Ali Release Review: Touchdown (Game Day Book 1) by T.S. McKinney

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 Rating: 1.5-2 out of 5 stars 
touchdown-by-ts-mckinneyAlexander Bryant has lived his entire life making everyone else happy. After meeting Lincoln, will he have the courage to finally do what makes him happy?

Alexander – I like to imagine myself a rebel – an ass-kicker that takes what he wants regardless of what others think. I make my own path and flip off the people who don’t agree. I laugh in the face of conflict. Nobody tells me what to do.

In reality, everything about me is a lie – past, present, and future. The Bryant name requires certain things and all my decisions are based on those requirements. I like football, but the family name demands I love it. I want to be an artist, but the family name demands I be a lawyer. The family demands I fall in love with a nice girl, but I’m falling for, well, the opposite of nice AND girl. I’m a coward and a liar.

Lincoln – I like to imagine myself a loner – a cold heartless bastard that takes what he wants. I lived the biggest part of my life with parents that were ashamed of me for more reasons that one could begin to count, so I trust no one.

I have a low tolerance for bullshit and hate liars.

So why did I go and fall in love with the biggest liar of them all?
Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me for a lot of different reasons.  I had issues right from the beginning because one of the first scenes is Alexander being pulled up onto the stage at a BDSM club and not wanting to go.  He was uncomfortable, had been drinking and didn’t know the Dom doing the scene (our other MC Lincoln). What kind of decent Dom would do this?  After this Lincoln sends Alexander’s friends away (Who leaves their friend with a total stranger like this?) and then Alexander wakes up naked in Lincoln’s bed the next morning.  That is the beginning of their “relationship”.  Nothing that happened in this first part of the story made any sense to me.  I couldn’t get my head around who would do these things.  I didn’t find it either sexy or romantic.  It was more “Run from the controlling psycho while you still can”.
I didn’t care for Lincoln at all.  He was pushy and did not come across as a Dom, just a controlling guy who wanted his way.  There were no discussions of what Alexander was comfortable with or wanted.  Alexander was supposed to be a straight guy but there was no real discussion of that and he jumped from never having sex with a guy or being in a BDSM situation to full on scenes.  None of it seemed realistic to me.  If not unrealistic then at least very unsafe.  I didn’t feel that either character was well developed at all.  All they really do is have sex and it bothers me when authors just throw in a bunch of sex and expect that I will equate that with emotional development.  
A lot of the book was poorly edited and it contained my biggest book pet peeve ever.  Guys referring to each other as “pussies” every time they have an emotion or feeling.  I can’t stand seeing my gender used as a slander (& in such a crude way).  If it had just happened once or twice I would have overlooked it but it happened almost 30x.  Also, despite having had previous satisfying relationships with women, Alexander decides he’s “gay” for Lincoln. I’m not fond of bisexuality being dismissed and overlooked as a plot device.
Honestly I would have do not finished this book had I have not been reading it for a review.  I didn’t not care for the characters and I found the plot very unrealistic.  The writing style did not appeal to me and I had personal issues with a few things as mentioned.  This book unfortunately was not a win for me. 
Cover:  I love the cover.  I think it’s fantastic and it’s what drew me to the book in the first place.
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Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 217 pages
Published September 7th 2016 by Dark Hollows Press LLC
ASINB01LT3OB92
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesGame Day #1

A Free Dreamer Review: 18% Gray (Task Force Iota #1) by Anne Tenino

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

18-gray-by-anne-teninoIn a future where the United States has split along party lines, Agent Matt Tennimore’s job is to get people out of the Confederated Red States, whether they’re captured special ops agents from his own country or gay CRS citizens who’ve petitioned for asylum. He never expected to have to retrieve his high school crush, aka the guy who ostracized him for being gay.
Rescuing James Ayala isn’t going to be easy: he’s crawling with tracking nanos and has a cybernetic brain implant that’s granted him psychic power he isn’t sure how to control. That’s the good news. The bad? The implant is compromising James’s mental stability.
So they’re on the run, avoiding surveillance by AI aircraft and hiding from enemy militia. Then James confesses he tormented Matt in high school because James wanted him. Matt can’t resist the temptation James offers, but he wants so much more than sex, assuming they ever make it home alive. Is James really a good bet when he’s got a ticking time bomb in his brain and there’s the question of how much he’s actually changed?

I was really looking forward to this book. I’ve wanted to read it for years, so my expectations were of course especially high. Unfortunately, “18% Gray” ultimately didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The idea that the USA will split into conservative and liberal parts in the distant future is not something I’ve come across before. I think that’s actually somewhat realistic, though a bit more historical background as to why and how exactly that happened would have been nice.

James’ brain is essentially a ticking time bomb. The implant in his brain is acting up and giving him weird new abilities he seems to have no real control over. That part was utterly intriguing and very well written.

Matt is a badass mercenary guy who’s still hurt because James called him a fag once in high school. Too bad he now has to go and rescue James. I’m usually not too fond of the enemies-to-lovers trope but it worked here. There wasn’t a huge gulf separating the two of them, so I was much more inclined to believe they were able to overcome the hurt feelings of the past. Still, I never quite felt any real chemistry between the two of them.

What bothered me the most was the amount of sex in this book. Or maybe not exactly the amount but the moments when they chose to have sex. James and Matt are running for their lives and yet there’s a time for a quickie? Even though the enemy is hot on their heels? Even though the enemy could easily discover them if they make too much noise? They were never able to keep their hands off each other, no matter how dangerous the situation. That just seemed incredibly unrealistic and really spoiled the suspense for me.

Most of the time it felt a bit as if the plot had to take a backseat, just so the two of them could either have sex or sink into relationship angst. It was just over the top.

The supporting characters were very clichéd and sometimes pretty annoying.

Overall, I still liked some parts of the story and mostly felt entertained. There is room for improvement, though. I probably won’t read the next part of the series, even if the next couple promises to be exciting as well.

Long story short: If you like steamy romance between two badass military boys with a dash of dystopia, then this is the book for you.

If, however, you’re looking for dystopia with serious world building and a realistic romance, then keep looking.

Cover: The cover by Anne Cain shows our two heroes with a desolate landscape in the background. It fits the story and the shirtless eye-candy is also very nice to look at.

Sales Links

        

Book details:

ebook, 280 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 31st 2011)
Original Title18% Gray
ISBN 1613720793 (ISBN13: 9781613720790)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesTask Force Iota #1 settingIdaho (United States)
Oregon (United States)

An Alisa Review: Open Omega and His Bitter Bear (Pariah Pack #4) by Susan Laine

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

open-omega-and-his-bitter-beanAs an omega, Woody Fry balances the unity of his wolf pack and serves as a gardener and healer. He’s an outspoken and optimistic twink who always supports his family and is ever ready to take a leap of faith. An unexpected intrusion into the wolf territory on an autumn’s day brings Woody face to face with a sullen, young coywolf and an equally morose, hostile bear in his prime.

 

Brown bear Lyss Arthur doesn’t trust anyone, preferring to keep to himself and radiating an air of rage. When the two opposites realize they’re mates, all bets are off. But Lyss isn’t on the market for a mate, so Woody has his work cut out.

 

Soon the wolf pack learns that the bear and coywolf are on the lam. They’re pursued by a lethal enemy who’ll stop at nothing to get them back. Protecting the bear and his teenage ward might prove deadly for everyone concerned.

 

Woody is absolutely adorable and so optimistic it’s like a breath of fresh air.  Despite the bad things that have happened in his life he looks for the good in others and situations.  Lyss is grumbly bear who doesn’t feel as though he can see any good in anything anymore.

 

In this story we can see how much Woody would like to push Lyss, but knows it’s best to wait.  Lyss has trouble seeing how things can get better until it comes down to a confrontation and Woody’s pack stands up for him and the coywolf showing him that they are welcome and loved.  I was rooting for these two the whole time even if Lyss did make a few stupid mistakes and had to be slapped upside the head with the truth for him to see it.

 

The cover art is very nice and gives a good visual for the characters.

 

Sales Links: Siren Publishing

 

Book Details:

ebook, 126 pages

Published: September 7, 2016 by Siren Publishing

Edition Language: English

Series: Pariah Pack #4

Cover Reveal for Alpha Barman by Sue Brown

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Sue Brown – Alpha Barman

Release Date: November 24 2016
 
Blurb
 

Jake Tyler walked out of Special Ops two years ago, a devastated, broken man after he discovered his sister brutally murdered by her husband, Riley. Since then heís found a kind of peace running a rural bar. The last thing Jake Tyler expects is his former team to turn up with grim news. Jakeís ex-brother-in-law has escaped from prison and is heading Jakeís way. The team is here to protect Jake, whether he likes it or not ñ a decision reluctantly shared by their leader, Jakeís ex-lover Mitch Mitchelson.

Mitch is angry and hurting. The man he trusted ñ the man he adored more than anything ñ abandoned both his team and Mitch. Jake never gave Mitch a chance to help or come to terms with his desertion. Regardless of mission protocols, Mitch isnít about to open his heart again to that kind of pain.

But the strong attraction between them canít be denied. How are they ever going to work together when Mitch still resents Jakeís disappearance, and to Jake, the team represents everything that destroyed him in the first place? And meantime they wait for Riley to find them… and to settle the threat once and for all.

Author Bio

 
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has become an expert at ignoring the orders.

 Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. She had an Aha moment and put pen to paper that same day. Sue may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Come over and talk to Sue at:
sue@suebrownstories.com
Her website can be found at:
http://www.suebrownstories.com/

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Alicia Nordwell On the Importance of Choosing Your Setting and ‘On Fire’, the Latest States of Love release! (guest blog and giveaway)

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On Fire (States of Love) by Alicia Nordwell
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Alicia Nordwell here today, sharing her latest release, On Fire, and talking about writing location, specifically that of Washington from On Fire. Welcome, Alicia.

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Why Choosing Your Setting is Important

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This goes against the grain for me, unless an author is picking a place they know very well. If you don’t or aren’t willing to take the time to really learn about your chosen location? Don’t do it! You’ll upset the readers who do know the area well, and your details won’t be nearly as rich. Your best bet is always to do either 1) Make Believe Town, USA or 2) Out of This World. My favorite is Out of This World, of course, since I love to write sci-fi. But what happens when I’m writing contemporary, urban fantasy, or contemporary-paranormal stories? That’s when I dust off my generalities. We’ve all read those books which could be any city, any town, even yours. It makes it very easy to play fast and loose with your setting.

But the challenge with On Fire was exactly the opposite. In this story, my goal was to bring Washington to life for the readers, so I did what I’ve seldom done before. I showed you ‘home’. Have I been everywhere the characters have? No. But many of the locations I shared are ones I’ve been. Mt. Adams dominated the area I grew up as the prime camping destination. Campgrounds? Oh no! My family does exactly what Scottie did… we’re out in the middle of the wilderness. We do bring a lot of creature comforts—no tarp for a tent and hot dogs on a stick for us—but we’re pretty far out there. Nothing beats walking out of camp to hike around, picking huckleberries for pancakes or playing in the freezing cold creeks. My camera gets a real workout each trip.

Everyone knows wilderness abounds in Washington, but most people think of that landscape. Evergreens, pine trees, mountains, and rain. Well, we have that, but I also grew up on the desert side. That’s right, we have a desert side. My mom visited in June for the first time and her first question was, “I thought Washington was green.” Well, it is, but it isn’t. Summer on that side of the state is all about tall, yellow grasses and spare flowers like Bachelor Buttons—which just so happens to be today’s picture. I took it up the Columbia River Gorge, just behind my dad’s place.

I could go on and on about the natural areas I love and wanted to share in On Fire, but I had to also include the wonderful cities we have here. We’re… eclectic. You can see all sorts of people here, from the man in a business suit while wearing a bunny stocking cap coming out of the Thai restaurant at noon on a Tuesday to grunge is “normal”. Everyone knows about Starbucks and Pike’s Place Market, but did you know about Marsh’s Free Museum, home of Jake the Alligator Man? No? Well make sure you read On Fire, so you can visit some of my favorite places with Scottie and Jax. I’m considering another story set in Washington, so let me know what areas you’d like to visit, or have visited and would love to see featured.

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Blurb

Nothing beats getting out of the concrete jungle and into the quiet of the forest. Website designer Scottie Ness is taking a well-deserved vacation from the grindstone, and he plans to spend it in the solitude of Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. Adams. He’s prepared for everything—except the lightning storm that traps him in a wildfire.

The firefighter who rescues him sustains serious injuries and ends up in the hospital. Jax Quintero might be abrasive, but the guy saved his life, and Scottie wants to thank him. As they spend time together during Jax’s recovery and exploring the state’s landmarks when he’s released from the hospital, Scottie discovers there’s more to Jax than a smart-ass adrenaline junkie. Jax reassesses his opinion of Scottie as an arrogant city boy who has no business in the mountains. Though Jax’s wounds prevent them from taking things as far as they’d like for a while, they can’t deny the heat building between them—and this is one fire they don’t want to put out.

Excerpt

Chapter One

“WHAT EXOTIC tropical locale are you going to spend your vacation drunk in?” Carter leaned back in his chair so he could see into Scottie’s cubicle. He smirked. “Or are you hitting the casinos in Vegas to make your fortune and leave all of us to toil away in the trenches alone?”

“Neither. Hiking and camping in the Gifford Pinchot around Mt. Adams.” Scottie adjusted a line of code, and the website header widened. “I’m all set to go in the morning.”

“Seriously? You have a week off in August, and you’re going to waste it trudging through the dirt and pine trees when you could be lounging on the beach somewhere?” Carter shook his head. “Wouldn’t catch me doing that. Aren’t there bears and cougars up there?”

Scottie shrugged one shoulder. “I might see a bear, if I’m lucky. Cougars are actually pretty shy.”

“You want to see a bear?”

“It’d make a great picture.” The website he was working on needed to be visually appealing on both computers and mobile devices, and he was having a hard time focusing. “It’s Friday. Don’t you have some reason to duck out and start the weekend early?”

“Nope. Miranda, Tark, and I are all going out for happy hour at Corrigan’s, but not until six. Don’t try to change the subject. You know you can take pictures at the beach, right? White sand, crystal blue water, and palm trees swaying in front of the setting sun.”

“Dime a dozen. I like living in Washington because we have so many places where I can take beautiful nature photos. Coastline, rivers, lakes, mountains, even the desert, all within a few hours’ drive. Besides, I’m still paying off my student loans. I don’t have money for expensive vacations.”

“Two words. Credit cards.”

Of course. Carter wore name-brand shoes with his fancy suits and never brought a lunch, preferring to order takeout. He’d graduated a year before Scottie, so it wasn’t like he made that much more money. “One word. Stupid.”

Carter rolled his eyes. “Whatever, man. When I take my week off next month, I’m going to Hawaii. Hotel on the beach, coconut drinks, and chicks in bikinis. Any women you come across in the campground will probably be covered in pitch and pine needles.”

“I’m not going to stay in the campgrounds. I’m hiking and camping off the trails, and for the most part, I won’t see any people at all.”

A look of horror crossed Carter’s face. “Seriously?”

He nodded. “I used to go camping with my family all the time growing up. We’d hike, fish, roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. It’s peaceful.”

“Whatever, man. When you get munched on by a bear, can I get your chair?”

It was Scottie’s turn to roll his eyes. “I’m not going to get eaten by a bear, and your chair is the same as mine. Why would you want it?”

“I spilled fish sauce on mine earlier this week, and now it smells funny.”

“Well you can’t have my chair, and I’ll notice if there’s a fish funk on mine when I get back, so don’t even try to switch them. Don’t you have a project to finish? I have to get this done before I leave.”

“Fine, fine.” Carter rolled back to his desk. “Have fun communing with wildlife.”

SCOTTIE ROLLED up his backpacking tent with an extra tarp and fastened it to the bottom of his pack. His sleeping bag, a change of clothes, survival kit, portable stove, water filter, and food fit inside. The rest of his camping gear was piled along the wall, taking up most of the living room floor in his postage stamp of an apartment. He plopped down on the couch with a beer and opened his laptop.

Using a red highlighter, he outlined the trails he planned to take and marked his base camp as well as his possible overnight camping sites before printing out two copies. Picking up a pen, Scottie scribbled his full name, the dates of his trip, and what kind of vehicle he was driving on the back of one map. He’d drop it off at the ranger station before he stopped in Trout Lake for some sandwiches. No idea what they did to make them taste so great, but they were way better than anything he could make. He’d have to stop by the ATM on the way out of Vancouver to pick up some cash.

Now that he had all the nitty-gritty survival stuff out of the way, he had to get his photography equipment in order. Scottie didn’t spend much money on himself, but he had a nice Canon camera, lenses, a flexible tripod for his hiking pack, and a bigger telescoping tripod in its own bag. Using a polishing cloth from his cleaning kit, Scottie went over every piece of glass in his camera bag, making sure all the lenses and filters were spotless. Photography might be just a hobby, but he took pride in getting that one shot that made all the hard work worth it.

He’d finished his beer by the time he had the last memory card and battery stowed, and he waffled on what he wanted to do. He’d been up since six, worked a full day, and finished getting all his camping gear ready to load in the morning, but he wasn’t tired enough to go to bed. The weather report he checked promised sunny days and clear nights—though it wouldn’t be nearly as warm around Mt. Adams as it would be in Portland.

Author Bio

The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.

Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she’s a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course! She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.

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