An Ali Audiobook Review: Everyday History by Alice Archer and Daan Stone (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.

Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
I just read this book about a month ago and loved it. 

When I had the chance to review the audiobook I jumped at it and I’m really glad I did. First off, the narrator, Daan Stone, was super good. I had never listened to him before but he’s now on my radar because his narration was flawless. It was a 5+ stars.

As I’ve already said, I loved this book on the first read. The writing style is very unique. It’s lyrical and poetic and something about it just drew me in and held me from the beginning till the end of the story. This time I was able to go through the story more slowly (I’m a fast reader). The narration made me pace myself and I found there were things I had not caught the first time through. I also found the narration to make the story more emotional and I found my eyes filling with tears more than once (which I did not do when I read it).

The plot of the story is one we’ve seen before, an age gap between teacher and student. This was done differently though. It seems all of the age gap books I’ve read before have had the older person worried about the age difference and the younger one adamant that they know what they want and they have no concerns about it. In this, Ruben, the younger of the two, falters. He knows he cares for Henry and he knows he wants to see him and have sex, but he also knows he’s a kid. He wants to go to college and party and sleep around and do fun things that most of us do/did during this time of our lives. So while this story is definitely a love story, it’s also a coming of age. Ruben has a lot of lessons to learn and unfortunately he hurts others and himself along the way.
The story is told in a quiet way. A lot of it is based on conversations. A lot of it is told through stories that the characters tell each other. Some of it is told through newspaper columns and post cards. Everything that happens in this story matters. You need to pay attention because everything will circle back at some point and you’ll have these “ah-ha” moments. (You probably won’t ever be able to eat apple pie again without feeling a bit emotional.)

While there is a feeling of melancholy as you read this, I wouldn’t say it’s particularly angsty. It’s more a quiet study of how we come to learn what’s important in our lives and how we learn to put aside our fears to reach for what we want. It looks at the people in our lives and the roles they play and it looks at the importance in the things we hold on to and how they tell the story of who we are.

I am a giant sucker for the “grand gesture” in romance stories and this one tops the chart. There is also a lovely HEA and an epilogue that is just beautiful. I really can’t fan girl enough about this. The writing style is so distinctive that I realize it won’t be for everyone. I personally loved it though and I think both the ebook and the audio were hits out of the ballpark so I recommend either or both.
 
Cover by Bree Archer:  I love the cover.  I always really like black and white cover with a splash of color.  This one in particular I really like because it is a signifies a very important part of the story.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
9 hrs 53 mins
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 29th 2016)
Original TitleEveryday History
ASINB06XSMXH4R
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Julia Review: Addict (The Cassie Tam Files #1) by Matt Doyle

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

Addict by Matt Doyle is going to be the first volume in a series about P.I. Cassie Tam and the cases she will find herself confronted with. I was especially curious to see how the author would handle the mixing between Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. As it turns out, I was not going to be disappointed.

The story takes place in a not-too-distant-future-version of our world where technology has advanced to play an even more prominent role in people’s everyday lives. I very much appreciated the approach the author has taken to introduce the reader to his world: by show, not tell. For the most part we simply get to witness how the characters interact with the technology that surrounds them. Here and there the protagonist Cassie Tam, from whose perspective the story is told, will offer an explanation as to how and why certain technological as well societal developments have taken place. The world-building is pretty solid and one can see that the author put a lot of thought into creating a sensible connection between the past (in other words our current time period) and the present in which the novel takes place. It was interesting to discover the numerous and imaginative ways humans have attempted to improve their lifestyles through various gadgets and applications – some with rather questionable success.

I took a liking to Cassie from the beginning because of her direct, nonchalant attitude and demeanour. She is not some kind of newbie but has already a number of successful cases under her belt at this point and it shows. Therefore, she has confidence in her abilities and methods to get things done while on the other hand, there is the occasional blast from the past Cassie is forced to deal with.

Lori (or Ink as she is known in her animal form) is a Tech Shifter who can take on the shape of a panther. I found it very interesting to learn about this more recently emerged group of individuals that have formed their own kind of subculture at this point. The author did a good job in giving the reader some insight into their historical development, technological workings and position within current society. Lori herself is a woman of strong character and conviction who nonetheless needs a way from time to time to escape the harsh and corrupt reality that simmers beneath the surface of New Hopeland. She finds this kind of comfort by changing into her animal form and I appreciated how honestly she admits as much.

The two women play well off each other and the ever so playful, slightly cynical way the two interact with one another was fun to witness as well as the gradual development of their relationship amidst the dangerous events unfolding around them. 

The crime story itself is well-paced and not lacking in suspenseful moments as well as peculiar and interesting individuals that Cassie has to deal with in one way or another. Sometimes I might have liked even a bit more details on characters, their looks and living conditions. All in all, this novel represented an enjoyable read and solid start for a new series and I am looking forward to reading about Cassie’s next case.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is not mind-blowing but it still looks nice and since this volume is intended to be the first in a series focusing on Cassie Tam, it seems appropriate to display her on the cover itself. Nevertheless, I would have very much enjoyed seeing a drawing of Ink or another Tech Shifter.

Sales Links

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

aBook Details:

ebook, 149 pages

Published May 8, 2017

by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-03-9

Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates #3) by Jay Northcote and narrated by Mark Steadman

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

I love this Housemates series by Jay Northcote, and it doesn’t matter if I read the e-book or listen to the audiobook—which I did in this case—it’s always a delightful way to spend an evening’s entertainment.

This one has managed to move to my favorite of the series (though I think I say that every time!) In this story, Dev, a geeky virgin (Oh, my!) moves into the house with Mal and Jez and the other housemates. A first year physics student, the maths genius knows all about adding and subtracting but nothing about relationships, and more importantly, nothing about sex. Well, nothing other than what he’s seen on porn vids. So he sets out to learn and prepares his list of positions and techniques that he needs to learn.

Ewan, one of the guys who rooms in the house next door, and a friend of some of the guys in Dev’s house, is looking for someone to tutor him in maths. He’s a psych major but has to take a statistics course and desperately needs the help. When he spots the cute geek neighbor’s profile on Grindr and reads that he’s a virgin looking for experience, after he’s done swallowing his tongue, he sets out to cut a deal. He’ll “help” Dev get experience and Dev will tutor him in statistics. A match made in heaven.

And really, that’s what it turns out to be. We get a blow by blow (no pun intended) description of each of the lessons, which of course, get hotter and hotter as they progress. We also get to witness the guys’ friendship as it’s blossoming into more than that—if each can get out of his head and into his heart and realize that’s what’s happening. There’s misunderstandings and some small drama, but they do eventually find their way to their HEA. And along the way we’re treated to humor and sweet, tender moments and a lot of super sexy times.

Narrator Mark Steadman was outstanding, as usual, since he always makes me feel as if I’m right there at uni with the gang and enjoying their fun times in the house together. And Ewan’s Scottish accent was just the right touch. The Scot and the geek—a match made in heaven. Each story is like a mini-reunion with the past characters and always leaves me feeling good.

I definitely recommend the series and this one in particular as super sweet and super- hot with two engaging characters who were made for each other.

The cover is just like the others in the series – a simple black-and-white photo of a male with bare torso, and in this case, a pair of glasses. Why not? It has to be Dev, our story’s geek.

Sales Links

Audible.com
Audible.co.uk
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Apple

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published April 19th 2017 by Jaybird Press (first published June 22nd 2016)
Original TitlePractice Makes Perfect
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHousemates #3 settingPlymouth, England (United Kingdom)
England (United Kingdom)

An Alisa Review: Turn Up the Heat by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

First impressions fool recently dumped Rory into thinking Shannon’s a walk on the wild side and the perfect way to get over a failed relationship. Shannon’s not about to argue. Not when Rory coaxes him into some of the hottest, roughest sex of his life. But who is Rory falling in love with? A fantasy lover or the real man?

 

Fighting to keep Rory happy, longing for romance as well as the steamy sessions that leave them bruised and breathless, Shannon’s got a lot on his plate even before family and friends complicate matters further.

 

There’s only one solution. Turn up the heat, and hope it doesn’t burn their relationship to the ground.

 

I really enjoyed this story.  Rory goes out on a limb to have a one night stand with Shannon and take a walk on the wild side.  Shannon tries to keep up with Rory’s requests but it just seems to go farther and farther out of his comfort zone.

 

Rory makes an immediate assumption of Shannon’s life and just keeps pushing for more.  I can see how awkward both of these characters are in their first interaction and most of those following but neither of them seems to be able to tell that anything is off about the other.

 

Rory just wants the chance to actually have sex since he hasn’t in a long time but he doubts that anyone will want to have a relationship with him and the drama that his brother brings.  Shannon works hard but doesn’t realize how much he wants a real relationship until Rory peaks his interest.  We can see how each character feels during their encounters through their eyes but they both hide so much inside from each other.  These two are the kings of not talking to each other, they would talk in questions and around in circles, which hurt their ability to really know what the other was thinking.  That said the story was great and the sex scenes were hot.

 

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs is great and gives nice visuals of the main characters.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 232 pages

Published: April 10, 2017 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682523223

Edition Language: English

James Stryker with Deleted Scenes from his latest release The Simplicity of Being Normal (guest post, excerpts and giveaway)

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Title:  The Simplicity of Being Normal

Author: James Stryker

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 8, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 87500

Genre: Contemporary, YA, transgender, transvestite, transphobia, bullying, child neglect, PTSD, mental illness, Mormonism

Add to Goodreads

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is delighted to have James Stryker here today. The author has brought some deleted scenes for our readers to enjoy. Thank you, James!

✒︎

Deleted Scenes from The Simplicity of Being Normal by James Stryker

Sam’s depression is only briefly mentioned in the final version of The Simplicity of Being Normal; however, in original drafts I’d intended for his mental state and suicide attempt to play a more prominent role. The more I invested in this idea, I realized that it felt misplaced and was driving the book in a direction I wanted to avoid. Where Simplicity begins, Sam has moved forward from the feelings of hopeless that drove him to suicide. Placing so much emphasis on the incident seemed to counter who he’d become, and while it’s important for the reader to be aware that he’d hit a critical point previously, the level of detail wasn’t necessary.

Proof of successful “darling slaughter,” removing this concept from Simplicity allowed me to take the idea of being institutionalized and forced to take anti-psychotics into its own book (completed, and currently titled The Better Man). Being an entirely different piece, I was able to take liberties and explore directions I wouldn’t have been able to in Sam’s world.

In the deleted section below, Sam prompts his teacher, Todd Keegan to view the full school record detailing his “Emotionally Disturbed” classification.

***

“Supposedly, supposedly the law considers me a fully formed human being with the same rights as anyone else, but that’s not true,” Sam had said before.

At the time, Todd had thought that the young man had jumped the track and been about to start a rant about lowering the drinking or smoking age. Usual things teenagers bitched about while there were people starving in third-world countries. Of course, Todd’s care for malnourished Ethiopians was about equal to his concern over green apple jellybeans, but he’d decided to listen anyway. Because he didn’t consider Sam in the Snoochie pile anymore, and sometimes he even surprised him.

Anything I do can, and will be held against me. I’m not innocent until proven guilty. Not until I’m eighteen.” 

“You don’t seem the type to have spent much time behind bars,” Todd had responded. “Or what do you call it? Juvey?”

“Read my file, Mr. K.” 

So once the school hallways had cleared out, Todd left his classroom earlier than usual.

He opened the door to the dark front office. Stepping inside, he didn’t bother to turn on the lights. He just crossed to the back room and into what should have been a secure office. He flipped the light switch in the little room, five black file cabinets were illuminated.

Todd closed the door behind him to hide the light, since technically student files weren’t community property and one was supposed to gain the proper authorization to view the confidential information. He didn’t even need to jimmy open the cabinet.

If I ever have to flee the country, I’ll stop in and pick up a few dozen files.

Not for his entertainment. Full names, addresses, contact information, histories, dates of birth, social security numbers…

It’s an identity thief’s wet dream. I could retire at thirty on a private island in the subtropics. It’s a good thing I don’t like sand.

Todd took out Sam’s folder and opened the cover. It was thicker than most records – about thirty-five pages secured by the top tab embedded fasteners.

On the first page, he skimmed down to the bottom section where the letters “ED” had been typed in a field labeled “CLASSIFICATION; IF ANY.”

But he already knew Sam had bene labeled as “Emotionally Disturbed.” When he received his student lists every year he could count on at least a few names having an attached tag. But unless there was an IEP or a 405 that he was required to read and abide by, he never bothered to dig further. He didn’t care why Johnny’s hamster dying eight years ago necessitated that he have unlimited bathroom passes and needed a ruler to scratch his ass at exactly 12:05 PM. 

Under the “ATTACHED ACCOMMODATIONS” header, both the “IEP” and “SECTION 405” boxes were unchecked. But in the last, shaded blue area marked “CLASSIFICATION OTHER COMMENTS” the note had been added: “IMPORTANT. SEE FOLLOWING DOCS.” 

Todd turned back the page and read more closely.

It was a petition for emergency admission of a minor to a behavioral health center. He recognized the name of another teacher listed as the petitioner at the top section of the statement.

“I respectfully represent that Amanda Michelle Porter needs to be admitted to a Designated Receiving Facility, on an emergency basis because she is in such a mental condition as a result of mental illness as to pose a likelihood of danger to self or others. I believe she has engaged in the following dangerous acts:”

He read the box that’d been checked:

“(A). Within the past thirty (30) days, s/he has inflicted serious bodily injury on him/herself or has attempted suicide or serious self-injury and there is a likelihood the act or attempted act will recur if admission is not ordered.

Sam didn’t seem like a violent person. Todd had Julie to accept and support him. But who did Sam have? And there was only so long a person could stand alone when their kneecaps kept being broken with a baseball bat.

He flipped the page.

“Mental examination of: Amanda Michelle Porter.”

And the results:

“No past or present mental conditions, medications, or hospitalizations. Memory, speech, productiveness, coherence, insight are normal. Current mental status anxious. Potentially depressed due to parents’ divorce and father’s recent remarriage and disinterest. Mother is relatively absent and preoccupied with self-agenda. Handles inordinate amount of responsibility as a result. Grandmother recently passed. Excellent candidate for trial medication.”

Todd only leafed through intake forms, more psychiatric evaluations, and recommendations upon release. It appeared that Sam had spent two weeks in the behavioral center before being freed.

Anything I do can, and will be held against me. I’m not innocent until proven guilty. Not until I’m eighteen,” Sam had said.

Todd tucked the file back in the cabinet. He didn’t feel like he needed to read anymore.

I get it. Without you having to tell me anything else, I get it.

***

Sam had given him more details the next day. As soon as he came in for the prep period, he asked immediately if Todd had read his file.

“They pulled me out of class, you know. A policeman came into the room and escorted me out. Drove me up to the hospital in a cop car.”

“Where was your mom?”

“At work. They wouldn’t even let her see me for the first few days.” Sam added another stapled packet to a growing pile. “They talked to me, they stripped me, they booked me. In less than two hours. I spent the next twenty-four in a padded room.”

Todd hadn’t been sure what to say, so he just let the young man continue talking.

“I’ve never felt as vulnerable as when I was in that padded room. Trapped and alone with just this little window where anyone could look in on me whenever they wanted.  And there was nowhere to hide. It did get a little better once they let me out of isolation and I got my clothes back… Well, almost all my clothes.” He’d put his stapler down and twisted his chair to the side. “Do you know what the most important thing is in a mental institution, Mr. K? What it needs to exist?”

He wished a clever comment would pop into his head, but nothing came.

“Control. Absolute control.” Sam looked at the ground. “They wouldn’t give me back my shoes.”

“Why not?”

“Because I might make a break for it, even though I promised I wasn’t going to run. And I’d be unable to get as far, and be easier to catch without shoes.” He swallowed before tilting his head up again. “Are you familiar with what pinioning is?”

Todd was. But drawing a parallel between having one’s shoes taken away for two weeks and surgically removing a bird’s joint so it was permanently incapable of flight seemed dramatic.

“But do you know what is an apt comparison?” For this, Sam again went back to stapling papers, and Todd could tell it was because he was trying to control his emotions. “Using a child to test a new psychiatric drug.”

Jesus Christ.

“They held me down to take my blood and make sure I was a good candidate. And then they forced me to take it. I was one of the first children they used it on. It’s been two years. Do you know what the fucking warning label says now? It says to not administer to individuals under the age of twenty-one! It’s an anti-psychotic! You read my file! I may have been depressed because a lot of shit was happening to me, but I wasn’t psychotic!”

Synopsis

Sam has his life after graduation figured out. Until then he has to deal with being terrorized for expressing his gender identity. His pleas for help have been ignored by the principal and most of the staff, and his time is spent moving quickly between classrooms and anticipating the freedom that will come with leaving high school behind.

Teacher Todd Keegan, at first, wonders if Amanda is on drugs and if he’s underestimated her maturity. Between enabling his traumatized, dependent sister and hiding secrets of his own, Todd has no desire to waste time on a junkie teenager, but this one intrigues him. When Amanda shows up in his classroom, bleeding from a head wound, he decides to investigate further.

In order to survive senior year, Sam must convince Mr. Keegan that he’s not a junkie teenager and decide if, unlike his family and school staff, this teacher can be trusted with the truth and become his only ally.

Excerpt

The Simplicity of Being Normal
James Stryker © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“Amanda Michelle! I won’t tolerate that mouth of yours a second longer! Get out!”

“Or what? You’ll hit me? Repeat performance sixteen years later. Go ahead!”

If there was one positive thing to be said of his mother, it was that she avoided violence. While her own mother had often resorted to physical punishment, Scarlet had never put a hand on Stevie. And she’d only hit Sam once, which was how she learned her lesson.

“Amanda was maybe one. Barely walking. I can’t remember what she did, but I hit her so hard that she flew across the room. That’s when I decided to keep my temper in check. I just send them away when I’m angry now.”

Scarlet told this story often when child discipline surfaced in adult conversation. She was proud of herself. Proud that it only took one incident of hitting a toddler with enough force to knock her across the room to realize that violence wasn’t a good idea. She never understood why she received strange looks when she finished this charming anecdote of her parental prowess.

Because you should be ashamed that you struck an innocent baby. That you hurt your child, Sam would think when Scarlet retold it and people gave him the confused looks he often received when his mother opened her mouth. You should want to bury that secret instead of continuing to get off on it more than a decade later. The last thing you should feel is pride.

But sometimes he’d rather have a slap to the face than the emotional abuse Scarlet dealt. Bruises healed. The damage from seventeen years of being blamed for every negative circumstance? The constant feeling of rejection? The thousands of times when something or someone else was of more importance than him? His father. Stevie. The boyfriends. Work. The fucking Golden Girls.

I’ll never get over it. Even when I’m free of you. Even when I’m free of Amanda. Sam stared Scarlet down and waited for her to respond. You’re a cancer to me. I’ll cut you out. But I’ll always have the scar.

“Get out, Amanda! Get out!”

“Oh, I’m going.” He lowered his voice and took a step into the hall. “But so should you. That’s all I came to tell you. You should check into a hotel for a few days. It’s not sanitary. And that’s not even my opinion—it’s the disaster crew’s recommendation. You could get sick.”

“This is my house, young lady. I won’t be told what to do by you or anyone else.”

It was the most below-the-belt thing he could be called, and his skin was smoldering. Sam didn’t believe he was capable of laying a hand to anyone, especially a woman. But he needed to leave now before he said something he’d regret. Like yelling in her face at the top of his lungs. Like using every profane word he could think of until her ears bled. Like divulging his secret when she had some power over him.

“Well, I’m not staying here.”

“As long as it’s out of my sight, I don’t care where you go.” She’d turned away from him again. “But Stevie and I are staying here. I’m not paying for a hotel room because the basement is dirty.”

“You know what else lives in their own shit? Pigs. It’s too bad Gary’s condo doesn’t allow farm animals, or you could stay with him.”

Scarlet spun around and slammed the door in his face without another word.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

James Stryker is a central-Pennslvannia author who enjoys writing speculative and literary fiction. Themes in his work focus toward diversity in the LGBTQ spectrum and the voice of underrepresented or misunderstood viewpoints. His debut novel, Assimilation, was released in 2016.

James shares a residence with a pack of pugs, who continue to disagree about the ratio of treats to writing. Despite his day job and writing projects, James is never too busy to connect with readers or other writers. He welcomes you to check out his website, follow him on social media, or drop a line to his email.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

5/8 – My Fiction Nook

5/8 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

5/9 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/10 – The Novel Approach

5/11 – Love Bytes Reviews

5/12 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

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Its Back to the Beach with Beach Balls by Tara Lain (excerpt and giveaway)

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The wait is over! BEACH BALLS, book #3 in the Balls To The Wall series by Tara Lain is now available! 

 

 

Beach Balls
(Balls to the Wall Series, #3)
By Tara Lain
Blurb:
Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. As an attorney for the homophobic WMA Development, he can’t come out without risking the million-dollar paycheck waiting for him once they push their big land development deal through the city council—money that will finally allow Adam to live according to his own terms. Then, on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to hug a tree.
Sky Sea Mickeljohn stands for the environment, world peace, and being openly gay. He won’t compromise his principles for anyone—even the damned lying developer lawyer he can’t help lusting after. True, the WMA land development deal could put thousands of people at risk, but Sky still wants to risk his heart. In the fight between freedom and integrity, is there a place for love?
Available for purchase at 
         

Readers are 
LOVING BEACH BALLS!

“Ms Lain pens a thoughtful and sensual tale and I look forward to reading more in the series.”
~ Night Owl Reviews — 4 1/2 Stars! Reviewer Top Pick!

“The character growth they undergo during the story is phenomenal and adds a lot of zing, along with the ‘off the chart’ hotness of their sexual encounters.” ~ Rainbow Book Reviews

Excerpt

The guys nearest the beach started laughing and pointing. What’s going on?

He looked at Gary, who shrugged.

Adam pointed toward the commotion. “I’m going to go see.” He walked out onto the grassy verge that led to the sand where he’d been sitting earlier with Sky. The guys were still laughing. One asked, “What’s he gonna do?”

Adam pushed into the line of men all facing the ocean and pointing. “What’s happening?”

Ian said, “This crazy guy is standing there in the water like he’s headed for us, but he’s not moving. Looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

One of the other men asked, “What’s he wearing?”

Carly smiled at Adam. “It’s called a dry suit, and it looks to me like he’s waiting for someone. Wonder who that could be?” He laughed.

Waist-deep in the water stood a tall man in a full dry suit complete with hood and mask, his mouthpiece dangling. He had a little bottle of what must be oxygen on his chest.

I’ve got a funny feeling about this. When Adam stepped off the lawn onto the sand, the figure in the suit began to pace out of the water with a slow and deliberate stride.

The “creature” analogy was dead-on.

When the creature got out of the surf, he stopped to peel off the mask and hood, revealing curly hair.

Adam smiled. He’d know those curls anywhere.

Sky came a few feet closer. Even in the fading light, Adam imagined he could just make out the blue-gray eyes.

Sky stopped again and began to unfasten the dry suit. What kind of show were they in for?

Slowly the puffy dry suit peeled down the tall body, fully dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. A patter of applause started, and Sky kicked off the suit to reveal flip-flops. Jesus, he must think he was James Bond or something. By this time everyone was clapping, and Sky gave a little bow.

Son of a bitch, the guy has a sense of humor. He’d rigged this whole elaborate entrance just to get a laugh. But looking at that lean, hard body in those shorts made another part of Adam’s anatomy very happy.

Sky picked up the dry suit and walked the ten feet to Adam. “Hi. I believe I was invited for cocktails.”

No recourse. He just laughed. “You do know how to make an entrance.”

 

The Balls to the Wall Series


Volley Balls
Bk #1

Available at
 
      
Fire Balls 
Bk #2
Available to purchase
      
About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at Lain
               

 

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In Our Contemporary Spotlight: Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Every Breath You Take

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: May 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 221 pages

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis

When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.

But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

Excerpt

Across the street the man with the silver-framed glasses stood back in the shadows and stared at the front window of the garden apartment. He could see the back of his quarry’s head as he watched a small flat-screen TV.

Time passed.

Eventually the head nodded forward and then jerked up. When it happened a second time, the creature turned off the TV and then the lamp and headed to bed.

The man waited for another half hour with his back pressed against an alcove formed where two brownstones met. The street was quiet. Almost no one walked by, and the lone person who came down the street failed to notice him in the shadows.

The man felt his breath grow hoarse, and blood rushed in his ears as his heart began to pound. He cultivated that sensation as he reached into his coat pocket for the screwdriver that rested there and made himself imagine the creature’s hands touching the Beloved’s face. Stroking his body. He curled his fingers around the screwdriver and then clenched and unclenched rhythmically. Its thick handle felt rough against his palm because of the grooves and sharp edges he had chiseled into it. He had ideas for other implements that would serve his purpose, but for now, this would do just fine. This would make his point.

His throat was dry, and his eyes burned from focusing on the darkened window, but he felt invincible. The tension in his body climbed exquisitely, and when he could take no more, he slipped across the street and stepped down to the locked gate. It opened easily with his small set of picks. The gate made no noise when the creature went through it earlier, so he was confident and quick and didn’t bother to lock it behind him. Child’s play, he thought as he worked the lock on the apartment door.

The tumblers clicked into place.

He stored his lockpicks, slipped inside the darkened apartment, and then closed the door behind him as silently as he could. Streetlight came through the slatted blinds the boy had failed to close completely. He waited quietly until he heard a faint snore from the back and then removed his glasses and tucked them in an inside pocket of his jacket. The scarf his quarry had been wearing caught his eye, and the man bared his teeth as he lifted it off the coat tree and tugged it tightly between his hands. It was well made. It would hold. He smiled.

He slid through the gloom toward the room where the creature lay sleeping. He was hard, and the blood in his erection pulsed in time to the pounding of his heart. That boy had dared to touch his Beloved. He had probably even been fucked by him. But that wasn’t enough—oh no. He came back for more.

It had taken the man so long to find his Beloved and interpret his subtle clues. He finally understood what was required of him. The undeserving gnat must be chastised, and he would be the Beloved’s angel of retribution. He was conscious of the weight of the screwdriver in his pocket, the scratch of the wool scarf in his hands, and the power in his arms.

He reached for the boy on the bed.

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Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.

Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

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