A MelanieM Release Day Review: Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1) by Ari McKay

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Asheville Arcana

In their differences, they’ll find strength—and love.

Alpha werewolf Eli Hammond returns from a fishing trip to discover a nasty surprise—five members of his pack murdered and the rest missing. He needs help locating and rescuing his pack mates, but the supernatural council in Asheville, North Carolina, turns him away.

Except for one man.

As they work together, Eli is stunned—and not especially thrilled—to discover half-elf Arden Gilmarin is his destined mate. But as Arden and his friends struggle to help Eli in his quest, Eli surrenders to the demands of his body—and his heart. They’ll need to bond together, because the forces opposing them are stronger and more sinister than anyone predicted. The evil has its sights set on Arden, and if Eli wants to save his mate and the people he is entrusted with protecting, he’s in for the fight of his life.

Hot, sexy, scary, mysterious and a thoroughly entertaining tale! Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1) by Ari McKay is all these things.  The first in a  new subline called Dreamspun Beyond from Dreamspinner Press (be still my heart) this story combines  romance, mate bonding, werewolves, fae, vampires, mages, black magic and a mystery to solve all rolled into one for a wonderful read I couldn’t put down.

Alpha werewolf Eli Hammond comes looking for help in Ashville from the supernatural council there when he finds that his pack has been killed with the remaining members missing.  When the older members of the council reject him, it’s one of the younger members, Arden Gilmarin who offers his help.  Arden, along with that of two of his friends, a mage and a vampire, work with Eli to unravel a mystery that turns nastier and darker with each clue they uncover.  That the biggest surprise is that Arden and Eli are mates?  That fact maybe one of the hardest things for Eli to adjust to.

McKay lays out a great universe here and community of supernaturals in Asheville, past and present.  We have everything from dryads to vampires here and it works charmingly. I love it when you can get pulled into a book with supernatural elements and the author has made you feel that it’s not only possible but absolutely authentic!  I believed in those magical elements in and around Asheville, wanted to go peaking and looking for them myself!

Growly Eli and elegant Arden are a wonderful match for each other, each in tune with their environments and quirks.  And yes, their interactions together, in and out of bed are very hot indeed.

The mystery here is solved but leaves open an overall arc for the series to continue.  Plus there’s a vampire and mage that very much need to find their own mates and romances next.  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for them and the Asheville Arcana series.  What a great way to spring the new Dreamspun Beyond line on the readers!  I’ll be gobbling these right up just as I do the Dreamspun Desires regular series!  I recommend Out of the Ashes by Ari McKay for all you lovers of shifter romances and romances in general.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  Another great cover by Aaron Anderson.  That certainly is Arden, love the backdrop.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press AmazonBarnes & Noble 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635337969
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAsheville Arcana #1 setting

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Teddy Bear Club (The Teddy Bear Club #1) by Sean Michael

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Two lonely men. One perfect family. 

Aiden Lake adopted his institutionalized sister’s two daughters, and he’s a good dad. He works nights on websites and gets in his adult time twice a week at the Roasty Bean, where he meets with other single gay parents.

Devon Smithson wants to be a good dad now that his sixteen-year-old sister asked him to babysit her newborn… three months ago. But he’s overwhelmed with the colicky baby. An invitation to the daddy-and-kid gatherings at the café is a godsend. The pot is sweetened when his friendship with Aiden develops into more—maybe even something that can last.

But the mother who kicked Dev out for being gay wants to get her claws into the baby, and she doesn’t care if she tears Dev, Aiden, and everything they’re building apart in the process.

The Teddy Bear Club is a sweet, mostly angst free story about men, their kids and the guys who love them both.  The Roasty Bean, a local coffee cafe, plays host to gay dads and their kids once a week.  It gives the kids a place to play, the dads a needed respite and place to socialize away from home with others who understand what they are going through.  Each man there has come to fatherhood or guardians of the babies/children in their lives in a different ways.  In this  story (this is book one of a new series), the men each have their sister’s children.  Aiden’s sister has been institutionalized and her children turned over to him, Devon’s sister left her baby with him and disappeared.  Now each is coping with being a dad and having a family who depends upon them.

It’s mostly about Devon and Aiden learning to lean and trust each other as their relationship grows.  Devon learning to be a dad to the baby he’s grown to love and all of them forming a family. The romance is intermingled with babies and kids, the balance seems just right.  It’s a lovely story with the family drama coming in late in the novel.  Its dealt with swiftly, almost too swiftly for my tastes given the buildup.  Almost boom, mother dealt with, drama over.  However, it’s still a very satisfactory ending.

The name of the story comes in at the ending of the book.  There at a gathering (with more characters sure to get their own story), the men   decide what to name their weekly get together….what else to call it but The Teddy Bear Club.  What else indeed.  I’ll be there for the rest of the tales to be sure.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  Adorable cover, works wonderfully with that backdrop and model.  Loved it!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 208 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635336535
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Teddy Bear Club #1

A Stella Review: After the Sunset by Lilah Suzanne

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

Caleb Harris and Ty Smith-Santos are struggling actors who have never crossed paths until their lives take a turn for the bizarre when they learn that a farm in Sunset Hollow, Washington has been bequeathed to both of them. Intent on selling the property, Caleb and Ty clear out the cluttered farmhouse, but soon find themselves falling for the charming farm nestled between two misty-topped mountains, the lonely man who left it to them, and each other. When a real estate developer offers them a hefty payout, will they take the money and run or keep the farm and their budding relationship?

After the Sunset was my first book by Lilah Suzanne, I was very curious about this author, I know her Spotlight series is well loved. So I jumped at the chance at reading this new novella and I was so ready for something amazing that the letdown I instead received was more delusional.

After the Sunset wasn’t a winner at all, it din’t satisfy me, on the contrary I found myself at the end of the book to be still interested in the characters lives because the author didn’t give me enough of them. I picked the book because I found the blurb interesting and although I loved the premises and the plot,  the sweetness and the setting,  IMO the development wasn’t okay.

First of all I didn’t like how the book was written, the present tense didn’t work really well in this case, it made the reading hard to follow to me, but this is just a preference of mine that led me to not enjoy it completely. The story was strangely developed, some scenes were well represented and explained, others were rushed and puzzling. Like the ending, so unexpected, too rushed, I was actually left speechless and not in a good way. That’s the reason I couldn’t give the book not even the three stars.

I have to be honest, at one point I didn’t even understand anymore what really happened to Ty and Caleb, were they together? Still living at the farm? Was there ever a HEA? I don’t know and I can’t even blame the length of the story because one hundred pages are plenty to create a believable and well done novella.

And then I wanted to know more about Ezra and Hugh and what I got wasn’t enough. Nonethless, they stole the scenes, simply because Ty and Caleb weren’t able to catch my attention.

After the Sunset stops at 2,5 stars to me, but I’m still interested in this author works. I put her books on my to-be-read shelf and I’ll give them a chance again.

The cover art is cute and well done, I love it.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press |  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 94 pages

Published July 6th 2017 by Interlude Press

ASIN B0725QYGHQ

Edition Language English

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Wrapped in Chains by Cindy Sutherland and Narrator: John Anthony Davis

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Devon West is a professional Dom who runs his own club, doesn’t believe in romance, and has never been in a long-term relationship. All this changes when he rescues Chase Mackenzie.

 

Chase is a runaway who has been kept as a slave since he was sixteen. Now twenty-three, he’s still innocent and sweet despite being severely abused and left behind by his Dom.

 

When Devon finds out that the man who held Chase hostage is the same man who hurt him terribly when he started learning about the sub/Dom lifestyle, he knows he has to keep Chase safe.

 

Spoiled rich boy and sociopath James Kingston is obsessed with Devon. He’s convinced Devon would be his perfect sub and Devon only thinks he’s a Dom because he needs proper discipline. Losing Chase to Devon is like rubbing salt in the wound, and he’s determined to get them both under his thumb. This time, Chase may need to rescue Devon.

 

This story was nice but I can’t say it was really good.  You know from the beginning that Devon rescues Chase and falls in love with him all while Chase falls in love with Devon.  But there is the added tension of Kingston, who is quite crazy from the sounds of it.

 

We see this story through both Chase and Devon’s eyes which gives us a good idea of what they are thinking and feeling.  Chase is a natural sub and easily submits to Devon’s Dom but this is the first time he has ever been cherished or treated well as a sub.  Devon has a hard time believing that Chase could actually really want him, they kept talking about him being older but when I would run through the timeline in my head he couldn’t be more than 5 years older than Chase.  Devon had a strong family of his friends around him and they quickly adopted Chase into the fold.  There was just something missing to this story to make it really good, but I can’t quite tell you what it was.

 

John Anthony Davis did a nice job narrating this story.  I was able to keep track of the story and characters with the different voices he used.  However, he often used a softer voice tone which didn’t match with what I often though Devon would sound like as a Dom.

 

Cover art by Paul Richmond is nice and works well for this story

 

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 8hrs 39min
Published May 17, 2017 (ebook first published March 14, 2014) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Julia Talbot on Rodeo, Wrangler Butts, and her release ‘Sparkle and Shine’ (author guest post)

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Sparkle and Shine (Spurs & Saddles) by Julia Talbot

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Julia Talbot here today talking about why she loves rodeos, cowboys and her latest release Sparkle and Shine! Welcome back, Julia!

♦︎

What is it about the rodeo, anyway?

Hey, y’all! I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to talk about a favorite story of mine called Sparkle and Shine. Dreamspinner is being kind enough to rerelease it for me, and I’m so tickled I might have a feather up my—Ahem. Right.

Sparkle and Shine is about Brock and Evan, who are best friends and rodeo partners. They’re dealing with a little girl, a vengeful rodeo princess, and a general lack of funds. They’re also admitting they might be more than friends.

I a rodeo fan. Not as much of a super fan as I used to be, just because I’m old and don’t like to sit outside in the heat as much as I did even ten years ago. I’m also a pagan, politically liberal, organic foods girl. So I have a lot of friends who ask, “What is it about the rodeo, anyway? Why do you like it?”

The obvious answer is cowboys. Not just Wrangler butts. The whole deal, hat to boots and all of the dirt that goes with them. Cowboys are a breed of men who take no guff but will give you the shirt off their back. They’ll start a fight in a bar over any stupid thing, then turn around and dive into a raging river to save a drowning calf. In short, cowboys are a lot like me: living with a foot in two worlds.

See, my mom came from cowboy folks. I would say she was a cowboy, despite leaving home at 18 to see the world in the Army. My dad was a farmer’s kid from the deep South, but he went West as soon as he could, and he loved the rodeo and cowboy culture as much as my mom.

I grew up in New Mexico and Colorado. I knew horse ranchers and rodeo people, Native American ranchers and transplanted Texans. Rodeo honors their way of life, and celebrates their skills. It also allows them to honor the animals they work with every day. If you’ve ever seen a roping horse dancing to be given his head behind the barrier… yeah. They love to work.

Like anything in life, there are some issues I have problems with, but I can honestly say that these guys will try to understand those issues. My father in law is a Texas cowboy all the way, and he works hard to find common ground with me and my wife, even if he really doesn’t get us all the time. He’s a roper, by the way. He thinks roughstock cowboys like bronc riders and bull riders are just a tiny bit trashy.

So, yeah, rodeo is a celebration of culture for me. Mine, my family’s, my family by marriage.

The Wrangler butts aren’t bad, either.

Blurb:

All that glitters is not gold. No-frills cowboy Evan learned that lesson the hard way while married to a rodeo princess, a relationship that was all flash and no substance. At least Evan held on to his daughter, Cheyenne, and his best friend, Brooks, when the sparkle wore off and things fell apart. Life could be a lot worse.

But it could also be better… if Evan and Brooks took a step beyond friendship. Just as they start to explore their feelings, Evan’s ex-wife sticks her nose in to sabotage them. Suddenly everything is up in the air, and they have difficult choices to make about the rodeo, Cheyenne, and the romance they both want so badly to pursue

First edition published by Torquere Press, November 2007.

Buy Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sparkle-and-shine-by-julia-talbot-8712-b

About the Author

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner and Changeling Press among many others. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at http://www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

www.juliatalbot.com

https://twitter.com/juliatalbot

https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

 

RELEASE BLITZ for Trust with a Chaser by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Trust with a Chaser

Series: Rainbow Cove, Book 1

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Annabeth Albert

Release Date: 08-01-2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Law Enforcement, Small Town, May/December

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Mason

When Adam stepped inside the glorified closet I was using as an office, eyes all twitchy and hands wringing a bar towel, I knew I wasn’t going to like what came out of his mouth.

“Sheriff Sexy just walked in. He’s your problem.”

Fuck. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Please don’t call Police Chief Flint that. He might hear, and I’m pretty sure he’d find a citation for you. And I am not bailing your ass out.”

“You’re just worried that one of these days you’re going to slip up and call him that.” Adam grinned at me. This was an old argument—he’d been calling Flint that stupid nickname since we were in high school. The hard-nosed cop wasn’t one to cut teen drivers any slack—especially if they were in any way associated with the name “Hanks.” “Anyway, you know he freaks me out. I’ve got no idea what he wants—all our permits are in order, right?”

“Of course.” Standing, I grabbed the folder with the permitting paperwork. I prided myself in the organization I was bringing to the bar and grill that I co-owned with Adam and our friend, Logan. Flint wouldn’t find anything to complain about, not with me in charge. “I’ll go deal with him. You go back to the bar in case we get a rush.”

Adam snorted. Despite it being opening weekend, traffic had been embarrassingly light. We’d worked for weeks transforming the old tavern—a Rainbow Cove institution for decades—into the newly renamed Rainbow Tavern. The gay-friendly bar and grill was our vision for pulling our sleepy little coastal town into the twenty-first century. Logan had crafted a new menu of upscale bar food ready to go, and Adam had innovative drinks specials at the ready. All we needed were customers. And to not run afoul of Nash Flint on our first day of operation.

Flint was a Rainbow Cove institution himself—born and raised here, same as Adam and me, but unlike me, he’d never left, sliding into his father’s shoes as police chief and apparently fitting the role as easily as a pair of broken-in jeans. He’d been Officer Flint last time I’d seen him, almost ten years prior.

Guess I could have seen him had I come down for Freddy’s trial, something I still felt niggles of guilt over, and I told myself that was why my stomach fluttered on my way out to the tavern’s dining room. Unlike Adam, I’d never found Flint particularly…

Sexy. All my thoughts fled as I took in the man sitting in front of the plate-glass window. He dwarfed the small wooden chair, one of dozens that Adam and I had painted bright colors. Broad shoulders stretched the confines of his uniform shirt, biceps bulging under the short sleeves. His cut-glass jaw was firm as ever, as were those hard hazel eyes. But what had been frankly terrifying to my teenaged self made my twenty-seven-year-old libido sit up and take serious notice.

Flint blinked as I approached, head tilting to one side. I’d been getting a lot of that since I’d been back in town. “Mason…Hanks?”

“The one and only.” I stuck out my hand. “What can I do for you, Chief Flint?”

He returned my handshake with a sure grip, only a moment’s hesitation. I guessed he wasn’t all that used to shaking hands with a Hanks. Oh well. I was out to prove to the whole damn town that I wasn’t like my father and brothers, and if I had to start with Flint, so be it.

“Nice place you’ve got here.” His eyes swept around the renovated room—restored antique bar on the far wall where Adam wasn’t bothering to conceal his nosiness, dance floor beyond that, colorful tables and chairs in the front of the bar, only a handful occupied despite the dinner hour.

“Thanks. Our permits are all in order.” I held out my folder. “Liquor license is on top.”

He waved the folder off. “Not worried about that.”

No? Then why the heck was Flint in my establishment? “Good. We’re on the up-and-up. You won’t have trouble from us—”

“Glad to hear it,” he said levelly, eyes skeptical, reminding me that I was, after all, nothing more than a Hanks. “Cheeseburger?”

“Pardon?”

“That Ringer kid didn’t see fit to give me a menu, but I’m trusting you all offer something approximating a burger? Salad, no fries, and an iced tea.”

“You want to order?” I was still struggling to keep up with him.

“This is a food establishment, right?” He shook his head as if he hadn’t expected more from me, and that rankled.

“Of course.” I crossed the room in long strides, grabbed an order pad from the bar, ignoring Adam’s gaping. As soon as I returned to Flint’s table, I added, “Anything you want. On the house.”

“None of that.” He sighed like my very existence was tiring. “Got my meals from the old tavern for years. They kept a tab open for me.”

“We can do the same—”

“Let’s see if you can cook first,” he said, voice drier than yesterday’s toast. “I thought I’d come by, check the place out.”

“Appreciated,” I said and meant it. Business, any business, was good, but people in Rainbow Cove trusted Flint. If he gave us the seal of approval, more locals might give us a try, make us less dependent on the tourist trade that we were going after. Tourism took a while to build, and our grand plans of making Rainbow Cove an LGBTQ travel destination weren’t going to happen overnight. We needed every customer we could get, Flint included, even if he was the unlikeliest of allies.

“You still haven’t brought me a menu.” He shook his head. “But whatever you’ve got passing for a burger is fine. Nothing vegan though.”

“We’ve got local grass-fed beef, third-pound patty on a brioche bun with a pesto mayo and local gouda. Or—”

“I reckon that will do fine.” Flint always had a bit more country than coastal in his voice. Not Southern, but you could tell he was rural Oregon through and through, and I liked the slow, deep rumble of his words. What I didn’t like, however, was the implication in his tone that he wasn’t expecting much from us.

“Sure you don’t want fries? We have hand-cut sweet potato as an option with a chipotle dipping sauce. As far as salads, I’ve got side, Caesar, spring berry and pecan—”

“I’m on duty here. Kind of pressed for time. The burger and a side salad are fine. I don’t need anything fancy.”

Yeah, well, maybe I want to give it to you. I quashed that thought, same as I had the one about how hot he looked in his uniform. Wanting to impress Nash Flint wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

“I’ll put a rush on it.” I made a note on the order pad, not that it was really needed since Logan hardly had a packed house to worry about.

As I walked over to the window to put in Flint’s order, I noticed more than one table giving him curious glances. Hell, maybe I was wrong about any business being good business. Last thing I needed was Flint scaring away what few customers we had. Not that he was known as a gossip or anything like that, but he was awfully…old school. Traditional. The last kind of guy you’d expect to find at a gay bar, that was for sure, and even though we were attempting to attract a mixed clientele, he stood out.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Annabeth’s Angels Facebook Group | Annabeth’s Mailing List

 

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