A Lila Review: Enemy Within (The Executive Office #3) by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The White House, infiltrated.
The president, running for his life.
A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground.

When everything falls apart, who do you trust?

President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach.

Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together.

Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life.

As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks.

Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?

Enemy Within is more than one book. It’s a romance series following three couples. A political thriller, studying the tights between two former enemy countries. A history lesson with a speculative edge. It’s filled with intrigue, angst, hope, policies, friendships, psychological profiles. All, wrapped up to bring a coherent story with a single purpose, entertainment.

I normally read the whole book before I start writing the review, but in this case, it’s not possible. I’m thirty percent into the story and it feels as if I had read several books. We started shortly after the end of Enemy of my Enemy, without losing a step. Within the first pages, the major players are introduced, and the plot arcs set.

The changes between settings are well-documented at the beginning of each chapter and the frequent POV changes extend the complexity of the story, without hindering the connection with the characters. Our feelings, as readers, are drag through the mud of the Siberian wilderness and brought back into redemption. I’m sure this is going to happen many other times before I reach the end.

Yes, I did skim thru some of the prose and descriptions looking for more dialogue and less introspect, but the overall combination of elements worked for this series. With this marking the end of the road, the POV changes and the high amount of settings are easy to follow. And all the fight scenes and high action drama read as a contemporary Hollywood movie–a combination between the Bourne movies and Behind Enemy Lines.

At the moment, I had hit a moment of calm and had to stop by to highlight the balance between the love stories and the political mayhem bringing all the characters together. In any other book, this would be considered the last turn before the end, but is this story, is just one of many of false assurance they would face.

On the second segment, we still see all the action, but the love stories take precedent. We get into the heart of the series and all the ramifications Jack’s & Ethan’s relationship created. There’s a chance to the ghost of an HEA for all involved, but it’s, as expected, just a specter–hopes for closure and a deserved future. It’s going to be a mix of awws and angst.

There’s an intersection point with the ending of Enemy of my Enemy and as I mentioned in that review, not something I liked then, or now. But it was a necessary evil to advanced one of the many plots/romance arcs forward. I just stopped in the middle of it to take a break and let you know what’s happening.

I think I’m changing my mind. This story is more of an espionage tv series. The only difference is the bromance between the main characters is, in this case, a true romance. I feel like I’m reading different chapters of an overall plot. Perhaps that’s the reason I feel the need to write my review as I read. It’s like watching with a friend and chatting before starting the next DVR episode.

After way too many action scenes, I can finally say that some light is coming out. The unmasking of the moles that had carried during all three books was well-done, even when a bit telling. The fights, the overseas, underseas, and everywhere in-between settings added character to the story. A sense of suspense disbelief, enough to engross the reader and making them want to read faster. At points, it was hard to follow who was fighting who and how the movements worked, but all melted together at the resolution.

If you started reading looking for realism, this is not your story, but if you believe in the power of fiction, go ahead, and read. I’m so close I can smell the fuel and the HEA.

But before that, we have to dip into American Politics. If you’re a political junkie, like me, you will enjoy the number of similarities to our date-to-date politics. The book was written ahead of its time, but can be part of any late-night news broadcast.

The last part of the book, with the end result and the future for the couples, are beautiful. We get to see how they grow into their relationships and their hopes for the future. We get multiple happy endings, with a nice closure for all the alternative arcs, but there’s always a chance for more or a spinoff. Not necessary, but enough to bait the readers.

In the end, reading this series is worth all the time it takes. It’s long, but now that all the books are out, it would be a great time to read it in its totality.

The new covers for this series, by Natasha Snow, are interesting, but a bit generic. I do like them better than the original ones, though. Plus, they bring all the books together nicely.

Sale Links: AmazonNook | Smashwords

Book Details: 

ebook, 445 pages
Published: March 28, 2016, by Tal Bauer Publishing

ISBN: 9781310458163
Edition Language: English

Series: The Executive Office
Book #1: Enemies of the State

Book #1.5: Interlude: First Noel

Book #2: Enemy of My Enemy

Book #3: Enemy Within

A Stella Release Day Review: My Dragon My Knight by John Inman

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Danny Sims is in over his head, torn between his abusive lover, Joshua, and Jay Holtsclaw, the bartender up the street, who offers Danny the one thing he never gets at home: understanding.

When Joshua threatens to get rid of Danny’s terrier, Danny knows he has to act fast. Afraid of what Joshua will do to the dog, and afraid of what Joshua will do to him if he tries to leave, Danny does the only thing he can do.

He runs.

But Danny isn’t a complete fool. He has enough sense to run into the arms of the man who actually cares for him—the man he’s beginning to trust.

Just as their lives together are starting to fall into place, Danny and Jay learn how vengeful Joshua can be.

And how dangerous.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting a story like the one I got to read in My Dragon, My Knight. I’m used to laughing with John Inman and his works, while this new release is more serious and angsty, I was waiting for some drama of course, the blurb is pretty clear, but I wasn’t ready for this level of abuse.

I’d like to make a little promise. The book speaks loudly of domestic violence, if you are not comfortable with it, the author has written a lot of great and different stories, just go there and skip this new one. I read My Dragon, My Knight and soon after another story with the same theme, and although I have never been victim of a violence like this, it made me cringe more than once. I soaked up and then I couldn’t take it anymore.

That said, John Inman has confirmed how talented he is, I loved the plot, I loved the characters but what conquered me was the writing. This novel was a pleasure to read, I spent one night on it and I didn’t even realize the time passing. It totally captured me and my heart. The words were never too many and just the right ones. Yes the writing totally satisfied me, actually the whole story filled my craving for a good read. You know when you read a book and you want more? Not always is a positive thing, often it means the author lacked somewhere or you simply wasn’t in the mood. Well, this time my mood and My Dragon, My Knight aligned.

Danny had a special place in my heart. I was happy for him to have found Jay on his path, first a friend to trust, then a place where he and his dog Jingles can take a shelter, finally a special person to love. And then there is Jay. Gentle, caring and ready to wait for Danny to be brave. I loved how, although he had lost his lover just the year before, Jay wan’t closed in his grieving, on the contrary his openness made him more lovable.

Now I would like to explain why I didn’t give My Dragon, My Knight the full five stars, because not sure if I have been clear so far but I really adored this book. One thing I couldn’t overcome and ignore, the death of a second character, not going to tell you who because I don’t want to spoil your reading, but of course someone will die. I could have easily done without that.

My Dragon, My Knight by John Inman is a winner, I surely will reread it in the next future, it has all the little details I like to find in my books, friends to lovers, age-gap, characters with huge baggage on their shoulders, cats! I feel to highly recommend it.

The cover art by Reese Dante is simple, real and fitting. I like the font, the colors, everything.

Sales Links

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 200 pages

Publication Date: March 31st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781635332858

Edition Language English

Karen Bovenmyer on Writing, Research, and her latest novel ‘Swift for the Sun’ (guest blog and interview)

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Swift for the Sun by Karen Bovenmyer
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Release Date: Mar 27, 2017

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Karen Bovenmyer here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest novel, Swift for the Sun. Welcome, Karen!

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Karen Bovenmyer

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot. I strongly believe in “write what you know,” but I’m not a gay nineteen-year-old man in 1820, and that was the story I wanted to tell in SWIFT FOR THE SUN. While Benjamin and I do have a lot in common—we love reading, music, and are a little competitive—I don’t speak French, have an undying desire to be a sailor, nor am I very good at talking my way out of predicaments in the moment.

I researched this book thoroughly and reached out to a range of consultants for the things I didn’t know—chiefly, the gay male sexual experience. I shared chapters with gay friends and had several blush-worthy conversations about it. I wanted to get both Benjamin and Sun “right.” I also read many novels written by naval people of the time to get a feel for language and culture.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

No. I think personal experience is complex and nuanced and having some personal experiences in common with your character is a great way to give them more dimension. If your beta-readers report that they are bored or confused, that’s when you should make sure the personal experience you included fits your character and enriches the story. If not, cut it and give them something else that shaped them. Remember past experiences predict reactions to future experiences, so do a little reverse engineering to help you understand why your character is reacting the way they are. If it enriches the story, then include that little backstory/explanation in the text, but most of the time it’s only important that the writer know it.

I find being a life-long roleplaying game nerd helps. I always try to create characters for games that will compel not only me, but the other players.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I usually write science fiction and fantasy, but nevertheless, I research a lot. I know my audience is brutally intelligent, and I had better have an understanding of what my space ship uses for propulsion and how it defeats the enormous gulf between stars. I don’t need to elaborate on it in the story, but I need to understand the theories behind it and have them in my back pocket if needed.

For me, what plays the biggest role on choosing a genre, is the pre-writing I do. I’ll get a loose idea, and then start playing with it on paper. Then I stop drafting and write a seven point outline to shape the story. If I’m not feeling it—I’m not bonding with the character or the predicament and it’s not interesting me, I’ll start over, reshaping the ideas. Yesterday, while drafting a new short story, I spent time on a crashing starship with shape-shifting lovers, scrapped the setting, put them in a postmodern apocalypse, scrapped the characters, then put everything on the moon with shadow-traveling space wolves. But I had better know the rules of that shadow travel and how everyone’s breathing on the moon. It’s a delicate mix of make-believe and science, for me.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

The genre I read the most as a kid was epic fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons spinoff books, and Star Trek novels. Of the long fiction manuscripts I have drafted, none yet fit these genres. I think part of it is because I love them so deeply, I want to do them right. My current novel in progress is a Chinese-inspired fantasy murder mystery, so that one comes the closest to what I usually love to read. I like to think I’m growing toward being able to write the fiction I loved when I was a teen.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Absolutely. When a story is too close to my personal pain, I can’t make it work. I need distance before I can process. When I’m writing stories for publication or for the entertainment of my friends, I can’t get too personal, or the enjoyment of the thing falls apart for me. Every time I’ve tried to process something too fresh through a story, it hasn’t worked. Time does not heal all wounds either—when I write about something really painful, then go back to it later, all the pain feelings come back. I usually can only use the story by recombining elements and themes until I find something charged enough to be interesting but not so overpowering I can’t write about it.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I don’t like books to end. I want them to go on and on forever, so I like HFN. I like to imagine what the character might do next, and having a little hint that not everything will always be perfect for them from here on feels more realistic and fires my imagination.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

As a teenager I read very few romances—Auel’s VALLEY OF THE HORSES, Small’s THE KADIN stick out in my mind. As an adult, I’ve read a lot of Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and J R Ward. I primarily love fantasy and science fiction, but enjoy a strong romantic sub plot. The first draft of SWIFT FOR THE SUN was an action story, but in editorial we were able to bring the romance out of a sub plot and into greater prominence.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

That’s a hard question. Everything I read influences my writing. Growing up, Pini’s ELFQUEST was a huge influence—I’ve always been drawn to writing dramatic story arcs. I’ve been writing a lot of first person lately, which could be due to Brust’s JHEREG or the first few books of Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. A couple of short fiction authors I adore, who continually inspire me, include Kelly Link, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, and Catherynne Valente. I love reading their stories.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I like reading books on an e-reader. I read huge, door-stop fantasy, so the act of holding the physical book up and turning pages was actually causing me wrist pain before I switched from paper to e-books. I see ebooks as the new standard, with audio-books a close second.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Dreamspinner sent me five mockups by Anna Sikorska to pick from. I wanted something that wasn’t too sexy, because the book is more about the two men coming together and defeating their pasts than it is about sex. I also wanted a strong, central character looking out at the reader, inviting them into the story. I told the art department I liked two of the five they sent and gave some suggestions. Anna used the suggestions to make four new mockups, none of which I particularly liked, so they sent me four more, the first of which is the one I chose. All the work was very high quality and I was impressed with both Anna and the Dreamspinner art department.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My current favorite is a 1500 word short fiction called “We Are Still Feeling” featuring lesbian psionic zombie masters fighting the robot apocalypse (available to read online free in Sockdolager’s Women of War issue). That story opened a world in my mind I find myself returning to. It was the first story I’d written that earned a “Finalist” ranking in the Writers of the Future Contest. My science fiction epic novella (17500 words) “Failsafe” is a second favorite, also because of the setting and character relationships. It earned an honorable mention for 2013 year’s best horror from Ellen Datlow, but I don’t think it’s the external validation that really counts for me with both of these stories. It’s the strength of character, setting, and plot that keeps calling me back there. I will probably write more stories inspired by both.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently drafting a Chinese-inspired noir fantasy novel with detectives and dragons, empresses and duelists. I hope to complete work on the novel (currently 60000 words) by August (probably topping out around 100000 or 120000) and pitch it to agents. Fingers crossed!

About Swift for the Sun

Benjamin Lector imagines himself a smuggler, a gun runner, and an all-around scoundrel. A preacher’s son turned criminal, first and foremost, he is a survivor.

When Benjamin is shipwrecked on Dread Island, fortune sends an unlikely savior—a blond savage who is everything Benjamin didn’t know he needed. Falling in love with Sun is easy. But pirates have come looking for the remains of Benjamin’s cargo, and they find their former slave, Sun, instead.

Held captive by the pirates, Benjamin learns the depths of Sun’s past and the horrors he endured and was forced to perpetrate. Together, they must not only escape, but prevent a shipment of weapons from making its way to rebellious colonists. Benjamin is determined to save the man he loves and ensure that a peaceful future together is never threatened again. To succeed might require the unthinkable—an altruistic sacrifice.

Karen Bovenmyer earned a B.S. in anthropology, English, and history; an M.A. in literature; and an M.F.A. in creative writing—popular fiction. Fans of historical romance, Tarzan, Master and Commander, and Pirates of the Caribbean will enjoy this funny, romantic action-adventure.

80k words
Pages: 230
ISBN-13 978-1-63477-764-3

About the Author

Karen Bovenmyer was born and raised in Iowa, where she teaches and mentors new writers at Iowa State University. She triple-majored in anthropology, English, and history so she could take college courses about cave people, zombie astronauts, and medieval warfare to prepare for her writing career. After earning her BS, she completed a master’s degree with a double specialization in literature and creative writing with a focus in speculative fiction, also from Iowa State University. Although trained to offer “Paper? Or plastic?” in a variety of pleasant tones, she landed an administrative job at the college shortly after graduation. Working full-time, getting married, setting up a household, and learning how to be an adult with responsibilities (i.e. bills to pay) absorbed her full attentions for nearly a decade during which time she primarily wrote extremely detailed roleplaying character histories and participated in National Novel Writing Month.

However, in 2010, Karen lost a parent.

With that loss, she realized becoming a published author had a nonnegotiable mortal time limit. She was accepted to the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program with a specialization in Popular Fiction and immediately started publishing, selling her first story just before starting the program and three more while in the extremely nurturing environment provided by the Stonecoast community, from which she graduated in 2013. Her science fiction, fantasy, and horror novellas, short stories, and poems now appear in more than forty publications including Abyss & Apex, Crossed Genres, Pseudopod, and Strange Horizons. She is the Horror Writers Association 2016 recipient of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. She serves as the nonfiction editor for Escape Artist’s Mothership Zeta Magazine and narrates stories for Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, Far Fetched Fables, Star Ship Sofa, and the Gallery of Curiosities Podcasts. Her first novel, SWIFT FOR THE SUN, an LGBT pirate romantic adventure set in the 1820s Caribbean, will be published on March 27, 2017.

Social Media Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenbovenmyer

https://www.facebook.com/karen.bovenmyer

https://twitter.com/karenbovenmyer

http://karenbovenmyer.com/

Release Blitz for Annabelle Jacobs’ Bitten By Design (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mRvGMr

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2odcOb1


Length: 80,000 words


Regent’s Park Pack Series


Bitten By Mistake (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb


When the last thing you want, is everything you need….

Seb Calloway isn’t interested in shifters. After his best friend bonded with one, he avoids getting involved with them—no matter how hot they are—to prevent the same thing from happening to him. Why take the risk for a few hours of fun?

Tim Walters is the pack doctor. Considered to be mild-mannered and non-threatening by pack standards, he prides himself on being able to stay calm and maintain his control at all times. Desperate for a bond of his own, he knows his interest in Seb is an exercise in futility, but he can’t seem to help himself.

When news emerges that threatens Seb’s safety, he and Tim need to fake a relationship to keep Seb safe. Despite Seb’s refusal to be anything other than friends with benefits, what starts out as pretend, quickly becomes more—for Tim at least. If Tim doesn’t want to end up heartbroken, he needs to prove to Seb that loving a shifter doesn’t mean losing himself.

Excerpt

He looked anywhere but at Tim, embarrassment clear in his expression. Before the moment could get awkward—and giving Seb no chance to object—Tim scooped him up, bridal style, and started down the stairs.

Letting out a startled laugh, Seb clung tight to his crutch so it didn’t slip out of his hands. “Twice in one weekend. You’re going to give me a complex.”

Tim bit the inside of his cheek. If Seb knew how much he liked being able to take care of him, how much his wolf liked it, he wouldn’t find it half as amusing or embarrassing. Clearing his throat, he hitched him a little higher, then started down the stairs. “It’s just quicker this way, and I don’t want to make you late for your appointment. We’re running a little behind.”

“Fair enough.”

Not daring to meet Seb’s eyes—their faces were so close together, he didn’t like his chances of not doing something stupid like kissing him—Tim quickly made his way down the steps.


 

 

Author Bio

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats. An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

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Twitter ñ https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction
Website ñ www.annabellejacobs.com
Email ñ ajacobsfiction@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction

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Cover Reveal for Take A Chance by Megs Pritchard (cover reveal and excerpt)

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Title: Take A Chance
Series: Second Chance Series
Author: Megs Pritchard
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: April 7, 2017 

 


Tom Carter
Kicked out at fifteen for being gay, Tom survived by selling his body on the streets. Four years later, Tom, now nineteen, doesn’t know how long he can continue living this life.
One night while out working, Tom sees a face from his past, one he had long forgotten. One he had used to fantasise about.
Sebastian Banks
Afraid of the reaction he will receive, Tom runs away hoping never to see him again. But Seb had other ideas.


Seb Banks
At twenty-five, Seb’s life is going exactly the way he had wanted. Having worked hard at University, Seb has been offered a permanent contract at a local solicitor.
While driving to a friend’s house to celebrate, Seb is shocked to find Tom, someone he hasn’t seen in years, on the streets, selling himself.
Feeling an overwhelming need to help Tom, Seb tracks him down and offers him a way out.
Is Tom willing to take a chance on Seb and accept his offer, or will his distrust of everyone from his past cause him to push Seb away?

Dodging a group of people who were already drunk, as they stumbled out of Via, Tom continued towards the end of Canal Street before heading towards Piccadilly Gardens. Not the safest of areas but one he knew well, and he knew the people who worked there both male and female.


As he was walking along, a car pulled up beside him. Tom turned towards the car and plastered a fake smile on his face as he walked over to the window. Leaning over, he saw who it was. “For fuck’s sake!” he muttered. “What do you want?” he asked as he pushed away from the car.

 

Seb parked up and got out, leaving the door open. “What? You working?”
“Actually, yeah I am, and you’re scaring away all the punters, so fuck off!”
Seb grabbed him and shouted, “No, I won’t.” He took a deep breath. “I won’t let you walk away again. I want to help. I’m not like your parents, and it doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to sell yourself. I don’t know what it’s been like for you, but there has to be something better than this.”
What. The. Fuck! “No, you don’t know what it’s been like for me!” screamed Tom. “My parents, they threw me out like yesterday’s rubbish, they didn’t give a shit. I was fifteen, man, how the hell was I supposed to look after myself? There’s nothing better for someone like me, so just leave me the fuck alone!”

 

“No, I can’t just walk away knowing what you’re doing. Explain it to me. Why this, Tom? Why turn to this?” Seb asked him with genuine interest shining from his brown eyes.

 

Tom spun away from Seb, looking at his feet while running his hands through his hair, as he paced back and forth in front of him. Talking about his choice to sell himself wasn’t a conversation he wanted to be having, but fuck, he’d made the best he could with what he had, which was nothing. He turned back to Seb as he looked up into the night sky. Closing his eyes, Tom inhaled deeply, holding the air in his lungs. How could he explain why he had resorted to selling himself? What could he say?

 

Tom glanced at Seb and exhaled. “I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, your brother’s mate, the rent boy, the whore, taking money for blow jobs or back alley fucks.” Tom paused and looked at Seb. “I look in the mirror and see who I am, what I’ve become to pay for food, the occasional roof over my head. I wish things could have been different. I wish they’d accepted me for who I am.” Tom shrugged. “I should have known they’d never accept their son as gay.” Tom laughed bitterly. “Do you know they never even let me get my stuff from my room? I left with the clothes on my back and money from my Saturday job. That was it. That first night on the streets, I didn’t know who to turn to or where to go.” Tom shook his head. “Do you think I want to be gay? Do you think I would choose this life?” 

 

“Tom, I’m—”
“Save it, Seb. Whatever you’re gonna say, don’t,” Tom muttered quietly.
Megs Pritchard lives in England and is a mother to two small boys. When she isn’t working or being mummy, she is busy writing about complex characters that know the harsh realities of life but want a HEA.

 

A lover of M/M and M/F romances she believes everyone deserves to be happy, healthy and loved.

Growing up in a military family, Megs has traveled Europe and has a great deal of respect and gratitude for all the men and women who have and who still serve. Her dream job was to be a Bomb Disposal Expert and even had her own ‘kit’ when she was younger.

She is currently working on her first full length series called Second Chances.

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A MelanieM Review: Sons of Devils (Arising #1) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

British scholar Frank Carew is in Wallachia to study the magic generator on nobleman Radu Vacarescu’s land. There, his party is attacked by bandits and his friends are killed. Pursued by a vampiric figure, he flees to Radu’s castle for help.

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the vampires came from. If allowed, they would feed unchecked and spread their undeath across the whole Earth, but Radu maintains a shaky control over them and keeps them penned in his tiny corner of the country.

As Frank recovers from his assault, Radu finds himself falling for the young man. But loving Frank and not wanting to lose him leaves Radu vulnerable to his demons’ demands. Can he bear to let them feed on the man he loves? Or must he give in to their blackmail and set them free to feast on his entire country?

I have mixed feelings about this story.  From the synopsis it feels as though it will be told from Radu’s pov.  Instead, its mostly from Frank’s and that gives this story an entirely different and for me disappointing perspective.  Think prey instead of predator because that’s mostly what Frank is here.  He’s the mouse the cats play with before they eat him.

Given that the story is seen from a very shaky Frank who never seems to be able to recover from the constant mental, emotional and physical shocks and attacks he’s under, you never get the chance to know Radu. Or understand the attachment forming between himself and Frank.  Yes, he yells out that “he’s mine” but I never got that was out of  love, more a sense of protection and possessiveness.  Honestly?  Frank’s a bit of a wash too.  There’s a neat bit about magic here but that’s quickly lost which was the most interesting thing about Frank.

Had the story been told from Radu’s perspective, I think I could have understood his feelings more.  As it was I felt that they were lacking. At least towards Frank.  His bitterness and rage about other aspects of his life?  Yep, got that in spades.  Wish his relationship with Frank was as easily laid out in this story or as powerfully felt.

Beecroft does a superb job with the location and foundation here.  You understood the role of the peasants, the culture, and the dire situation they were in.  The castle itself is absolutely hair-raisingly scary.  These are not your sparkly or nice  vampires.  These are your old-fashioned predators who see humans as food.  They are cruel and rapacious.  So if you are expecting anything else.  This is not the story for you.

The story starts to fragment when two other elements are brought in, that of magic (the reason Frank had come to the land) and a war that starts up in Istanbul against Britain that will pull everyone here in.  But you don’t fully get that until book 2.  Just a sudden switch in narrative which is jarring, then a switch back to Frank and then a switch again at the end.  It took me a while to remember where in the switheroo I was.  All ends on a bit of a question mark leading to Angels of Istanbul (Arising #2).  I suppose I will go there just to see what happens next to Frank and Radu.  I’ll let you know what I find.

Cover by: Simoné. Absolutely beautiful covers.

Sales Links   Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 232 pages
Published March 13th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626495548
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesArising #1

An Alisa Review: Nightsong by A. M. Leibowitz

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

 

Nate Kingsley is a master at messing up. Out of jealousy, he outed his best friend in a public and embarrassing way. Now he’s doing his best to make up for his crimes, but it’s left him empty and frustrated, unfulfilled even by his career as an opera singer and creative director. He enters an unsatisfying relationship he keeps hidden from his closest friends. When that ends on a disappointing note, he seeks solace in his crush on one of the drag queens performing at his favorite club.

 

Izzy Kaplan is an EMT by day, a drag queen named TaTa Latke by night. He hasn’t been in a relationship since his divorce from his wife, despite the best efforts of his mothers and his work partner. He avoids their suggestions in favor of attending the opera alone to see the gorgeous baritone who’s caught his eye. He knows it’s just a fantasy, but it’s easier than starting over.

 

A charity performance to benefit a local youth shelter and clinic puts them in each other’s lives in an unexpected way. They begin to emerge from their relationship disasters, slowly building trust. But unknown to themselves or each other, they are facing separate health crises that might be enough to send them both running the opposite way. It will take drawing on the love and strength of their friends and families to bring them back together again.

 

This was an enjoyable yet frustrating story.  Both characters seem to not want to admit what they want to others let alone to themselves while not seeking the support they both need.  They seem so absorbed in their own issues they have trouble seeing past themselves.

 

Nate doesn’t know what to do now that he has alienated his best friend and while he wants to heal that relationship he continues to be jealous and confused over his friend’s life and relationships.  Izzy has pretty much lived his life in limbo since his divorce and hasn’t moved forward which isn’t helped by his constant reminder from his mother and his ex-wife on how her life has moved on.  Both of them have shocking news that could break their budding relationship if they aren’t willing to try.

 

We get to see both of these characters’ points of view, which helped to understand their actions and feelings even if they frustrated me.  Nate keeps himself closed off from pretty much everyone; even his best friend doesn’t really know the real Nate.  Izzy has just continued his life without seeking out any change and while his best friend can read him like a book he avoids talking or admitting the truth.  I was happy that in the end they found what they were looking for even if there are some big bumps along the way.  This book was presented as part of a series but able to be read as a stand-alone, I’m not sure that is completely accurate and felt that I was missing a bit for awhile and the characters from the first story are important in this one.

 

Cover art is wonderful and gives a good background to the story.

 

Sales Links: Supposed Crimes | Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 205 pages

Published: May 1, 2017 by Supposed Crimes

ISBN-13: 9781944591243

Edition Language: English

Series: Notes From Boston #2

 

A VVivacious Review: Fierce by Rob Rosen

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Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5
 
Lucas has superpowers or as he likes to call it, he is super. He was raised by wolves, is as hairy as one and is in love with his best friend Craig.  But as luck would have it Craig reciprocates Lucas’ love and also knows his super secret.
 
In the summer before senior year Craig and Lucas start a relationship and become a superhero duo that saves the world, but as they are superheroing the differences between Craig and Lucas become starkly apparent. Will things work out between these two or will this difference of opinions turn them into mortal enemies?
 
I am utterly confused as to whether I liked this book, loved it or barely tolerated it. As I read this book there were parts that I barely tolerated, some that I liked and some that I loved.
 
Let’s start with the things about this book I barely tolerated and the first among those things would be Craig. Early on in the book I mistakenly made the assumption that Craig and Lucas were end game and this made the fact that I didn’t like Craig all that more disquieting. I think quite a few people reading this book would make that assumption, I know I did, but I feel like this book should be read as an adventure that follows Lucas’ life story. Craig falls more in the evil genius than superhero category in this book and his backstory does make him the perfect foil for Lucas’ Fierce (Lucas’ superhero name). 
 
I personally didn’t find the beginning of this book interesting to the extent that if I wasn’t reviewing this book I would have probably quit reading it at this point but having said that I do realize that if I hadn’t continued reading I would have missed the best part of this book.
 
The best part of this book was the dilemma of being a superhero. Almost in all superhero stories the people closest to the superhero are benefitted even if they are in the wrong because well that’s how the story goes and the same thing happens in this one to an extent. But what I liked about this book was that it took that example and made Fierce/Lucas face the truth that even when you do the right thing it will turn out be the wrong thing for someone good, someone who doesn’t deserve the punishment for the justice you have meted out. I think the best part of this book was bringing into focus that superhero stories make the world black and white when the world is rarely so. I loved this book for that and I loved the confused, struggling with himself and his superhero identity version of Lucas.
 
I liked Lucas’ character quite a bit and I understood and fully sympathized with his fervour to find out about his birth parents. But from here on the plot feels a little repetitive, it seemed like all these people did was go to Granite peak and back and up again and back and so on and so forth. Also the resolution of the plot isn’t as cut and dry as I would have liked. I didn’t understand the idea behind the whole revenge plan that happens post Fierce’s rescue and after that the story is all muddled up.
 
For me none of the side characters, except Craig, stood out much. I liked Todd and Lucas and their relationship though I think it is time that someone tells Lucas that he does a very bad job of hiding his superpowers.
 
This book has its moments but you will have to take the good with the bad.
 
Cover Art by Rob Rosen. I liked the cover but why Lucas is wearing glasses on the cover is beyond me a tribute to Superman perhaps?
Sales Links:
Book Details:
ebook, 225 pages
Published March 25th 2017 by JMS Books LLC admin@jms-books.com
ISBN139781634863599
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Book Release Highlight! Spritzer – A Sparkling Gay Romance by Jon McDonald (guest blog with a short story, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance

Author: Jon McDonald

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 27

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75300

Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, contemporary, enemies to lovers, humorous, romance

Add to Goodreads

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jon McDonald here today to celebrate the release of his new book, Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance.  He’s brought a remarkable short story along with him for our readers, in addition to an excerpt and giveaway.  Welcome, Jon!

✒︎

Jon McDonald: Here’s a short story from another of my NineStar books, Gotta Dance with the One Who Brung Ya.

Midnight Clear

   There was a seam on the roadway crossing the bridge, such that when a car passed over, it sent a thump thump echoing underneath. When it was busy during the day, the thump thumps came frequently, overlapping and creating a thunder that echoed along the riverbank. During the night, the sound came infrequently and accented the stillness.

   It was going to be a very cold Christmas Eve—with the scent of snow already in the air—and there had been a few flurries as the afternoon gathered into dusk before the clutch of night took its frigid hold.

   Rainbow and Gal were huddled around their meager fire, kept alive by scavenging the riverbank for anything that would burn—hopefully through the entire night. Their few belongings were stacked up like sandbags around a foxhole to help keep out the needles of icy wind. The tips of their fingers poked out through worn gloves as they fumbled with a dented pot to heat water so they could use the damaged Ramen Noodle Soup packet scrounged from a dumpster behind the 7–Eleven . Maybe Gal would wait till midnight to give Rainbow his gift—a short flask of brandy that Gal had saved for from a week of panhandling when Rainbow wasn’t around.

   In country, the coppers flew overhead like crazy-wheeling drunks—thump thump, thump thump. Rainbow was Corporal Edward Declan Connelly—Boston Irish. So raw he still thought they were fighting the enemy for the good of the country. He was called Rainbow because he was that way. His best and only buddy was Gal—short for Gallagher but also because he was perceived to be Rainbow’s gal. They had soon found each other despite the monsoons, the mud, the lousy food, the blood, the moans, the endless boredom, and the constant rain of shells—thump thump, thump thump. They managed, however, to get away together now and then for half an hour, hidden amongst the sacks of flour in the storeroom behind the mess. Time so precious and ever so brief, their hearts—thump thump, thump thump.

   After the slaughter was over, and they were shipped home and dumped on the streets of LA, they stayed together. Somewhat broken, keenly cunning, resourceful as two feral cats, together they opened a shop repairing typewriters and small business machines. Then came the computer. They struggled, tried to adapt, created more debt to stay afloat, and finally had to flee in the dead of night in their broken-down Pontiac to the Rocky Mountain west. Their car barely made it across the Continental Divide—thump thump.

   They never completely recovered. Too many demons. Too much alcohol. Inner wounds too tender. But they stayed together through it all. There was never one without the other through many decades, many journeys, many disappointments.

  * * * * *

   “Deck, oh Deck. I can’t believe you’re still abed. And this being Christmas morning and all.” His mother called him Deck, not Eddie. But he didn’t want to stir. The room was cold—the covers warm, scooched up tight around his head, cradling his ear. Only his susceptible eyes and nose were exposed to the bite from the window slightly ajar. He promised he’d get up at the count of ten.

   “Eight, nine, nine and a half, nine and three quarters…”

  * * * * *

    “Soup’s ready.” Gal offered Rainbow the watery, soft noodles.

    “Thanks.”

    It was dark now. The fire glowed and sputtered. Gal put on a few more pieces of wood from a broken table someone had tossed onto the riverbank rather than take to the dump. They ate in silence.

   Thump thump. Rainbow’s mind wandered to the sleeper car his family was taking to Chicago to visit his grandmother; snuggled in his berth, eyes almost closed. Thump thump. The sound of the train lulled him toward sleep. Thump thump. He always watched for that moment when waking turns into sleep like a snake gliding silently into water. But he could never quite grasp it—it always just slipped away. Thump thump, thump thump.

   Gal always cooked. Rainbow always cleaned—tonight taking their few bowls and cooking pot down to the stream to wash up. With tonight’s cold, it was hard to find any running water, and Rainbow had to hack at some ice to find the little trickle to serve his need. Though poor and without much provision, they were both meticulous about keeping clean—their persons and their possessions. Rainbow carefully rinsed the pot and bowls and climbed back up the bank to their shelter under the bridge. He stored the utensils and scooted up close to Gal, sitting by the fire.

   “Here, let me warm you,” Gal whispered as he straddled Rainbow from behind, wrapping his blanket around the both of them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his gift. “I know it’s not quite Christmas yet but thought you could use this now.” He opened the brandy and handed it to Rainbow. Rainbow bowed his head in gratitude and offered the first sip to Gal.

   They sat like that for some time, drinking quietly, the cars overhead passing less often now. Thump…thump.

   Rainbow was the first to notice the child—six, maybe seven. The way the boy stood at the edge of the bridge it looked as though he was lit from within, but of course, Rainbow thought, it had to be the play of the streetlight against the ice reflecting up from the river below.

   “Gal…” Rainbow breathed so softly it could hardly be heard. Gal looked up and saw the child now holding out both his hands filled with Christmas cookies.

   “For you,” the child said softly.

  * * * * *

   Eddie continued his countdown, “Nine, nine and a half, nine and three quarters. Nine and seven-eighths…”

   “Edward Declan Connelly, I am not going to call you again,” his mother boomed from the kitchen.

   “Oh boy, she means business now.” Eddie knew that for sure. And for just a minute longer he savored the warmth of the covers trying to drag him back into sleep. But then he could smell the wafting scents of Christmas—oatmeal, apples, cinnamon, brown sugar. And there were tangerines, coffee, and bacon sizzling on the stove. He bounded up and out of bed, shut tight the window, and still in his pajamas with the fuzzy feet, faced the light pouring through the door and quietly walked toward his mother.

  * * * * *

   The police cruiser was parked on the bridge, the lights blinking and swirling. Thump thump. Two officers were responding to a call from a pedestrian who believed he had spotted something suspicious under the bridge. The officers scrambled down the riverbank and peered. It was dim and hard to see. There were the remains of a fire still smoldering, sending up curls of smoke like lazy spirits going home. And there, huddled together and covered with a thin blanket, were the bodies of two men locked in a tight embrace, drifted snow cradling their faces.

   “Oh jeeze,” one of the officers commented. “Looks like we got ourselves a couple of stiffs. Better call it in.”

   The second officer stared uncomfortably at the bodies. “Will you look at that,” he said. “Two guys in each other’s arms. So desperate to keep warm they had to resort to that.” Thump thump.

Synopsis

Spritzer Vallier is the manager of a large commercial jug winery in Northern California. The new owner, Spritzer’s great-aunt Del, wants to make a quality champagne as well as the cheap wine that is the bedrock of their business. Being a down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy, Spritzer resists Del’s fantastic idea. However, she insists and hires Michel, a French champagne master, to direct the setup of the new venture for four years until Spritzer can take over the running of the winery by himself.

Spritzer and Michel must work closely together and right from the beginning it is clear there will be fireworks. Michel tends towards arrogance and control. Spritzer resents Michel’s authority and demands, and is a bit of a stubborn hot-head.

Keeping the two in check is Del—steady, caring, and wise, she directs the two toward the accomplishment of her dream.

Storms, accidents, and money problems plague the progress of the new winery, but eventually Michel and Spritzer work their way towards a successful conclusion to their efforts. But fate seems to have another destination for them as well, as they begin to fall in love with each other.

Excerpt

Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance
Jon McDonald © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Spritzer Vallier stood in contemplation, gazing at the strange sight before him—a couple of dozen or more folks, dressed mostly in black, standing at the crest of a hill overlooking a Sonoma vineyard. It stretched out below them as far as one could see in every direction; rows and rows of cultivated grape vines, marching neatly in their straight lines. The early morning mists slowly evaporated in the warmth of the climbing morning sun.

Spritzer ran a hand through his dark, curly, unkempt hair, distracted from the immediacy of the memorial service for his recently departed great-uncle Tom, as his mind wandered to the urgent need to be harvesting the glowing, ripe grapes spread out before him. There is a moment when the grapes’ sugars are at their peak, and any delay might harm a season’s harvest. Spritzer had checked the sugar levels in the grapes just yesterday afternoon and decided that they should start the harvest today. But Aunt Del, Tom’s sister, had already arranged for the memorial service to be held this very morning.

He shook himself free from those thoughts, and turned his attention back to the droning priest. Spritzer was standing between his great-aunt Del—short for Deloris—and his childhood buddy, and occasional girlfriend, Kan. He turned to his aunt and squeezed her arm, as the priest extolled her brother’s many virtues.

“Are you holding up all right?” Spritzer asked gently.

Del looked over and smiled. “It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.”

“I know.”

Kan—blonde, lean, and tomboyish—leaned into Spritzer and whispered, “Nice service, don’t you think?”

Spritzer turned to her and said, “Yeah, yeah. But look at all those fuckin’ grapes. The old man would kick off just when I need to start the harvest, right?”

Just then, a biplane approached from behind the gathering, flew low over the heads of the crowd, and began to spray the vineyard.

Kan looked puzzled. “Isn’t this an odd time to be spraying insecticide, for Christ’s sake?”

“That’s not insecticide, that’s Uncle Tom,” Spritzer answered, with a flash of his quirky grin. Kan looked at him questioningly. “Some people want their ashes at sea. Uncle Tom…” He gestured toward the vineyard.

“Yuck. It’s going all over the grapes. What’s that going to do to the wine?”

Spritzer thought about that for a moment, then answered. “Probably make the horrid supermarket plonk we produce a hell of a lot better than it was when he was alive.”

Kan laughed and turned back to the service.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Jon McDonald lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has seven published novels, a memoir, and three children’s books. His short stories have appeared in a number of prestigious publications. He considers himself a genre-bending author—he loves to take an established literary genre, play with it, and turn it on its head. He has lived abroad and traveled extensively.

Website | Facebook | eMail

Tour Schedule

3/27    Hoards Jumble

3/27    Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/28    The Novel Approach

3/28    Zipper Rippers

3/28    Happily Ever Chapter

3/29    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/29    Stories That Make You Smile 

3/30    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/30    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/31    Bayou Book Junkie

3/31    MM Good Book Reviews

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Release Blitz – Dirty Games by Barbara Elsborg (giveaway)

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Buy Links:

Amazon US:http://amzn.to/2ngRgoH

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2oyifgF



Length: 108,000 words


Blurb

The last thing Linton needs when he arrives home after three months in the States, is to find his beautiful flat is a squat, complete with his younger brother Dirk, who’s lying in Linton’s bed with a couple who’ve paid him for sex. Dirk isn’t even supposed to have a key. But after Linton throws Dirk out, life slams in hard and if his brother is to have any hope of a future, Linton has to play dirty. Or at least pretend to. What he hasn’t factored in is having to play the game to the bitter end.

Film star Thorne Morrisey has everything. Good looks, charm, seductive magnetism and a voice that could charm a snake from its basket. He can also be a real shit and yet people still love him – though he’d rather not have the love of his ex. Owen’s a suicidal wreck after Thorne dumped him in a very public and humiliating way and Owen’s wealthy brother has his own reasons for wanting revenge on Thorne. Max’s weapon of choice is his employee, Linton.

Linton and Thorne are on a collision course and in for the game of their lives. But who’s playing who?

Author Bio

Barbara Elsborg lives in Kent in the South of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.

Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, and she hopes they are as much fun to read as they were to write.

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