A MelanieM Release Day Review: Striking Sparks by Ari McKay

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

striking-sparksThe stakes are high and the heat is on.

Beau Walker, owner of the Barbecue Shack, needs the help of Jake Parnell, his one-time rival and secret crush, in a televised barbecue competition. Beau is a proud man, but the stakes are high, and smart, sexy Jake is his only hope, even if being around Jake reawakens the attraction he’s fought for years.

Jake left his hometown, determined to build a life somewhere his sexuality wouldn’t hurt his family’s restaurant business—and far away from hunky, obstinate Beau Walker. Then his twin, Josh, is killed, and Jake returns to support his brother’s wife and children. Despite his reservations, he agrees to go head-to-head against Beau on national television. Between stress and grief, as well as pride and determination, only one thing is certain—the heat between Beau and Jake extends well beyond the kitchen.

Striking Sparks was a fun romance for me on severa levels.  A lover of bbq and cooking shows,  I enjoyed the storyline of a bbq competition between two family owned restaurants known for their brisket and all things smoked, two men who’ve been rivals in some way from their high school years brought back together by tragedy and bbq.  And I have to say, Ari McKay pulled it off.

The authors known as Ari McKay did an excellent job with the location, making both the small town and the townspeople believable.  And that cooking and receipes?  Mouthwatering.  Between the different ingredients each added to make their briskets or bbq a standout, I wanted to dash into the kitchen and try them out myself.  I got the feeling that McKay knows the differences between a KC sauce and a Carolina one, and that love of their subject matter shines through here.

Then there’s the tragedy that brings Jake home, the death of his twin brother.  This aspect of the story is poignant and real.  Jake’s pain over his deep loss of both his brother, the life he’s worked so hard to establish in the city?  That translates into real emotion on the pages here.  You are able to easily  connect with Jake as he shoulder’s his responsiblities to his brother’s widow and children, regardless of his feelings and grief.

Beau Walker took a little more work.  Not because he wasn’t likable as a character. He is but because some of his ‘flaws” became tired after a point.  As did his language.  In other hands, his collogualisms might have sounded natural.  Here they didn’t always come off as such.  I liked the “local boy” pride they built into his character but for all his belief in his restaurant and cooking, that seemed to disappear when faced with Jake and his college degree even though Jake didn’t have the cooking experience.

Finally, I guess that other thing that I had some issues with is their relationship.  Jake had to have been strong to have done all he did in high school, break away, make a new life for himself elsewhere.  Then come back and take over his brother’s restaurant.  Yet all that melts away for Beau.  It comes back for the competition and then he seems to become , I don’t know, someone less.  Maybe its me, but out of all of this book, it was the romance that didn’t really do it for me.  I loved everything else.

I thought the  writing was excellent, the plot was great, even the characters, alone, worked.  I’m just not sure I thought they worked together as well as I had hoped.

Maybe you will find you don’t see that at all.  Striking Sparks has plenty of bbq, great plot and sweet romance to sway you.  Its another lovely story in the Dreamspun Desires series from Dreamspinner Press.

Cover art by Paul Richmond works perfectly for the story and plot.  Love it!

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634771542
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

sweetyoungthang_audiobookThanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.

Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.

Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.

Sweet Young Thang is a May-December story with a New Adult twist. The age gap between the main characters is only fifteen years, allowing them to have more things in common than differences. At the same time, it’s easy for Eric to identify with the changes and challenges of Collin’s life. We get to see both troupes move the plot forward without one taking over the other.

The story arc, not the romance, seems a bit over the top at times—as well as Eric’s involvement in the investigation. All the events contributed in bringing them together, but after that were irrelevant. I like the author’s effort to bring more to the table than a simple romance, but sometimes those work too. 

And that’s what we see here. A love story that started from a far-fetch circumstance, but that, in the end, was strong enough to carry the MCs to their HEA. I’m glad the age difference didn’t turn into a daddy fetish. Eric and Collin were great together. Their chemistry wasn’t limited to the bedroom. Their sense of humor and corky personalities made them a lovely couple. 

I like how independent each main character was. Even after all the things that were happening around them, they stayed as equals and made an effort to work in their developing relationship. They were also great with their friends and families. Some aspects might have been a little too cliché, but in the end, they worked. 

Overall, a nice addition to the series. Great characters and a romance story with a long lasting happily ever after. 

As always, Nick J. Russo can read the yellow pages and make them shine. The voices for the characters carry over from previous books, making it easy to go back into the Theta Alpha Gamma world. All the new characters are as well-rendered.  

The cover by L.C. Chase matches the style of Frat Boy and Toppy and depicts an important scene in the story. 

Sales Links:  Riptide | Audible, Amazon, iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 10 hours and 9 minutes
Published:  October 28, 2016 (Audio Edition), by Riptide Publishing
ASIN:  B01M6934ZA
Edition Language: English

Series:  Theta Alpha Gamma

  • Book #1: Frat Boy and Toppy
  • Book #2: Love, Hypothetically
  • Book #3: Sweet Young Thang

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review Day 15: All I Want for Christmas… Is No Christmas by Colton Aalto

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

all-i-want-for-christmas-is-no-christmas-by-colton-aaltoAlec Ryder’s arrest in Aspen, early on the morning of December twenty-fifth, is the latest disaster in his series of unhappy Christmases. He’s dreaded the holiday since being subjected to endless church services as a child. Being kicked out on Christmas Day after he came out to his parents, followed by an improbable series of yearly yuletide trips to the emergency room, haven’t made his Christmases any merrier. But getting busted for prostitution is the worst catastrophe; it means Alec’s dream of a college degree is gone, replaced by the specter of jail time.

 

Just when Alec thinks things can’t get worse, Hayden Adler shows up to interrogate him. Hayden is a glamorous attorney who also happens to be Alec’s college roommate’s cousin. Alec’s had a crush on Hayden for years, but whatever miniscule chance Alec might’ve had is now history—just like the life he’s been trying to build for himself.

 

But things aren’t quite what they seem. In a long line of miserable Christmases, Alec will never forget this one, although not for the reasons he suspects.

 

This was a nice short story.  Alec has been supporting himself since he was kicked out of his house for being gay in his teens.  After he is arrested he is even more humiliated when Hayden is the one to question him, they have both been dancing around each other for years.

 

Alec is so defeated from his arrest you couldn’t help but hope everything would work out for him.  Hayden opens his eyes to what they could have and makes it clear he isn’t afraid of them being together.  It takes a not so wonderful experience, but it ends in the best Christmas Alec has ever had.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the Bah Humbug brand cover.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 35 pages

Published: December 15, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair by Johanna Parkhurst

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
thanks-a-lot-john-leclairEmmitt LaPoint loves playing hockey. Hockey has been his refuge from the world ever since he was little. He is the golden boy of Colby, Vermont what with being the captain of the high school hockey team and having a near perfect GPA but he is also gay.
 
Emmitt finds it hard to reconcile his love for Dusty with his love for hockey because as he knows it there are no gay hockey players in the NHL. But when things between Dusty and him deteriorate, he has to take a stand for what he wants in his life irrespective of what his Dad or the world at large seems to want for him.
 
My only bone to pick with this book is that when it ended I wanted more! Lots more! I almost wish I could read about Emmitt forever.
 
This book was engaging and so very interesting. It was also incredibly well written. One of things I didn’t like about the first book was that it seemed to be composed entirely of facts with very little exposition. Also the lack of exposition made me feel that things in the first book were happening at break neck speed which could have been intentional on the author’s part but it put a dent in my reading experience. So I am delighted to acknowledge that those dents in the first book were completely hammered out in this book. It was just so beautifully written.
 
This story was written in first person and I have realized that first person narratives are especially lovely when you can relate to the narrator and that is what I loved about this book, the fact that it made me fall in love with Emmitt. I pretty much already loved Dusty, Casey and the Mortons but as the first book is mostly focused on Dusty’s life at home, I hadn’t really formed any opinion on Emmitt. So this book was an eye opener for me. One of the things I loved about Emmitt was that he realized that being impressive and courageous can actually be very tiring, even if it comes instinctually to you, when people start to expect it from you. But in this regard I loved what Coach Jackson had to say, I think I fell in love with him over his words.
 
“You think success is some trophy you put on your shelf? Some number you graduate high school with? Success isn’t something you hold up for other people to look at. It’s a life that’s filled with happiness. Hope. Meaning. Things like that. That’s what the goal is. You end up with any of those things, and it won’t matter how many trophies and numbers you have to show off.”
 
This book deals with so many themes but the most consistent theme that runs throughout this book is that of coming out. But don’t let that statement pigeon hole this book for you because it has so much else to teach. One thing I love about the young adult/new adult genre is that I always get to learn something and on that count this book is a treasure trove. And then there was hockey.  Ice Hockey is a sport I have fallen in love with only on the basis of what I have read of it in mm romance novels, I have no idea if I will enjoy its real life counterpart but I am not in any hurry to find out especially because I have really fallen in love with how it is portrayed in these books and especially this one. I love the whole new dimension that sports can add to a story and I loved how that aspect was used in this book.
 
This book is a must read. It is awfully amazing.
 
Cover Art by Anne Cain. I liked the cover but somehow I can’t agree with the choice of the font for the title what with all its sharp edges and the decision to have the title spread over so much of the cover.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634774299 (ISBN13: 9781634774291)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

In the New Release Spotlight: Noble Intentions by Andrew Grey (guest blog and excerpt)

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Noble Intentions by Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Dec 2016

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey here today to share his thoughts on  writing and his latest novel, Nobel Intentions.  Welcome, Andrew.
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I really love a good story.  When I first started writing, my goal was to be a storyteller.  Growing up my dad didn’t read us stories, he told us ones he made up and I think I got some of my skills from him.  I feel its important not to write a book, but to tell the story and I have the best job because I get to tell stories about people falling in love.  What job could be better than that?  Sometimes I write stories about farmers and other times about movie stars and old loves.  I love it all.  I recently finished a story called Setting the Hook about a charter boat captain on the Gulf of Mexico.  I got to go to many different places with my stories and with Noble Intentions I was able to travel to England and visit one of its great country estates.  In books we got to go places we might never get a chance to visit otherwise.  As an author I like to think we get to make an extended stay.  Happy holidays and I hope you enjoy your visit to the country estate where I got to stay for a while.

Blurb/Synopsis:

Robert Ashton is in for the surprise of a lifetime. His mother, a bit of a rebel, raised him away from the rest of the family, and it’s not until he’s contacted by his lawyer about an inheritance that he learns who he truly is: the new Earl of Hantford. His legacy includes ownership of the historic Ashton Park Estate—which needs repairs Robert cannot afford. He’ll simply do what the nobility has done for centuries when in need of money. He’ll marry it.

Tech wizard Daniel Fabian is wealthy and successful. In fact, he has almost everything—except a title to make him worthy in the eyes of the old-money snobs he went to prep school with. His high school reunion is looming, and he’s determined to attend it as a member of the aristocracy.

That’s where Robert comes in.

Daniel has the money, Robert has the name, and both of them know they can help each other out. But their marriage of convenience has the potential to become a real love match—unless a threat to Daniel’s business ruins everything.

Series: Currently a Standalone
Genre: M/M Contemporary/ LBGTQ
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & PrintBook Links

Amazon/Barnes and Noble

Excerpt

“It’s your fifteenth class reunion and you’re a real success. Of course you’re going to go.”

Daniel shook his head. “I have no interest.”

She came in and sat in one of the chairs. Daniel had built all of his business teams on the philosophy of openness and communication. So while he had an office because he dealt with private matters, his door was almost always open and his walls were glass. He had nothing to hide from the people on his team, and he expected the same from them. That also meant people tended to offer advice and speak their mind—sometimes whether Daniel wanted it or not.

“I didn’t know you went to Lipton. That must have been exciting.” She looked at him strangely. “I always thought your background was more… humble than that.”

Daniel closed the lid on his laptop. “It is.” He didn’t want to get into that right now. There were some things he felt were private, and Joanne was skating very close to them at the moment. “I was on a scholarship.”

She watched him closely for a minute. “I see.”

Sometimes she scared the hell out of him with the way she could grasp the deeper meaning from just a few words. He should have said nothing at all.

“What does that look mean?”

“Nothing. Just that no matter what happened then, you’re extremely successful and you can hold your own with those people.”

Daniel leaned forward. “Those people…,” he began, and swore at himself for taking the bait, “they only cared about where their parents came from. They were all old money, as though that made them better than everyone else. It wasn’t about what you did or how well you did, but how far back you could trace the money in your family. There was a Vanderbilt relative in my class, for God’s sake. And the parents were just as shallow as their children. Yes, I got a good education that gave me a good start into college and beyond, but it was hell, and the last thing I want to do is—”

Joanne scoffed. “There is only one thing that gets you pissy like this, and that’s when you say you don’t want to do something but you really do. You’d love nothing more than to go to that reunion, sitting at the top of the heap in every way possible. You want to go to this shindig real bad and show them just the kind of success you’ve become.”

“Yeah.” He rolled his eyes. “These guys are not going to be impressed or care that I have a big Internet company. They have more money than you can imagine.”

“Like I was going to say. You’re a success, but you have to go with someone.”

“God, I haven’t had the time to date anyone in, what? Three years?”

“Three years, two months, and twelve days, but who’s counting? The thing is, you need to find someone so you can go to this reunion and hold your head high. Hell, you can take the place by storm.” Joanne came around his desk, opened the lid of his computer, and brought up a web page. “This is exactly what you need.”

“A matchmaker?” Daniel figured he’d finally sent Joanne around the bend. Maybe she needed a vacation.

“Why not? This is a discreet, expensive agency with high-class clientele. Lots of guys like you spend all their time working and building their dream, and they forget about a personal life and have no time to date. So the old-fashioned matchmaker has a modern application. I’ll call them and make an appointment for you. They’ll talk to you and get the ball rolling.” She worked through the website. “They don’t discriminate and work with men and women, gay or straight. They even have aristocrats.” She turned the computer so Daniel could see the screen. “Here’s Count Gregor of Villovia and his new wife, Diana. Think about it. A title would certainly burn their asses at the reunion.”

Daniel groaned. “I suppose you aren’t going to leave me alone until I agree to do this.” He could just see the puppy-dog looks he’d get until he complied—like the one she was giving him now. “Sometimes I really hate you.”

Andrew Grey

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

A Release Highlight: Love Letters by Kris Ripper and One Life to Lose (Queers of La Vista #4) (giveaway)

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One Life to Lose (Queers of La Vista #4) by Kris Ripper
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iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

Kris Ripper has brought a special conversation to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words from the author’s characters in zir’s latest release, One Life to Lose (Queers of La Vista #4). Thank you, Kris and welcome.

Love Letters

by Kris Ripper

My phone dinged with a message: You have been invited to join the following conversation: JCK. Click to join.

I clicked.

Keith: Yay! Cam’s here! Hi, Cam! (^_^)/ (That’s me waving at you, but I actually had to look it up, ha ha ha ha.)

Josh: He literally googled until he found one he liked. You can’t imagine how many waving text things there are, seriously.

Cameron: Hello. What is this? I had to install something.

Keith: It’s a group chat! So we can all talk to each other!

Cameron: Aren’t we going out to dinner?

Keith: *sigh*

Josh: Yep. Still going to dinner at The Grill. You’re gonna wear a waistcoat, right, Cam?

Keith: …

Keith: This is what you’re looking for, Cam: *blush*

I blushed just looking at the word blush. I shook my head.

Cameron: I can’t type that.

Josh: Is it true, though?

Keith: …

Keith: Your silence speaks volumes.

Keith: I’m just saying.

Josh: I’m going to picture Cam in that waistcoat with gold thread. You know the one, Keith?

Keith: Oh yeah. The black one, with all that intricate gold details. God, that’s so hot.

Josh: So. Hot.

I took slow breaths and glanced around. Maybe to make sure no one was watching me (no one was; I might as well have been in an invisible bubble in the booth). Maybe just to clear my blush.

More messages dinged.

Keith: Yeah, wear that one.

Keith: Cam?

Keith: Okay, okay, we’ll stop rubbing one out thinking about you in that waistcoat.

Josh: He’s never going to come back if you say things like “rubbing one out”.

Keith: Sorry. We aren’t rubbing one out. I mean, obviously it’d realistically be rubbing TWO out.

Josh: Unless it’s me in control of exactly who’s rubbing what, babe. Don’t press your luck.

Now I kind of hoped Keith pressed his luck.

Keith: *googling*

Keith: Oh my god, never mind. I have to scrub my brain now.

Keith: People are perverted.

Keith: Like…I can’t unsee what I have seen.

Keith: You guys, seriously, there are some really disturbing emoji sets.

Cameron: What’s an emoji set?

Josh: Welcome back, Cam. And don’t think too much about emoji sets.

Josh: Anyway.

Josh: We’re going to dinner. Keith and I are dressing up.

Keith: We are?

Keith: I mean…yeah, we are.

Keith: I’m already planning what we’re gonna wear.

Josh: And we look forward to spending the night with you, Cam. Your place or ours?

I swallowed hard, thinking about the two of them dressed up. Thinking about sleeping next to them. I loved their apartment, but my thumb hovered over the Y and hesitated.

Keith: My spidey sense tells me Cam wants to be at home tonight.

Josh: Sounds good. Plus, we can bring over the stuff we were planning to bring over.

Cameron: Stuff?

Josh: We picked up some your-place pajamas. Nothing big.

Keith: And slippers. Got you a pair, too.

Josh: I forgot. And bathrobes.

I stared at the messages and my heart rate sped up. I stared so long the screen went black.

They’d bought things specifically to keep at my apartment for when they spent the night. The thought filled me with a fizzy floating sensation.

My phone vibrated.

Josh: We don’t have to, Cam. If you don’t want us to.

I fumbled the phone in my haste to reassure them.

Cameron: No, no. Please. Yes.

Cameron: I mean, yes, of course.

Cameron: *blush*

Keith: ❤ ❤ ❤ Love you, Cam.

Josh: All those hearts are from me, too.

Cameron: ❤ ❤ One for each of you.

Cameron: I look forward to seeing the slippers.

Keith: We’re gonna match. It’ll be great.

Josh: We’ll see you later, Cam.

Cameron: I’ll see you both tonight.

I put my phone face down on my desk and realized my hands were shaking.

They had brought so much beauty, and grace, and warmth into my life. But I’d never expected to love them. And I certainly never expected them to return the sentiment.

Heart, heart, heart.

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About One Life to Lose

Cameron Rheingold is the kind of guy who takes a book to a bar. He’s a loner by nature, but he has to engage with the community to keep his movie theater business afloat. When two young men stay after a Cary Grant film showing to chat, Cameron thinks he might have made some new friends—but their interest is more than friendly.

Josh is charismatic, and every smile is a little bit seductive. Keith is sweet and kind, with a core of steel Cameron can sense even when Keith’s on his knees. Cameron is willing to be the couple’s kinky third, but that’s it. He refuses to risk complicating things with his growing devotion, even if being with Josh and Keith feels more right than anything else ever has.

When the three of them are attacked by the killer roaming La Vista, Cameron must decide what’s more important: pretending the assault never happened and he’s the same loner he used to be, or coming clean to Josh and Keith about how much he loves them, even if they can never return his feelings.

Now available at Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/one-life-to-lose

About Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Connect with Kris:

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of One Life to Lose, one lucky winner will receive an ebook from Kris’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

In the Spotlight: The King and the Criminal by Charlotte Ashe (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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The King and the Criminal (The Heart of All Worlds #2) by Charlotte Ashe
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nterlude Press

Available for Purchase at

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Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Charlotte Ashe, author of The Heart of All Worlds Book 2: The King and the Criminal.

Hi Charlotte, thank you for agreeing to this interview and welcome to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to be here!

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and it has always been a passion of mine. Recently, I decided it was time to dust off that old dream and seriously pursue it. My first novel, The Heart of All Worlds, Book 1: The Sidhe was published in 2015, and The King and the Criminal is the second book in the series. It is a love story at its heart, about an elfin king’s uneasy alliance with a criminal he was supposed to bring to justice, against a backdrop of political upheaval.

  • Why did you choose to write LGBTQ stories?

As a queer person myself, I grew up wanting to read more stories about people like me, so that is definitely part of it. I also love speculative fiction, and I believe it is the perfect genre for really exploring issues of gender and sexuality in the social structures of fictional worlds. Fantasy can be an amazing escape, but it can be difficult to sink into that escape as an LGBTQ person when it’s just an escape to another homophobic and rigidly gendered world.  LGBTQ stories are the stories of myself and the people in my community, even when those stories are set in completely fantastical worlds.

  • What inspired you to write your first book?

Basically, I set out to write something that I’d always wanted to read but hadn’t been able to find. While many published works of science fiction and fantasy do explore issues of gender and sexuality, high fantasy tends to stick to stories told in rigidly heterosexist and patriarchal worlds. I started writing The Heart of All Worlds trilogy because I wanted to write a work of high fantasy that really felt like high fantasy, while breaking a lot of the traditional rules of the genre.

  • When and why did you begin writing?

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t write! I really started writing probably around age 8, and I would create “books” of photocopied stories. I especially loved writing horror stories as a kid, and that ended up progressing to fantasy and science fiction by the time I was in middle school. I always had a ridiculously active imagination—my mother kept audio tapes of me spinning stories as early as 3 years old. I came up with all sorts of things—one of my favorites was that there were apparently purple people with flat bodies that lived between the inner and outer walls of our house. I even made up some words in their language. I was 4. If I hadn’t started writing, I don’t know what I would have done with an imagination like that.

  • What are you current projects?

Right now I’m working on the final book in The Heart of All Worlds trilogy, which will be coming out sometime in 2017. I am also plotting out my next trilogy, which will be set in the same universe as The Heart of All Worlds and will feature some of the same characters, but with a particular focus on the women in the Keshell family. And I’m always thinking of new ideas for future books—I keep a little notebook in my purse that is brimming with ideas.

  • Off topic: What secret talents do you have?

That’s a tough one! I’m really good at Tetris, does that count? I’m also pretty fantastic at making those little origami stars out of strips of magazine pages. More seriously, though, I am very good at crisis management. It is a skill I have honed in my day job working with homeless teens, but it has always come naturally to me. For whatever reason, I am able to stay very calm, with laser focus on what needs to get done, when a crisis occurs. I think it’s just how I’m wired. It has been vitally helpful in many situations throughout my life.

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Blurb

The Heart of All Worlds series continues with Sehrys and Brieden living in Khryslee. But when King Firae is trapped by an ancient pact and Sehrys is forced to rule in his absence, Firae relys on an exiled criminal to get home. Meanwhile, a more urgent truth confronts them: Their world is in grave danger and they all play a part in its fate.

Purchase Links:

Interlude Press

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The King & The Criminal ~ EXCERPT

It came back to Firae like a cold fist slowly squeezing his heart, so slowly that he didn’t realize it was happening until the pain was overwhelming. He swallowed. They couldn’t avoid the truth. And he couldn’t bear another dishonest moment between them.

“Five months,” Firae said.

Tash made an inquisitive noise; his eyes never left Firae’s.

“I have five months to complete my mission. I promised to help Brissa, and I intend to keep that promise, but…”

“But we don’t know if we will fulfill the prophecy in time,” Tash supplied.

“The Doctrine has been compromised. The Border is unstable.”

Tash nodded. “I know.” His voice had grown very soft.

“If I don’t return with the elf responsible…” Firae forced himself to maintain eye contact rather than close his eyes and cower in the face of reality. For, whatever Tash might think, Firae was king of Yestralekrezerche, and The Border and its surrounding lands were his responsibility. “I can sacrifice tens of thousands of lives or I can sacrifice you, Tash. I—I don’t want to, but—”

Tash closed his eyes. “I know,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper. He swallowed thickly. “I know.”

Firae searched for anything else he could say, but everything that came to mind sounded hollow. It was true that the Council might show Tash mercy for his pure intent, but the amount of blood and essence they would need from him to restabilize The Border would likely be more than his body could withstand, even if they did wish to spare him. So Firae just watched Tash until he opened his eyes again.

“I know,” Tash said one final time, looking at Firae with such resignation that it was painful to witness. And then Tash turned to face the wall with his arms wrapped tightly around himself. Firae moved to fit behind him and wrapped an arm tentatively around Tash’s waist.

“I would like you to go back to your own quarters now,” Tash said firmly.

“Tash—” Firae began to protest.

“Just go, Firae. Please.”

Firae swallowed around a lump that had found its way into his throat and slowly removed his arm. “Of course. I…” There was nothing left to say. “Goodnight, Tash.”

Tash didn’t say anything.

* * *

The doctor waved them through the house and into the back garden without even offering a pot of tea; he seemed quite aware of the urgency of the situation.

Tash and Cliope inhaled sharply at the scene that greeted them.

The sidhe lay on his stomach in the soft grass with a thin blanket draped over his buttocks and back. His features were illuminated by the moons, and he was—

He was lovely: long dark hair and full pink lips; skin pale but warm-hued, smooth as marble; sweet, lean muscles. The boy—man, he was a man, but he couldn’t have been one for long—was as perfect as a sculpture. Tash could barely breathe at the sight of him.

“Well,” Cliope whispered on an exhale. “That—that is a good-looking man.”

Tash laughed softly and looked to Dr. Lasceli, who nodded his assent for Tash to approach the other sidhe.

Tash walked to the unconscious elf and bent down beside him. He knew nothing about the man; he could be friend, foe, or someone to whom Tash would be indifferent if they’d met under different circumstances. But he was sidhe and he was in need of assistance, and Tash—

Well. Tash was different now. At least he was trying to be.

Tash settled cross-legged in the damp grass beside the other elf and took the man’s cool, limp hand in his own. Up close, the man was even more striking. He looked younger than Tash, perhaps by fifty years or even a century, and his dark hair was a glossy near-black. His eyelashes were equally black, sweeping to dramatic lengths against his fine cheekbones. His long, slender ears were dotted with small hoops and cuffs of copper and silver all the way up to their points. Some of the earrings were connected to one another with tangled chains.

Tash closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. He could feast upon the other man’s beauty like the greedy, touch-starved celibate he was, or he could do what he could to save the man’s life.

Centering his own power, Tash released the man’s hand and checked the four points of his body.

His midsection gave no response, which didn’t surprise Tash. If the man wielded water, being submerged would probably have revived him, even if he had lost consciousness before falling into the water. His forehead pulsed warm but not hot—probably low-grade compulsion, healing, or telekinesis, but not the center of his power, unless he wielded an even weaker expression of the Common caste than Tash himself. If this was the man’s only point of power, his chances of survival were slim.

Tash moved his hands to the tops of the other man’s feet and felt warmth again, which was a relief—two points of power made his survival that much more likely, after all.

Tash wet his lips nervously before proceeding to the final point. He hadn’t dared to hope that the one way in which he was most likely to help would be available to him, but as he gently lifted the man’s shoulder so that he could slip his hand below the sidhe’s chest and hold it over his heart, Tash’s entire body gave a jolt and he gasped. His eyes slipped closed at the heat that shot up his arm and into his own heart.

* * *

About the Author

Charlotte Ashe works in the nonprofit world by day and writes romantic fantasy by night. A long-time fan of speculative fiction that skews feminist and features LGBT characters, Charlotte loves writing stories that are sexy, heartfelt, and full of magic and adventure. She has put her BA in literature and creative writing to use over the years as a writer of fan fiction, and her most popular work has drawn more than one million readers worldwide, been translated into several languages, and been featured in online publications including The Backlot. Her first novel, The Sidhe, was published in 2015 by Interlude Press and named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

The King & The Crikminal will be published by Interlude Press on December 8, 2016. Connect with author Charlotte Ashe at CharlotteAshe.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/charlotteashewrites and on Twitter at @CobwebsandAshes

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