A Stella Review: A Man of Unusual Talent by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Man of Unusual Talent_1400Collin Crane is a man of unusual talent. Really unusual. Too weird for the Guinness Book unusual. On the fifty-year plan to a doctoral degree in physics, and a quiet quest to understand his own oddities, Collin clings to obscurity. This superhero has learned the hard way that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Enter Mathias Giraud, football hero, local cop, and CC’s secret fantasy since high school. Mat’s a simple man with a hero complex fostered by comic books and Marvel movies. Saving the world is his fantasy, but since his roots are firmly planted in Morrisonville and reality, he’ll settle for protecting and serving. Until he clashes with CC at the local convenience store and is reminded of his own high school crush.

When marshmallows are involved, the course of true love is bound to get sticky

I haven’t read a lot by Lee Brazil (surprisingly) but A Man of Unusual Talent soon took my attention, from the start it was impossible to put down. Funny, engaging and with a story to follow, it was just the right book I needed to read. Sweet, cute and quick, with not a lot drama at all. One of that books I like to have by my side when I just want to relax a little. And the writing with my favourite double point of view was really good and smart.

After having spent years trying to control his talent, CC having achieved nothing, he’s still trying to solve the mystery his that talent is, still taking shower after shower to take away the delicious (not to him) smell of marshmallows, still crushing on Mat, the handsome cop of their conservative town with the hero complex. But CC doesn’t know Mat is attracted to him too, wanting to cherish him and his vulnerability. Who’s the hero and what are their superpowers?

The title says it all, CC has a really unique talent, I still can’t believe Lee, or better the girl who came up with the prompt, could think of something so unbelievably cute. As soon as I realized it, I was laughing my head off. I hit it off with all the characters from the first lines till the last ones(my favorite: CC whispered, “What is your superpower?” “Love.”). It was a lovely surprise to me.

I’d like to recommend this short story to anyone who is looking for a break with something unusual, funny and well written .

A Man of Unusual Talent is part of the Story Orgy Collection: Superhero. Four authors, Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, Em Woods and Hank Edwards will show us some new heros to love. Stay tuned in the next days for my review of Flyboy’s  First Misadventure by Havan Fellows.

Cover art by Startled Monkeys Media. The cover caught my attention first, it’s colorful and funny. I soon liked it and wanted to know more about the story. Well done.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Kindle Edition, 96 pages
Published October 12th 2015 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781311891150

A BJ Audiobook Review: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper; Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★audiobook clipart bw

Into Deep Waters Audiobook CoverFor Jacob and Daniel, two young gay men aboard a US Navy ship in WWII, the risks are high. Not only the risks of injury and death from Japanese planes and submarines, but the risk of discovery. Only a special kind of love is worth taking that chance. But from the moment Daniel meets Jacob’s eyes across a battle-scarred deck, he knows he has to try.

Being together requires figuring out what it means to be gay in an era when they could be discharged, imprisoned, or worse for admitting the desires of their hearts. Their relationship is measured in stolen moments and rare days of precious leave, with no guarantee there will be a tomorrow. And, if they survive the war, they will need even more luck to keep their love alive through the years to come.

This story was originally written from a prompt and photo submitted as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Love is Always Write event in 2012.

This book blew me away. It’s an touchingly beautiful story of an enduring love that spans over a period of sixty years. While it begins and largely takes place during WWII, the last third of the book carries us through the rest of out heroes lives, touching briefly on important events like Stonewall, but mostly letting us watch as these men deal with things like post-war trauma, family acceptance, workplace concerns, coming out, births, adopting a cat, and all the small and large changes that personal and physical relationships goes through as we age. An amazingly real, believable, and relatable story. Bravo.

The book itself was a wonderful free gift from a talented writer, but I’m very glad she decided to take it a step further and put it into audio. I’d been meaning to read it for a while but hadn’t gotten to it. Since I listen to audio every day while driving and hiking with the dogs, I snapped it up right away when the audio came out. For those who enjoy listening to audio, don’t hesitate on this one. It’s one of the most worthwhile audible credits I’ve used lately.

Kaleo Griffith did an excellent job with the narration, most notably in bringing to life the emotion that this story so richly deserved. While the two men’s voices are not as vastly different as on some audios, I enjoyed the Jersey accent he used for Jacob very much. It fit and wasn’t at all overdone. And he did an outstanding job of aging the voices as the main characters matured and grew old.

Some of the scenes in this book are still stuck in my mind’s eyes weeks after reading, especially the scene in the ocean after the USS Gageway sinks. The author’s use of description read so incredibly vivid, I’d say it was like watching a movie except it really was more because not only did we see and hear, but I could taste and feel as well. Rarely have I felt so immersed in a scene whether in print or on the big screen.

Despite being set in wartime and feeling realistic, the author didn’t go overboard on angst, nor did she hype up the gore for the shock or thrill factor. Overall this was a heartwarming tale that spoke to me of destiny, of finding that one person and going through all the good and bad times, of nearing the end and looking back with joy on a life well-lived. And well-loved. This story is a gem, a treasure. You owe it to yourself to read it.

Sales Links:   Audible

eBook Details: 172 pages

Published May 8th 2012 by M/M Romance Group

Into Deep Water Series – Goodreads link M/M Romance Group

Audiobook Details: Unabridged, 7 hrs and 29 mins
Published October 19th 2015 by Kaje Harper

The author, Kaje Harper, generously agreed to answer a few questions which I was curious about, and which I hope you will find interesting as well.

BJ: What motivated you to bring one of your books into audio? Why did you choose Into Deep Waters?

KH:I’ve heard readers talking about how much they enjoy M/M in audio format. They apparently listen to audiobooks during work commutes (although the thought of hitting an angsty Amy Lane scene while cruising the freeway or on a public bus gives me a little pause. Maybe I’d stick to Eli Easton for those.) I can really see the appeal of audio while exercising or doing chores, or to rest your eyes after a day staring at a computer screen. But my pro publishers aren’t offering my books that way yet.

So I thought, why not try it with one of my self-pubs? It was hard to decide which one. Many of them are free novels, and I wasn’t sure if people would pay for an audio version of a freebie. Then… should I start with a favorite, or learn the process and make any initial mistakes on a book I didn’t care as much about?

In the end I picked my favorite of my own stories – “Into Deep Waters.” It’s a short novel, it has good reviews, there’s emotion that a skilled narrator could bring to the surface. And if I only do one, if the logistics aren’t there for another, then this book is the one I wanted to have in audio. This book, which is my tribute to the LGBTQ Americans who lived and loved through the decades past, and helped shape the acceptance that is building now in my children’s time.

BJ: How do you feel about the final audio? What was your own reaction upon listening to it?

KH: I love the final result. It was hard choosing a narrator. I had excellent auditions from some wonderful narrators, including guys who have a great following among M/M listeners already. But when my friend and producer, Jonathan Penn, and I heard Kaleo Griffith read the audition script, we agreed that he took the emotional passages of the story to a new level.

It’s funny – I don’t usually get caught up in the emotion of my own stories as I write them; I’m more on the outside, finding the words for the feelings. And definitely with a story I’ve edited a dozen times, I don’t expect much impact. But when I listened to “Into Deep Waters,” interpreted and intensified by Kaleo’s performance, I actually laughed and got choked up. At my own words! It was as if his reading made them fresh again for me. I hope others have the same response to it.

BJ: Do you plan to bring more of your stories into the audio?

KH:I hope so. It was fun to hear my words given new life. It depends on how this book sells, though. There was a fair bit of up-front investment, in time and money, to get a great narrator and produce the book. With luck, if it appeals to readers, then I’d love to do others. Some of my best-known books, like “Life Lessons”, are contracted to the publisher, but I have several novels that could be taken to audio as a self-pub release, if it seems like the demand is there.

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Oracle / Book of Secrets – The Complete Collection (Oracle #1-2) by RJ Scott

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Oracle The Complete Collection gives readers an opportunity to own both books at a reduced price.

Oracle Collection coverBook 1 – Oracle

Love, adventure, an empath & an ancient relic that could destroy the world.

Alex Sheridan is a thief, able to steal even the hardest to reach antiquities. Luke MacKinnon is a professor of ancient languages.
When they come together to locate the Oracle, it is because both men have targets on their backs. Can love blossom when each day could be their last? And, how can they survive the evil that wants the Oracle?

Book 2 – Book of Secrets

Kidnapping, adventure, drama and the fight for eternal life.

Alex is making good on his promise to put things right; retrieving items he had stolen, and returning them to their rightful owners. It’s dangerous work, especially since he lost his most useful Oracle-given powers.

When Luke is kidnapped by a man intent on finding the secrets to eternal life, Alex has to make a bargain with the devil and break steal an item from the private library at Windsor Castle. Will Alex be too late to save the man he loves?

This book is actually two books in one: Oracle and its sequel, Book of Secrets. It’s a sweeping fantasy-paranormal-contemporary saga in which one man, Alex Sheridan, meets his soulmate, Luke MacKinnon, and together they learn that Alex is the infamous Oracle of Greek legend.

As the story opens, we meet Alex who, together with his partner Edward de Chauncey, is about to steal a priceless artifact from the British Museum. Alex and Edward own an antiquities business which specializes in placing hard-to-get items. It just so happens that Alex can get them because he has a gift which allows him to sidestep into another dimension, making him invisible to those here in the real world. Shortly after the theft, Edward is killed by a gunshot as armed men try to force their car off the road, and Alex is left alone with only Edward’s last words imploring him to go to Greece, echoing in his mind.

There he meets up with an old friend, Thanos, who alerts him to his true nature and the possibility that he is the Oracle come to life. Thanos has been holding his secret all his life, a secret passed down through generations of his family, only to be revealed when the Oracle is found. They realize that they need someone to translate the etchings and markings which cover Alex’s body—etchings which were carved into his skin when he was a child and are covered with the tattoos Alex felt he needed to hide them. Intuitively, he knows that he needs to connect with Luke MacKinnon, well-known professor and scholar and authority on ancient languages, a man he met briefly that night at the British Museum. Luke is well-known for his translations of ancient Greek, and since Alex has no memory of the first eight years of his life before Thanos found him lying on the beach half-dead, he hopes the markings on his body will give some answers.

At the time he was found, the atrocities committed on him were evident, but the boy had no memory of how they got there, so Thanos arranged for him to be adopted by friends from California, seeking to move Alex far away from any danger. Now, as an adult, Alex has come full circle back to Thanos in the hopes of solving the mystery of his scars and how that mystery connects to Edward’s murder.

What Alex and Luke uncover is a bizarre story of the second coming of the Oracle, and they also discover that the initials carved into Alek’s thigh so long ago actually spell out Luke’s name. It’s very evident that the two are destined to be together, soulmates apparently bonded centuries ago and destined to work together to carry out the prophecy of the Oracle made by the gods on Olympus.

Poor Luke is kidnapped twice in the story: once by the US Army and the next by a Serbian ex-Mafia chieftan. Everyone wants to get their hands on the Oracle for the power and the mystery as well as the possibility of eternal life and everyone seems to know that Luke is the best person to force into translating the ancient language. One of the best things to come out of Luke’s first kidnapping is his friendship with his rescuer, Chris Samuels, and Chris’s eventual romance with Griff Morgan. The two were a secondary MM couple in the story, becoming close friends of Luke and Alex and playing a prominent role in the Book of Secrets.

The first story focusing on the power of the Oracle and Alex’s abilities is very lengthy with a complex and convoluted plotline which I found a bit difficult to follow at times, however it ended dramatically in a very satisfying nail-biting adventure. It was starting to look like the fated lovers were going to become ill-fated lovers, but the surprise ending allowed for the possibility of a HFN or HEA.

In the second half of this story, originally Book of Secrets, Alex is on a quest to return all of the priceless items he and Edward had stolen. Griff and Chris, their good friends and housemates, play a pivotal role, helping to resolve Luke’s eventual kidnapping and working through possible solutions to the mystery Luke is kidnapped to translate. Alex’s powers and ability to shift into an invisible half-space are no longer with him at the beginning of the story, however one night when his back is to the wall and he’s about to be caught, he discovers remnants of his original gifts. His ability to fade and some of the “blue light” power he previously had seem to be returning, enough so he’s able to escape from a situation set up by an old nemesis, and he can make his way back home.

When Alex is then blackmailed by that nemesis to lift a document from the Queen’s chambers in Windsor Castle, he discovers that Luke has been kidnapped and it turns out that he’s being held to translate the very volume Alex lifted. It’s a document apparently originally penned by DaVinci that appears to be the key to the code for the Voynich Manuscript that has the reputation of holding the secrets to eternal life. Complex? Yes. If you put this down and walk away for a day, you will be lost. This is a story that needs to be the reader’s primary focus until complete. It’s quite creative and ingenious, entertaining, romantic, and wildly improbable. That’s pretty much why I described it as a fantasy-paranormal-contemporary story. It’s just too difficult to separate all the components and decide what to call it.

If you like epic adventures, you should like this one. It reminds this reviewer somewhat of Indiana Jones meets the Ten Commandments. There’s some reality woven in among the fantasy, and it’s set in a contemporary time period, but it’s got the gods, the sorcery, the mystery, and the romance to make it a story you won’t want to put down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cover Art by Meredith Russell features a split cover done in shades of browns and golds with Alex’s face in the forefront of a scene reminiscent of an ancient temple in the upper pane and with Luke’s face in the forefront of a scene of filled bookshelves in the lower pane, thereby representing both stories in the book.

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

Book Details:

Goodreads Link

ebook
Published September 16th 2015 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781785640254
series Oracle #1-2

Coffee Sip and Book Break with Elle E. Ire ‘Vicious Circle’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Name: Vicious Circle (Guardian Assassin #1) by Elle E. Ire
Release Date: November 4, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Torquere Press

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Blurb

Assassin meets innocent. When sweet and attractive Kila asks Cor to eliminate her abusive brother, Cor is more than willing to take the contract, but things aren’t what they seem, and for Cor, her trust and love aren’t easy to give.

 

Excerpt

Kila might not pose a threat, but she was not what she appeared to be.

She pulled the covers from me and examined the wound on my arm. It showed no signs of infection. She’d done a good job, a better job than a barmaid should have.

My eyelids grew heavier. The room became dim, and I blinked to clear my vision. “You’ve had medical training.”

“You could say that.” She wrapped the blankets around me and tucked them in like a mother for her child. Something about her made me feel warm and safe. I fought to shake it off.

“What else could I say? Who are you?” I demanded.

She smiled cryptically. “I’m the least important member of my family. Not like you.”

I scowled at her. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” My voice rose and fell in my ears, echoing in a disconcerting manner.

She turned away from me, instead facing my table, the bag, the book. “You are

Corianne Sandros, the Core of Sardonen. And I want to hire you to kill my brother.”

Pages or Words: 92,800 words
Categories: Lesbian Romance, Science Fiction

Buy the book:  Torquere Books

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Meet the Author

Elle E. Ire resides in the Disney-created town of Celebration, Florida, with her spouse, twin daughters, and two dogs. A graduate of the University of Miami, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in creative writing but left the MFA program when they refused to allow her to write genre fiction, instead receiving a Master’s in Literature mostly made up of writing courses. Currently, she teaches writing to seventh and eighth graders. She and her spouse run several writing groups, as well as present at many local and statewide conferences.

Where to find the author:

 

 


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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Vicious Circle.  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 Serial Stories and Romance? Check Out Will & Patrick Meet the Family (Wake Up Married, Episode 2) by Leta Blake & Alice Griffiths (excerpt and giveaway)

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Will & Patrick Meet the Family (Wake Up Married, Episode 2)
by Leta Blake & Alice Griffiths

Publisher:  Leta Blake Books
Release Date: November 10, 2015

Book/Buy Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Blurb

Follow Will & Patrick as they cope with the fallout from their Vegas wedding in this second installment of the romantic-comedy serial, Wake Up Married, by best-selling author Leta Blake and newcomer Alice Griffiths!

Meeting the family is challenging for every new couple. But for Will and Patrick, the awkward family moments only grow more hilarious—and painful—when they must hide the truth of their predicament from the people they care about most.

Throw in the sexual tension flaring between them, uncomfortable run ins with Will’s all-too-recent ex-boyfriend, an overprotective mobster father, and a mafia spy tailing them around Healing, South Dakota, and you’ve got a recipe for madcap laughs and surprisingly heartwarming feels.

Episode 2 of 6 in the Wake Up Married serial.
Will & Patrick Wake Up Married (Wake Up Married, #1)

Excerpt

Keying open the door to their hotel room, Will tries to fake some cheer. “Honey, I’m home! And I brought dinner!” He stops and grips the bags more firmly as his cock rushes with a sudden influx of blood.

“Just put it over there.” Patrick’s ass is in the air, his hands flat on the floor, and he’s wearing nothing but his black boxer-brief underwear. “I’ll eat it when I’m done.”

Will stares as Patrick swivels, his body moving fluidly and his legs flexing in strong, limber movements.

“What are you doing?”

“This is downward dog. And this—” Patrick moves down with careful, slow strength. “Is plank position.” The muscles in his arms, back, and thighs are like bundles of wires, and Will’s mouth goes dry, remembering clearly how they felt under his hands.

“Looks hard.”

Patrick doesn’t answer. Will turns to put the food on the table, because if he keeps watching, something else is going to be hard too.

He clears his throat, glancing over his shoulder at the flexing muscles in Patrick’s back. “When we met, I wouldn’t have pegged you as a yoga kind of guy.”

Patrick grunts. He’s in a position now that Will can’t even imagine twisting himself into.

“I mean, you don’t seem like an ‘om’ type.”

“Yoga, and meditation for that matter, are legitimate, effective, and scientifically proven means to an end: physical health and reduction of mental stress. In other words, it helps keep me sane.” Patrick moves into an upright position, sweeps his arms over his head, and brings them back to a prayerful place at his chest. “Sanity is something you could stand to try. And none of that spiritual mumbo jumbo has anything to do with it.”

“So says the guy who believes in astrology.”

“Sure, be a Libra about it.”

Will feels heat in his cheeks. “The yoga doesn’t seem to hurt as far as keeping the rest of you in shape either.”

Patrick’s lips turn up into a smirk.

Will clears his throat, turning to the bags of food. He keeps his back to Patrick as he unpacks the takeout packages onto the small dining table. “So, do you want the gyros or the mac ‘n’ joes, because I can go either way.”

Patrick’s breath is tingly in Will’s ear and his body heat warm along Will’s back. “I go both ways too. It’s your call.” He reaches around and plucks up one of the Styrofoam boxes without looking inside.

Will swallows and gestures at the box still on the table. “This will be fine.”

He doesn’t know for sure which it is, but it will be fine, so long as his dick stops acting like a traitor and his mind stops supplying him with images of Patrick bent over, taking Will’s fingers into his tight, hot—God!

He shakes himself.

“Mmm, gyros,” Patrick murmurs from his perch on the bed. “So good.”

Will’s eyes flutter closed as he sits at the table and spreads a napkin over his crotch. No matter how good Patrick looks almost naked, they aren’t doing that again. It would be wrong. Because Will loves Ryan.

Who are you trying to convince?

He sighs and begins to eat. Mac ‘n’ joe is always tasty. Though at the moment it seems hard to choke down.

Genre:  Romantic Comedy M/M Romance
Tags:  gay, woke up married, tropes, rom-com, mafia, forced marriage, disabled heroes

Length: 32,000 words

About the Authorsimage

Leta Blake

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more about her by following her online:

Alice Griffiths

A long-time reader of romance novels, Alice Griffiths finally took the plunge into writing, teaming up with best-selling author Leta Blake for the ‘Woke up Married’ serialized comedy. A lover of tropes, Alice enjoys mining old ideas and putting a fresh, funny spin on them. Formerly working in the newspaper industry, Alice is now an art curator. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

You can find out more about her by following her online:

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Giveaway

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Rafflecopter link and prizes  provided by the authors and Indigo Marketing. Enter to win 2 copies of Will & Patrick Meet the Family (Wake Up Married, Episode 2)

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