A MelanieM Review: A Gentle Kind of Strength by Kendall McKenna

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Gentle Kind of StrengthA police K9 handler believes he’s lucky when a romance starts with the local veterinarian, but then his canine partner is injured in the line of duty.

Sergeant Ray Lerner is a veteran sheriff’s department K9 handler. Damien Federov is the veterinarian caring for Harley, Ray’s canine partner. When taking a man as a lover, Ray’s always been confident. Around Damien, Ray becomes uncharacteristically shy and tongue-tied. When Damien begins their romance, Ray knows he’s lucky.

His obsession with a past tragedy blinds Ray to everything he has with Damien. When Harley is injured on duty, his life is in Damien’s hands. As Ray sits vigil, he has one final chance to allow Damien in all the way, or risk losing everything important, in a single night.

In A Gentle Kind of Strength Kendall McKenna once again demonstrates her knowledge and ability to bring a former soldier realistically to life on a page. This time its not a alternate universe of werewolves and marines but Ray Lerner, a dog handler in the Army and now a K9 police handler in San Diego.  Although its not completely apparent here, if you have read her other series, The Tameness of the Wolf, her descriptions of battle and her understanding of the military on display in those stories give Ray Lerner a sense of depth and grit that comes through in the story.   Its in the ring of isolation Ray has created around himself, one that only his canine partner, Harley, is allowed inside of, and its apparent in Ray’s  obliviousness to the effect he has on those around him, a sort of closed off aloofness born of self protection.  While the reader doesn’t yet pinpoint the source, we know it has to do with his past and the emotional scars he still carries from his tour as a soldier.

Another beautiful element here?  Ray’s love of his job as a K-9 officer and his deep connection to his partner, Harley.  That relationship is so strong and powerful, even when seen through stories being told about previous missions, the bond and love between man and dog is beautiful and believable.  McKenna also has done her homework in the instructions and teamwork a K-9 officer and his partner are trained in and work through.  Its exactly right that Harley should be front and center on the cover of the story.  He shines here as a major moving character, one the reader commits to immediately and with love.

Damien Federov, Doctor D as his patients call him is also a believable character.  I found him realistic as a vet, loved the camaraderie with the other officers and kept waiting for the magic to happen between Ray and Damien, for this book to start to click, the only missing element for me here.

Unfortunately, that never happened, for me at least.  I never felt the spark between the characters, a spark I know McKenna can write.  There was a realistic friendship, an authentic professionalism to Damien’s efforts as a vet, and several scenes that were raw and painful, but romantic and loving?  Not really. And there are lots of sex scenes, still I just didn’t feel a “connection”  between them. I just felt that the most believable relationship here was the one between Ray and Harley, not the romantic one between  Ray and Damien.  But so many of the other elements are so strong, so moving that it almost made me want to overlook the rest.

But then again maybe its me and other readers will find Ray and Damien work just perfectly together.  For me I need that spark!  Read it and decide for yourself.

Cover art by Jared Rackler is perfection.  That is Harley in the middle.  I couldn’t ask for more.  Great job.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 182 pages
Published by MLR Press
ISBN139781608209958
other editions (1)
A Gentle Kind of Strength

An Ali Review: Owner of a Lonely Heart by Mel Bossa

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Owner of a Lonely Heart coverDeclan spends most of his life trying to forget his violent past, but now that his brother Valens is out of jail his efforts at a quiet existence are about to be turned upside down. On top of that, his best friend Rhys is leaving for Poland—right as Declan was ready to confess his feelings.

Overwhelmed, he turns to his friend Felix for support, only to find himself falling for Felix while still being in love with Rhys—who also happens to have feelings for Felix, leaving Declan with a present at least as complicated as his past, and a highly uncertain future.

There was a lot going on in this story. Too much in my opinion. Declan is the main focus of the book but his brother Valens, his best friend and love Rhys, and their friend Felix all have major parts. In addition they all have major issues going on in their lives. There is domestic violence, allegations of misconduct at work, babies and bad guys trying to catch up to them to name a few.

While I could have juggled those things in my mind what I struggled with was that all these things took the focus off of the relationships. Declan ends up in a polyamorous relationship with Rhys and Felix but I don’t really know how it happened. We don’t see any of their relationship talks on page and when you take such a serious topic I’m not going to buy it. There was literally almost no discussion about the complexities of the relationship. We never even know Felix and Rhys are friends or talk to each other and then all of a sudden they’re in love. I kept feeling like I had missed a scene and would find myself skipping back to see if I had. The techincal aspect of the writing was fine but the plot and the way it was told just really didn’t work for me at all.

Cover: I liked this cover a lot. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a primarily black and white cover before and I thought it was really eye catching.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 11th 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleOwner of a Lonely Heart
ISBN139781620046326
edition languageEnglish

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Author Discovery: Sammy on Author Sera Trevor

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Author Sera Trevor

INTRODUCTION:

I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of awesome authors. One of those authors who I ended up betaing for by chance this year is Sera Trevor.

Prior to betaing for her, I read her story, Consorting with Dragons, and found myself utterly charmed by her imagination. I’m not usually one for dragons and all that magical fun, but I don’t necessarily turn my head to it either. I decided to give it a shot when it was picked for me for a Gang Bang challenge, and I’m oh so happy that I did.

Consorting with Dragons is just the first book that gives us a look into the mind of Sera Trevor. Whether it’s contemporary or fantasy, she manages to create a world and atmosphere that captures readers from the start and makes letting go nearly impossible.

I had the pleasure of catching Sera for a brief interview to talk a bit about some of her past books, her process, and what we can hope to see from her in the future!

INTERVIEW:

Sam: Hey, Sera! Thank you for joining us on Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words for a mini-interview. Something I really like about your stories is how new they feel. Can you tell me a little about how a plot comes to fruition with your stories?

Sera: I start with a general premise and a vague notion of where I would like to go with a story, then create my cast of characters. After that, I write out in summary the plot of my story, chapter by chapter. When I have the frame of the story gingerly propped up, I set my characters loose and watch them knock it over while laughing at me. So I prop it back up, make some repairs, then set them loose again. Repeat until the story doesn’t fall down.

Sam: Sounds like a good plan to me, but I’m curious, how did you get the idea for The Troll Whisperer? Oscar is different from any character I’ve read and the plot line is quite original. It made me wonder if maybe you know an Oscar in real life, haha.

Sera: Fortunately not! (Or maybe unfortunately, depending on how you look at it. The guy does have his good points, as Noah would undoubtedly point out. However, Noah has a lot more patience than I do.) One of the reasons I love writing is that it gives me the opportunity to really explore different human experiences, and I like the challenge of working with difficult characters especially. I feel like taking on characters like Oscar is an exercise in compassion – to put yourself in the shoes of someone behaving badly and try to get where they are coming from.

Sam: Ah, that’s actually a really good point. I definitely felt that I grew to understand Oscar more as I read on. I imagine other readers feel the same. That was your first time really venturing into publishing contemporary, right? Can we expect any more of that genre from you?

Sera: Quite possibly! I’m more of a genre girl, but I had so much fun with The Troll Whisperer that I would definitely do contemporary again if the right plot snags me.

Sam: Very cool. So what do we have to have to look forward to from you in the future?

Sera: Right now, I’m working on the long-awaited expansion to Consorting with Dragons, as well as the sequel, Lances and Lovers. L&L will give Larely the guard his own love story when he rushes to the aide of yet another handsome young lord in distress, although said young lord is rather bad at accepting help, has a nasty temper, and has an equally wild dragon companion who threatens to wreak havoc on the populace. Larely’s got his work cut out for him, is all I’m saying. Risyda and Polina will be making an appearance as well. Plus, there will be baby dragons!

Sam: Great. I’m really excited to get my hands on it! I’ll make sure to keep my eyes on the lookout. How can readers keep up on any updates or news?

Sera: You can sign up for my newsletter at http://www.seratrevor.com/newsletter to get notified of new releases, plus you’ll get access to bonus content and sneak peeks of my works in progress.

Sam: Awesome. I know I’ve signed up for it already. Full of fun perks. And where can readers get their hands on your books?

Sera: You can pick up my books at AmazonSmashwords, and All Romance eBooks.

Sam: Anyway, thank you for your time. I certainly look forward to seeing more of your stories.

Sera: Thank you for having me! It’s been a lot of fun!

BIOGRAPHY:

Sera Trevor has been a fan of gay romance from probably too early an age. (You know those buttons on certain websites that you have to click to verify you’re over eighteen? She would totally click them before she was eighteen. Please don’t tell her parents.) She is too disorganized to decide on a subgenre, although her imagination has a decidedly fantastical bent to it.

She lives in California with her laptop, Kindle, and several hundred books. Also, she has some kids and a husband.

The Pink Wedding coverthe Troll Whisperer coverA shadow on the Sun coverConsorting with Dragons cover

BOOKS:

 

Author Contacts:

 

 

Consorting with Dragons is available at the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s webpage here, but will not be available at major retailers until the expansion is complete.

Coffee Sip and Book Break with Jessie G. ‘Strength in Numbers’ (mini interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Safety In Numbers ( Sizzling Miami #5) by Jessie G.
Release Date: October 31, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Jessie G. Books
Cover Artist: Andrew Reyna

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Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Jessie G author of Safety in Numbers, book five in the Sizzling Miami series. Hi Jessie, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Someone asks you for advice about writing. What do you tell them?

I try not to give advice because writing is a very individual and solitary pursuit. That said, there is a few things I’ve learned along the way that I can share. First and foremost, writing classes are good for general purposes but if you try to write to some formula or strict rules, the story won’t flow. What you absolutely need to know is who, where and why—after that, let the first draft write itself. Let it go off on tangents, let it birth new characters you never intended, and stop trying to wrangle it into some stiff, bullet pointed list of events.

Once you have a first draft, read it and then reread it. In your head, aloud, print it out and mark it up, work and tweak it until you’ve refined it. It may be close to the plotted outline you worked up, if you’re that type of writer, but odds are you’ll find surprises—good surprises—that were lurking in that creative brain of yours that you hadn’t planned for. After you have a solid second draft, read it and then reread it. Print it out and mark it up. Rinse and repeat until you fall in love, and only then do you have a piece that’s ready for someone else’s eyes.

For me, that’s my editor. She gets my first final draft and only after we’ve gone through a full round of edits do I give my WIP to my beta readers. Then I walk away from it until I have the second round of edits back along with all the beta feedback. Once I’ve applied what I agree with, I consider the book done. Sure, I could go around and around and around, and if there was something major my editor had issues with, we’d work that out accordingly. But usually by this point, I’ve reworked my story about ten times. Several on my own, two or three with the editor and betas, and it runs the risk of becoming overworked.

In that window that I’ve walked away, I think about the next book on my timeline. It helps me avoid overworking by focusing my creative mind on the next characters.

Still, like I said before, writing is a very individual and solitary pursuit. You have to find your process. The only thing I’m a hundred percent sure of is that trying to stick to everything I learned in all those creative writing classes stunted my creativity. Now I let it flow, I tweak, and I have an editor and betas who keep me from straying too far outside the lines.

Thank you so much for hosting Safety in Numbers today. Good luck to all who enter the rafflecopter and if anyone has any questions, I’ll be stopping by to answer. – Jessie

Blurb

“Bros stick together no matter what.”

When Chris and Liam made that promise, they had no idea how important it would become or how it would be tested in the most brutal way. Nine years later, their bond cemented in blood, that relationship is all they have to hold on to.

“No matter what happens, this friendship will be the one constant we can count on.”

When Billy and Owen made that promise, they knew exactly how dangerous the world could be. They survived prison by protecting each other and they survived freedom by holding that promise sacred. Now they want more than just to survive and they want it from the brothers whose bond is as strong as their own.

“We are stronger together than we’ll ever be apart.”

When Owen reaches his breaking point, Chris jumps at the chance to make things right for all of them. With the future in their grasp, will they realize their strength is in their numbers and finally become the family they crave?

Author’s Note: This is NOT a foursome, but the story of two couples that needed to be told together.

Excerpt

That silence hid a lot from their friends, but Liam knew Chris was plagued with memories far worse than his. That’s why they decided not to celebrate alone this year. Billy and Owen were expected any minute and it was the first time they invited anyone to join them. The anniversary was bittersweet for them and they chose to celebrate it because becoming brothers meant that much to them. “Do you think they’ll find it stupid?”

Chris just shrugged as if it was no skin off his back what they thought and Liam knew that was just bravado. Fact was, they both very much cared what the two men thought. “Liar.”

His brother sighed and dropped his head back. As if shit wasn’t fucked up enough, they fell for two bastards just as fucked up as they were. “I know you’re worried about Owen. The business with Colin is growing out of their control and I’m not sure why he thinks it’s a good thing. Is he trying to prove something? And the middle of the night phone calls from the FTR? He’s looking more and more fragile every day.”

Liam knew he wasn’t stating anything new. What he didn’t know was what Chris intended to do about it. Lately, when it came to Owen, Chris conveyed zero intent and seemed to be waiting for Owen to read him as effortlessly as Liam did. Their brother bond had been forged through blood and he was afraid Chris’s expectations of Owen were unreasonable. “Do you see his face every time he thinks he’s failed to understand you? The weight of it is crushing.”

Instead of regret, all Liam saw was anger in Chris. It wasn’t a common emotion for Chris and Liam could name every time he saw it. The fact that Chris knew what he was capable of if provoked had made him extremely conscious of that emotion and he often went to great lengths to contain it.

Owen was the very definition of insecure. Just the type to inspire Chris’s protective instincts, which Liam knew for a fact Owen did. Hell, he inspired Liam’s protective instincts. Owen was stubborn though and he often distanced himself, keeping things bottled up until they manifested elsewhere. Like in panic attacks that felt like heart attacks, which he also tried to hide. Liam nearly lost it when they found out that Billy was keeping Owen’s secret.

Chris nodded slowly, as if he completely followed Liam’s train of thought and waited for him to connect the dots. And just like that, Liam understood. “You’re pissed because he doesn’t come to you when the panic sets in. That he hides it from you and they hide it from us.”

It made total sense, but he had to wonder if they were expecting too much. After all, they couldn’t call what was going on with either man a relationship. No, they were four fucked up bastards trying to come together in some romanticwhat? Not a foursome, eww…he loved Chris, but yeah, that just wasn’t happening. And Owen wasn’t his type any more than Billy was Chris’s type. But—always with the fucking buts, right?—what was happening was very definitely happening to the four of them, and Liam now had to wonder if that was the problem, because trying to come together was definitely not the same as being together.

Chris shook his head and shifted in his seat. No, he was right. It wasn’t just their brother bond that made it impossible to move forward as two separate couples. Billy and Owen had formed their own unique friendship in prison and were no more likely to move forward without the other one either. “Just once, couldn’t we have done something the easy way?”

The fire door banged open and Liam turned to see Billy and Owen, arms full of brightly wrapped packages, struggling to pull a huge cluster of balloons through the door. It was a shocking contrast to their dark thoughts and so uncharacteristically sweet of both men. Billy caught their surprised stare and yelled, “Is this where the party’s at?”

“It is now.” It might seem silly, but it was exactly what they needed and exactly who they needed it from. Maybe they hadn’t been expecting too much at all. Liam rose to give them a hand and glanced down to see the look of longing in Chris’s eyes and thought maybe it was time they all expected more.

Pages or Words: 76,000 words
Categories: Gay fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Buy the book:

Amazon | All Romance eBooks |  Barnes & Noble |  iTunes |  Kobo

 

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Meet the Author

Like many readers, the dream of being a writer has been with me a long time. After three decades of trying, I’d begun to doubt. Thanks to social media, I followed my favorite authors hoping to glean some words of wisdom as I pounded out half-formed ideas with alarming regularity. Two repetitive themes emerged: to be a great writer you must read a lot and your butt must be in the chair every day like it’s a job. The more you write, the easier it will be to write and the better you will be at writing. I took that advice to heart and write every day. With six published books to date, three series in the works and a full schedule of releases planned for the next two years, it’s been amazing to have made this dream my reality.

I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics and happily ever after. I’m a lover of strong secondary characters and series filled with families, biological or chosen. All are themes you’ll find throughout my books.

Where to find the author:

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Tour Dates & Stops:

9-Nov: KathyMac Reviews, Nephy Hart, Foxylutely Book Reviews

10-Nov: Unquietly Me, Prism Book Alliance, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

11-Nov: Bayou Book Junkie, Books A to Z

12-Nov: The Novel Approach

13-Nov: V’s Reads

16-Nov: 3 Chicks After Dark, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews

17-Nov: Parker Williams, Jill P Rand, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy

18-Nov: Joyfully Jay

19-Nov: Multitasking Mommas, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

20-Nov: Carly’s Book Reviews

23-Nov: Loving Without Limits, Molly Lolly

24-Nov: Love Bytes, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My

25-Nov: Amanda C. Stone, BFD Book Blog

26-Nov: MM Good Book Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon

27-Nov: Gay Media Reviews, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

30-Nov: Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads

1-Dec: Cathy Brockman Romances, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

2-Dec: Velvet Panic, MM Good Book Reviews

3-Dec: Sassygirl Books, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

4-Dec: My Fiction Nook

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: 2-$25 ebook GC (Amazon, B&N, ARE, or KOBO) winner’s choice, as well as 2 signed paperbacks of Safety in Numbers.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Getting Into the Season with Jay Northcote’s ‘What Happens At Christmas’ book blast and contest

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What Happens At Christmas by Jay Northcote
Release Date: November 19, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Jaybird Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

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Blurb

When two friends pose as boyfriends, could what happens at Christmas turn into something more?

Justin is recently and unhappily single. Christmas is coming, and he doesn’t want to face his ex alone at their office party. So Sean—Justin’s best mate and long-time secret crush—volunteers to go with him and pretend to be his new flame.

Sean has always lusted after Justin from afar, but there’s never been a good opportunity to ask him for more than friendship. Posing as Justin’s boyfriend isn’t a chore, and if Justin wants to rebound onto him, Sean’s more than willing. At the party pretence and reality blur, and a kiss on the dance floor leads to a night of passion.

In the aftermath, they both assume it was a one-time thing until fate intervenes. Stuck together in London over the holidays, they give in to temptation again. But what happens at Christmas stays at Christmas… right?

Excerpt

Justin’s phone chimed with a text, interrupting Sean’s train of thought.

Justin picked up his phone to read the message. “Ugh.” He put the phone back down without typing a reply and ran his hands through his hair.

“What’s up?”

Justin sighed. “It’s our work Christmas party next weekend. I’ve already got a ticket, and nearly everyone in the office goes, but it’s for partners as well. One of my co-workers, Jess, is bugging me to come, but I can’t face it. I bet Andy’s going to bring his new boyfriend. I know he’s a shit and I shouldn’t let him get to me, but the thought of him parading around with my replacement, and me being there on my own, isn’t very appealing.”

“Is it too late to find someone to take?”

“No, they don’t need final numbers till Monday.”

“Well, then. Take someone else and flirt like crazy in front of him. Show him you can do better and that you’ve already moved on.”

“But I’m not ready to date. It’s only been two weeks, and I’m still at the feeling-sorry-for-myself stage.”

“I’ll go with you,” Sean offered. “I could be your date. We could pretend we’ve got together and are a couple now.”

“Yeah?” Justin looked thoughtful. “Are you sure?”

Duh. It would hardly be much of a sacrifice to flirt with Justin all night. It would actually be a relief not to have to hide the way he felt for a change.

“Sure,” Sean replied. “I think I can manage to fake that I’m arse-over-tit infatuated with you. As long as it’s only for a few hours.”

“Gee, thanks.” Justin rolled his eyes. “You really know how to make an already-wounded ego feel better. But if you’re up for it, we should totally do it. Andy was always jealous of you before you went away. He saw you as competition because we lived together and were so close. I’d love to see his face when I walk in with you on my arm. I think he’ll hate it even if he’s moved on.”

“Okay.” Sean rubbed his hands together, excited at the prospect of getting to piss off Andy. “Let’s do it! Text your friend Jess back and tell her you’re in—with a hot date.”

Pages or Words: 37,000 words (approximate)
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Buy the book: Amazon

 

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Meet the Author

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.

She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

Where to find the author:

 

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, The Day Before You Came, MM Good Book Reviews, SA McAuley, Jessie G. Books, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Bonkers About Books, Bike Book Reviews, Gay Book Reviews, Havan Fellows, Tara Lain, Lee Brazil, Elaine White, BFD Book Blog, V’s Reads, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Unquietly Me, The Hat Party, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, Carly’s Book Reviews, Open Skye Book Reviews, Just Love Romance, Divine Magazine, Mikky’s World of Books, Happily Ever Chapter, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Nautical Star Books, The Jena Wade, Alpha Book Club, Louise Lyons, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Molly Lolly, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Velvet Panic, Dawn’s Reading Nook, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, 3 Chicks After Dark, Michael Mandrake, It’s Raining Men, Moonbeams Over Atlanta

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Backlist e-copy and a $10 gift card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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