A MelanieM Review: Love on the Boil (Love On # 5) by Neil Plakcy

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

What if the one who got away came back–and you had to work together to achieve your dreams?

Eddie Gonzalez and Darren Carter had a hot college romance, which derailed when they graduated and went in different directions. But now they’re both on South Beach, both trying to start gourmet tea businesses. A venture capitalist forces them to collaborate–but will the sexual tension between them heat up–or send their venture down in flames?

Neil Plakcy’s Mahu series is a favorite of mine.  His command of the local cultures and colloquialisms combined with strong characters and love of the island history has made that such a stunning series.  Some of those strengths are on display here.

The things that I enjoyed about Love on the Boil are things that I enjoyed in other books Plakcy has written.  The Miami locations, the Cuban neighborhoods, Eddie’s large family and Darren’s troubled relationship with his father.  The Ohio bottling plant with it’s hispanic manager and workers, all these elements were so carefully and vividly brought to life.  This author has always handled those varied cultural aspects of the story so well.

Also thoroughly enjoyable?  All the information about the teas, whether in the cocktails or business side.  That was fascinating.  But really, less fun was the main couple at the heart of the story.  That would be Eddie and Darren.

Unfortunately, I found them to be mostly irritating.  Eddie starts off as an uncommunicative jerk and stays that way.  Darren is a close second.  Sex seems to come first with them, their businesses second and third for all their posturing.  They don’t trust each other after reconnecting, yet they throw their businesses together, move in etc.  There is a boyfriend on Darren’s side that throws the story into a whole “icky” side street.  And on top of all that, an entrepreneur who “magically” agrees to fund them, not one but twice, not based on a sound business plan but a romance?  After being an acute businessman for the majority of the story?  There was nothing to account for such an about face.

Balancing the good with the bad because there were things I did sort of like about each characters separately (not together mind you), and elements that swirled about them,  the rating averaged into a 3 star rating.   It will also send me back into the Mahu series for a refresher in Kimo and Mike.

Cover Artist:GD Leigh’s design is sexy and yet not really relevant to the story.

Sales Links: Loose id | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Loose Id
ISBN139781682523537
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLove on… #5

An Alisa Release Day Review: The Storm Lords by Ravon Silvius

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

 

The heat took everything from Rowen: his parents, his voice when the local cure for heatstroke poisoned him, and the trust of his fellow villagers, who branded him a water thief. It would have claimed his life when he was deemed unworthy of precious resources and left in the sun to die, had not a strange man named Kristoff ridden in on the wind and told Rowen he had power.

 

Rowen works hard to become a Storm Lord, one of a secret magical group that brings storms to break the heat waves overtaking their world. But Rowen is starting his training at a disadvantage since he cannot speak and is much older than the other novices. The desire to please Kristoff inspires him to persevere even more than the threat of being sent back to his village to die should he fail. Still, he cannot gather rain, and when his abilities manifest, they are unlike anything known to the Storm Lords. Unless Kristoff can help him control his deadly powers, the entire world will be in danger.

 

Kristoff might be among the mightiest of the Storm Lords, but he’s never been a mentor before. For a chance to be with Rowen, he’s willing to risk everything.

 

This was a wonderful and well thought out story.  This story takes place in a well thought out world that sounds similar to earth but with some very big differences.  Rowen’s life has been very harsh when Kristoff rescues him and hopes that he may finally be able to help out his home village, if even from a distance.

 

Rowen works hard to master his abilities but what he feels isn’t quite what Kristoff and the other Storm Lords describe.  His lack of ability to communicate easily causes some of the problems and also keeps himself separate from those around him.  Kristoff isn’t sure what to do with his new charge but is willing to do his part of being a mentor.  Their feelings grow but both don’t want to cause any problems and don’t let their feelings known until it’s almost too late.

 

This story is told from both MCs points of view so we are able to understand their thoughts and emotions.  Rowen works so hard to become what Kristoff said he was but when they find out how his powers really work his safety and that of those around him is put at risk.  Kristoff tries to deny how he is feeling about Rowan and can’t help but be even more protective of Rowan as he works with him.  I felt for Rowan when he was suddenly taken from his home and all he has ever known to a new and foreign place and when he fears that he will cause harm to others with his powers.  I loved seeing Kristoff actually learn about how the choices for their world are made but he wants to make it better with Rowan.

 

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is absolutely perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 254 pages

Published: August 8, 2017 by DSP Publications

ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-668-9

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5+ out of 5

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

I’ve loved this author and her stories just forever and for so many different reasons.  And I have many several 5 stars reviews of her stories.  Cullinan always was one of my baselines in for bringing in unusual yet thoroughly realistic characters and situations and letting me connect emotionally on deep levels with each and every one.  Yet once I finished Antisocial, I was stunned by it’s beauty and its depth, Cullinan’s handling of asexuality and the main characters relationship.  I think it’s the best story she’s written.  Even now Xander and Skylar, their transformation from, well, if not frenemies, strangers on campus, to friends to lovers with their own HEA is one that continues to resonate within me.

The warmth of Cullinan’s style of writing is one that pulls a reader, this reader, intimately into her stories and lives of her characters.  Whether it’s the damaged, artistic Xander or stressed, high-society Skylar Stone, the Greek with the silver tongue and closet of secrets, Cullinan gently ushers you into their minds and hearts.  She reveals the detritus of Stone’s upbringing that’s keeping him from growing into the person he can be, the same being said for Xander too.  Then uses the Pygmalion story in a wonderful reversal that will thread elements together and bring closure in an emotionally satisfying and joyous climax.

In between, we get an amazing exploration of what asexuality in different forms can mean to a couple, to a person or persons and to a romance/relationship. The scenes with simple touches gave me shivers of delight as her descriptions telegraphed what it meant to Xander, Skylar and both of them as couple so beautifully.  Each explore the fact that there’s not just one “ace label” or two, but a spectrum of grey as it were.  Something other characters will or already understand.  Cullinan brings the element of asexuality and threads it throughout Antisocial in a number of ways, stunning, unexpected, and important ways.

A great plus?  The manga details and Japanese art history details that this story is laced with, like the woodcuts of Hokusai, seen to the right.  Finally, there is the cast of characters that surround and support Xander and Skylar, ones that I want to see so much more of.  All the tight members of the group from Lucky 7, especially Unc.  I would  plead with the author to bring them all back for more stories as I fell in love with all of them too.

But this is truly Xander and Skylar’s story and it’s in my top five of 2017.  The beauty of its story, its characters and relationship, the complexities of their romance, the growth and change each underwent in order for a future to be possible for them together.  Well, it still brings tears to my eyes and a glow to my heart.  I highly recommend this to you all.

 

Cover art by Natsukoworks, Cover design by Kanaxa Designs.  An absolutely perfect cover for an absolutely perfect story.  From the style, coloring and characters, its exquisite.

Buy Links  

Amazon US ebookAmazon US paperback,
Amazon UK ebookAmazon UK paperbackBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboScribdSmashwords

Book Details:

ebook, 460 pages
Expected publication: August 8th 2017 by Heidi Cullinan
ISBN13 9781945116094
Edition Language English

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan Release Day Blog Tour (exclusive release day short and giveaway)

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Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

Cover art by Natsukoworks
Cover design by Kanaxa Designs

August 8, 2017

Buy Links:  Amazon US ebookAmazon US paperback,
Amazon UK ebookAmazon UK paperbackBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboScribdSmashwords

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have  Heidi Cullinan here on her Antisocial tour.  Welcome, Heidi!

 

Thanks so much for having me here today! I’m stopping by as part of my tour for my new novel Antisocial, a new adult gay and asexual romance set in a fictional college in upstate New York between a one-percenter fraternity boy and a highly antisocial artist. It released today, and in celebration I’m going to give you an extra special peek inside the story: I’m going to tell you a bit more about the story within the story, the manga the characters create, The Adventures of Hotay & Moo.

The Adventures of Hotay & Moo is, within the story of Antisocial, a manga within the school magazine Lucky 7, but it has been in the magazine’s history a comic and a short story as well. (The comic and manga versions are identical, of course, except in style and direction of the print.) What is consistent are the main characters, Hotay, who is based on the Shinto god Hotei, one of the seven gods of fortune, and Moo, who is based on Fudō Myōō, the Japanese version of Acala, a Buddhist deity.

I regret that I can’t draw worth a damn—and I mean that I cannot draw at all—but I can give you a short, very short scene between Hotay and Moo. The characters in the book make several guesses as to who among them might most be like Hotay and Moo. There is of course no wrong answer. You’ll have to let me know what you think when you read it yourself.

For now, please enjoy this exclusive release day short from The Adventures of Hotay & Moo.

Moo was lying on his bed, contentedly reading when the door to his room burst open and his friend Hotay exploded into his serene space, red-faced and beaming. “Moo, it’s the cherry blossom festival today.”

“I know.” Moo turned a page and kept reading. “I saw the flyers.”

“Well, why didn’t you tell me? Moreover, why are we sitting here when there’s a festival to go to?” Hotay leaned over Moo so that his round face blocked the view to Moo’s page. “Put down your book, and let’s go into town.”

Moo glared at the interruption to his solitude. “I didn’t tell you because I assumed you still knew how to read. The flyers were everywhere. They’d attached them to everything tall and post-like. I’m frankly astounded they didn’t staple one to you.”

As usual, Hotay refused to rise to Moo’s jab. “Nah. I’m too fat to be mistaken for a post.” He flopped onto the end of Moo’s bed with a dramatic sigh. “Come on, Moo. Let’s go to the festival. It sounds amazing. There’s going to be a firework display and everything.”

“I hate firework displays. They’re far too loud.”

“There will be food. Grilled squid, pork kabobs, mochi ice cream.”

Moo did enjoy mochi ice cream. But he hated crowds more. “If you want to go so badly, go. You don’t need me along.”

“But I do need you.” Hotay nudged Moo’s foot with his elbow, jostling his book so soundly he dropped it. “I can’t enjoy myself if you’re not along.”

Moo refused to dignify this comment with a remark, settling instead for a withering glare.

Hotay laughed, hard enough to shake the bed. “See, who else is going to look at me like that?”

“The look wasn’t supposed to amuse you, Hotay.”

“I know, but it does amuse me. You make me happy, Moo.”

Everything makes you happy.”

“Well, that’s true. But you make me especially happy. You’re my dearest friend.”

Moo sighed and picked up his book again. “Your dearest friend wants to be left alone to read.”

“Then I suppose I shall have to let you do so.”

Hotay made no more commentary about the festival, and he didn’t even fidget overly, only sat idly at the foot of Moo’s bed, as if he truly were content to remain there while Moo read and the festival continued without him. Moo, of course, couldn’t read a word, knowing Hotay was missing out, not even when he tried to tell himself his friend had made his choices and it wasn’t Moo’s problem.

Eventually Moo put the book down and scowled. “Please. I’m begging you. Go to the festival without me. Surely you’ll run into someone there you know.”

Hotay shook his head, smiling, as if he hadn’t a care in the world. “Can’t do it. But don’t worry. I’ve decided you’re right, it’s a perfect night to stay at home. Though I wish I had a way to let Benny know, because I’m afraid she’s going to be terribly disappointed.”

Moo closed the book and sat up straight, all his senses on alert. “…Benny?”

“Oh? Didn’t I say? Benny is going to be at the festival. In fact, she specifically asked me to make sure I brought you along.”

Moo had never felt so many emotions at once. Euphoria that Benny had asked for him. Terror that Benny had asked for him. Confusion over why Benny would ask for him.

Fury that Hotay had withheld this from him for so long. Was Benny somewhere in the festival waiting for him? How long had she been waiting? Was she still there?

Hurling the book at Hotay’s head, Moo swung his legs off the bed and rose.

“Are you going somewhere?” Hotay asked, still lounging, though he was also rubbing his forehead where the book had hit him.

“Get your damn coat,” Moo muttered, sifting through his closet for his own. “Are we going to a festival, or not?”

When he turned around, coat in hand, Hotay was at the door, wearing his cloak, hat, and shoes, ready to go, grinning like the fool he was. “I thought you’d never ask.”

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Blurb

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

About the Author

Heidi’s Bio

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Giveaway

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Christine d’Abo on Inspirations, Ringside Romances and her release ‘Making It (Ringside Romance #3)’ (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Making It (Ringside Romance #3) by Christine d’Abo

Riptide Publishing
Cover art by

Available for Purchase at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christine d’Abo here sharing the inspiration behind her Ringside Romances and talking about her latest release Making It.  Welcome, Christine!

♥︎

Hello, my name is Christine d’Abo and I’m so happy to be here today.

When I initially came up with the idea for the Ringside Romance series, I wanted to try and hit as many of the traditional romance tropes as possible. This was as much of a personal challenge as it was my desire to see more of these tropes appearing in LGBTQ romance.

So when I thought, hey, why not do a secret baby book, I got both giddy and terrified. How was I going to pull this off without it coming across as too unrealistic? Because a same sex couple needs to plan for a baby, right? Exactly!

I decided that in order for Devan and Eli’s story to work, this also needed to be a reunion romance. A couple that loved one another once, but due to circumstances, parted ways. With hearts broken, these two men had to find their way back to one another, had to deal with their past problems, while making room for a baby in their future.

Can they do it? Well, this is a romance…

The real question is, what will they have to sacrifice for their happily ever after?

I hope you enjoy the book and the trailer that I made!

[Trailer: https://youtu.be/VXJKbHwL7co%5D

About Making It

Devan knows exactly what he wants from life: a good career, a husband who loves him, and a child to call his own. He’s working at the perfect job, and has found the man of his dreams in Eli. That only leaves one box left to tick. When his friend offers to be a surrogate mother for Devan and Eli, he’s convinced all his dreams have come true.

Eli has been fighting his entire life. Fighting to keep his sick mother safe, fighting his frustration, and fighting daily as an up-and-coming MMA star. The one thing he can’t fight is the feeling that he’s made a terrible mistake agreeing to be a father with Devan. On the worst night of their lives, Eli knows Devan is better off without him, and leaves.

When Eli returns three years later, he comes face-to-face with Devan and a son who might be his. Devan has moved on with his life, but seeing Eli once again reignites forgotten passion. Yet if Eli wants to make it work with Devan, he must decide if he’s ready for the biggest fight of his life.

Excerpt

As Eli lifted Devan’s hand up, the weight of the envelope nearly became too much. This had been an unwanted wedge between them for a long time now. It needed to be removed. Eli must have had the same thought. Taking the envelope from Devan, Eli moved in closer. “I fucked up with you.”

“Yes, you did.” Understatement of the goddamned century.

“Come out to supper with me.” When Devan stiffened, Eli shifted his grip so he held Devan’s hand. “We’ll talk and I’ll sign the papers.”

“When?”

“I’m in Toronto for a month, maybe a bit longer depending on . . . well it doesn’t matter. I’m here. I want to have a paternity test. I want to know if Matthew’s mine.”

“You said yourself you never wanted kids. What does it matter if he’s biologically yours or not? I’m not asking you for any support or money. I don’t want you to be this person who drifts in and out of his life.” In and out of my life.

Eli stepped closer, so their mouths were only a few inches apart. “You have a child. A boy who might be mine. I can’t walk away from this. Not without knowing.”

“I should say no.” Devan swallowed. He didn’t know if he wanted to kiss Eli or cry.

“You don’t owe me anything, I know that. But I think I have the right to know if I’m his father. I can’t believe you don’t want to have the truth.” There was a sadness reflected in Eli’s gaze, but Devan knew he would do exactly what Eli said. “Please.”

God, he was a fool for considering this. Eli had not simply broken his heart, he’d shattered it. That wasn’t something that they could recover from. Not easily at any rate. If Matthew turned out to be Eli’s, Devan didn’t know what he’d do with that information. He wouldn’t love his son any less, but would Eli then suddenly want to be a part of their family? Would Devan let him?

Regardless, Eli was right about one thing. He did have the right to know if Matthew was his. “I’ll consider getting a paternity testing kit. I just . . . Give me some time.”

Eli nodded, his gaze back on Matthew. “Okay. Thank you.”

“What if he’s yours?” God, this was so screwed up. “What will you do?”

“I’m not going to take him from you if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I’m not.” Shit, he hadn’t considered that. “I . . .”

Eli gave Devan’s hand a squeeze. “I’m not going to take your son from you. I . . . Can you imagine what kind of crap father I’d be? That’s why I never wanted kids to begin with. I barely know how to look after myself.”

Devan had always thought Eli would have made an amazing father. “Just because you didn’t have a dad doesn’t mean you’d make a bad one.”

“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that.”

Another old argument Devan wasn’t willing to rehash. “I’ll look into what we have to do for a paternity test.”

Eli nodded. “Thank you.”

They stood there staring at one another as Matthew gurgled away. Normally always one to have a quip or comment, for the life of him, Devan didn’t know what to say.

Eli rubbed his nose and cleared his throat. “So, about supper?”

“I can write everything down—”

“Devan. Please?” There was no arguing with that tone. “Do you still work at the clinic on King?”

Devan had been a phlebotomist for Canadian Blood Services for years. It was strangely the only thing he’d ever wanted to do with his life. “Yeah, still there.”

“Are you working Wednesday night?”

“No.” Devan’s hands were clammy and shaking. He pulled from Eli’s grasp, turning to look at Matthew, who’d fallen asleep in his playpen.

“I’ll pick you up at the clinic. Take you out to supper, sign the papers, and we can talk about what Stephan did.”

“And if I don’t like how our dinner is going?”

“Leave. You don’t need to make up an excuse. You can get up from the table, and I won’t stop you.”

This is such a horrible idea. “Fine. One meal. And this is not a date.”

Available now at Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/making-it

About the Ringside Romance Universe

Deep in the heart of Toronto lies Ringside Gym. Once a safe haven for troubled teens, Ringside has gone derelict, a forgotten memory of past days. Until a group of friends set out to do what they can to bring life back to the ring and create a new home for LGBT youths.

But when their lives threaten to pull down their dreams, each man must turn to others to help make it a reality. Winners take all—but there are no losers in love.

Check out Ringside Romance! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/ringside-romance

About Christine d’Abo

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

You can visit Christine at her website www.christinedabo.com, and chat with her on Facebook and Twitter. Want to keep up with Christine’s new releases? Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book!

Website: christinedabo.com

Blog: christinedabo.blogspot.ca

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorChristinedAbo

Twitter: @Christine_dAbo

Tumblr: christinedabo.tumblr.com

Pintrest: pintrest.com/christinedabo

Goodreads: goodreads.com/christine_d_abo

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Making It, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 12, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

INTERLUDE PRESS TOUR for Absolutely, Almost, Perfect (Sucre Coeur #3) by Lissa Reed (excerpt and giveaway)

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Absolutely, Almost, Perfect (Sucre Coeur #3) by Lissa Reed
Interlude Press

SUMMARY:

Craig Oliver and Alex Scheff lead a charmed life. Craig is part owner of Sucre Coeur, the bakery he’s loved and managed for years. Alex is an up-and-coming Seattle photographer. Their relationship has been going strong for a year, and everything is absolutely perfect—right up until Craig receives a wedding invitation from his long-estranged brother.

As Craig grows tense over seeing his brother for the first time in years, Alex can’t control his anxiety over meeting Craig’s family. At the wedding in an English hamlet, boisterous Scottish mothers, smirking teenage sisters, and awkward ex-boyfriends complicate the sweet life they lead.

EXCERPT:

Smelling of soap, a blue bath towel slung around his hips, Craig drops a kiss on Alex’s forehead before he takes his own seat. He slides the Ivory Square of Doom to his side of the table. “Right, we have to work this out.”

“Do we?” Alex cuts a finger of toast and dips it into his egg. He concentrates on the simple task so he doesn’t have to look Craig in the eye. “I mean, really. Neither of us actually wants to go. Why can’t we just RSVP with a sad but firm no and send them the nicest thing on their registry?”

Silence stretches long enough that he does look up. Open-mouthed, Craig stares at him. A forgotten toast finger drips egg yolk onto the tabletop. “You…” Craig shakes his head and puts down the toast. “You spoke to my mother. Many times you faced this woman on Skype or Facetime and had actual conversations with her, and you still somehow think that is a reasonable course of action.” His eyebrows lift, and he lets out a low whistle. “You know, I’ve held your balls in my hand. Were they brass all this time, and I just missed it?”

“Oh, come on, Craig.” Alex runs a hand through his hair. “Yes, I spoke to your mother. She’s nowhere near as scary as mine.”

“See, now, there’s an excellent reason for both of us to go to this damn wedding, so I can show you in person exactly how wrong you are.” Craig lifts his mug of tea and coughs out a laugh. “Your mother is frightening, I grant you: half my size and twice as intimidating as I can manage on my best day. In fact, our mothers would get on like houses afire, which should give you an idea as to why I, at least, cannot get out of going to this wedding.” He takes a sip of tea, sets the mug aside, and reaches over the table to catch Alex’s hand in both of his. “Alex, even apart from my mother’s insistence… Chloe is one of my oldest friends. I have to do this for her. But I can’t do it without you. I know it won’t be easy, but I need you there with me.”

At the sight of their joined hands, a lump grows in Alex’s throat to match the one in his stomach. “It’s just… your family…”

Silence falls again, interrupted only by Fitz tap-tap-tapping across the checkerboard linoleum of the kitchen floor and whining to be picked up. Craig scoops him up and scratches Fitz’s fuzzy little ears. “They won’t bite, Alex. They’re just…”

“Just people, just your family, I know.” Alex’s chest tightens. “Just your mother, your father, your sisters, your brother who you don’t even like, and I guess there’s an Aunt Lorraine now, and this Chloe chick and God knows who else gathering for the Wedding of the Century, where they’ll get to meet Craig’s neurotic train wreck of a boyfriend and judge us. They’ll judge me for being an uptight, deadbeat American and you for clearly having some kind of episode, to decide that I was an appropriate choice for a boyfriend.”

The lump in his throat swells and cuts him off.

Family.

* * *

* * *

Absolutely, Almost, Perfect will be published by Interlude Press on August 3, 2017. Connect with author Lissa Reed at LissaReed.com; on Twitter at @LissaReedBooks; and on Instagram at Lissa_Angeline.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lissa Reed is a writer of fiction, blogs, and bawdy Renaissance song parodies. She traces her early interest in writing back to elementary school, when a teacher gifted her with her first composition book and told her to fill it with words. After experimenting with print journalism, Reed shifted her writing focus to romance and literary fiction and never looked back. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Absolutely, Almost, Perfect is the third book in her Sucre Coeur Series.
Get to know Lissa Reed at lissareed.com; on Twitter @lissareedbooks; and on on Instagram at lissa_angeline.

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