a ghost in an old mirror. The only one Flynn has to turn to is Kirk, the thirteen year older, slightly grouchy but handsome playwright renting the downstairs of his house. When Kirk is also witness to the apparition, he can’t write Flynn’s problem off as easily as he had wanted to. When the ghost seems able to exit the mirror, the guys find themselves trying figure out what to do about the mirror before the ghost does them in. But getting rid of the thing isn’t as easy as it seems.

This book is bit of a step back to the scary stories of old… and it is scary folks. But then, I knew Lanyon could do horror after reading In a Dark Woods came out of nowhere and scared the heck out of me. This one is not of the gory variety where stuff is thrown in just for the ick factor either. This is tried and true, get inside your head and freak you out kind of scary. It will make you want to read with the lights on, it will make you think, and it might also make you cry.

This story has several elements I loved. First, as you’d expect from Lanyon, there’s a well-done and very interesting mystery that takes us on a compelling journey into the prejudices of the past. But it’s also the tender and heartbreaking story of a young man trying to deal with suddenly losing the man he grew up with and had thought he’d spend his entire life with to such a incredibly freak accident at entirely too young an age. Flynn’s situation is so heartrending. He’s in no way over what happened, and yet we see glimpses of his underlying strength in the way he handles the events and the manor. Then there’s Kirk, a Ranger in Afghanistan who appears to be suffering from PTSD, although we didn’t get much depth to his backstory just yet. I am so eager to learn more about both these men and follow along their journey, hopefully to each other.

Winter is an excellent mystery with wonderful character building and just a touch of heat, but if you want insta-love and lots of hot sex, this one doesn’t quite fill that bill. What we have here is more of a romance in bloom, and I found that both refreshing and perfect for book one of a series. Wait, maybe it is insta-love in a way, because it certainly did make me fall in love with both Kirk and Flynn.

I enjoyed the way the mystery plays out ties and the tantalizing little clue tidbit at the end rounds it out perfectly. Overall this is an excellent ghost story to read this October.

Cover art. Just look at that lovely, eerie, moody cover! It’s beautiful. Highly recommended read.

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


Book Details:  

ebook, 147 pages
Published August 26th 2013 by Josh Lanyon (first published January 1st 2013)
ISBN13 9781937909482
edition language English

A MelanieM Review: Where the Grass is Greener (Seeds of Tyrone #2) by Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

DMRO_WTGIG_533x800Mistakes were made, that’s for sure. But was it the night of passion? Or walking away afterward? That’s the question Seamus Williams must face when he gets a late-night phone call from someone he never expects to hear from again.

“I miss you, Shay.”

Chancey Bo Clearwater is a cowboy through and through. He spends his days finding work on whatever ranch will take him and his nights at the pool hall. He’s always done what needed doing and never thought much about what he wanted. ’Til that drunken night with Seamus.

A world of problems now stand between Seamus and Chancey exploring what might have been, the least of which being the Atlantic Ocean. On one side, there’s Chancey’s daughter who mood swings from angel to demon in two seconds flat; on the other, there’s the new lodger, hogging Shay’s telly and his cornflakes, and making private Skype time hard to come by.

Is this relationship doomed before it ever begins? Or can a surprise announcement from Seamus’s brother be enough to help the two find their second chance?

Several things drew me to Where the Grass is Greener.  I was familiar with Raine O’Tierney, one of the authors and loved her writing.  It involves lovers divided, a favorite trope of mine, and one of the settings is Ireland.  Be still my heart!  Where the Grass is Greener pretty much fulfilled my expectations for the story, the romance and exceeded it for the characters. Oh those wonderful characters.

Where the Grass is Greener by Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney is the sequel to Leaving Flowers, a story I haven’t read and didn’t need to.  This novel really does work as a standalone.  Having said that I will go back and read the first story.  I am curious to see what parts it fills in here.  At the start of the story, the story’s initial framework leaves a new reader open to so many questions.  All of which could be made more substantial by laying in a little more history.  Chancey Bo Clearwater is a divorced father of one, a ranch hand by job description, doing what he has to keep himself and his thirteen year old daughter afloat. Irishman Seamus Williams,temporarily in the States, was another ranch hand on the same ranch.  They dance around each other during the duration of Seamus’ stay, each being in the closet, have a night of passion, and then Seamus returns home to Ireland full of  regrets, leaving Chancey behind full of the same.

This section of the story feels fleeting and their relationship up to then hard to get a handle on.  Then that phone call comes.

“I miss you, Shay.”

The men slowly reconnect through a serious of shaky phone calls and Skype sessions, sometimes hilarious, full of misunderstandings, bad signals, raw emotions, and frustrations.  Especially of the distance they have put between themselves.

The authors give us duel points of view, necessary when you have men on two continents.  Chancey dealing with his country singer ex wife and his thirteen year old daughter along with his love for Shay in Ireland.  And Shay in his small village in Ireland, in his falling down cottage, trying to figure out his life and where he belongs, now that Chancey has come back into his life, at  least in a long distance way.  Shay’s village life is vibrant, alive in the way that small town “in every body’s business” life can be.  Especially if you grew up there and are now trying to reintegrate yourself back into village life and still be gay.

The picture we get of Chancey’s life is more focused, down to his family unit of father and  daughter and their troubled dynamics.  His self centered wife sees only herself and her career, the daughter is at stressful age, poised between child and grownup, with emotions going haywire.  Chancey becomes someone we can understand, even connect with because he’s trying so hard to protect his daughter, be the “good dad”, even if it means giving up on love, remaining stuck and alone.

McGowen and O’Tierney build a strong relationship between Chancey and Shay based on conversation and yes, Skype sex.  The authors string threads of connections throughout the story from reader to the men’s growing relationship, to Michael, the young Irishmen thrown out by his family when he comes out as gay, to Chance’s daughter, Dee, so fierce and amazing to other secondary characters so strong and supportive you can’t help but wish for more of them as well.

Where the Grass is Greener is a novel that gets gains in depth and heart the longer it goes on.  The narrative moved back and forth from the States to Ireland, gathered up more characters, picked up steam and got better as it headed towards the end until I just wanted to say, no, you can’t end it here!  I  had fallen completely under everyone’s spell and now I wanted to know how it all turned out.   I want more.  I want book three.

McGowen and O’Tierney have really hit on something here.  They have a cast that has so much heart and staying power, and the ability to bring in others around them that can realistically move out into their own stories. So that I hope that more novels will follow, specifically Michael’s.

Now I plan to head back and pick up Leaving Flowers and see where it all started.  I will let you know what I find.  Until then, do what I did, and grab up Where the Grass is Greener.  Get to know Chancey and Seamus and Dee.    Its a wonderful story and I think its only the beginning, one I highly recommend.

 

Where the Grass is Greener is book two of ‘Seeds of Tyrone’ and features characters from Leaving Flowers , but can be read independently.

 

Cover art by Debbie McGowan is perfect for the story and characters,I loved it.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 310 pages
Published September 28th 2015 by Smashwords Edition

A Free Dreamer Review: To Catch A Threeve by Alexis Duran

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

To Catch a ThreeveAxel Blackwood catches a thief and is astounded to see that he closely resembles Liam Alloway, the love he lost seven years ago in an attack by the evil woodland folk known as threeves. Axel suspects he’s fallen prey to dark magic, but can’t help becoming infatuated with his prisoner. He’s overwhelmed with the hope that he can at last bring his lost lover home, despite everything that warns him it’s all a diabolical trick.

Bryn Darrow, the half-threeve, half human orphan sent to trick Axel and rob him of much more than a simple gem finds himself equally as fascinated with his handsome human captor and the lure of someplace to call home, but he knows deep down that the constable is in love with a dangerous illusion. When he’s commanded by the threeves to murder Axel and steal a witch’s powerful grimoire, he’s forced to decide between the only family he’s ever known and the one person who might rescue him from a life of isolation and pain.

Will Axel and Bryn be forced into a deadly confrontation before they can discover the truth?
Axel is still mourning Liam, the man he loved, seven years after his death. He wholly dedicated his life to the fight against the threeves, the beings who killed Liam and has given up on ever finding love again, but he’s mostly come to terms with his loss. One day he catches a half-threeve, who looks just like Liam. But Liam is dead, so this has to be some cruel magical trick.
Bryn is said half-threeve, sent out to bring down the dangerous threeve-killer. That turns out to be much harder than he thought, because Axel is not some cruel, mindless killer.

What follows is a journey full of intrigues and secrets, uncovering lies and deception.

“To Catch a Threeve” has an interesting premise, with a completely new species. The threeves reminded me of elves, with their pointy ears and small stature. But they had their unique features as well, like the skin that looks like tree bark. I love it when authors invent new species, so I was thrilled with the threeves.

Overall, the plot was a little predictable. About halfway through I’d figured out half the mysteries. It was still interesting to read about the MCs figuring it all out in their own way, though.

While the threeves were very well developed, the world building as a whole was a little lacking. There’s talk about different religions, but the author doesn’t really give us an explanation. The most common religion frowns on homosexuality, while the second mentioned religion seems to embrace every form of love freely.

The taboo of homosexuality created an additional layer of tension, but it wasn’t overdone. The MCs are fine with their sexuality and don’t face any extreme homophobia.

To sum it up, “To Catch A Threeve” was a mostly enjoyable story, with an interesting new species. The ending was predictable and some more world building wouldn’t have hurt. If you’re looking for a quick fantasy read with a healthy dose of romance, then this is definitely a book for you. If you’re looking for a well thought out universe and a unique plot however, you will be disappointed.

Cover Art: Fiona Jayde created a very appealing cover. The colours work really well together and I like the mysterious look of it.

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

Book Details:

122 pages
Published October 28th 2014 by Loose Id
(first published October 20th 2014)
ISBN139781623005375
edition languageEnglish

 

Coffee Sip and Book Break with P.D. Singer ‘Otter Chaos’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Otter Chaos by P.D. Singer
Release Date: October 9, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Cover Artist: Dar Albert, Wicked Smart Designs

Buy the book: Amazon | Amazon Kindle |All Romance eBooks | Smashwords | Rocky Ridge Books

Apple i Tunes | Kobo

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Blurb

Otter Chaos (includes Tail Slide)

Lon Ewing snowboarded in and turned economist Corey Levigne’s life upside down, introducing him to a world he didn’t know existed. Corey’s still adjusting to a boyfriend who shifts into an otter and raids the koi pond—and now Lon says Corey’s department chair is a werewolf?

Wolves at the university, wolves in the bank—across Lon’s desk sits Professor Melvin Vadas and his hench-wolves, demanding a construction loan for the pack’s new lodge in the mountains. There’s just one little problem: the proposed building site is home to a breeding population of rare fish.

What do wolves care for stupid human rules, an otter who’d barely make a good snack, or one pesky human determined to protect the environment? Once they’re snout to snout with Corey and Lon there’s more than silverscale dace on the Endangered Species list.

Includes Tail Slide (the short that kicked off otter madness)

Fresh powder snow and running water in the Colorado back country call Lon like the moon calls the wolves. Belly-sliding to a good time on the weekends makes up for a workweek at a desk, and meeting Corey adds a whole new level of fun to snowboarding.

It’s easy to slip away for time alone in the woods without raising suspicion, but how’s Lon to entertain himself when bad snow and a worse spill force them off the mountain too early?

Never give an otter a box of Cheerios.

 

Pages or Words: 84500 (11000 Tail Slide, 73500 Otter Chaos) 276 pages total
Categories: M/M Romance, Paranormal

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Excerpt


Threading his way between the tables to reach the group, Corey intended to set the glass down on the small table in their center without interrupting the flow. Maybe he didn’t really need to steady himself on Lon’s shoulder, but it was a good excuse to touch his boyfriend, get a little squeeze and a promise for later in at the same time. “Bet you need to wet your whistle.”

Lon jerked up hard enough to jostle Corey’s arm. Brown liquid slopped over the rim of the glass. At least it missed Lon’s instrument, but what—?

“No. Sorry. But no.” Lon twisted under the strap of his guitar. “We need to leave. Now.”

“Wha—?” Corey all but dropped the glass. “Why?”

“Now. Please.” Lon was up and sidling toward his guitar case.

Corey followed. What else could he do? The man who’d been gleefully leading fiddles and mandolins had cased his instrument and bolted out the side door. Lon barely waited on the porch of the old house turned brewpub, dashing to the passenger side of the RAV4 before Corey was quite outside in the chill spring night.

“Go, go, go,” Lon begged. “Quick.”

“Okay.” Corey tucked his long legs under the steering wheel and peeled out of the parking lot. “Want to explain the sudden need to be elsewhere?”

Lon’s knuckles practically glowed with their whiteness—if the armrest of the passenger seat breathed, Lon would have choked the life out of it three blocks back. “I smelled wolf.”

That again. “I did see Melvin come into the pub.” Corey aimed the truck toward south Boulder, because Lon had that trembly look where his dark brown hair and beard seemed to puff out bigger. Absolutely no reason to stress him, and every reason to take him home and pet him into exhausted, sweaty peace.

“Can you get a job at Harvard or Stanford or somewhere far, far away from CU?” Lon whimpered. “Or decide you don’t like me anymore?”

“No and no.” Corey gave his lover a stern look on the turn into the driveway. “I’m headed for tenure here and I love you. I don’t want to change either one of those things.” He pulled Lon across the console to plant a kiss in short, sleek, hair. “Let’s go look at the koi one last time, and then last one into bed is a rotten egg.”

“Rotten egg! Ick!” But Lon was diverted enough to scamper to the back yard, not too fast to be caught.

 

 

RC

 

Meet the author:

P.D. Singer lives in Colorado with her slightly bemused husband, two rowdy teenage boys, and thirty pounds of cats. She’s a big believer in research, first-hand if possible, so the reader can be quite certain PD has skied down a mountain face-first, been stepped on by rodeo horses, acquired a potato burn or two, and will never, ever, write a novel that includes sky-diving.

When not writing, playing her fiddle, or skiing, she can be found with a book in hand.

 

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bayou Book Junkie, Inked Rainbow Reads, Full Moon Dreaming, Jessie G. Books, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, My Fiction Nook,

The Hat Party, The Jena Wade, Molly Lolly, Carly’s Book Reviews, Havan Fellows, Open Skye Book Reviews, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, BFD Book Blog, V’s Reads, Mikky’s World of Books, MM Good Book Reviews, Divine Magazine, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, SA McAuley, Posy Roberts, Nephy Hart, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Multitasking Mommas, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

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Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: 1 signed print book, or  1 ebook (mobi, epub or pdf), otter ornament (offer as separate prizes please).  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.  Please see disclaimer.

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Its Riptide Publishing’s 4th Anniversary Celebration Blog Tour! (Andrea Speed guest blog and giveaway)

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Riptide Publishing’s
4th Anniversary Celebration!

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Thank you for joining Riptide on our 4th Anniversary blog tour! We are excited to bring you new guest posts from our authors and a behind the scenes insights from Riptide. The full tour schedule can be found at here . Don’t miss the limited time discounts and Free Books for a Year giveaway at the end of this post!

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Please welcome Andrea Speed to the tour.

To me, horror and comedy have always been attached at the hip. Now I know that position might be anathema to many, but think about it. If you break it down into its component parts, many horror stories are ridiculous. Clowns with machetes? Dead people who eat live people? Undead bloodsuckers who wear capes and flounce around like party boys who ran out of molly? This stuff’s hilarious, people.

Not to say that it can’t be horrific too, because it can be. It can be two things at once. Ridiculous and scary, bloody and silly. I have many real world examples of this. From the granddaddy of them all, Evil Dead 2 (I honestly believe Bruce Campbell’s fight with his own hand belongs in a spot in the cinema hall of fame, if such a thing exists), to the great granddaddy Young Frankenstein, to the more contemporary examples of What We Do In The Shadows to any of the comedy episodes of Supernatural (which, to their credit, are usually pretty funny, especially if Ben Edlund writes it). Humor and horror belong together like chocolate and more chocolate. And it would make the Walking Dead a thousand times more watchable if they just included a goofy moment or two somewhere – anywhere, in any episode.

You’d think this would be a given, but it simply isn’t, and as a fan of “serious” horror, it baffles me. Yeah, I like a good “straight” scare as much as the next person, but if we can’t laugh at ourselves and the clichés and conventions of the genre, then what’s the point? You can’t take yourself so seriously. Life is pretty absurd, once you think about it, and I feel everything needs to acknowledge that if we want to get up and move on.

Which brings me to Josh of the Damned. If you asked me to describe the most hellish job in existence, it wouldn’t be mortuary worker, or garbage man, or even sewer worker. It would always be service industry, because, let’s face it, most people are pretty terrible. You could be a good person but having an off day, and you end up inadvertently taking it out on a stranger you doubt you’ll see again, which is often this hapless worker bee, be they a barista, a fast food cashier, or a store clerk. There is so much naturalistic horror to be found in this setting I don’t know why all horror stories don’t start or end there.

It’s not subtle commentary to say that Josh’s monster clients are often nicer than his human clients, because they are. Oh sure, occasionally they threaten to kill him or ear hentai him, but even Josh understands this isn’t as bad as it could be. He’s an undereducated, underpaid everyman who finds himself the lynchpin in a battle between worlds he can barely comprehend, and has no hope of understanding. It doesn’t stop him, though, which is the mark of a true hero. You go do something, even if you have no idea what’s going on in the bigger picture. You just try and deal with the mess here and now.

I’ve written more conventional types of heroes (including one who still sees the humor in the whole bloody mess of everything – his name rhymes with phone), but I feel like Josh could always stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Yes, he’s a night clerk, and he doesn’t always understand what’s going on or what he’s supposed to do about it. But he goes into work every night and he tries, which is a feat of heroism all by itself.


So next time you’re in a business, and see a weary clerk/cashier/barista, thank them, or just give them a big tip. We all fight monsters. Some are just more literal than others.

About Josh of the Damned

Josh Caplan is your average late-night convenience store clerk, but the Quik-Mart where he works is nothing like normal with that hell vortex in the parking lot. Waiting on zombies, demons, and other things that go bump in the night might scare some, but they’re actually more polite than the stoners, and Josh welcomes the break in the monotony—especially when he acquires himself a sexy new boyfriend with a deadly secret.

Will Josh survive this retail nightmare? It’s a Big Gulp of a chance, but between the hazard pay and the hottie with a sweet tooth for Josh’s candy, it’s a chance he’s willing to take.

About Andrea Speed

Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

Connect with Andrea:

[Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Note:  Andrea Speed’s  Joshua of the Damned series is on our October Scary Tales Recommendations and their covers are always on our Best of Lists.]

Anniversary Sale

The Josh of the Damned series is being sold in a special discounted bundle by Riptide this week only. Check out the sale on this series and other bundles at http://www.riptidepublishing.com/anniversary-sale

Giveaway

To celebrate our anniversary, Riptide Publishing is giving away free books for a year! Your first comment at each blog stop on the Anniversary Tour will count as an entry and give you a chance to win this great prize. Giveaway ends at midnight, October 31, 2015, and is not restricted to US entries.  You must leave your email address in the body of the comment so you can be contacted if chosen.  You must also be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Rafflecopter code:http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c1ee22d91

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