A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Out of the Shadows by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This story was exactly what I look for in a romance novel.  Exactly. And, oh, how rare it is to find such a story!  Two men who get to know one another, do little things to make each other happy, date, build a friendship, avoid sex as a lubricant to romance, a little wining and dining, spending time with others, and finally a declaration of love—all before getting to the bedroom.  It’s so very rare.  And this story was so very good, I can’t express how much I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with Josh and Christian. 

Josh is a gardener and handyman in a housing complex where a mystery man resides in the first floor corner apartment.  Well, he’s a mystery because no one ever sees him, and they’ve noticed he gets everything delivered—from food to other necessities.  When Josh is promoted to the role of remodeling the apartments, his first assignment is that one, and when he arrives to the quiet of an empty apartment, he’s a little disappointed not to have met the mystery man.  It doesn’t take him long, however, to figure out that the man is there—he’s just hiding behind the locked bedroom door.

Over time, the two converse through the crack of the door, but when Josh arrives early one day and hears a crash in the bathroom, he rushes in to find Christian on the floor with the shower curtain covering his groin and blood flowing from his forehead. But it’s the scars covering half his face, his right arm, and hand that immediately grabs his attention and he instinctively knows he needs to maintain a neutral expression and look at Christian, not his scars.  It’s this instinctive reaction that sets the pace for a friendship to grow between the two.

Ultimately, trust grows as well, and then affection. And then Josh goes out of his way to find a restaurant where he can take Christian to help him make baby steps back into the world.  Christian finds the courage to accept this first date, and then the courage to meet Josh’s best buddies, and to go bowling, and finally, to tell Josh he loves him. 

I can hardly begin to describe how well the author built these characters, infusing them with life and warmth, sweet personalities, and an obvious need for each other.  Christian’s injury and resulting scars was gently handled and clearly portrayed.  Josh’s personality, his humor, his circle of friends, and his slowly developing love for Christian were all so very well done.  This just hit all my buttons and I devoured it like a starving woman.  I’m left with a case of “feel goods” that I hope will last me a while because stories like this don’t come along every day.  Don’t miss out on this one!

The cover by Bree Archer shows a very good-looking man with a hoodie pulled half over his face.  This perfectly represents the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Expected publication: August 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleOut of the Shadows
ISBN139781635338706
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Guardian (Aisling #1) by Carole Cummings

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Aisling Trilogy: Book One

As he pursues a man who is not what he seems, Constable Dallin Brayden learns the lines between enemy and ally, truth and deception, and conscience and obedience are not only blurred, but malleable.

 

Constable Dallin Brayden knows who he is, what he’s about, and he doesn’t believe in Fate. “Wilfred Calder” has no idea who he is or what he’s about, and he’s been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil flees after witnessing a murder, it’s Dallin’s job to pursue him. Along the way, he’s pulled into a maelstrom of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries—all of which rests on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder.

 

Even Dallin’s success proves a hollow victory. Wil is vengeful, rebellious, and lethal, and his tale of magic and betrayal rocks the carefully constructed foundations of Dallin’s world. Suspicious and only half believing, Dallin must question not only his own integrity and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him—including those who hold his own country’s fate in their hands.

I’m going to come out and say I gave this 5 stars despite the ending.  Guardian is just that good.  The first in Carole Cummings’ Aisling Trilogy, it doesn’t so much end as stop, clearly waiting for the next story to take over.  No cliffhanger, just a cessation more or less in the storyline.  Argh as they say.

But everything that comes before that ending? Just outstanding!  From the incredible world building to the nuanced characters full of anguished pasts and unimaginable pain to a present to comes with a slow buildup of suspense and a flight of terror against faceless enemies, this story is one you cannot put down.

And it starts off  so calmly with our introduction to Dallin Brayden, an orphan whose fate is tied up with the man he’s about to meet.  All the characters here are densely layered,  with revelations about who they are peeled back over the course of the story. Dallin’s character is imminently likable and that only increases the more we get to know him.  His own doubts and confusions let us understand him while the innate goodness Cummings has written into his personality makes him an anchor for us to connect with.  Then there’s Wil. Oh, my, there are hardly any words for Wil.  You must meet him, go along the journey here with him to begin to understand why you will fall in love with him so.  And fear for him.

Cummings is building a complex mythology here along with her relationships and cultures.  It all works to a stunning detail.  I’m so tempted to wait until the last two books are out and read through the entire trilogy to the end.  I don’t think I can handle another ending like that.  Just too frustrating as this story is that good and I want to know how it  ends!  You will too.  You decide what sort of reader you are.  Can you handle a story one book at a time?  If so, then pick this up and get started on the Trilogy and a couple you’ll want to meet.  If you are someone who wants to know how it will all end, you might want to wait until all three books are out and read them all together.  Either way,  I’m in line for the next one to come out!  This author has me hooked on Aisling!

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.  I’m not sure I’m a fan of this cover.  It fits in a way, just a matter of taste.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 285 pages
Expected publication: August 15th 2017 by DSP Publications
ASIN B073Q8GV1G

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.

 

Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.

 

Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

 

This was a nice story and once the characters got over their own crap they had going on in their heads it was better.  Perry is sent to retrieve and transform Greg, however he is sent on his own and has no support from the agency.  Greg has successfully stayed far away from the limelight since he could move away and isn’t going to let anything drag him back.

 

I got see both of the characters’ points of view in this story so I knew how they were feeling for the most part but even Perry kept secrets I didn’t know about until close to the end.  I could see how uncertain Perry is with his future and his determination to do what he came to do but he quickly gets to see the real Greg and the beauty that his brothers don’t seem to see and wouldn’t change it for the world.  Greg is stubborn about changing anything in his life and it’s almost too late by the time he realizes that he actually wants the changes Perry has made in his life.

 

Joel Leslie did a nice job narrating this story.  I was able to keep track of the story and characters which is always nice.  However, I don’t think his narration is for me; this isn’t the first time I have listened to him and his over-exaggerated accents are just too much.  It took me a bit to get into the story at the beginning but once I pretty much ignored how he was saying it and just what he was saying I got into the story more.

 

Cover art by Bree Archer is great and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |   Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 7hrs 15min
Published: June 19, 2017 (ebook first published June 15, 2017) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Romancing The …

In Our New Release Spotlight: Three Player Game (Bluewater Bay) by Jaime Samms (RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway )

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Three Player Game (Bluewater Bay Book 20) by Jaime Samms
Riptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here at Riptide Publishing

 

 

 

About Three Player Game

Vince’s life has improved immeasurably since he moved to Bluewater Bay two years ago. He’s gone from working for a man he hated, to helping found a company he believes in. And he and his boyfriend, Pete, have built a delicate balance of power between them that keeps them both grounded and thriving.

Almost, anyway.

Pete’s job on the set of Wolf’s Landing is demanding. He needs lots of downtime off set, and that’s where Vince’s firm but gentle control isn’t always enough. And for Vince, Pete’s constant high-energy needs are turning out to be more than he can handle alone.

It’s no surprise to either of them, then, that sparks fly when Vince’s coworker Lee enters the picture. Outwardly, Lee is tough and confident, but when a bad back confines him to Pete and Vince’s spare room, the cracks start to show and his desire for connection begins to peek through.

Pete and Vince both like what they see under Lee’s prickly outside, but now the three men must learn that love isn’t about beating the game—it’s about balance, trust, and letting each other in.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

About Bluewater Bay

Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield,  Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, Jaime Samms and Ally Blue. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Check out Bluewater Bay! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/bluewater-bay

About Jaime Samms

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Her Stories about men falling in love are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they would also be the stories she wrote.

These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Various Publishers.

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, is spent crocheting, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!), or watching movies. She has a day job, as well, which she loves, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child-care responsibilities.

She graduated some time ago from college with a fine arts diploma, and a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all . . .

Find Jaime:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Three Player Game, one lucky winner will receive an ebook copy of How the Cookie Crumbles and a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 19, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Tour for The One Thing I Know (B-Sides #1) by Keelan Ellis (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The One Thing I Know

Series: B-Sides, Book One

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66600

Genre: Historical, romance, gay, bisexual, historical-1970’s, California, musicians, rock star, drugs/alcohol use, enemies to lovers, road trip

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.

Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.

Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.

With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.

Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.

Excerpt

The One Thing I Know
Keelan Ellis © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

January 1972

Henry woke up to the sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom down the hall. He got up and sorted through the clothes strewn around on the floor, separating his from his guest’s. The two pairs of white briefs were, unfortunately, the same brand and size, so he took his best guess and tossed one of them on top of the pile he was holding. He set the whole thing down outside the bathroom door and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He lit a cigarette and opened the window above the sink. The shower shut off just as the coffee finished brewing, and a few minutes later, his previous evening’s date appeared in the doorway. His name was Danny, and they’d been introduced by a mutual acquaintance. He was as cute as he was dumb, but Henry was fairly certain one night had been enough to satisfy his curiosity.

“Morning,” Henry said. “There’s coffee if you want it.”

“Thanks,” Danny said. He poured some into a cup and leaned against the counter. “Hey, I’m going to the beach later. You want me to stop by and pick you up?”

“Nah. I have work.”

“Oh, right. On the Details’ new record, wasn’t it?”

Henry nodded. He was slated to play pedal steel and Dobro on six tracks for the Vulgar Details’ upcoming album. It wasn’t the first time he’d played with those guys. The band counted on Henry to fill in the gaps whenever their songwriter and pedal steel player, Dell Miller, was off taking peyote in the desert or barricading himself in a hotel room shooting up with whoever he’d brought home that night. Henry had never met Dell and still thought of him as more myth than man. “I should get in the shower pretty soon,” he hinted.

Danny either didn’t pick up on it or didn’t care, and he poured more coffee into his cup. “You think it’s going to be a good one?”

“I think it’s the best one yet.” He rinsed his cup out and put it in the drainer. “I need to get ready. Thanks for coming over. It was fun.”

Danny raised his eyebrows at him, and his lips turned up with wry amusement. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as Henry had thought. “Sure thing. You got my number. Call if you want.” He set his cup down and gave a little salute before he left. Definitely cute, Henry couldn’t deny that.

Henry got to the studio early and ran through his parts before the band arrived. The songs that Henry had learned for that day’s session were, hands down, the best work the band had done. The new songs were dark and personal, explorations of loss and hopelessness, set to some of the loveliest melodies he’d ever heard. The Vulgar Details had come so far from their beginnings as a brash blues rock band that they were almost unrecognizable. Henry had never thought of them as anything special until their third album, Heart’s Desire, was released back in ’69.

Henry had been lying by the pool at his friend Richard’s house, passing a joint back and forth with him, when he first heard that record. Henry was twenty-four then, and Richard was ten years older, with family money and a beautiful house he’d had built in Laurel Canyon. He threw amazing parties attended by young musicians and hippie hangers-on who were there for the free food, booze, and drugs. Richard didn’t care why they were there. He loved the beautiful boys and girls, the music, and the easily available sex. When he wasn’t partying, he liked having Henry around. Sometimes they fooled around, but Richard never made it seem like a requirement. That day, when he put on the new Vulgar Details record, Henry scoffed.

“I thought you had more interesting taste than that,” he said.

“You’re getting too old to be such a snob.”

Henry stretched and grinned up at him. “Probably getting too old for you, then, huh?”

Richard smiled, shook his head, and sat back down. “Give it a chance. You might be surprised.”

It started out sounding much like all of their previous stuff, but somehow better. Previously, their songs tended toward aimless, slightly silly rip-offs of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” or juvenile rock and roll songs about pretty girls. These were something else altogether. They dealt with love, anger, and desire—the subjects of most rock lyrics—but with a depth almost never heard in popular music.

“Jesus, this is great,” Henry said. “Where the hell did it come from? Did Terry Blackwood get a brain transplant or something?”

Richard laughed. “Not quite. They got a new member. Don’t you follow this stuff, working in the industry?”

“Must have missed that one.”

“His name’s Dell Miller. Actually, he was at that party you came to last month. Skinny, pretty, long-haired country boy? Walked around with his shirt open the whole time?”

“Oh yeah. I think I remember him. The girls were all over him. He wrote all of these?”

“All the good ones,” Richard said.

The last song on the album, “Traveling Abroad,” was the best one, and Henry insisted playing it three times in a row. It had an entirely different sound from the rest of them. It was almost a traditional country song, but the arrangement was complex and the lyrics made him want to cry. There was so much yearning in it that it was almost hard to listen to. When he left Richard’s house that afternoon, he went straight to the nearest record store to buy his own copy.

That was three years and two albums earlier. The Vulgar Details had only gotten better, despite Miller’s increasingly unreliable presence. The band’s sound drifted more and more toward the mellow country- and bluegrass-influenced style Miller had brought with him from Tennessee. A few of the blues rock numbers that were Terence Blackwood’s bread and butter still remained, but these no longer represented the bulk of their output. This new album took that even further, and Henry had to wonder how the rest of the band—Blackwood in particular—felt about that. In most bands, a shift like that would have led to at least one angry departure. Somehow, the Details had managed to keep it together without any public drama, unless you counted Miller’s multiple rehab stays and a short stint in jail for public intoxication and possession.

They weren’t planning to record any vocals that day, so Blackwood wasn’t around. The lead guitarist, Steve Smith, and drummer, Kenny Sailes, had entered the studio in the middle of a contentious but good-natured disagreement over which one of them would be harder to replace if they went into rehab. Alex Benton, the bass player, shook Henry’s hand and gave him a one-armed hug.

“Maybe you can settle that argument, Cole,” he said, grinning.

“They can both go, as far as I’m concerned,” Henry said. “You’ll have to tough it out, though, Benton. I don’t like playing bass.”

“You heard him, you assholes. Cole here is gunning for you, and he’s a man of many skills. Watch your backs.”

“Not me. I don’t want to be a rock-and-roll star. I prefer to work for a living.” They all laughed, and Henry said, “So, uh…how is Dell doing, anyway? Rehab working out, I hope?”

The mood turned slightly somber, and they all glanced down at the floor. Finally, Smith shrugged and said, “Terry said the place looked pretty nice, and Dell told him he was actually going to try this time. Who the fuck knows.”

Benton sighed and nodded. Sailes snorted skeptically and muttered, “I think we all pretty much know, Steve.”

“Sorry,” Henry said. “I didn’t mean to—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Benton said. “It’s not your fault. You gotta understand, we’ve been on this ride a few times, man. Dell is…Dell.”

Henry cleared his throat. “Well, anyway—the new songs sound great.”

“The fucked-up hillbilly bastard sure knows how to write a goddamn song. Can’t take that away from him,” Smith said, smiling again. “It’s going to be the best thing we’ve ever done.”

The session went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for, and Henry left the studio on a serious high. He wanted to get laid, but the thought of calling Richard to see if he wanted company left him restless. As soon as the idea of going to a bar occurred to him, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for. He rarely went out to bars alone, and rarely with the express purpose of finding sex. That night, he felt like a different person.

Henry’s usual haunt, the Westside Clubhouse, was a relatively laid-back place. Guys went there for the same reason they went to any other gay bar, but mainly because it was a place they could relax and be themselves. The drinks were generous, the bartenders were cute but not intimidating, and they all knew Henry. But that wasn’t the kind of place he was in the mood for. Instead, he went to the Hammer and Nail, which he’d heard about but hadn’t yet ventured into.

He stood in line outside the club while the bouncers checked everyone out at the door. While he waited, a couple of guys got turned away for not being fit enough, young enough, handsome enough, or for not fitting who-knew-what other criteria. Henry had been confident when he first queued up, but by the time he got to the front of the line, he was nervous. The tall, blond, muscular bouncer eyed him up and down and motioned him inside without a word, smacking him on the ass as he walked past. The whole process was fairly disgusting, and while Henry was opposed to the attitude in theory, he couldn’t deny that it felt good to know he passed muster.

Inside, the bar was dark and loud. At least half the guys were shirtless, and all of them were beautiful. He bought a gin and tonic and walked through the throngs of sweaty men. He’d need at least two more drinks before he’d be able to get on the dance floor, so he didn’t wander too far from the bar.

“Henry?”

Henry turned around to see a sound technician at one of the studios where he regularly worked. “Hey, man,” he said, searching frantically for the man’s name.

“Pete.”

“Pete, right, of course. I’m sorry. From Blue Door Studios, right?”

Pete nodded. “I didn’t know you were…” He motioned vaguely around the room.

“Yeah, well,” Henry said, smiling lamely and shrugging. “I don’t usually come here, though. It’s not exactly my scene, but I was in some kind of mood tonight. I had a good day.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Laid down some tracks with the Vulgar Details,” Henry said, striving for casual, as if it was the kind of thing that happened every day. “Great stuff.”

“Oh, cool. Was Terry Blackwood there? He’s so sexy.”

“Nope. No Blackwood, and no Dell, of course. He’s the reason I got hired.”

“Right, the drug thing,” Pete said. “Too bad you didn’t get to meet Blackwood though. I bet he’d think you’re cute.”

Henry rolled his eyes. “I have met him. He treated me like the hired help, which I was. And I think those rumors are all bullshit anyway. Just because he partied with Lou Reed or got a blow job from some drag queen—supposedly—doesn’t mean he’s into guys. I think he wants people to think he’s interesting, like Bowie, instead of a second-rate Mick Jagger.”

“Meow!”

Henry gave him a sheepish grin. “I was unaware I had any opinion of him whatsoever until just that moment.”

“Well anyway, a boy can dream.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Keelan Ellis is an author of romance and detective fiction, who is always seeking to expand her literary horizons. She is a lover of music and food, and has an intense love/hate relationship with politics. Her stories reflect her passions.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

8/14    Drops of Ink 

8/14    Hoards Jumble

8/14    Happily Ever Chapter

8/15    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/15    Stories That Make You Smile

8/16    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog 

8/16    Erotica For All

8/17    Love Bytes Reviews

8/17    MM Good Book Reviews 

8/18    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/18    Bayou Book Junkie

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