A BJ Review: Just a Bit Ruthless (Straight Boys #6) by Alessandra Hazard

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Just A Bit RuthlessStockholm syndrome or Love?

When you want someone completely wrong for you…

Luke Whitford has always dreamed of meeting Mr. Right. A hopeless romantic at heart, he dreams of falling in love with a nice man, getting married, and having a bunch of adorable babies. The problem is, Luke has the propensity for being attracted to men who are anything but nice.

Roman Demidov, a homophobic, cynical billionaire who has a grudge against Luke’s father, is certainly not Mr. Right. Cold, manipulative, and ruthless, he’s not a nice man and he doesn’t pretend to be.

Luke is fully aware that Roman is all wrong for him. His attraction to the guy is just some sort of Stockholm syndrome; it must be. If life were a fairy tale, Roman would be the main villain, not the hero. But even villains can fall in love. Or can they?

The story of a boy who dreamed of Prince Charming and ended up falling for the Beast.

Can I start by saying up front that I absolutely love this series. It’s one of the few that when a new book comes out, I absolutely must read it right away. Like the first day if possible. I was especially looking forward to this book after the teaser leading into it at the end of book five. And enjoyed this story. I really did. But I was also disappointed for several reasons.

The set up for from the last book had seemed to promise something dark, and as I began to read I could see so much potential here to be that dark and angsty read I’d been hoping for–but it really didn’t go that way. In fact, it was rather fluffy and sweet. That disappointed me–I’d been looking forward to going a bit dark. Also disappointing was that it seemed to lack that raw, hot sexual tension that the series usually delivers for me.

I believe both are related to the way some key elements are glossed over and just “told” rather than actually being seen on page. For example, when Luke is first kidnapped, he is beaten and mistreated by Roman’s people… but we don’t get to see that. He simply tells us after. Why!? Living through that with him could have made the story so much more raw, visceral, and lent that hint of darkness that I’d been expecting, and thus longed for!

As for the characters, I liked Luke from the other stories, and enjoyed how he finally discovered who he was and became the person he’d suppressed. Roman was interesting and a good match to him. However, I felt like there could have been more development. For instance, Luke tells us he acts very submissive in order to pull Roman from dark moods, but I wanted to see that rather than have him tell me. And we are told repeatedly that Roman is a bad guy, but yet we are never really shown that by his actions (nor is it really explained in a concrete manner).

There are many sections in this story where I felt like I should have felt angst from the guys, but just didn’t.

Roman’s past hurt, the death of someone close to him at the hands of Luke’s father, is a driving force behind the plot since it’s the reason that he kidnapped Luke in the first place. Yet Roman’s angst over the event didn’t come through for me. And the revenge aspect itself is played down, which confused me being it was one of the MC’s motivating force.

Luke’s had suspected his Dad wasn’t all above board, but when he discovers some truths about what his father actually did, it just doesn’t seem to affect him much. That should be a bit of an angsty thing, right? To find out that your father has done some truly awful things? But that felt glossed over as well.

Even regarding the relationship, Roman had very little angst over his attraction to a guy even though it’s said that is not something he’d ever done or felt before and that in his country it is not very accepted.

We are given just a tiny taste of daddy kink from Luke, but it’s not developed beyond that one bite! Considering that Luke said he didn’t love his own father, I’d really liked to have explored that some.

So this story had the potential to be awesome. But I felt like all the stuff that was told but not fleshed out resulted in the relationship lacking the vital intensity of the others of the series.

I wanted more detail, more dark, more angst, more development of plot and character. Just overall more of every thing… except one. I could have done with less POVs. There are five (the two MC, plus three other brief step-ons). Each of these rather threw me, and I actually didn’t feel like they were necessary for the story.

Okay, so all that might make it sound like I didn’t enjoy the story, but as I said at the beginning of the review, I did really. It just had so much potential and I wanted MORE of so many things that it left me disappointed in the end.

There is another interesting set up for the next story, Dominick and his rescued homeless boy Sammy, which as usual I will be snapping up as soon as it comes out.

The cover is sexy as hell. Two thumbs up.

Sales Links:  Amazon


Book Details: 208 pages

Published June 1, 2016 by Alessandra Hazard

A Jeri Review: Wolf, en Garde (Wolf #2) by A.F. Henley

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

Wolf en Garde Front CoverThree years ago Lyle made a mistake that cost him his freedom, and almost his life. Now, sick to death of watching his father love the man that Lyle wanted, Lyle accepts an offer to leave Wolf, WY behind and see what life in Washington, D.C. can do for him instead.

When Lyle comes across a seductive, attractive stranger with a fascinating yet terrifying view of humanity, he’s more than intrigued. It doesn’t take Lyle long to realize that Arius isn’t just playing games, though, and when Lyle runs across a secret in Arius’ lair he has no choice but to flee, even knowing his actions will enrage Arius.

On the run, with only a psychic’s second sight and his own instinct to help him, Lyle has nowhere to go but home. The only question is, will they have him when he shows up.This book is a follow up to Wolf, WY. In that book father and son shifters were vying for the same man- although that man was only interested in one of them. Fast forward a bit to this book.

Lyle and family head to Washington, DC to visit his dad’s boyfriend’s family. Lyle has never been out of Wyoming and although he is completely uninterested in the “family” part of the family trip- he is beyond excited to see a new place. Even though his father forbade him from shifting while there. But Lyle was never really one to listen. After shifting and sneaking out his first night, Lyle comes across an old vampire who is determined to woo him. Young, impressionable, never out of WY Lyle falls right into his spell. But the vampire has some dark secrets.

So when I started reading the story I assumed that Lyle and the vampire, Arius, were the couple to fall in love against all odds, yada yada. I was wrong. In fact, we don’t meet the man Lyle is going to fall for until about two thirds into the book.

Honestly, this book kind of felt like a super fleshed out outline that was basically just setting us up for book three. Tons of things were left up in the air, too many questions left unanswered. And the instalove between Lyle and BOTH guys (ok, instalust?) was just a bit much.

Why did Arius taunt Lyle about Randy? How was Randy’s dad so clueless about Randy’s mom? Why was Randy’s mom so incredibly cold toward her son?

Too many questions which beg for a book three, but I really don’t know if I will invest my time in book three.

The dark cover with only bright green eyes and a full moon visible is catching, yet not unique for a wolf shifter book.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press |  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 254 pages
Published May 18th 2016 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN 1620047748 (ISBN13: 9781620047743)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesWolf #2 settingWashington, D.C. (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Last Enemy (Agents of Influence Book 1) by Christian Beck

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Last EnemySimon Monk was raised to follow in the military footsteps of his father and all the males in his line. Highly decorated for his time in Delta Force and his five tours of duty in war zones, Simon expected to serve in the military until he could go no further. But his lover betrayed the US by defecting to Beijing with Intelligence secrets and that not only ended their relationship but Simon’s life in the military as well. After he ruthlessly hunted the man down and executed him, he served out the remainder of his time and quietly retired with an honorable discharge.

Recruited by the CIA into a largely unknown group within the organization, Monk is sent to Cairo when the head of station there and his husband disappear suddenly. Knowing the man well, Monk realizes Jack would never just abandon his post, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. He and his team, which includes a man he not only highly respects but who happens to be his sometimes lover, manage to discover the remains of the couple, but it turns out Monk and his team have only scratched the surface of the mess going on in Egypt.

As the mystery gets deeper with each layer Monk peels off, he and his lover, Ben, become more involved with each other at the same time they are falling further in danger from unknown powers. The story is very, very full of graphic violence, including torture and descriptions of executions and fight-to-the-death battles. But it’s also full of political intrigue, Middle Eastern culture, and quite fascinating facts about Intelligence forces.

I found it to be an amazingly complex, action-packed, and gritty drama. When I finished the story and read the author notes about his fascination with Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, I instantly recalled having the same feelings he described as I sat in the theater watching those big screen movies for the first time. And I’m happy to say the author absolutely nailed that sense of an epic saga with this story.

The book wasn’t something I originally planned to read, but an opportunity to read it for review came up and I’m so glad I took it! If you like very complex, action-packed, intriguing mysteries, heavy on the military and paramilitary action, and you don’t mind blood and gore, by all means don’t hesitate to read this book.

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The cover by Reese Dante shows a silhouette of a man’s torso and head done in sepia tones on which is superimposed pyramids, a golden fox head, two military men in full gear, and a band of desert fighters on camels. All are symbolic of the content of the story, and it’s very well done; however I had no idea of the significance of the cover until I completed the story. So the bottom line is that the cover didn’t attract me to the book but I can see the significance now that I’ve completed it.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: July 5th 2016 by DSP Publications
ASIN B01HM8F1RO
Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Succumbing to His Fear by River Mitchell

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RATING  4 out of 5 stars

Succumbing To His FearAfter a life changing event makes Alfie the legal guardian of his estranged step-siblings, as well as a chance meeting one drunken night, he finds his world turned upside down when he discovers that everything he thought he knew about himself was catastrophically wrong.

Before meeting Alfie and his family, Fear was content with his casual hookups and one-night stands, purposefully keeping everyone at an arm’s length. As Alfie comes into his burgeoning feelings, a curveball shakes the two men, threatening to destroy Fear and his new found chance at happiness with Alfie.

With everything thrown into turmoil, Fear decides to fight for those he loves, Alfie and his family included. Will they be able to survive the collateral damage around them, or will they lose everything?

Alfie is 24 years old when he gets the news his father, unseen for about two decades, is killed in a car accident. The same dad who built a whole new family which Alfie knew nothing about. His two siblings are now waiting for him to take care of them. Moreover they are in the States, not in London where Alfie lives and to look after them, he needs to move to Pennsylvania. Of course he can’t abandon them and there  will begin a new life to Alfie and his new big family.

I admit I’m a sucker for those kind of stories, I adore reading about children and the first meeting with Griffin and Lily left me with puffy eyes.  I loved the nuggets.The book caught my attention from the start. It was hard to put my kindle down and deal with my RL. I liked the characters, all of them, especially cause I usually enjoy a large support cast and here we had so many great second characters I’d love to read more of. One more thing I loved was how easily Alfie accepted his desire for Fear, no second thoughts, no issues to solve, he just followed his heart and body.

The only reason why I’m giving Succumbing To His Fear “only” 4 stars is due to the mystery part, so unreal, it simply didn’t convince me. But if you can overcome the trite ending, you will find the novel by River Mitchell a pleasure to read. I surely will read the next book in the series about Tate and Talon. Can’t wait!

The beautiful cover by Jay Aheer is a winner to me.

Sale link:  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 185 pages

Published February 26th 2016 by Via Star Wings Books

ASIN B01AVVS3JM

Edition Language English

  

A Lila Review: The Pirate of Fathom’s Deep by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

The Pirates of Fathoms DeepHigh Commander Lesto Arseni is the most feared man in the Harken Empire. None but the High King dares risk his wrath—and a pirate who once punched him in the middle of the imperial pavilion. A pirate who later snuck away with Lesto to an empty room, touched him in ways far more memorable. And then immediately bolted like a man who’d gotten what he wanted.

Shemal just wants to live a normal life, leave his pirating days behind him and prove that he’s respectable now. The last thing he needs is the two idiots who show up wanting his help with the noble they’ve kidnapped—the very man Shemal had been hoping to prove himself to, the man he hasn’t forgotten since Shemal punched him a year and a half ago.

The Pirate of Fathoms Deep is a marvelous tale of friendship and love between two strong men. There’s a small mention of the incident that brought Lesto and Shemal together in the first book in the series, but not enough to realized more had happened or would happen between the two of them.

Lesto is Harken’s High Commander, but more importantly, he’s High King Sarrica’s right hand and best friend. Their friendship kept them alive in the battlefield and now, helped them run the Empire. Their bromance stays strong in this book and extends to Allen and Shemal, too. Lesto is also the Duke of Fathoms Deep and Nyle’s and Rene’s older brother. He runs his troops and his family/friends like a well-oiled machine.

Shemal is trying to put his pirate ways behind him, but trouble met him at his door. The last thing he expected in his remote parcel were two of his mates bringing him, without warning, the very man he had wanted for the last eighteen months. The man he was trying to be better for. But after all, a pirate can’t resist a treasure.

Since that first encounter, they have been jonesing for the other without a way to get in contact. They both wanted normal lives with a family and a partner. They keep a strong veneer for everyone else, but when together, they were able to relax and be vulnerable. The way the first met, didn’t allow the other to share their wants, but in the end, destiny brought them together. The chain of events they were involved in helped to bring them closer and closer until they surrendered to each other.

In comparison to The King’s Golden Tongue, this second book in the series is more up to point. The reader is familiar with the Harken Empire and has a better understanding of all the little details that make this world work. All the characters we loved are back, and we get to know more about Sarrica & Allen and Rene & Lord Tara.

Even with only 54K words, this story has enough twists and turns to keep us reading the next page, and the next page, and… The author did an outstanding job keeping this story simple and not allowing the kingdom troubles to interfere with the romance. The main plot is Lesto’s and Shemal’s relationship; everything else is well-written but secondary. We get enough information to follow what’s happening with the Empire and to set the next book in the series without losing perspective.

Another great cover by John Coulthart. The colors of the duchy make it appealing, and the images from the settings are beautiful. Plus, it matches the cover of the first installment.

Sale Links: LT3 | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages
Published: July 13, 2015, by Less Than Three Press
ISBN: 9781620047934
Edition Language: English

Series: Tales of the High Court
Book #1: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Book #2: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep
Book #3: The Heart of the Lost Star (2017)

C.J. Baty on Writing Historical Western Romances and The Pinkerton Man Series (excerpts and giveway)

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The Pinkerton Man Series Banner

Title: The Pinkerton Man Series
Author:  C.J. Baty
Genre: Gay Romance, Historical/Western
Length: Short story + Novella
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have C.J. Baty here today to talk about historical romances. Welcome, C.J.

Why write a western/historical romance?

That’s an extremely good question because I never in my wildest dreams thought I would. When Wayward Ink Publishing put out a call for stories for an anthology, “Men in Uniform”, I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of this. I’d been a fan of WIP and their anthologies for quite a while. I did have a problem though. I had no idea what to write.

There are so many great cop, firefighter, defective stories out there. Some of my favorite authors write those kinds of stories but I had never attempted it. So what was I going to write. My mind flashed back to a fan fiction story I wrote several years ago and I wondered could I use that theme but put in America during the same time period. I did my research and found that the Pinkerton Agency was in its early beginnings  and they had a very distinctive uniform . . . bowler hats, long leather coats and a unique badge. That was it for me. When Lily Velden informed me that the Pinkerton Man had been accepted for the anthology, it was a joyful day indeed. I was going to be a part of the Wayward Ink family.

I fell in love with Stiles from the moment I first typed his name. He’s not ashamed of who he is or with whom desires. There are times when he has self doubts, but he is a loyal to those he cares about and he is driven to see justice done. He was a character that I could see having many adventures. I can’t wait to share more of them with you.

Book One Synopsis

THE PINKERTON MAN

Stiles Langberry leaves England under the dark cloud of blackmail.

He resettles in America with a new name, becoming a Pinkerton Agent.

His new employer sends him undercover to a brothel that serves homosexual men, where prostitutes are being murdered. In the course of his investigation, he becomes involved with Paul, one of the prostitutes. Complicating matters, one of the suspects draws Stiles like no man before him. Stiles knows he must stop the killer before he strikes again.

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Book One Synopsis

HOME ON THE RANGE

Pinkerton Agent Stiles Long is sent to the Circle W Ranch to uncover who is killing the ranch’s cattle. In order to discover the truth about the goings on at the ranch, Stiles has to prove to the ranchers he’s more than a good-looking city slicker.

Savage Beare, the head ranch foreman, is far from happy that Stiles is there to check things out. He has secrets of his own.

Stiles finds Savage incredibly good-looking, but cold and aloof.

He’s also a suspect. One of many.

When Stiles’ best friend and partner, Lizzie Ferguson, is kidnapped things begin to shake apart.

Stiles doesn’t trust anyone and he needs to find Lizzie before it’s too late.

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Buy Links

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/pinkerton-man-series-by-cj-baty/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-pinkertonmanseries-2058762-158.html
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/

Book Trailer

Giveaway

Prizes: $4.99 WIP Gift Card, 1 ebook copy of Drifting Sands, 1 ebook copy of Island Paradise and 1 ebook copy of Whispers, Rumors, & Lies

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About the author

CJ BATY lives in southwest Ohio with her very patient husband and two encouraging children. Her heart however, lives in the mountains of Tennessee where she hopes to retire some day. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.

The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to Fan Fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected.

One thing she has learned from life and she is often heard to say is, “You are never too old to follow your dream!”

C.J. BATY can be found at:

Website: http://cjbaty.blogspot.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=344242482358480&fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbaty