A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Helping Hand by Jay Northcote ~ Narrated by Mark Steadman

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Helping Hand audiobookAbout a year ago, I had the pleasure of reading this story by Jay Northcote. I enjoyed it, primarily because it was about two guys, Jez and Mac, who discover that their friendship with benefits could grow to be so much more.

It starts out as Jez giving Mac a helping hand one night after spending quite a few weekends in a row studying. Both second year university students, and young men with active libidos, they decide to watch porn one night after finishing their studies. One thing leads to another, and Jez, who spends more time looking at Mac’s package than at the movie, decides to offer a hand job.

Both are amazed at how good it feels, so Jez takes the next available opportunity to offer to give Mac a blowjob. Mac doesn’t resist, and the guys move to a new stage in their relationship. Further stages occur as they discover mutual hand jobs, kissing, frottage, and finally full penetration. Jez realizes, however, that it’s not casual for him anymore. He’s in way over his head because his feelings are involved, and he’s unsure of Mac because he has always claimed he’s not gay. And that’s exactly when they are discovered, and everything begins to fall apart.

Jez doesn’t want to be Mac’s “dirty little secret” for life, but can’t find a way to tell him that. What happens makes the conclusion of this story not only interesting, but heartwarming as well.

What I loved most about the audiobook version is the narrator. Mark Steadman gave the story the British authenticity it was missing when I was just reading the e-book. His accent and his ability to provide variety in the main and secondary characters’ voices made it perfect. Add to that, the story had just the right amount of sweetness and angst, stirred together with some great, hot and sexy scenes.

I recommend the audiobook version if you’re thinking of picking this one up. It’s terrific!

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Cover art by Garrett Leigh is a black-and-white photo showing the bare upper torso of a reclining, dark-haired man with the right amount of five o’clock shadow and looking ready for anything or anyone who comes along.

Sales Link: Audible.com | Audible.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Apple

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published May 13th 2016 by Jaybird Press (first published June 24th 2015)
Original TitleHelping Hand
ASINB01FL0YXO2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHousemates #1 settingPlymouth, England (United Kingdom)

A Lila Review: First and First (Five Boroughs #3) by Santino Hassell

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

First and FirstCaleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.

Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.

As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

First and First starts strong and continues the same way until the very end. I didn’t rate the previous two books in the series. I didn’t consider my apprehension about the Rodríguez brothers’ background to be enough for me to give them a low rating, but this installment deserves to be view on its own merits and not in the shadow of Sutphin Boulevard and Sunset Park.

I felt in love with Caleb as soon as we get into his head. He’s a very different character than the man who dated David. His background had kept him at a distance of his own feelings. He wants to do better but is scared of rattling the golden cage he was born into. His lifestyle, sexuality, and ability to make and keep friends, it’s tied up to the facade he had created to keep his heart protected. His first encounter with Oli blindsided him, leaving Caleb with no option than to learn more about himself.

As the completed opposite of Caleb, Oli seemed to be an extrovert, everyone’s friend. They shared an upbringing in which power, money, and connections are everything. They moved in a circle in which being yourself can be considered a weakness. Over the years, Oli learned to hide himself and what he really wanted. Even when he had left his family legacy behind, he still struggles to live day by day under the shadow of his family.

Together, Caleb and Oli had the opportunity to be with someone who will not judge the dual personalities they had created to deal with family and social obligations. The amount of time they spent together were the only moments in which both men could be themselves. The more their connection grew, the more difficult was for them to revert to their distance and aloof personalities. They each destroyed what they were, and created the men they wanted to be and love.

The story is well written, and we get the opportunity to catch up with the two couples from the previous story. Fortunately, this story environment affects the main characters, but don’t take from their story. Instead of dealing with all the negative aspects of their background and situations, Caleb and Oli found a way to use it to their advance. The author did an excellent job getting the reader to experience everything the characters did. Little things like what they ate or wore gave us the opportunity to understand their logic better.

Oli helps Caleb explore his sexuality and fantasies. Everything is possible when they are together. The more they tried to keep their distance, the more they craved each other and the new experiences. Everything was real and raw, mixed with hope for a better future in which they both could be the partner each other had been looking for. Without noticing, they started a friendship that moved to dating, and exclusivity before they were ready. As individual character they were excellent, but together they were fantastic.

Overall, First and First is the best book in the series so far. It has an excellent sense of location, and simple things like the weather, meals, and clothing items were relevant details that shined more information about all the characters. The situations and scenes were unique and interesting, and even the smexy flashback served a purpose. Not everything was rose-colored in this story, but the good moments compensated for the hurt the characters experienced. Plus, I love Caleb’s brother Aiden and his newly found best friend, Charles.

The cover by Ashley Kaye Hayes matches the series, but it set the book apart from its predecessors. The lettering brings them together, but the model shows the distinction in the characters’ status.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Published: April 18, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634770897 (ISBN13: 9781634770897)
Edition Language: English

Series:  Five Boroughs
Book #1: Sutphin Boulevard
Book #2: Sunset Park
Book #3: First and First

 

An Alisa Audiobook Review: In the Middle of Somewhere (Middle of Somewhere #1) by Roan Parrish and Robert Nieman (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

In the Middle of SomewhereDaniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

 

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

 

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

 

This was a very emotional story.  Daniel has never had someone who loved and cared for him in his life, his father and brothers barely accepted his existence and his classmates never wanted to connect with him.  When he is in a small town for a job interview Rex helps him after an accident and then disappears the next morning he is sure that Rex is just another in the long line of people who wouldn’t care about him.

 

Both Daniel and Rex have a hard time with building a relationship, it more happens by accident in the beginning until Daniel is able to really see what is happening between them.  Rex lets Daniel into his life, but keeps him at a slight distance afraid that he will leave.  When Rex is there for Daniel when he needs him most it helps him start to see that he really can rely on someone else to care and help him.  It did seem as if Daniel had to have things happen multiple times for him to finally understand anything emotional.

 

I had a hard time with the narration of this story.  The narrator didn’t change voices for characters and with the different points of view within the story I had a hard time knowing who was talking to speaking at the moment and had to go back several times and re-listen to portions or stay very focused on what I was listening to.  The story would have been a 4 out of 5 rating, but I had to knock it down a bit due to the narration.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful and gives a good backdrop for the story.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 13 hrs 26 min
Published March 25, 2016 (ebook first published July 10, 2015)
Edition Language: English

Series: Middle of Somewhere #1

A Free Dreamer Review: Song of Song by L.J. LaBarthe

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Song of SongIt is the year 2275, and though some consider Earth a paradise, for most people on the planet or her outer-world colonies, it’s anything but.

Dex is a Boxie—a genetically engineered human created for the sole purpose of caring for wealthy bio-humans. His best and only friend is an AI cat named Manx, a secret Dex keeps from all around him. While he knows little about his sexuality, he’s attracted to Song.

Song designs ships that traverse deep space and has created the first fully sentient vessel called Fa’a. When he hears of a plot to capture Fa’a for nefarious purposes, Song flees Earth with a small band of misfits. Meanwhile, Dex’s fear of losing Manx drives him to take the cat and escape on a transport.

Song and Dex are brought together by chance. Just as their relationship blossoms from cautious and shy to romantic and erotic, new dangers threaten to destroy not only their love but also Fa’a, their friends, Manx, and all they care about.

I seem to have a thing for space operas lately, even though I usually prefer my sci fi to be set on Earth, without aliens… Anyway, I couldn’t resist the promise of an AI cat. I love cats and the idea of AIs fascinates me.

Sadly, “Song of Song” wasn’t quite as awesome as other books of the genre I’ve read recently. The idea behind the plot was good, but it lost me somewhere along the way.

There were a few things that didn’t make any sense to me. I’m almost tempted to call them plot holes. The leaders of large countries sign a treaty without reading the small print first? That seems horribly unrealistic to me. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that Boxies weren’t allowed to have relationships of any sort (romantic or not) with other people and yet they’re allowed to go to brothels. That seemed rather odd to me.

The idea of a fully sentient spaceship was interesting, but I’m not sure I quite understood how that was supposed to work. My technical understanding is rather lacking, though, so it might just have been me.

And honestly, I would probably find the thought of being inside a fully sentient rather creepy. Fa’a is depicted as omniscient to whatever is going on inside of her. I would probably be too embarrassed to ever undress. So I had a hard time relating to the MCs’ awe of her.

The romance part happened way too fast for my personal liking. Dex was essentially already in love with Song before he even met him. And for Song it was insta-love, even though he had other things to worry about when they first met.

The same goes for the sex. Dex felt like a very innocent character to me. And yet they stumble into bed asap and have amazing, mind blowing sex.

Manx was probably the best part of the story for me. I love pets with a real personality in my stories and an AI cat is the epitome of that. I want an AI cat too. Just so you know.

The troubles were resolved way too easily for my liking. Everything just fell into place easily and what seemed like insurmountable issues before, suddenly turned out to be a simple formality.

Overall, “Song of Song” was just an okay read for me. The concept was promising but the story itself fell a little short. Not a must read, but nice enough.

Cover: The cover by Anne Cain shows Song and Dex. In my mind’s eye, Dex looked a lot younger than he does on the cover. Other than that, I like it. Manx looks really cute.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published January 18th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623807174 (ISBN13: 9781623807177)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A BJ Review: Til Death Do Us Part by Addison Albright

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Rating:  3.25 stars out of 5

Til Death Do Us PartHenry and Sam Miller-Greene are living the dream. They love their careers — which afford each of them opportunities to travel to exotic locations — they love their home, Sam’s caring family, and each other. They disagree on the subject of adoption, but are fully committed to each other in marriage … ’Til Death Do Us Part.

The dream is shattered when Henry’s plane crashes and he’s presumed dead. But four people — Henry, two other men, and a child — survive undetected on a remote, small, and insignificant island. Will Sam and Henry’s love be able to survive, as well?

Henry fights to endure in harsh conditions, never knowing when disaster will strike. Sam struggles with his loss, but with help moves on with his life. Will Sam be able to put aside his new love when he reunites with Henry?

I love this sort of story, had been looking from something with this scenario, so for me the story was gripping enough that I finished it in one day to see the conclusion. The descriptions of how they survived on the island were very detailed and obviously very well researched. I enjoyed the story quite a bit, but there were several things that kept me from LOVING it as much as I really did want to.

The survivors did seem to have it remarkably easy on the small island, it wasn’t hard to find water and the supply stayed consistent, there was very little sickness or injuries over the extended length of time they were there. It’s mentioned how dangerous even small injuries can be, and yet there was a mention of blistered hands but no mention of complications from it nor how it was dealt with.  And when we do see one rather serious injury, the care was mentioned but not in depth, and the recovery was pretty much glossed over with no lasting consequences from the injury. They explain how they washed their teeth, but never that anyone had a tooth issue in all that time despite all the fruit sugar and stuff.   

My connection to the characters never felt close I’d find in books that fully engage me. A few days after reading it, I have a hard time to remember them. I wanted to feel more attuned to their emotions and desperation and trauma than what I did. Too much was told than shown, I think, which kept me at a distance from them. And the dialogue often felt unnatural.

Also there were frequent flashbacks to Henry and Sam’s relationship prior to the separation. I think this was meant to make us feel closer to them as a couple, but since it was in the past, I often felt compelled to skim and get back to current matters. The jumping around from present with each guy, then back to the past didn’t work well for me. A little touch once would have been enough for me, I’d actually rather have seen the relationship with Nash develop more rather than the rather cursory depth it was given.

Before they were rescued, despite the lack of depth to the characters, I was invested in the story and would have given it at least a four. But after the rescue, my feelings changed rather quickly. The character’s reactions after the rescue and the dialogue (often times they all seemed to just spout words without even thinking) really changed the heart of the story for me. Because I came to dislike all of them at a time when I should have been feeling for them intensely. All the back and forth, lack of thoughtfulness towards each other and what was said, just pulled me out of the story and made me hardly care.

One character just suddenly dropped off without even a final conversation on page, making me doubt if the other was ever truly in love with him. Basically, the angsty drama I had expected at the end didn’t materialize, it all felt distant. Also, I enjoyed the little boy, Buddy, and his storyline, but again it’s conclusion also so easy and left me wanting just that bit more depth and angst.

Lovely cover is lovely, perfect for the story.

Sales Links:   JMS Books LLC | Amazon


Book Details:  

ebook, 212 pages
Published April 3rd 2016 by JMS Books, LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersHenry Miller-Greene, Sam Miller-Greene settingSeattle, WA (United States)
Honiara (Solomon Islands)
Hawaii (United States)

A Lila Review: Guardian by Jordan Taylor

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5                   

GuardianGavin lives a serene and routine life. He has no friends, and his only contact is with co-workers or acquaintances he sees over the week, during his day-to-day activities. Even when he doesn’t know of his existence, his Guardian is always with him. Trying to console him, to love him, and bring him joy.

Unfortunately, he’s not able to touch Gavin or influence his decisions. Just like the Guardian, we follow Gavin around and see, through his eyes, how Gavin lives. We experience Gavin’s depression and the Guardian’s love and desperation to make his protectee life brighter.

When the Guardian asks for help to manifest as a human, his request is granted. For the next twenty-four hours, he had the chance to meet face-to-face with Gavin and explore what he always wanted. As the time counts down, Gavin will realize that what he wants might not be what Gavin needs.

Guardian is a beautiful short story about the true meaning of love. It’s a none traditional romance, but lovely on its own right. I’m not going to spoil the twists and turns that give this story its uniqueness. I’d only say that it’s different than the blurb description.

The author did an excellent job bringing to life the Guardian’s feelings and Gavin’s misery. Also, with the changes in Gavin’s life. They were slow but significant. There’s some humor together with the pain and angst.

It takes some time to get used to the Guardian’s POV and the omniscient narration, but overall, it works well. The story is compelling enough to make the reader fall for the characters and pull them into reading faster to see what happen next.

The cover seems too severe for the story, but it matches Gavin’s state of mind at the beginning of the story. It has an old London feel, but more Gothic than contemporary.

Sale Links: NineStar | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 42 pages
Published: March 7, 2016, by NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781911153146
Edition Language: English

A VVivacious Review: Darkside (Mate of the Tyger Prince #2) by Shannon West

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
 
Dark Side“The course of true love never did run smooth.”  – William Shakespeare
General Haggoz finds himself in the impossible situation of having to imprison his own nobyo. As he struggles to come to terms with the wrong doings of Kevin, he also realizes that he will never stop loving Kevin. Kevin finds himself imprisoned in a cell in Haggoz’s house where the only thing that breaks the pall of his existence is Haggoz and the few times he deems to visits him. But while Kevin may have reasons for his deeds, he has given up hope on ever having Haggoz forgive him.
 
On the other hand, Mikos and Ryan are trying to get through everyday life. They bicker like an old married couple but are just as much in love as they were before.
 
But when Mikos and Haggoz disappear it is up to Kevin and Ryan to find them and bring them home.
 
This book is a good companion to its predecessor.
 
The story of this book follows two couples – Mikos and Ryan; and Haggoz and Kevin. The best part about following two couples was that since both these couples where in different places in their respective relationships, it made for an interesting story as we kind of got all the phases that a relationship goes through in one go.
 
Mikos and Ryan love each other more than ever but they also argue more than ever. Their story is basically about how navigating married life has been for them so far.
 
This time around we get more of the royal family. We get lots of interactions with Blake, who I have come to adore. His will is second to none. Also we get to see a whole lot more of Vannos, Anarr, Larz and Nicarr but I guess the best thing was that we got to see Blake interact with his children which is so sweet. I mean I loved the parental vibes he gives off and how well he knows all his kids and how much he loves them. Also we see more of Davos. I can probably read an entire book about Blake and Davos. But there was also a very inconspicuous absence of Blake and Davos’ fourth child Darrek, I mean this time around when we got introduced to all his other siblings, I would have thought we would get to see him too, but no there is nothing about him in this book, absolutely no mention whatsoever. Also more Mikol!
 
This time around we get a bit more on the shifting aspects of Tygerians. Well we actually get to see Haggoz in his tiger form and personally I loved the scene. But I wish we could get more of tiger Mikos, now that I would love to see.
 
Kevin and Haggoz’s story line was something extremely beautiful. I mean here are two people who love each other a lot but find themselves on opposite sides of the law. Haggoz had a horrible childhood and Kevin is his one and only shot at happiness because Kevin is his happiness. But Haggoz also has a duty to his king to keep his nobyo, Kevin as a prisoner but try as he might to hate Kevin for his actions he realises that his love for Kevin is boundless. In fact during the entire story I was positive that any hurt Haggoz had ever inflicted on Kevin actually hurt him more and hurting Kevin was actually his way of hurting himself.
 
Kevin might have reasons for his wrong doings but he doesn’t think that Haggoz will understand. But loving Haggoz is something that has become synonymous with living life for Kevin.
 
These two tortured souls who want nothing but to be together must walk a difficult and treacherous path to be together. But since their hearts are already one it won’t take long for their minds to realize how foolish their forced separation is.
 
I loved the story and how it is written the POVs alternating between the two couples, on one side there was the playfulness of Ryan and Mikos and on the other was the heartache of Kevin and Haggoz and they balanced each other perfectly. The plot was the best because seeing the Ryan and Kevin work together to get back their mates was really well done. Also it was nice to see the humans work together to rescue their more powerful Tygerian mates.
 
My only irritation with the book was that the meeting scene between Haggoz and Kevin was repeated i.e. we got that same scene from Haggoz’s as well as Kevin’s perspective but reading it again was kind of a dredge. Also the party at the end of which Mikos gets shot in the previous book was rehashed this time from Ryan’s POV, these repetitions got kind of boring. Actually as such it wasn’t the repetition of the scene that was so boring it was the fact that I was anticipating that I would have to read the events that I already knew about again that was trying.
 
Otherwise this book was a great follow up to its predecessor and I loved the epilogue, finally Mikos learns how to deal with his husband. I hope we can get more Mikos and Ryan.
 
Cover Art by E Connors. The cover is a little weird what with that huge scarf but it is actually a depiction of Kevin from a scene in the book but it makes no sense whatsoever if you haven’t read the book.
Sales Links:  Amazon  | ARe
Book Details:
ebook
Published April 5th 2016 by Dark Hollows Press LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Mate of the Tyger Prince

Its Love Times Three with ‘No Remedy (Bounty, #2)’ by Christine d’Abo (author guest post and giveaway)

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No Remedy

No Remedy (Bounty, #2)  by Christine d’Abo
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Artist Lou Harper

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christine d’Abo here today to talk  about the second novel in her Bounty series, No Remedy.  Welcome, Christine.

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Hello, my name is Christine d’Abo! Thank you so much for having me here on the blog today.

There’s something really enticing about a ménage story. Am I right?? Lots of hot, sweaty bodies all crammed together doing all sorts of things to one another. In the case of No Remedy, that crammed space is both in the cockpit and under the bedsheets.

Mace is on a mission to save her friend and captain, Faolan Wolf. She’s been working closely with Alec, a brilliant scientist who seems to be on the verge of a cure for the disease that’s killing Faolan. But when his ex-lover Byron shows up, Mace realizes that there’s more to Alec than meets the eye.

Byron is dominant in the bedroom and just as pushy outside. While she might put up with it for a few rounds of great sex, there’s no way she’ll let him put Faolan’s life in jeopardy. Too bad the lines get blurred and she starts to fall for both Alec and Byron. But she’s not sure if there’s room enough in their relationship for three.

If you would like to learn more about me, please pay a visit to my website www.christinedabo.com. I’m also very active on Twitter as @Christine_dAbo and have a monthly newsletter. If you’d like to sign up, simply click here to fill out the form.

About No Remedy

For months, Mace Simms has been seeking an antidote for the poison killing her mentor. Her only hope is Alec Roiten, a brilliant scientist hiding on a backwater planet. Posing as a research assistant, Mace offers the elusive genius all the help she can, ignoring the explosive chemistry between them. Soon they’re close to a cure.

But then Alec’s former love Byron shows up, attempting to claim a bounty on Alec’s head, and all that careful research gets left behind when they’re forced to flee. And when Byron realizes the tip-off about Alec was a ruse by his rivals to lure him out into the open to kill him, the bounty hunt turns into a three-person scramble for survival.

Byron wants his old lover back, Alec is consumed by a haunting secret about the poison he’s desperate to defeat, and Mace is caught between them. But she’s beginning to think that’s exactly where she belongs as the three are drawn together in their race against death.

Publisher’s note: This title is an edited second edition, previously published in 2011.

About Christine d’Abo

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

Connect with Christine:

NoRemedy_TourBanner (1)

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of the Bounty series, one lucky person will receive a $50 gift certificate to Riptide. Winner will be selected from across all three book tours (No Quarter, No Remedy, No Master) and as such, the contest is open until midnight, Eastern time, on July 2, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Comment to enter, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Bounty

Bounty hunters and pirates may contend for dominance in the vast reaches of interstellar space, but the heart of the conflict always comes down to who you know. Who you hate. Who you love.

Whether the prize is a priceless gem, political gain, the antidote to a rare poison, or a bounty big enough to secure any hunter’s future, the only way for a pirate or a hunter to come out ahead is by building alliances. One system, one planet, one person, one heart at a time. The distance between the stars may be infinite, but love doesn’t care about boundaries.

Publisher’s Note: While books #1 and #2 should be read in order, #3 stands alone and can be read without the first two.

No Quarter (Bounty, #1)  by Christine d’Abo

No Remedy (Bounty, #2) by Christine d’Abo

No Master (Bounty, #3) byChristine d’Abo

The Importance of World Building in Fantasy/Sci Fy Fiction and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Fantasy Landscape

The Importance of World Building in Fantasy/Sci Fy Fiction

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been talking about the little overlooked trope of historical stories in LBGTQIA fiction and I’m going to get back to that next week, way back in authors and eras this time.  But for now, lets look forward.

Whereas those authors face entirely different obstacles when tackling their stories, primarily making their designated time period is accurate down to the details while still able to make their stories and characters come alive for their readers, the author that decides to write fantasy or science fiction has an entire different issue ahead of them.  They have to imagine new worlds, build them up, complete with cultures,  languages, religions, sexes or not, biologies, mythologies, or use old world gods and myths and sciences, or any combination thereof.  And make it believable.  Yes, a daunting task.

And if you notice and read our reviews here its one of the first  things we bring up in our reviews.  The line in the review usually starts something like this “the author’s ability to world build….” and then goes on for better or for worse.  And it occurs right at the beginning of the review, again in the middle and sometimes again at the end.  Why?  Because its so important.  If you don’t get this right, if you make us question parts of your universe, if its illogical, got huge holes in its fabric that makes us stop reading and start thinking about it and not your characters, then, you’ve lost us, your readers.

What elements do you find important in world building?  What do you look for in your fantasy and science fiction in order for you to feel like your world in that novel is complete?  Write and fill us in.  I’m curious.  Some seem to think its tons of pages.  Hmmm. No.

Its not volume that speaks either.  I have read books of well over hundreds of pages that made virtually no sense where the author threw in a kitchen sink worth of narrative for a space opera that was just sort of crazy…nothing made sense but it was huge in pages.   And yet a small sharp story as was noted in A VVivacious Review: Fire Up My Heart by Asta Idonea put in all out there for the reader to see in a small, terrific package.

So I’m thinking its time to put together a list of recommended fantasy and science fiction authors and stories.  So gather together your recs and start sending them in.  I hope there are plenty I and our reviewers haven’t read yet, we are always looking for more, you know how we love our fantasy and science fiction here.  Come on, send us names and books…but make sure their world building is up to the challenge…

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 This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 29:

  • The Importance of World Building in Fantasy/Sci Fy Fiction
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, May 30:

  • Riptide Publishing’s No Remedy blog tour with Christine d’Abo (giveaway)
  • A VVivacious Review: Dark Side by Shannon West
  • A Lila Review:  Guardian by Jordan Taylor
  • A BJ Review: Til Death Do Us Part by Addison Albright

Tuesday, May 31:

  • A Lila Review: First and First by Santino Hassall
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Song of Song by L.J. LaBarthe
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review:  A Helping Hand by Jay Northcote

Wednesday, June 1:

  • Cover Reveal Blitz: A Second Harvest by Eli Easton (cover reveal)
  • Dragon Men Series by Amber Kell – Series Recap Tour and Giveaway
  • A Stella Review: Stained by Chris T Kat
  • A Paul B Review: Seducing His Reluctant Vampire by Charlie Richards
  • An Alisa Review: The Pirate’s Cove by Michelle King

Thursday, June 2:

  • New Book Blitz – Love Off the Radar Collection by A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly
  • The Scorpion’s Empress Release Day Blast and Giveaway
  • A Lila Audiobook Review:  Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford, Narrator Spencer Goss
  • A Paul B Review: Wooing the Lighthouse Keeper by Charlie Richards
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Lost Souls by Barbara Sheridan

Friday, June 3:

  • Book Blitz and Giveaway for Becoming Rory by Ashavan Doyon
  • A Paul B Review:  Alexi’s Mouse by A C Katt
  • A Lila Review:  Chevalier by Mary Calmes
  • An Alisa Review: Reckless by Caitlin Ricci

Saturday, June 4:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Safe In His Heart by Renae Kaye
  • A BJ Audiobook Review: Covet Thy Neighbor by LA Witt

 

 

Is There Love Without Pain? Find Out with ‘Debt’ by K.C. Well {excerpt and giveaway}

Standard
Title: Debt
Author: K.C. Wells
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: May 27, 2016
Release Blitz Hosted by Enticing Journey Book Promotions


Two months after Mitch Jenkins had the rug pulled out from under him when his two-year relationship came to an abrupt end, he is still hurting. A colleague’s attempt to cheer him up brings Mitch to a secret “club.” Mitch isn’t remotely interested in the twinks parading like peacocks, until he spies the young man at the back of the room, nose firmly in a book and oblivious to his surroundings. Now Mitch is interested.

Nikko Kurokawa wants to pay his debt and get the hell out of the Black Lounge—where he is forced not only to have sex, but sometimes suffer abuse to please clients. Earning his freedom isn’t proving easy, especially when he starts attracting interest. Life becomes that little bit easier to bear when he meets Mitch, who is nothing like the other men who frequent the club. And when Mitch crawls under his skin and into his heart, Nikko figures he can put up with anything. Before long he’ll be out of there, and he and Mitch can figure out if they have a future together.

Neither of them counted on those who don’t want Nikko to leave….

“Debt is sexy & dangerous; it has it all: age gap, hurt-comfort, suspense, sweetness, serious steam, a happy ending, and two men who refuse to give up on each other.” – Reader review

“Well written, at times heartbreaking, often touching, very sexy, and with an unforgettable storyline and characters, Debt is without a doubt one of my favourites among K.C. Well’s amazing books.” – Reader review

“Have you ever come across a book that grabs you by the heart, shakes you up, drags you through a myriad of emotions, then spits you out the other side happy and hopeful, yet wondering what happened and how you got there? Well, Debt by K.c. Wells is one of those stories.” – Reader review

“So?” Aaron nudged him again. “Which one lights your candle?” He grinned. “You’ve got to admit, there are some beautiful men in there.” He nodded toward one young man standing nearest the window. He was stroking down over his chest and well-defined abs, to where a thick cock jutted out toward them. Just then the young man turned and bent over, reaching back to spread his cheeks and reveal a pink, glistening hole, clearly lubed. He wiggled his ass, his dick bobbing stiffly.

Aaron smothered a chuckle. “Wow. He’s eager.”

That wasn’t the word in Mitch’s mind. He preferred blatant, and it wasn’t turning him on. In fact, none of them were.

“This is a mistake,” he said quietly. “Thanks for bringing me here, but honestly, this isn’t me. And there isn’t one guy who does it for me.” His gaze swept across the room, taking in the smiling, pouting faces and….

Mitch stopped, his pulse quickening. “Him.” How did I miss him?

Aaron peered in the direction of Mitch’s stare. “Which one?”

At the back of the room was a small table and a couple of armchairs facing each other. In one of them sat a young man with long, black hair tied in a single braid down his back. He was Japanese in appearance, with small, round glasses perched on his nose. Physically he was slight, not that tall as far as Mitch could tell. Unlike the others, he wore a pair of jeans and a white shirt.

What caught Mitch’s attention was the fact that he was reading a book, his legs curled up under him, lost in his own world.

“Mitch?” Aaron pinched his arm.

“Hey!” Mitch grumbled, rubbing the spot near his elbow. “What was that for?”

“You were off in cloud cuckoo land.” Aaron cocked his eyebrows. “Well? I repeat, which one?”

“The one with the book.” There was something so delightfully incongruous about him that Mitch was intrigued.

“Really?”

Mitch dragged his gaze away to give Aaron a firm stare. “You said to take my pick, so I pick him.” He couldn’t account for the way his body reacted to the young man. His heart pounded and his mouth was dry.

“That’s Nikko. He’s new here.”

Mitch turned toward the speaker. A dark-haired man wearing a black suit and matching shirt smiled at him. “My name is Randy. I’m here to give you any information you require.” He gave a flick of his head toward the window. “Nikko only joined us recently. Would you like to meet him, and if so, for how long?”

His heart still racing, Mitch regarded the young man who was oblivious to his surroundings. “An hour?”

Beside him Aaron chuckled. “And that’s my cue to leave.” He patted Mitch on the arm. “Enjoy, with my blessing. You can tell me all about it on Monday.”

“Thanks, Aaron.” Mitch gave him a warm smile. “And as for Monday? Uh-uh.” The smile became a grin. “I don’t kiss and tell.”

He snorted. “Spoilsport. And you have nothing to thank me for yet.” Aaron grinned. “See ya.” He walked toward the door and gave one last wave before disappearing through it.

Mitch returned his attention to Randy, who was regarding him with a hint of amusement. Mitch cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, I’m new to all this.”

Randy’s smile widened. “Then you and Nikko have something in common. Do you have your card?” Mitch held it up and Randy peered at it. “Okay, that’s fine. If you’ll come with me, please?”

He led Mitch through the door at the end of the lounge. They were in a long hallway with doors on either side. Randy escorted Mitch to door number seven and opened it. The room was small, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in furnishings. In the corner was a Chinese painted screen and a washbasin with a thick towel hanging from a rail beside it. Most of the space was taken up by a bed adorned with white sheets, a soft gray comforter, pillows, and cushions. A wide chair faced the bed, its cushions deep. There were no windows. At the head of the bed was a large mirror, and beside it, a small cabinet with two drawers.

“You’ll find condoms and packets of lube in the cabinet,” Randy said. “You’re aware of the club’s strict safe-sex policy.”

Mitch nodded. He had no problem with that. He’d never had bareback sex in his life.

“There are also some toys, should you require them. If there’s something particular you’d like, simply ask. We do cater for those clients who are into S&M, but they generally stipulate their needs ahead of time. Would that be of interest to you this evening?”

Mitch was sure his face was bright red. “Uh, not for me, thank you.”

Randy gave a polite nod. “Then I shall go and bring Nikko to you.” He exited the room.

Mitch gazed around him while he removed his jacket. He placed it on the chair and examined the prints on the wall. The room was definitely nothing like he’d expected; he’d had something much more austere in mind. A glance behind the screen revealed a toilet, tastefully hidden from view.

They really do think of everything.

Mitch scanned the walls and corners for any sign of a camera. Nothing. But from a safety aspect alone, he knew there had to be one in there somewhere.

Damn, they’re good.

He came back to the bed and sat, bouncing on it to test its springiness.

“Are we to be using it as a trampoline?” a soft voice asked.

Mitch jerked his head toward the door just as it closed gently. Nikko stood there, his fingers laced together in front of him, dark brown eyes focused on Mitch, his braid not visible, his expression impassive.

Mitch coughed and rose to his feet. “Maybe not.” He took a few steps toward Nikko, his hand extended, his belly tensed. Inwardly he cursed his uncertainty. It wasn’t as if he was a stranger to meeting guys, but after two years of being in a relationship, he felt decidedly out of practice. And this was definitely a new experience.

Nikko took his hand almost shyly and shook it, his fingers cool to the touch. “I’m Nikko.” The handshake over, he laced his fingers once more and stepped back, maintaining his distance from Mitch. His manner had Mitch retreating too.

“Is that your real name, or just one you use here?” Mitch wanted to know. When Nikko raised his eyebrows, Mitch felt the warm flush that rose up his chest and neck. “I’m sorry. This is my first time in a… in one of these places.”

Nikko became still for a moment, tension evident in his posture. When he smiled, it didn’t reach his eyes. “Then we have something in common. And to answer your question, Nikko is my real name. May I know yours?” Those eyes were captivating, a rich, deep brown framed with long, sooty black lashes, and set in a pale, unblemished face.

“I’m Mitch.” It was on the tip of his tongue to say Pleased to meet you, but the words sounded wrong given the circumstances. I don’t suppose there are etiquette rules for greeting a hooker in a brothel.

Not that Nikko resembled his preconceptions of what a hooker looked like. The young man was beautiful, maybe five foot five, six max. He felt tiny next to Mitch’s five foot eleven. Those clasped fingers were slim, his hands delicate. Mitch was reminded of one of his mother’s ethereal porcelain figurines in her china cabinet back home. They shared that same fragile quality.

“Are… are you feeling awkward too?” Nikko asked, biting his bottom lip. “You’re my first… client.” A flush crept across his cheeks and his ears turned red.

His words stirred something in Mitch’s chest, an absurd desire to enfold Nikko in his arms, to protect him. The yearning took him by surprise. Maybe it was Nikko’s slight build, his fragility, that engendered the inclination. Whatever it was, it sent a rush of warmth through Mitch’s body.

He beckoned to Nikko. “Come here.”

Slowly Nikko walked over to him, his gaze fixed on Mitch’s face. He stopped a few feet in front of him and tilted his chin up, not quite meeting Mitch’s gaze. The rapid rise and fall of Nikko’s chest, the ragged breathing, betrayed the nerves he hid. Mitch stretched out his hand to cup Nikko’s face, his large hand exaggerating the diminutive young man’s size.

“How old are you?” Mitch asked quietly. Nikko had to be barely legal.

“I-I’m twenty-two,” Nikko said in a low voice that cracked. “I know how I look, Mitch. I’m old enough to work here. This may be my first time with a client, but I’m not a virgin.”

“I never thought for a second that a virgin would be working here,” Mitch admitted. He tilted his head. “You can come closer, you know. I won’t hurt you.”

Nikko swallowed, blinking. “I… I’m sorry. It’s just that you’re not how I expected a client to be.”

Mitch took a step closer. “How did you think I would be?” He kept his voice low and soothing. Nikko reminded him of a colt he’d spent time with on his uncle’s farm as a boy. The young man gave an impression of being about to bolt at any second.

Nikko took a deep breath. “I didn’t expect to be treated with so much… respect.”

Now Mitch got it. “Come closer,” he said, coaxingly. When Nikko hesitated, Mitch gave him a warm smile. “Nikko, I meant it. I will not hurt you. I don’t have it in me to do that.”

Nikko regarded him in silence. “I believe you.” He inhaled slowly and took that last step to bring him to Mitch.

Mitch couldn’t help himself. He bent his head lower and took Nikko’s mouth in a gentle kiss. Nikko held himself still for a moment longer before putting his slim arms around Mitch’s neck and responding, his lips parting.

When Mitch broke the kiss, Nikko looked up at him with shining eyes. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

Nikko smiled, this time genuinely. “For being gentle.” His breathing hitched. “You… you make this easier than I thought it would be, Mitch.”

Mitch’s first reaction was a surge of pleasure, until a thought nagged at him. He paused, his hands on Nikko’s shoulders. “Are you here because you want to be?” Something about Nikko’s choice of words tugged at his mind.

Nikko regarded him, face calm. “I chose to be here, Mitch. Have no doubt about that.” There was no trace of deception in his voice or expression. He reached up with both hands and cupped Mitch’s face. “Kiss me again?” His Adam’s apple bobbed.

“Are you asking because you want to be kissed or because you feel you should ask?”

Nikko stared at him, lowering his hands, his eyes wide. “You are… perceptive.”

Mitch shrugged. “I use my eyes, is all. If you’d rather we sit on the bed for a while, maybe chat, that’s okay, I don’t mind.” He waited for Nikko to make the next move. The young man was skittish enough without Mitch making matters worse.

Nikko’s breathing grew more even. “Then I should like you to kiss me, because”—he stroked Mitch’s cheek, the touch light, and for the first time, he looked Mitch in the eye—“because I want you to.”

Mitch smiled. “That’s better.” He caressed Nikko’s cheek, brushing his fingertips over his cheekbones. “Because I want to kiss you.”

Nikko closed his eyes, lips parted, waiting.

Fuck. Nikko was beautiful.
Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C. WELLS always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way. K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, when the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings—writing about men in love was even hotter….


K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career. The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes. 

And as for those men in love that she writes about? The list of stories just waiting to be written is getting longer… and longer….

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