A MelanieM Review: Dead Money: Jack of Spades #5 by Lee Brazil (Pulp Friction 2015: Altered States Book 17)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Dead Money coverBarton Montoire’s fragile hold on his emotions is worn thin by exorcisms and fear. Even though he’s beginning to realize the full potential of his abilities as a ghost, he has no power to stop his lover’s plot to end the darkness that has threatened their relationship for close to a year, not with all their friends in the line of fire.

In all of time, there have existed few men who transcend the bonds of life and death, who see the spirits as clearly as the living. These men possess the ability to summon others, creating doorways between realms, physical and metaphysical. A dusty tome written in cryptic language reveals terrifying secrets, but with a little help from his friends, Sabine Brusilov knows what must be done. For the good of humanity and supes alike, he must call forth the shadowy demon, leading it into a trap.

Unfortunately, talent is not skill, and the ability to summon cannot be mastered by taking a class or two and scouring the internet for information. With Bart at his side and his friends at his back, Sabine brings talent, skill, and strength of will to battle evil before it can join the gathering forces of darkness that menace New Orleans.

With dead money on the table, is love enough to take the hand?

Well, Dead Money by Lee Brazil is the book I have been waiting for this entire series.  It’s just plain outstanding!  With this one story, Lee Brazil takes all my previous irritations and uncertainties with the plot, the characters, their relationships,  and dismisses them firmly and resoundingly.   In fact, had this been a stand alone series, Dead Money would have made the perfect  series finale.

For most of the series, I have felt that the relationship between Bart and Sabine to have been very unequal in power and affection, at least that’s the way it translated in the narrative for me.  But here and now, after all their travails,  they come across as deeply committed partners, people in love, no matter their corporeal status. Lovers reunited who are facing one of the greatest evils they will ever know.  Brazil has built up the demon they face with vividly scary descriptions and pain-filled scenes of horror but still what comes is far, far worse.  Something no one, not Bart, not Sabine and certainly not the reader is prepared for.

The other characters in the series are there trying to help as well, but its Bart and Sabine you fear for and the ending when it comes is both shocking and shockingly satisfying.  I’ll say no more.  But oddly enough, I’m so  happy with this story, I don’t feel like I need a book six, which might be just as well.  I love this book and the way it all turned out.  How on earth or on any other supernatural plane could you possibly improve on this?  Five stars plus?

And yes I highly recommend this author and series.  Not only for a Scary Halloween Read but for any time of the year!

The book cover is also the best in the series.  Apparently everything was waiting until Round 5.  Well done.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 47 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by Lime Time Press
ASIN B016NFRTO0
edition language English

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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

Round Five:

Dead Money (Jack of Spades 5) by Lee Brazil

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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: How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune

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Rating 5 stars out of 5           ★★★★★

How To Be A Normal Person coverGustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

This is my sixth book by TJ Klune, my sixth five stars review and I’m still amazed by this author’s work. Each time I read a new story of his is a fabulous journey, sometimes full of tears (BOATK series), other times full of laughters (The Lightning-Struck Heart). How to Be a Normal Person was the perfect balanced mix of emotional parts and unbelievably hilarious scenes. To me it was another amazing winner, since the first time I read about Harry S Truman, the albino ferret! Only Tj could have chosen a pet like Harry for our Grumpy Gus.

I’m not going to talk about the plot, TJ can write what he likes, I couldn’t care less because to me his creative mind is this fantastic place I want to know. I have no clue how he creates characters so unique and lovable. This time Gus won me over, I loved him through out the story. I  cheered him on through his journey in the discovery of a normality he thinks he doesn’t have and absolutely need to be with Casey. I so wanted to hug him and his friends, they gave me a warm sensation I needed so much.

Like all TJ’s books, there is a great cast of characters, I don’t like to define them as“secondary characters” because to me they felt like the main ones, all of them with a smart mouth, funny and supportive and perfect in their imperfections. The three queens were probably my favorite ones, the story would have been nothing without the lesbian/ sisters trio.

As I said I loved all of TJ’s books but I’m realizing he’s doing better with each new one he releases. He grows and improves and I have no idea what he wants to achieve. I always think he can’t do better than the book I’m currently reading and he duly contradicts me. And even though How To Be a Normal Person has the typical quality of Klune’s work, I think it’s really different from the previous novels, just a little over the top but not too extreme, no angst at all, maybe the right choice if you’re approaching this author for the first time. I’m going to re read it really soon to appreciate it better, I rush through it because I was too hungry and curious.

I just want to add, as you can read from the blurb, Casey, the other MC, is asexual. This was not my first time with this sexual orientation and to me not the better one cause it wasn’t addressed a lot, but still I think the author chose the perfect way to deal with it, most of all according to his style. There’s no sex in the story but please don’t let this be a reason to not give the book a chance. There was no need for sex, I got my steamy fix in other ways.

Maybe it’s not clear, but this is a highly recommended read, sweet, hilarious and emotional. I couldn’t ask for more.

Cover art by Reese Dante. It’s simply, fitting and FINALLY something different. I love it!

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

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 290 pages
Published October 16th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634765796
Edition Language English

AMAZON http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Normal-Person-Klune-ebook/dp/B015VOHR0K

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A BJ Review: Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

LBlade_600x900Sasha is a healer forced to take on the role of a warrior when his clan is attacked. Trapped in his caravan, the only weapon he can lay hands on is Ryka, the legendary sword that has been in his family for generations. To Sasha’s horror, the blade takes control of his body and turns him into a ruthless killer. Worse, Ryka sets in motion an irreversible process that will bind them together for life—if Sasha can survive the bonding.

Jace is a mercenary soldier, charged with protecting his commander’s brother, Eredwyn, on a journey through the Middle Kingdoms. When Eredwyn’s sometimes-prophetic visions lead them to the dying Sasha, Eredwyn insists that they must save him.

As Sasha struggles to come to terms with Ryka and his need to avenge his clan, Jace finds himself torn between his orders to protect Eredwyn and his growing feelings for Sasha. Can Jace walk the fine line between duty and desire, or will Sasha’s plans for vengeance lead all three men to their deaths?

If you’ve read other books by this author, you will know already how intricate and richly nuanced her world-building is… I’m continually fascinated by how she ties so much together not only over the different planets in this universe but over thousands of years of time as well. Epic is the word that comes to mind.

This standalone story is set in the same universe as the author’s other series ,Guardians of the Leythe, The Wytch Kings of Skanda, and Guardians of the Pattern. It takes place on the earth-like world of Aion during the time period after the first two series but before the last.

Leythe and Mythe are used interchangeably depending on time period and culture. Both refer to the energy field that permeates the universe and from which power can be drawn by those with the ability to touch it (referred to as mythe weavers, leythari, or psions relatively).

Both Jace and Sasha can call upon this power field but in very different ways. Sasha can use its power to heal, but after an absolutely awful event leaves him no choice, he forms a bond with a blade, Ryka, with whom he can communicate through the leythe. Since healers are protected like the women of the clan, Sasha has never been allowed to use a weapon. His gift, his very nature, is to heal those in pain not cause it, to preserve life, not take it. He’s appalled at the realization that, using Ryka, he caused injury to others. Sasha struggles valiantly against the bond, against allowing something into his mind that threatens to change his very nature.

At the beginning of the book, Jace’s duty and main focus is protecting his charge, Eredwyn, but as he helps his mentor save Sasha, he finds himself drawn to and feeling a kinship to Sasha. Because Jace has also struggled with accepting his own ability to use the mythe after having inadvertently used it to kill, something that he had no idea he could do. As both men struggle with guilt and accepting/controlling a power within that can do harm to others, the bond between them grows. Together they help each other heal and learn to forgive and accept themselves.

But there isn’t just the one relationship in this book. For Sasha, once bonded to Ryka, must come to terms with that relationship as well. I thoroughly enjoyed how the relationship between Sasha and Ryka developed and grew from utter resistance to reluctant acceptance and finally trust. Ryka, though a sword, is very much a fascinating character on her own. There was another leythe blade, Blackfang, in an earlier book Human Frailties, Human Strengths. The concept intrigues me and while I admit to harboring resentment to Blackfang for an incident in which I wanted to kick him, I want to know more. The leythe blades are fascinating, and I’d very much enjoy a story in which we get to explore exactly how they all came into existence.

The cover is a graphic design by Chinchbug that captures this story wonderfully. It took me a while to look beyond the long-haired, violet-eyed hotness holding the sword, but once I noticed the androgynous face in of the blade and the fractals in the background representing the leythe… wow. Yep, it’s perfect.

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

Book Details:  

ebook, 238 pages
Published October 23rd 2015 by Mythe Weaver Press (first published October 1st 2015)

Writer Spotlight: Jaye McKenna, author of Leythe Blade (Author Interview & New Book Release, Contest)

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Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna
Book Release Date: October 26, 2015
Cover artist: Chinchbug

A Guardians of the Leythe Universe story

 Leythe Blade Goodreads Page

Buy it  Amazon | Smashwords | All Romance (ARe) | Apple/iBooks 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome author Jaye McKenna here today to share some insight into her latest novel in her Guardians of the Leythe series, Leythe Blade.  Welcome, Jaye.  Our reviewer BJ has quite a few questions for you this morning.

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BJ: How does Leythe Blade tie into your other series?

JM: Chronologically, Leythe Blade takes place maybe a thousand years after Burn the Sky, and some six hundred years before the Guardians of the Pattern stories. It takes place about seven years before Kingmakers, another fantasy project I have in the works, in which you’ll see Sasha, Jace, and Eredwyn again.

BJ: Is there a message in this novel that you wanted to express? Or something particular that motivated you to write this particular story?

JM: Sasha showed up when I was drafting Kingmakers. He was a healer and a foreigner, a gentle soul who hated war, but worked for a mercenary company, and carried an intelligent, magical sword called Ryka that gave him the skills of a master swordsman. His part in Kingmakers was quite small, but the idea of a healer with a sword intrigued me. I wanted to know how he and Ryka met, and I wanted to know how Sasha made peace with the idea of suddenly becoming an instrument of death. Leythe Blade was my exploration of that character and those questions.

BJ: Who is your personal favorite of the characters? Why?

JM: They’re all my favorites while I’m writing about them, but some of them are more fun to write than others, and in this story, Eredwyn, who is both Jace’s charge and his mentor, was probably my favorite. He inhabits a world that most people can’t even see, and he makes these intuitive leaps that the people around him can’t possibly follow. He’s a bit quirky, and frustrates the heck out of the people around him by making these vague, dire prophecies that have a habit of coming true, although never quite the way Eredwyn expects they will. In fact, I like him so much, I’ll probably have to write his story, too, at some point.

BJ: What’s next? What are you working on now?

JM: Next to be released is Wildfire Psi, book 4 in the Guardians of the Pattern series. That will be out in early 2016. My current project is the Burn the Sky sequel. It’s tentatively titled Blackfrost. Right now I’m working on character sketches and outlining, and I’ll be working on it during November for National Novel Writing Month. It will feature Kian, who was a secondary character in Burn the Sky.

BJ: Your covers are unique and beautiful. Who designs them?

JM: My cover art is all done by my best friend, who goes by Chinchbug in his art circles. I met him in high school, and his two passions, even back then, were art and computers. Digital art is the perfect fusion of those passions. When I need a new cover, we talk about the story and the characters, and I give him a written synopsis and character descriptions, and he goes to work. I get a lot of input at all stages of cover creation, and he does an awesome job of getting what’s in my head onto the cover.

BJ: Do you have a favorite of your own books? If so, why?

JM: I don’t know if I have a favorite, but the one that’s the most special is Human Frailties, Human Strengths, because that was the start of it all. That book introduced Ash, who weaves his way through many of the stories that take place in this world (he’s there in Human Choices and Ghost in the Mythe, and he’s mentioned in Leythe Blade).

The big tapestry that all of these stories make up is really Ash’s story. Ash taught the descendants of the first humans on Aion how to touch the leythe, and the whole chaotic, beautiful, brutal history of Aion follows from that one reckless act. Much of Ash’s involvement is part of his attempt to bring the leythe back into balance. He’s the thread that ties it all together, and I love his wry sense of humor, his arrogant streak, and his gentle ruthlessness. And… well… he is kinda hot, too, so there’s that.

BJ: What writers inspire or influence you?

JM: Oh, gosh, there are so many. My earliest influences were Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, Sylvia Engdahl, and Robert Silverberg. Then later, C.J. Cherryh, Octavia Butler, Tanith Lee, and Storm Constantine. Those were the writers whose stories I devoured, who fired up my imagination and made me want to write my own stories.

Thanks, BJ, for the great questions and to Jaye McKenna for the wonderful answers.   Now more about Leythe Blade.

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Blurb

Sasha is a healer forced to take on the role of a warrior when his clan is attacked. Trapped in his caravan, the only weapon he can lay hands on is Ryka, the sword that was once wielded by his great, great grandmother. To Sasha’s horror, the blade takes control of his body and turns him into a ruthless killer. Worse, Ryka sets in motion an irreversible process that will bind them together for life — if he can survive the bonding.

Jace is a mercenary soldier, charged with protecting his commander’s brother, Eredwyn, on a journey through the Middle Kingdoms. When Eredwyn’s sometimes-prophetic visions lead them to the dying Sasha, Eredwyn insists that they must save him.

As Sasha struggles to come to terms with Ryka and his need to avenge his clan, Jace finds himself torn between his orders to protect Eredwyn and his growing feelings for Sasha. Can Jace walk the fine line between duty and desire, or will Sasha’s plans for vengeance lead all three men to their deaths?

Excerpt

Jace’s cheeks burned until he was nearly halfway to the lake, and the words he’d said to Sasha wouldn’t stop bouncing around in his head.

I’d like to see you dance, Sasha.

Where the hell had that come from?

No, he knew where it had come from. Right from his heart, without passing anywhere near his brain. He would like to see Sasha dance, but he’d never meant to say so, and certainly not within Sasha’s hearing. The young man had quite enough to deal with as it was.

Still, it pleased Jace to see him beginning to take an interest in things. The air of grief was still there, but since the day they’d taken Sasha to the massacre site, there had been a subtle change in him. He’d started to help with some of the chores, and even joined in when Jace and Eredwyn talked, offering the occasional quiet comment.

Sasha still whimpered in his sleep, though, and Jace wished he could wipe the sadness from those mesmerizing violet eyes, and put a real smile on Sasha’s face.

No, he couldn’t deny — not to himself, at least — that he would very much like to see Sasha dance. And laugh. And he’d most definitely like to see the man smile…

Shaking his head, Jace continued on down the path until he heard something large moving near the shore. He stopped, crouched down, and peered through the underbrush. In the spaces between the leaves, he could just make out a light-colored shape by the water’s edge.

He crept forward and breathed a quiet sigh of relief when the shape resolved itself into a horse, not a soldier or a predator. The white mare stood with her head lowered to drink. Her mane and tail were rough and tangled, but there were a few scattered braids and beads left in both. An Ajhani horse, then, which meant she belonged to Sasha.

“Easy, lady, Easy.” Jace used the same soothing tone he used when speaking to Rakki as he approached her. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

The mare turned her head and gave him a look that Jace chose to interpret as sorrowful.

“Been out here on your own for too long? Would you like to come back with me, pretty one? I can get you fed and get all these dried weeds brushed out of your hair. Come on.”

She snuffled at Jace and allowed him to guide her down the trail toward the shelter. In the stable, he settled her in the empty stall next to Rakki and prepared some feed for her. After she’d eaten, he brushed her down and groomed the tangles and remnants of beaded braids from her mane and tail.

“That’s better,” he said as he stood back to look over his handiwork. “You look like a proper lady now.”

When Jace entered the shelter, Eredwyn looked up from his seat on the floor, where he was sorting bundles of herbs. “That was quick. Did you find us some dinner already?”

“No, something better than dinner. Come, Sasha, come see.”

Sasha gave him a questioning look, but got slowly to his feet. “What did you find?”

“I’ll show you.” Jace led him around the back of the shelter to the stable.

Sasha’s face lit up when he saw the mare. “Dena!”

A long string of soft, lilting words followed. Jace understood none of it, but the mare apparently did. She nickered softly, and when Sasha drew close, she hung her head over his shoulder. Sasha put his arms around her neck and reached up to scratch her, fingers tangling in her blond mane.

“I found her having a drink on the shore,” Jace said. “I wondered if you two might know each other.”

Sasha turned his head toward Jace, still smiling. “She was my Da’s favorite. He’d ride her up and down the caravan line, making sure everyone was all right. She’s the sweetest of all of them.” He frowned then, fingers still working the mare’s mane. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen any more of them?”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

“She would have been tied separately. Da—” Sasha stopped for a moment, and Jace saw his throat working. “He… he kept her by the wagon when we were camped, in case he needed her in a hurry.” He turned back to the mare and murmured softly to her in Djhara.

Jace hung back, taking the opportunity to observe the man. Sasha was slender, and not particularly tall, although he was perhaps a finger’s width taller than Jace. It was his coloring that fascinated Jace, though. The golden skin, violet eyes, and pale, silver-blond hair were an unusual enough combination to make him worth a second — and perhaps a third — look.

Unaware of Jace’s scrutiny, Sasha continued crooning softly to the mare. Jace could have listened to the sound of that deep, husky voice wrapping around those lyrical sounds for the rest of the day.

He didn’t get nearly that long. All too soon, Sasha pulled away from the horse and approached Jace. “Thank you, Jace,” he said softly. “This… it means so much to me. Thank you for bringing her to me.”

Mesmerized by those beautiful eyes, Jace could only stare. When he realized he was staring, he looked away quickly, face flushing. “I… what else would I do?” He swallowed hard, then added quietly, “It’s good to see you smile.”

Sasha didn’t say anything, and when Jace looked up again, his attention was on the mare.

“With her along, we won’t need to limit our baggage quite so much,” Jace said, more to fill the silence than anything. “Maybe… maybe you can pack some of those pretty clothes you set aside this morning.”

When Sasha turned his head and gave him an unreadable look, Jace muttered a curse under his breath and fled.

He should have just kept his mouth shut, and wished he had.

 About the Author

 Jaye McKenna icon

Jaye McKenna was born a Brit and was dragged, kicking and screaming, across the Pond at an age when such vehement protest was doomed to be misinterpreted as a “paddy”. She grew up near a sumac forest in Minnesota and spent most of her teen years torturing her parents with her electric guitar and her dark poetry. She was punk before it was cool and a grown-up long before she was ready. Jaye writes fantasy and science fiction stories about hot guys who have the hots for each other. She enjoys making them work darn hard for their happy endings, which might explain why she never gets invited to their parties.

You can contact Jaye McKenna at     Goodreads| Twitter| Website

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter prize of a copy of Burn the Sky (your choice of mobi, pdf, or epub).  Must be 18 years or age or older to enter.

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Haven’t  discovered Jaye McKenna’s stories yet?  Start with these….

Guardians of the Leythe Universe stories with links to BJ’s reviews:

Coffee Sip and Book Break with A.M. Arthur’s ‘The World As He Sees It’ (excerpt and giveaway

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The World As He Sees (Perspectives #2) by A.M. Arthur
Release Date: October 20, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover Artist: Lyn Taylor

Sales Links: Samhain Publishing | Amazon | ARe | B & N | Kobo | iTunes

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Blurb

Love knows no limits…but fear could keep them from seeing it.

Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.

Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.

Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.

A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.

Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…

 

Pages or Words: 283 pages, 83,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt


The late hour didn’t diminish the sweltering August heat, and Tristan worked up a good sweat walking. Shane and Noel both looked crazy sexy in their club clothes, and even sexier walking side by side. He was happy for Noel. Happy his best friend was in love and enjoying himself.

He was also stupidly, insanely jealous.

He stuck close with his stupid, insane jealousy because the streets were teeming with people of all ages, heading into and out of the different restaurants and clubs. They turned down a quieter side street that was more like an alley. Halfway down the block a few guys hung out against a stone wall, most of them smoking cigarettes. An industrial door with no sign or markings was being guarded by a big, burly bear of a man in a black leather vest.

“Hey, Officer Carlson,” the bouncer said. He had a deep voice to match his broad body. “Nice to see you again.”

“Hi, Mr. Henson,” Noel said.

“Bear, son. Everyone calls me Bear.”

“Right. This is my friend Tristan Lavelle.”

“A right pleasure.”

Tristan shook Bear’s hand, surprised by the gentle grip. “Hi.” He glanced at Shane, who didn’t seem at all annoyed at being left out. “Um, that’s Shane. Noel’s boyfriend.”

Bear grinned. “Yeah, I know that one all right.”

“You do?” He reached for a notebook he didn’t have, then looked at Noel for answers.

“Shane dances here once a week,” Noel said. “He got the job through Bear’s son Gabe.”

“Oh.” He didn’t bother asking if he’d already been told that. Probably. Every single piece of information that was mildly important to his life had been repeated to him at least, oh, eighteen times. Minimum.

“Enjoy yourselves, boys,” Bear said. “First drinks are on the house.”

“Thank you,” Tristan replied.

Noel pulled the door, and what had been a distant bass became an impressive thumpa-thumpa in Tristan’s chest. The interior of the club was wide and deep, with a high ceiling decorated in strands of red and blue lights. Strobes and other lighting flashed around the dance floor, which seemed to make up most of the floor space. A small U-shaped bar stood to the right. In the rear were what looked like raised platforms. Two hot guys in red short-shorts were gyrating together on one of them.

This is the kind of dancing Shane does? Shit.

He was probably twenty kinds of hot up there.

Someone jostled past them, reminding Tristan to keep moving forward. Noel was hustling them straight for the bar. Tristan couldn’t drink alcohol because of his antidepressants and anxiety medications, and Noel was driving so the only person able to drink much was Shane.

Lucky bastard.

Not that Tristan was going to mourn his dry night. Men. Everywhere around him, a sea of hot men. All kinds of eye candy. Every age, height, weight, shape and body hair amount. He observed and mentally drooled over the flesh on display. The air smelled of liquor and sweat and sex, and good Lord he was starting to get lightheaded from it all.

Noel nudged them closer to the bar. A middle-aged man with gray hair and a pink sequined vest gave them all a big, toothy smile. “Noel and friends,” he said. “Richard Brightman, pleased to officially meet you, Tristan.”

“Hello,” Tristan said. Officially meet you implied they’d interacted before, but the man’s name meant nothing to him.

“I’m Bear’s husband. We own the place.”

“Oh. It’s a great place. I’m pretty sure this is my first time. I like it.”

Noel flinched.

Okay that was wrong. When was I here before?

“So what are we drinking tonight?” Richard asked. “First round on the house. Samuel Adams for you, Shane?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Shane replied.

Richard knows because Shane works here.

“I’ll have a vodka tonic,” Noel said. “Tris?”

“Virgin margarita,” Tristan said. He loved margaritas, and while a virgin wasn’t as good as one with Patrón, he couldn’t mix with his meds.

“Coming up,” Richard said.

The music changed to a faster, sharper beat. Tristan’s hips rolled in tiny motions, instinct bringing out his love of club dancing. Of getting into it with another dude, all writhing bodies and gyrating hips. Arms and legs. Sweat and heavy breathing.

Wonderful arousal stirred in his gut, heating his blood already. He might not be getting laid tonight, but damn it, he was going to have some fun.

“Hey, you guys made it,” said a sexy, sultry voice.

Tristan glanced over his shoulder to see who the voice had spoken to, only to find himself staring into a pair of kind, dark eyes. Kind, dark eyes belonging to a stunningly handsome face. Black hair. Tan skin. Tall and well-built. A walking wet dream who was smiling like they were old friends.

Holy fucking hell, he’s gorgeous.

“Hey, Gabe,” Shane said.

Gabe.

Those kind, dark eyes never broke from his, and Tristan couldn’t look away. Gabe was a stranger, and yet somehow familiar.

His eyes. The eyes I see. We’ve met.

“We’ve met,” Tristan said before he could think twice.

Gabe’s eyebrows twitched. “Yes, we have. Do you remember that?”

“I remember your eyes.”

 

RC

About the Author

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Contact her at am_arthur@yahoo.com with your cooking tips (or book comments).

 

Where to find the author:

 

Giveaway

Final

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