A MelanieM Review: Children of Noah (Mahu #9) by Neil S. Plakcy

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Children of Noah coverA few months after the birth of his twins, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka and begins a temporary assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Kimo and his HPD partner Ray Donne are quickly thrown into an investigation into threatening letters sent to a U.S. Senator. Are these screeds about racial purity related to an escalating series of attacks against mixed-race couples and families on Oahu?

When arson at a day care center on the Windward Coast brings Kimo’s partner, fire investigator Mike Riccardi, into the case, Kimo worries about the future of his and Mike’s newborn twins on an island falling prey to hate and a cult leader bent on death and destruction.

I fell under the spell of Neil S. Plakcy and his Hawaiian detective Kimo Kanapa’aka in the very first book, Mahu, hawaiian for gay.  There a very complicated and closeted young Kimo, trying to deal with his sexuality, was outed during a horrific murder case.  Its ramifications on his career, family relationships and private life would reverberate through the following stories.  Plakcy’s ability to bring not only Kimo to life but his multicultural family history and the vibrant racial mixing pot that is Hawaii to life is amazing.  From the variety of languages spoken, the nuances of levels of Hawaiian race in your background, even the language designations for north, south, east and west are different.  Yet, here they flow off the tongues of the characters with the ease of native speakers,   Very few authors have the ability to use local colloquialisms and dialects to hone their characters personas and locations the way Plakcy does and by the ninth book, its usage is so subtle and well woven into the narrative, I hardly notice any more.

Kimo and Mike have come a long with in their partnership.  Now the coparents of twins along with a lesbian couple, Kimo takes on a case that hits at the heart of his family’s safety.  Both Mike and Kimo have families from mixed racial background, and their sons parentage is equally so when their mothers backgrounds are included as well.  When each man handles a case with similar clues, all leads start to point towards a cult bent on the worship of racial  purity.

I loved this book for so many reasons, none  of which really had anything to do with the mystery.  Kimo’s parents which have figured largely in all the stories are now frail, older figures here, especially Kimo’s dad.  Their relationship, always so strong, sees a change in position here that is so realistic and painful.  Mike’s parents, once so against the relationship, now move forward into new positive roles.  So much is changing within the family  structures for them both, including that of their foster son.  Here all the relationships strain against their bonds and come back for support once more.  Its all so remarkable in its human dynamics and believable interchanges.  Sometimes angst-filled, often humorous, it will be so easy for all the readers to relate to the relationships in flux here, whether it be brother and brother, father and son, or new fathers and new babies.  This is what made this book for me.  Its all about the changes in life that we all go through.

And its even starts at the beginning with Kimo leaving the Honolulu P.D. to join FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force along with his partner.  New beginnings even at the job level.  But that brings us to the murders and the mystery.

That was my least favorite part of the story.  I figured out early on who the murderer was and where the problem was occurring.  The author all but had a giant arrow pointing the way.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of scenes where the suspense was high, because that happened.  There was danger, and angst enough to go around, just not the usual amount of guessing I expect from this author.

However, Plakcy’s style of writing moves the story along so quickly towards the end that your mind is consumed with the safety of the main characters and the capture of the culprits.  And so much more.  I want more books.  I want to know how Dakota is doing with his new boyfriend, how Kimo’s dad’s doing, and the family in general.  They got into my heart, every single one of them.  If you give them a chance, they will get into yours too.  But why start here?   This is a fantastic series.  Go to the beginning Mahu and read your way through until you arrive here.  With each book it just gets better and better.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art is nice but I sort of miss that primitive art work of the original covers.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 231 pages
Published August 9th 2015 by MLR Press

A Jeri Review: Deliver Me by Faith Gibson

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Deliver Me coverTaggart Lee has it all.
Fame.
Fortune.
Everything except love.

Tag is the jaded lead singer for 7’s Mistress, the biggest rock band in the world. After fifteen years in the business, he’s drowning in it all. When tragedy strikes, he takes a break from the road and the monotony his life has become. When he meets a gorgeous man on a park bench, he sees his lifeline.

Dr. Erik Henrikson thought he’d met the one.
He had.
The wrong one.

A year after his breakup, he still has a lock on his heart. Then he meets Lee, someone whose life has just been turned upside down. When he finds out Lee’s true identity, Erik throws away the key.

Tag has two weeks to make the doctor want him. He has three months to prove he won’t hurt him.

Tragedy brings them together.

Lies and betrayal push them apart.

Is love enough to deliver them?

I loved this book! Faith Gibson is an author I had never read before. Wow am I glad I read this one.

Taggart Lee is a rock star suddenly back in his home town with a newborn girl after a tragedy. Dr Erik Henrikson is the pediatrician who comes to the rescue with a colicky baby. Erik doesn’t know Tag is famous, he knows him as Lee, a single dad doing his best. Sparks? Check. Cute baby? Check. Dog? Check. Hot rock star and hot alpha doctor? Check.

When Tag has to finish the final leg of the tour, the doctor offers to watch the baby while he is gone. Erik knows he is going to fall in love with the little girl, he doesn’t expect to fall for the man. Tag and Erik spend two weeks together without expectations knowing Tag will be leaving for a 3 month tour. In that two weeks they become a family, something Erik desperately wants and Tag never thought he wanted.

Yes, this is a pretty classic romance story. There are misunderstandings, romance and hot sex. But the characters really kept me turning the pages. I immediately liked both Tag and Erik. Tag’s bandmates (for the most part) and manager are super cute in the way they want to be in the baby’s life. Erik’s best friend breaks my heart (holy shocker batman!) Even though Tag is a rock star, he does not come off like one of those “I am so much better than you guys”. And Erik, the super sweet doctor, is quite a bit different behind closed doors. I really enjoyed watching them grow together.

Honestly, I think one of my favorite parts of the book was the epilogue! I love a good epilogue and this one absolutely wrapped everything up with a pretty bow. I closed the book with a smile on my face.

The cover art perfectly depicts Tag the rock star, but honestly in the book we get WAY more of Lee, the unexpected dad. Still a pretty hot cover.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 2nd 2015 by Smashwords Edition
original title Deliver Me
ISBN13 9781311939678

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts #2) by Ada Maria Soto

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bowerbirds coverBowerbirds by Ada Maria Soto, sequel to Empty Nests, this book takes up where the first left off with James Maron back to feeling that he’s in over his head by dating wealthy tech company owner Gabriel Juarez. James is also suffering from last minute pangs of anxiety and worry over his son Dylan’s impending high school graduation and departure for college. After all, Dylan has been at his side since James became a parent and primary caretaker at the ripe old age of fourteen.

James takes his parenting responsibility seriously, so seriously that he doesn’t feel he can put himself first in his new relationship with Gabe. He finds it hard to let go of his need to be in control of his own destiny, and when he’s with Gabe, he’s so off-center, he feels that he’s in way over his head. Gabe quickly realizes that he can’t push James too far or too fast, and he certainly can’t try to “buy” his love. Even simple gifts like a new cell phone are not acceptable to James, who has had to live within a strict budget for the last eighteen years and feels resentful at being told what he needs without earning it himself.

I enjoyed the story. It was fairly slow-paced with a great deal of emphasis on Gabe’s job, but Gabe’s job takes up so much of his time, so much emphasis on it is unavoidable. James has a few meltdowns during the story, mostly due to his feelings of inadequacy when faced with a superpower like Gabe. A few times I wanted to reach into the e-reader to give him a slap, to be honest, but I still enjoyed watching each man take hesitant baby steps toward the long-term commitment of love. Gabe’s pride in showing off James at the office party, James’s realization that he’s in love with Gabe, and Gabe’s final attempt to reach out and show James just how much he’s loved, all created that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when an author has captured not only my attention, but my emotions as well.

There was more opportunity to explore secondary characters in this story than in the first, and Dylan came through loud and strong as a young man anyone would be proud to call son. The ladies who formed James’s support group in the building, Gabe’s assistant Tamyra, and both his co-owners and his family members all came through as well-developed characterizations. It was fun to watch the men flounder with previously unheard-of romantic thoughts and to finally conclude that those queasy unsettled feelings were called love.

The only downside is that the author failed to connect the title of the book with the story itself. There was some mention of bowerbirds in the first story, Empty Nests, but I did my own research to look up the birds which are renowned for their unique courtship behavior, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly colored objects in an attempt to attract a mate. One species of bowerbirds, catbirds, are monogamous males raising chicks with their partner. I suspect this is where the connection lies since Gabe’s daydreams included one in which he and James awaited the arrival of their grandchildren at their beach house.

All in all, this is a lovely, sweet romantic story with well-developed characters and a fairly simple plot. I do recommend it to those who enjoy a contemporary M/M romance, especially one in which one of the characters has children which feature prominently in the story.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is attractive and colorful and features two cell phones—one in a modern slim design with the latest technology and the other a simple flip phone, obviously outdated. The phones tie into the story and clearly represent the MCs.

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

Book Details:

book, 188 pages
Published August 26th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original title Bowerbirds
ISBN1634761871 (ISBN13: 9781634761871)
edition languageEnglish

In our Supernatural Spotlight: Packmaster ( Full Moon Rising #1) by Jess Buffett (excerpt and giveaway)

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Packmaster ( Full Moon Rising #1) by Jess Buffett
Release Date: October 16, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Jess Buffett
Cover Artist: Jess Buffett

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Blurb

Kyan had never known true kindness, or what it felt like to be completely entranced by one person…until he met Blaise. When his life spins out of control, and a whole new world is opened up to him, he finds that the only human being he can turn to, may not even be human at all.

Blaise has spent months trying to figure out the best way to approach his shy and nervous mate. As the Packmaster in the small town of Rowan Oak, he isn’t used to having to show restraint or patience. When he finally makes his move a turn of events involving a forgotten note, a disappearing mate, and trouble with a group of hunters leads to disastrous results.

When Blaise finally catches up to Kyan, what he finds and the answers he gets are nothing like what he had been expecting. Will the pair be able to straighten out their misunderstandings and find the happiness they both long for, or will the Packmaster lose the only thing he has ever had to fight for?

 

Pages or Words: 20,710 words
Categories: Fantasy, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

Excerpt

Kyan ran. His legs burned, his chest was tight and the fear that clogged his throat was so completely overwhelming that he just knew at any minute his entire body would give out on him. The heavy rain pelted down hard, and his small stature, with hardly any muscle or bulk of any form, quivered from the strain. He pushed himself through the pain, refusing to give up. The abhorrent idea of allowing the monsters that chased him, to catch up, was the only thing that kept him moving. That, and the small flutter he felt in his stomach. The reminder that he was not only running for his own life, but that of his unborn child’s. Even now, with the small protrusion in his lower abdomen, the thought almost sent him careening off course.

Pregnant! How could a man be pregnant? It just shouldn’t be possible.
Kyan swiped his auburn hair out of his face, so that he could see better. The normally spiky locks hung plastered to his forehead by sweat and rain.

“There he is. Get him!” One of the many voices that had taunted him for the last hour, shouted.
Alarm shot through him when he realized just how close they had gotten to him. A whimper broke free as he darted his way through the thick foliage and branches that stuck out and cut through his skin. He almost lost his footing over a protruding tree root, but luckily he was able to leap at the last moment, landing firmly on his two feet.
Just as he regained his stride, a heavy mass ploughed into his side, sending him careening to the ground. He barely had enough time to twist so as not to fall onto his stomach. His entire frame ached, and all he could do was curl up into a ball, protecting himself and his child as much as possible.

“Please,” he begged. “God, please.”

“Shhh,” came a vicious hiss from above him. Firm hands clamped down hard on him as he attempted to shrug them off. “Do you want them to find us? Keep still and be quiet.”

He froze at the menacing yet familiar voice, and only then became aware that at some stage he must have closed his eyes. Prying them open, Kyan stared at the hulking man above him in shock, confusion and not a little bit of fear.

“Blaise?”

A hand quickly covered his mouth as Blaise growled. “For the love of god, Kyan. Shut. Up.”

 

Buy the book:  Amazon  |  All Romance (ARe)

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Meet the Author

Jess Buffett was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia. She is a mum of two, married to her high school sweetheart.

Jess is a hopeless romantic who is a huge fan of M/M and M/F romance with a happy ending—anything with hunky men in all their glory, whether they be Shifters, Vampires, Cowboys, or the boy next door.

A caffeine addict who shamefully can’t make a decent cup of coffee to save her life, Jess believes in soul mates, happily ever afters, and in love at first sight, but that sometimes people need a second or a third for the brain to catch up.

Where to find the author:

 

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Giveaway

 

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Packmaster’ by Jess Buffett.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

 

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Love Fantasy Fiction? Author Tom Early Talks About His Inspiration and New Release Aspect of Winter (interview, excerpt and contest)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tom Early here to answer a few  questions about himself, writing and his latest release, Aspect of Winter.  Welcome, Tom.  We have a few questions for you this morning.

Q.  Why write for YA readers?

YA is where representation matters most. There aren’t enough YA books out there that feature protagonists that aren’t straight, and there are even fewer books that manage to be the proper adventure fantasy story and just also happen to have gay characters. I want to help change that.

Q.  I have always loved the idea of a college for magical studies, what draws you to this element?

It’s kind of impossible to ignore the influence Harry Potter has on any author who attempts to write a magical school type of story, and I won’t deny that it definitely helped give me the idea. But Harry Potter is about early schooling, and not more of a college element. Janus University seems kind of like the next logical step for what to portray. You’ve got powers, and that’s great. But what do you do with them? What is the world like when magic is readily available and there’s no real control of powers after a certain point? Aspect of Winter, especially the later books in the series, aims to answer that.

Q.  Friends to lovers is a favorite trope for so many readers, is it one of yours too?

It depends. I’ve never been a fan of childhood friends to lovers because it just seems unrealistic to have two people who have been as friends for years and years to suddenly want to be more. But newer friendships that eventually expand their boundaries is far more realistic for me. I find the idea of a friendship that progresses over a few months to a relationship to be a lot better, and a lot less abrupt than love at first sight, either. Love takes time to grow, but it isn’t something that is inherently likely to happen from years of friendship, either.

Q.  Do you have a favorite story that you read as a younger reader?

I read The Name of the Wind many, many times when I was younger, and still do occasionally even now. I wouldn’t quite call it YA, but it’s definitely read just as much by teens as it is adults. The story just manages to set up a slow pace and make it work, which, especially for fantasy, is incredibly difficult to do well.

Q.  What feeling do you want your readers to take away at the end of this and any of your stories?

Aspect of Winter is meant to be a story that you enjoy reading. I wrote it to entertain myself, and hopefully it entertains anyone who reads it as well. But making Fay gay, and Sam pansexual, and Tyler bisexual isn’t a coincidence. I want people to realize that it’s just as easy to enjoy a good YA book with non-straight main characters as any other.

Q. Did you bring any of your school history and make it part of the Janus College learning experience?

The high school Fay and Sam go to at the beginning of Aspect of Winter is loosely based off my own high school experience. Their efforts to get into Janus University is like a fictionalized, combat fantasy version of the college application process. And their time at Janus University in book two is meant to be similar to my own college experience in the feeling of freedom and courses and choices offered, but Janus University is a bit more ruthless than my own school is.

Q.  What’s next for Tom Early?

Well, there’s definitely book two, which is tentatively titled The Doorway God at the moment. I’m about in the middle of it at the moment and working pretty much every day on it. But I have other novels I’m working towards publication with as well. One of them is high fantasy and features a bisexual assassin and an asexual princess and an epic plot against the safety of the entire world, and another tells the story of a possibly delusional young man trying to find a boy who was taken from his mother in 1930’s England. But finishing the Aspect series is first on my list.

AboutTheBook

22930117Title: Aspect of Winter

Author: Tom Early

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Sadie Thompson

Length: 260 pages

Release Date: October 15, 2015

Blurb: It’s hard enough being gay in high school, but Fay must also deal with hiding his magical ability—powers he barely understands and cannot possibly reveal. His best friend Sam is his only confidante, and even with her help, Fay’s life is barely tolerable.

Everything changes when Janus University, a college for individuals with magical capabilities, discovers the pair. When the university sends a student to test them, Fay and Sam, along with their classmate Tyler, are catapulted headfirst into a world of unimaginable danger and magic. Fay and Tyler begin to see each other as more than friends while they prepare for the Trials, the university’s deadly acceptance process. For the first time, the three friends experience firsthand how wonderful and terrible a world with magic can be, especially when the source of Fay’s power turns out to be far deadlier than anyone imagined.

Excerpt

 

AS IT turned out, being wedged into the small space below the math wing staircase was exactly as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. Now, I was in there of my own choice, sort of. I held still and listened, letting out a sigh of relief when I heard the boys’ voices fading. I decided it was safe and did my best to wriggle out.

Groaning, I brushed myself off and realized that I’d somehow managed to cover the majority of my backpack in a thick layer of dust. Rumor had it that years ago the staircase used to be green. Now it was gray. I looked at my backpack in disgust and let out a breath, concentrating. The dust glittered as a layer of frost covered it. When I hoisted my bag onto my back once more, the dust slid right off, the frost preventing it from clinging.

Clean backpack in hand, I trudged up the stairs, across the hall, and walked into the classroom. I took my customary seat in the back next to the poster detailing the derivative rules of calculus, feeling a flash of pity for Ms. King as I watched her try to get anyone to listen, and grabbed my book of the day as the front row began its usual antics. Today they asked Ms. King about her love life, which, while incredibly rude, was extremely successful in throwing her off-balance.

I would never understand high school, even after nearly four years of it. It seemed barely tolerable for everyone involved, including the people who fit in. I didn’t fit in, and so every day was a new chapter in the purgatory of hiding what I could do.

I sent a grateful prayer to the high school gods as class was interrupted by an announcement saying we needed to go to the nurse’s office for a new immunization or something. Ms. King pulled us out of the truly thrilling world of integrals and sent us down one at a time. I was one of the last to go.

Stepping back into the hallway, I prayed that I wasn’t going to run into any of Logan’s crowd again on my way down. The number of times I’d heard “fag” muttered under someone’s breath was already too high.

The school had two hallways running between the faculty area and the math wing, and most people took the lower one. I chose the glass hallway because it was usually empty (this surprised me as well, but apparently using stairs was just too much for many of my classmates), and it was pretty cool to be able to see the entire campus from what was effectively its highest point. I trailed a finger across the glass as I walked, leaving behind a fractal line of frost in the warm September air.

I smirked. For as long as I’d been at Owl’s Head High School, there had been, in the eloquent phrasing of high schoolers, “spooky shit” in the fall and spring where kids would come across ice or cold areas in warm weather. I knew I needed to keep my head down, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun.

BuyLinks

Harmony Ink Press

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Romance eBooks

AboutTheAuthor

Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day.

When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.

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Winner’s Prize: Free signed copy of Aspect of Winter

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