A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Blended Notes (Spotlight #3) by Lilah Suzanne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist turned lover turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company starts issuing demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation Grady built his new life on begins to crumble and fast. Can he have his future if he’s haunted by his past? Can he continue making music if it means comprising his convictions? Must he make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?

I came to Blended Notes (Spotlight #3) by Lilah Suzanne without having read the first two stories (Broken Records and Burning Tracks) and I think that was a mistake.  Each preceding novel gives you the various stages in the Grady Dawson/Nico Takahashi romance/relationship as well as supplies you with the surrounding cast members and overall series foundation.  Coming blind into Blended Notes without all that back history and relationship tapestry means that you as a reader are forever feeling like you are missing pieces of a puzzle or playing catch up in a larger game. And that’s a shame because this is a marvelous story.

When Blended Notes opens Grady and Nico are an engaged couple planning a wedding. The stress of that event is showing on the couple as well as the fact that Grady’s recording label wants him to change the lyrics on a song he wrote especially for himself and Nico, making it hetrosexual in its romantic orientation.  If Grady doesn’t buckle under to the demands of the recording studio, his future career is shaky, information he is withholding from his fiance. Both men start to withdraw into past patterns (here is where reading the previous stories would have helped immensely) of behavior rather than communicate what’s really going on between them.

There is so much here.  Complicated angst-filled pasts, family drama, present day Nashville pressures for a Country Music Artist to appear “straight”, interpersonal dynamics, pre-marriage stress…honestly the author empties the narrative bag here, addresses them all and comes up shining.  Lilah Suzanne makes you care about Grady and Nico, their complicated lives and their forthcoming wedding which seems to be in jeopardy under the strain of all the current pressures.  How each man handles it is beautifully drawn out, allowing us to peer into the connection and love that ties them both so closely together.

I love all the wonderful elements in Blended Notes,  from the old car that Grady finds and starts to refinish that also allows him to find connections to his relatives and Nico’s father to the backup musicians that come to his aid and revive him emotionally and musically.  Suzanne reaches out and brings so much depth to her characters and their situation here that after a while I’ve forgotten that I’ve missed out on two thirds of their story and just let the story flow over me all the way to the dramatic and oh so satisfying end. Yes I loved that ending too!

It also will send me back to pick up the stories I considering how I love this story so I want to see how it all began.  So back to Broken Records and Burning Tracks I run!  If you are familiar with this series, you will love Blended Notes!  If, like me, you are new to Lilah Suzanne’s Spotlight series, start with the first two stories and then find your way here.  This is a series you won’t want to miss!

Cover art works well for the story.  Like the design very much.

Purchase Links:

Interlude Press |  Amazon Barnes & Noble  | Target | iTunes |  Kobo |   SmashwordsBook Depository |

Indiebound 

Book Details:

ebook, 275 pages
Published August 17th 2017 by Interlude Press
ISBN139781945053405
SeriesSpotlight #3

A MelanieM Review: The Lonely Merman (Landlocked Heart #1) by Kay Berrisford

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

It’s Friday afternoon, and the last thing Ben wants to be doing is trudging through a wet forest in search of a public hazard. But duty calls, and turns out more exciting than Ben imagined when he encounters a magical ruin, an enchanted pool, and Lyle—a merman who’s cursed to be landlocked many miles from the sea.

Lyle is flamboyant and exciting—he’s got tentacles, for goodness sake!—and Ben falls hard. But Lyle’s been hurt before and finds trust difficult, refusing even to reveal how to break the curse that imprisons him. Ben’s just an ordinary guy, and can’t help wondering if he can ever be the hero Lyle needs.

The Lonely Merman (Landlocked Heart #1) by Kay Berrisford has a terrific premise behind it and some wonderful mythology that the author has created for her story.  I trudged along with Ben  and tumbled headlong into a magical place, haunted by a cursed being waiting for his forever love.

How could you not want to read about that?

And for most of this story, Kay Berrisford has me hooked.  The plight of the forest, the woods surrounding the pool and the temple because of Ben and the way in which he endangered them all had me on the edge of my seat.  That was so well done.  A little less was the quick relationship between Ben and Lyle.  Really Ben seemed halfway more irritated than smitten, but maybe that was me.

But the back history and story Berrisford created for Lyle is a superb one.  I really wish she had given more page space to this portion of the story and world building because she absolutely held my interest here.  This is also where I felt let down at the end.  Everything that occurs to Lyle at the end happens “off stage” as it were and we are cheated out of a huge element of this story, an important one.

So yes, the main characters get their HFN, yes I love the idea of the story and so many of the elements here I felt it warranted a 3 star rating. But there are also enough holes that it came perilously close to 2 as well.  That’s for all the sections of the story that the author didn’t deliver and should  have been included to give the reader a satisfactory closure to the story and Lyle’s part in it.

The title indicates that this is the first in a series so I’m curious if it’s going to pick up Ben and Lyle’s story from the ending of this one, an uncertain one at that or set off on another trajectory all together.  I’m invested enough that I’ll pick up that story to find out.  For all you fantasy lovers, there’s enough here that if you’re looking for a quick read with some interesting aspects to it, The Lonely Merman (Landlocked Heart #1) by Kay Berrisford just might be the thing for you.

Cover art by J. Ang is interesting but almost too simple for this story.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 8th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684310395
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLandlocked Heart #1

Release Blitz for Without A Compass by Helen Juliet (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: Without a Compass

Author: Helen Juliet

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: August 24 2017

Length: Words: 80K

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance, New Adult,

Fish Out of Water, Gay For You, First Time Gay, Opposites Attract

Blurb

Riley Anderson isn’t an outdoorsy guy. He’s a desk jockey, office by day and couch by night. So when his family insists on a camping trip for his father’s 50th birthday he’s hardly thrilled. Things only get worse when Kai shows up, too.

Kai Brandt’s more than eager to go camping with his best buddy, but his buddy’s little brother Riley is all grown up now, and hotter than hell. Kai’s willing to help him pitch more than just a tent… Which is weird, because Kai never swung that way before.

Events conspire to out Riley’s secret AND leave him stranded in Kai’s care for longer than they’d planned for. Trapped together in the wilderness, they’re going to have to face a few hard truths if they’re going to make it back to the world.

But even if they manage it, the experience will leave them forever changed.

Without a Compass is a steamy, standalone gay romance novel with a HEA and no cliffhanger.

Without A Compass

Excerpt

He’d only just managed to get his boxers on in time when the outer door swung inwards and let in a burst of light. For a moment he couldn’t see and he threw his hand up to shield his eyes. “Hello?” he squeaked.

“Oh, hey,” a deep voice replied.

Riley froze as the door swung back and he was left looking at a sweat-soaked Kai. His vest and very short shorts clung to his damp, muscular body. The vision it offered up made Riley gulp.

The tattoos on his arms appeared to gleam under the sheen of sweat from whatever workout he’d just completed. Amongst the varied designs, Riley could make out a bear and a skull surrounded by roses. The colours were muted. His artist had used subtle shades to create tone. The overall effect was powerful but not overwhelming.

Plus, it didn’t hurt that the arms carrying the decoration were huge and chiselled to perfection. Riley had almost died of happiness the couple of times Kai had casually draped one of them across his shoulders the night before.

He remembered where he was. He needed to do or say something before the moment stretched out any further and became weird.

His natural instinct was to snatch his towel up and cover his body. That would definitely make things awkward though. So Riley used all his self-control to merely pick it up as casually as he could and started drying off his hair. Just like you’re at the gym, he told himself.

“Morning,” he said brightly. “You go for a run too?”

Kai blinked a couple of times. It was obvious he was looking at Riley’s almost totally naked body and Riley tried his best not to shy away in shame. No, he wasn’t nearly as ripped as Kai was, but he knew he didn’t look too bad. This was probably awkward for Kai too, especially after last night. But if they could just move past it, it would be fine.

As if coming out of a daze, Kai shook his head and walked forward. His towel was slung over his shoulder and he had a simple all-in-one shower-gel-and-shampoo bottle clutched in his hand. “Oh yeah mate,” he said cheerfully, answering Riley’s question. “It’s beautiful around here. It would be rude not to go exploring.”

Riley chuckled and thankfully found himself dry enough to pull on his shorts. He felt slightly less vulnerable with that small amount of clothing protecting him.

“I had to sweat out the hangover. How are you feeling?”

He didn’t just mean after the alcohol. But he wondered if Kai would pretend nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He wouldn’t blame him if he did; in fact, it would probably be best for both of them if that’s how they moved forward.

“I’m good,” he said, stopping at the sink next to where Riley’s products were littered. “Can I borrow some of that?”

Riley nodded and offered up his toothpaste. Kai pulled a toothbrush from his back pocket and got to scrubbing.

As Kai was unable to talk for the moment, Riley applied his deodorant in increasingly awkward silence. He should think of something to say, something funny! Something that wasn’t ‘So, do you regret that kiss last night? Because I don’t.’

Instead, he chewed at his lips and began picking up his various tubes and tubs to collect them back into his wash kit.

“Whereabouts did you-”

“How did you-”

They both looked at each other, then laughed. Kai spat out his toothpaste and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I was just wondering how you slept.”

“Oh, fine thanks, fine.” Riley paused as Kai began peeling off his vest. “Uh, you?”

Kai rubbed his face. He seemed a bit sheepish for some reason. Riley hardly noticed though as he was focusing extremely hard on not staring at his pectorals.

“Yeah, fine,” he grunted. But he offered up a smile that cancelled out whatever had bothered him.

Buy Links

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Link

Author Page

Without A Compass

Meet the Author

Helen Juliet is an M/M author currently living and working in London. She’s been writing stories since she was young, and got her start publishing fanfiction of sites like Wattpad. Fifteen years and over a million words later, she discovered the world of M/M fiction and found it was just as good as the fanfiction she was reading. She fell head over heels in love with the genre and became determined to try her hand at a book herself. On December 31st, 2016, she rang in the new year by publishing her first original novel, and hasn’t looked back since.

Social Media Links:

Blog/Website

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Group – Helen Juliet Books  

Twitter

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of five copies of A Ballad of Confetti, Cake and Catastrophes with swag.

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Release Blitz Schedule

WITHOUT A COMPASS SCHEDULE

August 24

Bookaholic & KindleTangents and TissuesDrops of Ink, Making it Happen

Diverse ReaderLouise LyonsLily G. Blunt 

August 25

Kimmers’ Erotic Book BanterThe Way She Reads

Love Unchained Book Reviews,

Millsy Loves BooksWe Three Queens, My Fiction Nook

August 26

Follow the ReaderSmokin’ Hot Reads Book BlogBayou Book Junkie

Sur l’étagère,  Gay Book ReviewsWe Like It Big Book Blog,

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue WordsValerie Ullmer

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On Tour with Forbidden Lust (Novocaine #1) by Grayson Knight (excerpt)

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An MM Erotica Short Story by Grayson Knight.

forbidden lust novocaine book 1

 Title: Forbidden Lust: Novocaine Book One

Author: Grayson Knight

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Grayson Knight

Release Date: August 3 2017

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay MM, Stepfather, Taboo, Erotica,

Length:  11K Words/33 Pages

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Blurb:

Jackson has never felt anything from his mother. All his life she treated him badly and he thought he would never have anything good in his life. That is until Cole came on the scene. Cole was in his early forties, and he was kind, handsome and built from pure muscle. The only problem was he was about to marry Jackson’s mum, but he was all that Jackson could think about.

It was on the night of his eighteenth birthday when the only gift Jackson got was a pendant from Cole that he knew meant that there was something between them. Jackson’s innocence was something that he wanted to offer Cole, but he never knew if that chance would ever appear. For now, he would have to watch from afar and hope that his fantasies would be enough.

Maybe one day he would get a chance at a night with Cole, but a sexual relationship with his stepfather was surely off limits and taboo. Or was it?

An MM Erotica Short Story by Grayson Knight.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads Link

Untitled

Excerpt:

On the night of my eighteenth, my mum had gone out partying with her friends and I was alone in my room. I was wearing nothing but my boxers as I stood in front of the mirror lifting my free-weights in an attempt to exercise out my anger. As I watched myself, my green eyes looked back at me from my reflection with determination. I was determined to not let this get me down, and I would go on and eventually make something of myself. There was a knock on my door, and I carried on working out as I shouted.

“Come in.”

The door was already ajar and I watched as it opened and Cole came in and stood awkwardly by the door. He was tall and muscular, and as I watched him in the reflection of my mirror I could see his pecs tense, and his nipples were erect through his tight t-shirt. He was pretty fucking hot.

“Sorry to bother you Jackson, I just wanted to come and see how you were doing.’ He stepped forward and sat on my bed behind me.

I crouched and put my weights on the floor next to my mirror and stood up. I tried to wipe the sweat that was dripping from my blonde hair as I turned to face my future step-father. He looked me up and down and his eyes landed on my toned stomach as he quickly averted his eyes. I smiled at him then.

“It’s OK Cole, you’re not bothering me at all.” Our eyes met, and I swear I felt something spark between us. I licked my dry lips and Cole caught the action. He shifted where he sat as he signalled for me to sit beside him. As I did his weight on the bed made me feel a little flustered, I turned to face him and he was looking at me intensely. His eyes bore into me and my breath hitched in my chest. He was ridiculously sexy and I suddenly felt very exposed sat here in just my tight boxers.

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Author Bio:

Grayson Knight has always had a love of books, writing and beautiful men. So it seemed natural to combine these loves and create his own worlds in the form of erotic gay fiction. When not creating adventures of very sexy men, Grayson can be found spending time with his loving husband and two cats.

Follow Grayson Knight on  Twitter

Review Tour Schedule

FL3

August 18 –  Millsy Loves Books, Lily Adile Lamb, The Way She Reads

August 21 – Louise Lyons, Kylie the Bookaholick

August 22 –  Love Unchained Book Reviews, L M Somerton, BFD Book Blog

August 23 – Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog

August 24 – Books Laid Bare Boys, Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter

August 26 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

August 27 – Bayou Book Junkie, Tangents and Tissues, We Like It Big Book Blog, Alpha Book Club, Love To Read Romance Books, Up Against A Wall

August  30 – The Novel Approach

September 6 – Top 2 Bottom Reviews

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