A MelanieM Review: Broken Records (Spotlight #1) by Lilah Suzanne

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?

Book One in Lilah Suzanne’s “Spotlight” series.

Broken Records (Spotlight #1) by Lilah Suzanne is one of those books and series I ended up backing into by mistakenly starting at the end of the series.  Without realizing it was part of a trilogy, I picked up and read (and reviewed) Suzanne’s  Blended Notes, the story the concludes the Spotlight trilogy.  It’s a wonderful story but as I mentioned in my review, I absolutely felt of lack of backhistory that reading the previous stories might have provided.  And I was going to rectify that.

Wow,  am I glad I did!

I love, love Broken Records.  Yes, it absolutely gave me the missing foundation and history I needed to give heft and depth to Nico and Grady’s relationship in Blended Notes.  Here I get to watch it all begin.  I have the joy of watching the characters, meet, mesh, love, laugh, have hot sex (fans self) and decide, that they are it for each other, no matter what.

Lilah Suzanne introduces both characters, supplies them with their history, supporting cast of characters and businesses so each remains fiercely independent financially of each other for better or worse.  Nico Takahashi has a little bit more in his support section. ( I don’t consider people with a financial hook in you a support system, plus I read book three.) There’s Nico’s partner Gwen Pasternak and her wife, as well as Nico’s family.  On Grady’s side?  Well, it’s much smaller and sadder.  How each other navigates the perils and trust issues between them is a realistic element here along with the whole music/style side of the business.  All of this was hinted at in Blended Notes but to read/experience here?  Amazing!

Yes, there are moments I laughed out loud.  And some I sniffled.  Suzanne takes the believable approach that love isn’t just romance, that a relationship is communication and sometimes hard work.  Between Nico and Grady, fear of the spotlight and fear of being left behind, the work is constant even if the love is always present.

I loved all the characters here, including Gwen, her wife, and others  that keep popping up throughout the story to add in wisdom, levity, strength and support.

Yes, I wish I had read this story first.

But  coming at it backwards somehow works too.  I have an appreciation for the timeline, I can get a real free for the character growth and the relationship dynamics that play out over the course of three stories (yes I’ve read the second as well).  I’ve fallen in love with the entire trilogy and every single character in it.  You really need to put Spotlight the trilogy on your must read series list.  But read them in order!  I highly recommend them all…second book review coming up.

Cover art brands the series and works for the storyline as well.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Published December 17th 2015 by Interlude Press
ASINB0190QX8WQ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Spotlight:

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Friendly Fire by Cari Z and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I really enjoyed the narration of this audiobook by Nick J. Russo.  I say that up front because listening to the story unfold is always a different experience from reading the book, and in the hands of a talented and experienced narrator, an average or above average story can be even more enjoyable. That’s the case here as I set out to listen to what I thought would be an interesting story but turned out to be so much better than I expected. 

Elliot McKenzie is the CEO of a highly popular social media corporation, Charmed Life.  Ostensibly, it’s for those who want to learn from past mistakes and make their lives as good as their potential.  Against all odds, he’s succeeded, and on the surface one would think he’d be pretty full of himself, but Elliot is not like that.  He’s quite down to earth and he certainly relies heavily on his staff, including his assistant, Serena.  So when she finds out he’s been getting threats, she’s on him to call the cops—something he won’t do because his sister is running for DA for the second time around and she lost the first race because of his arrest on the eve of the last election.  He won’t let bad publicity affect her this time—under any circumstances—so Serena convinces him to hire her sister’s ex-husband, a former Army Ranger who now works for a security firm.

Lennox West suffers from severe PTSD, so much so, that he’s afraid to spend too much time with his teen daughter, leading to an even further estrangement with his ex and with his daughter.  He’s trying though—going to therapy and making an effort to hold a steady job and to spend brief periods of time with the young girl.  When he meets Elliot McKenzie, life as he knew it changes drastically.  Elliot is not what he seems to be on the outside and he captures Lennox’s attention and holds it. That the sparks are mutual leads to some pretty hot sex for the two and lays the foundation for a closeness that Lennox is certainly not used to.

When accidents and threats and outright attempts on Elliot’s life keep throwing the men together and the mystery gets heavier as it appears that more than one culprit is involved, the men risk losing their independence as they see they need each other.  Does it help that Elliot’s presence in his life seems to increase the time Lennox gets to spend with his daughter? Definitely. 

The story is highly enjoyable as told by Nick J. Russo who uses a deep, rough, slightly Southern accent for Lennox and a well-paced, business-like, professional tone for Elliot’s voice.  The women in the story don’t sound the least bit fake, and in fact, at times I forgot a man was doing their voices.  My enjoyment only increased as the mystery got more complex, the men got closer, Lennox got to spend more time with his daughter, and the threats and danger to Elliot escalated out of control.  My only downside was that the couple didn’t commit to a solid future together.  Possibly the author has plans to bring them back in a sequel, and that’s something I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing.  So though the guys are together at the end, I’d call it more of a HFN rather than a HEA—still good—just not where I wanted them. 

I definitely recommend this to those who like a murder mystery—in this case attempted murder—in a contemporary MM romance with well-rounded, interesting characters.  It’s likely obvious by now, but if I must say so outright, I highly recommend the audiobook version. 

~~~~~

Cover art by LC Chase depicts the rear view of a man holding a gun down at his side. Done in black on gray and with a smudged look—somewhat like a watercolor effect—the only part of the cover that stands out from a distance is the bright “fire” red title of the book.  I don’t think the cover adds any appeal at all and would not induce me to purchase it.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 8 hours and 5 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Audible.com Release Date: August 10, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B074N5PZCH

A Lila Review: The Dragon’s Devotion (Chronicles of Tournai Book 5) by Antonia Aquilante

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Corentin is a scholar with a secret—his magical Talent allows him to turn into a dragon, and he isn’t alone in that ability. Long ago, dragons were hunted fiercely, until they went into hiding, becoming things of legend. Corentin has traveled the world with one aim—to protect his people and keep their secret safe. Drawn to the principality of Tournai by news of someone close to discovering that secret, he hopes to avert suspicion. His attraction to the too-serious Bastien isn’t convenient for his purpose, but it isn’t something he can ignore either.

Lord Bastien, Earl of Ardesia, inherited his title unexpectedly when his parents were killed in a sailing accident along with the parents of his cousin, Prince Philip. Since then, Bastien has devoted his life to the obligations of his family and estate—so much so, that it has caused tension between him and his siblings. His world is further shaken when he receives an anonymous letter informing him that the tragic boating accident may, in fact, have been murder. Bastien throws himself into investigating whether the allegations are true and finding out who killed his parents.

As Corentin and Bastien become closer, the mystery of Bastien’s parents’ death draws him further into danger. Corentin feels compelled to protect Bastien, but the threat is closer than they know. Now, Corentin must decide whether preserving his secret—and potentially his people’s safety—is more important than saving the man he loves.

 

The Dragon’s Devotion is a slow burn, suspense story. It can be read as a stand-alone, but the details would make more sense after reading at least one of the previous books. In my case, I have read books three and four, which give a good overall background about the world-build and the rest of the cast.

 

This installment starts shortly after the last one and we get to know how important is for Corentin to keep his secret from others, including the royal family and their sorcerer. Etan’s research is the main reason he comes to Tournai and thanks to an invitation to Etan’s wedding to Tristan, Corentin gets to meet Bastian.

 

Bastian’s responsibilities have taken over his life since his parents’ deaths and only his obligation to attend the wedding and his need for answers brings him to town. This secondary information becomes the plot of the story, adding obstacles to the main love story.

 

The story moves slowly and has a lot of details. Most of them add to the story’s enjoyment, but others drag the pacing a bit. This isn’t a quick book to read, details matter and the story threads are important. It’s perfect for fantasy lovers and for those looking for more than a romance angle.

 

The book is well-written and entertaining. It has angst and dramatic moments, but it also has some comedic relief. I wish the MCs had a stronger connection, but their times together were lovely. I did enjoy their courting, too.

 

The cover by Natasha Snow is nice, but a bit dark for the story’s tone. It does have the basic elements described but it lacks a connection to the heart of the tale.

 

Sale Links

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

 

Book Details:

 

ebook, 286 pages
Published: September 4, 2017, by NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781947139787
Edition Language: English

 

Series:  Chronicles of Tournai
Book #1: The Prince’s Consort
Book #2: The Artist’s Masquerade
Book #3: The Scholar’s Heart
Book #4: The Sorcerer’s Guardian

Book #5: The Dragon’s Devotion

Antonia Aquilante on Dragons and her latest release ‘The Dragon’s Devotion (Chronicles of Tournai #5) – (author guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Title:  The Dragon’s Devotion

Series: Chronicles of Tournai, Book Five

Author: Antonia Aquilante

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 4, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 108100

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, paranormal, shifters, dragons, magic users, bisexual, family drama, abduction/kidnapping, political intrigue, royalty

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Antonia Aquilante on Dragons

I’ve been a fantasy reader forever, it seems (and a romance reader too, but that’s probably another post). When I was very little, fairy tales were always my favorite stories. As I got older, that love of magic and magical worlds (and happily ever afters) in my stories stuck with me. I don’t exclusively read fantasy or fantasy romance, nowhere near that really because I read so many things, but I still love those stories. I really loves stories that have dragons in them.

I’ve been trying to remember if there were any books with dragons in them from when I was very little, but I can’t really remember any. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is probably one of the first movies I saw with a dragon (maybe?), but while Malificent’s dragon is very impressive, it’s never my favorite when the dragon is bad and has to be defeated. At some point in elementary school, I found Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, which begins with Dealing with Dragons. I think I discovered it at a school book sale, and the combination of princess, dragon, and enchanted forest was irresistible to child me. I remember loving those books, and I still have the battered copies on my bookshelf. I’m tempted to pull them down and reread them now. I think I was twelve when I discovered Anne McCaffrey’s dragonriders, and I binged through those books and then faithfully read new ones as they came out, all the while dreaming of being a dragonrider. There have been so many other books in the years since that I’ve loved (I probably have recs, and please rec me dragon books you love!) and sparked my imagination.

So it was probably inevitable that I would write about dragons sometime. There’s just something about them—the power and the beauty, the awe-inspiring majesty of a dragon in flight. Before I wrote one word of the first Tournai book, I knew that dragons existed in this world. Granted, I had an entirely different story in mind to write about them—though the basics of the dragons’ backstory and abilities remained the same—but when does anything I write go exactly to plan? I’ve dropped vague hints about dragons in a couple of the previous books, none of which are necessary for you to understand this one, but enough that some readers noticed and have been asking me what’s going on with the dragons. I’ve been mean and didn’t tell, but The Dragon’s Devotion will give you some answers.

My dragons in the world of Tournai are people with the magical ability to turn into dragons. They are the stuff of legends, having faded into stories as time passed, and that’s just the way they want it for their own safety. I spent a lot of time figuring out dragon history and society. Some of it comes out in The Dragon’s Devotion, but some of it wasn’t necessary in this story. I definitely have plans to work more of it in future stories, though, and maybe even spin something off for more about dragons outside Tournai. We’ll see.

Writing the scenes with Corentin using his magic to become a dragon was so much fun. He’s keeping what he is a secret, so he has to be very careful about when and where he changes, but when he can, there is such relief and joy in him. I loved imagining what he would look like and how it would feel for him to fly out over the ocean. The scene when Bastien finds out is one of my favorites in the book. We get to see Corentin as a dragon through Bastien’s eyes and Bastien’s reactions. I’m hoping you’ll love it too.

Synopsis

Corentin is a scholar with a secret—his magical Talent allows him to turn into a dragon, and he isn’t alone in that ability. Long ago, dragons were hunted fiercely, until they went into hiding, becoming things of legend. Corentin has traveled the world with one aim—to protect his people and keep their secret safe. Drawn to the principality of Tournai by news of someone close to discovering that secret, he hopes to avert suspicion. His attraction to the too-serious Bastien isn’t convenient for his purpose, but it isn’t something he can ignore either.

Lord Bastien, Earl of Ardesia, inherited his title unexpectedly when his parents were killed in a sailing accident along with the parents of his cousin, Prince Philip. Since then, Bastien has devoted his life to the obligations of his family and estate—so much so, that it has caused tension between him and his siblings. His world is further shaken when he receives an anonymous letter informing him that the tragic boating accident may, in fact, have been murder. Bastien throws himself into investigating whether the allegations are true and finding out who killed his parents.

As Corentin and Bastien become closer, the mystery of Bastien’s parents’ death draws him further into danger. Corentin feels compelled to protect Bastien, but the threat is closer than they know. Now, Corentin must decide whether preserving his secret—and potentially his people’s safety—is more important than saving the man he loves.

Excerpt

The Dragon’s Devotion
Antonia Aquilante © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

In the privacy of his small office, Corentin circled his neck and rolled his bare shoulders and back, trying to loosen the stiffness there—impossible because his muscles weren’t really stiff. But he did it anyway. It was just that he hadn’t changed and stretched his wings in far too long. Whether real or imagined, it had always been this way if he didn’t use his Talent regularly. Only how was he to accomplish that in this place?

There wasn’t anywhere in the capital city where he could change unseen, and few places close to Jumelle where a large dragon would go unnoticed.

But while he was in Tournai, he’d have to deal with it. He’d managed a few night flights out over the sea when there wasn’t much moonlight. He’d have to get away for another as soon as he could without rousing suspicion. Not that he was being watched, or that anyone suspected what he was, but if a foreign scholar slipped away too many times with no explanation and someone were to notice… He didn’t want to take the risk. He’d come to the principality of Tournai to make sure no one knew of dragons; he wasn’t going to risk anyone finding out from him.

With a sigh, he reached for a fresh shirt from the cabinet in the corner. It wasn’t entirely appropriate for the university, but the more formal shirt and tunic he’d been wearing for this morning’s early lecture had been ruined when he’d walked into a sorcery student’s experiment out on the lawn. The lack of formality of his new attire wouldn’t be a problem since he’d only be working in his office.

He’d just lifted the shirt over his head and was letting it fall over his shoulders when he heard the creak of the floorboard a step inside his office, warning him too late that he wasn’t alone.

His own fault. He’d gotten complacent about pushing the door closed since he was usually the only one on this corridor. And he’d just been chastising himself about not giving away his secrets.

He whipped around, and the man who’d caused the creak froze just inside the room. His tall frame was elegantly and expensively attired, his pale blond hair perfectly styled, his exceedingly handsome face brimming with shock and curiosity. Corentin’s stomach sank. He knew what this man was—he’d made a point of avoiding him because of that knowledge. Master Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, stood just inside his office. He’d obviously seen the markings on Corentin’s back, the faint, shimmering scale pattern that marked him as one with the Talent to become a dragon.

Corentin froze as well, a litany of curses running through his mind. Anyone who saw the pattern would know what he was. Or, anyone at home would know, at least. He’d come to Tournai because there were whispers of the prince’s cousin Etan looking into dragon legends. Lord Etan, a young scholar who often lectured at the university, was well-respected, and his interest was enough to worry Corentin. But Etan had only theories—some quite close to the truth but nothing proven.

The question was: what did Master Savarin know? He was a powerful sorcerer, and a scholar as well, which was why Corentin made a point of avoiding him. Corentin had already displayed too much of his power by using it recently to help find a kidnapped child, but it could still be passed off as merely a powerful fire Talent. Dragons were myth and legend these days. He could bluff his way through this… as long as Master Savarin didn’t know what the markings signified.

Corentin forced himself to relax, to present a casual demeanor he didn’t feel. He reached for his spare jacket, shrugging into it as he spoke. “Master Savarin, isn’t it? What can I do for you?”

Silvery gray eyes focused on him. “What are those? On your back.”

Corentin buttoned the jacket, keeping his movements unhurried. He would not look as if he was trying to hide anything. “On my back? You mean the tattoos? I suppose they’re not quite genteel, but…” He shrugged.

Master Savarin’s gaze sharpened. “Those are not tattoos. I’ve never seen tattoos that look like that.”

“Have you seen many tattoos?” Corentin asked, keeping his voice mild.

“Some.”

“I wouldn’t think they’re very common in the circles you move in. Or at least I haven’t seen many tattoos during my time here at the university.” Was this argument going to get him anywhere except into more trouble? He needed to divert attention from the markings, not discuss them interminably.

“Perhaps I know different people than you think.” Master Savarin’s attention never wavered even as Corentin used his most forbidding stoney mask.

“I got these on my travels. Perhaps they’re different from the ones you’ve seen.” Maybe that would be the end of it.

“I’m rather well traveled myself. I still haven’t seen anything like that.”

“You can’t have seen everything.”

When he saw the suspicious glint sharpen in Savarin’s eyes, Corentin wondered if he’d gone too far. Was it the words or the smooth tone with just a hint of flirtation that took him a step further than he should have gone? The question was what would Savarin do. And what did he know?

Savarin laughed, a smooth, practiced laugh probably not out of place at the court of Prince Philip and his consort Amory. “No one could, but I’m certainly doing my best.”

Corentin propped a hip on the edge of his desk, letting out a laugh of his own and fixing a charming smile on his face. He could still divert this conversation. “A fellow traveler. I’m doing my best to see everything as well. Insatiable curiosity, I suppose.”

“A thirst for knowledge and new experiences.”

“Yes, I’m always eager to see and experience new things on my travels.”

“I am as well.” Savarin tilted his head slightly, regarding Corentin in a way he couldn’t decipher. “Of course, sometimes I don’t have to leave home to find new experiences.”

For a moment, he wondered if Savarin was flirting. “A true scholar is always learning.”

“Yes, exactly.”

“It’s why I came here, why I travel in the first place.”

Savarin nodded. “I don’t think I ever heard where you’re from.”

Corentin’s guard went back up. “Far from here. A small place in the foothills of the Nashira Mountains.” Not exactly the truth but close enough. “No one’s ever heard of it. A reason to travel, yes? If you come from somewhere so small and isolated?”

“I suppose it is. I grew up here, so I didn’t have the same experience.”

He hadn’t heard much other than that about Savarin’s vague origins. “No, you wouldn’t have. Jumelle is a vibrant, busy city from what I’ve seen. So many people from so many places. So much knowledge here at the university.”

“Yes. And with all that, and all my travels, I’ve never heard of magic of the kind you performed.”

Corentin forced himself to remain calm, to appear calm at least. “Magic I performed?”

Playing dumb to stall would probably get him nowhere, but he did it anyway. And of course Savarin proved him right, because the man wasn’t stupid. “Yes, the magic you used to help recover Master Tristan’s baby daughter when she was kidnapped earlier this year.”

Since the incident, he’d been kicking himself for using the magic, and he’d done his best to avoid Savarin’s attempts to question him about it. But what could he have done? He hadn’t met Master Tristan, who was a merchant in Jumelle, before that day. He’d gone to have lunch with Etan and found the palace in an uproar because his infant daughter was missing. As much as he wanted to not draw attention to what he was, he couldn’t have lived with himself if he hadn’t offered to help.

And his help had aided the royal guard and Savarin in finding the baby. Both Etan and Master Tristan had been extremely grateful, and Etan, who was soon to marry Tristan, had said he was in Corentin’s debt.

“It was no great or special magic, but I was happy to be able to help. Horrifying that a baby would be stolen from her home,” he said.

“I have to disagree about the magic being special. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“You didn’t see it, so I can’t imagine how you would know.” His words came out sharper than he intended, and he regretted it immediately, but there was nothing for it now.

“It was described to me in detail,” Savarin said, showing no reaction to Corentin’s slip in tone. “You told Lord Etan, Master Tristan, and Lord Flavian that you have a fire Talent, but I’ve never seen someone with a fire Talent do what you did.”

“I doubt you’ve met every person with a fire Talent in the world.” He tried to say it lightly, almost joking, but annoyance at the questioning was layering over his worry.

“No, but I’ve spent my life studying magic and the different Talents people possess. I have a touch of a fire Talent myself. So I know something about it.” Before Corentin could decide what to say next, Savarin continued. “At first, when I’d heard what happened, I was simply curious. I wondered what you’d done and if I could learn how to as well. But when I asked to talk with you, you put me off. And soon I realized you were avoiding me. That’s when I got suspicious. Because you had no reason to avoid me.”

“Perhaps I didn’t feel the need to be interrogated about an uninteresting bit of magic used to help someone recover his child.”

“But the magic wasn’t uninteresting to me. And it wouldn’t have been an interrogation. It would have been two scholars—two men with Talent—discussing magic. From what I’ve heard, you have no problem engaging with scholars here. You and Lord Etan meet often to talk about your respective work. Given that, surely you can see how I might suspect you’d done something you wouldn’t want anyone to know about? Something that might even be dangerous to Tournai or its royal family.”

“I resent that implication. You’ll remember I used the magic to help Tournai’s royal family.” Corentin kept his voice steady, but he silently cursed himself. He hadn’t meant to become more conspicuous by putting Savarin off, but he’d needed more information, and a plausible story. Keeping away from him had seemed best if the alternative was giving away who and what he was. Now he wasn’t so sure.

“I haven’t forgotten.” Savarin’s tone wasn’t anything other than what could be termed condescending. But Corentin expected arrogance from him. “Neither does that mean you don’t have bad intentions. A smart man knows to bide his time, to gain the trust of others, before—”

“Before what? Betraying it? I do have some loyalty, and whatever you think, I helped out of the desire to see an innocent child brought home to her father.” Corentin regarded Savarin steadily, not giving him a flicker of anything he might twist into more suspicion. “I assume you used your magic to help for much the same reason.”

“I did. But it’s your behavior afterward that reflects poorly on you. You’re lucky I haven’t alerted anyone else to my suspicions.”

Corentin forced himself not to react to the threat in those words. He’d heard rumors, whispers, of spies being found in Jumelle, sent to ferret out information by the conquest-mad emperor of Ardunn. The Ardunn empire had been conquering and absorbing countries to its east for years, and it was rumored that its emperor had his sights set on Tournai, which was wealthy and strategically located on the western half of the continent. He had no love for Ardunn himself—the empire’s borders had expanded far too close to his home, which remained safe and hidden only due to the impassable mountains—so he could understand that there might be an air of caution. Would vague suspicions be enough in Tournai’s current climate? Savarin was trusted. Would his word be taken without any other proof?

“I don’t know what you think I’ve done, or am planning to do.”

“My suspicions might be nebulous, but my concern is for the safety of my country and its royal family when they are in such close proximity to an unknown and potentially dangerous magic.” Savarin seemed about to say something else, but at that moment, the university bells chimed the hour. He cursed under his breath. “I have to go to the palace for a meeting with the princes.”

Corentin nodded, glad for the reprieve. “Of course. We’ll finish our discussion at another time.”

A time long in the future, if ever.

Savarin hesitated and then seemed to come to some sort of decision. Dread flooded Corentin. “No. I’m not going to chance you getting away from me again.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m going to make sure you’re here waiting when I return from my meeting,” Savarin said as he stepped back through the doorway.

“I say again, excuse me? I might agree to wait for you, but I can’t see what you can do otherwise.”

Savarin’s lips curled into something that was almost a smile, but very definitely smug, and Corentin’s dread grew stronger. Corentin strode toward Savarin, not sure whether he would throttle the man or stride past him and away, putting an end to an infuriating and nerve-wracking confrontation. Before he could make the decision, he hit an invisible barrier in the doorway and stumbled back a step.

He put a hand up, flattening it against the magic that barred his path, a wall he couldn’t see. “What have you done?”

“Ensured that you’ll still be here to finish this,” Savarin said, as if it made complete sense for him to trap another person against his will, as if it was all right.

“You think I’m going to run away?”

“I think you’re going to go back to avoiding me, and I can’t have that. We’ll continue our discussion when I return.”

“You can’t do this,” Corentin bit out, but the sorcerer had already turned away, and a moment later he had disappeared down the stairs.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

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On Tour with The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens (guest post, excerpt and giveaway)

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The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic
by F.T. Lukens

Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press

Purchase Links:

Interlude Press |  AmazonBarnes & NobleApple  | Target |  Kobo  | Smashwords |  Book Depository | Indiebound 

 

 

Hi everyone! This is F.T. Lukens, author of The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, and today I would like to talk about my upcoming release and highlight the roles of two of my favorite supporting characters in the novel.

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic is a young adult urban fantasy novel that features Bridger, a bisexual protagonist who is struggling with changes in his life that come with being a senior in high school. Bridger is also struggling with decisions around his crush, Leo, and if he wants to be in a relationship and subsequently come out to his friends and family. Amid his romantic drama, Bridger also finds a job working as an assistant to an intermediary between the human world and the world of myth.

Accompanying Bridger on this journey is his best friend, Astrid. Astrid is also a senior and she’s a field hockey star. She’s described as being almost as tall as Bridger, athletic, and muscular. Astrid was one of the last characters I created, but she is easily one of my favorites. I wanted to give Bridger a best friend to comfort him when needed, but also to call him out. Astrid does both throughout the book. (Bridger refers to Astrid as the Bucky to his Captain America.) But Astrid isn’t just defined through her relationship with Bridger.  She has her own life and her own needs. She has a group of friends outside of Bridger and she has goals and dreams that don’t include him. Through Astrid, I wanted to show two things. One is that teenagers of the opposite sex can have close relationships with each other that aren’t romantic in nature. They are platonic best friends and that friendship runs very deep, to the point that Bridger confides in Astrid things he doesn’t tell others. And two, that being best friends doesn’t mean that things are always perfect in the relationship. Just as any other relationship, friendship has its ups and downs. And being a best friend means being honest and telling the other person what you need from the relationship to ensure its equal, fair, and no one feels taken advantage of.

Also on this journey with Bridger is Pavel Chudinov—his employer and mentor. Pavel is tragically dressed and a few decades behind on pop culture. He’s bookish, claims he’s bad at comforting people in distress (he’s not), and is just an all-around good guy. He spends his time immersed in folklore and myths and helping cryptids navigate the human world to stay hidden. His relationship with Bridger was one of my favorites to write. At first, Pavel resents that he even needs Bridger as an assistant, but warms to Bridger over the course of their adventures. Pavel is the adult that accepts Bridger’s sexuality first. He’s the one who assures Bridger that he is loved and wanted by his friends and family after a nasty run in with a malicious myth. His response to Bridger’s fears about coming out and losing people close to him is the reason Bridger is able to tell the other important adult in his life—his mom. Bridger remarks that he’d heard that it was okay to be different from tv and media, but being accepted by an adult he trusts was wholly different and life changing. Bridger needed that acceptance to be more confident in himself and his decisions.

Astrid and Pavel are just two of the supporting characters in The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic. There are also meddlesome pixies, a lesbian werewolf, a charming hero, and a rampaging unicorn. I hope readers enjoy these characters as much as I enjoyed creating them.

 

Summary

Desperate to pay for college, Bridger Whitt is willing to overlook the peculiarities of his new job—entering via the roof, the weird stacks of old books and even older scrolls, the seemingly incorporeal voices he hears from time to time—but it’s pretty hard to ignore being pulled under Lake Michigan by… mermaids? Worse yet, this happens in front of his new crush, Leo, the dreamy football star who just moved to town.

Fantastic.

When he discovers his eccentric employer Pavel Chudinov is an intermediary between the human world and its myths, Bridger is plunged into a world of pixies, werewolves, and Sasquatch. The realm of myths and magic is growing increasingly unstable, and it is up to Bridger to ascertain the cause of the chaos, eliminate the problem, and help his boss keep the real world from finding the world of myths.

THE RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR MEDIATING

MYTHS & MAGIC ~ EXCERPT

* * *

Leo laughed. He had trudged out to where a few of the braver football players and cheerleaders bobbed in the water. Leo turned and spread out his arms and fell backward, disappearing under the water before emerging, sputtering, with his dark hair plastered to his head.

“It’s not that bad!”

“Are you kidding? I’m turning blue.”

Leo circled back and splashed Bridger. Then he swam away, laughing as he kicked enthusiastically and doused Bridger with lake water.

Bridger wiped the droplets from his face. “Oh, I see how it is. Splashing then running. Very brave there, Leo.”

Leo stood in the water to his shoulders and beckoned to Bridger with a sly smile. “I’m right here. Why don’t you come get me?”

That was flirting. Wasn’t it? That had to be flirting. Right?

“Oh,” Bridger said flushing, warming internally at the thought of Leo flirting with him. “It is on. It is so on.”

He waded in until the water was at his chest and pushed off from the bottom. He swam after Leo and splashed and laughed. The rest of the group in the water were dunking each other, and the football players were throwing a few of the lighter girls and guys around, creating froth and waves.

Bridger and Leo circled each other, splashing and diving. A beach ball landed nearby and Leo grabbed it and flung it in Bridger’s direction. It plopped near Bridger’s outstretched arm.

“What kind of pass was that?” Bridger said, gliding toward the ball. “I thought you played football?”

Leo laughed. “I’m not the quarterback. I just catch and run.”

Bridger hit the ball back. “Good to know. I’ll lower my expectations.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re funny?”

“Yes,” Bridger said. “Usually accompanied by crossed arms and a frown, though. Not many people appreciate my kind of humor.”

“I do. It suits you.”

Bridger blushed to his hairline, and it wasn’t from the sun beating down on them. They hit the ball back and forth before Bridger sent it sailing into a group of the others. A girl squealed.

“Sorry!” Bridger called.

Then there was a panicked shriek. Leo looked over his shoulder and called to his friends.

Bridger felt something brush his leg. He flinched and kicked away, startled. He looked down in the water and realized he was surrounded by lake weed, dark and light green blending together in a swirl. Long tendrils of it undulated around his legs.

His heart caught in his throat, and he shuddered. Who knows what could’ve touched him. Ugh. Creepy. Another weed swiped along his waist, and he violently brushed it off. He started to move away, to untangle himself from the slimy vines.

Bridger looked up to find Leo with the big group. The commotion reached a crescendo, and Bridger realized it was no longer playful yells, but turmoil and fear.

“There’s something in the water!”

* * *

Connect with author F.T. Lukens at authorftlukens.wordpress.com on Twitter @ftlukens, on Tumblr at ftlukens.tumblr.com and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/ftlukens.

About the Author

F.T. Lukens is an author of Young Adult fiction who got her start by placing second out of ten thousand entries in a fan-community writing contest. A sci-fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Trek and Firefly and is a longtime member of her college’s science-fiction club. She holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, and three cats. Her first two novels in the Broken Moon series, The Star Host and Ghosts & Ashes, were published by Duet Books.

Giveaway

Book Tour Rafflecopter Giveaway:
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Rues & Regulations // Five winners receive the multi-format eBook

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In the Spotlight: Her Hometown Girl (Belladonna Ink #3) by Lorelie Brown (Riptide Publishing Tour & Giveaway)

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Her Hometown Girl (Belladonna Ink #3) by Lorelie Brown
Riptide Publishing

Cover by: L.C. Chase
Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host the spotlight tour for Her Hometown Girl (Belladonna Ink #3) by Lorelie Brown.   Check it out below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

 

About Her Hometown Girl

I had doubts before the Big Day—doesn’t everyone?—but I didn’t expect to find my fiancée banging the caterer’s assistant right before the ceremony. Especially because he’s a guy. And we’re lesbians. The proper sort of Southern Californian lesbians who invest in hedge funds and wear bedazzled wedding dresses and wouldn’t be caught dead in a Subaru.

But then I became a runaway bride, headed straight for Belladonna Ink to get the kind of tattoo I always wanted and my ex always called trashy. She didn’t approve of a lot of things I did. I think maybe she didn’t approve of who I am.

So I’m determined to be as much of myself as I can manage. Dating my tattoo artist? I’m in. Cai is smart, sexy, and mysterious. Exactly what I need for a rebound. She keeps herself guarded, but I understand—I’m holding on to secrets too. The kind of secrets that make a girl want to run home to Mom, even if home is Idaho. Maybe especially then. I just didn’t expect Cai to come with me.

I wonder what it would take to get her to stay forever.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

About the Belladonna Ink Universe

Belladonna Ink is the hottest female-centric tattoo parlor in Southern California. It doesn’t matter if you’re cis, trans, het, gay, or spectrum, our host of female tattoo artists will give you beautiful ink, personally designed. We don’t believe in paint-by-number drawings—you’re worth more than that. Give us a chance and we’ll help you find the meaning in your personal scribbles, and turn your skin into our professional canvas.

Just one thing: it’s really weird, but all our friends and some of our artists keep falling in love. Maybe it’s something in the ink.

Check out Belladonna Ink! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/belladonna-ink

About Lorelie Brown

After a seminomadic childhood throughout California, Lorelie Brown spent high school in Orange County before joining the US Army. After traveling the world from South Korea to Italy, she now lives north of Chicago. She writes her Pacific Blue series of hot surfers in order to channel some warmth.

Lorelie has three active sons, two yappy dogs, and a cat who cusses her out on a regular basis for not petting him enough.

In her immense free time (hah!) Lorelie cowrites award-winning contemporary erotic romance under the name Katie Porter. You can find out more about the Vegas Top Guns and Command Force Alpha series at www.KatiePorterBooks.com or at @MsKatiePorter. You can also contact Lorelie on Twitter @LorelieBrown.

Connect with Lorelie:

Website: loreliebrown.com/

Twitter: @LorelieBrown

Facebook: facebook.com/lorelie.brown

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Her Hometown Girl, one lucky winner will receive a bottle of Macallan single malt whisky! Contest IS restricted to both US entries and to those over the age of 21. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 9, 2017. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Blitz for Be My Best Man by Con Riley (Giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 260 pages
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb


Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?

After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya’s vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.

According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.

Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.

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Author Bio
 

Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.

When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don’t disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.

 

Giveaway

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