A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed By Felicitas Ivey

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

A billionaire and a Bedouin girl—each with a shocking secret.

Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before.

Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.

When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with?

Well.  Normally the Dreamspun Desires line just does it for me.  I love their twists on those old familiar storylines we read in our romances or saw in our movies.  But The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed By Felicitas Ivey either came out at the wrong time or the author was not truly cognizant of the messages she seems to be sending here with her storyline and threads.  I found myself reading, then going back to double check to see if certain passages really portrayed women so badly (yes in my opinion), then braced myself to continue reading all the way to the end where the author finished her story with a lasting moment that left me wishing I had never picked this story up.  Honestly, I think I’m kind with a 2 rating.

But onto the particulars.

Why does this story upset me so?

Well barebones, it’s about a traditional bedouin man whose birth upset his sister’s control of the tribe.  She forced his mother (a secondary or minor wife) to raise his as a girl in the large harem where his identity as a male remained unknown even to him under his mother’s care.  Basically a servant, an agreement will see him married off to a Sheikh’s son, an arrangement the sister will hope to get him killed while getting her money.  If that’s not awful enough, there’s an ugly side story about his niece who the sister intends to marry off to a rapist/thug.

Yes, it has a happy ending, the niece gets saved.  The tribe goes back to the desert and Fathi and Ikraam are happy.  So why am I sort of nauseated?

Neither niece or Ikraam, the man who has been raised as a woman  can read or seen any sort of modern existence. He has no idea what it means to be a man actually other than how his tribe defines it. Yet, the author seems to raise them both higher in esteem than any modern Arabian woman mentioned.  There are several scenes here with Fathi’s secretary.  She is modern, dresses so while keeping to societal standards for the office.  She is striving for a career while having a major crush on her boss, who doesn’t set her straight mind you, letting her continue to assume about his feelings.

Much is made of her makeup, hair and clothing as though it’s a bad thing.  Really, this poor character exists for only one purpose. She’s that compare and contrast vehicle!  And that’s so that at the end when Ikraam, dressed in all his new traditional Bedouin and extremely female marriage finery (each clothing is listed, coins glittering) corrects the poor girl about how to address her/his husband.  All the family gather around this wonderful Bedouin married ‘woman’ and help her humiliate the secretary completely in letting her know yes, her boss is now married to a traditional woman, so “quit, your job, honey.” And they all have a good laugh as the girl basically runs out of the office, shamed in front of all her co workers.  Never mind that she was a hard worker, did a great job and was well educated.  Nope,  clearly a makeup wearing, high heeled tramp!  Grandfather was quite clear on his feelings about that. What a nasty little scene that was.  Ikraam happily continues his existence appearing to be a woman in the traditional Arabian cultural role.

Yes women are the evil ones here.  From the sister who beat Ikraam to that poor secretary, all the responsibility falls on the woman’s shoulders.  Men?  Pretty passive.  That thug/rapist?  Given a donkey or something and sent off back to the tribe to marry again.  The sister?  She remains in control because she purposely married a weak man.  The totally ‘by the books, loves his old ways’ grandfather does something totally out of character (had to for the novel) and accepts Fathi and Ikraam’s sexuality. Uh no.  But in face of everything else, that’s minor.

No, it’s still the treatment of women here.  Was it really necessary to bring this element into the story?  Ikraam and niece still can’t read.  How’s he going to fit into his husband’s new world? Explore that!  You didn’t need that secretary at all.  Yes, Ikraam is  basically a “woman” in a man’s body because that’s how he was raised.  That’s a far more interesting idea to investigate that then the paths the author went down.  Ikraam even mentions he had no idea he was a boy until he was much older.  That must have blown his psyche.  But no….let’s go the “new is evil and old/traditional is everything” and do it while throwing women under the bus.

Maybe I shouldn’t take a lighthearted romance this seriously.  But in light of the #MeToo campaigns, of women fighting for the right just to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, of all the fights for rights that seem to be heading backwards these days, surely we don’t need to do it in our fiction as well.  This is one story that just struck me all wrong.  Shrugs.

And now you know why.

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and has the right backdrop.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 212 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339628
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters? 

The Rowe Brothers are famous hockey hotshots, but as the youngest of the trio, Tennant has always had to play against his brothers’ reputations. To get out of their shadows, and against their advice, he accepts a trade to the Harrisburg Railers, where he runs into Jared Madsen. Mads is an old family friend and his brother’s one-time teammate. Mads is Tennant’s new coach. And Mads is the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Jared Madsen’s hockey career was cut short by a fault in his heart, but coaching keeps him close to the game. When Ten is traded to the team, his carefully organized world is thrown into chaos. Nine years his junior and his best friend’s brother, he knows Ten is strictly off-limits, but as soon as he sees Ten’s moves, on and off the ice, he knows that his heart could get him into trouble again.

What a great writing team RJ Scott and VL Locey make!  Throw in the players and game of hockey and you have all the makings of a great series and a wonderful novel.  Like football, hockey tends to run in families, and the authors create the famous Rowe Brothers, men who strike across some of the greatest teams in the NHL.  Then there is their youngest brother trying to find his own place, and with Ten, the readers find a character we can immediately understand and connect with.  He’s the underdog, the one fighting to shine and we need him to succeed.

Jared is a terrific romantic foil, older, known to the family, loyal to the team and now to Ten.  Yep, fell in love with Jared too.  Combine all the wonderful hockey elements that Locey does so well, the family aspects of the team as well as the real Rowe family, and Changing Lines has so much heart to it that you’ll want to pull on some skates yourself.

Changing Lines also starts the series arc of a NHL player coming out officially  and what that might mean to the player, teammates and team.  This is dealt with seriously and the issues taken apart at all levels from the corporate on down.  More so in the next novel.  I was really happy with the way the authors are have the characters deal with this issue, working it through between themselves as well as their families, teammates and organization.

In short, I love everything about this book and the characters we are getting to know.  This looks to be a wonderful ensemble series with teammates getting their own romances as well this couple continuing to move forward with their romance and overall storythread.  I can’t wait for more.

Cover art by Meredith Russell is great.  I love the depiction of the characters.

Sales Links:

 

Book Details:

ebook, 233 pages
Published July 12th 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
Series Harrisburg Railers #1

Harrisburg Railers:

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Ante Up by Kim Fielding

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Rating 3.5 stars out of 5

In the mid eighteen forties, Ante Novak died on a Croatian battlefield—and rose three days later as a vampire. His maker was good to him but tended to let him run wild, so he killed humans as he drank their blood and one time, as he looked into the eyes of a young man dying from TB, he decided to turn him and create his own vampire. But his vampire, Lee, didn’t turn out to be quite what Ante hoped for, and Ante himself finally realized the error of his destructive ways so he fled to the United States. Now he haunts Las Vegas, stealing a little blood here and there from humans who don’t even realize he’s had them. It helps him live in the Las Vegas area when he also helps himself to some of their money and it helps him stay away from working for the powerful vampire organization known as the Shadows, which now happens to be run by Lee. They don’t have the “ethics” Ante has developed and kill indiscriminately when they take blood. Ante prefers his way and his luck is high when he meets beautiful and charming Peter Gehrardi, who seems to be able to influence others with his thoughts.

Intrigued, Ante eventually finds out that Peter is half-elf—no wonder his blood is so sweet and sparkly! But the Shadows want Peter captured so they can use his mind-influencing powers to their own gain and they try to enlist Ante to help them. Mistake! That’s the signal for Ante and Peter to run and they lead the Shadows on a merry adventure across the dessert and into a non-human sanctuary community in Northern California. Along the way there’s further (mis)adventures and lots of lovin’ as Peter and Ante come to mean much more to each other than a zero-hearted vampire could ever expect. There is, of course, a fight to the finish when Lee and the vampires from the Shadows track them to the sanctuary. Who will come out of the battle intact? And will Ante be able to find a happy ever after with someone who does not have the lifespan of a vampire?

This is an enjoyable story, but though I usually absolutely love Kim Fielding’s stories, this one fell just a little short for me. I couldn’t quite appreciate the characters—neither Peter with his love of sweets and charming personality, nor Ante with his “vampireness” and “cold” personality. I know this is a pun, but he was just too cold for me to warm up to. And Peter was just too over the top in cuteness. I must admit, however, there were a few times when I laughed out loud and there were a few times when teardrops rolled down my cheeks, but overall, I simply enjoyed this tale without finding it outstanding.

Would I recommend it? By all means, especially to those who enjoy these Dreamspun tales and to those who enjoy vampires with a soft side and all manner of other supernatural creatures.

~~~

The cover by Aaron Anderson features a cute guy with the expected vampire fangs—looking quite attractive—against a casino background and done in the purple tones of the branding of other Dreamspun Beyond stories.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339482
Edition LanguageEnglish
Las Vegas, Nevada (United States)
Nevada (United States)

Release Blitz for Texas Gift (Texas #8) by R.J. Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 50,000 words approx
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Texas Series
 
Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

A gift for every single reader needed to know what happened next for to Jack and Riley…

When Hayley arrived on the steps of the D, Riley and Jack knew life would never be the same.

Told through Riley and Jack’s eyes, this is ten years in the life of their family and watching Hayley grow up, fall in love, and start her own life. Hurricanes, illness, babies, happiness, sadness, work, play, the barn, the office, horses, friends, enemies, and above all love.



Excerpt


Chapter One

Riley needed to apologize. Right now.

He’d fucked up big time, and he should have seen it coming, because everything he did went in cycles. He and Jack hadn’t argued in so long and maybe the tension that had been building inside Riley had needed an outlet; he’d provoked the argument. He’d pushed and prodded and sulked and shoved at Jack until Jack had snapped.

Not in loud, shouting temper, or anything like what Riley deserved. No, Jack had gone deathly quiet.

Absolutely. Utterly. Quiet.

Riley shouted at him, got everything out of his system, felt the weight of it all lessen by throwing it at Jack and what had happened? He’d stood there at first, confused, and then steadily calmer. Weirdly calmer.

They argued; no normal marriage went without arguments over things as important as the kids and as trivial as picking up wet towels. But they resolved things, Jack/Riley was a unit that worked. They sometimes bickered and teased, they shouted rarely, and on the odd occasion there would be sulking. Mostly from Riley. He considered it as thinking time but Jack just called him on his sulking like a child.

Their arguments always ended in love; talking, kissing, complete forgiveness that could only come when two people understood and loved each other.

This morning though, he’d made Connor cry, Lexie scowl, and Max hide under the table with Toby. Jack hadn’t even stayed for that. The crying, scowling and hiding had happened after he’d left.

“Why are you shouting at Pappa!” Connor shouted back at Riley. “Stop shouting.” Then he’d started to cry, and Riley’s heart had broken into a million pieces. He’d sat between a crying Connor, and a sullen, angry Lexie and tried to explain that he had a bad headache and he didn’t mean to shout. For headache, read migraine, tight painful migraine that blurred his vision and made him feel sick. He’d taken meds and the sharp edges of the glass in his head were easing, but he couldn’t think straight. Connor stopped crying.

“You were so mean,” Lexie summarized, but she did give Riley a hug and kiss him on the forehead to make it all better.

Max on the other hand, while not angry with Riley and the shouting, was still under the kitchen table with Toby. The black lab, Riley’s black lab, was between Max and Riley in a protective furry wall.

“It’s okay Tobes, I got this,” Riley tried to fold all six-four of himself under the wood. He got caught on a bench, his neck burned, his stomach was in knots, but nothing was going to stop him from getting to Max. Toby did eventually move to one side but not too far. Toby may well have been Riley’s dog at the start, but he and Max were inseparable now.

“Max, buddy?” he began, and Max at least looked up at him for a split second. “You okay?”

“M’okay,” Max said. “You’re noisy.”

At least he wasn’t rocking, or stimming. He was just sitting with his dog in his favorite place under the kitchen table.

“Is everything okay?” Carol said from behind him. He scrambled back and brushed himself off. “Riley?”

“I shouted,” Riley explained simply.

“At the kids?” Carol asked, aghast, as if that was the ultimate sin in her eyes. Which, to be fair, it was in Riley’s as well. He and Jack didn’t shout, they cajoled, and bargained, and ran a happy house. Most of the time, anyway. Just not this morning.

“No, at Jack.”

“Is Max okay?” she peered under the table and smiled at Max. He adored her, the kids all loved their nanny, probably quite a bit more than they loved their dad today.

“He seems fine.” Riley peered out of the window at where Jack had gone. The damage had been done, but Connie and Lexie were chatting to each other, Max was with Carol and he needed to go and make things right with Jack.

“I think we’re okay in here,” Carol said, “Go find Jack.”

Riley shot her a grateful glance, and as he left the kitchen he heard Lexie telling Carol that her Pappa had a headache and that she’d kissed it better. When he closed the door it was just him and the ranch and finding Jack. It didn’t take him long; he was outside their barn, looking up at the siding, with his feet apart and his arms crossed over his chest.

Riley inhaled the fresh morning air and pulled back his shoulders. He could do this; he could ignore the pain in his head now it had lessened a little, he could push back the nausea, and he could go and apologize to Jack for being a fucking idiot.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, coming to a stop next to Jack, only a few inches separating their arms. Jack didn’t move.

“It’s okay.” Although it didn’t sound okay at all. Okay was one of those words that meant nothing in the context of an argument, it was a word that plastered over cracks in a relationship. Okay was quiet and tight-lipped silences and Riley recalled okay from when he was a kid.

He hated okay.

“It’s not okay, I have a headache and I didn’t mean any of what I said.”

“You didn’t mean to say that life would be easier if you didn’t have to listen to me?” Jack’s voice was low and serious, and Riley winced.

“You were saying too much, and I couldn’t think.”

Their discussion had started in the bedroom.

“I asked if you’d made an appointment to see someone about the headaches.”

“I know—”

“And why you were limping again—”

“Jack—”

“And why you weren’t sleeping, and why you spent so much time at the office, and why the fuck have we not used the barn in over a month?”

The barn wasn’t just the barn, it was a euphemism for sex. They hadn’t been together in a month, over a month now. How did Riley explain that he’d been at the office, sometimes with the blinds shut, closing out the light, sleeping? How did he explain he didn’t want to see a doctor because the headaches scared him? And how the hell did he tell Jack he was limping because every single one of his muscles hurt, because he was tired, because it was all too much?

“Jack, I’m sorry.”

“You’re not, Riley, because you won’t listen to me.” Jack pointed at the barn. “I’m thinking we turn this into a games room for the kids.”

Riley gripped Jack’s arm. “No, what the hell?” His tension fled and in its place was panic. This was their space. Sometimes they came out here to talk, to hide away from the world, but it was also the one place they had the hottest sex he’d ever experienced. He wanted that again, but he was so tired, every time he turned over in bed his neck hurt, and his head pounded, and his leg ached, and he was fucking tired of it all. “Jack, I’m sorry, don’t…”

Jack turned to face him, and his expression wasn’t angry. “Either you go to the doctor, right here, right now, or I start clearing the place for a pool table.” He looked deadly serious, and Riley couldn’t tell if this was an empty threat. Then Jack softened, cradled his face and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Riley, please.”

Just those two words pierced the fear in Riley, he couldn’t stop the pain, or the threat of being sick, or not sleeping, but whatever was wrong, Jack would be there for him.

“I’m scared,” Riley murmured.

Jack gathered him close. “You think I’m not?”

“Please don’t,” Riley said against Jack’s neck. His words sounded slurred and fear made him sway. What the hell? “Please don’t let me chase you away.”

“I won’t.”

And that was the last thing he heard as his world went to black.


Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

 

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Release Blitz for Breaking Free (Den Boys #3) by A.T. Brennan (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 72,000 words
 
Cover Design: Teresa Conner
 
Den Boys Series
 
Book #1 – All In –  Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Healing Him –  Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

ìI would never forgive myself if something happened to another man I cared about because Iíd been careless and given in to temptation.î ~ Zander


The last thing I was looking for was a relationship, then I laid eyes on a dancer at a nightclub and my entire world was flipped upside down. Kai is everything Iíve ever wanted, but shouldnít have. Iím haunted by a past I canít seem to break free from, and Iím not sure I can be the man Kai deserves. He makes me want to try, but I worry that Iím broken beyond repair.


ìThere was already a big enough stigma attached to being a go-go dancer, but add being a webcam model to the mix and people tended to assume things about me.î ~ Kai


School, dance, cam, repeat. My life was on a constant loop as I struggled to keep my head above water. After seeing Zander in the crowd while I was dancing, I knew I had to meet the handsome stranger who took my breath away. I donít know if Iím the right man to help set him free from his pain, but Iím going to do everything I can to try and help him see that the past doesnít have to define his future.

Author Bio


A.T. Brennan, who also writes under the name Mandie Mills, is a romance and erotica author. A native of Ottawa, Canada, she enjoys picking up and moving from city to city every few years. A former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, current entrepreneur and freelance writer, she enjoys spending her days working on her many projects and her nights writing and not getting enough sleep. Currently she lives on Canada’s East Coast with her family, both two- and four-legged. She enjoys collecting books and exploring the different sides of romance and romantic expression in her works.


You can visit her at www.mandiemillsauthor.com, or on Facebook at A.T. Brennan Author, and also at Author Mandie Mills.

 

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Cover Reveal: Coach’s Challenge (Cayuga Cougars #3) by V.L. Locey (giveaway)

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Add to Goodreads
 
 
Point Shot Trilogy – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cayuga Cougars Series
 
Book #1 – Snap Shot – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Victor Kalinski and his husband, Dan Arou, are living the dream. Married for over a year now, the couple have settled into life in Cayuga surrounded by friends, family, and a team that’s poised to make another championship run. Each man is enjoying professional success as well as personal bliss. Who knew life in the suburbs with a spouse and a child could be so darn satisfying? Not Vic. K, that’s for sure.

The happy times are about to turn rough, though. The Cougars have picked up a new player, Sander March, a brash young center whose sass, skill, and attitude can rival Victor’s. When it’s revealed that this new player and Dan have history, tensions begin to rise between the newlyweds. As Victor and Dan work on those issues, the one person Victor never thought he would meet arrives in the small New York hamlet and proceeds to flip everything in Vic’s life upside down.

Can Victor and Dan’s marriage withstand what life is about to drop on it, or will the challenges be too much for them to handle?

Author Bio


V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.



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