In the Spotlight: The Bucket List: Lots of Love, Low Angst M/M Romance (LoLLA #1) by Tricia Owens (excerpt)

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The Bucket List: Lots of Love, Low Angst M/M Romance (LoLLA #1)

by Tricia Owens

Pre-order available at Amazon

The Bucket List Blurb:

When Quinn nearly dies in a skydiving incident, his life flashes before his eyes…and it’s pretty boring. Though he’s moved to Las Vegas to rebel against his strict Mormon upbringing, he still hasn’t done much to liven up his life. He’s far too comfortable with his boring routine. After the accident, however, he vows to change this. He draws up a bucket list with all the best intentions, yet somehow nothing changes. Quinn worries that he really is a dud, until a gorgeous man walks up to him and suggests an indecent proposal.

Gabriel has had a lot of sex. He’s fantastic at it and he’s good-looking, so he never lacks for people willing to jump into bed with him. But after a rough break-up, he’s determined to make hooking up a secondary priority. It’s too bad that when he first sees Quinn and his heart goes pitter-patter, Gabriel’s first instinct is to make a bet with Quinn involving sex.

With one spin of the roulette wheel, Gabriel and Quinn embark on a series of sexually adventurous dares, each more exciting than the last. But what happens when one of them pushes for something more? LoLLA books are standalone novellas with lots of love/sex, low angst, and a Happily Ever After ending for a quick dose of happiness.

The Bucket List excerpt

“What’s the big deal, Quinn?” Gabriel was watching him intently, in a way no one had ever watched him. Like a wolf would, maybe. “There are thirty-eight numbers. What’s the chance you’ll hit mine? Live a little.”

Quinn didn’t like that Gabriel had automatically assumed he was gay. Quinn played it pretty straight out of a lifelong habit of concealing himself. It bothered him that this stranger had read him with ease.

But that’s just smoke and mirrors. What you’re really afraid of is finally doing something to spice up your life. When did you become such a chickenshit? When did you decide that this was the best your life could be?

“It wouldn’t be so bad to lose,” Gabriel continued. The corner of his mouth curled. “You’ve been staring at me since I walked up. I know it’s not me you have a problem with.”

Quinn felt heat in his cheeks, but told himself he was flushed from anger. Gabriel might be the most attractive man that Quinn had ever seen, but that didn’t mean he would automatically fall all over the guy. Quinn had too much practice controlling and suppressing his urges.

And that’s the problem, genius.

“You’re not afraid you’ll lose, are you?” Gabriel pressed, as insistent as a terrier. Quinn recognized that under different circumstances his persistence would have been sexy, but at the moment, Quinn only found Gabriel annoying.

He thought furiously. Thirty-eight to one were bad odds, especially when Quinn had the ability to pick and choose which number he did—or didn’t—hit. He relaxed slightly as he realized he could choose how this story ended.

But isn’t this about living a little? Isn’t this about having a story to recall the next time you’re falling out of the sky?

He reached into the wheel well for the ball.

“Agree to the bet before you spin it.”

Quinn didn’t bother hiding his glare at the order. Gabriel merely continued smiling. “Be a good sport, Quinn. You’ve got nothing to lose.”

Nothing to lose but the status quo which was safe. Which would have kept him away from a failing parachute.

After another glance at his supervisor, Quinn finally said, “Fine. It’s a bet.”

The Bucket Info:

M/M Contemporary Romance

Book one of LoLLA series, but each are standalones

High heat level

33k words

Release date November 10th, currently available for pre-order: http://amzn.to/2erxGSc Will be available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and Are.

Tricia Owens Bio:

Tricia writes m/m romance, ménage, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. An avid traveler, she has visited over 80 countries and now makes her home in Las Vegas.

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tricia-Owens/348774068467200

Website:

http://www.triciaowensbooks.com

Twitter:

@Juxtaposefantsy

A MelanieM Review: Ghost Ship (Mahu #10) by Neil S. Plakcy

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

ghost-shipNew fathers investigate the death of a young family.

When a sailboat carrying four bodies washes up on the Leeward Coast of O’ahu, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka, on loan to the FBI, must discover what sent this young family and their deadly cargo on a dangerous trans-Pacific voyage. Leaving behind his partner and their infant twins, Kimo must work with his police cohort Ray Donne to unravel the forces that led this family to their deaths.

From Hawaii’s sunny beaches to a chilly island in Japan to the Pacific Northwest, Kimo and Ray step far out of their comfort zones to confront an evil much greater than any they’ve investigated before.

I have been such a fan of this series and author and that continues with Ghost Ship.  Over the series of nine novels, readers have watched Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka be outed to his family and the HPD, come to terms with that,  meet and date, lose and reunite with Mike, his now life partner.  They’ve fathered twins with their friends a lesbian couple they’re co parenting with, and have a foster son now attending college.  Its been a long and tumultuous ride that eventually saw Kimo and Ray leaving the Honolulu PD for temporary assignment with the FBI.  That’s where we find them now on a  life changing case for both Kimo, his family and Ray, his work partner and friend.

This is one of the worst cases in all the series, a sailboat washes ashore with a dead family on board, father, mother and twin babies.  It immediately hits home for Kimo and Mike with their twins but the emotional impact carries over to the reader through the descriptions and later in the captains diary the father kept.  Its heartbreaking and you quickly understand the drive to solve this case and the web of intrigue behind the cargo and deaths.

Plakcy has woven one of the most involved and layered cases of the series here.  Its threads go from Hawaii to Japan to mainland US and back again and those travels will stretch thin the ties that bind  Kimo to Mike and his family just when they need him the most and  Kimo is aware of it.  The same will go for Ray.  Its the job versus family again and never has it been made more painful or obvious that a choice will have to be made, then here in this story.  Parts of Kimo’s carefully crafted life are falling to pieces and yet he still must pursue this case with Ray because of the deadly consequences if he doesn’t.   Ray also is having similar issues within his own family.  Two men torn by job obligations and family love and loyalty on the most important case of their lives.

This is a thrilling read, and a heartbreaking one.   Plakcy doesn’t deliver all the answers to all the issues and problems he raised here.  And I think that’s about right.  For somethings there aren’t any.  For some personal ones, there are only more questions and things to work out.  That’s what book 11 is for.  Kimo and Mike and family are still on a journey.  I hope Kimo does decide to return to the Honolulu PD, even with all the problems that entails. Its where the series and Kimo started.  And if its winding down, that where he should end up.

If you haven’t found this series yet,  please don’t start here.  You’ve such a treat in store for you.  Run, don’t walk to the beginning Mahu (Mahu #1) and meet Kimo and see how it all starts.  Plakcy is a master of the vernacular, you’ll get a feel for the island culture and people.  Trust me you’ll be addicted in no time.  Then you’ll have so many wonderful books ahead of you.

If you are already a fan like me, then settle in for a wonderful read.  I highly recommend it.

 

Cover art is amazing and works perfectly for the novel and series.

Sales Links

MLR Press

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Published September 30th 2016 by MLR Press
ASINB01LYP0GC2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMahu #10

A Lila Release Day Review: The Soldati Prince (Soldati Hearts #1) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

the-soldati-princeOne moment Riley Murrough is living a normal life working in a coffee shop, and the next he’s running for his life from demons, learns he bears the mark of a shape-shifter king from a magical realm, and—worst of all—he’s destined to become the mated prince to the arrogant tiger shifter he would rather strangle.

Khalon, the shifter king, is equally distraught at the idea of being bound to a human prince, and along with his Soldati warriors, he sets out to return Riley to his own world where he belongs. On their journey they might discover why the priestess brought them together—if they can escape the demons and make it to her alive.

The Soldati Prince is an interesting take on shifters and royalty. Even when the author is known for her shifters, the tigers in this story are completely different from the other characters she had written before. I like the idea of them shifting back into their clothes and being part of the royal family.

The story is short for the amount of world-built in it. From the very beginning, we get to know Riley, and through him, the new world in which the book takes place. There are a lot of action scenes with interesting antagonists and new ways of life. Just like Riley, the reader has to learn what to expect when dealing with the demons trying to take over.

I like the tension between Riley and Khalon and how they tried to stay away from each other. But the best part is when they become friends. They are a nice couple to read about and have an easy chemistry. Their sense of humor is great too. They worked well together and is lovely to see them interact with the villagers–especially the kids.

Seeing the new world from Riley’s human perspective is a fun part in the book. Their travel to see the priestess takes most of the story and it’s slow in parts. Some questions still unanswered but it’s to be expected since it’s the first book in the series. The author also did a nice job setting up the main characters in the next installment.

The cover by L.C. Chase shows Riley–wearing his leathers and holding his sword. He’s accompanied by two Soldati warrior tigers, and we can see small details about the realm in the background.

Sale Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: November 23, 2016 (second edition), by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634775805 (ISBN13: 9781634775809)
Edition Language: English

Series: Soldati Hearts
Book #1: The Soldati Prince

A Caryn Release Day Review: All the Way to Shore by CJane Elliot

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

all-the-way-to-shore-by-cj-elliotIn the acknowledgments of the book, the author mentions that she was writing for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun Desires line.  So if you’re a fan, this book is exactly what you want to read.  It’s sweet, fairly low angst, with a very happy ending.  I hope it does end up as a Dreamspun Desires book!

Jonathan Vallen is the second son of a business tycoon.  His older brother was the one being groomed to take over the empire, so Jonathan had some freedom to follow his own desires:  music, gardening, and staying out of the limelight.  When his brother and his mother die, Jonathan feels obligated to take his brother’s place, to please his father even though his personality is not the forceful and cutthroat type   necessary in the corporate world.  He tries, he fails, he feels guilty, but still his father pushes and Jonathan keeps trying.  Until the day his father hires Marco Pellegrini as CEO of Vallen Industries, to save the company from what Jonathan feels is his own mismanagement, and to teach Jonathan how to do it right.  For Jonathan, this is the ideal opportunity to quit, and leave not only the company, but Boston as well.  He retreats to his mother’s house on Cape Cod, and starts building a new life.

One year later, Jonathan has made a lot of changes, and a lot of improvements.  He’s leading a physically healthy life with good diet and exercise, has lost 40 pounds, adopted a dog, got into therapy, and now he’s happy.  Even his wardrobe is different, and he looks and acts like an entirely new man.  His cousin Anthony talks him into a gay cruise to celebrate, and Jonathan is ready for a little shipboard romance to end his very long dry spell.

Less than 24 hours into the cruise, Tony and Jonathan run into Marco Pellegrini.  Rather than let this encounter turn Jonathan back into the insecure mess he used to be, Tony creates a new identity for him on the spot, and pushes him into a flirtation with Marco.  Jonathan decides to embrace his new confidence and becomes Jonah Rutledge, and though he’s uncomfortable with lying, he intends this thing with Marco to be just a fling, so keeps the fantasy going.

And that’s a summary of the first 20% of the book – I guess I’m a little wordier than the blurb!  We have the set up for the classic trope of mistaken identity, and it all follows the formula from there.  Marco and Jonathan end up falling in love, so when Jonathan’s true identity is revealed, the standard betrayal and break up occur.  Happily, this is where the book becomes less formulaic – instead of another manufactured circumstance throwing them back together, both men take this time apart to re-evaluate everything they felt on the cruise, and both realize that there is no reason they can’t make a true relationship a reality.  However, both men have some work to do on themselves, some changes they need to make in their own lives before they can come together for their happy ever after.  It took some time, but the outcome was so much more satisfying because of it, both for these two men, and for the reader!  I especially loved the thoughtful “anonymous” gifts that they sent each other, to make sure they kept in contact while they worked out their issues.  And in the end, everything is golden.

The book is written in third person omniscient throughout, but with an emphasis on Jonathan’s side of the story.  Marco’s inner world is revealed through his journal entries, where he not only speaks about his day, but details things he is grateful for.  It showed a kinder and more intimate side of him, and made me connect with him even more than I did with Jonathan.  The secondary characters, Jonathan’s cousin Anthony and Marco’s sister Sophia, and the perfect foils to keep the story moving and kept it from feeling artificial.  Only Jonathan’s father was a caricature – I would have preferred him to have a more three dimensional and sympathetic rendering rather than being the villain – but he plays a relatively minor part of the story so it doesn’t detract too much.  Overall, I really enjoyed the story, and probably will consider a reread when I’m looking for something light and fluffy.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is lovely, incorporates several elements from the story, and so I don’t even mind the headless (mostly) torso.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 181 pages
Expected publication: November 23rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634778197 (ISBN13: 9781634778190)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Audiobook Review: THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER FAIRY TALES by Joe Cosentino and narrated by Joel Leslie

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

 

the-naked-prince-and-other-tales-from-fairylandCinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods, who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Follow Cinder and Prince Charming in this twist on the classic Cinderella tale as they discover their inner strengths and find their very own happily ever after.

 

Enjoy The Naked Prince and three other reimagined tales from Fairyland, each with a unique spin on stories we all know and love, including The Golden Rule, where eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden, after being thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents, breaks into the cottage of three burly men on Bear Mountain.

 

In Whatever Happened To…?, friction ensues between a celebrity with a growing appendage and a reporter who has a thing for giants.

 

And in Ice Cold, young Gaelen must save his love, Kieran, after a handsome but evil prince freezes Kieran’s heart and bewitches him into being the prince’s slave.

 

I was not as taken with this book as many others seem to be.  I have read a few re-imagined fairytales before, but this one didn’t connect with me, both in the telling of these stories and how the characters acted.  There was more of a raunchy side in these stories I didn’t like.

 

In the stories the characters (and secondary characters) seemed immature and had quite a bit of bickering going on.  The first story was alright, but the king and queens bickering and attitude along with Cinder’s family was just too much to actually enjoy it.  Unfortunately the character just seemed to get more and more annoying as the stories went on.  I didn’t like that it was continually insinuated that most men would always want someone else and there was a use of feminine descriptions that seemed quite disturbing to me.

 

Joel Leslie did a nice job keeping the characters separate with different voices.  However, his exaggerated use of accents made this book even more frustrating.  It took me and entire day to get through this 3 and a half hour book because I had to continually take break from it.

 

Cover art by Paul Richmond is absolutely adorable.

 

Sales Links

  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 3hrs 20min
Published October 21, 2016 (ebook first published January 27, 2016)
Edition Language: English

Book Blitz for All the Way to Shore by C.J. Elliot (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title: All the Way to Shore

Author: CJane Elliott

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: 11/23/16

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56,000

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

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Synopsis

Jonathan Vallen has never felt good enough. A gentle musician who loves to garden, he’s woefully unsuited to running Vallen Industries, the family business. When his father hires a hotshot executive, Marco Pellegrini, to save the company, Jonathan moves away and leaves his humiliation behind. A year later and forty pounds lighter, Jonathan runs into Marco on an LGBT cruise. Marco doesn’t recognize him, the sparks fly, and Jonathan pretends to be someone else for the week—Jonah Rutledge—someone good enough to be loved.

Marco Pellegrini has always been driven. He rose from poverty to the pinnacle of business success, and he’ll do anything to protect his reputation—including hiding his bisexuality. Having saved Vallen Industries, he’s weary of the rat race and ready for a more meaningful life. When Marco meets his soul mate for that new life—Jonah Rutledge—on an LGBT cruise, he prepares to stop hiding and start living.

Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.

Excerpt

Jonathan eyed the moon and waited for Marco, who was getting something from the bar to bring back with them to his stateroom. He smiled up at the stars, heart full, ready to ride the wave of this fairy tale all the way to shore. Then a hand caressed his neck, and he turned to smile at his handsome prince. Marco smiled back, his pendant glimmering on his chest and a bottle in his hand.

“What did you get?”

“Courvoisier.”

“Nice.”

“I thought it’d be nice for an after-dinner drink as we listen to Debussy.”

They strolled along the deck. “We are almost too fancy for words.”

Marco chuckled. “I’ve never been accused of being fancy before.”

Jonathan eyed him, tall and elegant with his black curls and Roman nose. “You seem fancy to me. Or, well, sophisticated is more like it.”

“If only Mama could hear you. She’d know her bambino had made it in the world.”

“You’re funny.”

Jonathan followed Marco into his stateroom, letting his Jonah Persona take the lead lest he pass out from sheer nervousness. “Nice digs.” Digs? Where’d that come from?

“Thanks.” Marco picked up a large envelope that had been shoved under the door, glanced at the front of it, and tossed it to join a pile of others on the desk. “Work faxes. They don’t seem to get I’m on vacation in the middle of the ocean. They can wait.”

A shiver took hold of Jonathan, thinking of Father and how totally like him it was to be bugging his CEO in the middle of his vacation.

“You aren’t cold, are you?” Marco asked.

“No, it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s good.” And I’m running off at the mouth. Cool it.

“Oh, okay. Good. Let me get the Debussy up on my iPod. They have a docking station with pretty decent speakers in here.” Marco sounded a little nervous himself.

As Marco fiddled with the iPod, Jonathan opened the Courvoisier and poured each of them a moderate amount, thinking they could both use some loosening up. “Do you want yours over ice?”

Marco turned. “No. That’s okay. There should still be some ice in the bucket if you like it that way. Here we go.” He pushed a button and Debussy’s La Mer started to play.

They sat in two armchairs at one end of the large room, listening to Debussy’s sensual and passionate music while sipping the brandy. The music swelled and crashed down in eerie imitation of the ocean all around them. With the curtains drawn back, they stared out at the real thing, moonlight dappling the midnight waves. Everything about this moment was surreal—a beautiful dream.

After a time, Marco set down his glass, his eyes burning into Jonathan’s. Jonathan gulped down the rest of his drink for courage and put his glass next to Marco’s. Marco held out his hand, and they rose from their chairs. As Jonathan followed Marco to the bed, his palms grew clammy and his heart raced so much he thought he might pass out. Now that his Jonah Persona had been successful in luring Marco to bed, performance anxiety crowded out everything else. God. It had been so long since he’d had sex. Did he even know what he was doing? Anthony’s voice chimed in on the proceedings. Relax, doll! It’s just like riding a bicycle. You never forget. Now, hop on that man and ride!

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

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Meet the Author

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After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

Website | eMail | Facebook | Twitter |
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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their chose from CJane’s backlist.
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