A Julia Review: The Sidhe (The Heart of All Worlds #1) by Charlotte Ashe

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In the nation of Villalu…

Since his childhood, Brieden Lethiscir has admired The Sidhe, the beautiful and magical beings native to the Faerie world outside his homeland of Villalu. Though he grew up in a culture accepting of Sidhe enslavement by Villalu’s elite, Brieden turns against the practice when he becomes a steward to Prince Dronyen, who is viciously abusive of his sidhe slave Sehrys. Captivated by the handsome and mysterious sidhe slave, Brieden vows to free and return Sehrys to his homeland.

As they escape the capital and navigate a treacherous path to the border, Breiden and Sehrys grow close. Breiden soon learns both the true power of The Sidhe, and that the world that he thought he knew is not what it once seemed. If they survive to reach the border, he will have to make a choice: the love of his life, or the fate of his world.

The Sidhe is Charlotte Ashe’s first volume in her Fantasy series “The Heart of All Worlds”. And what a strong start it is! The sequel is titled “The King and the Criminal” and I will definitely be reviewing that one as well. So let’s waste no time and take a look at how the journey begins!

When it comes to lore and world building, I believe that the devil really lies in the detail. While for example history and geography form the basis of creating an imaginary world, it’s those precise details about the everyday lives of its inhabitants that allow it to become a seemingly living and breathing organism. Things like what do the people eat, how do they live, what do they work and so on. At least that’s what draws me in the most when reading a fantasy story and I was delighted to discover that the author did not disappoint in that aspect. In contrast to the coexistence of several different races living in one place, this novel introduces two main cultures that exist in a kind of tense proximity and yet largely separated from one another: humans and the Sidhe (elf-like beings). Both societies offer rather different takes on a variety of subjects from ways of living to attitudes towards sexuality. The only things they seem to have in common are feelings of distrust, fear and ignorance towards each other. I especially found the unveiling of the shared history of these two peoples quite fascinating. Themes of race, subjugation and freedom feature heavily in this story and are addressed from several different points of view.

I took a liking to both main characters and found myself rather invested into their relationship since they make simply an adorable couple. Brieden is a kind, brave young man who finds himself before a big decision: staying complacent and giving up on his true believes or risking his very life and future. I deeply respect him for his courage in choosing the latter. His care and devotion to his partner were as heart-warming to witness as Sehrys in turn slowly starting to warm up and eventually coming to trust Brieden. What I also found most interesting when it comes to Sehrys was learning about how the six years he spent in slavery affected and changed him.

Despite the fact that I found those two very likeable and was rooting for them all the way, my absolute favourites were amongst the supporting characters: queen Brissa and her sister Cliope, who intrigued me so much that I wish they could have their very own story, as well as Firae, who features as a protagonist in the second book. In fact, the only flaw I might give this novel is the fact that I found myself wishing that these characters would feature more prominently and we would get to learn more about them.

The sex scenes were very well done which is good because there are quite a lot of them! Still, they never really felt out of place and although they are quite steamy and described in vivid detail, you can tell that the author always tried to give them meaning and draw them as an important aspect of the characters’ relationship to each other. They are mostly m/m with only a brief hint of f/f. There are mentions of sexual abuse and rape. 

This book was a wonderful read and had me engaged into the world, the narrative and the characters from start to finish. If you like fantasy or just a touching romance story against all odds, you should definitely pick up this book. I know I certainly am looking forward to delving into the second volume of this series!

The cover and interior illustrations by Sarah Sanderson are simply beautiful, they caught my attention right away. The drawing of Brieden and Sehrys framed by their special red flowers is a lovely piece of art and sets a wonderful stepping stone for entering their magical world. I also want to give credit for the map illustration by Sarah Sanderson and R.J. Shepherd.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 442 pages

Published July 21, 2015

by Interlude Press

ISBN: 978-1-941530-50-4

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Crossing Jordan by Shannon West

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

A complicated web of lies threatens Jace’s life and he must fight his way to happiness through a maze of romance, murder and intrigue.

Jace O’Neal is slowly rebuilding his life after a disastrous romance with an actor named Dylan Malone in NYC sends him back to Atlanta in disgrace. Living with his mother and his brother, a fourteen-year-old with Fragile X syndrome, one of the known causes of autism, Jace is pursued by Malone, who finally persuades him into another relationship. Then Dylan goes missing and the evidence left at the scene points to Jace’s involvement.

The detective on the case, Will Jordan, is drawn to Jace right away, and learns that Jace’s former lover was manipulative and cruel. Will fights his attraction to Jace as he seeks the truth of what happened to Malone. As more clues emerge and point to Jace, Jordan begins to believe Jace is in danger. A complicated web of lies threatens Jace’s life and he must fight his way to happiness through a maze of romance, murder and intrigue.

I’m just not a fan of this book.  I don’t know, maybe it hit me at the  wrong time, maybe I’m the wrong audience but I just  couldn’t get behind either the characters or this story.

It’s not the author because I’m such a fan of Shannon West’s other series like her Mate of the Tyger Prince series. Or her Dark Hollow Wolf Pack series, both excellent.  No,  its several elements here that bother the bejezaas out of me.  Usually, once that happens there’s no recovery and there wasn’t one here.

It starts with the character of Jace O’Neal.  There’s a fine line between domestic violence victim and doormat in characterization.  To me, Jace reads doormat.  He all but paints a huge V on his forehead and puts a kick-me sign on the back.  I had a complete lack of empathy with him (not so in other books with stories with characters who are victims of domestic violence).  Its doesn’t help in that the way in which the narrative is laid out we are distanced from that part of Jace’s life.  It’s almost told in abstract, it’s that removed from the storyline flashback style.  So there’s no immediate effect for the reader other than Jace’s retelling which comes off as less than impactful.  His actions continued to confound me throughout the storyline. Smh.

Another element that is also connected to Jace is that of his brother Tyler, a 14 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome.  Much is made of this and yet not enough.  Tyler is used more to make important plot points and less as someone real and important to Jace.  At least that’s how it came across to me.  There’s no mention of getting any sort of assistance for him and at one point Jace tries to hug him, surprised when that doesn’t go over well.  Tyler is repeatedly exposed to  violence,  physical abuse and yet, again,  Jace is shocked that Tyler is aware that it’s happening in a small house.  Jace is treating him as though he’s deaf and stupid at times here.  How could you be unaware that someone is being beaten and shouted at in a small house? Yes, Jace is so stunned that he starts crying.  I almost stopped reading right there.

There’s the detective who falls for him (and starts sleeping with him while on the case) and the mystery that quite frankly you will have figured out soon into the story.  The whole thing just had no credibility for me.  This will send me running right back to West’s Mate of the Tyger Prince series to remember why I love her writing so.

Cover art is sort of cool.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 177 pages
Published May 12th 2017 by MLR Press (first published May 9th 2017)
ASINB071VJFF44

An Ali Review: Aftercare by Tanya Chris

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 Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Aayan Denir knows Garrett Hillier was once a high-powered defense attorney, and—thanks to a leaked photograph—he knows Garrett is sexually submissive, which makes him ideally qualified to defend Aayan’s brother from the charge of murdering his sub. Aayan would do anything to protect Syed, even if he doesn’t understand how Syed could hurt someone he loves. He could never hurt Garrett. He only wants to take care of him—love him, serve him, cherish him. And maybe torture him. Just a little.

Garrett probably shouldn’t be dating his client’s brother. Right? And what’s the use in a confirmed sub dating a guy who doesn’t want to be a Dom anyway? The important thing is to get Syed cleared of the discriminatory murder charge he’s facing. Aayan is a distraction. But for the first time in the three lonely years since Garrett’s husband died, he’s feeling hope, ambition, and desire. Can he give up the pain he craves to find the love he needs?

As Syed’s trial date looms, Aayan and Garrett explore what a BDSM relationship means for them, and what they mean to each other.

Aftercare is a M/M BDSM contemporary romance about Aayan, a Muslim immigrant who’s not sure he can play the Dom role, and Garrett, a submissive attorney who walked away from his life when his husband died.
This was an unique storyline.  I wasn’t sure about the set up of the story when the book first started but as the story unfolded it started to make sense.  The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot and I was immediately drawn in.
The story covers the mystery behind who killed Syed’s partner as well as the romance between Aayan and Garrett.  The men were very different on the surface but as they got to know each they found they were a good match for each other.  Aayan has never explored his dominant side and he feels it goes against his religious beliefs.  Some of the story is about him coming to a place where he can accept his desire to be dominant and sometimes sadistic as well as maintain his Muslim faith.  I don’t really know anything about the Muslim religion so I can’t say whether this was an accurate portrayal or not but it seemed to be presented in a realistic way in regards to Aayan’s concerns.
While I thought the concept was interesting and I liked the characters well enough there was nothing that especially stood out to me either negatively or positively.  I had no particular complaints about the book but it also probably won’t stand out to me down the road which is why I did not rate it higher.
If you’re a fan of BDSM books and are looking for something a bit different I would recommend this.  It not only has unique BDSM elements but it has a main character who is of color and Muslim.  I appreciated that.
This cover was done by Jen and Kris.  I thought the cover was eye catching and was a very good representation of the plot of the book.
Sales Link:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 184 pages
Published May 17th 2017
ASINB0722P9BQY

Andrew Grey On A Gulf Fishing Trip and his latest release ‘Setting the Hook’ (author guest post)

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Setting the Hook by Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 12 2017
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Sale at:    Dreamspinner Press    | Amazon 

Barnes and Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome back Andrew Grey on his Setting the Hook tour.  Hi, Andrew!

🌊

Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to fish on the gulf for the first time.  It was an amazing experience and I had an incredible time  And as you can guess, I looked out over the water, fishing, talking, laughing, and the entire time my mind is running though how I could use all the experiences in a book.  I stored them away until the idea for Setting the Hook started developing in my mind.  I do have to tell you that while the situations were different, that weekend we did experience many, of the things in the story, including the hurricane, catching the sharks, as well as meeting some amazing people who left an impression on me.    I can’t wait for my next fishing trip so I can see what comes out of that.

 

Blurb/Synopsis

It could be the catch of a lifetime. William Westmoreland escapes his unfulfilling Rhode Island existence by traveling to Florida twice a year and chartering Mike Jansen’s fishing boat to take him out on the Gulf. The crystal-blue water and tropical scenery isn’t the only view William enjoys, but he’s never made his move. A vacation romance just isn’t on his horizon.

William Westmoreland escapes his unfulfilling Rhode Island existence by traveling to Florida twice a year and chartering Mike Jansen’s fishing boat to take him out on the Gulf. The crystal-blue water and tropical scenery isn’t the only view William enjoys, but he’s never made his move. A vacation romance just isn’t on his horizon.

Mike started his Apalachicola charter fishing service as a way to care for his daughter and mother, putting their safety and security ahead of the needs of his own heart. Denying his attraction becomes harder with each of William’s visits.

William and Mike’s latest fishing excursion starts with a beautiful day, but a hurricane’s erratic course changes everything, stranding William. As the wind and rain rage outside, the passion the two men have been trying to resist for years crashes over them. In the storm’s wake, it leaves both men yearning to prolong what they have found. But real life pulls William back to his obligations. Can they find a way to reduce the distance between them and discover a place where their souls can meet? The journey will require rough sailing, but the bright future at the end might be worth the choppy seas.

Series: Standalone
Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Excerpt 

“The storm didn’t turn north. It’s continued moving west and is now near Orlando. If its winds start to reach the Gulf, the waves are going to build quickly. It seems like they’ve pretty much given up trying to predict this sucker and are winging it.”

Gordon turned toward the water. “Give it a few more hours and we’ll head in. There’s no sense taking any chances, and they’re going to have plenty of fish by then at this rate.”

“I agree.” If the storm headed their way, he and Gordon were going to need time to secure everything. “I’ve been listening to the weather every hour anyway.”

Mike returned to work, and Gordon helped William and Dean replace their nibbled-away bait. Mike moved them to a few more spots, each one closer to shore. After two hours, he checked the forecast once again. The storm was now expected to continue on its current path. “All right. This is our last stop. We’ll stay here for about fifteen minutes and then head in. The storm that was supposed to turn north in the Atlantic didn’t. It’s crossing Florida and will hit the Gulf in a few hours. We don’t want to be out here when it does.”

The attitude on the boat immediately changed. Mike started getting things together while Gordon helped the guys fish. They caught mostly red snapper and threw them back. William got a small reef shark, and Gordon clubbed it enough to stun it and got the hook out, letting it drop back into the water. That brought the trip to an end, and Mike pointed the bow toward land and opened up the throttle.

Gordon gathered up all the equipment and began putting it away. “Sorry, guys, about cutting things short.”

“It’s perfectly all right,” Dean said with a wide grin. “It’s better to be safe than sorry, and this was an amazing day. One I’m going to remember for a long time.” He sat down nearby, and William took the seat right behind him. Mike was hyperaware of him and knew William was watching him.

The wind picked up slightly as they went, though thankfully the water’s surface remained calm. But it wasn’t going to stay that way once the storm passed over Florida.

“Does anyone have a signal on their phone?” Mike asked.

“I’m checking,” William answered from behind him. “I have something, but not enough to really do any good. I could probably make a call if necessary, but….” William didn’t finish his thought as the power to the engine cut out.

“Fire!” Gordon yelled.

Mike switched the controls off immediately. Black smoke poured from the engine compartment vents, and Mike sprang to his feet, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and ushered Dean and William as far away as possible. Gordon got into position and tugged on the rope that would lift the engine cover, with Mike ready to douse any flames.

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Blog Tour for The Ties that Bind by S. Davidson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Ties that Bind
Author: S. Davidson
Genre: M/M Fiction
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Cover Art: Rue Volley
Editor: CSL Editing Service
Publisher: Encompass Ink Publishing

Flashback 1990’s – Rollerblades, bungee jumping, the laptop, cellular phones the size of bricks, and AIDS – the gay men’s cancer

This is a story about love, friendship, and family. It is a story about growing up, about trying to change the past and the realization that no matter how fast, or how far we run, that The Ties That Bind us as children, many times come back to haunt us as adults.
We become part of the life of a young counselor, Morgan, who specializes working with homeless, male hustlers. He seems like an angel from heaven to many. He cares deeply for every one of his boys and would literally die to save them from harm. He deprives himself of life’s basic needs in order to reach just one more, but why?Morgan has his own agenda to work out, his own demons to exorcise. While avoiding his own past, he meets a particular young man, Greg, who is able to see through this well-crafted, public image. Greg sees Morgan’s pain and denial. It is in this discovery, this role reversal that Greg, a life-long hustler begins to heal himself. He helps Morgan come to terms with his own violent past. Greg becomes his strength, the knife to cut the rope and release the guilt Morgan has denied for years. Just as they both begin to heal, Greg discovers the truth.

The Ties That Bind can sometimes be very restricting but many times we find that The Ties That Bind can also provide our strength.

The Ties That Bind are necessary for the sustenance of life.


A badly warped, archaic recording came on of some disco group of the forgotten past. Slowly, the black shield lifted in front of the room, revealing an oiled up young man, ready to dance. The boy was grinding and gyrating his hips with the best of them when the shade reached the top and he saw who was on the other side.

 

“Hey, Morgan,” he said, stopping his dance.
“Hi, Zack. You’re looking pretty good,” he said.
“I’m sorry.” He began dancing again.
“Stop.” Morgan laughed, thinking it funny that this boy would actually think Morgan was a customer. “I didn’t come for the show. I came to see how you were doing. You disappeared on me.” Morgan popped another quarter in the slot.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Julio glared at Greg. Greg was gritting his teeth, hoping Tomi wouldn’t notice the grip on his upper arm. He knew she would kill Julio.

 

“You do give lunch breaks, don’t you?” Tomi taunted.

 

“Only when he’s the lunch.”

 


Shelly always had a goal to get a book in print. Well, that goal has been met. Another coming June 1, 2017, and one more still in the works. Always finding writing to be a way to escape into another world, M/M fiction is her passion and causing her beautiful boys a bit of agony is just what she does. None of her characters are flawless and most are pretty damn messed up! But they always persist, always try to be the best men they can be and hopefully find a kindred spirit along the way.

Shelly is a mother, grandmother, and has a Bachelor’s in Social Services. Come on over to her Facebook page for current and upcoming release info. While she doesn’t post about what she’s having for dinner or what movie she’s watching, she will give you info on her writing when there is news to share. Just remember, no matter who you are or what beliefs you practice, love is love and we all deserve to love.

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