A MelanieM Review: Hawaiian Lei (The Hawaiians 1) by Meg Amor

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

Beau Toyama, biplane pilot and flight instructor on the Big Island of Hawai’i has only been out for a year. His last relationship with a man was a disaster. When he meets Matt Quintal, who’s visiting his sister, he’s stunned by the instant attraction to him. But Beau’s afraid to ask for what he needs in a relationship; his anger frightens him. The “mixed plate” Hawaiian/Japanese/Tahitian man works on being Zen calm but Matt brings all his emotions to the surface. It uncovers a devastating secret from his childhood and deep shame that needs healing.

Matt Quintal, New Zealand painter has been living the wild gay life in LA. After one more night of soulless mechanical sex where his body is engaged but his emotions aren’t—he knows he needs a change. His sister wants him to come to Hawai’i for a visit; another big rock in the middle of the Pacific doesn’t seem like a solution but he has to do something. When he flies with Beau in his biplane, he feels a strong pull toward both man and plane that he can neither explain nor deny.

Matt’s a New Zealander, they’re encouraged to be tough, rugged and durable. He is, but he’s emotionally a wreck, afraid to show his emotions, so he’s surprised when Beau encourages him to be all of himself. Has he finally found the freedom to be the man he wants to be? The heat between the two men is like watching Pele let her hair down, releasing her hot, molten lava. Will the gorgeous Hawaiian with his long silky black hair and soulful brown eyes finally convince the gypsy nature in Matt to put down roots in another island culture?

First of all, let me say that if you can embrace or accept the possibility of the element of mysticism, that your ancestors in other  planes of existence are looking after you, that Astrology is real as is the ability to chart patterns in your life, then you will dive into this story with all your heart.  Hawaiian Lei with its characters Matt and Beau and their mixed heritages of Maori, Hawaiian, Tahitian, Japanese and more anchor this novel with their cultures, religions, their ancestral support and faith. Here you step firmly away from the Christian religious beliefs and into one of the Pacific cultures and it’s beautiful. And ugly and in the end full of redemption, hope, love and family.  It’s quite the journey.

Matt’s life is empty in California,  A dream and a call from his sister in Hawaii prompt his flight (literally) to her and something new. Rach, his sister, is adept at reading their charts and she knew he would be coming, his dream was the final push to send him on his way.  Once you land with Matt, give up and immerse yourself in their world where paths can be seen, owls and turtles are totems and their appearances are significant, and a quick meeting between two men does mean true love.  Its both magical and mundane and it totally works.  Its natural for everyone here to live in this way, so in tune with each other and nature that you will believe in it with your heart.

There are also some dark issues that Beau has to work through, he does with Matt’s help and that of a sacred healing ritual, Lomi Lomi, that plays out here.  The novel is full of terms from the various Pacific cultures represented here (it’s fascinating to see how tightly they are aligned).  There is also a small dictionary at the end that’s nice but the reader will pick up all the meanings in the story.

Hawaiian Lei is lush, vivid storytelling, rich in layers, nuanced characters (main and otherwise).  It speaks of family, recovery, and the ability to move forward after healing.   It has a heartwarming ending, full of elements that brings together  so many threads from throughout the story.  I just loved this.  And I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist:Syneca Featherstone. The cover art is beautiful and perfect.  I love it.

Buy Link: Amazon      | Loose ID          | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 231 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Loose Id LLC
Original TitleHawaiian Lei
ASINB00UUL7V1A
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Hawaiians #1

An Alessandro Review: Behemoth and the Wisp by Linn Edwards

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

 

The Compound protects the remnants of often horrific human experimentation during World War II. Now a new generation comes of age, some with strange powers and abilities, groomed to be weapons for justice.

Mason and Jordie are young men, each with a special gift and strongly attracted to each other. When they finally reach out and really connect, they must also be careful. Mason can become intangible like a mist, then completely whole and solid again — even during sex. Jordie is a nine foot tall giant, able to leap great distances in a single bound. Together they face challenges in figuring out sex and love.

When a woman in their group at The Compound appears to be kidnapped, Mason and Jordie must put aside their own secrets to help her. But they soon discover everyone secrets, and not everyone in The Compound is who they seem.

 

Mason aka The Wisp and Jordie aka Behemoth are living in a compound founded by the government, they are basically heroes in training. They are told that they would be safe in the compound, but when Mason wants to get some alone time to relieve the sexual tension he has build up because of Jordie, his room-mate, one of their fellow companions gets kidnapped. So Behemoth and The Wisp has to work together to solve the problem that came up. Not only the kidnapping, but other things that seem strange in the compound.

First of all, I really liked the first few pages of this book. Basically it was the only thing I liked about this book.

The first few pages actually explain how those super heroes came to be. Also there was a small side-story about a folks-tale, which was quite interesting. I didn’t know the name of the folks-tale, but apparently it is called “Widows Walk” at least that’s what it’s called what the woman does in said Folks-tale.

It was quite a good beginning and I thought, this is probably relevant to the story in this book, because there is also this woman, who is just named “Madame” in this facility who is basically the “mother figure” of said super heroes in training. But I thought wrong. It wasn’t something I expected.

 The story was really fast paced, after only a few minutes I was already at 15% or something. So I thought to myself, that this is just a super short story, so I lowered my expectations about this book. But even then I couldn’t really find anything to enjoy about this book. Every time a problem came up, it was resolved in a few sentences. There was no story build up at all, there was no struggle at all. I thought this book would involve some action, but there was like minimum to non action. The sex scenes were quite predictable, because every time there was progress in the plot there was a sex scene. Then came another plot scene and another sex scene.

I also struggled with the relationship of the MC. Yes it is said that those MC know each other for some years know, but neither of them exploited their sexual desire or emotions. I just thought there was not a real connection between those two, maybe there was, but we, as readers, didn’t get to read about that. And after one event they’re in love and behave like they were in a relationship for I don’t know how long?

To my next point. I didn’t enjoy the writing either. It was good to some extend, but even I who is not a native English speaker, could see some mistakes in tenses and grammar.

This book is written in third person POV, so I expect, when I’m following more than one person, that in every chapter or section there will be an indication to which person I’m following at the moment. This was the case, to some extent. Often I was confused which person I was following in the moment, so I had to reread some sections of the books, which is quite shocking, because it was such a short story.

I feel like there was such potential in this book. The ideas were great, but the execution was lacking. This story would be okay, if it would be a start of graphic novel or a comic book? But not really in book form. There was just not much to picture here, so I think the author didn’t do a good job in portraying the story she wanted to tell.

 

The cover of “Behemoth and the Wisp” by “Written Ink Designs” was okay. I think it could be used to any book about super heroes to be honest. Although the suits of the characters portrayed in the cover didn’t match the suits of the characters in the book.

 

Sales links:   JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 22nd 2017 by JMS Books LLC
ISBN139781634863650

 

An Ali Release Day Review: Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2) by Diana Copland

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.

Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.

Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.
This was an enjoyable second installment in the Delta Restorations series.  This picks up a few months down the road from the end of book one.  The guys have put their company together and have worked a few smaller jobs.  At the start of this, they land a big job of a grand old house.  It’s the kind of job that could really make them a successful company.  
If you read book one, you will remember Michael was David’s close friend and assistant at work.  Michael has continued to be a part of the company and this new job puts him in constant contact with Gil.  Michael says Gil annoys him but he’s secretly attracted to the man.  They snark and banter back and forth with each other but everyone can tell there is more between the two men.  A series of series incidents cause Michael to need to rely on Gil for some help and they become friends of a sort.  As the story goes on though, Michael realizes he may lose Gil forever and he needs to make some serious decisions.
The mystery part of the book was a big piece of the story.  It actually over rode the romance which I didn’t necessarily mind.  It was fast paced and entertaining and I enjoyed it a lot.  The work on the house as well as the mystery gave us an interesting plot and it gave a us a good chance to see all of the other characters for much of the book.
 
The romance part was not as good for me.  I liked the two men together but it felt very insta-love.  They’d apparently gotten to know each other during the time from when the last book ends to when this one starts.  They problem for me was we don’t see any of that.  They’re snarking at each other and then they’re pledging their undying love.  I didn’t really understand how we got from one point to the next.
 
Overall though, I did like this.  I liked the mystery aspect and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  This book could technically be read as a standalone but I think it’s best if you read book one first.  They background of the characters as well as the mystery part were set up in book one.  I think a reader would like this book more if they had all that background.
 
 The cover was done by Anne Cain.  I liked the cover and I think it is a really good representation to the plot of the book and how they book physically describes the MC’s.  I also like the colors.  They really catch your eye and draw you to it.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: May 19th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleMichael, Reinvented
ISBN 1635336414 (ISBN13: 9781635336412)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDelta Restorations #2

An Alisa Review: Believe in the Wish by Christi Snow

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

 

I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago.

 

Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.

 

It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.

 

She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.

 

There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.

 

I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

 

This was an emotional story and trying story for me.  Ethan has pretty much given up since the death of his sister, Emma.  He is now alone in the world since she was the only family and friend he had.

 

He is hit with another blow when his sister’s lawyer comes to him with some conditions to his sister’s will.  He has to complete tasks his sister made with her ex-boyfriend at his side and if he doesn’t then he will lose everything, his house and his business since she owned half of each.  Hawk is forced to go through this charade due to the condition in Emma’s will but doesn’t want to lie to Ethan about anything.  We see how both of these characters are hurting and how they feel trapped by Emma’s will.  Ethan and Hawk both needed to do a bit of introspection for them to fully appreciate their feelings for each other.

 

So… this is a unique idea for a story but I couldn’t help but be angry with Emma.  Considering she was Ethan’s best friend and they lived and worked together she sure kept a lot of secrets from him.  For how much she worried about Ethan’s loneliness she had a great small circle of friends that she didn’t introduce to Ethan or bring him into and decidedly kept them separate.  Even though the ending is what she was hoping for I don’t think she went about it the right way and really ended up hurting them both more especially by making Ethan and Hawk think that Ethan could lose everything if they don’t complete her tasks.

 

The cover art by Jay Aheer is beautiful and gives a wonderful picture of the main characters connection to each other.

 

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 211 pages

Published: May 11, 2017 by Christi Snow

ISBN-13: 9781545344309

Edition Language: English

Love a Fantasy? Check out ‘The Castaway Prince’ by Isabelle Adler (author interview/excerpt/giveaway)

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Title:  The Castaway Prince

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 15, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20000

Genre: fantasy, fantasy, royalty, androgyny, cross-dressing, friends to lovers, disguise, princes

Add to Goodreads

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Isabelle Adler here today.  Welcome, Isabelle, tell us a little bit about yourself!

✒︎

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Isabelle Adler~

✒︎

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

There are so many superpowers I’d like to have! For instance, the power to slow or stop time entirely. I’d get so much done! Telekinesis would be rather useful as well; and don’t get me started on teleportation!.. The one thing I definitely wouldn’t want, though, is telepathy.

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

I guess my perfect writing getaway would be a ski lodge somewhere in the Swiss Alps, sitting in a comfortable armchair in front of a roaring fire, with snow falling outside and an endless supply of hot chocolate. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?

Coffee. Definitely coffee.

What internet site do you surf to the most?

YouTube and Thesaurus.com

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

Oh, wow. When I got the acceptance letter for Adrift from the editor at NineStar Press, I was ecstatic. I could hardly believe my eyes! I mean, somebody thought my manuscript was good enough to publish! I wish I could say I did a happy dance, but unfortunately, I was too busy organizing my kids in the morning. I told my husband right away, though; he was even more excited than I was!

Synopsis

Ostracized by his family for his sexual identity, Prince Stephan is forced to flee his homeland before his older brother ascends the throne.

Stephan has been drawn to feminine things for as long as he can remember, so when the dire need for secrecy arises, he seizes the chance to don the perfect disguise. With the help of his loyal servant, Stephan picks his way through hostile territory, hiding his identity by posing as a woman. His only hope for asylum lies with the man who had been his friend and lover three years ago. But when that man also happens to be the crown prince of a rival country, things are a bit more complicated.

With war looming on the horizon, the danger of discovery grows by the moment. With all odds stacked against him, will Stephan find a safe place where he can be his true self, or is he doomed to remain a castaway?

Excerpt

The Castaway Prince
Isabelle Adler © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“My, aren’t you a beauty.”

“Shut up,” Stephan said as he hoisted his skirts. The wind and the rain had made the pier boards slippery, and he nearly fell over as the wet fabric twisted around his legs. All his surreptitious practice wearing dresses and feminine undergarments hadn’t prepared him for the trials of this kind of miserable weather. In the course of a few minutes after stepping out of the relative coziness of their private boat cabin, he’d managed to get soaked through down to his stockings and narrowly avoided falling into the river.

Warren, his manservant, seemed to be rather amused by Stephan’s efforts. He was grinning as he watched him try to drag his bags onto the pier. Stephan really wasn’t supposed to do that, but the port hand was currently busy unloading another boat, and the prospect of warming up in front of a cozy fire had lost Stephan all patience.

“Help me, you oaf!” Stephan glared at Warren from under the hood of his fur-lined cloak. The man was having a bit too much fun at his expense.

“Watch your language. You’re a lady, remember?” Warren said, quickly coming to his aid, shouldering the heavy travel bags. “One who’s too pretty to be so bad-tempered.” He winked at Stephan and led the way across the busy dock, farther into the streets of the city.

Zenna, the capital of Esnia, sprawled on both banks of the river, its two halves connected by a multitude of stone bridges. This was a city Stephan had never thought he’d be visiting—certainly not in his current predicament. The royal castle, partially visible from the docks, was an ominous presence that loomed over the city and more resembled a prison. It spanned the narrowest point of the river with its massive arch of a weathered stone bridge. Built to withstand invasion and siege, it was supported by great rectangular pillars rooted deep in the riverbed, now almost entirely green with centuries-old buildup of slime and algae.

Stephan was glad when its daunting bulk was lost from view as they headed to the more genteel part of the city, where the smell of fish and refuse wasn’t quite as overpowering. They had to walk a good distance from the docks, but as they left the bustle of the riverfront and fish markets behind, the streets became broader, and the mud was replaced with cobblestones. The rain was bitterly cold, making him miss the slightly gentler climate of his homeland.

Thankfully, with so much traffic this time of day, they didn’t attract too much notice. They found a respectable-looking inn, situated on one of the main streets, where noble folk, even those traveling ostensibly without a retinue, weren’t an uncommon sight.

“My sister and I require lodgings for tonight,” Warren announced with a haughty air as they stepped inside the common room and the innkeeper rushed to meet them. Really, Stephan thought as he pushed back his hood to watch Warren dispense silver coins, the man was doing a startlingly good job imitating nobility, even considering he came from a well-off merchant family and not some backwater village. Stephan stood aside, waiting meekly for his “brother” to finish giving instructions regarding their meals and baths, and then followed him upstairs. He would be overjoyed to finally see a dry bed and a lit fireplace in a room that didn’t sway with the river’s tides.

They were given two adjacent rooms on the second floor. Warren deposited Stephan’s bags in his room before retiring to his own, where Stephan could hear him unpacking on the other side of the wall. He took off his cloak and fumbled with the lacings of his bodice, cursing under his breath. The wretched things were so wet it made them more difficult to handle, but finally the knots came undone, and the heavy dress, crumpled and dirty from the journey, slipped from his shoulders to the floor. The corset that cinched his waist and added discreet padding to his chest was next to come off, and Stephan could finally draw an unrestricted breath, standing in nothing but a fine cotton chemise and bloomers.

As this was a room intended for a lady, there was a large standing mirror in one corner. Its ornate frame must have been the pride of the innkeeper.

Looking into the spotless polished surface, Stephan had to admit his bedraggled state didn’t quite mesh with his idea of feminine charm. The paint he’d used to accentuate his lashes had smeared beneath his eyes, and his chestnut hair, usually done in a low bun, was now in complete disarray.

Despite the dress being uncomfortable at times—particularly when it was nearly soaking wet—he was growing more and more accustomed to it. At the beginning of their journey, he’d been nervous about appearing ridiculous, despite all the previous careful preparation and the endless hours spent on modulating his voice and perfecting his posture in front of the mirror. His shoulders were too wide, his hips too narrow, his gait too awkward. Perhaps he’d been lucky no one had peered too closely at a noblewoman traveling under the protection of her fierce-looking older brother.

It was one thing to put on a costume once in a while for the sheer fun of it, and quite another to wear it constantly, living in it and assuming it as a part of his identity, affecting a wholly feminine character at all times. Especially when this identity—as attuned as it was to his preferences—was the only thing keeping him alive.

Still, as he wiped away the streaks of paint and grime from his face and leaned in to look more closely—at the smooth cheeks so rarely in need of shaving, the long lashes, and the finely arched brows—the familiar similitude of womanly features reasserted itself. There was nothing overtly masculine about the face staring back at him. Turning slightly, he lifted a shoulder, affecting a coquettish pose, and smiled at his reflection. Maybe the possibility of him pulling this off wasn’t so entirely unfeasible.

There was a knock on the door, and he turned around in alarm, clutching the chemise that had slipped off his shoulder, but it was only Warren, carrying a tray with two steaming cups of tea.

“Your Highness,” he said, after shutting the door with his heel.

Stephan took the cup gratefully, warming his fingers. The scalding-hot fragrant tea made him feel marginally better about the world.

Warren set the tray on the table. He took a quilted silk robe out of one of the bags and helped Stephan put it on, after which he proceeded to pick up the discarded articles of wet clothing strewn across the floor.

“It would behoove you to be a bit more circumspect,” he observed in a neutral tone as he shook the water out of the velvet. “For a pampered aristocrat, you behave like a loudmouthed milkmaid sometimes.”

Stephan barked a laugh and turned away from the mirror. “Only when I’m too cold to wait on my servant’s alacrity.”

It was meant as gentle ribbing, not real censure. Warren seemed to take it as such, because he draped the dress neatly over a chair to dry, and sat down without waiting for permission, pouring another cup for himself.

While Stephan had been busy ogling himself in the mirror, Warren had taken the opportunity to change out of his travel clothes. The plain linen shirt clung to his broad shoulders, and his short auburn hair was half dry already. He was tall and solidly built, the very image of hale masculinity, whereas Stephan was slender and almost petite, with fine bones and delicate features. He’d been teased for these attributes since adolescence, but now he worried they were not nearly as effeminate as the situation required.

“You seem glummer than usual,” Warren observed. “I’d have thought it would take more than a bit of rain to dampen your spirits.”

“The prospect of being thrown in prison and possibly executed if anyone were to recognize me doesn’t exactly make me cheerful,” Stephan said dryly, setting his cup down and removing the needle-sharp pins that held his long hair back. “And it’s so…dreary here.”

He supposed his own anxiety made the surroundings seem more depressing than they truly were, but so far nothing about this city had appeased him, apart from the tea.

“At least we’re off that cursed boat,” Warren offered wryly, watching him over the rim of his cup. He’d had some difficulties adjusting to that mode of transportation, and spent the first few days on the upper deck, leaning over the rail. The experience hadn’t served to lighten the moods of either of them. “And no one has followed us.”

Stephan nodded in acquiescence as he languidly finger-combed his hair, working out the knots. There had been no signs of pursuit, or of anyone actively looking for them, as far as he could tell. Of course, he was counting on the likelihood of his seeking refuge in Esnia being rejected as outright preposterous. Just as his outfitting himself as a woman would have been thought to be. It was one reason—though admittedly not the chief one—why he’d resorted to this type of disguise.

“We’re due to arrive at the royal castle tomorrow,” Warren reminded him. Stephan could tell he’d been steeling himself to have this conversation. Again. “Are you absolutely sure you want to go through with this? You know what I think about this whole matter, Your Highness. It’s not too late to turn elsewhere.”

“We’ve come this far already,” Stephan said. “To back down now would be—”

“Prudent,” Warren interjected. “Up until now, we’ve been traveling by the waterways, which was safe enough. Not a lot of people, more privacy to be had, no fear of discovery. And if anyone thought you behaved strangely—well, gentle-born women are peculiar in their manner, you know? But it won’t be like that in Zenna. Here, there are real noblewomen aplenty, around whom you will need to take special care of how you conduct yourself. Not to mention people who might recognize you from before.”

“Who? The only ones who might would have been the members of the Esnian delegation to Seveihar, and that was three years ago. A lot has changed since then.” Three years was a long time, especially in that awkward age between sixteen and nineteen. Stephan was reasonably sure it would be difficult enough to associate him with the shy, lanky youth he’d been back then, even without the disguise.

Warren shrugged and took a sip of tea. For a moment, his eyes lingered on Stephan’s hands going through his hair, and then he looked away. “When you have reason to hate someone as the Esnians hate us, you remember your enemies’ faces. You send spies that would know what they look like. We’ve talked about this already, but what makes you think Prince Arlen himself won’t call the guards when he sees you? As you’ve said, a lot has changed in three years.”

“He wouldn’t,” Stephan said with a conviction he wasn’t feeling.

Warren rolled his eyes, his expression that of a long-suffering voice of reason. At twenty-five, he was only six years Stephan’s senior, but at times he acted like Stephan’s aged grandfather.

“It’s not as if I have a lot of choice,” Stephan said bitterly. He finished combing his hair and picked up his tea, which was rapidly growing cold. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. Arlen is the only one who might grant me asylum.”

“There are other people who could help you,” Warren said carefully. “I mean—”

“You know very well there aren’t,” Stephan cut him off. “None that would support me against Robert and my uncle.”

Warren opened his mouth and then paused as he seemed to reconsider what he was going to say.

“With all due respect, you have no idea what kind of man Arlen is now. Do you really want to risk your life on his ability to handle seeing you in a petticoat?”

Stephan turned away and walked to the fireplace, letting the warmth spread through his weary body. As much as he wanted to snap back at Warren, he couldn’t. Warren was right, of course, and it wasn’t only Stephan’s life that hung in the balance. Stephan’s title as the prince of Seveihar—even while he was fleeing his own country—offered at least some semblance of protection, while Warren had none. Furthermore, the circumstances in which Stephen’s identity could be discovered—namely, pretending to be a woman—would mean nothing but shame and ridicule for his family, regardless of his ultimate fate. Shame and ridicule that they would not react well to.

Stephan often wondered why Warren had agreed to accompany him and share in his uncertain fate—loyalty notwithstanding. More than loyalty, really, as a bond had formed between them, tenuous but certain. But it had become clear from their first night on the road that Warren’s plan had been to continue to dissuade him from this folly—a plan that had proved futile in the face of Stephan’s blind determination.

It wasn’t as if Stephan wasn’t aware of the risks. He knew exactly how dangerous this scheme was. He’d known that when he’d first devised it, but then it had seemed like a daring idea, a shockingly outrageous adventure, even if it had been conceived of out of sheer desperation. Making his way through enemy territory, securing invitations to the High King of Esnia’s annual ball under false names—all for a chance to reconnect with the man who had been his first love and best friend years ago, and seek refuge with him—it all seemed improbable.

But after surviving a third alarming “accident” at the royal palace at Sever, his home in the valley-situated capital of Seveihar, Stephan was more than ready to risk appealing to an old lover rather than tempting fate by remaining in the family nest.

Certainly, in coming to Esnia, he was placing himself in no lesser danger. Seveihar’s relations with Esnia had been tenuous for decades, and then there was King Feden’s personal dislike of him. If exposed, Stephan would most likely face captivity and incarceration.

At least the choice of disguise for his escape had come easily to Stephan. If he was going to be persecuted for his idiosyncrasies, he might as well embrace them fully. Stephan had always enjoyed exploring his feminine side, and despite the audacity of it, when the idea of this subterfuge entered his mind, he’d directed all his efforts to delving deeper into it. He was still not entirely certain of his ability to fool others, of not making some stupid mistake that would give him away, but it was attainable, given time. He just wasn’t sure he had enough of it at his disposal.

“I have to at least try to get through to him,” he told Warren. “I can do this. I promise I’ll be careful. And it’s not like anyone would miss me should anything happen.”

Warren wisely didn’t contradict him, but his expression grew pensive. He seemed to put his arguments aside, as he’d done so often before when Stephan refused to be swayed.

“I wish you’d listen to reason, Your Highness. But since you won’t, and we’re here, we might as well go through with it. I’ll fetch you some food and hot water,” Warren said. “I’ve requested for you not to be disturbed.”

“Thanks, War,” Stephan offered him a smile. The man insisted on addressing him by his title, but in truth he was more a friend than a servant; he’d become the only one whom Stephan could trust when so much was at stake.

Warren left to get their dinner, and Stephan shed his robe before stretching on the bed, luxuriating in the crispness of clean starched sheets against his skin. After a three-week boat journey at the wane of autumn, he was grateful for all the little comforts he’d always taken for granted. The linen smelled vaguely of lavender. Stephan liked lavender. His household staff had scented his pillows with the dried flowers, and he remembered the smell clinging to Arlen’s hair as they rolled about in bed, laughing.

He closed his eyes, breathing in deeply. The memory of that long-ago summer had lingered on the edge of awareness. Now, he could see in his mind’s eye the bright-colored light that had spilled from the stained-glass windows of the throne room, lending an almost festive appearance to the first and only Esnian delegation to Seveihar. How handsome Prince Arlen had been, wearing a silver circlet in his hair and Esnian royal blue. How happy they’d been later, finding joy in each other’s company. He wished he could stay in that memory a little bit longer, but it dissolved in the warmth, transforming into deep, exhausted sleep.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Website | Twitter | eMail

Tour Schedule

5/15 – Hoards Jumble

5/15 – Dean Frech

5/16 – Bonkers about books

5/16 – MM Good Book Reviews

5/17 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

5/17 – The Novel Approach

5/18 – Love Bytes Reviews

5/19 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/19 – Bayou Book Junkie

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In the Spotlight: Summer Stock by Vanessa North (Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway)

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Summer Stock by Vanessa North
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Vanessa North on her Summer Stock tour! 

✒︎

About Summer Stock

Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey.  How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?

Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.

As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

About Vanessa North

Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.

Connect with Vanessa:

 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Summer Stock, one lucky winner will receive a Summer Stock swag bag! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 20, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!