A Stella Review: Snakes Among Sweet Flowers by Jason Huffman-Black

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RATING  4 out of 5 stars

Snakes Among the FlowersTwo-time ex-con Camden Sanders has decided that Hog Mountain—an isolated community on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia—is the perfect place to continue running small scams without the threat of more prison time. But there are a few problems with this plan. One is the neighborly citizens of Hog Mountain thwarting his dirty dealings at every turn with their kindness. Another is Jackson Rhodes, a closeted Hog Mountain police officer who can see right through Cam’s good ol’ boy act and plans to catch him red-handed despite the attraction they both can feel. But the biggest problem of all is that Cam’s past is threatening to catch up with him, and it could mean trouble for more than just himself.

I already read a little free short by Jason Huffman-Black called I Am The Highway and I was pleasurably surprised by the author style. That’s why as soon I saw the new Snakes Among Sweet Flowers I was dying to read it. And the cover was a huge bonus.

Let’s start with the bad part of this review. There were some things I didn’t like: first the sex with Grant, cause I don’t like to see my MCs have sex with a third person, even if they are not together yet. I so wanted to smack Cam, not just for continuing be a some kind of thief, but for not waiting for his prince charming, Jackson. I know, there are no princes here, still I hated him. Then I didn’t like how the author chose to solve the mystery part. I felt so bad for a character who had just redeemed himself in my eyes. It wasn’t right to me and for his sweet family. Plus I had a hard time at the start at seeing Cam and Jackson made for each other and I missed some sweetness among them, till the end I was waiting for a kiss, a cuddle I didn’t get.

That said, I liked the book a lot. First of all I love stories about second chances, in this case the second chance at life Cam gets, and seeing him change so much, the small steps he did until he becomes the man he needed to be for himself and Jackson. The story sucked me in till the end. I felt all the love a great community as Hog Mountain gave to all its members, no one excluded, and when someone tried to not to welcome Cam and Jackson, there is Pastor Jimmy to set everyone straight. A place where Cam learned no one is alone, not even an ex con.

I fell to recommend  Snakes Among Sweet Flowers. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

The cover art by Angsty G is one of my favorite of this year. It simply tempts you to just pick the book and discover the tattooed man’s story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634772369 (ISBN13: 9781634772365)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A BJ Audiobook Review: Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs #3) by Heidi Cullinan and Narrated by Iggy Toma

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Rating:   5 out of 5 stars

DirtyLaundry_AudiobookThe course of true love doesn’t always run clean. But sometimes getting dirty is half the fun.

Entomology grad student Adam Ellery meets Denver Rogers, a muscle-bound hunk of sexy, when Denver effortlessly dispatches the drunken frat boys harassing Adam at the Tucker Springs laundromat. Thanking him turns into flirting, and then, much to Adam’s delight, hot sex over the laundry table.

Though Denver’s job as a bouncer at a gay bar means he gets his pick of geek-sexy college twinks, he can’t get Adam out of his head. Adam seems to need the same rough play Denver does, and it’s damn hard to say no to such a perfect fit.

Trouble is, Adam isn’t just shy: he has obsessive compulsive disorder and clinical anxiety, conditions which have ruined past relationships. And while Denver might be able to bench-press a pile of grad students, he comes from a history of abuse and is terrified of getting his GED. Neither Denver nor Adam want to face their dirty laundry, but to stay together, they’re going to have to come clean.

This one grabbed me right from the first page, and by the end it was officially my favorite of the series… and this was my fifth of the series, I went a bit out of order having started at book five and skipped around.

What fun and likable characters! I thoroughly enjoyed both of these very different characters. They were well-drawn, nuanced, and much more than just their issues. I liked the way the BDSM element in this story came in, not as something that the guys had been out there specifically seeking, but as a way of relating that worked for them for very real and understandable reasons.

Chock full of angst, kink, and sprinkled liberally with sexy bits throughout starting off with an early on sizzling scene in the public laundromat. Denver and Adam just sparked and worked for me as a couple right from that first scene. Really enjoyed seeing a main character who was dealing with OCD and Denver, well… he’s dealing with his own issues which I won’t spoil by revealing. I loved how they accepted each other despite that there was no quick fix here, no true love cures all. And not only were they able to love despite their illnesses and issues and work together to learn to deal with them… but that their issues/quirks had actually been instrumental in drawing them to one another in the first place. I adored how this made me feel that hope that everyone is right for someone just the way they are.

The secondary characters were also very loveable and strong and added a richness and diversity to the story. There was Louisa, Adam’s trans friend; Brad, Adam’s annoying ex who really did seem to care for him despite being a clueless asshat most of the time; Tiny who see’s Denver’s potential and keeps at him to work for him at the gym; and of course characters from the prior stories like El and Jason.

This is the fifth of this series that I’ve read. Narrator Iggy Toma has done an exceptional job with all of the four that he has narrated. The voices for the characters across the series were unique and fit just right with how I’d perceive them. The emotions and quirkiness of these two in particular came through perfectly. I will definitely be on the look out for other audiobooks narrated by him.

The cover by L.C. Chase   does a nice job of establishing the personality and difference of the characters and ties in well with others in the series.

Sales Links:   Riptide PublishingAudible | Amazon | iTunes


Audiobook Details: 

Audible Audio, 8 pages, 7 hrs 34 mins
Published March 30th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published January 28th 2013)
Original TitleDirty Laundry
ASINB01DKVWQH0
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTucker Springs #3 settingColorado (United States)

An Alisa Review: Murder Most Yowl by Quinn Dressler

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Murder Most YowlCat-sitting is a dangerous business.

 

Cameron Sherwood turned his back on law enforcement the night his investigation led to the death of an innocent gay man. Now Cam spends his time running a business that caters to his favorite animal, cats. But when Cam stumbles upon the body of a friend while feeding her feline, he can’t walk away. Dealing with a sexy yet stubborn sheriff, a matchmaking sister, and a terrifying blind date, Cam must somehow track down a killer, all while keeping the cats around him fed with his gourmet cat treats.

 

Cam gave up his father’s approval when he left NCIS and came out as gay.  He has had a hard time living out and proud because he doesn’t really know how to, so his sister has taken it upon herself to set him up on a date.  It just so happens to take place shortly after he finds his friend’s body.  Imagine his surprise when his date is none other than Jake, the frustrating sheriff.

 

I loved both of these characters.  Cam was so open with his feelings and about his life to Jake it was great to see.  They both were so skeptical about their date, but were willing to open to the other.  Their love for their pets helps make the characters easy to connect with.

 

This was a very well developed story, the mystery and romance ran right alongside each other without one over powering the other.  The book had an open ending and I look forward to more stories about Cam and Jake.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is perfect and I wouldn’t do anything different.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages

Published: June 29, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN: 9781634774789

Edition Language: English

 

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Sacrati by Kate Sherwood – audiobook narrated by Dorian Bane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Sacrati_AudiobookThis was an amazing story, both complex and intriguing, and it held my attention throughout the twelve and a half hours of audio.

During a routine scouting expedition, Theos and his band of Sacrati, an elite military unit, come across what could be an advance team of Elkati. Being superior fighters, the Sacrati immediately subdue the invaders and Theos takes them prisoner. Among them is Finnvid, the brother of the King of Elkat. He’s on a secret mission to meet with the Torian War Minister, but it’s ultra-secret, and as we find out later in the story, it’s important to the Warlord that no one find out about it. In the meantime, it quickly becomes apparent that Finnvid is also a healer when Andros, Theos’s best friend, is bitten by a viper along the trail and Finnvid takes steps to save him. Save him he does, but in doing so, he’s come to Theos’s closer attention.

A few days after they get back to their land, Theos spots the Warlord shipping out a group of slaves, but with winter quickly approaching, he’s surprised because this is unusual, but even more—he’s shocked when he sees Finnvid about to be chained by the neck to the rest of the men. He immediately claims Finnvid as his prize for having captured the prisoners, and though he argues about it, the Warlord has no choice but to allow Theos to have him. Theos tells all that he’s claiming Finnvid as his bedwarmer, and a stunned Finnvid has no choice but to follow Theos to his room. As the days go by, what’s even more shocking to Finnvid is the Torian way of having sex with whoever is at hand, usually another soldier. The men think nothing of coupling in front of each other, whether it’s penetrative sex or oral or even handjobs. Pleasure is pleasure to them. But not to Finnvid who has led a sheltered life and comes from a land where men only mate with women and they mate for life.

There’s so much conflict in this story, it’s very important to pay attention to the audiobook at all times. We learn about the Torian way of life, and then when the Torian soldiers accompany the Elkati back to their country in an apparently peaceful mission, we learn even more about their way of life, and we learn just how underhanded the Warlord has been. More danger and intrigue ensue, and it’s quite a long time and even more conflict before Theos and Finnvid find their way back into each other’s good graces, and ultimately into each other’s arms.

Remarkably, in the midst of battle and chaos and political plotting, there is a HEA, one that these two men so richly deserve. I enjoyed listening to the story, and the narrator did a very good job. His voice reminded me of what I would think of as a storyteller of olde days, and the voice he gave Theos was perfect in its gruffness. I didn’t care for the voice he gave Finnvid, however, that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

If you enjoy stories of faraway kingdoms, knights and soldiers, war and intrigue, you should definitely plan to get this audiobook. It was, as I said at the beginning, an amazing story.

Cover art by Kanaxa shows a robed and hooded figure with a sword in each hand. Good symbolism for this story, though in gray and white, it’s not visually appealing.

Sales Links:  Riptide PublishingAudible | Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Released May 26nd 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleSacrati
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://riptidepublishing.com/titles/sacrati

Finalist: Best LGBT SF/F/Horror in the 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards!

An Ali Review: Anthony (Survivor Stories #4) by J.P. Barnaby

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

AnthonyFSAaron Downing worshiped his mother. She saved his life. She did everything for him. But Anthony Downing has a different perspective. He sees the woman who tossed him into a basement for eight long years and forgot he existed. When Anthony decides he’s done being invisible, he packs up and heads for Detroit to stay with his Internet friend Jay, but fate intervenes.

Brendan Mears lost everything the day the man with a gun came into his father’s store. Now, he’s tethered to a business he can’t manage and a brother who resents him.

Different in all the ways that matter, Anthony and Brendan struggle to overcome their psychological obstacles, until a crushing betrayal sends them running for cover and each other.

This was a much anticipated book for me and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint. Anthony is almost 18 at the beginning of the story and he’s lost and adrift.  He’s sneaking out to parties and in love with his best friend who mistreats him.  A series of events lead him to a new life.  He gets a job and some friends and finally begins to learn who he is.  We’ve watched Anthony grow through the course of this series and I’ll admit I was super worried for him at the start of this book.  He comes into his own though and I loved the new characters we meet as Anthony starts this chapter of his life.  Brendan and his brother were great.  There were actually a few times in this book that I didn’t know where the author was headed with the story and that rarely happens to me anymore so I was happy with that.

This book was not as dark as first two books in the series were (I haven’t read book three).  If you’re already a fan of this series I think you’ll enjoy this and if you haven’t read the rest of the series you’ll find this book can easily be read as a stand alone.  For those of you who have read the prior books, there are some scenes with Aaron and his family in this.

Cover by Angsty G. I really like the cover.  This one stays with the style of the previous books in the series and I think it’s a perfect match for Anthony’s book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon US  | ARe

Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Published June 27th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774574 (ISBN13: 9781634774574)Edition LanguageEnglishSeries Survivor Stories

(Goodreads links – add them to your reading lists):

J.P. Barnaby On My Most Beautiful Boy, Inspiration and ‘Anthony’ by JP Barnaby (Tour and Giveaway)

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AnthonyFS

Anthony by JP Barnaby
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Release Date: June 27, 2016
Goodreads Link

Purchase Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US  | ARe 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is lucky to have J.P. Barnaby here today to share the inspiration behind the cover and story of her release, Anthony.  Welcome, J.P.

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My Most Beautiful Boy by J.P. Barnaby

Sometimes, I have to ponder the existence of intelligent design, or fate, or karma—nothing else explains me becoming friends with a young man named Cody. Just shy of his 21st birthday, we met at Pride in Atlanta—a city neither of us lived in. At the time, I was still living in Chicago and Cody was attending college in Birmingham—but as fate would have it, he met a mutual friend and ended up in our little group. We fed him mimosas at Joe’s and steered him away from trouble.

Now, anyone who isn’t a supermodel knows the adage—that really hot people know they’re hot and don’t let you forget it. Cody, one of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen, not only defied that law, but shattered it. Kind, thoughtful, and funny, Cody surprised me with his unpretentious nature. We exchanged numbers and became very close over the intervening years.

The one thing I did tell him that weekend was that I wanted him to model for me. He readily agreed. Little did we know it would take four years and a professional modeling career for that to happen. I knew as I wrote Anthony that this was the book for Cody—this was the character that matched not only his image, but his spirit. So, when I saw the image that eventually became the cover image, we reached out to the photographer and explained. He licensed the image to me, excited by the project.

AngstyG, my cover artist, went to work creating the four cover in a series of masterpieces that only she could create. There are other good cover artists that work for Dreamspinner, but Sam is my Goddess. She does all of my covers – from Aaron to In the Absence of Monster to A Heart for Robbie. Each one is unique and truly exceptional—Anthony is no exception. The original photograph was taken in a wooden area, but because Anthony is a runaway, she put him against the alley wall. It’s a striking image.

I am incredibly lucky not only with my friends, but with my models, and my artist.

They are truly extraordinary people.

Pairing: M/M

Length: Novel Length

Genre/Tags: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Hurt/Comfort

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Book Blurb

A Survivor Story

Aaron Downing worshiped his mother. She saved his life. She did everything for him. But Anthony Downing has a different perspective. He sees the woman who tossed him into a basement for eight long years and forgot he existed. When Anthony decides he’s done being invisible, he packs up and heads for Detroit to stay with his Internet friend Jay, but fate intervenes.

Brendan Mears lost everything the day the man with a gun came into his father’s store. Now, he’s tethered to a business he can’t manage and a brother who resents him.

Different in all the ways that matter, Anthony and Brendan struggle to overcome their psychological obstacles, until a crushing betrayal sends them running for cover and each other.

Excerpt

A faint chill clung to his skin, and he caught the soft scent of burning as he bent to pick up his vodka. Someone must have been using a fire pit in the quiet of a Saturday night in suburbia. Anthony liked the smell. It reminded him of the backyard barbecues they’d thrown when his family was whole. Before Aaron proved Copernicus wrong and became the center of the fucking universe.

Before Anthony became the invisible boy.

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Author Bio

JP Barnaby, an award-winning gay romance novelist, is the author of over two dozen books, including Aaron and the Little Boy Lost Series. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance, but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not hanging out with hot guys in leather, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix. A physics geek, she likes the science side of Sci-Fi, and wants to grow up to be Reed Richards.

Want to keep up with JP’s latest releases?

Follow her on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or on her Website.

Anthony Promo Image 1