A Free Dreamer Review: Lost Souls by Barbara Sheridan and Anne Cain

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Lost SoulsCan love survive when immortality doesn’t last forever?

Blood Brothers Series

More than a hundred years ago in old San Francisco, Kabuki actor Ryuhei Nakamura and vampire Kiyoshi Ishibe cemented an immortal love. Then at the dawn of the twentieth century, their lives were torn apart by tragedy. Now Ryuhei’s hope is reborn in the form of Jesse Shigeta, a gifted musical student. The young man is so like Ryuhei’s murdered beloved, that he believes fate has been kind in reuniting them once more, this time for eternity.

But Jesse is full of secrets. As a child, the supernaturally gifted young man discovered Kiyoshi’s soul still bound to Earth. His every intent was to reunite his ghostly friend with Ryuhei, but when Jesse falls in love with the vampire himself, he will stop at nothing to keep his place by Ryuhei’s side.

Even if that means calling upon ghost hunters to destroy Kiyoshi.

Vampires, ghosts, gay romance AND Japan all in one book? I just had to read this book. Unfortunately, the blurb promised a more interesting story than the authors actually delivered.

The premise as such was intriguing. It’s not often that you come across a ghost who once was a vampire and is now hopelessly pining for his lover. I think Kiyoshi’s pov would have been the most interesting of the three, but unfortunately he got the least on-page time.

The world building was sadly lacking. I’m not entirely sure how the whole vampire and ghost business works and how well known the supernatural is to the normal population.

The love story was a bit hard to relate to. Jesse’s feelings for Ryuhei never felt very convincing and I honestly quite disliked him at times. I did not like how he treated poor Kiyoshi, once they were in Japan.

The parts about the Kabuki theatre and playing the Shamisen were very interesting and I would’ve loved to read more about that. Unfortunately, Jesse quickly lost any interest in his studies once he’d met Ryuhei.

The HEA for everybody involved came a little too easily for my liking. It didn’t feel very realistic.

Long story short, “Lost Souls” didn’t quite live up to its very promising blurb. The parts that actually focussed on the Japanese culture, as well as Kiyoshi’s pov were very interesting, while the love story and the HEA didn’t feel very realistic.

Still, it was a nice little story with a unique idea behind it. I might take a peek at the other books in the series eventually.

The cover by Anne Cain is a very pretty, artsy picture of Ryuhei and Jesse kissing, with Kiyoshi ominously looming in the background. I really like it.

Sales Links:  Samhain PublishingAmazon

Book details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by Samhain Publishing
Original TitleLost Souls (Blood Brothers Series)
ISBN 160504069X (ISBN13: 9781605040691)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDragon’s Disciple/Blood Brothers #6

A BJ Review: Blackfrost (Wytch Kings #2) by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5        ★★★★★

Blackfrost_600x900Son of a simple blacksmith, Apprentice Wytch Kian has always known that once his apprenticeship is over, he’ll be sent far from home to serve the Wytch Council. Before his training is even complete, Wytch Master Taretha orders him to Blackfrost, an isolated country estate, where he is to serve as personal healer to Prince Ambris of Miraen.

Nothing in Kian’s experience has prepared him for what he finds at Blackfrost, and every day brings new questions. Like why is Prince Ambris being kept prisoner at Blackfrost? Where does Wytch Master Taretha take him every fortnight? And why does the prince return from these excursions suffering from horrific injuries that Kian is expected to heal?

Kian quickly learns that seeking answers to these questions could cost him his life. Worse, he soon finds himself struggling with his growing feelings for Ambris, putting him at odds with both Wytch Master Taretha and the sadistic guard captain, Malik. Can Kian unravel the mystery in time to save Ambris? Or will the prince finally succumb to madness and destroy Blackfrost and everyone in it?

If you read my review of book one in this series, Burn the Sky, you saw me proclaim it as my favorite dragon shifter story. Well guys, we have an upset. As of last night when I finished the ARC of Blackfrost, I must say that as much as I adored Garrick and Ilya’s story and didn’t think it possible for the series to get better. It did. New favorite!

I love broken boys, and this author excels at providing perfect, realistic HEA endings for the tortured and broken men she makes me adore. Well, I’m here to say that Prince Ambris gives a whole new meaning to the word broken. Don’t believe me? Read the first chapter and see.

The story hooked me in practically from the first page, which is actually pretty rare for me. In thinking of a word to describe the beginning, what came to mind is stunning because both of the dictionary meanings do apply (1. causing astonishment, bewilderment & 2. of striking beauty or excellence).  If you’re easily squeaked out, maybe a bit of caution as it’s very vividly written, but don’t let it stop you please, as I can almost guarantee it will suck you in.

The world building in this series rivals any I’ve seen. All of the author’s series take place in the same universe but often in a different timeframe, which makes for a world that’s well-developed, intricate and complex. Epic really. For a complete understanding of it, check out the authors Aion Timeline page here: http://www.jayemckenna.com/p/timeline.html

We get to visit with characters from book one who I loved, the newly crowned Wytch King Garrick and his beloved Wytch Master Ilya. Also Garrick’s younger brother Jaire whose powers have grown since the last book. And of course, sweet and witty Kian.

Kian is such a nice guy. In Burn the Sky, he was Prince Garrick’s friend and sometime bedmate. I love that the two remained friends despite well, everything from book one. That there was no jealousy when Garrick found his love in Ilya, that their friendship was firm and solid throughout. I loved that Kian is bisexual, and that he’s such an easy going, laid back, and rather simple guy. Not easy to anger or volatile but just a downright affable guy. He’s the guy I’d like to have for a pal. I could just squeeze him.

As much as I like Kian, it’s Ambris who rocked this story for me. And it’s hard to explain why without spoilers, which is frustrating but I really don’t want to give anything away! So I’ll just say that I enjoyed seeing how having someone care for him and for whom he could care allowed him to find the strength to transform from the tortured, beaten down, nearly hopeless man he was at the beginning into the strong and confident man of royal blood that was his destiny. That, and the fact that the physical description of Ambris is so unique that although the cover rocks just as it is and I really wouldn’t change it, there is a small part of me disappointed that it didn’t have a representation of Ambris in all his awesomeness.

Amidst the nicely paced action and angst, the main characters manage some steamy sexy times, including a lovely massage scene that I found particularly titillating. There’s also a delightful side relationship between two of the minor characters that I added another level of enjoyment to the story.

The cover by Chinchbug is not only eye-catching, but is like a freeze frame of action that vividly captures a key scene in the story in all of its power and poignancy right down to the screaming angst on the dragon’s face.

Sales Links: ARe | Amazon  | Smashwords


Book Details:  

ebook
Published May 1st 2016 by Mythe Weaver Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Wytch King Series with links to BJ’s reviews:

Burn the Sky
Blackfrost

Sail Into the Past for Romance with Dianne Hartsock’s ‘Sweet William’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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Sweet William Tour Banner

Title: Sweet William
Author: Dianne Hartsock
Genre: Gay Romance, Historical Romance
Length: Novella
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

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Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words welcomes Dianne Hartsock here to share some insight into her characters of her latest novel, Sweet William.  Good morning, Dianne.

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Thank you so much, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for having me as your guest today. In my story, SWEET WILLIAM, Fredrick has been in love with William for years, though their brief affair had been discovered by William’s father and Fredrick dismissed in disgrace. William suddenly appears in Fredrick’s life again, turning it upside down. Today, Fredrick is sitting alone in his room at the boarding house, and passes the time waiting for William writing down the ten things he’s most afraid of.

  • This one’s easy. That William realizes he can do much better than me, and leaves.
  • I cause William problems with his family.
  • As a tutor, I’m far beneath William’s social standing. I fear the ridicule of his friends at both our expense.
  • There are rough men working the docks. I fear being attacked or shanghaied into service.
  • I won’t be able to find another position as a tutor and end up with nowhere to live.
  • I have an irrational fear of drowning.
  • Having to go hungry again.
  • That my pneumonia comes back and I can’t afford the doctor.
  • My shoes wearing out before I can afford new ones. And I must have a decent coat for work.
  • Unable to afford coal.
  • Okay, one more. That William is only playing at love when I love him with all my heart.

Synopsis

William Wilkerson leads the life of the privileged rich. Head of his father’s shipping business, he indulges to his heart’s content in the pleasures of the flesh with Boston’s finest young men.

That is, until he reunites with Fredrick: his former tutor and the one man who captured his heart.

But William’s father has declared Fredrick off limits. And Fredrick, himself, believes he’s beneath the attention of the Wilkerson heir.

After having lost his current pupil to graduation, and with no prospects of a replacement, Frederick is homeless, hungry, and easy pickings for the men on the docks.

When Frederick is shanghaied into service on William’s own merchant ship, will William discover his plight in time to rescue him?

Sweet William Cover

Buy Links

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/sweet-william-by-dianne-hartsock/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-William-Dianne-Hartsock-ebook/dp/B01EAU61KS/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-William-Dianne-Hartsock-ebook/dp/B01EAU61KS/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Sweet-William-Dianne-Hartsock-ebook/dp/B01EAU61KS/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/Sweet-William-Dianne-Hartsock-ebook/dp/B01EAU61KS/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sweetwilliam-2018685-158.html

Giveaway

Prize: $10 ARe Gift Card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Video Trailer

About the author

DIANNE HARTSOCK is the author of m/m erotic romance, both contemporary and fantasy, the psychological thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh, and a floral designer. If she can’t be writing, at least she has the chance to create through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Currently, Dianne lives in the Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.

Social links

Website: https://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diannehartsock
Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannehartsock
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/diannehartsock/

Its Release Day for Blackfrost (Wytch Kings, Book 2) by Jaye McKenna (excerpt and giveaway)

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Blackfrost_600x900

Blackfrost (Wytch Kings, Book 2) by Jaye McKenna

Cover Artist: Chinchbug

Release Day: May 3, 2016

 Purchase It Here: ARe | Amazon  | Smashwords

Blurb

Son of a simple blacksmith, Apprentice Wytch Kian has always known that once his apprenticeship is over, he’ll be sent far from home to serve the Wytch Council. Before his training is even complete, Wytch Master Taretha orders him to Blackfrost, an isolated country estate, where he is to serve as personal healer to Prince Ambris of Miraen.

Nothing in Kian’s experience has prepared him for what he finds at Blackfrost, and every day brings new questions. Like why is Prince Ambris being kept prisoner at Blackfrost? Where does Wytch Master Taretha take him every fortnight? And why does the prince return from these excursions suffering from horrific injuries that Kian is expected to heal?

Kian quickly learns that seeking answers to these questions could cost him his life. Worse, he soon finds himself struggling with his growing feelings for Ambris, putting him at odds with both Wytch Master Taretha and the sadistic guard captain, Malik. Can Kian unravel the mystery in time to save Ambris? Or will the prince finally succumb to madness and destroy Blackfrost and everyone in it?

Sequel to Burn the Sky..

Excerpt

“Ambris! Ambris, wake up, it’s just a dream.”

Ambris latched on to that voice and clung to it, following it out of the nightmare. He found himself in his own bed, shaking and sweaty, the sheets tangled about him.

Kian stood beside the bed, dressed only in a pair of half-laced breeches. His hair was tousled and hung loose below his shoulders, and his dark eyes looked huge and sleepy in the light of the lamp he carried.

“Sorry,” Ambris muttered, unable to take his eyes off of Kian’s bare chest and arms. Those arms were as big around as Ambris’s thighs, and Kian’s chest was broad and sprinkled with dark hair. Ambris couldn’t stop himself from letting his eyes trace the trail of hair down to the unlaced top of the breeches.

“Are you all right?” Kian asked.

Ambris lifted his gaze in time to see the healer run a hand through his hair. “I’m fine,” he murmured, and struggled to sit up. Pain lanced through his upper back, and a curse fell from his lips before he could stop it.

“What is it?” Kian asked quickly. “What’s wrong?”

“My back… I must have wrenched it while I was thrashing about.”

Kian set the lamp on the nightstand. “Turn over and lie on your belly.”

Ambris started to turn, but stopped suddenly, wincing as another hot shard of pain pierced his back.

“Carefully,” Kian amended.

Moving slowly, he managed to complete the maneuver with only minimal discomfort. “Are you going to heal me?”

“I doubt that will be necessary. It’s probably just a cramp. I’ll rub your back for you, though. It will help loosen the muscle and ease the cramp. We’ll see if I can get you relaxed enough that you fall back to sleep.”

The mattress dipped on either side of him as Kian straddled his hips. Ambris liked the feel of the warm weight of him and wished the covers weren’t between them.

“Tell me where it hurts.” Warm hands began probing his back, pressing gently here and there.

“Ah!” Ambris gasped as Kian’s thumb found a tight knot in his upper back. “That’s it, right there.”

“Sorry. Put your head down and try to relax.”

Ambris tried to do as he was told, but the moment Kian’s hands slid beneath his nightshirt and made contact with his bare skin, there was no chance of relaxing. Every nerve in his body came alive, and he squirmed as his shaft hardened uncomfortably beneath him.

Kian pushed Ambris’s nightshirt out of his way and ran those big, warm hands over his back. Ambris shivered in delight at his touch. How would it feel to have those hands wandering elsewhere? Down his sides… across his chest… stroking his buttocks, perhaps even…

He groaned as Kian pressed hard, kneading the tight muscles to help them relax.

“What did you dream?” Kian asked quietly. “Do you remember?”

“No,” Ambris lied. “I just remember being frightened.” Kian would learn about what a miserable failure he was soon enough, and then, Ambris imagined, he would stay as far away as he could, like everyone else did. In the two weeks since he’d arrived, Kian’s presence had brightened the long, lonely days, and Ambris wanted to put off his inevitable withdrawal for as long as possible.

He’d thought Kian would have heard all about him from the staff by now, but Kian was as kind and friendly as he had been those first few days. Ambris did occasionally catch him staring, a puzzled expression drawing his dark brows together, but after that first day, Kian hadn’t asked any more difficult questions, and for that, Ambris was thankful.

It wouldn’t last, of course, but until Kian learned the truth, Ambris could pretend they were friends. It had been a very long time since he’d had anyone he could call a friend.

Kian’s hands moved lower, massaging his lower back, and Ambris couldn’t help but squirm. More aroused than he’d ever been, he kept his burning face buried in the pillow so Kian wouldn’t see. He doubted Kian had any interest in men, and even if he did, a man like Kian could have anyone he wanted; he would never look twice at a pale, scrawny thing like Ambris. He closed his eyes and flexed his hips the tiniest bit, pressing his throbbing shaft into the mattress.

His thoughts flew back ten years, to those first fumbling kisses and touches he’d shared with Wes Atherton. It had been during the Harvest Ball at the Fall Council the year before his Wytch power had destroyed his life. They’d slipped away from the crowds and into a dark hallway, and Wes had knelt before him, undone his breeches, and licked and kissed him until Ambris was nearly screaming with pleasure…

His need was so great, it was like a hollow, burning ache that swallowed everything else. He wanted Kian’s hands on him, wanted Kian’s mouth on him, too. Wanted Kian to touch him and kiss him and…

Ambris came with a whimper that he quickly choked off. His cheeks felt like they were on fire, and he buried his face deeper into the pillow, mortified. What must Kian think of him?

But Kian didn’t seem to have noticed. The gentle rhythm of the massage never faltered as Ambris burned with shame. He squeezed his eyes shut and struggled to control his ragged breathing in an attempt to feign sleep.

Eventually, Kian’s rhythm slowed and he lifted his hands from Ambris’s skin. Ambris almost whimpered in protest before he remembered his shame. He bit back the sound before it could escape and lay still as Kian carefully eased himself off the bed.

The healer pulled Ambris’s nightshirt back down and the covers back up, then quietly tended the fire. Ambris held his breath, waiting for him to leave, but Kian remained in the room for a long while before finally slipping out the door and locking it behind him. Ambris lay awake for the rest of the night, wondering if Kian had sensed his arousal.

And what he must think of him if he had.

About the Author

Jaye McKenna icon

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

You can contact Jaye McKenna at     Goodreads| Twitter| Website

Giveaway

Leythe Blade

To celebrate the release of Blackfrost, the author is giving away a copy of Leythe Blade.  You must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Leave a comment here with your email address.  Contest ends May 17th.