Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I found this book a frustrating combination of a nice spin on the hurt/comfort trope, but with frequent sections that bothered me: long boring inner monologues by the main character, Oliver, and moments of incredible stupidity that literally made me want to DNF the book several times. I persevered because I was reading it for this review, and in the end I was glad I did, but it was close! Oliver is a homeless young man who is brought out of the vicious cycle of his self-recrimination and loathing by the kindness of several people in the community. His love interest, Simon, is actually a rather small part of the group that ultimately makes Oliver believe that he can be loveable, and I thought that was pretty refreshing.
The book starts with a flash forward to a moment when it seems that Oliver is dying. He is thinking of all the people he will miss, and the story truly commences at the time when he first meets the main secondary characters in the book. Two kind old ladies offer him a place in their home on a provisional basis, with the expectation that he help them out around the house. In addition to food and shelter, they offer him respect and kindness, which he has a hard time accepting as he has come to think of himself as the worst kind of criminal. There are hints about an accident, and incarceration, though the details are not revealed (and then only sketchily so) until later in the book. Simon is the boy next door who also befriends the skittish Oliver and encourages him to stay and give the old ladies, and himself, a chance. In the end, of course, Oliver learns to believe in himself and have faith in others, and has a promising future – and that’s not really a spoiler, just the expected resolution of a hurt/comfort romance.
The tragic events in Oliver’s past life were only somewhat vaguely explained, and I didn’t truly follow the path from accident to jail to homelessness. It was all fueled by Oliver’s self-hate, but those endless monologues just made me think he was whiny rather than feeling compassionate for his suffering. He also several times got into situations that he responded to with “too stupid to live” actions that just made no sense, when he was otherwise supposed to be a pretty smart guy. Those seemed like gratuitous drama and angst to me, and completely turned me off. I think different writing could have made me believe that Oliver’s self-hate was justified, but I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t get what his art had to do with anything, it really felt superfluous to his personality and to the story. I never understood what kind of hold Marcus had (the bad guy) had over him. The book was also fairly long for the plot and action that occurred, which I blame on those long monologues, and that made the pace of the book slow, and I found myself putting it down frequently to pursue something more exciting – like doing laundry.
I guess, in the end, the blurb was everything I wanted the story to be, but the execution was kind of a swing and a miss for me.
Cover art by Anna Sikorska was very appropriate for the story, and the empty section of highway was good for the initial somber tone of the story.
ebook, 210 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1635332796 (ISBN13: 9781635332797)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I have really enjoyed the Taking Shield series. Each book draws me in further into Shield Captain Bennet’s world. While Albion is fighting its hundred year war against the Maess, and struggling to hold on, Bennet tries to live his life as best as he can. But sometimes the horrors of war interfere with his plans.
During his last year of rotation out of his mandated three years out of Shield, Bennet is assigned to the Gyrfalcon, his father’s ship. That only would cause headaches for Bennet. But his assignment as Flight Captain of the ship would mean he is now in the line of command of Flynn, his lover from the ship. As a result, he must now spend the next year (10 months or 400 days in Albion terms) being able to look but not touch when it comes to Flynn. Add in the fact that Flynn has probably had a fling with his sister and his father suspects that he and Flynn are more than just friends makes life even more difficult for him.
As if the romantic entanglements aren’t enough to make Bennet irritable, the fallout from the Makepeace continues to haunt him. The president is on the verge of being ousted from office, either through impeachment or the next election. Some members of the intelligence committee believe that while his theories might be correct, there is no proof that the Maess are getting help. The man behind the political scenes wants to groom Bennet for a political career, much to Bennet’s chagrin. And the topping of the cake is the treatment of the rescued humans from Makepeace are being kept on a former penal colony with his partner Felix leading the scientific team seeing what the Maess have actually done to them. Bennet is counting down the days until he can return to his form of normalcy and back in the Shield fold.
Bennet has become a favorite character of mine. He is trying the best he can for the war effort in a variety of ways. While he could have taken a desk job at the Strategic unit doing analysis of data for the war, he is out there sometimes behind enemy lines doing what he feels needs to be done. What really gets to Bennet’s soul is the consequences of those actions that sometimes are unknown to him until two or three years later. This goes for not only the militaristic side of his life but the personal. Flynn notes that he and Bennet have spent sixty-four days out of the past five years (2000 days) together. Yet somehow Bennet keeps going on. As his year on the Gyrfalcon is finishing, he must once again go home, away from Flynn, and deal with the ramifications of the fallout from Makepeace with the new president. I wait impatiently for the next book in this saga.
Cover art again is terrific. Lush and dark, just perfect.
EBook, 283 pages
Edition Language: English
Published: February 13, 2016 by Glass Hat Press
Gyrfalcon (Taking Shield #1)
Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2)
Makepeace (Taking Shield #3)
The Chains of Their Sins (Taking Shield #4)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Born on the wrong side of the tracks to the wrong family, Kyle Potter has spent his life clawing his way toward a better future. When he gets the perfect job at the perfect firm in perfect Los Angeles, Kyle is sure there are only blue skies ahead. And then he meets perfect Brent Haralson.
Born with a silver spoon to a well-established family, Brent Haralson has never been interested in leveraging his connections. Friends, success, and dates come easily to Brent and rejection isn’t something he has to deal with in life. And then he meets perfect Kyle Potter.
Kyle despises his unwelcome crush on his lazy, arrogant nemesis. Brent welcomes his feelings for his stubborn, brilliant friend. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.
This was a great story that shows that quick assumptions aren’t always the most correct. Kyle has had to work hard for what he has and has no respect for those who don’t contribute to society. Kyle and Brent have been friendly enemies for years, but when Brent gets the opportunity to help Kyle when he needs it he jumps at the opportunity.
Kyle is one stubborn man, no matter what his other friends say he has never changed his views on Brent. When he is down on his luck Brent takes him into his home and Kyle slowly sees that Brent may not be quite what he seems, but isn’t quite willing to back down from his original views completely.
I loved seeing both of these characters interact. Even though Kyle is constantly trading barbs with Brent there doesn’t seem to be too much fight behind them. Kyle is amazed when he does finally open his eyes to really see Brent. I loved Brent’s attitude towards Kyle, knowing that he uses is attitude as a defense mechanism he slowly begins to break down his walls until they crumble. Both of these characters are sweet deep down and really just want someone to love them.
Cover art is great and is a sweet picture of the characters together.
ebook, 70 pages
Published: 2nd edition, February 1, 2017
Edition Language: English
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.
Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.
It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.
The Mystery of the Curiosities is an intellectual interpretation of a murder mystery. I’m not a mystery reader. I never read any of the classic or watched any mystery programs. But, this series drew me in with great characters, interesting clues, and a lot of new facts. Like Sebastian, I love to know a lot of useless facts and information.
If you are looking for a realistic contemporary story, this isn’t one. You must give the characters, but especially the events, a lot of leeway. The facts, the settings, and most of the clues in the book are real, but everything is a bit over the top. Solutions come quick, and a sense of mysticism surrounds the story.
Sebastian’s dad is one of my favorite characters and Neil is a close second. There’s great banter between Calvin and Sebastian, and their relationship works great with the clues. The settings were very detailed and it was easy to understand their importance and how all the details added up in the end.
If you’re into detective’s stories with an intellectual edge, this is a good book to read. It moves fast and keeps the reader wanting to know more about the next clue. Looking forward to other installments in this series.
The cover by Reese Dante fits perfectly with the events of the story and gives the reader another good look at Sebastian. Also, it matches the first one in the series.
ebook, 200 pages
Published: March 7, 2017, by DSP Publishing
Edition Language: English
Just the Right Notes by Sean Michael
Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance
Available for Purchase at
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sean Michaels here today talking about his latest story, Just the Right Notes. Welcome, Sean!
Thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today.
Sometimes it’s easy to figure out what a character does – often they arrive with their job in tow, ready to go. Other times, the nature of the story calls for the character to have a specific job, or a certain type of job. And every now and then, they arrive without an occupation and I have to figure it out, which can often take way more time than I’d like. In the case of Just the Right Notes, the guys came complete with occupations — architect and symphony conductor — which is always the best scenario.
I thought I’d share my top ten sexiest jobs, occupations that for one reason or another, seem sexier than others.
Top Ten Sexiest Jobs
- Navy Seal
- Police Officer
smut fixes everything
Just the Right Notes
Elliot is an up-and-coming architect who just opened his own firm—which is a lot more work and pressure than he expected. His partner, Graham, is a respected composer and conductor. They share their love and lives in a beautiful house designed by Elliot, and whenever things get too hard to handle, they retreat to their cabin getaway where Elliot becomes Dom to Graham’s needy little sub.
When things at Elliot’s firm begin to crumble, Graham needs to be the tough one, the one to suggest the cabin and the games they play there, knowing Elliot’s role as Dom will give him strength and that their games will recharge his lover. Together, they keep working to find that precarious balance in their lives—until an accident threatens to change everything. Elliot and Graham’s love faces its greatest challenge yet, and only the resilience they draw from each other can see them through hardship and keep the music in their lives.
Oh, he didn’t think so. Enough was enough. If anything or anyone was going to torture Graham, it was going to be him, and Graham was going to love every fucking second of it.
Elliot turned on his heel and headed for their bedroom to grab the black bag from the back of the closet. He didn’t need to check it—it would have everything they needed. Every time they used it, he carefully repacked it when they got home again so it was always ready. He took it out and put it in the trunk of the car.
Back inside, he called his work number and reset his outgoing message to indicate he would be unreachable for the weekend.
Then he went to wake Graham.
His beautiful lover’s jet-black hair was loose, wild, and tangled, undisciplined and uncontrolled. He reached out, stroked a hand through it, and Graham’s eyes fluttered open.
Crouching next to Graham, Elliot smiled into the most amazing green eyes he’d ever seen. “G. Love.”
About the Author
Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.
Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.
Sean Michael on the web: