A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dream (Aisling #2) by Carole Cummings

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

To reveal the intricate machinations threatening them, two men must learn to trust each other. But how can they, when their hearts and minds—their realities—are subject to manipulation?

When he set out to escort the prisoner Wilfred Calder back to Putnam, Constable Dallin Brayden didn’t anticipate the political betrayal and malicious magic threatening their lives at every turn. To his surprise, he slips into the role of protector—and it’s more than duty compelling him to ensure Wil’s safety as they’re haunted by strange dreams.  But does Wil dare put himself in the hands of a man he believes wants him dead?

Wil’s past weighs heavily on him, tainting his perceptions as he struggles his way through a tangle of lies. With both will and magic as his weapons, he fights desperately for survival—and his soul. For the Aisling is coveted by more than the Guild and the Brethren; ancient gods and soul-eating spirits also want what lives within him. His only chance might be Dallin and his goddess, the Mother, who Wil has been taught to despise above all others.

It’s hard to describe just how exquisite this book and saga actually is.  Dream, the second story in the Aisling Trilogy, picks up exactly where the first left off, with Dallin accepting that Wil is the Aisling, the one he is meant to protect above all else.  Why?  Because Dallin is the Guardian.  What that means, how they are to fulfill those roles start to be revealed here.

That revelation and the impact upon their relationship starts immediately.  One of the biggest issues here is trust and what each man has seen/been told will happen to them.  Do they learn to trust each other and that they can make the future their own?  Or is the future already written and are they simply trodding a path they are meant to go down?  What do the gods have planned for them if anything?

The world building Cummings starting in Guardian (Aisling, #1)  becomes even more complex and wide ranging, crossing lands and picking up cultures and peoples we had only heard about in the first novel.  Mirroring the complexity of the world building is the relationship and personal dynamics between Wil and Dallin.  From enemies to friends and now the slow move into a romantic relationship, Cummings has been careful to establish the necessary trust and communication that let’s this happen between them.  I love the slow courtship between the men.  Considering all Wil has been through, the slow emotional involvement that the physical one also implies makes perfect sense.

Even as we enjoy the small touches that illuminate the growth of intimacy between the men, Cummings is busy ramping up the suspense of the chase as well.  For the evil is never far behind them, the good men chasing them for the wrong reasons as well…even their destination is fraught is peril.  The author makes us  fear the smallest of breaks in the woods,  the turn of every corner in a village is reason for the reader to hold our breath.

There is no one element or section here I can highlight.  It’s all equally fantastic.  Characters are beautifully created.  I believe in them and their relationships.  Fear for their futures.  The evil here is horrific and about to deepen with the last story.  The gods and aspects of religion the author has devised is stunning in its originality.  How this will play out for Wil and Dallin in book three, Beloved Son, is something I can’t wait to read when it’s released in December.

As with the first story, Dream ends somewhat abruptly, most likely where the final installment will pick up.  Oddly, I’m alright with that.  After the ending in Guardian, I almost expected it. At the end here Wil and Dallin are poised on the precipice of knowledge.   That next and final story tips them and us over the edge.

If you love fantasy and are new to this trilogy, you have until December to get caught up.  I highly recommend this story (not a stand alone) and the first, Guardian.  Then join me in December for the release of Beloved Son.

Cover art by Anne Cain is perfect for the character and for branding the series.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 by DSP Publications (first published June 15th 2011)
Original Title Dream
ISBN13 9781635336740
Edition Language English
Series Aisling #2
Beloved Son (Aisling Trilogy, #3)  coming Dec 13th 2017 and I can’t wait
Everything (Aisling #3.5)

An Alisa Review: Deeds & Confetti (Mary’s Boys #4) by Brandon Witt

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Steven Conley loves the excitement of owning his own Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Denver, Colorado, and his chosen family of coworkers makes life even better. Steven never regretted leaving the corporate grind behind until his father’s harsh deathbed words leaves him doubting himself.

 

Ryan Fuller abandoned a lucrative career to start his own party-planning business, but he keeps afloat by coordinating funerals for the local mortuary. When Ryan bumps into Steven—his best friend’s uncle and the man Ryan has secretly crushed on forever—the attraction explodes into a night of passionate abandon for both men.

 

Steven is blown away by the care and deep connection he feels for the hot young mortician—until Ryan admits who he really is. Reeling from the recent upheaval in his life, Steven must decide whether to give Ryan a chance. To find love, they must risk it all….

 

This was a wonderfully sweet story.  Steven has been living the last few years for himself despite his father’s criticism, but his father’s death and his harsh words cause Steven to doubt the life he has built.  Ryan has recently begun to live his life for himself and isn’t going to let Steven’s doubt stop them.

 

Steven has a wonderful support system in his friends and family (excluding his judgmental father).  I loved the internal strength that Ryan had and how he wouldn’t let the little things keep him down.  I chose this story for the short and sweet aspect it seemed to have which it really did but I loved seeing small glimpses of how Steven greatly affected the lives of those around him.  It makes me really want to go back and read the other stories in this series however I didn’t need them to know what was going on.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful, I love the visual of these two characters.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Published: September 27, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-749-5

Edition Language: English

Series: A Mary’s Boys Novella

An Alisa Review: 14 Days by Patrick Mangan

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

That’s how long Tyler Swann and his family will visit the Riverlands Land and Cattle Ranch, a guest ranch in western Montana. Too bad Tyler is a jerk and a hot-head, pushing Logan, the ranch owner, down to the ground on day one. It’ll be a long stay for the family with their belligerent son.

 

But as Tyler and Logan patch up the hurt, they find an attraction to one another that can only be matched by the stubbornness that Tyler, a recently discharged Marine, brings to the table daily.

 

From getting his ass kicked, to a helping hand getting the fence fixed, Logan has his hands full with a willing and able Tyler. When Tyler isn’t busy stealing the keys to a truck or motorcycle, he can be quite charming. If they can only survive the explosive emotions flowing from Tyler, they just might build some kind of relationship. For 14 days.

 

It’s going to be a long 14 days.

 

Logan and Tyler don’t start off on the best footing but seem to start a tentative friendship.  Logan gives Tyler the opportunity to have a break from his father but Tyler continues to push when he gets angry.    Both of them have cracks deep down that they need someone to help patch together.

 

Logan is quite understanding and it doesn’t seem to take much for him to be willing to put things behind him.  Tyler flies off the handle quite quickly without thinking and apologizes when he’s wrong but doesn’t seem to really change much over the 14 days.  I had a hard time connecting to both of these characters.  We get much more background on Logan than Tyler but it just didn’t seem too genuine to me.  I did like to see them together a few months down the line.

 

The cover art by E Keith is nice and gives nice background for the story.

 

Sales Links: Painted Hearts Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 135 pages

Published: August 30, 2017 by Painted Hearts Publishing

Edition Language: English

Andrew Grey on the Definition of HEA and his latest release ‘Taming the Beast’ (guest blog)

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Taming the Beast by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Paul Richmond

Release Date: October 13, 2017

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey here today on his Taming the Beast tour.  Welcome, Andrew.

✒︎
I’m very much a Happily Ever After kind of guy.  I like my characters to feel as though they are going to be together in the story as well as my heart.  But I seem to have a problem because I’m not sure what a HEA really means any more.  In traditional romance that path leads to the altar or at least to a proposal.  But in MM romance marriage wasn’t possible for so many years, so a HEA usual consisted of some sort of gesture of permanence.  They moved in together, bought a house, or asked each other to be their life partner, even exchanged rings with only the two of them.  Something to signify that they planned to stay together.  Now in this age of marriage equality, I’m having trouble because I’m not sure if we’ve reverted to the traditional version of an HEA or not.  In my stories I tend to use the older definition of an HEA, probably because I’m an old fart and getting older by the day.  (Rolls eyes)     But I’d like to hear what you think.  Please comment and let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear them.

Blurb/Synopsis

The suspicious death of Dante Bartholomew’s wife changed him, especially in the eyes of the residents of St. Giles. They no longer see a successful businessman… only a monster they believe was involved. Dante’s horrific reputation eclipses the truth to the point that he sees no choice but to isolate himself and his heart.

The plan backfires when he meets counselor Beau Clarity and the children he works with. Beau and the kids see beyond the beastly reputation to the beautiful soul inside Dante, and Dante’s cold heart begins to thaw as they slip past his defenses. The warmth and hope Beau brings to Dante’s life helps him see his entire existence—his trials and sorrows—in a brighter light.

But Dante’s secrets could rip happiness from their grasp… especially since someone isn’t above hurting those Dante has grown to love in order to bring him down.

Excerpt

Dante turned back to Bobby. “Do you know what we’re going to have for dinner?”

“Roast beef and potatoes and beans.” Bobby made a face. “I don’t like beans.”

“Bobby,” Beau said gently.

“Why not? They’re good, and they make you grow up big and strong. My mom always made me eat my green beans, and look at me.” He sat up straight, and Bobby’s eyes widened.

“These are green and yellow beans together,” Beau clarified.

“Even better. The yellow ones make you smarter. I really like those. And it’s good to be smart.” Dante nudged Bobby. “I’ll make a deal with you. If you eat all your beans, then after dinner, I’ll see if they have any ice cream for dessert.”

Bobby shook his head. “There’s cake.” He pushed out his lower lip. “I can’t have cake. It has gluten in it.” He turned away, his little shoulders drooping.

“I see.” Dante pulled out his phone and made a very quick call to Harriet at the house, then began to eat. When he was done with his starter, his salad was placed in front of him, and he ate it slowly. As he finished, the lady from the other couple, who had been quiet so far, asked him about what the Foundation did. “It’s to better the people and community of St. Giles and Maryland in general, though we localize our work to the Eastern Shore. We take proposals from anyone and evaluate them for community impact and need.”

“Do you get anything out of it?” she asked.

“I own the porcelain works, and half the profits go into the Foundation. We invest the money and then arrange to distribute the earnings through our projects. The principal is never touched, and so far it has grown each year through contributions.” Dante finished his salad and glanced at Bobby, who was carefully eating one piece of lettuce at a time.

“I’m Clyde Harrison, and this is my wife, Jean. I’m a second-shift foreman at the porcelain works.” He reached across the table to shake hands, and Jean did the same. They both seemed nervous, like if they said one wrong thing, Dante would fire him.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jean.” He turned to Clyde. “I’ve seen you at the plant.” He thought for a second. “You were the one who came up with the idea to reroute the laboratory-ware line last year. That was a great idea, and it’ll be done next month. We figure it will save us quite a bit.” Dante had already arranged a bonus for him, but he’d let that work through the channels.

The conversation died, and Dante turned to Bobby, who had eaten about half his salad and seemed to be finished. “Are you done?” Dante asked him, and Bobby nodded. The servers collected their plates and brought the dinners.

“Do I have to eat all this?” Bobby whispered. “Mama says I have to clean my plate and not waste food.” He looked at him and then at Beau.

“Just eat what you want and have some of the beans.” Dante winked, and Bobby took a bite of the beans and ate a few before starting on the rest. Beau helped Bobby cut his meat, and then the kid ate like a trooper. “Is it good?” Dante asked.

Bobby grinned, nodded, and went back to eating. Dante took a few bites and ate a little of the roast beef. It was okay. The potatoes weren’t exceptional. He ate the vegetables and enough of the rest to make his hunger abate and then waited for his plate to be cleared.

As the conversation in the room increased while the courses were changed, Dante excused himself and left the room. Roberts stood waiting for him. “Harriet added some ice to make sure this stayed cold.”

“Thank you.” Dante took the small cooler bag and carried it back into the banquet room. Pieces of cake had been distributed, with one sitting in front of each place, including Bobby’s, taunting the poor kid. Dante moved the cake aside and opened the bag. Dante took out a bowl of Harriet’s homemade chocolate ice cream and set it at Bobby’s place. “Guaranteed gluten-free.”

“Thank you!” Bobby said and began to eat like he hadn’t just had dinner.

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

In Our Historical Spotlight: Count the Shells by Charlie Cochrane (RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway)

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Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6) by Charlie Cochrane
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it here at Riptide Publishing

 

Count the Shells is the story which completely astounded its author in the telling. I had no idea when I sat down to write it that the straightforward historical romance I’d envisaged would turn out to have a plot twist which transformed the story into possibly the best tale I’ve ever crafted.

About Count the Shells

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

Available now from Riptide Publishing

About Porthkennack

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack

About Charlie Cochrane

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

Website:charliecochrane.co.uk/

Blog: charliecochrane.livejournal.com/

Twitter: @charliecochrane

Facebook profile page: facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Goodreads: goodreads.com/goodreadscomcharlie_cochrane

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Count the Shells, one lucky winner will receive a goodie bag from Charlie Cochrane, including postcards (new and vintage), a recipe book, bookmark, pencils, a fridge magnet and various other doodahs! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 21, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!