A MelanieM Recent Release Review: The Wounded Warrior (Rocking W #1) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

When Luke’s lost everything, the only thing to do is head back home to the ranch and pray that he finds his way again.

When Navy SEAL Luke Blanchard comes back to Northeast Texas after a devastating injury, he feels like the whole world has gone dark. In a wheelchair and feeling worthless, Luke has no idea what to do, even as his twin brother Matt is determined to lift him up and help him heal.

Rory McConnell is a local prodigy, a real estate lawyer with a plan to buy up land before his bitter rival can collect it. When the Blanchard ranch goes into the red, he offers to buy out the debt. Luke backs his brother instead, but he doesn’t believe for a minute that Rory is a bad guy. No one that sexy and fun can be, right?

As Luke claws his way out of depression with a crazy idea to run a therapy ranch, he and Rory start to explore the need growing between them. Will Rory’s need for revenge against a man who damaged him forever come between them, or will it be the force which brings these two wounded men together for good?

Ya’ll know I love me some B.A. Tortuga (hoping to sound all B.A. Tortuga like and probably not succeeding very well) and The Wounded Warrior (Rocking W #1) is just another prime example why.  The first in a new series from Pride Publishing, the author delivers up another great story with two wounded men, each damaged in different but very deep ways, living in a hot, small Texas town she knows inside and out.

There’s been a lot of twins in B.A.’s stories recently, not sure why other than maybe she’s as intrigued by the twin dynamics just as we are.  In The Wounded Warrior, we have another twin set in Luke and Matt Blanchard.  Luke, the Navy SEAL, is The Wounded Warrior, returning home from a tour in a wheelchair, his world blown apart.  Matt is the brother trying to find the Luke he knows and loves buried under the PTSD, depression, and darkness Luke is existing in.  A horse trainer, Matt also rescues horses and other animals, and its to these injured, almost broken animals that Luke is drawn to.  Something Matt notices as well, as watches as horses and man start to heal each other.

The beauty of B.A. Tortuga’s writing is her ability to make us empathize so completely with her characters because she pulls us into their mindset and their emotions.  Told from multiple points of view, we completely get these men and we hurt for them.  For Matt in his inability at times to help his brother, his twin and for Luke, caught up in survivor’s guilt, his wheelchair and his feelings of inadequacy after being a SEAL.  Those two alone are superb but then there’s another damaged soul here and that’s Rory McConnell.

Rory McConnell is a local real estate lawyer with a past that’s haunting him to the point that his present is consumed with plans of revenge against those that hurt him.  The author will only slowly reveal Rory’s past to  Luke and the readers after a time, but we get hints enough to know that what’s coming will be horrific. The Rory we meet is determined, charming and driven to the point he makes the wrong impression on both Blanchard brothers, something he soon corrects.  Its important we understand Rory the man, damaged and a warrior in his own right, avenging a wrong against a criminal or criminals still at large. Watching these men connect, learn to trust, and love is such an out and out pleasure.  Its sweet, sexy and enough to make you reach for those boxes of tissues!

Along with all that?  You get B.A. Tortuga’s cast of characters, from the Blanchard “Momma and dad “Preacher”, both people to be reckoned with, to Lori, Luke’s amazing assistance, Avery the therapist, and so many more including the town’s people themselves.  Here’s a small sample of Rory taking Luke out to the local restaurant where everyone in town eats for lunch.  The flow of the chatter has the easy, down home feel I’ve heard in town’s across Georgia and Alabama too.  It’s as recognizable as it is authentic.  I love it and it’s another reason I read a Tortuga story:

“Something smells amazing,” Luke said.

“It”s meatloaf day.”

“You like meatloaf?” Luke was undecided. His mom’s had not been great, but after the army he wasn’t picky.

“I hate it. I am going to have a patty melt. Hey, Sue Ann, how goes it?”

Sue Ann Landers’ who had been one of Mark’s conquests back in the day, was obviously a rockabilly fanatic, the bright crimson beehive matching her cat-eye glasses exactly. “Faboo. The new girl is pregnant, cries at the drop of a hat and spilled an entire tray of drinks on Miss Hattie’s church group.”

“Wow. If I let her wait on us and don’t make her cry, do I get our pie for free?” Luke reckoned Rory couldn’t not make a deal. It must be in the man’s bones.

“You’re on.”

They ended up at a table in the back, out of the way. Bless her red head, Sue Ann didn’t want his chair messing up the flow, but that worked for Luke. Less gawking.

I could see that so clearly, right down to Miss Hattie’s church group and the fact that Sue Ann called her Miss Hattie.  Truth rolling out in every word.  Combine that with characters you hurt for and grow to love, a story that makes you cry and woop for joy? And then sets you up for other stories?  Yep, I’m not only all in but I’m anxiously waiting for the next in the series.  Can’t wait to see which Blanchard boys gets the next one, if indeed it’s one of them.  Plus there’s all the veterans coming to The Rocking W.  Well, I’ll leave that part of the story to the readers.  I highly recommend this to all of you.  Grab it up and start reading before the next one comes out.

Cover art by Posh Gosh works great for the storyline and characters.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 217 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786515551
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRocking W #1

A Free Dreamer Review: Seidman by James Erich

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled warriors, there is little place for a sickly twelve-year-old boy like Kol until he catches the eye of a seið-woman—a sorceress—and becomes her apprentice. Kol travels to the sorceress’s home, where her grandson, Thorbrand, takes Kol under his wing. Before long Kol discovers something else about himself that is different—something else that sets him apart as unmanly: Kol has fallen in love with another boy.

But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts. As Kol’s new life takes him across the Norse lands, he finds that a new religion is sweeping through them, and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerers. When a decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny—and possibly to his death.

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient mythology, and when I discovered this book about Iceland Viking mythology, I just couldn’t resist. And I’m glad I didn’t, because “Seidman” was utterly brilliant.

There are plenty of books out there that feature ancient mythology in some way or another. But most of the time, it’s Greece or Roman mythology. Other myths are much rarer and I don’t think I’ve come across a book with a similar setting to “Seidman” before. I’m not overly familiar with Viking mythology, I just know the bare basics, but that was enough to understand what was going on here. Unfamiliar terms were explained and the glossary at the beginning was a huge help as well. I loved that the author actually included a bit about how to pronounce the language. I’m a bit obsessed with foreign languages and it always bothers me immensely when I have absolutely no clue how to pronounce words. So the bonus points started adding up before the actual story even began.

James Erich created a very intricate world, that felt extremely realistic, seemingly without any effort. The world building was brilliantly done. It all just fell into place, without any need for lengthy explanations or boing info dumps.

I liked Kol from the beginning. He’s really sweet and charming at the beginning and it was interesting to watch him grow up and change. The love story between him and Thorbrand was low key and yet obvious from the very beginning. It felt inevitable, really. But in a good way. The two of them were just meant to be. When they had to seperate, it broke my heart.

I liked that the author didn’t just skip over any homophobia. It’s just the way it was, back then. Glossing over uncomfortable topics makes a story unrealistic. I’m glad the author chose to address all the issues Kol and especially Thorbrand would have had to face. I loved the book all the more for how realistic it was.

The ending was perfect for the story. It was in tone with the rest of it. A bit sad, but ultimately it left me happy.

Overall, I really enjoyed “Seidman”. I think it’s a wonderful Young Adult story, also suitable for a bit younger readers. I’d recommend it for ages 13 and up. If you have a thing for Vikings and mythology and don’t need it to be overly bloody, then go for this book. It was brilliant and probably won’t be my last by the author. I wish there were more books about this topic!

Cover: The cover is simple but fits the story. I like it.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 210 pages

Published May 31st 2012 by Harmony Ink

Honorable Mention: Best Gay Debut Novel/Book

Honorable Mention: Best LGBT Young Adult / Coming of Age

A Kai Review: Conning Colin: A Gay Romantic Comedy by Elsa Winters & Brad Vance

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Hamilton Dillon is a high-class Manhattan escort, polished, well dressed, and cultured. Colin O’Neill is recently divorced, questioning his sexuality, and disappointed by his first fumbling gay hookups. So he figures, why not hire the best of the best to show him the ropes?

What he doesn’t know is that Hamilton Dillon is really Henry Davis, yet another New Yorker living on the financial edge, cobbling together several jobs to make a living. “Hamilton” has one great suit he can wear on an overnight date, but Henry’s got a good friend at GQ who makes a nice side income renting designer men’s wear for weddings, job interviews, and oh yeah, high-end escorts on long weekend assignments. The “top agency” that represents “Hamilton” is really just a smartass lady in India with a Skype account, whose face Henry’s never seen. Oh, and Henry’s also the gruff and very unpolished New York Straight Man “Dillinger,” a solo porn star.

In other words, he’s not at all who Colin thinks he is. Which is just fine, until their relationship gets… complicated.

What an interesting story!

Well, guys, I really liked this one. It was funny, steamy, HOT… Just what I needed.

I really liked the premise of the story and how it was written. The writing was fluid and easy and I really connected with the story while reading it.

The characters were intriguing. I loved Colin. He was an actor with audition-phobia who worked as a voice actor while trying to work up the nerve to an audition. His best friend was his ex-wife. I mean they have married just as an agreement nothing else, so it was easy to see them as confidant of each other. I liked their interaction.

Colin was funny, witty and was so sexuality frustrated (poor guy). He was just coming to terms that he was gay and then when he tried to go there and hook up it didn’t go well. So he decided to hire an escort to help and teach him the stream of the gay sex life. That was really Hot guys!

Henry was a little more complex. I liked him too, although his personas were a little confusing sometimes. Henry’s characters were everything Henry wasn’t: confident, charming, rich, super hot and elegant. Henry’s personas were just dreamy.

Henry felt so insecure and self-conscious when he wasn’t acting as a character that he didn’t realize that the personas he created were just part of him. But then we had Colin there to help him to learn exactly that and give him the inspiration to go after his own dreams.

I liked Henry and Colin together and although there were a lot of secrets between them at first, they helped each other and evolved. I was so cheering for them.

Another character I loved was Christina, Henry’s niece. She was so smart and strong and I really liked her interaction with Henry. Christina had a secret, I’m not telling you (sorry), and this secret is the reason Henry needed so much to be an escort. That was an interesting part of the story and I really wanted to know more about Christina.

I’m glad I read it. And if you are looking for an easy, steamy, sexy and interesting story you may like this one.

The cover is really beautiful. I really like it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Amazon: 

Book Details:

Published June 1st, 2017 by Zirconia Publishing, Inc

Ebook: 60,000 words

An Alisa Review: My Highland Cowboy by Alexa Milne

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Duncan McLeish owns a ranch. Unlike most ranches, this one is in the Scottish Highlands. Having inherited a failing farm from his grandfather, he turns it into a successful business. He has friends and he loves his home, but he’s lonely, and not even infrequent trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh slake that thirst to find someone. Then Drew Sinclair walks into his life.

 

Drew Sinclair is tantalizingly close to getting his clothing brand noticed in the industry. He and his business partner, Joy, create individual dresses, while, on the side, Drew produces a line of men’s lingerie. He visits Scotland to design a bridal gown for his sister, Jenna, who is marrying Duncan’s best friend at Christmas.

 

Duncan and Drew have nothing except their Highland upbringing in common, but they say opposites attract, and the attraction is immediate. Is this simply a summer fling, or can two men who live such opposite lives miles away from each other find a way to love?

 

Reader Advisory: This book contains references to homophobia and references to death of a character’s parents.

 

This was a very nice story.  Duncan has resigned himself to being alone knowing that no one would want to move to the country even if he could ever find someone he wanted to live his life with.  Drew throws his lonely and well managed life out of whack and he isn’t sure what to do about it.

 

Drew has never found someone worth keeping around and will flirt shamelessly with all those around him.  They both are open while Drew is visiting but don’t even risk thinking that their lives could be intertwined and they end up hurting themselves more than they even thought possible.  It was hard to see both of them hurting and knowing their friends didn’t quite know how to help them.

 

We see both of these characters’ points of view which allows us to understand these characters better.  I could feel Duncan’s confusion about his feelings that contradicted how his grandfather raised him but knowing that he can’t leave his ranch he resigns himself to nothing more ever happening.  Drew has never felt this strongly for a lover before and can’t seem to get Duncan out of his head, not even able to move on as he planned when he got back to London.  I loved that Drew realized he couldn’t live without Duncan and was able to adjust his life to make their dreams possible.

 

Cover art is beautiful and gives a great visual of Duncan and background for the story.

 

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 196 pages

Published: June 6, 2017 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 9781786515674

Edition Language: English

A Caryn Review: To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is a great examples of why I love historicals.  Clearly this was well-researched, with no irritating anachronisms, and I felt like I was right there in inter-war England.  The language is so very appropriate – not only the dialogue, but the somewhat formal prose as well.  The attitudes towards women who had only recently been granted the right to vote, the general feeling of the public about the aftermath of the war and how veterans were regarded, the frequent references to the Spanish flu that ended up killing over a quarter of a million people in the UK – so many authentic details!  It was easy to completely immerse myself in the era, and in the story.  I’ve read several of Ms. Merrow’s contemporaries, and I really enjoyed them, and I feel doing such an excellent job at a historical just showcases her versatility as an author

The story is told from the point of view of Roger Cottingham.  He was a conscientious objector – “conchie” – who was imprisoned for a year at the beginning of the war and then went to work as a cryptographer in the Admiralty.  While there, his brother Hugh was killed on the front lines.  Hugh’s fiancée, Mabel, started hearing rumors after the Armistice that Hugh’s death might have been the result of treason, and Roger vowed to help her find the man/men responsible, and bring them to justice.

Enlisting the help of an old friend from the intelligence section of the Admiralty, Roger finds suspicious circumstances surrounding another officer in Hugh’s regiment, Captain Matthew Connaught.  Roger’s friend can investigate no further, but he did encourage Roger to do a little spying of his own, and set him up with the perfect cover:  George Johnson, who rented a room in the same house Matthew lived in.

Matthew actually was a rather simple character.  He is a veteran who lost his right arm, but managed to maintain a cheerful and optimistic attitude in spite of that.  He just exudes friendliness and integrity, and Roger can’t help but like and admire him – but what does this mean when he is supposed to be spying on Matthew and finding out his wartime secrets?  I loved the struggle Roger/George had trying to reconcile what he instinctively knew to be true – Matthew is a decent man who would never have betrayed his fellow brother-in-arms – with his desire to find out what really happened to Hugh when Matthew was the only clue he had.  Roger’s struggle only intensified when he realized that not only was Matthew also an invert (homosexual), but that they were attracted to each other.  Roger was also fundamentally an honest, forgiving, and peace-loving man, uncomfortable with the duplicity he had to maintain to continue his undercover role, and he spent a good part of the book grappling with those feelings.

The book is primarily character driven, rather than plot driven.  When the mystery was finally revealed, it really wasn’t a surprise to anyone – the characters or the reader.  Learning the different facets of Roger and Matthew as they traveled this journey towards a relationship was my whole enjoyment of the book.  The period details just made it all even better.  The only thing I didn’t like was that Matthew was a little too one-dimensional, but Roger almost made up for that.

Just for fun, check out this really interesting little tidbit of history that was briefly referenced in the book:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_feather.  I love learning new things when reading fiction!

The expression of the model used for the cover art by Written Ink Designs was just about perfect for how I imagined Roger would feel.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 6th 2017 by JMS Books LLC (first published September 15th 2015)
ASINB06Y646324

Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell on Writing, Characters, and their story ‘Sunset at Pencarrow’ (author interview and giveaway)

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Sunset at Pencarrow (World of Love) by Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Buy Links:

 (Discount code PENCARROW from 5/31-6/30, 30% off, DSP store only.)

Amazon |  Barnes and Noble |  Google Books | iTunesKobo

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Anne Barwell and Lou Sylvre here today talking about writing, characters and their latest story, Sunset at Pencarrow.  Welcome, Anne and Lou!

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Lou: Before we get started answering questions, Anne and I just want to say thanks—first to readers, but equally to STARW for hosting us on our Sunset at Pencarrow blog tour. A heads-up: We have a Rafflecopter giveaway going on so don’t forget to enter early and often!

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How much of yourself goes into a character? Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Lou: The answer to that question depends on how I look at it. In the most literal sense, plunking myself down in a fictional situation and writing about what I would do there, never ever. On the other hand, I’m sure many readers have heard it said that characters are all different versions of the author, and I believe there is some truth to that. I mean, how can we write characters with integrity—real reactions, responses, interactions, and inner workings unless they somehow come from inside ourselves? But so much goes into making up all the hidden parts of ourselves, not just our experiences and so forth, but our empathy, not to mention those characteristics that are part of us and we would never be able to say why. When I write a character, I definitely draw on that resource. Sometimes, it’s just little bits of gut knowledge or subtle reaction. Sometimes, though, it’s extreme—for instance when I write a “bad guy,” what they’re made of are my own honest responses exaggerated and twisted.

So the process goes something like this: Imagine a character vastly different from me, then write as if I am him (or her). Use my own honest emotions, reactions, responses, etc., to drive him along his trajectory toward whatever it is he wants or needs.

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

Anne: I don’t really choose the genres I write—they choose me. I enjoy researching, but I also love the challenge of making up my own worlds and cultures. I’ve written a few historicals and writing those always entails lot of research, and I always learn something new with each book. I work at a library so I tend to refer to a mix of print and electronic materials when I need information. Although I don’t have to worry so much about every little details being as accurate as possible when writing fantasy, I still want consistency in my world building and to ensure that whatever magic system I’m using makes sense. So… instead of a lot of research in the traditional sense, I’m still spending the time I’d usually research in making up a new world.

Lou: I don’t see that as an either/or question. Every novel takes place in a fictional world, even if it is contemporary romance set in a real city, with real buildings and streets and even events—because your characters don’t live in that real city and their story isn’t happening there. And even the most far-flung paranormal, sci-fi, or fantasy has to have elements of realism, because if it didn’t, it would make little sense to readers, and because to hold such a story together the question of “how” is at least as important as “what.” I do enjoy research a great deal regardless of the kind of story I’m writing. That was one of the bonuses of writing Sunset at Pencarrow; it required quite a good bit of research for me, never having been to New Zealand, not having a Vietnamese Buddhist mother, not having been familiar with the places fighting might have occurred in Afghanistan, etc. Anne and I do have another work in process which would fall, genre-wise, somewhere between fantasy and magical realism, but it’s worked around a real series of events in historical Scotland. Lots of research needed there, too—interesting, and one of the fun parts of the writer’s job.

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

Lou: As a teen, I loved fantasy, sci-fi, and suspense/thriller fiction. I veered away from that in my thirties and forties, reading a lot of Native American literature, women’s literature, lesbian fiction, and mainstream novels and short stories (though I never really stopped reading fantasy and sci-fi). Sometime in the last two decades, I’ve come back around, and now read genre fiction almost exclusively, especially fantasy and (with or without the suspense) romance—the latter mostly M/M. Not surprisingly, those are also the things I like to write nowadays.

Anne: Definitely. I grew up on a reading diet of mostly SF/fantasy and comic books, with the odd historical and mystery detective thrown in. I loved—and still do—Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle, Robert Heinlein, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Andre Norton, to name just a few. If a book looked interesting, I’d read it, which is still my criteria for picking up one today.

My writing, like my reading, covers a range of genres, and sometimes a book will ‘misbehave’ and not stick to one genre. I’ve written historical (WWI and II so far), fantasy (contemporary, high, and urban), SF (time travel), and contemporary romance. There’s a touch of mystery detective through several of those too.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Lou: Either can be satisfying to me, but I do want one or the other if I’m reading romance. I don’t particularly care for endings that are essentially cliffhangers (unless the next book picks up where the last left off in a series), or endings that just leave too much to the reader to decide what happened, in any genre. To me, however, the very worst kind of ending is the one that tidies everything up too neatly, with no room for me to imagine a future for the characters in my own reader mind.

Anne: I don’t mind whether characters get a HFN or HEA, as long as they don’t go through a lot of strife for nothing. In some situations, such as an historical, a HEA isn’t going to happen, but that’s fine. Sometimes, the story is a slice of someone’s life, and like real life, I’d prefer not to know what happens in the future. As long as they’re happy now, I’m happy.

Sometimes characters aren’t going to get either, but there needs to be a good reason for that, depending on the story. If there isn’t a good reason though, I get annoyed. I read a series a couple of years ago, and devoured all three tome sized books, only to have the author kill one of the main characters in the second to last chapter of the final book and then have something happen that undid everything the characters had worked for. And yes, I’m still muttering about that one.

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

Anne: I didn’t read any romance stories until I was an adult, although some of the stories I read had some romance in them, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve always enjoyed stories that are more character driven and as romance is a part of life, it makes sense that I’d be drawn towards reading the genre. I read across a lot of genres, and my romance reading tends to be more MM rather than MF, although I do enjoy a good MF romance too.

Lou: I didn’t really start reading romances until I was in my twenties, unless you count things like Jane Eyre, which I read as a young teen. In the 1970s, I read authors like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey—that was the infamous bodice-ripper era. I stopped reading them for a while except Lesbian romance. For the past decade or so, I’ve been reading mostly (but not exclusively) M/M when I read romance.

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

Anne: I read both ebooks and hardcopy, but given the choice I prefer the feel of a hardcopy book. However, if it wasn’t for ebooks, I wouldn’t have been able to read many books that I’ve enjoyed. There are more novellas available now than there used to be, as most of those aren’t in print, and also being in New Zealand, books and postage to here are very expensive, so many books I want to read would be out of my reach in hardcopy.

I think there’s a place for both ebooks and hardcopy for that reason. Each has their pros and cons, and readers who prefer one of the other, so I’m hoping we’ll continue to be able to have the option to read whichever way we want for.

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

Lou: I’ve been lucky enough to work with Dreamspinner Press and Harmony Ink, their YA imprint. More so than some publishers, they allow the author to have a good deal of input about what goes on the cover, but it’s the assigned artist who interprets that. They provide mock-ups to choose from, and also accept suggestions for changes. So I don’t have to just accept a cover as a done deal, but I also don’t have to create one or go shopping for one. When I choose from the mocks and offer possible tweaks, I’m looking to evoke a feeling or atmosphere that gets at the heart of the book. I am more than pleased with the covers I have, and honestly I’m delighted with the cover Anne and I got from Reese Dante for Sunset at Pencarrow.

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

Lou: I’m going to take the liberty of changing the question slightly. Since Sunset at Pencarrow is my current love, I’m going to choose my favorite among my other books. It’s not easy, but I’d have to choose Because of Jade, the final book in my Vasquez and James series. Through five previous stories, I put those men through hell. They faced unspeakable terrors, they grew as individuals, and they grew in their love for each other. At the end of each book, they had a happy ending, but never quite complete. In BOJ, they are finally mature, and though they face problems and scares, the main focus is the way they grow their love outward, as they adopt a little girl and make a family. I love the men the characters grew into, I love the world they make for themselves in this book, and I love their little girl. More than that, it makes my heart sing a little that I finally got to give them a true happy ever after, which they so richly deserved.

Anne: Choosing a favorite story is like choosing a favorite child, but one of my favorites would have to be my Echoes Rising series. This series has been a part of my life for well over a decade, and when I started writing the first book—Shadowboxing—it was the first time I knew that what I was working on was a novel. It actually turned out to be three novels, but these books and their characters will always have a soft spot in my heart.

What’s next for you as an author?

Anne: Comes a Horseman, which is the 3rd and final book of my WWII Echoes Rising series releases from DSP Publications on 1st August. After that, One Word, which is book 3 of my contemporary fantasy series Hidden Places is being published by Dreamspinner Press in November/December this year. Writing wise, I’m finishing up Prelude to Love which is a contemporary romance set in New Zealand. After that I’m heading into another co-written book with Lou called The Harp and the Sea, which is a historical set in 17th century Scotland with a touch of magic realism. While she’s working on her side of that, I’ll be writing A Sword to Rule, the 2nd and final book of my fantasy series Dragons of Austria.

Lou: I’m re-working the first two books and writing the third in a series that spun off from Vasquez and James, and making some decisions about the series future. Anne and I have a novel in progress (the Scottish historical/fantasy mentioned above), and I’ve got a couple of novellas in the early stages. So, I’m busy, and hopefully will have more specific news soon. Thanks for asking!

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Lou and Anne: Thank you again, readers. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment (and get another giveaway entry in the process). We also hope to see you along the way throughout the tour.  

Just click here

for the complete schedule and links!

 

Blurb:

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Book info:

Novella
Pages: 129
Words: 48,703
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf
ISBN-13 978-1-63533-520-0
ASIN: B071LHK72M

About the Authors

Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She works in a library, is an avid reader and watcher across genres, and is constantly on the lookout for more hours in her day. Music often plays a part in her stories, and although she denies being a romantic at heart, the men in her books definitely are.  Anne has written in several genres—contemporary, fantasy, historical, and SF— and believes in making her characters work for their happy endings.

Lou Sylvre

Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The romantics on her pages are men who fall hard for each other, end up deeply in love, and often save each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very sexy. Among other things, Lou is the creator of the popular Vasquez and James series​, which can be found at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and many other online vendors.

Contact links:

Anne:

Lou:

Lou and Anne’s shared Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/

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Jaime Samms on Families, Kinship and her latest story ‘Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights (Off Stage #3)’ (author guest post)

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Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights (Off Stage #3) by Jaime Samms
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jaime Samms here today on her Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights tour. Welcome, Jaime!

Life rarely turns out how we think it will. It throws curves at us and when the curves drive us down bumpy, pot-holed, muddy roads, that’s often the time we find out who we can count on to come with a shovel and help dig us out of the mire.

One thing I noticed as I was writing this series, is that sometimes, family is stronger than blood. The family you make isn’t always the one you share DNA with. The strongest bonds can break, and forgiveness never has to be off the table if you’re willing to do the work.

Coming from a gigantic, strongly bonded family filled with diverse opinions, personalities and ideas, I know that kinship is highly malleable. On day, the sibling you’ve always thought you were tightest with is the one you can’t even fathom, and the one you had nothing in common with is the one who gets you, out of the blue. It happens. And the next day, it changes again.

I think even when you’re related to the ones you call family, you still have to spend the time and do the work to make them the family you choose. So as I was writing these books and it came time to fix the damaged family bonds between band mates and brothers of the heart, I enjoyed creating and strengthening those ties. Because family is something you never stop creating, no matter where you find them along your road in life. 

Blurb:

Kilmer and Jacko’s relationship has been foundering for a long time. With the end in sight and despairing that he might never find a Dom who suits him, Kilmer heads to a local bar to drown his sorrows—and meets country singer Tanner.

Tanner feels oddly protective of the broken man and eventually convinces Kilmer to hire him to help remodel the small, sad house Kilmer once shared with Jacko. As Tanner and Kilmer get to know each other, Kilmer regains his lost independence and Tanner’s dominant streak rises to the surface. But will it be a help or a hindrance to the trust they’re trying to build?

The answer might lie in the music Kilmer gave up not long after he met Jacko. Music always granted him solace, clarity, and an outlet for his emotions, and with Tanner’s encouragement, he picks up where he left off. Playing together eases them into honest communication, and though a happily ever after will still take patience and work, taking a chance on each other sounds sweeter with every note.

About Jaime:

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men—what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love—she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they would also be the stories she wrote.

These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Various Publishers.

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, is spent crocheting, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!), or watching movies. She has a day job, as well, which she loves, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child-care responsibilities.

She graduated some time ago from college with a fine arts diploma, and a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all . . .

Website: http://jaime-samms.com

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000982219151&ref=tn_tnmn

Livejournal:http://dontkickmycane.livejournal.com/

Deviantart: http://dontkickmycane.deviantart.com/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/#!/JaimeSamms

Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/jaimesamms

Release Blitz for Accepting The Fall by Meg Harding (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 61,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

Confronting the past is never easy.

Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.

He never expected her father.

Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.

This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.

Excerpt

Time had done nothing to dull Cole’s memories of Zander Brooks, though he wished it had. His stomach rolled, and he had to lock his knees to keep upright. Breathe, Cole, you’re being dramatic. Of all the places for them to see each other after nearly two decades…. It was some consolation, a very small amount, that Zander appeared equally as shocked to see Cole. He stood in the doorway, unmoving and silent, his lips parted. Cole could feel Zander,s gaze on him like a physical touch. It made his skin prickle, his heart skip a beat. He was supposed to be over this.

Cole needed to find his words. He was a professional, and whatever personal history they’d had, it was just that. History. It was irrelevant in this room. He played pretend with his class sometimes. He could do that now. He cleared his throat, feeling a bit like a cat with a hairball. “Hello, Mr… Emerson?” It was less confident than he’d been going for, but it would have to do. Zander took a minute to noticeably reorient himself. He walked into the classroom slowly. His pace could even be considered hesitant. Cole tried to ignore the observation, the nagging surge of satisfaction that he wasn’t alone in being off kilter.

From behind him, Savanah snorted. Cole glommed onto the excuse to look away from Zander and turned to her. Savanah’s pert nose was scrunched. “Can I play outside?” she asked, gaze darting between Cole and her father.

Jesus. Zander was a father. Zander was the father who Cole had been wanting to meet. If Cole didn’t regulate his breathing, he was going to have a full blown panic attack. He’d been in love with one of his student’s fathers. He’d had his heart broken for the first time by him. Seventeen years later and it somehow still stung. “No, but you can use one of the stations,” he said, hoping he didn’t sound too strangled. He ran a hand over the back of his neck, damp from sweat. He thought it was possible he’d had a nightmare like this before.

Savanah pouted but went in silence to the reading corner. She made sure to scuff her shoes over the carpet on the way.

“It’s Mr. Brooks,” said Zander, sounding much closer. His voice was the same, deep and smooth like velvet. It sent parts of Cole’s insides fluttering in a way he hadn’t experienced in years.

Cole retreated under the guise of picking the workbook and pencil off the floor. Savanah had Goldfish crumbs littered around the legs of her desk. “Ah, I see. My apologies.” He aligned the book and pencil symmetrically on the scarred desktop. A few of the workbook’s pages were crinkled now, folding in on themselves. He tried to smooth them down and noticed in the process that Savanah had been working ahead. He made a mental note of it.

He was going to have to stop delaying and face Zander eventually. Could he play this off like he hadn’t recognized Zander or was that cat long out of the bag? “Why don’t you take a seat? I’ll be right with you.” He cupped his hand at the edge of Savanah’s desk and used his other to sweep eraser crumbs into his palm.

“Uh.” Zander coughed, shuffling his feet and rustling his jeans in the process. “Here?”

Cole managed to look at Zander at last. His lips even twitched into a half-smirk of their own accord at the picture of Zander squeezed into a child-sized seat. The smirk didn’t last long. Zander was too close. Cole could make out the nearly golden striations in his irises, could see the slow progression of his pupil taking over the brown. He had a scar at his temple now, a jagged slash from hairline to the arch of his eyebrow. Stress lines looked to be permanently etched in the dark brown skin at the corners of his eyes and mouth. If Cole didn’t know better, he’d have said he was staring at someone in their forties. The years they’d been apart had not been overly kind to Zander.

Strangely the realization left Cole with a hollow feeling, a tinge of… disappointment, maybe. He’d been angry with Zander with every fiber of his teenage being, but buried underneath had always been a quiet hope that Zander would figure out how to be happy.

Clearly he’d not.

Author Bio

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

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