A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into #2) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Lane Hayes is one of my favorite authors, and this story proves why. Faced with a secondary character in a short story who was really the anti-hero—a bisexual guy who jilted his (female) fiancé and disappointed his best friend and business partner—Ms. Hayes decided to give him his own story, in which he demonstrates why he was such a letdown in book one, and then falls into deep and everlasting love with a handsome and sweet older man.

I was skeptical when we first saw Nick in this story—buried nose-deep in code in his and Eric’s IT security business—and seemingly clueless to what’s going on in the rest of the world. He keeps bugging his BFF friend Eric, who’s on a well-deserved honeymoon vacation in Bora Bora, so faced with penalty of death from Eric’s new husband, Zane, (Leaning Into Love) Nick decides to take a break from work and return the wine he purchased as a wedding favor for his own cancelled wedding months ago.

There he runs headlong into Wes Conrad, winery owner, who refuses to allow Nick to return the wine that was labelled with the personal information for Nick’s wedding. It’s company policy not to take it back, and Wes digs in his heels and outright refuses. And so begins the crappiest day of Nick’s life, but also one that turns out to be the day he went head-on with the man who would ultimately become the most important person in his life.

I love the way the author took the time to explain and explore Nick’s issues—issues with antisocial behavior, a constant side focus on the numbers in his head—mathematical equations—that needed to be addressed. She also gave Nick an older, more mature man—one who has lived through multiple life experiences, including the tragic loss of his business, his former lover, and a good friend. Wes has the maturity and the patience to handle Nick, and though wildly attracted to one another from early in the story, there’s no rush into deep and everlasting love. It evolves over time, and every moment and every step of the way is absolutely necessary for this couple. Business deals, takeover possibilities, poor decisions, partnership problems—this story has it all. But most of all? It has a young man who seemed to be irredeemable learn to face his issues and take responsibility for his own actions and then take the leap into falling head over heels with the man he most needs in this world.

That might sound a bit mushy and romantic, but that’s how I saw it. And I have a particular soft spot in my heart for older men who find romance in the MM genre. This one is terrific, and I highly recommend it. Why not a full 5 stars? I couldn’t shake all of the prejudice I had against Nick from the first book. Let’s just say he’s darn lucky he had such a great author to tell his story. And I can’t wait to see if Ms. Hayes has more in store for us in this series. I suspect maybe Nick and Eric’s friend Josh will be next. Can’t wait!

~~~~
Cover by Reese Dante is similar to the first cover in that it features a faceless male torso, with opened shirt, against a background of the San Francisco skyline and bay.

Sales Links

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Self Pub
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #2

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: The Case of the Guilty Ghost (End Street Detective Agency #6) by R.J. Scott and Amber Kell

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

The last book in a series always has an enormous job to do.  It can’t simply tell its story, no it has to wrap all up the loose ends and dangling plot threads from multiple couples and books that came before it.  How it does all that and tell its story will leave the reader either feeling really good about the series and couple/couples or feeling that they’ve missed something and that it all fell rather flat. Or even, quelle horror, a waste of their time! What a burden placed on that last novel!

I’m so happy to report that The Case of the Guilty Ghost wraps things up quite nicely for everyone at the  End Street Detective Agency and even gave us a look at the future that left me all aglow as they say.  Nothing so wonderful as bringing a series full circle as the authors did here.  I’ll say right at the beginning that it doesn’t get the full 5 stars because someone coming into the story without reading all the previous books would be quite lost.  You need to have read all the others to have a firm foundation and fix on the characters and situations already established at page 1, starting with the  grieving Bob.  Yes, I still love a vampire called Bob.

I also thought this was the weakest link here.  There’s no real reason for Bob to separate himself from his family during this time of mourning.  Everyone seems to be telling Bob to buckup and bring at least Sam there to help him through this.  But of course, Sam’s presence is needed elsewhere and Bob won’t soon be mourning.  So begins an action packed supernatural adventure that brings so many characters together one last time.  We learn who and what Sam truly is, a mystery that ran throughout the series.  How that bracelet Sam wears comes into play and a outstanding fight to end all fights at the end.   And our Terry, the resident ghost of End Street Detective Agency? Well, he figures into this in a huge way as well. Oh and did I mention there’s sex too? That too, lots of that.

If a plot is tied up too neatly, well, ok.  I thought that banishment was quick and pretty handy.  But the rest of the story was so good and answered so many of my questions, that I’m willing to overlook something so expedient as that.  Plus it worked within the narrative, so I’m happy even if I wanted something a little more complicated.  Sam, Bob and daughter Mal have their HEA as do our other favorite characters.  That’s what I wanted here and what I got with a lot of suspense and acton along the way.

Then Amber Kell and RJ Scott threw in the marvelous Epilogue and brought things full circle.  That was just delightful and left me smiling even more.  I could walk away from the End Street Detective Agency happy and content.

Cover design by Meredith Russell is perfect for the characters and storyline.

Sales Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mYNrYY

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDMEK6

Book Details:

ebook, 164 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
ISBN139781785640759
SeriesEnd Street Detective Agency #6

Review Tour & Giveaway – The Case Of The Guilty Ghost (End Street Book #6) by Amber Kell by RJ Scott

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mYNrYY

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDMEK6



Length: 111 pages


Cover: Meredith Russell

Series


End Street Vol 1 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
End Street Vol 2 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Case of the Purple Pearl – Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

Author Bios
 

Amber Kell has made a career out of daydreaming. It has been a lifelong habit she practices diligently as shown by her complete lack of focus on anything not related to her fantasy world building.

When she told her husband what she wanted to do with her life, he told her to go have fun.
During those seconds she isn’t writing, she remembers she has children who humor her with games of ‘what if’ and let her drag them to foreign lands to gather inspiration. Her youngest confided in her that he wants to write because he longs for a website and an author name—two things apparently necessary to be a proper writer.

Despite her husband’s insistence she doesn’t drink enough to be a true literary genius, she continues to spin stories of people falling happily in love and staying that way.

She is thwarted during the day by a traffic jam of cats on the stairway and a puppy who insists on walks, but she bravely perseveres.

Website: http://www.amberkell.com
E-mail: amberkellwrites@gmail.com

 

 

Author Bio

 

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

 

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

 

Giveaway

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Russell J. Sanders on Writing, Characters and his new novel ‘All You Need is Love’ (author interview/Harmony Ink Blog Tour)

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All You Need Is Love by Russell J. Sanders
H
armony Ink Press

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Russell J. Sanders here today talking about writing, characters and his latest story, All You Need Is Love. Welcome, Russell.

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✒︎Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Russell J. Sanders✒︎

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it’s impossible for an author to create a character that doesn’t have some aspects of him/herself. We are products of our own experiences, thus we use those experiences—whether physical or emotional—in our characters. But in my new novel All You Need Is Love, that “putting myself into the character” goes far beyond where I’ve gone before. The main character Dewey Snodgress is I, and I am he. I’m not saying that everything that happens to Dewey happened to me as a teenager. The plot of the book is totally fabricated. But Dewey has so much me in him that I consider the book autobiographical. Like Dewey, I was a soloist in my high school choir, I was an actor with my high school drama group, and I was so sheltered that I barely knew what was going on in the world outside my high school. Also like Dewey, I never met a black person. In my 1960s Texas world, we had no black kids in our high school. They lived across town, and we never had occasion to mix with them. My fantasy of how Dewey meets LuLu is inspired by how I met one of my dearest friends—many years later—a beautiful, wildly funny African-American woman. And adding to the similarity between me and Dewey, I graced Dewey with the same childhood nickname my dad christened me with.

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

I’ve done both. I have written novels like Special Effect and Colors where I’ve set the story in “today,” and not had to do much but create a story and characters from my own experiences and knowledge-base. Then there’s The Book of Ethan, set in the “now,” but is a book I had to meticulously research in order to create the world of a religious cult. Much of what I wrote is true, some is what I invented based on my research, in order to fuel the plot I wanted to tell. My first book Thirteen Therapists is set in modern-day Chicago, a city I love and have visited many times. But still I needed to do research to get the sense of place I needed. Then there are my historical novels, the current All You Need Is Love and the upcoming (in 2018) Titanic Summer. I did extensive research for both. I wouldn’t have thought I needed to research a story set in the era where I grew up in the town in which I grew up, but All You Need Is Love continuously sent me to experts to check facts or to fill me in on things my brain had lost. My brother, younger, handsomer, and smarter than I, was able to refresh my memories of our childhood neighborhood, while I got invaluable assistance from experts about the Vietnam War and the Texas one–act play contest of the time. For Titanic Summer, I spent hours reading about the famous ship that hit the iceberg so I could re-create that time and experience. Perhaps the novel I’ve researched the most is the one being released in 2019—You Can’t Tell by Looking. One of its main characters is a Muslim-American teen, and I read several books, learning about Islam, so I could get it all right.

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

When I was a kid, I read everything. And I do mean everything. My mother, a voracious reader herself, raised me with this philosophy: “If he doesn’t understand it, it can’t hurt him; if he does understand it, it can only broaden his perspectives.” I remember my sixth grade teacher, at the beginning of the year, announced that she wanted us all reading books outside of the classroom, but she wanted to approve of each book. After I took her three or four books I was reading, she threw up her hands and said I didn’t need approval any more. It wasn’t that she felt she couldn’t control me, it was that she trusted that I could read whatever I wanted, and what I wanted to read were often bestsellers written for adults. So my love of reading certainly influenced my choice to become a writer.

As for choosing to write young adult novels, that came about more because of my teaching career. Actually, when I grew up, young adult novel was not a genre. Books with teen protagonists were just books, either young enough in perspective for children to read or old enough in perspective for adults to enjoy. But as a high school teacher, I learned to love young adult novels and love teenagers. I wanted to create books that reflected their experiences and spoke to them, and thus my career writing YA was born.

  • 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?

Never. I’ve put aside stories because I suddenly got stumped and couldn’t continue because I didn’t have a clue where the story was taking me. But those were stories that weren’t meant to be. The process many writers follow is to outline a plot and write from the outline. I think of a character, a setting, an incident, and then I start writing. My fingers take me all the way to the end. I’m continually amazed at what my characters do and where they go. I once wrote a murder plot that had a choice of six different murderers, and I didn’t know who did the dastardly deed until he confessed! I love that my characters take on their own lives and let me write those lives down for them. I get to live through them instead of my creating their lives.

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

I love romantic stories. Romance novels, as a genre, are not something I pick up very often. Amazingly, the genre seems to require two or three explicit sex scenes, and I get bored reading those, whether hetero or homo. You’d think I, as a gay man, would want to read about a hot encounter, but I think I, as a storyteller, want the story to keep advancing, and a sex scene just stops the action for me. And so, in my romantic young adult novels, my sex scenes are pretty tame, created to show character or plot development, rather than to add steam. And don’t get me wrong, I applaud the readers of Romance novels and I admire and honor the writers of that genre. As they say, different strokes for different folks.

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

Definitely, growing up it was my mother. The woman had a book at her easy chair, a book in the car, a book in her purse, a book by her bedside, and yes, a book in the bathroom, so she would never be without something to read. And she kept all those ongoing plots straight! So how could I not be influenced by that? (And yet, to my chagrin, my younger brother is not an avid reader, although I’m proud to say he’s read all the books I’ve written and is one of my greatest champions.)

As far as now, I suppose one of my greatest influences is the award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz. He truly is the finest writer alive today in my opinion. He is also a great human being, and it shows in his writing. I love all his books from my favorite, his first novel Carry Me Like Water, to his young adult novels like his Lambda award-winning book Ari and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. If I could be one tenth the success that Ben is and garner even 1% of the good reviews he gets, I would feel like an ultra-successful writer.

Aside from Ben, though, I continually sing the praises of my mentors: Kathi Appelt and Kelly Bennett. Both are amazing writers, teachers, and friends. Kathi encouraged me by example and by words long before I even began writing novels, and Kelly not only taught me and critiqued me, she has been steadfast in supporting my quest to be published and the continuance of this budding career I have. And she is one of my dearest friends.

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

Love/Hate. I love that it is successful and that many younger readers are actually reading because they are comfortable tied to their electronic devices. And selfishly, I love that royalties from an ebook purchase are greater than those from a print book purchase. But personally, I hate ebooks. There is something cold about the format. I feel that I’m not reading a real book if I can’t turn pages, look back easily to see what I missed, turn to the back cover and read the blurb one more time. Reading a print book is a sensory experience that I don’t get from an ebook.

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

I’m blessed to be published by Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press. They have the most incredibly talented artists. From a questionnaire I fill out (where I present some outlandish, unworkable ideas,) the Dreamspinner Press artist comes up with the perfect distillation of the essence of my book. And presents me with three or four choices! And then I’m further blessed that my husband is a graphic artist, for he can look at each choice, ask me questions, take my feedback, and help me either choose the best or know what to say if I deign to ask my artist to do further work. But lordy, lordy, lordy—no matter what I suggest, the artist comes back with the perfect cover. I was honored to have artist Anne Cain design the cover for The Book of Ethan. She evoked the two worlds of the cult-fleeing Ethan and the black rapper Kyan so beautifully. Aaron Anderson did Special Effect, with its shadowy figure trapped in the half-light of a dark theater; Colors and its stained glass that main character Neil is so tormented over; and All You Need Is Love’s iconic gun with the daisy in its barrel with the 1960s-inspired psychedelic paisley lettering. Aaron’s covers take my breath away.

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

My favorite, I guess, is the one I’ve just finished. I finished Thirteen Therapists and loved it. Then I wrote Special Effect, and I was amazed I could create a murder mystery. Next came The Book of Ethan, and I was enthralled by the world I painted. Colors came after that, and I marveled at how I managed to tackle such an important, difficult subject. But oh—I wrote All You Need Is Love, and it is so much my life story that I can’t help but cherish it. The upcoming novels Titanic Summer and You Can’t Tell by Looking, when I see each in print, will probably capture my heart, respectively. What can I say? I love writing, and I love what I write. Does that sound too self-aggrandizing?

  • What’s next for you as an author?

What’s next? What’s next is to make sure All You Need Is Love finds its audience. Besides how much I love the story and want to share it with everyone, I think it is an important book because it sheds light on the era of the 1960s, a turbulent, life-changing time in America that most teens today know very little about. Even if they don’t learn enough from my book, I hope it spurs them to search for more about that time.

And then, of course, are my two novels already under contract. Spring of 2018 will see Titanic Summer, a novel that tells of a gay teen in the summer of 2015 in Houston, Texas, when the fight for the Houston Equal Rights Amendment was being fought. That fight was ultimately lost, but my hero wins his parallel fight with his gay identity, his problems with his father, and his feelings about a newfound friend. And along the way, I might add, he learns about a teen who perished on the Titanic.

A year later, I’ll have You Can’t Tell by Looking, a story of a love that develops between a Christian boy and a Muslim-American classmate, replete with all the things a relationship of that sort stirs up.

And finally, there’s a new story rumbling in my gut. I know very little about it, but sooner or later, it’s going to poke its head out and introduce itself. And then my fingers will fly across the keys to tell that story!

All You Need Is Love…blurb

It is 1969 when Dewey Snodgress, high school theater star, meets irrepressible hippie Jeep Brickthorn, who quickly inserts himself into Dewey’s life—and eventually, into his heart. Meanwhile, Dewey prepares to appear in a production across town, a play about protestors of the Vietnam War, where he befriends the wild and wonderful Lucretia “LuLu” Belton, who is also determined to follow her dreams and become an actress—whether her parents approve or not.

 The show has a profound effect, especially on Dewey’s father, who reconsiders his approval of the war after his son’s performance. But Dewey knows his dad won’t be so accepting if he reveals the love he’s developing for Jeep, so he fights to push his feelings away and keep the peace in his family.

 Still, Dewey can’t ignore the ripples moving through society—from the impending Woodstock Festival to the Stonewall Riots—and he begins to see that the road to happiness and acceptance for him and Jeep might lead them away from conservative Fort Worth, Texas—and Dewey’s dad.

Russell J. Sanders…bio

Russell J. Sanders is a life-long devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to hundreds of others.

Russell has also travelled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out of the way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food.

Most importantly, Russell is an out and proud Gay man, living in Houston with his husband—a relationship that has lasted almost twenty years. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young Gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work.

Media Contacts for Russell J. Sanders:

Author of…

   Thirteen Therapists (Featherweight Press)

   Special Effect (Harmony Ink Press)

   The Book of Ethan (Harmony Ink Press)

   Colors (Harmony Ink Press)

   All You Need Is Love (Harmony Ink Press, coming March 2017)
   Titanic Summer (Harmony Ink Press, coming Spring 2018)