An Ali Release Day Review: Model Investigator (Haven Investigations #3) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
With his lover, Kade, missing, androgynous former model turned private investigator Ollie Petroskovic is ready to kick some ass to bring him home.

Ollie and his ex, rock star Jacob Elias, need to find Kade and free him from the clutches of his manipulative family. But with Ollie suffering from chronic migraines and Jacob unable to bear loud noises, they are hardly the dynamic duo. It takes a lot of sweet talking on the part of Jacob, and patience Ollie doesn’t have, to find Kade. Only Kade’s not whole anymore. The fight for Kade’s heart and mind is far from over.

It’s Ollie’s turn to guide Kade through nightmares, self-doubt, and PTSD. Kade’s memories are scattered, fragmented with possible horrors, and he’s not quite sure what is real. Ollie will have to draw on his investigative skills to clear Kade of the terrible accusations his family has made and help Kade unlock the truth. But in doing so, he ignores his own health, which could have catastrophic consequences for everyone, especially when digging up the past could be lethal for them all.
This book picks up a little over a month down the road from when the last book ended.  Kade is still gone and Ollie is doing horribly.  He’s having physical problems from his injuries and he’s barely functioning emotionally. His friends have stepped up and are helping in every way they can but Ollie knows something has to give soon.  As the story goes on they get Kade back but things are still really bad for both men and they have some serious struggles ahead of them.
One of my favorite things about this book was how well Kade and Ollie communicate and how they work through their problems together.  I think this author does a great job of showing people being in a healthy relationship.  They each have some issues but they work together to solve them and they are a true partnership.
I enjoyed the plot for the most part but I found myself a little confused in places in regards to the plot with Kade’s family.  It took a whole lot of suspension of reality to follow it.  There were some big reveals in regards to that and while some plotlines were wrapped up but one major one still to go.  This one ends with a mild cliffhanger (not a big one like last book).
This book does not work as a standalone.  You would need to be caught up on the series to understand what was going on here.  Overall, I enjoyed this and I definitely recommend it to fans of this series.
Cover art: The cover was done by Garrett Leigh.  I have mixed feelings about the cover.  I think it looks great and I love the artistry of it. It also ties in really well with the previous two books.  On the flip side though the model doesn’t like either of the MC’s at all.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 270 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB071WRLK4X
Series Haven Investigations #3

An Ali Release Day Review: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon, and with a team that doesn’t trust him, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.
This was a really fun and entertaining read.  It was a lighter installment than the last two books in the series and it was nice to get back to the easy flow of the first books.  Troy and Shane are a bit older and their relationship is different in that it’s a coach/player dynamic.  Fortunately the way it was done didn’t leave any creepy power imbalance vibes.  Shane was older and close to retiring so he seemed like an equal to Troy.  They were both also snarky and funny and I think I laughed out loud more in this book than any of the others.  If you are a hockey fan you will really appreciate some of the remarks (& if not you’ll still be entertained).
I enjoyed the humor and the easy way they came together.  It’s nice to find romance books without all the angst and drama sometimes.  My only complaint though was that these two were so snarky and teasing with each other that I didn’t feel a strong connection.  I know that was their personalities but I wanted to see some sweet or loving or romantic declarations during their intimate times but we didn’t really get that.  I new really felt a love match between them.  A great friendship and some smexy times yes, but I wasn’t feeling the love even by the end.
This can be read as a standalone.  There are some cameos by Isaac/Laurent and Misha/Max (which is always a treat) but this storyline works just fine on it’s own.  We get to know a few other teammates a bit better and hopefully we’ll be seeing some of them getting their own books down the road. 
If you’re a fan of the series I think you will enjoy this.  If you are knew to this series, this one wasn’t my favorite, but it was still really enjoyable and I would recommend it.
Cover:  This cover was done by Aaron Anderson.  I loved this cover and I think that this series has some of the best covers in the genre.  They are artistically striking but they also really represent not only the plot of the books but of the sport itself.  Every one has been fresh and different but equally good.
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635337662
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesScoring Chances #5

A Lila Review: Waiting for You (Lifesworn #1) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Shanna has spent her whole life waiting—waiting to be old enough, waiting for the day she must pick a consort, waiting for a chance to finally overcome her despicable stepfather… and waiting for someone to finally banish the loneliness that comes with being a queen-in-waiting one step away from being murdered.

On the eve of the two-week event during which she must pick a consort from a bevy of suitors, two strangers arrive claiming to have been invited—though she knows full well they did not receive any such invitation. But the handsome, mischievous Prince Kallaar is too intriguing to resist, and his quiet bodyguard too compelling to ignore…

But she’s learned the hard way never to let anyone get too close, and on the verge of gaining true independence her stepfather will stop at nothing to see she never gets it.

Waiting For You is an interesting take on triad stories in a fantasy setting.  Between this and the fairy tale-like plot, it almost felt as a fae poly troupe. It starts directly into the action and we get to meet Shanna and learned about her life up to that moment. At the same time, we are introduced to other relevant characters in the story.

As with other stories by this author, the main characters’ sexuality is not an issue. In their world, they have a sort of implicit bisexuality that it’s natural and accepted. Which opens the door to a diverse group of consort prospects for Shanna. They come, by invitation, to take part of the two-week festivities and we learned enough about the candidates, their lands, and how they all would benefit from a marriage alliance—including the uninvited prince and his bodyguard.

I enjoyed the story, but the world-build and the characters’ connection wasn’t strong enough to carry the plot forward. It is a good introduction to the series and it’s probably going to get better in the next books, but at the moment is hard to see how they would work as a triad in the future. We will have to wait and see.

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty, but similar to other covers by the artist. It has a fantasy feel but could be used for other genres as well.

Sale Links: NineStar | AmazonNook

ebook, 173 pages
Published: June 5, 2017, NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781947139169
Edition Language: English

Series: Lifesworn
Book #1: Waiting For You

Erik Swill on Characters, Personal Experience and his story ‘Too Many Temples (World of Love)’ (guest blog)

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Too Many Temples (World of Love) by Erik Swill

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning

Available for Purchase at

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Erik Swill here today on his Too Many Temples tour. Welcome, Erik, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest story.

✒︎

 

I am thrilled that my latest novella, Too Many Temples, is set to be published by Dreamspinner Press in June 2017. I’m also happy to have the opportunity to rant a little bit about myself here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. And what better way to do so than to say just how dissimilar I am personally from the characters I write!

I have always found this curiosity on how much an author is like the characters they write to be odd. Usually characters are assumed to be manifestations of the author. Naturally, it is difficult for a writer to express him or herself without letting personal biases, prejudices and experiences flavoring the way we write. This applies even when creating a whole new world and a character that is supposed to be as far removed from ourselves as possible. After all, if the character is nothing like the author, then that means the act of penning this character used the author as the model in which to “other” it.

Many authors seem to be limited to creating characters that are based on themselves and follow a n event that happened in their life or someone close to them (or worse yet, something they saw on a Lifetime television movie and decided to give the story a queer twist to it). Some authors are good enough writers and have interesting enough lives that they can pull it off. Others less so.

I like to think that I have lived an interesting life as well! But I don’t like the idea of crafting a character based on something that happened in my life. I mean, I write fiction. Why shouldn’t I “make something up”??? I see that as a sort of standard for fiction writing anyhow. Write fiction, not your life story with different names for the characters.

Writing under other names, I have had readers (sometimes scarily so!) grill me to find out just how similar the protagonist and his actions are to my own life. I love it if readers enjoy the character I’ve written, but I never really understood the need to know how much it is based on my own life. In general, my stock reply is that the character is not based on me or anyone I know. I created them.

But … I also tend to write using settings and scenarios that I am familiar with. This is a blessing and a curse. Obviously, it reduces the amount of research I need to do if I already know the material and location(s) inside and out! But it also can be frustrating. If I do write a unique (read: crazy, off-the-wall, you’d-never-believe-it-if-you-didn’t-see-it) event into a story–something that I witnessed firsthand or something that happened to me–it runs the risk of being criticized for being unrealistic. A reviewer telling you that something that happened in your life that you inserted into your book isn’t realistic … when it DID actually happen like that in real life … well? [Throws slipper at laptop in outrage while cursing their ignorance] How else to respond?

But I digress. What I DO acknowledge is that my personal experiences very much so influence how I write my settings, scenarios and the characters’ reactions to the world around them. This is how I interpret the question “how much of you is written into your characters?”

I travel a lot. Sometimes because I have to but mostly because I can’t sit still for too long in one place. Call it a travel bug or some mental disorder–whatever it is, though, it works for me. Because when I travel, I am throwing myself into a set of scenarios that I would not otherwise come across. I’m pulled out of my comfort zone and need to consider how I would deal with the challenges that confront me. Later in retrospect, I can rethink my actions (or lack thereof) and reimagine how else I could have reacted in those situations if I were someone else … like one of my would-be characters. If one of those what-if scenarios sits well in my head, then a possible plot element is born or a potential character trait starts to develop.

Now I’m living in a country where I only speak a basic amount of the language. Ya, it’s still at a basic level from a complete lack of effort on my part. My bad. But while that limits me from some spheres, it also can lead to some pretty challenging situations. And that’s always good fodder for fiction. So while the specific turn of events or even content of the (failed) interaction are easily transferred to other cultural settings, the human element is very relevant. How did it make me feel when I really wanted low-fat vanilla almond milk in my coffee but the barista misunderstood what I had said and gave me low-fat regular milk instead? {Shock and horror] Still, that awkwardness in communicating across languages and/or cultures exists in so many different contexts. So I can, for example, apply my personal difficulty ordering food in one country and turn that into my protagonist’s frustration at trying to make a doctor’s appointment in another country where the protagonist and I have similar communication problems.

In my latest novella, Too Many Temples, the characters are from Australia and Bali (Indonesia), two countries that I do have a lot of experience in. They are also presented with the challenges of a potential long-distance relationship between two very different cultures–something else I have also had to deal with. Yet, the events in the novella are nothing at all like my experiences. Happily so at that!

All relationships have their problems. But when you add geographical, emotional, and cultural distance into the mix, it can get even more complicated. Especially when … oh, well maybe you will just have to read it to see how the characters handle this hook-up gone right, despite the mess it creates!

 Blurb

Looking to spice up his stagnant sex life in Brisbane, self-professed player Adrian takes a week-long vacation in Bali, anticipating sun, surf, and plenty of no-strings-attached hookups. He doesn’t expect his attraction to the tour guide, Ketut, to become an obsession. As he travels around the beautiful Island of the Gods, Adrian is startled that he might be falling in love after swearing off relationships for good.

When Ketut opens a window of opportunity for a real relationship in Queensland after the vacation ends, Adrian retreats into his life of commitment-free fun. Unable to forget about Ketut, though, Adrian strikes out to the rural Queensland town of Rockhampton to find the man of his desires—hoping he hasn’t lost the chance for true love.

 Excerpt

“The sea here is both beautiful and deadly. The color of the water and the temptation to walk out at low tide to the base of the temple… but when the tide comes in and you are left stranded out there, the currents are strong and poisonous sea snakes swim here in large numbers. It’s odd that something so beautiful can also be so deadly. Many people have died here.”

“So it is better to avoid it completely.”

Ketut thought for a moment before answering. “No, Adrian. That makes it all the more important to visit. That people have died to see something so beautiful, so holy, makes this even more special. Sometimes taking a risk can lead to a life-changing experience. Or at least one that you will never forget for the rest of your life. How long will you remember this moment, Adrian? Right here, right now?”

Adrian had been staring into Ketut’s striking eyes as he spoke. There was a depth to him that Adrian admired, something that he would never know based solely on their first encounter. For a moment, Adrian wondered how many of the guys who had served as one-off fucks for him over the years also had something more than a tight ass to offer him. But the thought was short-lived.

Ketut leaned in and pressed his lips lightly against Adrian’s, pulling back slightly after a brief kiss. Adrian refused to let go. He pushed his face forward to continue what Ketut had started. He wasn’t done. The moment was too immediate to settle for anything less.

About the Author

Erik Swill is a professional editor and a cheeky storyteller. He has spent half of his life living abroad and half of that time trying to convince friends that he is not an international fugitive or secret agent. He isn’t. Really. But it probably doesn’t help that he writes under several pseudonyms, moves house frequently, and rarely posts anything on his social media accounts. He has published short fiction in Gay Flash Fiction and erotica in the Nifty Archives. With his longtime partner, Swann O’Hara, he coauthored the novella Wild Goose. Erik likes to write contemporary fiction but will try any genre once. Because why not?

Twitter: @ErikSwill

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Erik-Swill/100010350225984

Cover Reveal for The Rhubarb Patch by Deanna Wadsworth

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Title: The Rhubarb Patch
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Release Date: July 24, 2017
City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed wacker away from the rhubarb patch. 

Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.
Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor, is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.

 

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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Release Day Blitz for Nate’s Last Tango by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Nate’s Last Tango

Series: Nate and Cameron, Book 2

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 26

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30900

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, gay, cisgender, cross-dressing, established couple, ghost, vacation

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Nate’s life couldn’t be better. He’s living with his rich boyfriend, Cameron, in New York while being wined and dined all over the city.

But when Nate decides to visit his friends back in Sydney, Cameron suggests they break it off for a while. Cam’s cross-dressing butler is not impressed, and with the help of his lesbian aunt, they drag Cameron down-under to sort out his relationship and take in the sights of Mardi Gras!

With Nate at a loss to what went wrong, he faces the dim reality that love may have run its course.

Excerpt

Nate’s Last Tango
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“I’m nervous,” I said. But my boyfriend, Cam, didn’t hear me. Fortunately, his butler, Roger, did.

“Here you go, Nate.” The loyal servant placed a garishly green cocktail in my hand, complete with a little umbrella. “This will make you so chilled, the next few hours will feel like a hippie folk festival.”

If only that were the truth. I was about to meet Cameron’s parents for the first time, and both he and Roger were busy preparing canapés. They insisted I was as much of a guest as the others were, so I wasn’t to help with the catering.

Instead, I gazed out the window of my boyfriend’s swish New York apartment, trying to imagine what a middle-aged couple who had made their fortune in the funeral trade would be like. My first thought was something as creepy as an older Gomez and Morticia from The Addams Family.

And with that vision came a list of odd relatives I hadn’t met yet. Perhaps a short hunchback that rang church bells. An older brother who slept in the basement during the day and showed off his unusually sharp fangs to unsuspecting women at night. Or a haggard stepsister who kidnapped the neighborhood pets and offered them to pagan gods during midnight rituals.

I watched my boyfriend. He was trying to make art out of smoked salmon and flatbread, but somehow he kept adding too much mayo. The result was something that looked like a squeezed pimple rather than anything you’d put in your mouth. As always, Roger was at his side to fix his creations, and as a pair they worked well.

Through his chic designer glasses, Cam scrutinized what Rog was trying to show him, and he understood until his butler tucked, folded, or did whatever was necessary to make my boyfriend’s attempts look presentable. Although my man wasn’t perfect, that was the very reason I loved him. He’d try. And he had enough people around to support him. His parents had to be equally as supportive, surely.

Any moment they’d swan in the front door, having just flown in from Paris, where they had stayed the night because they’d decided to eat dinner in that romantic city on a whim. His mum, or mom as these Americans say, would offer me her hand adorned in a teal glove and wait for me to kiss it.

His dad would check me out, and while he shook my hand all businesslike, it wouldn’t be until later that his real nature would come out. He’d pull out a joint and tell us about his wild days; of wearing a leather jacket, having wall-to-wall lovers, and the heavy rock band he fronted with regular top-ten hits.

“Would you like another cocktail, Nate?” Roger asked.

“No, I’ve hardly—” My glass was empty.

“Your mind is preoccupied. Let me get you another.”

“No. I don’t want to be drunk before they arrive.”

“Have a cocktail,” said Cam as he ran his finger under a tap after burning it on poached chicken. “If I was in your shoes, I’d be nervous as well.”

Roger took the glass out of my hand and promptly made me another green drink. With the first sip, my mind wandered even more, back to last month.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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