A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Pansies (Spires Universe) by Alexis Hall

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

pansies-by-alexis-hallWhew!  I’m emotionally exhausted from following just a few weeks in the lives of Alfie and Fen as they rediscover each other and move their relationship forward from enemies to lovers.

When Alfie leaves his posh London apartment, secured with money he’s made while working as a financial guru for the past seven years, he drives in his equally posh sports car back to his hometown of South Shields in Northern England where nothing is posh.  It’s rundown and depressing, and yet he feels hopeful and renewed by getting in touch with his roots.  A night out has an unexpected result—he spies a hot twink with long hair and a gorgeous ass in the local bar, but when the two end up in bed together he learns this isn’t a stranger at all.  It’s the guy he knew as James in high school—a guy who he bullied and tortured to the point where James’s life was so miserable he went by his middle name, instead of his real name of Fenimore, nicknamed Fen.  And Fen is shocked when he learns Alfie doesn’t recognize him at all, but he sets Alfie straight when he gives him the tongue-lashing he deserves—and not the kind of tongue Alfie may have been hoping for.

Though the story was long, I enjoyed the fact that the author took the time to explore each man’s personality and psyche individually and then together, weaving memories of their pasts with the present, unfurling Alfie’s feelings of his discovery of being gay, and then of falling in love, and finally, of realizing what love really means and of coming to terms with who he is.  At times heartbreaking, at times infused with humor, each man’s story is unique, and yet the stories are easily intertwined to bring the couple to the present where they discover a love neither had envisioned and neither is willing to give up.

I was swept up in their story, at times rooting for Alfie, at times crying for Fen, and once—wanting to smack Alfie upside the head for listening to advice from Fen’s father.  Thankfully, the story ended with a HEA—always the best ending in my opinion.  I recommend this to those who enjoy MM romance, especially a romance that takes the time to fully develop between two men who were at odds previously and now learn to appreciate the best and worst in each other’s lives.

The cover by Simoné is fantastic!  In fact, I chose the book based on the cover. It clearly depicts Pansies, the flower shop around which the story is based, and it shows the couple in a joyous moment—big, muscular Alfie, holding a smaller, lithe Fen as they laugh together in front of the shop.

Sales Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Riptide Publishing

All Romance | iBooks | Kobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 376 pages
Published October 8th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitlePansies
ASINB01M8FV8RB
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSpires Universe

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Romancing the Wrong Twin by Clare London

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

romancing-the-wrong-twinHow tangled can a romantic web get?

When gruff mountaineer Dominic Hartington-George seeks sponsorship for his latest expedition, his London PA insists on a more media-friendly profile—like dating celebrity supermodel Zeb Z.

Zeb can’t make the date, so he asks his identical twin, Aidan, to stand in for just one evening. Aidan, a struggling playwright, shuns the limelight to the extent people don’t even know Zeb has a sibling, but he reluctantly agrees.

When the deception has to continue beyond the first date, Aidan fights to keep up the pretense. Dominic likes his sassy, intelligent companion, and Aidan starts falling for the forthright explorer. But how long can Aidan’s conscience cope as confusion abounds? Will coming clean as “the other twin” destroy the trust they’ve built?

I am so hooked on these Dreamspun Romances from Dreamspinner that I can’t wait to get my hands on them as the pop up.  Each one gives our old romance novels  (aka Silhouette or whatever brand you may have gobbled up)and their well used, often loved themes a LGBTQIA twist.

In Romancing the Wrong Twin, Clare London uses, yes, that delicious plot of switched identity and twins.    One twin?  A famous male model, fabulous, sexy,  and a serial dater.  His brother?  Quiet, in the theatre, a writer and director in need of money for his play.  The stage is definitely set for fun and romance and London makes the most of the format by adding in a bear of a mountaineer, Dom, in need of a backer for his climb up Mt. Eiger.  Why not have the famous mountaineer “date” the famous model? After all they share a ad agency…should be a cat walk.  Or not when one famous brother asks the not so famous one to be his Stand-in.

I had a bit of difficulty the first couple of pages.  A case of too much description of extraneous things getting in the way of connecting me to the characters but once I met the irascible Dom and his crew the story started to click.  It got better when Aidan and his theatre troupe came into the story.  You could see how much Aidan was struggling to make it and the affection that all his actors/friends had for him.  That background gave substance (as well as his feelings for his twin) to the reason behind the switch that was pulled.  It wasn’t a lark.  London established a foundation for her plot and it made the story viable.

Aidan and Dom made a great couple.  London gave them the right amount of chemistry and sexy scenes.  I adored them.  And there was just enough  anticipatory angst built into the plot to make you wonder close to the end of the story how the revelation would be handled.  Nicely done.

But one other thing surprised me.  Zeb, Aidan’s brother.  There’s a plot twist here.  I don’t know if I missed his story or if London (please say yes) has his story coming out.  We need to know Zeb’s story too.  How about a Romancing the Right Twin?  Surely that’s in the works?  I’ll be on the lookout, but in the meantime grab up Romancing the Wrong Twin by Clare London.  Its a fun, sweet romance in the Dreamspun Desires series from Dreamspinner Press.  Its one I recommend.

Cover art by  Paul Richmond continues to work well to brand the series and the story.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #21, 256 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleRomancing the Wrong Twin
ISBN 1634773721 (ISBN13: 9781634773720)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Crashing Waves (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #2) by C.J. Baty

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

crashing-waves-by-c-j-batyJustin Warfield ran away to Italy to put the events of last summer and a certain dark-haired private eye behind him, to no avail. If anything, he can’t help but rehash what happened over and over. When he finally returns to South Carolina, the hotel he runs with his brother has suffered a series of incidents that are starting to look less accidental after a death threat is received.

 

Not satisfied that Moses Lee and his local police will find the culprit, Peter Warfield calls in the services of his good friend Marcus Drummond to help. Marcus is torn. He wants to help his friend, but he also knows that if Justin has moved on after their failed flirtation last summer, he will be devastated.

 

Tensions mount as danger seems to follow them at every turn, stalking them as they get closer to solving the mystery of who is behind the sabotage of the hotel.

 

I read the first book in this series last year and had a bit of trouble remembering it, so it took a little bit for me to get into this book.  Justin had pushed Marcus away after the first book leaving both himself and Marcus hurting.  This book begins just after Justin has returned to Beaumont and there have been “accidents” happening around the hotel.

 

Marcus and Justin are forced together again when Justin’s brother, Peter, calls Marcus to come and help.  Both plan to avoid each other, but it doesn’t work out quite as well as they thought.  When Peter decides to be responsible and to actually talk to Marcus about his feelings things seem to take a turn for the better.  However, no matter what happens between them there always seems to be something going wrong.

 

In this story we get to see both of the MCs points of view, but are also given a glimpse of the one who is causing all of the problems.  Seeing how Justin and Marcus still care for each other and are willing to work through their problems was wonderful, but knowing the crazy thoughts of someone wanting to hurt them dampened it a little.  They’re working out their relationship at the end of the book and it seems like the series may be continuing and if it does, I can’t wait to see these characters a bit more.

 

Cover art is great and catches a reader’s eye.

 

Sales Link: Bottom Drawer Publications | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 199 pages

Published: September 16, 2016 by Bottom Drawer Publications

Edition Language: English

Series: The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #2

Release Blitz and Review Tour – Romancing The Wrong Twin by Clare London (excerpt and giveaway)

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Clare London – Romancing The Wrong Twin

Author: Clare London
 
Release Date: November 1 2016
 
Length: 59,000 words
 
 

Blurb:
How tangled can a romantic web get?When gruff mountaineer Dominic Hartington-George seeks sponsorship for his latest expedition, his London PA insists on a more media-friendly profile—like dating celebrity supermodel Zeb Z.Zeb can’t make the date, so he asks his identical twin, Aidan, to stand in for just one evening. Aidan, a struggling playwright, shuns the limelight to the extent people don’t even know Zeb has a sibling, but he reluctantly agrees.When the deception has to continue beyond the first date, Aidan fights to keep up the pretense. Dominic likes his sassy, intelligent companion, and Aidan starts falling for the forthright explorer. But how long can Aidan’s conscience cope as confusion abounds? Will coming clean as “the other twin” destroy the trust they’ve built?

Excerpt

The pretty young woman who met Aidan at the door smiled warmly. “I’m Tanya, Mr. Hartington-George’s personal assistant. I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Z. I’m quite a fan.”
“Zeb,” Aidan said, hoping he hadn’t hesitated for too long. “Please just call me Zeb. And… yes. Thanks.”
“Come on through.” She gestured him into the hallway. “You’re on time.”
Aidan wondered why she sounded surprised at that. He repitched his natural voice a little higher to Zeb’s teasing tone and smiled brightly in return. “Of course.”
A sneaked look in the hallway mirror had him rolling his eyes. Mission accomplished, Zeb! He barely recognized himself. Usually he was most comfortable in a sweatshirt and jeans, but now he was dressed in what Zeb Z would wear on a daily basis: a pair of skintight, distressed-denim jeans with inexplicable splits across the knees; high-top boots in soft purple leather that screamed expensive yet were surprisingly comfortable; and two lightweight T-shirts under an off-the-shoulder, electric blue sweater. Admittedly the blue brought out the color of his eyes—no one ever said Zeb didn’t have a well-developed sense of personal style—but the rest of it made him look like an overaged member of a boy band.
A younger man darted out from what must have been the living room, clutching a leather jacket to his chest as if in protection. He saw Aidan, glanced at Tanya with widening eyes, then back at Aidan. Then he thrust out his hand and said perfectly cheerily, “I’m Eric. He threatens to kill me on a daily basis.”
Aidan just shook hands and nodded. He had no idea what to say to that, or even what it meant.
Tanya frowned at Eric. “Whatever. We’re just going. The car will come for you at seven. In the meantime, if you’d like a drink?”
But Eric took her arm and guided her toward the front door. “They can cope with that themselves, Tanya. Come on.”
And Aidan was left on his own in the hallway.
He took a deep breath to center himself. The house wasn’t huge, but it was in a very fashionable area of Ladbroke Grove and far more luxurious than his own small flat. That said, there wasn’t much furniture and the decoration wasn’t modern. The hallway walls were painted in plain, cool colors. No pictures hung on the walls, and there was only a single bureau and hat stand, albeit in quality wood. Eric had left the living room door ajar behind him, and Aidan took a quick peek inside before announcing himself. From what he could see, again the walls were plain and the furniture sparse. It was as if the owner was in the process of moving out—or had never really settled in.
A male figure paused in front of the half-open door. He was distracted by something on the other side of the room, so Aidan got a first secret glimpse of the man he’d been told so much about.
H-G.
He was much more handsome in real life than on TV, though in most of the documentaries, H-G was wrapped up in furry parkas or oilskins with his face more than half-hidden with a scarf and balaclava. Today he was wearing a very smart pair of dark trousers, a startlingly white dress shirt—which had to be brand-new to still have that sheen—and a well-cut suit jacket that settled comfortably across an impressive set of shoulders. H-G’s hair was a fabulous thatch of dark curls, and he had a dark beard and mustache to match. Guiltily Aidan recalled Zeb’s mischievous nickname: Hairy Guy. But that conjured up a Wild Man of Borneo kind of image, and H-G was far from that. The hair was naturally unruly but had been styled to a level just off his shoulders, and the beard was well trimmed.
Aidan had never been attracted to hairy bears, not that he’d ever had much of a choice. As Zeb had gleefully pointed out more than once, Aidan seemed to attract needy and spiteful wankers who got off on bleeding him dry of any compassion and care. Oh, and his money too.
Okay. Self-pity over, right now. I’m not Loser Aidan now. I’m the charismatic and disgustingly fascinating Zeb Z.
For the first time in this bizarre performance, Aidan felt the tickle of mischief. This just might be fun after all. He pushed the door fully open, walked into the room, and cleared his throat.
H-G turned slowly around to face Aidan fully. His gaze ranged over Aidan’s body, and his eyes widened. “Well. They didn’t lie.”
“Who didn’t? What about?”
H-G raised his eyebrows. “Well, firstly, they said you were a bit feisty.”
Feisty? Aidan hadn’t heard that word outside of romance-novel blurbs.
“And you wouldn’t be fazed by… you know.”
“No, I don’t know. By what?” Aidan bit his lip to stop a laugh escaping.
“My celebrity.”
Jesus. Zeb was right. The man was one big blob of arrogance. “No,” Aidan said coolly. “I’m not.”
“That’s from working in the business, I suppose.”
“Business?” Oh, right, he was meant to be Zeb. “Yes, of course. When you’ve seen so many guys without the spray tan and makeup,” he gabbled without thinking first, “you soon realize they’ve got the same equipment under it all.”
H-G blinked twice, hard. And then he laughed—a loud, bold sound, echoing warmly in the bleak room.
Aidan wanted to laugh with him, but maintained his cool stare. “What’s so funny?” Had he blown it already? He hadn’t even left the house with the man yet.
“They didn’t tell me you were witty, Zeb. I may call you Zeb?”
Why? “Oh yes, right. Of course.”
Dom’s language was quaintly old-fashioned, but Aidan found it rather charming, especially after the theatrical bickering of the Dreamweavers and his brother’s exuberant and affected chatter.
“And secondly?” Aidan prompted.
“I’m sorry?” H-G frowned at him.
God, what a scowl he has. “You said they didn’t lie, and then you gave the first reason.”
H-G raised his eyebrows. “You have a good memory.”
Yes, he does have lovely eyes. “Yes, I do. Especially when I’m listening.”
H-G’s mouth twisted as if he were trying not to smirk. “Secondly, they didn’t lie about your looks, and that you were even better-looking in real life. I concur. You’re bloody gorgeous.”

 



November 1 – BooksLaidBareBoys, The Way She Reads, Hearts On Fire Reviews, From Top To Bottom Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Joyfully Jay
November 3- Sinfully MM Book Reviews, Sexy Erotic Xciting, Carly’s Book Reviews
November 4 – Love Bytes
November 5 – VampryreLady’s All Things Bookish, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
November 7 – The Geekery Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books, Book Lovers 4Ever, Making It Happen, Wicked Faerie’s Tales And Reviews
November 9 – Diverse Reader, Naughty Book Eden, MM Good Book Reviews
November 11- Tara Lain

Author Bio

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.


She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters. 


Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home. 

 

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Quinn Anderson on the Challenges of Writing and her latest release, ‘Hotline’ (author guest post and giveaway)

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Hotline by Quinn Anderson
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase
Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

Hello, everyone! This is Quinn Anderson, author of the Murmur Inc. series, and I’m here to share some inside information about, Hotline, coming out October 31st. Stay tuned to hear about where I get my ideas, writing comedy, and how I went “undercover” as a sex worker to research my novels. Leave comments on the tour posts for a chance to win a $10 Riptide Publishing gift card! 

What about Writing is Easiest vs. Most Difficult?

by Quinn Anderson

I’m very fortunate. Two of the things that many authors consider to be the most difficult are the easiest for me. 1) Coming up with titles (I often think of a title before I’ve even conceived of a book to go with it), and 2) actually sitting down and writing every day. I don’t always write much—a thousand words here or there—but I do it whenever I have a spare moment. Even when I’m taking a break from writing, I have a little voice in the back of my head that’s always urging me to get some work done. I also don’t get writer’s block, or at least, I haven’t yet. Knock on wood. I plan out my books in their entirety long before I start typing. They don’t always end up how I planned—in fact, they seldom do—but I always know the general direction in which I’m headed. It makes it a little more difficult to get lost along the way.

The hardest parts for me are staying in character and actually communicating my thoughts. I don’t usually write about my personal experiences, so I often have to rely on my characters to guide me through whatever scene I’m writing. That can be difficult if the character and I don’t see eye to eye on what should be done. I’m an outgoing person, so writing shy characters in particular is frustrating for me, because I want to write them standing up for themselves and stickin’ it to the man, but I know that isn’t always (or ever) what they’d do. It’s hard to watch them get passed over or mistreated and not be able to do anything about it! The other issue I have is that I often want to communicate a very specific emotion or idea, but I’ll want to do it in a way that’s far too convoluted. I’ll get notes back from my editors saying, “I get what you’re going for here, but this idea is too clunky” and then I end up staring at it in frustration until I decide it’s not worth it and delete it.

Bonus round: I consider writing angst to be very difficult. It makes me all squirmy. If you’re a fan of my work, you’ll notice my books are often very low angst. I just don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone! And I’m holding the pen, so thankfully it’s my call. Although, I think I put my character through a fair amount of grief anyway.

About Hotline

Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

Hotline is available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/hotline

About Quinn Anderson

Quinn Anderson is an alumna of the University of Dublin in Ireland and has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature and continues to explore evolving themes in erotica in her professional life.

A nerd extraordinaire, she was raised on an unhealthy diet of video games, anime, pop culture, and comics from infancy. She stays true to her nerd roots in writing and in life and frequently draws inspiration from her many fandoms, which include Sherlock, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Buffy, Marvel, and more. You will often find her interacting with fellow fans online and offline via conventions and tumblr, and she is happy to talk about anything from nerd life to writing tips. She has attended conventions on three separate continents and now considers herself a career geek. She advises anyone who attends pop culture events in the UK to watch out for Weeping Angels, as they are everywhere.

Her favorite television show is Avatar: the Last Airbender, her favorite film is Tangled, and her favorite book is Ella Enchanted. She can often be spotted at conventions, comic shops, and midnight book releases. If you’re at an event, and you see a 6’2” redhead wandering around with a vague look on her face, that’s probably her. Her favorite authors include J.K. Rowling, Gail Carson Levine, Libba Bray, and Tamora Pierce. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling, cooking, spending too much time on the internet, screwing the rules, finding the Master Sword, guided falling, consulting for the NYPD, guarding the galaxy, boldly going, and catching ’em all.

Connect with Quinn:

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Hotline, one lucky winner will receive $10 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 5, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!