A Julia Review: Her Hometown Girl (Belladonna Ink #3) by Lorelie Brown

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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.

Her Hometown Girl by Lorelie Brown is the 3rd novel in the Belladonna Ink series but from what I can tell the entries are largely standalone stories that don’t build up on each other. This is my first book from this author and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

The story is told alternately through the eyes of the two protagonists, Tansy and Cai. What got me immediately hooked on this novel was those two characters and the way they are portrayed. They each are given a very distinct kind of voice and the author grants us a very intimate look into their personalities, tastes and inner as well as outer personal problems and fears. When I started with this novel, I was expecting a more light-hearted romance story but both the depth of the characters as well as the broached subjects surprised me (in a good way).

Tansy is only starting to recover from a both mentally and physically abusive relationship with her ex-fiancée. The author does a great job in portraying the marks that this has left on her and her struggle to find her own strength again. Even the smallest, seemingly most insignificant actions have a huge impact on her in this battered state of mind like how she panics when she messes up ordering drinks at a bar. It made her a very relatable character and I couldn’t help rooting for her and admiring her struggle against her own anxieties and fears (just like Cai does).

Cai appears at least on the outside to be the very opposite of Tansy. She seems like a strong, determined woman who knows what she wants and has her shit together. But as soon as we get to hear her own inner voice, we learn that she too has her own demons from her past to contend with. The two of them showcase how appearances can deceiving: how someone who appears weak and flustered (and maybe even thinks of themselves that way) can find a great strength within and how someone who seems tough and badass still carries the pain and scars from their past inside them.

The other characters were interesting and entertaining to read about as well – especially Tansy’s grandmother who was very inspiring to me.

The sex scenes are solely f/f and contain elements of submission and domination. They are hot, emotional and never meaningless. Each one feels like it adds to the characters and the development of their relationship. There’s just the right amount of them too – enough to keep things spicy but also not so many that the story might suffer from them. Warning: The book also contains a rape scene and further mentions of sexual as well as intense emotional abuse.

This novel really caught me by surprise about how much I got into it and felt for the characters. The subject of manipulation and abuse in a relationship is dealt with in an insightful manner as we get to see what kind of things it can do to a victim. I can recommend this book to anyone who is not looking for just a quick, steamy read about characters without any problems. I will definitely be looking into other works by this author as well.

The cover design by L. C. Chase is pretty and the soft tones with the pink sky suit particularly Tansy’s character rather well.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 243 pages

Published September 4, 2017

by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-62649-646-0

Edition Language: English

Release Blitz for His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  His Convenient Husband

Series: Love and Sports, Book One

Author: Robin Covington

Publisher:  Entangled Publishing

Release Date: October 9, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50,000

Genre: Romance, marriage of convenience, interracial romance, sports romance, LGBTQ

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

NFL football player Isaiah Blackwell lost his husband three years ago and is raising their teen son alone. He lives his life as quietly as his job allows, playing ball to support his family but trying not to draw unwanted attention. His quiet life is shaken up when a mutual friend introduces him to Victor, a visiting principal ballet dancer who is everything Isaiah is not.

Brash and loud, Victor Aleksandrov has applied for political asylum to avoid returning to Russia, where gay men are targeted and persecuted. He’s been outspoken about gay rights in his home country, and if he doesn’t get asylum, going back to Russia is a death sentence.

Their one-night stand turns into a tentative friendship, a relationship they both agree is temporary…until Victor’s denied asylum. Isaiah can’t offer Victor a happily ever after, but he can propose something that’ll keep Victor in the US and safe. . .marriage He just doesn’t expect his new husband to dance away with his heart.

Excerpt

Victor didn’t even think. If he had thought about it, he would have talked himself out of it, but his body took over, and before he knew it he’d pulled Isaiah into his arms. Nothing sexual, nothing calculated, just an embrace for a man who’d lost something precious and who’d carried the weight of his grief, and the grief of his son, on his shoulders.

Isaiah didn’t fight him, just melted against him, his large arms wrapping around Victor’s body as he allowed the moment to spool out naturally. Victor slowly released the breath he was holding, afraid that any sudden movement would spook Isaiah back into his previous arm’s length regimentation.

The house was quiet, soft music drifting out from the docking station, Evan’s muffled footfalls overhead as he undoubtedly chattered away with his best friend. He curbed his desire to make this more than it was, ignoring the voice in his head that whispered that this was what he always thought having a family would be like. A warm, safe home, children, and a man who loved him, and building a life together.

This wasn’t it, but it was as close to perfect as he was likely to get, so he’d take it. For as long as he could have it. They’d never discussed an end, but the natural end date was when he gained his citizenship. So, three years. Not long, but he’d take it, because Isaiah was quickly getting to him, taking up residence in the part of his heart he’d never thought would be filled.

Pathetic? He didn’t care. Victor was a romantic, something he had in common with Stephen. And look how Stephen had fallen. Victor didn’t have a chance.

The music switched, shifting down into a slower rhythm, not a Latin beat by any measure, but sultry. They began to move together. Victor didn’t make a conscious decision to dance, but it was the language that came most easily to him, and he responded to the natural sway of the embrace.

Isaiah followed his lead, the shuffle of their feet falling easily into a modified variation of the bachata. Limbs pressed against each other, muscles flexing as they moved slowly, finding their own pace. Victor sucked in a breath when Isaiah’s hands ran across the bare skin of his back, callouses dragging and igniting sparks of arousal in their wake. He made a sound, low but audible, and somewhere between a gasp and a moan, prompting his husband to pull back, eyes locked on his own.

Victor was relieved when he didn’t end the exquisite torture, but instead continued to maintain eye contact as they swayed together in the honey-glazed light of the kitchen. He was hard, sure that Isaiah could feel it through the thin material of his sweatpants, because he felt Isaiah’s erection through his dress pants. They shifted against each other, cocks aligning in a way that made the most of the lazy friction, sending ripples of pleasure over his skin and up his spine.

And then Isaiah pulled him closer, and Victor buried his face in the sweet dip of his shoulder, inhaling the scent of laundry detergent, cologne, and the intoxicating smell of his man. Isaiah’s hands dipped lower on his back, fingertips skimming the waistband, the occasional slip below the edge ratcheting his heartbeat up to the point where he knew it could be felt by the man holding him.

“So beautiful.” The words coasted across Victor’s skin, barely above a whisper. “Such a temptation.”

“I’m here for the taking,” Victor replied, his fingers coasting over the nape of Isaiah’s neck just to satisfy the urge to feel skin.

The moment was cloaked in madness, which was the only explanation for his mistake, and he knew it was the last thing he should have said when Isaiah went still, his fingers unconsciously digging into Victor’s hips.

They both pulled back, slowly, stubbled cheek against stubbled cheek, until their mouths were touching. Victor licked against his husband’s soft lips, begging for entrance and diving in when he was granted admission. Spice and sweet lemon and heat were everything in this kiss, more exploration than demand as they held on to each other and gave in.

The remains of dinner were around them, but this was another kind of hunger, and he’d waited too long to have it satisfied. Victor knew how good they could be together, and while he knew they would walk the razor’s edge between emotion and pure physical indulgence, he was willing to risk it. If he fell, then he’d embrace it.

But he knew he’d be falling alone.

Purchase

Entangled Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

A USAToday bestseller, Robin Covington loves to explore the theme of fooling around and falling in love in her books. Her stories burn up the sheets. . .one page at a time. When she’s not writing she’s collecting tasty man candy, indulging in a little comic book geek love, hoarding red nail polish and stalking Chris Evans.

A 2016 RITA® Award finalist, Robin’s books have won the National Reader’s Choice and Golden Leaf Awards and finaled in the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and the Book Seller’s Best.

She lives in Maryland with her handsome husband, her two brilliant children (they get it from her, of course!), and her beloved furbabies, Dutch and Dixie Joan Wilder (Yes – THE Joan Wilder)

Drop her a line at robin@robincovingtonromance.com – she always writes back.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Instagram

 

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A Caryn Review: Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water, #3) by E.J. Russell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Reading this book reminded me a little of my progression reading through J.R.R. Tolkein – The Hobbit’s simple characters give way to The Lord of the Rings darker tone and complex world, and The Silmarillion’s vast scope is tragic, and so detailed and interconnected that it was very hard to read.  For me, that was the end of reading Tolkein!  And of course I am not comparing the Fae Out of Water series to Tolkein, but moving from the romantic comedy of Cutie and the Beast through The Druid Next Door to Bad Boys Bard was also a journey with increasingly complex world building and darker, more tragic characters.  There is nothing of comedy in this book, and the denouement is the fate not just of Faerie, but of all creation.

Gareth is the youngest of the Kendrick brothers, and he is the last true bard.  Where his brothers have been raised to fight with body and sword, Gareth was trained to use the powerful magic of his voice to influence and change people’s behavior.  Gareth’s training came at a much greater price than his brothers’ though – he was apprenticed to an amoral ghost, locked away from Faerie and subjected to the voices of the dead, and when he finished his apprenticeship he came back changed – aloof and unable to connect emotionally to anyone. 

Niall was the one person who was able to get through Gareth’s armor, and awoke passion and happiness in him.  He is human, and though Gareth always believed the races should not mix, he was swept away by his love and desire for Niall.  When Niall was taken by the Unseelie – and killed – Gareth was broken, bitter, and his hatred for anything Unseelie was limitless.  He removed himself completely from Faerie, cut most ties with his brothers, and never felt passion or romantic love for anyone again.

All is not as it seems though, and Niall is not dead.  And not human.  When he is released from hell to attend the Convergence between the Seelie and Unseelie realms, he finds he will have to face Gareth again.  And though he still loves Gareth, coming clean about who he really is, not to mention all of the lies he told, and all of the suffering their affair caused, seems to be an insurmountable task.

I enjoyed the tragic parts of the story, as well as the way both Gareth and Niall were imperfect and had some serious flaws that they had to recognize and address before they could save the world.  My problem with this book, however, was that the world building got so complex that it was incomplete.  Celtic mythology isn’t exactly common knowledge, and in the previous books everything that was introduced was at least explained – I wondered if there originally was more exposition, that was edited out to keep the book at a certain length.  If so, the editing could definitely have been better.  Fortunately this didn’t detract from the story too much, but I had to drop at least one star for it.

Cover art by Lou Harper fits in with the rest of the series, and with this story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleBad Boy’s Bard
ISBN139781626496231
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Fae Out of Water:

A MelanieM Review: Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane is a prime example of a novel that has so many elements to it that they overwhelm the central romance and swamp the characters under a flood of narrative far too heavy for one book to carry.  Honestly, this could be a really adorable romance as it has all the makings.  It could also be a slight cosy mystery that could have been tilted into a murder/mystery story, could have been a suspense/policy tale (lots of that here) and then there’s the paranormal spooky element here with a ghostly ex-lover who hangs about almost the whole time.  And did I say there are dogs here too?  Cute dogs, big dogs….so a doggy tale as well.

It’s as if the author loves all those various genres and when it came to writing this story, couldn’t let go of any of them so she smashed them all together with the result that this story never really flies laden down with its heavy burden of too many themes and exposition.

If you cut everything away to just the romance of Alistair the gardener and Noah the groomer, it’s cute and the ending sweet and heartwarming.  Alistair has to learn to grieve, move on and into a new love.  Done and wonderful.  Even gets to love a pooch!  Perfect.

But there’s stuff about a brothel, and too many characters you couldn’t care less about, and even the ghost gets tiresome after a while.  You want to call for an exorcist and some pruning shears to weed away all the stuff keeping you from Noah, Alistair and the HEA.   I think the word I’m looking for is cumbersome.  Sigh.

So, yes, I really enjoyed parts of this novel.  But at 250 pages,  other parts felt every bit 400 pages long.  I kept thinking, why is Alistair not using his phone, making a vid and calling his beloved employer?  Oh, right because that would mean all those pages would be gone.  Some things just didn’t make any sense to me.  So I’m just not sure I’d recommend this one.  Not unless you’re an absolute fan of the author.

Cover art is glorious.  Love everything about it.  Perfection.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published September 11th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139831
Edition LanguageEnglish

Garrett Leigh on the Inspiration and Characters of ‘Finding Home’ (author interview and giveaway)

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Finding Home by Garrett Leigh
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: G.D. Leigh

Release Date: October 9, 2017

Read an Excerpt/Available for Purchase at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Garrett Leigh today on her Finding Home tour.   We have a wonderful interview with the author and a giveaway to enter.  Neither are to be missed!

✒︎

~ A Memorable Interview with Garrett Leigh Talking About Writing Finding Home and It’s Characters ~

  •  You write so movingly and here there’s the main element of foster children, a gutwrencher of a topic. What prompted this element?

I was actually inspired to write Finding Home by a documentary I saw on BBC3 a few years ago. Ironically, I can’t remember much about it now, but I found the notes it prompted a year later, and the story was still there.

  • How much research did you have to do for this story and characters?

Not nearly enough at first. I had the characters down because they were very dear to my heart even in the early stages, but after checking with some sensitivity betas in the foster care system, I realised that I still had a lot of work to do. Assumptions I’d made didn’t ring true anymore, and there was some significant rewriting.

  •  Was there ever a time you thought that you were getting too emotional as you wrote or is there such a thing?

There is never such a thing. If I don’t connect with my characters, I’m wasting my time.

  • What makes you decide to go down this particular narrative path?

Originally, the story was told entirely from Leo’s POV, but Charlie had far more to say than I realised, so the dual POV came naturally.  

  •  Is there something special you would want the readers to know about this story?

I wrote it for my daughter.

  • I’m not usually drawn to young adult books but this one calls to me.  What is different about this book from other young adult books?

I think perhaps that it’s told in third person, rather than the first person/present tense we’re used to in YA books. I enjoy books like that, but I wanted this book to be a little more reflective. 

  • How old are Leo and Lila when they’re put into foster care?

Fifteen and five, though Lila has turned six by the time we meet her.

  •  I get the feeling that Leo’s journey through this book will be heartbreaking.  Will he fight letting Charlie in or welcome it?

Without giving too much away, Leo doesn’t have much left to fight Charlie with. And he doesn’t want to. Charlie is sweet and kind, and wonderful, and despite all Leo has been through—is still going through—he knows what a rare thing a boy like Charlie truly is.

  •  Does Charlie have his own darkness to conquer or is he the light to Leo’s dark?

Charlie has his own demons, but he’s had years of stability and love to build his resilience. He had a rough start in life, and he’s quite a shy boy, but he has an emotional confidence that Leo is lacking. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.

About Finding Home

How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?

With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.

Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.

Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.

Available now from Riptide Publishing

About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Social media:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Finding Home, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 14, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Love Tara Lain? Contemporary Romance? Check out High Balls (Balls To The Wall Series #6 ) by Tara Lain (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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Sometimes only the wrong guy can bring the 
right happy ever after.

High Balls
(Balls To The Wall Series #6 )
by Tara Lain
 
Blurb:
Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.
Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily-ever-after is for real.

Available for purchase at
Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press
Excerpt

Excerpt – High Balls by Tara Lain

“Mr. Walters, please explain the methodology of your research.”

And so it began. The words flowed across his tongue—the thousands of questionnaires and over a hundred personal interviews showing the education, expertise, and experience of romance writers, their use and extension of techniques pioneered by Austen and other major literary figures. He discussed tropes and their application in so called “fine” literature as well as genre fiction. Quoting verbatim from scholars he’d interviewed, he showed how many academics dismissed romance fiction purely because of its association with female readers.

Dr. Willamette said, “How large is the romance market, Mr. Walters?” She actually seemed interested.

“It’s a moving target and difficult to pin down due to the vastness and fluidity of the ebook market, but well over a billion dollars, for sure. It’s the largest book market in the world by double over the next genre.”

“Oh my. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring those people more actively into the field of literature? More teachers and more students?” She smiled.

“My point exactly.”

Ashworth sputtered, “You want to bring these illiterate, uncultured old maids and housewives into the literary tent? You must be joking.”

Dr. Willamette’s face fell, and Theodore worked to ungrit his teeth.

Dr. T. tried to keep the tone upbeat, but every time Mr. Karl or Dr. Willamette asked a good question or seemed to show interest in his research, Ashworth would find a way to belittle their opinions. They practically shrank in their seats. The chances they’d stand up to the chairman? Zilch.

Theodore kept fighting, but he felt like a salmon on a dammed-up stream.

Dr. T. said, “Why did you undertake this research, Mr. Walters? What do you feel it contributes to the future of literature?”

Theodore gazed at the carpet for a minute. “When my wife was dying, I would read to her. Classics and current literary fiction felt so cold and helpless in the face of death. Only love prevailed. So I bought a romance novel, just for diversion. I was amazed at the true literary value the book possessed. I tried another and another. Yes, I found bad ones, but then that can be said of any type of literature. Gradually I came to realize that what I’d been taught about romance fiction was bull. Here were truly gifted writers, more of them than in any other type of fiction, toiling away with not only no recognition, but also actual denigration, and still producing exceptional work. I decided to find out why.”

He looked up at each member of the panel, even the sneering Ashworth. “I think if I can encourage or inspire even one of these excellent authors to persevere and have some of their work recognized, my research will have succeeded.”

Dr. T. said, “Thank you, Theodore. I wish to add that the dissertation reader agrees with Mr. Walters. She states that the paper has done more to legitimize one of the most popular forms of world fiction than anything she’s seen. She highly recommends the paper for publication.” He looked down the panel. “If there are no more questions, Mr. Walters can go and we can determine the time for our deliberation.”

Ashworth said, “I have one more. Walters, do you really expect us to take this dissertation seriously?”

Theodore stood. “Yes, sir, I do.” He looked down the table. “Thank you all for your consideration.” He turned and walked from the room with a straight spine.

The Balls to the Wall Series
Volley Balls
Bk #1
Available to purchase at 
 
 
Fire Balls 
Bk #2
Available to purchase at
Beach Balls
Bk #3
Available to purchase at

 

FAST Balls
Bk #5
Available to purchase at
Prefer paperback?
The first and second book are now available in paperback! 
About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at LainWebsite | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest