A MelanieM Review: The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Robbie Wales is young and starting a new job in a new town, on his own. Coming from a split family, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents and came out as a teen without a lot of fuss, but his father, whom he only saw infrequently, has never known. As an adult, he’s found he’s got a lot in common with his father, and they’re finally getting to know each other. He fears coming out to his father may jeopardize that.

Then he meets Raj Williams, the attractive man in the trailer next to his father’s in a seasonal RV park. Raj is handsome, sophisticated, yet loves to fish and watch silly Disney movies.

Raj finds Robbie equally interesting. But Robbie’s still in the closet, at least in Port Stephen, and Raj’s ex used that as an excuse to treat him as nothing more than a friend with benefits. He’s not interested in a repeat experience.

Robbie finally finds the courage to come out to his father, but was it all just for a summer fling?

The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn is in many ways like spending the day out on or by the water.  It’s a hot summer day read, sexy, sweet,  and a little steamy.  Its got fish.   Men that like to fish.  And have lots of sex.  Plus there’s a sweet coming out story and falling in love.  In other words, there’s a lot to like here.

Blackburn does a lovely job in the characterization of Raj and Robbie and their respective families.  Robbie, a machinist, is trying to reconnect with his Dad who lives in a trailer with his stepmother by the water.  He’s out to his mom and everyone else but not his Dad, and he’s still trying to figure out their relationship.  Robbie is young but still has a maturity about him that’s wonderful here.  He’s not ashamed to be gay, he’s just not sure of his place yet in his father’s life.  Then he meets the handsome, gay man who has the trailer lot next door to his dad’s for the summer, Raj Williams.  Down from Toronto, Raj has a work job that allows him to move around so he can enjoy his summer at Port Stephens.  Raj never figured on meeting Robbie.  A gay fling that turns into friendship and then more.

I found I started to engage in this romance more when they decided to become more serious about each other.  Up until then, while I enjoyed the characters, I wasn’t terribly invested in the romance.  After several events, especially (my favorites) the ones with Robbie’s dad, the story grew wings for me.  In fact, the scenes that resonated the most with me?  All the coming out ones, and the ones that followed. It includes those between Raj and Robbie’s dad, so funny and poignant.

I thought the ending was sweet if a little abrupt.  Maybe an epilogue wouldn’t have hurt here. but definitely more was needed.  Still I would recommend The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn as a sweet contemporary romance.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is beautiful and perfect for the story.

Sales Links

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 22nd 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139121

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Until You (At First Sight #3) by T.J. Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

Together with their families and friends

Paul Auster

and

Vincent Taylor

request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.

 

This is another wonderful story in the At First Sight series.  Paul and Vince are just as wonderful together as they have been in the other stories.  They both love and know each other so well that they can make the other feel better and make their worries go away.

 

Paul is just as hilarious has he has been before and I love hearing how his mind work because it is AMAZING!  His mind can make the craziest jumps but it works for him.  Seeing his whole family, Sandy and Darren just brings everyone together so much more.  I love their unconditional love for each other and how much they support one another.  These stories make me laugh so much, I always feel better at the end and it lifts up my day.

 

Michael Lesley did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters well and feel their emotions in his reading as he used different voices for the characters.  His voice changes so much you really get to see the differences with the characters.

 

Cover art by Reese Dante is sweet and understated but I love the simpleness of it for this story.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5 hrs 4 min
Published: May 2, 2017 (ebook first published February 27, 2017)
Edition Language: English

Series: At First Sight #3

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ride Along (States of Love) by Meghan Maslow

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Drew Nolan is a loud-and-proud mystery writer with a brutal case of writer’s block. He needs practical experience with the Baltimore police beat to get his latest manuscript to his publisher on time. When he wins a ride-along at a writer’s conference, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot… until he meets his partner.

Closeted cop Josh de Oliveira lost his family, his partner, and the respect of his unit—all for doing the right thing. Recently busted back down to patrol, he’s relieved to get a cushy assignment at the Author’s Police Institute where he’ll take one lucky writer on a ride-along. Unfortunately, his author looks like he belongs in the backseat of Josh’s squad car—long, ginger dreadlocks, piercings, and an “I would bottom you so hard” T-shirt. But there’s something about Drew Josh is having a hard time resisting.

It’s going to be a long night and one hell of a ride as opposites attract and realize they share a lot in common beneath the surface. As animosity becomes desire, they realize they can help each other out—in more ways than one.

I couldn’t tell until I really got into this story that the author has to be either from or living in my area where the story is located.  I mean how many people know Greenbelt that intimately? Hell, how many people have even heard of Greenbelt outside of here? And the places in Baltimore? She has it all right down to the food (G&M crab cakes) and the traffic and the Hon festival.  I often cringe when someone obviously not from here (and not having done their homework) writes about this region from the District, surrounding areas right to Baltimore and Northern Virginia.  The mistakes are often howlers.  But not here and I loved it!

Happily living in Greenbelt is Drew Nolan, a mystery writer trying to get around a writer’s block by attending a conference.  At the conference?  Officer Josh de Oliveira who’s in all sorts of trouble at work because of his ” ex-partner” gone bad and his sending the man to jail.  There’s more, including his  closeted status within the department.  The two meet and its instantaneous miscommunication and rudeness amidst attraction.  Told from Josh and Drew’s povs which is necessary otherwise Josh comes off as a complete jerk from the first moment the reader is introduced to him.  Instead, from his thoughts, we get a totally different, complex picture of the man.  I adored Drew from the outset.  Masow did such a terrific job with the all the characterizations here that I connected with them all.

A ride along assignment courtesy of the conference puts both men together in Josh’s squad car.  The reader gets a tour of the area, the men get to know each other and it works on every level.  The men get to know each other in close surroundings and in situations that vary by the minute or hour. This is a very neat setup.

There is another important thread involving Josh’s department, the history with his partner and his current situation. I wish that had been fleshed out a little more.  Much is made of the threat to him and yet I felt at the end, it just sort of faded away.  Another chapter could have been used here to take care of this element of the story. Or maybe just several more pages.  It just felt incomplete with no resolution, just an epilogue telling us what happened.

There are several big issues here.  One is in Drew’s past but I felt that was handled beautifully including its effect on Drew’s family dynamics. In fact the entire romance was great and heartwarming, including the addition of Drew’s large Nolan family.  I could see these two together and the bright future ahead.  Put that together with a location I loved?  Yes I can absolutely recommend Ride Along (States of Love) by Meghan Maslow for all you lovers of contemporary romance!  Its a heartwarmer you’ll just adore!  Plus maybe you’ll order some crabcakes or five!  Check out the links I provided!

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh.  Not a fan of this cover.  Makes it look like there’s a mystery going on and there’s not.  Very misleading.  Drew writes mystery books but there is no mystery here.  Plus this is a States of Love story!  Where’s parts of Baltimore?  Or even Greenbelt?  Shakes head. A miss on every level.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 122 pages
Expected publication: June 14th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635335231
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStates of Love settingMaryland (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Summer Heat by Jay Northcote

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I generally enjoy a good friends-to-lovers story and this was no exception. Except that it was better than many and took place between two BFFs on a well-deserved holiday vacation at a gay resort in Spain—a beautiful setting for a story with plenty of buildup and a sweet conclusion.

Adam had been living with his older lover, Drew, for five years, but when he’s suddenly too mature to suit his twink-loving man, he’s unceremoniously dumped for someone else and finds himself out in the cold with no place to go except to his BFF’s place. Finn, of course, accepts him with open arms, having loved Adam as more than a friend for many years. Finn is definitely not attached to anyone else so it’s a win-win situation for both of them.

When Adam recalls that he’d booked a week’s vacation at a gay resort for himself and Drew, he asks Finn to go with him instead, thus setting the scene for the evolution of the friends-to-lovers theme.

Though each has the hots for the other, it’s not until a cute guy named Niall invites Finn for a threesome with Adam that Finn reluctantly accepts. And it’s not that he doesn’t want sex with Adam—it’s just that he’s worried their friendship will fall apart. What follows is super-hot—readers had better get out their personal fans for this one—and it’s something both men decide to continue for their week away. Little do they realize they won’t be able to stop and won’t want to either.

I loved this story. The romance was just perfect. The sexy times weren’t too shabby either. I always enjoy Jay Northcote’s work and it just keeps getting better. This would be a great book to take on vacation and let your imagination run wild with the guys as they share their own vacation adventure with readers. Highly recommended!

The gorgeous color photo cover of a very hot guy was designed by Garrett Leigh and is perfect for this story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Published June 9th 2017 by Jaybird Press
Original TitleSummer Heat
Edition LanguageEnglish

Liv Olteano on Characters, Books and her latest story ‘Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills’ out on Harmony Ink Press (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Art : Catt Ford

Buy Links

      

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Liv Olteano here today talking about books, writing and her latest Harmony Ink story, Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano. Welcome, Liv.

✒︎

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Liv Olteano

 

Q: How much of yourself goes into a character?

I often ask myself that question. The truthful answer is I think there’s something of the creator in whatever they create. Just like there’s something of parents in their children, without them being an exact replica of the parents, I believe as writers we put something of ourselves in every story and character we come up with.

Without them being any sort of mirrored image, I believe characters do say something about their writer.

Q: 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?

I believe that if a writer uses their own experiences only to create characters, then the results end up feeling stunted, incomplete, and terribly repetitive.

What we do is use everything around us, every moment of our lives and of those around, every melody we ever hear, every feeling anyone has ever expressed in some way that has reached us. There’s a sort of primordial soup bubbling in a writer’s mind and heart, I think. Everything that person has ever experienced, thought, heard, and in any way came into contact with goes into the soup.

It can lead to the creation of countless worlds and characters, and some can have traits or present ideas that are very much connected to their creator; and sometimes the worlds and characters we come up with are shocking to those around us, because they can’t reconcile what they know of us as people with what we create.

I’m not sure if the “perfect” creation would reflect enough of the creator, or of it should reflect nothing of them. What do you think?

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

I’m a geek at heart, truth be told. I’m also a sociologist by training and have studied various cultures and cultural patterns. I love reading about different societies and belief systems, and am fascinated both by what they all have in common, and what sets each one apart. There’s a wealth of information out there, more than any one person can ever hope to have the time and resources to access and understand. But what we do manage to find out and experience goes into that creative primordial soup.

When a story comes to me, it comes with its setting and world traits, as well as its characters. I do research on whatever I feel can strengthen what came to mind at that point – cities, cultures, folklore, anything and everything. I love the research stage of the process. It’s when that primordial soup is at its finest, shaping up clear directions and solidifying in what later becomes that story.

I love the freedom of creating something of my own and including facts or aspects of the real world – it’s the mix of things that is interesting, after all. Always much more interesting than each element on its own, right?

Q: Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

As a reader, I can enjoy either – it really depends on the writing, on how invested I am in the characters and the story itself. I find I enjoy the ‘falling for’ bit of the story the most, in fact. All that tension, all the uncertainty. I’m a very evil reader, lol. I love tormented characters and love to see them squirm, haha. Once that part of their interaction is over things can still be fun, but the most fun for me is when it’s the toughest for the characters, mwahaha.

As a writer, I generally go where the story wants me to – I don’t like putting pressure on my characters to interact in a certain way so it would lead to a certain ending.

Blurb

Watching her father’s termination, twenty-year-old Cristina Mera Richards decides to kill the reaper Edgar Verner. Verner is the resident alkemist of New Bayou, though, and since alkemists are immortal, killing him won’t be easy. But the harvesters are destroying the hovertown one citizen at a time. Edgar Verner must be stopped.

Cristina Mera has a gift for seeing and hearing ghosts. She escorts souls out of bodies ravaged by the withering sickness, taking away their pain. Her gifts are unique. Once it’s clear she’s a changeling, Verner becomes more than interested in having her by his side.

Mysterious Wanderer Alkemist Nikola Skazat is the solution to Cristina Mera’s problems—a delightful and charming one, since Nikola is a woman unlike any Cristina Mera has ever met. Becoming Nikola’s apprentice instead of Verner’s finally gives Cristina Mera the opportunity she needs to save her hovertown. It also puts her heart in high gear, gives her butterflies, and just might get her killed.

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

“It was night. It was always night.

Since the Final War, the skies had been covered in thick clouds that allowed no light to pass through. The Outside air was poisoned. The Old World was covered in a thick layer of soot. A dead world rotting away under a coat of darkness. And we had killed it, history said. Now we were dying too. Or would have been were it not for alkemists and their hovering platforms that housed us and filtered the air that we breathed. The alkemists had saved us, the story went. But in order to be saved, people had to make sacrifices.

In our town, New Bayou, the sacrifices consisted of terminations, soul extractions, becoming golems, paying fines for negative float factors, and allowing the hover platform resident alkemist to be our lord and ruler. Our resident alkemist had declared that civilized towns had to have a mayor, senators, and policemen. But what our authorities did was anything but civilized.

We had traditional times of day and night that followed the cycles we were told existed back when the sun rose and set. Clocks told us what time it was, and we used terms like “day” and “night” for the endless darkness of the skies. We separated time into hours, weeks, months, and years, though nothing much ever changed except for the citizens of each platform. Or at least on ours. We didn’t travel often between platforms. It was too risky to try.

Today was a termination day. It was staged as a grand event, always. People gathered in the town hall, in the terminations room, specifically, to witness the sacrifice citizens were making for the greater good. Or the punishment inflicted on those found guilty of a crime. At least once a week, a dozen citizens at a time were terminated. Sometimes the authorities required more or settled for less—it all depended on how much float fuel the engines needed.

Death lounged against the window frame. It seemed eager to pick up the dozen souls still residing in the bodies lined up. Max Richards—my father—was among them. The sacrifices stood proud and brave, condemned while their runes shone in bright colors nobody besides me and Death itself seemed to see. The rune tattoos were supposed to give them strength, courage, and quiet of the mind while they waited. Nobody wanted to have a restless soul right before termination. It might change the float factor of their soul and make their sacrifice futile. Of course no one wanted those dozen souls to have anything but positive float factors.

I thought those runes were simply signs of condemnation. Death was death, as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t a brave sacrifice or a glorious gesture. It was simply the parting of the soul from the body. And regardless of the runes, that parting was a painful event.

This batch of terminations was a strange mix of criminals and volunteers. Strangest of all was the fourth volunteer from the right—my father. My heart beat violently, and I looked him straight in the eye. There should have been some sort of emotion in those beautiful gray eyes, but they looked blank. He stared back at me, unreachable, as much a stranger now as he’d been for too much of my life. It made sense, after all, that he’d be a stranger in the hour of his death too. I loved my father the way one loves art: as a concept, for its execution, and from afar. My love for him was a cold kind of love that unsettled the heart, neither tender nor comforting. I liked to think he loved me the same way. It was better than the alternative… that he didn’t love at all.

Edgar Verner—our resident alkemist—walked around the flock of victims, thick-lens goggles hiding his eyes. His presence was insulting in a way I wasn’t allowed by law to even contemplate, but I did contemplate it, felt it and fully embraced it in my heart. I hated Verner because I saw so many of his victims’ ghosts still ambling about the hovertown. Sometimes he deemed souls as having negative float factor after having extracted them from the body, so he didn’t consume them. He simply freed them, left them to wander, lost and terrified, without a body. Once extracted by the alkemic device, a soul was stuck among the living. Nobody had told me so, and I had no way of asking, but I was sure the cupola under which we lived also kept souls within. It seemed to me releasing those extracted souls was an act of pure malice. He had to know they suffered once released in such a manner. I knew they suffered. I heard their wails of fear and despair. And I hated him for it. I hated him even more for having consumed some of the souls himself. He was a reaper, a soul eater, a monster. The town could sing his praises all it wanted. It was easy to. The town couldn’t hear the wails of the ghosts still around. And they wailed on and on, seeming to have no notion of time or place, and no consolation.

I glanced at Death as it sat there and I wondered how it felt about the competition. It stared back at me like we were old friends. In fact we were acquaintances, if I had to find a word for it. We’d seen each other over the last ten years on multiple occasions—never chatted, though. Death never had a thing to say. Perhaps it knew no language, and little need did it have to use one. Its actions spoke loud enough. Just like Verner’s, I thought bitterly, though he chose to speak.

In the crowd of witnesses, I stood numb, oddly detached from the moment. Every now and then my gaze slid back to Death as it lazed against the window. Hair tumbled from its head like a tangled river of blood. Its face, hair, and attire flickered in and out of view. When it grinned, a void opened up on the brink of its lips. It regarded me with holes for eyes.

Silence reigned like a curse over the room, thick enough to choke. Verner pointed slowly to the first victim in the row. The young girl was probably no older than me—I thought she was too young to be terminated. But then again, there never was a good time to die. Was she a volunteer at such a young age? Perhaps a criminal? My stomach seemed to crawl up into my chest.

Death chuckled and took a step closer. The alkemic device in Verner’s palm looked deceptively delicate and beautiful. The thin iridium spokes, nicely held together by a matching iridium frame, held a crystal in place. It was quite a tiny, lovely thing—lovely and deadly. It shone with a rainbow of colors as it began to suck out the girl’s soul. A mirroring pull in my own heart made my skin crawl. My soul seemed eager to abandon ship.

Death frowned and wagged a finger at me like a mother chastising her child. I swallowed thickly as black-cherry hair overlapped the rivers of blood gurgling from Death’s head. Its eyes seemed green for one terrible moment. The face cut my breath short. Of all the times it could have done so, it chose this particular moment to flash at me an image of my dead mother. Was it a twisted sort of kindness on its part to show me the one I’d loved the most and whom it had taken away?

Verner sucked in the young soul through his mouth like a mist of colors that he breathed in. The device in his palm slowly shut down, the crystal’s eerie glow dying out. He licked his lips and grinned.”

Want to read Chapter 1 entirely? Visit Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills on Harmony Ink and click Show Excerpt to read it!

 

About Liv Olteano

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.

She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?

Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.

Links:

Giveaway

Tour Giveaway Open: International
Prize: a $15 Harmony Ink giftcard – winner must have a free account at the Harmony Ink store, and $15 will magically appear in that account 😀
To get an account: https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/login
Winner: will be contact by the author when the giveaway is over
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Review Tour for Summer Heat by Jay Northcote

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK


Cover: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design


Length: 47,000 words approx.


Blurb

A summer fling is an ideal cure for a broken heart. But when it’s with your best friend, things get complicated.

When Adam is dumped by his boyfriend, a week away at a beach resort seems like a great opportunity to get over his ex. Sun, sea, and no-strings sex will be just the boost he needs to move on with his life.

Adam’s best friend, Finn, agrees to accompany him at short notice. Finn’s had a crush on Adam for years, but is determined to put his feelings aside and be the perfect wingman in Adam’s time of crisis.

A spontaneous threesome with another guy forces Adam and Finn to confront their attraction to each other. Having a holiday fling together wasn’t part of the plan, and as their trip heats up, they soon realise that one night of fun won’t be enough for either of them.

The passion might be scorching, but their hearts and friendship are on the line. If their romance is going to survive the flight home, they have to be honest about what they want.

 

June 9 – Mikku-chan, MM Book Addicts, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, The Smutbrarians
June 12 – The Way She Reads, Oh My Shelves, Dirty Books Obsession
June 14 – Millsy Loves Books, Joyfully Jay, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, MM Good Book Reviews
June 16 – Nicole’s Book Musings, Mainly Stories, V’s Reads
June 19 – Lustful Literature, My Fiction Nook, Kiki’s Kinky Picks, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews
June 21 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, BooksLaidBareBoys, Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books, Making It Happen, A Celebration of Books
June 23 – Sarandipity, BFD Book Blog, Diverse Reader, Wicked Reads
June 26 – Southern Babes Book Blog, The Geekery Book Review
June 28 – Padme’s Library
June 30 – Bayou Book Junkie, Book Lovers 4Ever

Author Bio

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

www.jaynorthcote.com
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